So far as we are able to trace the records back, the founder of the Parsons family in Jackson County was a hardy pioneer who has seen active service during the Indian Wars of the last half of the eighteenth century, and bore a full part in opening the country west of the Allegheny Mountains.
His name was Charles Parsons, where and when he was born, we do not know. Records gathered by some of his descendants say he was living on the Eastern Shore in 1769.
Of course, like all events so long past, and of which no particular account was taken by the actors themselves, there are many conflicting accounts, theories and traditions. I shall endeavor to thoroughly sift and compare these so far as they come to my notice, and will write down what seems to be the nearest correct, following as closely as possible the record above mentioned, sometimes giving the other versions and traditions. This will also apply to the history of other families, for the same uncertainty and obscurity, to a certain degree, applies to all of them.
A perusal of the chronicles of the early settlements west of the mountains show that James and Thomas Parsons were in the Minear Colony, on the Cheat River, in 1773.
Minear, having quarreled with Thomas Parsons concerning a very valuable tract of land known as the “horse shoe bottom”, quoting the example of Abraham and Lot, moved the next spring, farther down the stream to the present site of St. George.
This James Parsons is sometimes spoken of as Captain Parsons.
They came from the upper waters of the south branch of the Potomac, near the present town of Moorefield.
Back of this, I cannot trace them, but at this point, their path crosses that of the line of the branch of the Parsons family we now have under consideration. From Moorefield, they went separate ways, to the south branch, they had come together. This theory, while not demonstrable, is a very probable supposition.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
1. Charles Parsons was living on the Eastern Shore, in Maryland, in 1769. His first wife was a Miss Chestnut. After this, he migrated to the banks of the South Branch of the Potomac River, and about 1786, as the record goes, to the Fort on the Buckhannon River. The actual date may likely have been earlier, as the Bush Fort, which it probably was, was destroyed by the Indians, in 1782.
There is a tradition that the Parsons and Carney families were in the fort when it was taken.
It is commonly the belief handed down by word of mouth that they lived on the Buckhannon River, and I have no doubt it is correct.
The next recorded move was about 1796 or 1797, to Warth’s Bottom.
Whether he came with his son, or later, is not known, but they probably moved at the same time.
He lived afterward on Sycamore above the bridge, probably he came there about the same time William located on the present site of Ripley.
He had moved to the farm owned by John Duke at Frozen Camp, before March, 1818. I take this date from patent to H. F. Knopp, land which calls for line of land owned by Charles Parsons, but does not say he lived on it. Date of patent, 1818.
He made the first improvement on the Upper Mill Creek Bottoms above the mouth of Frozen Camp, building his cabin near where Duke’s barn now stands.
He owned one hundred acres there, extending down to the mouth of Big Run, up the creek to Knopp’s farm, and up Big Run indefinitely far enough to make one hundred acres, largely bottomland, for that was the way they took up land in those days, leaving the hills for hunting grounds.
Joseph Parsons, a squatter, lived in a cabin below the mouth of Little Creek, but as he only “camped” there, it could not be called an improvement.
Charles Parsons was a hunter and Indian fighter, as were most men of his day. His ancestry was from England.
He married, probably in Maryland, and raised seven children. His wife dying, he married again, it is almost certain, after moving to Warth’s Bottom, and raised five children more.
Of these, Elias was born about 1798, and was the oldest child. Charles was born in 1804, and may have been the youngest.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
BEAR TALE INCIDENT
While Charles Parsons lived on Sycamore, his dogs started a large bear and chased it all day, alternately running and fighting for over twenty miles. Finally, they caught him as he was swimming Spring Creek below where Spencer now stands. The bear was swimming when the dogs came up, but letting down to the bottom it could stand on its hind feet in the shallow water and fight with a great advantage over the dogs. Grabbing hold of a favorite hound, it gave her a squeeze that broke her thigh bone, and threw her over to the bank. Fortunately, Bill Tanner arrived on the scene in time to take the suffering animal home with him and bandage its wounds, and take care of it until it was again well.
Parsons had long mourned his favorite as lost, his other dogs having come home without her, and was most agreeably surprised when one day about six weeks later, his dog came into the cabin, soon followed by the good Samaritan who had cared for her. Tanner was on his way to Point Pleasant to attend Court.
The animal was nearly as good as ever, though there was a knot on her hind leg at the place of the fracture. Good bear dogs, however, were too precious an article to lose. In those days, a man’s dog and gun were the most indispensable articles he possessed.
Charles Parsons divided his land between his two sons, continuing for a while to live with Elias.
He died some time between 1820 and 1830, and buried on the farm at the present Baptist Grove Cemetery. His is said to have been the first grave there. His grave is known to his grandchildren.
It is said that though Parsons served the state of Virginia several years as Indian “Spy” in the enlistment of all the remuneration he ever received was a black silk handkerchief, or stock.
His wife lived some years later. Lewis Parsons relates that when a boy (he was born in 1837), he has seen his father haul her on a hand sled over to his house from his Uncle (‘Lias’).
Charles Parsons’ children by his first wife, who was a Miss Chestnut, were:
William Lowther Parsons, married Susan Fink.
George Parsons, married Polly Sleethe.
John Parsons, married a Greathouse.
Polly Parsons, married Thomas Carney.
Betsy Parsons, married John Smith.
Peggy Parsons, married Joseph Bibbee.
Patsy Parsons, married Thompson Pickens.
Children by his second wife, who was a widow Sleethe, whose maiden name was Flesher, and who was a sister of Adam and George Flesher, of Weston:
Elias Parsons, married first Dolly Mahew, and second, Malinda Wiblin.
Charles Parsons, married Rebecca Wolfe.
Patsy Parsons, married William Casto.
Nancy Parsons, married John Casto.
Sally Parsons, married James Cunningham.
William Lowther Parsons was born on the “Eastern Shore”, July 24th, 1769, and died October 10th, 1839, aged seventy years. He moved with his father to South Branch, and later to the Buckhannon Settlement, where he married Miss Susan Fink, probably a daughter of the man from whom Fink’s Run received its name.
“Captain Billy”, as his friends and relatives are wont to fondly call him, won the title by military service in the War of 1812. He was one of the most conspicuous patriots and leaders of the Mill Creek settlement.
