History of Ritchie County

The following is taken from the book "History of Ritchie County" written by
Minnie Kendall Lowther, and published in 1910.  
Transcribers are Janet Waite, Earl Cowan, Erin Stewart and Bonnie Ryan.

Chapter XXXI

Transcribed by Bonnie Ryan

Page 406


The year 1810 was marked by the first church organizations. The Reverend Thomas Cunningham, whose interesting history occupies a preceding chapter, was the first minister in the Hughes river valley. He laid the foundation for Methodism in this wilderness, in Ritchie county. He came here in 1807 and entered upon his ministry the following year; and in 1810,the first Methodist Episcopal class was organized at his home, near Frederick's mill, where Henry Barker now lives.

Among the original members of this class were-James and Benjamin Hardman, John Wigner, senior, John Hill, Jabez Elliott, and John Wilson, with their wives.

This organization may well be styled the mother of Hardman chapel, as James Hardman, one of its initial members, laid the corner-stone for this church, which was erected late in the sixties.

The Reverend Mr. Cunningham was a lay minister at the time of the organization of the church here, but he was fully licensed to preach at Zanesville, Ohio, on September 5, 1817, and continued his labors until he was called to his reward in 1825.

His son, William, began his ministry in 1810, but went to the Ohio conference in 1812.

The First Church-house in this part of the county stood on top of the hill, on the Kennedy farm, above the mouth of Lamb's run.

Its history began, perhaps, in the early thirties, and ended in 1845, when it was destroyed by fire while it was being used for school purposes.*

*E. C. Goff, who was then a child of five years, was attending this school.

Page 407

Another pioneer church, which came a little later, was located on the McNeill homestead, but was reduced to ashes before its completion. These houses were not built in the name of any denomination, but were constructed for both church and school purposes.

The Methodist Protestant people laid the foundation for a church on the Scott farm, below Smithville, as early as l840 or '45, but it was never completed.

So the old "Union church" at Goff's was the first building in this part of the county, which was dedicated, exclusively, to the "worship of God;" and it was built by the Methodist Episcopal people not earlier than 1845, but was open to all denominations.

The late Rev. James L. Clark, in his Autobiography, gives the following description of the place of worship, at this appointment, in 1844, at the time of his first quarterly-meeting, after he was sent to the Harrisville circuit:

"It was an old frame, twenty by thirty feet, built for a bark shed for a tannery, the vats of which still surround the building--if such it could be called. In order to protect them from the inclemency of the weather, the brethren had collected some plank, and set them upon end around the frame, leaving an aperture in one side to answer for a door. Windows, there were none. The boards were fastened on with hickory withes. The inside was seated with split poles which were laid across some sills, which were placed length-wise of the building. The floor was of dirt, plentifully covered by straw, as the space within our altars at camp-meetings, frequently is.

A rude fixture at one end answered for a pulpit from which we preached the unsearchable riches of Christ to the hungry souls, who came through the rain and mud to this rude temple, dedicated, for the time being, to the worship of God."

He farther describes this meeting, which was continued for several days, and which resulted in the salvation of thirty-eight souls.

He says, "The last night of the revival was a time of power. Although the rain poured incessantly, the lightning

Page 408

flashed and the thunder roared, but few within knew of the terrific nature of the storm without, for above its mighty roar, rose the cries of the penitents, intermingled with the shouts of new born souls, and the rejoicing of the people of God."

Shortly after this meeting, the old "Union church" was erected, on the farm of the late Thomas Goff, not far from the present residence of E. C. Goff; and Mr. Goff (Thomas) was one of the chief factors in its erection.

In 1853, the old Pleasant Hill church, which has long since crumbled to decay, came into existence as a Methodist Episcopal church.

The late Joseph Haddox gave the grounds for this church and cemetery.

Harrisville M. E. Church,--The first Methodist Episcopal church class in the Harrisville vicinity is said to have been organized as early as 1820; but we have no authentic history of this church earlier than the year 1844, as the records were destroyed when the church burned to the ground some years ago.

