by Scott Powell, 1925
Contributed by Linda Fluharty.
ELIZABETHTOWN Pages 95-99.
The first house built in what is now Moundsville, was built by Joseph Tomlinson about the year 1771. It was the ordinary log cabin of the early settlers and stood near where the high school building now stands.
In the year 1798 Mr. Tomlinson laid out a tract into town lots and named the town Elizabethtown in honor of his wife.
The lots were on First, Second and Third streets. They were numbered commencing at the corner of what is now Tomlinson avenue and First street, and numbered eastward. Tomlinson avenue, then called Wheeling street, was on the west side and Washington avenue, was on the east side of the town as far as streets were concerned. What is now Morton avenue and Baker avenue were then alleys, hence their narrowness. Lots were laid out on the east side of Washington avenue between Second and First streets and were bounded on the east by a county road; the lots between Second and Third streets on the same side of Washington avenue were bounded by farm land. No lots were laid out on the north side of First street.
Most of the lots were sixty feet wide and two hundred and forty feet long. A few lots were one hundred and twenty feet square.
The first lot sold was to Andrew Rogers. The deed was dated November 15, 1799. It was one of the square lots and brought eight dollars. Joseph Riggs purchased two lots the same year at the same price. His lots were the long ones. James O'Niel and William Ward, each purchased a lot in the year 1800. The latter paid eight dollars and the former paid eleven dollars.
The town grew very slowly and in 1815, there were not one hundred houses in the town and they were generally one story log houses and small at that. The total population was not three hundred persons.
The first store in Elizabethtown was opened in the year 1815 by James Nixon. It would not compare with some of the fine stores of today. Two years later Thomas List opened a second store. He was the first postmaster and the first postoffice was called Grave Creek. It was in Ohio county, Virginia.
Wheeling was the county seat and court being held there many people attended court and that gave Wheeling a better opportunity for a trade center. Trade was not very extensive. For many years after the first settlements were made the trading was done at Hagerstown, Maryland. The products for exchange were principally pelts, skins and ginseng, which were exchanged for salt and various articles of use to the settlers. The goods were carried on pack-horses.
The only occupations open to residents of Elizabethtown, except to a few mechanics, were clearing land and cultivating crops of various kinds in summer and clearing land and hunting in winter. The ginseng was generally gathered by children in the summer and no small amount of it was gathered as the woods abounded \vith it and it was in demand and sold readily.
Mr, Tomlinson died in 1825, and five years later his widow had a tract of land added to the town already laid out. The line started at the corner of what is now Third street and Baker avenue and ran down in line with the east side of the avenue to what is now Seventh street and west on the south side of it to the extension of Wheeling street, now Tomlinson avenue, and down on the east side of it to what is now Tenth street and west with the south line of it to the Ohio River. The ground between the line mentioned and Little Grave Creek was laid out into lots.
About the time Joseph Tomlinson laid out the first town lots he started a ferry at the mouth of Little Grave Creek and the first ferryman was a man by the name of Catlett and was the father of Peter B. Catlett, who removed the monument erected to the memory of Captain William Foreman and his men murdered by Indians at the head of the Narrows.
When steamboats began to plow the waters of the beautiful Ohio River, a wharf or steamboat landing was made a short distance below the mouth of Little Grave Creek.
All the town at the Flats of Grave Creek was at that time above the reach of high water.
The town was incorporated by an act of the General Assembly of Virginia on the seventeenth day of February, 1830. The act of incorporation gave the town authority over the strip between what is now First street and Parrs Run. The incorporation of Elizabethtown placed the government in the hands of twelve trustees to be elected by the voters on the second Monday of May of each year. The trustees were to choose one of their number president. The power vested in them was about the same as that of the mayor and council at present. The first trustees were elected on the second Monday in May, 1830, and were Thomas H. List, S. P. Baker, Dr. Thomas McCormack, Joseph McClean, James McKean, David Nace, J. B. Roberts, Walter Gray, John Jefferson, Sr., Thomas Nichols, Benjamin Cockayne, B. W. Price. Thomas H. List was chosen president.
This act was amended in the year 1832, taking in the addition made by Mrs. Elizabeth Tomlinson. It also provided that in case of a failure to elect trustees as specified by the act of incorporation, the old trustees should continue in office until their successors were elected and qualified.
Simeon Purdy purchased a tract of land near the river and in the year 1831 had part of it laid out in lots with streets and alleys and in the year 1832, had a town incorporated. The provisions for the government of the town were similar to that of Elizabethtown and the new town in the Flats of Grave Creek was named Moundsville to commemorate the famous mound.
A number of new business houses were built near the river and a wharf was made near the central part of the river front. The towns were now called the Upper and the Lower town, having reference to the one farthest up the river and at the same time to the one farthest up from the river or vice versa.
The two towns with the usual privileges existed until 1865, when it was thought best to consolidate them into one town, and by an act of the legislature of WEST VIRGINIA in the year 1865, the two towns were consolidated into one and named MOUNDSVILLE. A new order of affairs were now introduced; the trustees were a thing of the past, and the officers in the new town under the act of incorporation, were very much the same as they are at the present day.
Robert McConnell was the first mayor of ~oundsville and H. W. Hunter was the first city clerk and treasurer. Mr. Hunter served a number of years in the official capacity above named.
The first industries were distillery, flouring mills and tanneries. Later the town grew to considerable size and of late years a number of additions have been added to it until it is a city of considerable size. It might be called a city of magnificent distances, if distance is considered, as it has over thirty miles of streets within the corporation.
It has a sanitary sewer system giving the city a good sanitary drainage and a surface drainage sewer system which gives it such drainage that no water is permitted to collect and remain in pools, but is quickly carried away. The sanitary sewer is twenty-three miles in length and the surface drainage sewers are several miles in length. The surface drainage sewer installed by F. B. Sweeten & Son is three miles in length but there are several sewers which were installed by the city at divers times not counted as their length is uncertain and some of them are connected with private sanitary sewers.
There are over eight miles of paved streets in the city at present. It has several large industries and four large coal mines in or near it.
The census of 1920 reported a population of 10,669.