When he first came to Warth’s Bottom, he utilized a sycamore tree for a part of his house, and in it was born his son, John Fink, in 1797. In 1804, he made the first opening in the wilderness a the present site of Ripley. In 1808, his wife died, and later he sold his land to Jacob Starcher, and still later, probably after the War of 1812, lived up on Sycamore, perhaps on his father’s land. He had had two tracts of land surveyed, one at the mouth of Little Creek, and one on Mill Creek above, but had not had the patents confirmed before the war was over.
He moved at a later date to the mouth of Frozen Camp, where he owned land. The date of this settlement has not been preserved, but he probably lived here many years before his death, which occurred October 10th, 1839.
He was buried at the Baptist Grove graveyard at Frozen Camp.
When Captain Billy moved to the mouth of Frozen Camp, he was the first to settle there, so far as is now known. His cabin as built on the raise below the road at the end of the iron bridge, on the south side of Mill Creek.
Later, his widow and children moved to a house which stood in the garden, directly across the road from Frank Atkins. George W. Parsons continued to reside there until 1873, when he sold the farm to the Atkins’s, who were from Athens County, Ohio.
William L. and Susan Parsons children were:
Henry, who was born in Buckhannon, and was probably the oldest, married Lavina Turner. He lived on Parchment. His children were”
Washington A., married a Custer, and died in 1901.
Sol, married Lucinda Deweese; Filmore, a teacher, was their son.
Elizabeth, married Jacob Lanham.
John Fink Parsons, second son of William L. Parsons, is supposed to have been the first white child born in the vicinity. He was born in a sycamore tree, which was serving as the back room of his father’s house, in 1797. (Judge Asbury Parsons gave the date as 1794, if this were the correct date, he would easily be the first white child in Jackson County.) The place of his birth was near the present site of the residence of the late Hiram Douglass. He married Ruhanna Lyons, and lived at the mouth of Sycamore, on the left about a half mile below Centennial Church. He is buried on a hill near Sycamore. I always planned to visit his grave, but did not do so. His children were:
Marcus, married first Nancy Hamon, and later Loma Ayers, a sister of Buenos Ayers, the singing teacher mentioned in the history of Reedy Valley. Charles Parsons on Big Run was their son.
Hannah, married Benjamin Rhodes, son of “Doc” Rhodes.
Alfred, married Emmaline Carr, daughter of John Carr, who lived on the hill between Station Camp and Sycamore.
Armstrong, married Malinda Boyer. He died in 1874.
Mariam, married Alex Labachelleric and lived on Joe’s Run.
Martha, daughter of William L. Parsons, married Charles Love, and moved to Pike County, Ohio.
Hannah, daughter of William L. Parsons, married John Turner, and moved to New Orleans. Their children born on dates ranging from 1826 to 1845, were probably never residents of Jackson County. Their names were: Susannah, Evan, Rezin, Jonathan, Elizabeth, W.H., Benjamin, Martha and John.
Susan, daughter of William L. Parsons, was never married.
Charles, son of William L. Parsons, married Delilah Carpenter, and moved to Vinton County, Ohio.
William, son of William L. Parsons, married first Susan Bonnet, and later he married Nancy Hogsett. He lived on Parchment. His children were:
“Leck”, married Phebe Casto. Lovell Casto is their son.
Nic, married Elmer Casto’s daughter.
Barbara, married a Boles.
Margaret, married Nathan Casto, brother of Charles Casto.
Mark, John, Henry and Lydia were other children, but about them I have no further information.
William L. Parsons’ wife, Susan Fink Parsons, died at the birth of an infant daughter, in 1808, and both are buried together. Parsons then married Hannah Fauquier, who was born at Front Royal, Virginia. Their children were:
Mary, known as “Pop”, who married Isaac Rollins. They had three children (names not learned).
Travis, son of William L. Parsons, married Mary Hess. Their children were:
Henry, married Sarah Ann Boyer, and lived at the Tatterson place on Seaman Fork, of Reedy. Their son, Dr. Parsons, of Ripley, was born there. Other children of Henry were: Fleet, Travis, Mariam, and Ballard.
Henderson, lived at the mouth of Greenbrier on Seaman Fork.
Lafayette, son of William L. Parsons, married Sarah Hastings, in Kanawha County, and moved to Memphis, and later lived in Arkansas.
Ann, daughter of William L. Parsons, married first Charles Sheppard, and second Zach Hickman. With her second husband, she lived at Buffalo City, above Frozen Camp.
Jerusha, daughter of William L. Parsons, married Jared Tolley. They lived on Elk Fork.
Elizabeth, daughter of William L. Parsons, married Isaac Casto, and lived on Tug Fork. A daughter married an Earle, and another married A. M. Lewis.
George Walker Parsons, son of William L. Parsons, married M. E. Asbury. Their children were:
William Asbury, married Susan, daughter of T. J. Dawkins.
Robert Bruce, married Nancy, daughter of Jonathan Parish.
Alex R., married Rosa, daughter of C. C. Casto.
Mary, Perry, Lafe and Dr. A. R. were other children of George Parsons.
Janet, daughter of William L. Parsons, married Jabe Rollins, and lived at Hartford City. Rollins died, and she later married William Humphries.
Caroline, daughter of William L. Parsons, married Joe Miller. They lived first at the mouth of Buffalo, where they made the first improvement. Miller was a brother of Lewis Miller, who lived opposite Beech Grove, on Left Reedy. Some say he started to Oregon, and was killed by the Indians on the overland trail, others that he was going by sea and was lost on the water, as was his brother.
A deed made by William L. Parsons, in 1823, was signed by himself and his wife Elizabeth. He may have been married the third time, but I am inclined to think the second wife’s name was Elizabeth Walker instead of Nancy.
Another of the sons of Charles Parsons, and possibly the next in age to “Captain Billy” was John Parsons. He made the first improvement at the mouth of Stone Lick, on Grass Lick, and later moved farther up Stone Lick, to the place where his grandson, A. G. Parsons, now lives. He had probably lived somewhere on the Mill Creek side for some years before he moved to Grass Lick. He married first a Greathouse, and had seven or eight children, among whom were:
Charles, married a Trueman, and lived on Stone Lick. Their children were:
Adam, married an Alderman.