But the first church building, which was located on the late Noah Rexroad farm not far from the present site of the Lorama depot, is said to have been erected near the year 1843, with Noah and Henry Rexroad and Eli Riddel as chief builderes. The Rev. Mr. Riddel preached the first sermon within its walls, and the Rev. Mr. Gordon was the first pastor in charge.

This old structure served Mr. Rexroad as a grain-house after it had out-lived its usefulness as a place of worship; and it was finally torn down and the frame timbers were pressed into service in the erection of the depot store-house by Noah Rexroad and E. C. Fox.

Harrisville was a three weeks' circuit with twenty-nine appointments when the Rev. James L. Clarke became the pastor in charge, in 1844. It began on the Ohio river, just below Vancluse, and extended back to within twenty-two miles of Clarksburg, including what is now embraced in the whole or a part of Harrisville, Smithville, Pullman, Smithton, West-union, Ellenboro, Pleasants and Valley Mills, and other circuits.

Page 409

These itinerant ministers gathered the scattered settlers into little societies at every convenient point.

The Rev. Mr. Clarke gives the following description of the parsonage at Harrisville, upon his arrival: "We found a small parsonage with one room down stairs, and a half-story above, with steps to go up from the porch. The brethren furnished the lumber, and I turned the porch into two small rooms, which made us more comfortable, and gave us a spare bed-room."

He speaks of the "grand local ministers" within the bounds of the charge, at the time, in the persons of T. Henderson, Eli Riddel, George Collins, Elijah Clayton, and James Hardman, whose homes were ever open to the worshipers of God.

The Harrisville charge in 1871 consisted of fifteen appointments, which were as follows; Harrisville, Spruce Grove, Goff's, Hardman chapel, Leatherbarke, Spruce creek, Pleasant Hill, Bone creek, Horn creek, Middle Fork, White Oak, Chevauxdefrise, Pisgah, Smithville, and Webb's mill. But changes have gradually taken place until it is now a

Page 410

charge of three appointments; viz., Harrisville, Fairview, and Spruce grove.

The Rev. Moore McNeill, who is now spending the eventide of his life at his pretty country home, "Locust Grove," near Smithville, served this charge in 1872. He and the Rev. U. Pribble, of Harrisville, are the only two early ministers that are still among us, though the Revs. T. B. Hughes, S. E. Steele and others survive in other parts of the country.

The White Oak Methodist Episcopal class was organized in 1842, at the home of Elijah Clayton, and Mr. Clayton, Thomas Ireland, Peter Pritchard, and Samuel Wolfe, with their wives, were among its initial members. The pioneer church building was erected in 1845, Mr. Clayton being the donor of the grounds. But this old time structure gave place to another in 1857, and to the present one in 1891.

M.P. Church.--Though the exact date of the organization of the Harrisville M. P. church is not known, its history begins as early as 1845; and Zackquill M. Peirpoint, and Amos Culp were among its cornerstones.

In 1850, this church applied for admission into the Tyler circuit, which had been formed in 1840; and at the next conference, the name of this circuit was changed to that of the St. Marys and Harrisville, which included the territory of Tyler, Ritchie, and Pleasants; and was traveled by two ministers at one time. In 1867, the Harrisville circuit was formed; and in 1881, another division was authorized which made it a charge of two appointments, Harrisville and Den run, but since 1898 it has been a station; and is now one of the strongest, and most influentioal churches in the county; it having an active membership of over two hundred.

"It has numbered some of the ablest ministers in the state as its pastors," among then being the Revs. "Dr. E. J. Wilson, Dr. Helmick, Dr. Brown, and Dr. S. C. Jones.

