Sketches of Wood county, Virginia
Forty-six years ago, the author of these Sketches, then a young man, became a permanent citizen of the town of Parkersburg, in Wood county, Virginia. At that time, Parkersburg, the seat of justice in the county, was a small town on the southern banks of the Ohio river, above and adjoining the Little Kanawha, and contained a population of al>out two hundred inhabitants Up to that time and after, the territory of Wood county had remained the same as when the county was first organized; embracing an area of about fourteen hundred square miles, and contained a population of between six and seven thousand inhabitants.
Since that date, by the formation of new counties from the original territory of Wood, the area of the county has been greatly lessened, and now contains only about one-fourth of its original boundaries, and yet such has been the increase of its population, that it now contains upwards of twenty thousand inhabitants. He might here add that the territory which has been taken off, in the formation of new counties, has probably increased in population and material wealth, in like proportion. This permanent increase of inhabitants and wealth, speaks volumes for the social and commercial advantages of our new State. It carries upon its face the evidences of affluence, prosperity and social happiness.
Changing the form of expression from the past tense, to the present, we will say, that during the first seven years of our citizenship in Parkersburg, we were employed and performed the duties of Clerk of the County Court of Wood county; and for several years was Deputy, under the late James H. Neal, Esq., Clerk of its Circuit Superior Court. Between the years of 1845 and 1855, for seven years, we held the office and personally performed all the duties of Assessor and Commissioner of the county. Also during those years, as Surveyor, we became well acquainted with the lands of the county, in their various localities.
Having closely and carefully studied and improved these sources of information, arising from these several positions occupied by us, we became familiar with the history of the county, its early settlements, and many of its hardy, bold and enterprising inhabitants. Also we acquired a general knowledge of its lands, waters, watercourses, soil, productions and natural advantages. The diversified scenery of its mountain slopes and valleys, with its salubrious climate, and health-restoring and invigorating agencies, being such as to add to the length of our years, we have taken pleasure in penning these sketches, and thus complying with the oft-expressed wishes of personal friends, by presenting them to the public. They are the results of many hours of reflection, toil and research, and have been revised and corrected from a series we published in the Parkersburg Sentinel.
In conclusion, permit us to say, that in the opening paragraph above, we referred to our forty-six years of residence in Parkersburg. At its commencement, that length of time then appeared long, yet it has been past. Now, in the review, it appears but a step. Yet along the way we have had sunshine and shadows — hours of pleasure and pain — broken shrines of affection and love are in dust and ashes at our feet — footprints upon the sands of time have been made and washed away — mounds covered with the green grass have been moistened with tears, covering forms that cannot be effaced from the tab- let of memory. In penning these pages, we have labored to bring back, and converge some of the rays of sunshine and joy, which once illuminated our pathway, and gave hope and happiness — to call back the associations of other years, and other friends, and perpetuate their memories.
Should this effort prove successful, and be appreciated by our citizens, we have the materials on hand for their continuance — materials which have not yet been published, in addition to those which have appeared, which we desire to revise. If errors arc made to appear in any of these pages, we will take pleasure in correcting them, when pointed out. Our object being, to present facts, as they are interwoven with the early settlers of the county. Much has been omitted, owing to the uncertainty enshrouding the past. With these thoughts and anxieties, we submit these pages to the consideration of the public.
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In our introductory Chapter, we gave to the reader, summary statements of the nature and character of the various influences brought to bear upon the Indian tribes of the Northwestern territory, by the French and English governments, with our reflections thereon, as interwoven in and standing connected with the early settlements of the colony of Virginia — its wilderness territory and subsequent history.