Phebe, married a Randolph.
Annie, married a Raines.
Minerva, married a Gandee.
Moses, son of John Parsons, married Polly Deweese. Their children were: Ruth, William, Henry and Lafe.
Ann, daughter of John Parsons, married Tapley Garnes, and lived on Grass Lick. They had a daughter who married John Dougherty, and another who married Anthony Jordan.
Mary, daughter of John Parsons, married a Raines, on Poca. Their daughter married Chris Rhodes.
Barbara, daughter of John Parsons, married Jesse Shamblin. Their daughter, Elizabeth Shamblin, married James Rollins. Other children were John, William, Wilson, Ezekiel, George, Isaac, Henry, and Jesse.
John, a son of John Parsons, married a Trueman. Their children were”
Ballard, married a Harper.
Melissa, married a Green.
Margaret, married Ben Coleman.
Thomas, married a Milam.
Charles, married a Miller.
Julia Ann, married Thaddeus Shamblin.
Ab, lives above Ripley.
Joshua, son of John Parsons, married Joanna Stewart, a niece of “Old Billy Stewart”. He was one of the earliest settlers on Seamon Fork, of Reedy. He made the first improvement on the Newhart farm there, about 1847. Later, about 1849, he built near where the old well on the Perry Hall farm at the head of Little Creek stands (John Hall said “Devil Bill” Parsons lived there before Joshua did.) Joshua afterward returned to Grass Lick, and died on Middle Fork of Poca. His children were:
Elizabeth, married Nathan Hill.
Allen, married a Rhodes.
George W., married Sarah J. Rhodes.
Jack (Gen. Jackson), married Delila Burdett.
Benson, married a Green.
Charles, (was deaf).
Analiza, married ‘Preacher” Honaker.
George Parsons, son of Charles Parsons, married Polly Sleethe, probably a sister of David Sleethe, who came to Warth’s Bottom. He made the first improvement at Reedyville, Roane County. His cabin was on the Petty farm, and was at the site of the village. George and Polly Sleethe Parsons’s children were:
George, Jr., married a Woodruff. She later died, and he married Fannie Newell. Their children were: Hiram, Vashta, Joel, and a daughter who married a Smith.
Ruth, daughter of George Parsons, Sr., married Abe Sayre, and lived on Parchment. Their children were:
George, married a daughter of Elmore Casto, and lived on Parchment.
A daughter married A. C. Hill.
A daughter married William Sees, and lived on Thirteen.
A daughter married Strother Smith, and lived on Thirteen.
Abe and Bird are mentioned as two other children.
Betsy, daughter of George Parsons, Sr., married George Bord. Their children were:
Ballard., married Katy Ingram.
A daughter married N. M. Crites.
A daughter married Sam Starcher.
A daughter married Wilson Starcher.
A daughter married Peter Rhodes.
James, Abe and Bird are the names of other children.
Sally, daughter of George Parsons, Sr., married Edward Green, familiarly known as “Old Neddy Green”.
Charles, son of George Parsons, Sr., married an Allen. Their children were: Asbury, Lon and Leman.
Mandy, daughter of George Parsons, Sr., married John Boyd. Their son, Charley Boyd, lived near Peniel and Reedyville.
Jane, daughter of George Parsons, Sr., married Reverend Perry Lowther, a son of theirs married John Leonard’s daughter.
Patsy, a daughter of Charles Parsons, Sr., married Thomas Pickens, and lived on the Maumee River.
Betsy, a daughter of Charles Parsons, Sr., married John Smith, of Lewis County. Their children were:
George Smith, who lives in Roane County, and was three times married, the third wife’s name being Smith.
Elias Smith, went to Illinois, was married. His children were Calvin and David.
Dolly Smith, married Jonah Woodruff, brother of David Woodruff. He was drowned, and she later married John Law, who, it is said, was also drowned. One child by the first marriage, John Woodruff, is mentioned.
Peggy, daughter of Elias, married Joseph Bibbee. Their children were:
Elijah Bibbee, married a Sayre, children: Elijah and Ephraim.
Susan Bibbee, married John Coe, children: Alfred, Mary, Tamar, Lottie and George.
Delilah Bibbee, married Abe Slaughter, children: John and Elijah, who was once Deputy Sheriff of Jackson County.
Alfred Bibbee, married a daughter of John Percy, children Lewis, Lula and others.
Charles Parsons, Jr., was a son of Charles Parsons, Sr. He was born June 4th, 1804. He lived all his wedded life on the McVay farm, near the mouth of Big Run. He died there December 7th, 1875. He married Rebecca Wolfe about 1827, and their children were:
Wilson W., married Flora Graham. Their children were: Ezra B., Eldridge, Everett, and a daughter who married John Hall, son of Sam Hall, of Reedy. Elias, son of Charles Parsons, Jr., married Martha Lattimer. Their children were: Sam, Lewis, and a daughter, who married a Lee.
Frances, daughter of Charles Parsons, Jr., married first James Lattimer, and later James Conley.
Hiram, son of Charles Parsons, Jr., married Phebe Dye, cousin of Dusassaway Dye. She had formerly married a Waybright, and was Widow Waybright when she married Hiram Parsons. (Ed Waybright was her son by this former marriage.)
Hannah, daughter of Charles Parsons, Jr., married John Conrad, of Reedy.
Lewis, son of Charles Parsons, Jr., married Malinda Depue, a granddaughter of John Boggs, one of the pioneers of Spring Creek.
Jesse, son of Charles Parsons, Jr., married Polly Humphries. He died in 1906, and she several years earlier.
Sarah Jane, daughter of Charles Parsons, Jr., married John Wesley Cain, a son of Gamaliel Cain.
David, son of Charles Parsons, Jr., married Rebecca Staats, sister of Bill Staats.
Mary Catherine, daughter of Charles Parsons, Jr., married Nathan Lee.
Elias Parsons was another son of Charles Parsons, Sr., who lived on the farm now owned by John Duke, at Frozen Camp. He was born just after the immigration to Warth’s Bottom, and died December 29th, 1849, when fifty two years old. He was twice married, first marrying Dolla Mayhew, who is buried by his side at Frozen Camp. His second wife was a Widow Graham, whose maiden name had been Burdett. After Parsons died, his widow married Elijah Staats, and lived near Evans.