The Baptist Church Organized.--The first Baptist church organization was contemporary with that of the Methodist Episcopal. It having been made, in 1810, at the home of Barnes Smith, senior, where B. H. Wilson now resides; and was, in part, composed of the following named gentlemen with their wives; Aaron and Barnes Smith, Samuel and

Page 411

Amiziah Murphy, James Drake, John Every, William Wells, and Mrs. Eleanor Ayres. This was known as the "Hughes River Baptist church" until 1875, when its name was changed to Smithville. From the date of its organization until 1873, its places of worship were at private houses, principally at the home of Barnes Smith, in the earlier days of its history. The Rev. John Drake, who was the first Baptist minister in the Hughes river valley, and one of the first missionaries of this church to cross the Allegheny mountains, was the first pastor of the Hughes River class. The heirs of the late Isaac Smith, among whom are Martin Smith, Mrs. M. A. Ayres and Mrs. Alfred Barr, gave the grounds for the Smithville church, and were among its chief builders.

Harrisville Baptist Church.--The second Baptist class is said to have been organized by the Rev. John Drake, in the Harrisville vicinity, in 1812, or'13. The first church in this section stood on the Cannon farm, it having been erected by the Baptist and the United Presbyterians, but was open to all denominations.

The Harrisville Baptist church came into existence in 1825, under the name of the "Mab Zeal" Baptist church. Its nineteen charter members were: William, Elizabeth, Isaiah, Jane, Christopher, and Clarissa Wells, Allan and Elizabeth Calhoun, Gamaliel and Nancy Waldo, Jacob and Phebe Collins, Margaret Berkeley, Hester Heaton, Jane Wilkinson, Judith Chancellor, and Mary Rogers.

William Wells was the first deacon, Gamaliel Waldo, the first clerk; and the Rev. John Drake, the first pastor; but death ended his labors the following year, and the Rev. Mr. Nathan became his successor in 1827. He remained one year, and was succeeded by the Rev. Cornelius Huff, who continued his pastorate until 1832, when this church severed its connection with the "Union Association" (a connection of six years), and was admitted into the "Parkersburg Association," and for the next three years it had no pastor. Among the ministers who have since pastoral charge, we find the names of the Revernds James Tisdale, James Gawthrope, F. H. Johnson, A. C. Holden, James Woods, John Woofter, Aaron


Barnett, J. F. McCusic, P. A. Woods, George Woofter, E. J. Woofter, and Jonathan Wood, who is now in charge.

The first Baptist church in this section was erected near 1843, on the lot now owned by Sheriff John Hulderman, this lot being donated by George Moats.

The Reverend John Drake is said to have preached the first sermon in Grant district, at the home of William McKinney, in 1823; but no organization was perfected here until April, 1835, when the Rev. Festus Hanks, of the General Assembly Presbyterian church, of Parkersburg, who had been preaching in this, and the Harrisville vicinities, alternately, for a year--for the fourth of his time, organized a class at the home of Joseph Marshall.

The members of this class were as follows:

William, senior, and Mrs. Frances Piatt McKinney, Joseph and Hannah Marshall, Edward and Jane Skelton, Stephen and Isabel Wanless Outward, Mrs. Catharine Hall Douglass, Mrs. Susana Douglass Layfield, Miss Jane Hoskins, Mrs. Mary Miller McKinney, Miss Katharine McKinney, Andrew and Agnes Young, and John Harris and his daughter Mary--the latter two from Harrisville.

The First Church-house was erected near the year 1839, on the site that is now marked by the Odd Fellows' cemetery. This old structure, which was used for both school and church purposes, served the people of all denominations for many years until better churches could be built. But the Presbyterians

Page 413

and the United Presbyterians were the principal worshipers here. in 1845, the United Presbyterian church was organized at Harrisville, as an Associate Reform church; it becoming the United Presbyterian in 1858, by the union of the Associate, the Reformed, and the Associate Reformed Presbyterians. The Rev. Dargo B. Jones was the first pastor of this organization, in 1849.

The First Sermon in Clay district is said to have been delivered by the Rev. B. F. Sedwick, of the Methodist Episcopal church, at the residence of Edmond Taylor. We are without information as to the first church building in this district, but Riddel's chapel is, doubtless, among the first. It was erected at an early day, and stands as a monument to the chief-builder, the late Rev. Eli Riddel. The present church was erected in 1880.

