Marion County, WVGenWeb

Paw Paw District, Marion County, West Virginia

The greater portion of this district is underlaid with a good quality of coal; soil generally productive, and well adapted to blue grass; surface quite hilly, but the hills are well-rounded, with good slopes, generally, and easy of cultivation; native timber, poplar, walnut, hickory, beech, chestnut and varieties of oak; nearly all the land is cleared. The vein of coal which runs through the district is from three to five feet thick; in the beds of the streams a fine vein of limestone, four feet in thickness is found, and there are smaller veins in the hills. Paw Paw creek rises in the northeastern part of the district, flows in a southwesterly direction, and empties into the Monongahela at Rivesville. Pharo run is a small stream which also empties into the river at the same place.

The first settlement in the district was made at the mouth of Paw Paw creek from 1770 to 1775. Among the earliest of these settlers were David Morgan, William Snodgrass, Nicholas Woods and Henry Batton; David Morgan and Nicholas Woods erected the first cabins in 1772, when they became actual settlers. The first child supposed to have been born in this section was Stephen H., a son of Zackquill and Zina (West) Morgan, and the first marriage, that of Peter Straight to Elizabeth Ice, about 1796. Among the first (if not the first) born in the district were the three children (triplets) of Thomas Button — Keziah, Jemima and Eleanor. The story of the capture of a son of John Dragoo (one of the early settlers of this district), one of the adventures of David Morgan, and the murder of Nicholas Woods and David Straight by the Indians, is related in another chapter; Woods, Dragoo and Straight all came from Staten Island, New York.

A grist and saw mill combined was erected about 1795, by Reeder & Evans, at the mouth of Paw Paw creek, and run by water power — probably the first in the district; it was an excellent mill, for the times, and was washed away by a flood in 1880. Stephen Booth built the first steam grist and saw mill and carding machine at Fairview in 1852; the mill now standing on this site (on which two have been burned) is owned by Dr. E. R. Tenant & Co. About 1820, a saw mill was established by Richard Price, about four miles from the mouth of Paw Paw creek.

About the year 1800, Reason White taught a school in a private house, which was the first in this section. In 1818, Henry Boggess taught in one of the primitive school houses of the day, about eighteen feet square, built of round logs; this building stood where the church is now located, near Bassnettville, and the teacher is still living, active and enjoying good health, aged 90 years. Mr. B. relates that when he was teaching this school, in the winter of '18 and '20, three children attended it, aged from eight to fourteen years, whose only protection from the cold, wintry blast, was a long, home-made linen shirt, and no covering for the feet. There are now fifteen comfortable and well-furnished school buildings in the district, and the schools are attended by 745 scholars.

The first postoffice in the district was located at what is now the village of Rivesville, about 1840, when Elisha Snodgrass was postmaster. There are now four, viz.: Rivesville, Hoodsville, Grays Flat and Basnettville.

About 1810, the first religious services were held at the residences of Richard Morris and Noah Matthews, about two miles above the mouth of the Little Paw Paw creek, and five miles from the river. The first regular organization was that of St. Johns (Methodist Episcopal) Church, at Basnettville, in 1823; the first minister was Rev. Thomas Jemison. followed by Rev. Elias Bruen; Richard Wells was first class-leader; present membership, 130. Among its first members were Henry and Catharine Boggess, Richard, Nancy, Thomas and Phebe Wells, Rolla and Maria Evans and Polly Conway. The second was the Methodist Episcopal; Rev. Jonathan J. Pritcher was mainly instrumental in its erection, who is still living; aged 93. The third was Asbury Chapel (Methodist Episcopal); present membership, 75. There are now nine churches in the district, viz.: One Baptist, four Southern Methodist, three Methodist Episcopal, and one Sanctified. The Southern Methodist at Fairview was built in 1879, at a cost of $1,600; dedicated by Rev. Thomas Wade; first pastor, Rev. Fletcher Goulden; present pastor, Rev. C. W. Shear; membership, 100.

A Sabbath school was established at St. Johns Church in 1823, by Henry Boggess and Rolla Evans; among others who taught in this school were Richard and Thomas Wells, and Mr. Boggess is the only one who survives; the number in attendance was about 25; present attendance, 80; Richard Poling, superintendent. There are now seven Sabbath schools in the district.

The villages of the district are Rivesville and Fairview. During the early years of Indian depredations, there was a fort established where the latter town now stands, which was occupied by a company of soldiers in command of Captain Levi Morgan.

Source: Hardesty’s West Virginia Counties; Volume 2; Pages 77-78
             Jim Comstock – Richwood, WV