Three of Elias Parsons’ children died while young. They were Sarah, Melinda and Elizabeth. The names of the remaining children were:
Charley (Little Charley), married Melinda Wiblin, and lived at the head of Frozen Camp. Their children were: M. M. (Murl), and Debby, who married a Brown.
David, married Betty Roush, and lives on the Kanawha River, in Mason County.
Ben, moved to Ohio, and married Ollie Kelley, of Byesville.
James, married Jane Dye, daughter of John Dye.
Angeline, married Leeman Allen, son of Jesse Allen,
Patty, daughter of Charles Parsons, Sr., by his second wife, married William Casto, (“Devil Bill”), who lived to be one hundred three years old. Two of their children, John and Ann, died in infancy. Others of which I have only the names, were: Wylie, Charley, Augustus, Jacob, and Mary. There were, also:
Elias, married a Casto.
Margaret, married William Gandee, of Roane County.
Emily, married Rev. Nicholas Casto.
David, married a daughter of Isaac Staats.
Martin, married William John’s daughter.
Nancy, a daughter of Charles Parsons, Sr., and his second wife, married John W. Casto, a brother of “Devil Bill”. They had one child, Anna Casto, who married Jim Rhodes, and lived on Elk Fork. Casto died, and Nancy married John Bord, who was a son of Patrick Bord, the first settler of Reedy District. They first lived on Little Creek, at what is called the “old improvement”. They left there about 1829, and moved to the mouth of a branch of Big Run called, for him, Bord Run. He died n 1875, and it is said that Nancy Bord “lay a corpse when Lee surrendered to Grant”.
The children by this marriage were:
Polly Bord, married a Boyd, and lived on Reedy.
Charles Bord, married a Tolley, and lived on Frozen Camp.
William Bord, married a Waybright, lives on Middle Fork.
Margaret Bord, married Matthew Cobb.
Mahala Bord, married Hiram Cobb, brother of Matthew.
Miles Bord, married Elizabeth Bradley, lives at Frozen Camp.
Sally, the other daughter of Charles Parsons, Sr., and his second wife, married James Cunningham. Of their children, Charles Cunningham was drowned in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Rath married Jane Graham. He died in Ripley.
There is another Parsons family connected with the settlement of the Mill Creek county, which is no doubt related to the Charles and William Lowther Parsons who came to the mouth of Mill Creek. The head of this last named Parsons family, so far as it appears in the Mill Creek section, was Joe Parsons. He was probably either a brother of Charles Parsons, or a son of a brother of his.
Joe Parsons, being a hunter and a rover, appears to have been mostly a squatter in different sections, rather than a permanent resident. He at one time lived on one of the streams flowing into Mill Creek, which was named Joe’s Run, for him.
A more detailed account of the life of Joe Parsons will be found in connection with the settlement of Upper Mill Creek further on. Of his family, there is none I can find mentioned, excepting William, who was universally known as “Devil Bill” Parsons.
They children of William (Devil Bill) Parsons were:
John Parsons, married Elizabeth Good, daughter of Jacob Good. He lived on the Middle fork of Poca.
Josiah, killed on West For, during the war.
“Said”, lived with her father.
James, was in Major Harpold’s Company during the war, and was killed at Cedar Creek.
Alf, was lost in the Union Army.
A son was, when a boy, killed during the Civil War, in an incident which occurred on the Ripley-Ravenswood pike, which incident is mentioned elsewhere in this volume.
Then there was a Joseph Parsons who came to Sand Creek in 1800. The Charles Parsons and George Parsons mentioned in the Sandy Valley section were probably connected with him.
He once lived at the head of Little Creek, and for a time lived under one of the several rocks on Gardner Run, a small tributary to Little Creek.
Adam Parsons, who lived at Salt Hill, was probably also connected. His daughter -
Mary, married William Stewart. Their children were: Charles, George, Elisha, Adam, Sarah, Ephriam, Elizabeth, John, Violetta and Lewis.
Charles Parsons was killed by the Indians while floating down Shade River, Meigs County, Ohio. He was said to have been a red haired man. Charles Parsons married a Westbrook. Their children were:
James, who was but six years old at the time his father was killed by the Indians.
Anthony, married Catherine McCune, daughter of Peter McCune, Sr. Their children were John, whose daughter Amelia married Rev. M. B. Edmondson, and a daughter who married John Conally, son of Dr. George Conally.
Joseph, married Elizabeth Bush, a daughter married Jacob Schoolcraft, and another, Christina, married Jacob Wayne.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Perhaps the name most identified with the history of the town of Ripley, is that of Starcher.
The founder of the family was Jacob Starcher. Where he came from, or when he came to Mill Creek is not recorded. One year older than Captain Parsons, he came to the mouth of Sycamore as his successor in the prime of manhood, about 1812.
He probably came to Mill Creek about the time Abram Staats did, whose daughter he married, and from the same place. If this be the case, it is not recorded.
Jacob Starcher married Anna Staats. They both lived to the same age, and now lie under the beautiful shade of the beech trees in the Ripley graveyard.
He was born in 1768, and died in 1838, at the age of seventy years.
She was born January 3rd, 1777, and died on July 8th, 1847, aged seventy years.
The names of four of their children are recorded on the stone leaves of the cemetery:
Jacob, born in 1795, the oldest.
John C, born in 1796.
Abraham, born in 1800.
William, born in 1810.
There are probably other children, whose names I did not learn. Of those mentioned:
John C. Starcher, married Charity Lyons. Names of any children not learned.
Abraham Starcher married Margaret Evans, and lived”down next to the river” as my informant expressed it. He died in 1871, at the age of seventy one. His wife died in 1852, at the age of fifty four. Their children were:
Daniel Starcher, who died in 1846, unmarried.
Mark Starcher, married Mary Williamson. Both are buried in the Ripley cemetery, along with his father and mother. His grave is decorated with a flag, for his gave his life for the Union. He died from the effects of wounds, after lingering ill two years after his return. He was forty five when he died. His wife survived him twenty there years, but now lies buried by his side.
Joe Starcher, unlike his brother Mark, was a soldier in the Confederate Army, and was killed in service. (Thus did this tear families apart.)