The Seventh Day Baptist church was organized at Berea, near 1837,and its founders were Elders Peter Davis and Asa Bee. Among its charter members were: George, John C. and Sarah Starkey, Elias, Jonathan C., Rebecca, Margaret, Mary and Dorinda Lowther. One member of this pioneer organization still survives, in the person of Jonathan C. Lowther, who is now a member of the Adventists' church.

Almost every community has its comfortable church, and its little band of worshipers. This religious influence, too, has had a telling effect on the people of the county: for more than fifty years, "the courts have been sustained in the anti-license policy." In all that time no individual has been licensed to sell intoxicants.

Page 414

The Sunday Schools of early times, like everything else, were "crude affairs." We have no authentic date of their beginning in the county, but late in the forties and early in the fifties, they were conducted here and there at private houses. Their literature consisted of a testament, and a spelling book, and, later the school readers were pressed into service. But this work has made rapid progress, and is now at the zenith of its interest.

At the annual convention last year (1908), the schools in the county numbered eighty-one, with a combined membership of five thousand three hundred pupils. Twenty-five of these schools were kept open the year round. Teachers' Training classes are being organized at various points and many noble and heroic workers are uniting their forces for the advancement of the cause in general. Among the principal workers are Will A. Strickler, Secretary-Treasurer, G. M. Ireland, Dr. J. F. Hartman, Dr. I. C. Fling, and many others that might be mentioned.

The Reverend M. McNeill.--It seems to us that a little sketch of the life and public service of the Reverend Moore McNeill would form a fitting conclusion for this chapter, as few other ministers in the history of the county have had a longer association with its people.

The Reverend Mr. McNeill was born in Pocahontas county, on November 8, 1830, and there he grew to manhood and engaged in teaching before entering the ministry, in September, 1859.

He began his ministerial work under the auspices of the Methodist Protestant church, but, in 1867, became a member of the West Virginia Methodist Episcopal conference, and thus continued in the active work until April 5, 1881, when he removed to the "Ayres homestead," above Smithville, where he continues to reside.

Among the more prominent charges that he served during his twenty-one pastoral years were: Mannington, Kingwood, Spencer, and Harrisville, he having been pastor of the latter charge in l872, when he first formed the acquaintance of the people of this county--an acquaintance which was,/P>

Page 415

destined to ripen into a strong and enduring tie, a life-long friendship.

He is one of the most widely known and beloved citizens of the county, having endeared himself to the hearts of the many by his comforting ministrations in times of sorrow and bereavement. Perhaps no other minister, in the history of the county, has married or buried a larger number of its citizens; and when he lays down the cross to claim the crown, no other one will be more sadly missed.

On July 2, 1862, he led Miss Eliza Jane Caldwell, daughter of John and Mrs. Jane Poole Caldwell, of Marshall county, to the altar as his bride, and twelve children are the result of this union, all of whom survive:

,P>Owen M, and Tutt, reside in the West; Ida V., the eldest daughter, is Mrs. G. M. Clammer, of Colorado; E. Augusta is Mrs. Augustus Shaffer, of Kingwood; Minnie is the wife of the Rev. A. L. Ireland, of the West Virginia Methodist Episcopal conference; Ellen H. is Mrs. Cochran, of Wheeling; Isa P. is Mrs. Morrow, of the West; Miss Freda is a professional nurse of Washington city; Burleigh S. C. is still at home, and William K. is married and resides there; A. Frank, and Otis S., live near Fonsoville.

The McNeills are of Scotch-Irish descent. Their antecessor crossed from Scotland in Colonial times, and settled in the Old Dominion. Thomas McNeill, son of the original emigrant, was married to Miss Mary Ireson, of Franklin county, Virginia, and removed (from Frederick county) to Pocahontas county, this state, near the year 1770, where he entered three hundred acres of land and became a prominent pioneer.

He and his wife were the parents of four sons and two daughters; viz., Jonathan, Absalom, Enoch, Gabriel, Naomi (Mrs. Smith), and Mary (Mrs. Wm. Ewing), who all went West, but the first one mentioned.

