BEFORE THE WHITE MAN
(This information was taken from History of Keyser,WV 1737 - 1913 by William W.Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe was a local historian and genealogist for residents both past and present. Special thanks to Robert L. Smith for granting us permission to use this on the Mineral County GenWeb Site)
In the early years of the 18th century Keyser was
still Indian hunting ground, with the nearest permanently inhabited
native villages at Oldtown below Cumberland MD and at Oldfield near
Moorefield WV. There were few if any permanent Indian residents at
what is now Keyser, as the severe winters of the Allegheny Front
mountains caused the area to be used only in summer and autumn, as a
The Shawnees had villages along the South Branch of the Potomac River both above and below the present town of Romney. The Delawares were found along the Cacapon River.
The Senacas had villages along the South Branch, one being opposite "Hanging Rock" now know as "The Rocks" four miles north of Romney on the river. This tribe also extended to the sources of the South Branch and its tributaries, having a village at the mouth of what is now called Seneca Creek at Senaca Rocks in Pendleton Co.
Indian implements such as pipes, hatchets and ceremonial stones found in the Upper Potomac Valley are similar in material and workmanship to those found in the Ohio Valley. It is probable that the tribes from that valley passed over the Alleghenies and had contact with or were part of the tribes of the Potomac Indians.
When excavating the basement of the house at 306 North Main Street in Keyser, an Indian grave, containing necklaces, stone ax-heads, arrows and other artifacts.
It is believed that Indians came to Keyser in summer and raised corn on "Hominy Island" (Long's Island).
THE FIRST WHITE MEN
King Charles II of England, while in exile,
contracted heavy gambling debts, some of which he paid off by giving
a land grant in the "northern neck" of the Virginia. An
ancestor of Lord Fairfax, Lord Culpepper, bought up this grant from
the four "Noble Lords" to whom it had been granted. When
Thomas, Lord Fairfax, inherited this large tract, he came to Virginia
to develop it. This land extended to the "headwaters" of
The first white men of whom we have any record, to pass through Keyser, were the surveyors sent by Lord Fairfax in 1736 to determine the source of the Potomac. They camped during the winter of 1736 - 37 at what is now Bloomington, MD. The head of the group was William Mayo. His assistant, George Savage, was a blind mathematician and astronomer from London. During the winter's stay at Bloomington, their food supply was nearly exhausted. George Savage is said to have gone outside their hut one morning and accidentally caught a wild turkey which was stuck in a deep snow bank. Some say the river at that place was called the Savage River for this man.
Legend also has it that on the return journey down the river in 1737, they found a stream of water they had overlooked when ascending the river. They indicated this on their map as "New Creek". At least in Lord Fairfax's grants of 1752, it is stated the land was at the mouth of New Creek, so this name was applied ot this stream before 1750.