Sally married Jim Park.
In this family there were also other children whose names I did not learn.
Jacob Starcher, son of Jacob, Jr., married Rachel Woodruff.
William Starcher was the youngest of the four sons of Jacob Starcher, Sr. he married Sarah (Sally) Evans, a sister of Abraham’s wife. He lived across the creek, near the depot. He died in 1872. His wife died in 1883, at the age of eighty years, and lies also in the Ripley Cemetery, under the beeches.
Edward, a son of William Starcher, married Emily Ables, of the Sycamore family. Probably a daughter of Alex Ables.
Rosa, a daughter of William Starcher, married E D W King, a circuit rider of the Methodist itinerary.
Robert E Starcher, son of William, was born near Ripley, in 1827. He filled during his life may positions of honor and trust. He served as sheriff, deputy sheriff, township supervisor, and for many years was Justice of the Peace.
The Starchers who comprised the mercantile firm of Starcher Brothers, of Ripley, were grandsons of William Starcher.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
After the death of Jacob Starcher, the old homestead in Ripley was sold to Thomas Graham, of Mineral Wells, in Wood County, in 1838 or 1839.
Graham was born in Monahan County, Ireland, in January, 1782, and seven years later his father emigrated to America. Like all the hardy pioneers of the day, young Thomas had his share of experience with the Indian foes, and his brother Robert was a soldier in the Indian wars.
Whether Virginia or Pennsylvania was the site of the elder Graham’s residence is not now known.
Thomas and Robert were both soldiers in the War of 1812. The former was a member of the Methodist Church from 1833 to 1873. He died in July, 1878, at the advanced age of ninety six years, and was buried near Mineral Wells.
Thomas Graham married Elizabeth Reeder, and settled at Mineral Wells, about 1808. He had to make pilgrimages to the Kanawha salt fields for salt and had often admired the beautiful country on Mill Creek, through which the trail passed, and having an opportunity to secure a farm at the mouth of Sycamore, he hastened to do so.
Some of the old apple trees he planted in the bottom below George Armstrong’s are said to be still standing.
He afterward returned to Wood County, where most of his children lived.
He appears to have been a trader before coming to Ripley. His salt was procured from his brother at the salt springs above Charleston, for it he bartered skins and furs, which were carried on pack horses over the hills.
One daughter, Elen R., who married Sam Sayre, son of Joel and died in 1849 at the age of seventeen, and an infant son, Clermont, died in 1846, are buried in the central part of the old burying ground at Ripley.
A daughter, Louise Caroline, married Isaiah Vail, who was born in Meigs County, Ohio, January 19th, 1825, and died in Ripley, where he made his home after marriage, November 19th, 1895, being just seventy years and ten months old.
His sons Robert Vail engaged in undertaking and furniture, and John R. Vail, the genial hardware man, are among Ripley’s most progressive citizens.
William Graham, a son of Thomas, was in the Union Army, First West Virginia Cavalry, and was taken prisoner by the Confederates.
Richard B. Graham, son of Thomas, seems to have alternated between Ripley and Mineral Wells, as a place of residence.
William Graham, a brother of Thomas, located on the Kanawha River, above Charleston. He was the owner of the salt works at Graham’s Mines, and shipped that commodity out of the Kanawha on keelboats. One of his sons, the Rev. C.B. Graham, was long presiding elder of the Charleston District in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
An older brother, Robert Graham, was a large landholder on Reedy and Spring Creek. He was a practicing physician, a graduate of the University of Glasgow.
(This next paragraph is offset by horizontal lines in the original text)
A James Graham moved from Monroe County, Virginia, to Reedyville. Mrs. Westfall, a daughter was born there in 1830. She tells me these Grahams are not known to be related to the Mill Creek or Parkersburg Grahams. He married Sally Burdett, daughter of John Burdette. They moved to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where he died in 1839. His family then came back to a house built for them by their neighbors, across from where Luke Parsons now lives.
The following story was told me by Robert Vail, in 1904:
Before the settlement at Ripley, Robert Graham had an appointment to meet another man at the intersection of the Charleston and Parkersburg trail with the overland path from Warth’s Bottom to Harrison County. Not finding his man on the ground, Graham went in to camp at the crossing of the trails near where the Hon. James A. Seaman now lives. Awaking in the night, he found himself covered over with leaves, like the babes in the woods.
Being an experienced woodcraftsman, he knew in a moment what that meant, so he crept carefully out and heaped the leaves up again as nearly as possible as they had been before he moved. Then cautiously he climbed a neighboring tree, and with his trusty rifle in hand, watched until daylight.
His vigilance was rewarded by seeing through the grey morning light, an enormous panther appear on the scene, followed by two cubs.
She crept stealthily to within eight or ten feet of the leaf pile, and crouching low, sprang on it with all her power. Never was panther more surprised than she when she grasped the empty leaves, and before she had recovered from her momentary confusion, a rifle spoke out from the tree top, and she sank down in the agonies of death, with a bullet through her heart.
When “Dick” Graham was a small boy, he was allowed to accompany Black Ed, a negro, to Charleston for a load of salt. Shortly before they reached the foot of Salt Lick Hill, as it was gathering dusk, they heard a noise in the thicket bordering the trail, like the screaming of a woman in distress.
The boy wanted to go to her relief, but the more wary colored man told him to “never mind the woman, but hurry on”. The noise however came nearer and nearer, until presently a large panther came into the path before them. Upon seeing the travelers, it climbed a tree and crouching on a horizontal branch, watched them as they gathered fuel and built a fire, for it was now growing dark. This done, the colored man had the boy mount the horse and flee for the nearest cabin.
While he brandishing a long knife, his only weapon, jumped around wildly, defying the animal to come down to him, the panther, however, did not choose to come down to the fire, and the man’s gyrations had the desired effect of attracting its attention from the boy and horse, who made good their escape.
Ed had to remain awake and keep up the fire until morning, when daylight came, the panther jumped from its perch and disappeared into the forest, much to the tired man’s relief.
One time, at an earlier date, before the animals had grown sufficiently accustomed to the firearms of the pioneers, to have become cowardly, a large panther attacked Thomas Graham in his camp on the head of Sandy, near where Andrew Somerville resided later, while on a trip to Kanawha for salt.
