History of Bristol, West Virginia 
Written by Virginia Mathey, 1925 (updated 1980)

Furnished by Juanita Emerson, transcribed by William Boggess



Had anyone chanced to travel through the hills and valleys of what, at that time was Virginia [became West Virginia, 23 Jun1863], during that last part of the Seventeenth Century and the early part of the Eighteenth Century, they would have discovered the rude dwellings of the Red Man and an old Indian trail. 

The first white man brave enough to encounter and indure the dangers and hardships of the trail in this area was Mr. John Simpson, a trader, who came up the West Fork River from present-day Morgantown and located at present-day Bridgeport in 1764. Simpson Creek was named for him. 

[George Washington had made two trips to area before his third trip Sep 1784 seeking routes to transport goods from his Ohio Company lands
the East, considered Ten Mile Creek once] 

The need for transportation connection between the Eastern States and the Ohio River became so great that the Northwestern Virginia Railroad Company (now the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company) started construction of a railroad in August 1852 completing it in May 1857, following the old Stage Coach Route, previously know as the Indian Trail.With its completion in 1857 there was a direct railroad connection between Baltimore and St. Louis. 

The first place of business to be operated (several words missing), was a tannery which was located where the Enon Baptist Church stood, just south of the overhead bridge on U. S. Route 50 - at the east end. It had to have been built prior to 1861 because the first school was established in the upper story of the tannery in 1861. However, I was unable to find out the exact date the tannery was built. Mr David W. Boggess owned and operated the tannery. He also built house Edgar and I live in, which our parents, Mr. Edgar Mathey and Mrs Rebecca Jane Cunningham Mathey, purchased and moved into October 15, 1913, so their children would be close to a school. 

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1860, a blockhouse was erected at the tunnel,. As it became necessary to get supplies here for the soldiers, Mr. Samuel Good established a General Store and Post Office just below the West end of the overhead bridge, the location of the Newton Billingslea home which just recently has burned. It was given the name of Goodtown. 

In 1866 Mr. David W. Boggess built a General Store and Post Office across the creek (Ten Mile) from our house. At that time the Railroad Station stood where the pump station and water tank for the coal-burning railroad engines was located later on - slightly northwest of our house between the creek and the railroad. The name was changed from Goodtown to Cherry Camp. Mr. David W. Boggess became Express Agent and the station moved to its last location - between Mr. Lee and Mrs. Ann Elaine Jones Casey's home (the former Thomas W. Harden home) and Mrs. Pearl Law's home. 

Cherry Camp had a [population of 150, several stores, a Grade School, and the Methodist Church which was located where the tannery had stood and Enon Baptist Church later stood. Some of the early settlers were: Mr. David W. Boggess, Mr. McCu [?], Mr Samuel Good, Mr. Truman J. Coffman and Mr. Noah Keesey. 

In 1895 because of the difficulty in keeping the baggage and freight separated from that of Cherry Run (about 50 miles west of here) it was decided to change the name of Cherry Camp, Mrs. Truman J. Coffman proposing the name of Bristol (1st, Goodtown; 2nd, Cherry Camp; 3rd, Bristol). Mr Thomas W. Keesey (Mr. Noah Keesey's son) became Express Agent, replacing Mr David W. Boggess. 

With the arching of the tunnel in 1865 more settlers arrived. The tunnel was bored and the track laid between 1852-1857; but first because of rock falling from the ceiling it was arched in 1865.  Bristol enlarged and prospered and wit the beginning of the Oil Boom in 1895 the population continued to increase- around 300.  The Ol Boom lasted until 1906. From then on for a few years the population and prosperity of Bristol were at a standstill. 

The first school was held in the upper story of the tannery. The second school ( the first school house) was built where Mr. Robert Moore and his family resided. Because of the swampy condition of the ground adjoining the school building, it was decided to change the location. A new two story, 4-room building was erected and opened fall of 1913, just west of Mrs. Karen Jenkins Hyde's home. At that time 3 years of High Scool work was added. More space being needed, two other buildings had to be used as classrooms. Three adjoining rooms were built in 1919 and it became a first class High School. Bristol then became a commnity center for the outlying communites, the main occupation being agriculture. 

January 20, 1929, school was opened in the new brick building which is still standing.The old building was used for grade school children. The Bristol Grade School building was closed in the Spring of 1960 an the children were transferred to Van Horn School in Salem with the beginning of the fall term in 1960. The Bristol Grade School building was torn down in 1964 or 1965 to make way for the relocation of U.S.Route 50, which became a 4-lane highway in
1966-67-68-69. 

