A history of Lewis County, West Virginia

The purpose of this volume is to trace the economic, social and political life of the people of Lewis County from the time the I'first settlers came to the Hacker's creek valley to the present. Believing that the group is more important than any of its component parts, it has "been my aim to deal with the development of institutions rather than with family history, to present as fully as possible a record of the whole county rather than tales of illustrious pioneers and their descendants. In order to accomplish this purpose I have selected from a great mass of material those incidents which I thought, would best depict the life of the county, and I have tried to arrange them in order so as to show cause and effect, advance and retardation, of development.

It is hoped that this volume will fill a long felt want. It is a rather remarkable fact, in view of the importance of Lewis, County and its influence on the life of Virginia and West Virginia, that a history of the county has never been published in, permanent form. There have been published at various times important works relating to certain periods, and to certain matters affecting the history of the county. The first of these was "Chronicles of Border Warfare," by Alexander Scott Withers, which treats of the history of the frontier to the Treaty of Greenville, 1795. The same period has been treated lately by Lucullus Virgil McWhorter, in his volume, entitled, "Border Settler of Northwestern Virginia." Both works, are extremely valuable for a study. of the early history of the county. About 1884, Hardesty's "Political and Geographical Survey of Lewis County" was published, which contains a historical sketch of the county very hastily and carelessly written.

Many writers have contributed sketches and recollections to the county papers at different times. Under the pseudonym of "Ancient", John Strange Hall wrote a series of articles for the Weston Independent depicting customs, personages and institutions of the 'thirties. George F. Oliver contributed to the Weston Democrat a series of articles in which the author makes a comprehensive survey of conditions in Weston and Lewis County as they were in 1844. In 1917, John R. King wrote a series of articles for the Weston Independent which throw considerable light on the manners and customs of western Virginia in the period just before the Civil war. Within the past few years, Roy B. Cook, a native of the county, has made valuable contributions to the same paper in an extended "Pioneer History of Lewis County," and a collection of documents, annotated, on "Lewis County in the Civil War."

I first began a systematic collection of materials on Lewis County history in 1915. Though the work has been greatly interrupted at times, I never quite lost sight of my original intention to write the story of development of Lewis County.

Every effort has been made to guard against errors in statement, but I am conscious that some errors may have escaped detection. The necessity for depending upon traditional accounts in the absence of records for a part of the early period has made the task of sifting evidence somewhat uncertain. In all possible cases I have attempted to verify the traditional accounts by the records.

 

Table of Contents

CHAPTER I
The Physical Basis for Development 13

CHAPTER II
The Aboriginal Inhabitants 22

CHAPTER III
The Beginning of Settlements 30

CHAPTER IV
Lewis County in Dunmore's War 44

CHAPTER V
Lewis County During the Revolutionary War 51

CHAPTER VI
The End of the Indian Wars 70

CHAPTER VII
The Beginning of Law and Order 84

CHAPTER VIII
Economic Beginnings 98

CHAPTER IX
Life of the Pioneers 111

CHAPTER X
The Extension of Settlements Skin Creek 128

CHAPTER XI
The Collins Settlement 136

CHAPTER XII
Freeman's Creek District 143

CHAPTER XIII
Progress in Older Settlements 150

CHAPTER XIV
The Formation of Lewis County 162

CHAPTER XV
The Beginning of Weston 176

CHAPTER XVI
Progress Under the New Regime 197

CHAPTER XVII
Early Transportation 215

CHAPTER XVIII
The Irish and German Immigration 230

CHAPTER XIX
Territorial Losses 239

CHAPTER XX
The Great Business Boom, 1845-60 246

CHAPTER XXI
The Development of Education 268

CHAPTER XXII
The Secession from Virginia 281

CHAPTER XXIII
Military Operations 297

CHAPTER XXIV
The Political Reconstruction 316

CHAPTER XXV
The Weston State Hospital 327

CHAPTER XXVI
Economic Development After the War 335

CHAPTER XXVII
The Coming of the Railroad 352

CHAPTER XXVIII
Twenty Years' Progress, 1880-1900 368

CHAPTER XXIX
The Oil and Gas Development 380

CHAPTER XXX
The Twentieth Century 397

APPENDIX A:
Sketch of Col. Charles Lewis. 414

APPENDIX B:
Justices of the Peace Under Virginia 416

 

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The Iroquois, or Five Nations, of New York (who became the Six Nations by the accession of the Tuscaroras of North Carolina in 1713) began a series of wars against the surrounding Indians about 1650, and within a century they conquered the mighty tribe of Hurons living to the west of them and had overrun all the territory as far west as the Illinois and Mississippi rivers and as far south as Alabama and Mississippi. West Virginia was included in the early conquests of the New York tribe. There were traditions among the Indians of long and bloody wars fought between different tribes. Several battles were fought among the West Virginia hills during which the streams are said to have run as with blood. It is possible that the Iroquois found a strong tribe occupying West Virginia whom they had to exterminate because they could not drive them out. The ash circle found on Hacker's creek is said to be very uncommon among the American Indians, and it may be that it was built by a tribe different in civilization from most of the other tribes found east of the Mississippi. All attempts to solve the riddle have been futile. The permanent aboriginal inhabitants of West Virginia will probably remain undetermined.