When shot, the animal measured nine feet from tip to tip.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Another name intimately connected with the history of Ripley and Jackson County is that of Smith. Indeed, what town or village was ever founded without Mr. Smith having his part in it.
Go where you may, and ask where Mr. Smith lives, and they will tell you, for there is no neighborhood so poor or so remote that he is not there.
The founder of this family was Jonas Smith, born on Long Island, in 1787. His wife was Diana Nostrand. She was born in 1790. They moved west with their family, consisting of four sons and three daughters, locating at Point Pleasant, about 1820. There, the mother died in 1835, the father died in Illinois ten years later.
Of the sons, George, Nehemiah and James are identified with the history of Ripley.
Nehemiah Smith, commonly known as “Mire” Smith, was born in New York, December 14th, 1805, and died at Ripley, April 28th, 1859. He married Rachel Wetzell, a daughter of Adam Wetzell, who was a nephew of the renowned Indian fighter, Lewis Wetzell. She was born in 1805 and died February 15th, 1865. Both rest under the beech trees of the old graveyard. “Mire” Smith, with his brother James, who was the builder of the Court House in Ripley in 1833, opened the second mercantile establishment in Ripley in 1833. The first was by Alfred Beauchamp, of Elizabeth, a few months earlier. In 1841, they also opened a store at Reedy, in a little hewed log building built for that purpose by William Stewart, nearly where the Ball tavern now stands. This was the first store at Reedy. “Wash” Rader was salesman, and like most stores of the day, whiskey was one of the principal commodities handled.
“Mire” Smith was Sheriff of Jackson County in 1850, and in his day one of the most enterprising of the business men of Ripley.
Nehemiah and Rachel Wetzell Smith’s children were:
A daughter who married Henry Progler. [Elizabeth]
A daughter who married James McKown. [Samantha]
George W. Smith was born in Watertown, New York, in 1814, came with his parents to Point Pleasant when six years of age. In 1839, he married Anna Staats, a daughter of Jacob Staats, who lived on Mill Creek just below Ripley. About 1841, he acquired the old Rader homestead on Elk Fork, and lived there until his death. Both he and his wife were buried in the Rader graveyard.
Like his brother, he died young. Born August 14th, 1814, he died February 19th, 1860, when but forty five years old.
George and Anna Staats Smith’s children were:
F.F. Smith, born in 1840, died in 1864, was a Major in the Confederate Army, and killed at Urbana, Maryland.
A.A. Smith, born in 1842, was in the same regiment with his brother. He died in 1910.
C.C. (Clay) Smith, born in 1844, was on the other hand, in the Union Army. He later lived at Spencer.
George H. Smith, born in 1846, died in 1860.
Ellen Diana Smith, born in 1848, married John A. Mackintosh, a merchant, of Ravenswood.
Virginia Alice Smith, born in 1850, died in 1888.
Everett Crittendon Smith, born in 1852.
Victoria Ann Smith, born in 1856, died in 1865.
Mary Jane Smith was born in 1858. She married first a wealthy English land owner named Rosset. After his death, she later married F. Leon Clere (pronounced Clare), a young lawyer and real estate man, of Ripley. Clere was born at Montiers, Switzerland, in 1845, and died at Ripley, in 1886. His is one of the most imposing granite monuments in the old cemetery.
Nancy Smith, a sister of Nehemiah and George Smith, is also buried in the cemetery. She was born in 1793, and died in 1852.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
The name of Wetzell, once prominent in Ripley, was later transferred to Ravenswood.
Adam Wetzell was the son of one of Lewis Wetzell’s brothers.
He lived at Point Pleasant, and raised a family of several children, but came to Jackson County before 1831.
His wife was a Miss McDaniel, of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, her mother’s name was Slack, and her grandmother, Phillips, from Scotland.
Of their children:
Rachel married Nehemiah Smith, as mentioned before.
William, Perry and George went to Missouri.
Another son was publisher of a Union paper at Point Pleasant, and was shot to death by a man who took offense at an article which appeared in the paper.
John H. Wetzell was born at the Point in 1811. When a young man, arrayed in tow linen breeches, young Wetzell walked to Charleston, seeking his fortune. There he learned the tailor’s trade. He came to Ripley about 1830, and was one of the Virginia Gazetteer’s two tailors mentioned. This essential avocation of the pioneer days, like that of the hatter, has gone from our midst, years ago, and even the calling of boot and shoe maker is fast disappearing. He was assessor in 1864, and was postmaster at Ripley for many years.
He was married to Harriet Lowther, a descendant of Col. Wm. Lowther, of Harrison County, and daughter of Robert Lowther.
A gray old weatherbeaten headstone under the shadowy beeches of the central part of the old Ripley graveyard bears the quaint inscription –
“Here lys the body of Harriet Wetzel wife of John Wetzel born Dec the 12th 1817 and died the 7th of March 1845”
John and Harriet Lowther Wetzell’s children were:
Hon. Robert T. Wetzell, of Ravenswood.
Elizabeth Wetzell, married Ben Chase, who was killed in the Confederate Army, at Lloyd’s Mountain. They had a daughter, Greek Chase, who married a Park. She was very proud of her New York origin. She once said “Virginia doesn’t hustle enough to suit me. One class does not have to work, and the other won’t”.
After the death of his first wife, John Wetzell married Anna, a daughter of Joseph Hall. She was born in 1821, and died at the home of her son, Dr. Wetzell, in Ravenswood, in 1903, at the age of eighty two years. The Wetzell children by the last wife, were:
Dr. J. H. Wetzell, lived at Ravenswood.
J.P. Wetzell, married Miss Sarah Wetzell of Ravenswood. He was a painter by trade.
A family of Wetzells living in Roane County claimed relationship with the Ravenswood Wetzells. David Wetzell, a soldier of the war of 1812, claimed to be a descendant of Lewis Wetzell. He was born in Shenandoah Valley, in 1792, and married Regina Fultz. His children were: William B. Wetzell, was killed at Cloyd’s Mountain.
Aaron M. Wetzell, was in the Ninth West Virginia Infantry.