Jonathan, the one son that remained in Pocahontas county, was a very enterprising individual, as milling, weaving, fulling-cloth, and powder-making were all carried on under his supervision. He married Miss Phoebe Moore, daughter of Moses

Page 416

Moore, who was born, on February 13, 1774, and four sons, John, William, Moore and Preston, were the result of this union. Preston was drowned in childhood, and the rest were all the heads of well-known Pocahontas families.

William McNeill was one of the earliest school-teachers within the bounds of his native county. He married Miss Nancy Griffey, a native of Franklin county, Virginia, who emigrated to Pocahontas county with her elder sister, Mrs. Rebecca McNeill, when she was but twelve years of age. Her father, Jonathan Griffey was born in Switzerland and crossed the water to America with Lafayette, in 1779, and, with this distinguished Frenchman, fought to the close of the American Revolution, being present at the siege and surrender of Yorktown; and after the war he was married to Miss Anna --------, a Virginia maiden, and spent the remainder of his life in Franklin county, Virginia.

William McNeill and his wife were the parents of the following named children; viz.,Jonathan, James, Claibourne, Jane (Mrs. John E. Adkisson), Elizabeth (Mrs. Solomon Cochran), Agnes, and Moore McNeill, the subject of this sketch.*

*See Pocahontas County History for farther data of this family.

Return to Table of Contents

Chapter XXXIII

Transcribed by Erin Stewart

Page 428


Pennsboro is the oldest post-office in the county. It came into existence as early as 1820 with James Martin, post-master.

James Martin was a native of Harrison county and a prominent figure in the early affairs of this part of the county. His wife was Miss Edith Davidson Wilson, daughter of Col. Benjamin Wilson, senior. She being one of the thirty children of this distinguished gentleman, whose names and dates of birth appear elsewhere in this history; and in Harrison county, she was born on November 19, 1799. On April 15, 1815, they came to Pennsboro and settled in the "Stone House" where they spent the remainder of their lives. He passed from earth in 1856, and she, twenty years later. Both rest in the Presbyterian cemetery. They were the parents of the following named children: William, Benjamin W., Lafayette, James, junior, Gilbert, Marshall M, Watts, Margaret, Mrs. Hattie (M. P.) Kimball, Mrs. Mary Dunnington and John W., who survived until 1910 at his home in Ardansas, have all passed on. Mrs. Susan Watson, who has reached her eighty - eighth milestone is a resident of Fairmont; and F, H. Martin is one of Pennsboro's well-known business men.

The Martins are of English - German origin, and are the lineal descendants of emigrants, who crossed to the New Jersey colony early in the eighteenth century and figured as Revolutionary soldiers.

William Martin was one of the early settlers of Harrison county, and there his son, James, the Ritchie county pioneer post-master was born.

The Second Post - office was established at Harrisville near the year 1830 under the name of "Solus," but after the birth

Page 429

of the county, the name was changed to Harrisville, and later to "Ritchie Court House," owing to the fact that an office by the same name in Virginia occasioned confusion in the mail, but it was changed back to Harrisville a number of years ago.

William McKinney, senior, was the first post-master in Grant district, this office being kept in the McGregor mill, below Cairo.

The First Post - office in Murphy district was established near 1830 at Smithville under the name of "Hughes River." Valentine Bozarth, who resided where the M. A. Ayres hotel now stands, was the first post-master, but he, losing his home here, went to Iowa and the office was removed to "Webb's mill" until 1880 when it was changed back to Smithville, and took the name of the village.

The First Mail - carrier was a lad of twelve years by the name of Isaac Cox, who came from Weston once a week, and stayed over night at Smithville. This youthful carrier was no other than the late Isaac B. Cox of Chestnut Grove, Calhoun county. He was the son of Isaac, and the grandson of Isaac and Sarah Sutton Cox, whose line will be found in the Cox family history in the "Slab creek chapter."

There are now forty - two offices in the county, thirty - one of which are money - order offices, besides fifteen rural free delivery routes. Three of these, Pennsboro, Harrisville and Cairo, which are third class, are International money - order offices. The post - masters are appointed by the President, and their respective salaries are $1,600, $1,500, and $1,300.