The Bristol United Methodist Church was moved to its present location in 1966 and remained on the moving materials during the winter months. Church serices were held in the Bristol High School building during relocation period. The work completed in 1967 and re-dedicated in fall by Rev. John Hanifan who had been Pastor when it was originally dedicated June 26, 1927. A new parsonage was built during 1966-67 and open house was held the same day as the re-dedication service. 

NOTES on page 6 of original writing: 

1861 - The Methodist Church was established in upper storty of Tannery. 

1865 - Started construction of a Methodist Church building directly across the road from Mrs. Fanny Purkey's home. 

1866 - A 10-foot extension and Bell Tower were added. A bell was purchased in Baltimore and donated by Mr. David W. Boggess and his wife
Sarah Harden Boggess. 

Dec. 19, 1926 - The last service was held in the original building. Insert, Aug. 30, 1926 - corner stone laid. 

June 26, 1927 - Dedication services were held. {crossed out was: also open house in new parsonage.) 

Spring of 1927 - The old Church building was auctioned off and bought by Mr. Ray Mayfield and his wife, Isa Haney Mayfield. They used the lumber
to construct a home which is located above the road and rairoad in Haney Town' . Johnny Meredith and his family reside there. 

Addition 

Insert - The corner stone for the new (present) building was laid by Salem Lodge A.F.& A.M.- A.L.5926 on Aug. 30 1926. The first service in
the new building was held in the Church basement. (word "until" marked out) Services were conducted in basement until Sunday, 
June 26, 1927, when dedication services were held by Rev. Daniel Westfall of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Editor of Christian Monitor, delivering the dedicatory sermon. 

1966-67 Moved the brick Church building to its present location in 1961[?].  (marked out; "Basement was built & main building lowered on foundation
in 1977") 

Relocation work was completed in 1967 and was re-dedicated in fall by (marked out "Rev.") Dr.John Hanifan who had been the Pastor when it was
originally dedicated June 26, 1927. 
 
 
 

The Matthey Farm
 
 
 

Tintype of the home of David Wasmsley & Sarah Harden Boggess.  Sarah is upstairs on right,
children on fence are children of former slaves who close not to leave after the war. Home was built
in the 1860's.  Courtesy of Ree Jarrett, via William Boggess.

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HISTORY OF  BRISTOL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 

                                                                                                   (Author unknown) 
                                                              Furnished by Carl Kinney & Bertha Webb, transcribed by William Boggess
 
 

BRISTOL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH WAS ORGANIZED AS BRISTOL METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, June 28, 1861, WHEN THE FOUNDERS DAVID W. BOGGESS, DR. J.B. CONAWAY, MATTHIAS W. DAVIS, SAM GOOD AND NOAH
KEESEY MET IN THE TANNERY BUILDING, ON FLINDERATION ROAD. 

SERVICES WERE HELD IN THIS BUILDING, UNTIL 1866, WHEN THE FIRST CHURCH, A ONE-ROOM FRAME BUILDING, WAS BUILT ON THE SOUTHSIDE OF THE NORTHWESTERN PIKE, LATER NAMED U.S. ROUTE 50. THIS BUILDING, LIGHTED BY OIL LAMPS AND HEATED WITH COAL, WAS COMPLETE WITH A BELL DONATED BY DAVID W. BOGGESS AND A PULPIT MADE BY NOAH KEESEY.  THIS ORIGINAL BELL AND PULPIT CONTINUE TO BE USED IN CHURCH TODAY. THERE WERE WORSHIP SERVICES, SUNDAY, SCHOOL, EPWORTH LEAGUE, CLASS MEETING AND MID-WEEK PRAYER MEETING HELD HERE. 

ON AUGUST 30, 1926, THE CORNERSTONE WAS LAID FOR A BEAUTIFUL RED TAPESTRY BRICK BUILDING, ON THE NORTHSIDE OF U.S. ROUTE 50, WHICH WAS COMPLETED AND DEDICATED JUNE 26, 1927, AT A COST OF $18,000. 

IN 1965, WHEN U.S. ROUTE 50 WAS TO BE EXPANDED TO A FOUR-LANE HIGHWAY, THEY CHOSE TO KEEP IT AND HAVE IT MOVED. WITH THE SALE OF THE CHURCH BRINGING $36,000, IT WAS MOVED IN 1966-67 TO ITS PRESENT SITE ON CHURCH DRIVE, AT A COST OF $22,500. THE REMAINDER OF THE $36,000 WAS USED IN THE BUILDING OF THE NEW PARSONAGE. 

PRESENTLY THE CHURCH HAS WORSHIP SERVICES ON THE FIRST AND THIRD SUNDAYS OF THE MONTH. SUNDAY SCHOOL IS HELD EACH SUNDAY, OFFERING VARIOUS PROGRAMS AND CLASSES FOR ALL AGES.