Rebecca Wetzell married William Curtis. They had children: Francis, Albert L., Lyda, Martha and Nathan.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Robert Lowther, probably connected with Col. William Lowther, came from Harrison County to Ripley about 1831.
He was one of the first members of the Ripley bar, and for several years, postmaster of the place.
He was born March 24th, 1795, and died April 22nd, 1856.
His wife, Mary Lowther, was three years his senior, and died five years earlier, or in 1851. They both sleep in the old cemetery at Ripley.
By them lies a son, E. D. (Dunck) Lowther, born in 1830, died in 1897. Over his grave waves a faded American flag, showing that in “the times that tried men’s souls”, his rang true. Honor to all the graves, the flag waves over, be they never so lowly and peace to the ashes that sleep beneath.
Andrew Lowther was another son.
Mary Lowther, a daughter, died in Baltimore.
Major Henry Harpold’s wife was also a daughter, and the last of the family to cross the bar was Mrs. Minerva Smith, widow of the late Judge Joe Smith. She died a few years ago.
Robert Lowther, as surveyor, first laid off the town of Ripley, in 1832, and for a quarter of a century, he was a distinguished and progressive citizen.
The Court House Square was given by Jacob Starcher, who laid out the town.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
There are two families of Armstrong whose history is connected with that of Ripley. The one is associated with the town from the beginning, the other is of later migration.
The latter, headed by John J.P. Armstrong, who was born in Bath County, Virginia, came from Lewis County, in 1841.
His wife was a Miss Margaret Jones. They had two sons, who became prominent in county affairs, Jacob L. Armstrong, born in Lewis County, July 24th, 1827, moved to Jackson County, with his parents in 1841. He married Eliza Ayres July 24th, 1850, and moved from Ripley to Ravenswood in 1855, where he died.
Holly G., J.V., and Virginia, who became Mrs. W.W. Riley, were their children.
J.L. Armstrong was Clerk of the County Court, in 1876. He died November 6th, 1901.
Merceline Armstrong, a sister, married John Bonnett.
Margaret, wife of John P. Armstrong, died in February 16th, 1871, at the age of eighty. She was Margaret Jones, born in Wales, and mother of J.L. and M.B. Armstrong.
Mathias Benson Armstrong was born in Lewis County, February 10th, 1820. He was a son of John J.P. Armstrong, and came to Jackson County in 1843. (Other accounts put the date of the Armstrong immigration at 1844.) He was one year First Lieutenant in Company G, 36th Virginia Infantry. Frank Turner’s Company of John A. McCausland’s regiment, a Deputy Sheriff in Lewis County, and under “Mire” Smith in Jackson County in 1850, four years State Senator, four years County surveyor, and several years postmaster.
He was three times married, his first wife being Nancy, daughter of Joseph Rader.
He died (from tombstone) February 19th, 1894, was born February 10th, 1819.
M. B. Armstrong lived on the farm where the Spencer pike leaves the middle Fork of Reedy to cross over to Reedyville, in 1855 or 1856.
The second wife was Rachel Bennett.
The third wife was Luisa, daughter of Elijah Flesher, and widow of Dr. F.A. Holt. An inscription on her monument says she was born March 21st, 1825, and died December 15th, 1889.
William H. Armstrong, who died in 1846, is said to have been a son of J. J. P. Armstrong. He married Aerligh Rollins, who afterward was wedded to Elias Stone and John A. Goodwin.
The John Armstrong who taught the first school at Ripley is said to be no relation, possibly he was of Col. Armstrong’s family.
The earlier Armstrong family was founded at Ripley in 1831, by Col. James Armstrong.
He was born in 1805, and died in 1879.
He married Catharine Weas, a daughter of George Weas, who lived six miles from Beverly, in Randolph County.
She was born on January 12th, 1812, and died at the home of George W. Armstrong in January, 1900. Had she lived a few days longer, she would have been eighty two years old. She was a member of the Baptist Church. James Armstrong and Catharine Weas were married in 1830, and came to Jackson County the fall of 1831, settling at the mouth of Sycamore.
Judge V.S. Armstrong, B.F., and George W. Armstrong, Mrs. Thomas E. Graham, of Parkersburg since about 1896, Martha J., who married Dr. Charles N. Austin, formerly of Ripley, and Mrs. James Brown, of Sandyville, survived both their parents. Florence, wife of J. E. Brown, died in Parkersburg, in 1906. Annie, wife of V.S. Armstrong, died April 15th, 1904. Julia Watson, of Iowa, was also a daughter.
Calvin Armstrong, who died at Ripley, December 23rd, 1872, in his seventy second year, was a brother of Colonel Armstrong. Another brother, Alpheus, lived about two miles up Sycamore on the Sandyville road.
A sister married James Thomas, and lived on Little Creek in the 30’s or 40’s (about 1831).
Virgil S. Armstrong died October 28th, 1917.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Robert Mate, who died in Ripley, of which he had long been a citizen. He was born in Pointor, Lincolnshire, England, January 14th, 1821, came to New York in 1844, married Eliza Harker, also from England, in 1850, on the 4th of July, started for Ripley the morning of the 5th, where he located on the 22nd.
He was an accomplished blacksmith, and from his shop are said to have graduated:
J. M. Miller
John T. Vail
James E. Batten
A. A. Kidd
About fifty others have worked in his shop at different times.
His father died in England, in 1834, and his mother at his house in Ripley, in 1871.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
John McKown was born in 1788. He came with his father’s family from Greene County, Pennsylvania, about 1810 or 1812.
John McKown was of Irish descent, his father was James McKown, and is said to have seen service in the Revolutionary War with General Washington. John was the youngest son. He had a brother, Gilbert, who also came to Jackson County, later.
John married Sarah Stone, who was born in 1788. He owned a fine farm three miles below Ripley, and had a grist mill, saw mill and carding machine. He was also prominent in the organization of Jackson County, in 1831, and was one of the first magistrates of the county. He died in 1883, and Sarah (Stone) McKown died in 1882. Of their children:
Elias McKown never married.
Lydia McKown married first a Love, and second Nathan Ong.
Margaret McKown married first Robert Griffin, and second John Hogg.
James McKown was born on the farm at the mouth of parchment, in 1828, and died in February, 1905, at he age of seventy seven years.