Return to Table of Contents

Chapter XXXII

Transcribed by Margaret Udell.

Thomas Maley, son of Lawrence Maley, is recognized as the pioneer miller of the county, he having erected the first mill about 1812, near two miles north of Harrisville, on the bank of Hughes river, on the site where the mill-property of Enoch Leggett was burned in 1871.

This land is now owned by John Shriver, but nothing marks this historic spot.

Mr. Maley married Miss Elizabeth Starr, and went to Illinois at an early day, where he sleeps.

William Wells, whose history will be found in an earlier chapter, was the builder and owner of the second mill in this section, which stood near the mouth of Bunnell's run, on the site of the well-known B. F. Wells' mill, which, though still standing, is fast crumbling to decay. Three generations of the family manipulated this mill, and the land is still owned by the heirs of the late B. F. Wells, who died in 1908, at the age of more than ninety years.

"Sugar Grove Mill." - Then, in 1842, came the "Sugar Grove" flouring mill, with Isaiah Wells, son of William, as builder and proprietor. This mill stood three-quarters of a mile north of Harrisville, and was one of the most noted in Western Virginia, during its early history. A saw-mill and carding-machine - the first in this section - were operated in connection with the grist-mill for a time, but after some years, the carding machinery passed into other hands, but Mr. Wells continued to own and operate the saw and grist-mill until his death on May 17, 1875, when it passed into the hands of his heirs, who kept it in motion for a time; but finally, the wheel became silent, and the old building lapsed into ruin, and in 1908, it was torn down. The Heaton heirs now own the land.

In 1858, Isaiah Wells constructed a mill at Cornwallis, which was operated by his son, George W. Wells, until 1875, when it became the property of the late James Taylor, and at his death passed into the hands of the Naughton Brothers, who are still the owners, though nothing now remains of this once valuable mill-property, but the ruins of the building. The introduction of the steam and roller process put these water mills out of commission.

Isaiah Wells was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, on August 6, 1796, and with his parents came to this county in 1808. In 1816, he was married to Miss Jane Taylor, of Virginia, the marriage taking place at Pruntytown, where she was visiting relatives; and they settled on the farm that had been improved by Joseph Wilkinson, and which, though now owned by the Heaton heirs, is still better known as the "Isaiah Wells homestead."

Mr. Wells was widely known and greatly revered for his hospitality, and for his charitable disposition. He was a prominent figure in the early history of the county, and was long a pillar in the Baptist church.

His children were as follows: The late Benjamin Wells, of Hannahdale; William, of Grantsville; Levi, of Tollgate; Mrs. Elizabeth Cornell, and Mrs. Mary Cornell, Cornwallis; Mrs. Salina Woods, Harrisville; Mrs. Cynthia Core, and George W., Cornwallis; and Isaiah, Grafton. The last three only survive, but his descendants in this county are a host - many of them being prominently known. Judge H. B. Woods is a grandson.

The Pritchard Mill.- Near the year 1832, Thomas Pritchard came from the Glades in Preston county, and built the first mill on the South fork of Hughes' river, below Oxford, on the farm that is now owned by the Zinn Brothers (G. P. and M. G.), and made the first settlement here.

A man by the name of Henry O. Middleton had given him one hundred acres of land in this wilderness so as to induce him to settle, and to erect a saw and grist-mill, and here some of the first lumber in the county was sawed.

This old grist-mill was a water-power, and the wheel run in a sycamore gum, and its capacity was from eight to ten bushels a day, but this was a marvelous improvement over the old hand-mill.

Mr. Pritchard was born in 1768. His antecessors came from England and settled at Jamestown, in 1610; and his brother, John Pritchard, saw three years of service as a soldier of the Continental army during the American Revolution.

Thomas Pritchard was first married to Miss Nancy Tichinell, who died at the Glades, leaving seven children; and his second wife was Miss Mary Moody, who was the mother of his other eight children. He survived until 1846, when he was laid in the Baptist churchyard, at Oxford. His second wife rests by his side, but the first one sleeps at the Glades.