While engaged in merchandising in Ripley with Nehemiah Smith, he married his partner’s daughter, Samantha Smith. They lived at what was later the site of the Valley Bank, and had a large family of ten children.
Gilbert McKown, their son, was the father of Isaac and Ephraim McKown, of Roane County.
Gilbert McKown, son of John McKown, lived about the time of the Civil War, in Spencer. He had a son Norman McKown.
A Sam McKown married a Rollins, and died before the war.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Dr. Amos Kidd was born near Marietta, in 1827. His father, Amos Kidd, married Keziah Roberts. He was from Greene County Pennsylvania, and she from Loudoun County, Virginia. In later life, they came to Jackson County, and died there. Dr. Kidd studied medicine at Sterling Medical College. He came to Ravenswood in 1863, and practiced there for some years, then practiced at Ripley until his death.
He married Mary Dorman. Dr. W.W. Kidd, of Ripley, is their son.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
John Greer lived in Bath County, Virginia, prior to 1808, on the banks of the Bull Pasture River. Here was born his family of five children, William, born in 1793, Margaret in 1794, Jane in 1800, John in 1803 and James in 1805.
In the year 1808, he crossed the mountains to the “wild and wooly” west, there being no wagons or roads other than trails, the family and such household utensils as were brought along were conveyed on the backs of five or six horses. One carried the mother with the youngest child in her lap, one carried the father, and the others the children and effects. William, who was thirteen, rode a horse, and John, who was five, rode behind. Someplace on the route, a meddlesome dog slipped out and nipped the horse’s heels, and the animal promptly dumped the boys in the road.
Greer fixed his residence just above Point Pleasant, on the Kanawha River, and raised about eight acres of corn the first year, after his arrival. While going out to his place, his dogs, an indispensable possession of every pioneer, treed a black bear in what is now the corporate limits of the city.
The son John celebrated his ninety fourth birthday on December 14th, 1897.
Asbury Parsons told me Jack Greer remembered seeing Captain Billy Parsons’ Company march for Norfolk in the War of 1812.
William, the oldest son of John Greer, was born in 1793, and died in 1837, by being drowned in Mill Creek, near Cottageville. He married Martha E. ----, who died in 1879. They had five children:
John, married Catharine Redman.
Samuel Beatty, born October 2nd, 1830, died November, 1906, married Mary Frances Ayres.
James A. Greer.
William T. Greer.
Martha Greer, married W. Brown Gibbs.
John M. Greer, son of William Greer, was born on the 15th day of December, 1823, and died on the 19th of May, 1900. He married Catharine Redman.
He came with his father, when seven years old, living on the Isaiah Cunningham farm.
On the death of his father, John, the oldest child, though but fourteen years old, had to take a man’s place in providing for the family, for his father was a man of small means.
While a boy, he carried the mails through woods and over stream from Ripley to Arnoldsburg, Spencer being the only intermediate office. He made one trip each week, and received $150.00 per year. He also carried the mail from Ripley to Belleville.
He also helped in driving cattle to Harrison and Lewis Counties for the magnificent renumeration of $8.00 per month.
In politics, John Greer was a Whig up to the war. Voting for Bell in 1860, and against secession in 1861. After the war was over, he was first a liberal, then a “let upper”, and finally, a full-fledged Democrat. In 1847, he held his first office, being appointed constable by the County Court, composed of John Kountz, Jesse Carney, Thomas Coleman, and Dr. John Armstrong, Justices.
This was to fill a vacancy caused by John K. Stone failing to give bond.
His sureties were John Harper, Hugh Kyger, Charles Carney, and S. B. Seaman, and the bond was for $3,000.00. On the 11th day of June, 1849, he was reappointed, the court being John W. Rardon, Ephraim S. Evans, Warren Reed, Joel Cunningham and Joel Sisson, and his bondsmen John Harper, Hugh Kyger and W. H. Watson. Twice more he was constable, by appointment in 1851, and by the vote of the people in 1854.
On the 22nd of May, 1856, John Greer was elected Sheriff of Jackson County, giving bond in the penalty of $80,000.00.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
John Keeney married Rachel Burdett, a sister of Willis Burdett. He was one of the Middle Fork pioneers, settling on the Deem place, on the Middle Fork of Reedy, being the first settler on that farm.
After staying there a few years, he moved away, finally bringing up in Ripley.
He is said to have been a Methodist preacher.
John D. Keeney died June 10th, 1855, in his sixty sixth year. Rachel Burdett Keeney died September 11th, 1861, aged sixty seven. Both are buried at Ripley. He lived in Ripley as early as 1839.
Of his children:
Alec Kenney, married Elvira Rader.
D.J. (Jack) Keeney, married a daughter of John Koontz. He was Republican candidate for Sheriff of Jackson County, in 1870.
Maria Keeney, married “Wash” Burdett.
Caroline Keeney, married John Mackintosh.
Analiza Keeney, married a man named Taylor.
Top of Page Return to Index Home
Connected with the history of Ripley is that of the Stone family.
This family came to Jackson County from Mason County. There were four in the family, three brothers and a sister.
John Stone, lived at Stevens, Mason County, was the father of Attorney E. L. Stone. He raised eighteen children and was married three times. He was born about 1832 or 1833, and died March 4th, 1907.
Fred Stone was born in 1825 or 1826, and married Lizzie Harpold daughter of Solomon and Matilda Shinn Harpold.
Elias Stone, the youngest brother, lives below Ripley, on Mill Creek.
Elizabeth Stone, married Enoch Sayre, and later George Shinn, father of Owens and brothers. She was born April 16th, 1822, and died February 24th, 1907. J.W. Sayre and Samantha, wife of Harpold, were her children.
James Stone, married Analiza, daughter of Sam Shinn, of Grass Lick or Parchment.
Minerva Stone married David Sayre.
A cousin, Elias Stone, married Rolly Ann Shinn.
George Stone and wife, Lucinda Miller, and his daughters, Minerva, Sally and Elizabeth, left Green County, Pennsylvania in October 1823, and floated down to the mouth of Mill Creek, locating on the Elias Stone farm two miles below Ripley. They brought two horses, two cows and household goods with them in the boats.
George Stone was a member of the County Court in 1831.
Top of Page Return to Index Home