The children of the first union were: Peter, the White Oak pioneer; Mrs. Kathrine Queen; Mrs. Anna Queen; and Mrs. Peggy Castor, all of Harrison county; Mrs. Sarah (Jacob) Watson*, Auburn; Mrs. Elizabeth (John) Harris*, Pullman; and Mrs. Mary (William) Snodgrass, Berea*.

Those of the second marriage were: Thomas D. Pritchard, John Moody, who was drowned in the pond at his own mill at the M. H. Davis farm in 1862; William, an early pedagogue, who never married; Mrs. Jane Gaston, Doddridge county; Samuel, Lewis county; Mrs. Emily (George) Garrison, Auburn; Rachel died in youth and Amos lost his life in the Civil war.

John Moody Pritchard was married to Miss Sarah Haddox, sister of the late Jonathan Haddox, and their children were: Philip, Jason, and Jackson, who all fought in the Civil war, and who are now all dead; the late Mary (Sylvester) Parker, Mrs. Eliza (Allen) Parker, Colorado; Henry, of California; and Thomas B., of Ohio.

Webb's Mill.- The well known Webb's mill is one of the oldest landmarks in the county. It has been in operation for almost a century, it having come upon the stage, as a grist-mill, in cabin fashion, before the war of 1812. It vies with the Maley mill for the first place in the county's history, and if these dates be correct, it is entitled to this place. However, it is a contemporary.

Benjamin Webb was the owner and operator of this mill from the time that it came into existence until his death, on May 27, 1879, when it became the property of his grandson, B. F. Prince, by his bequest.

M. R. Lowther, of Parkersburg, then owned it (Mr. Prince having had the misfortune to lose it), until it was purchased by the late J.S. Hardman and son, Sheridan, a few years since; the latter being the present owner and operator. Though it is frequently referred to as "Hardman's mill," the old name still lingers about it.

Archibald Burrows.- Quite an interesting bit of history hangs about the name of the millwright, Archibald Burrows, who re-built this mill in 1818, or in the early twenties. Mr. Burrows was a Scotch-Irishman, who had been a Revolutionist in his native land; and his cause being lost, he was compelled to flee for his life, as the death sentence had been the fate of all who had been captured. He fled to America, and adopted the name of "Burrows" instead of Davisson, his real name.

* (Footnote) See other chapters for farther accounts of these families.

With his brothers and sisters, he crossed from Ireland, but on the next day after they landed, they were separated, and he never saw any of them again. He came to Lewis county where he was married to Miss Mary Holbert, and, from there, he removed to Calhoun county and became the first settler where the town of Grantsville now stands. He resided here at the time of his death, which took place shortly after he had completed his work on Webb's mill, while he was at work on Frederick's mill. He had contracted the whooping-cough, and after spending a few days at home, had returned here to collect his money, for the work, staying all night; and the next morning he was found dead in his bed. His wife was notified, but before she reached the scene he was laid in the Smithville cemetery.

He was the father of six children; Mrs. Jane Taylor, Philadelphia; Mrs. James Johnson, Mrs. Joseph Hamrick, William, John and George, all of Calhoun county, where a large number of his descendants live.

Benjamin Webb, whose name refuses to be divorced from this mill, was born in Harrison county, in 1789, and with his father, Nutter Webb, came to the South fork of Hughes river, near the year 1801.

He married Miss Martha Stuart, daughter of William Stuart, an early pioneer on this river, who was born at sea, on board the emigrant ship that brought her parents from Ireland to America, in 1789; and soon after his marriage, he made the first settlement at the mill; and being called into service as a soldier of the war of 1812, his wife operated this mill during his absence.

He was one of the most prominent figures in the early history of this part of the county, being a man of very high character, and of no small degree of ability.

He was sheriff of the county from 1845 to '47, and filled the office of magistrate for a term of forty years, during which time none of his decisions were ever reversed. He was, also, an early merchant. Beside his wife, he sleeps in the cemetery that bears his family name.

He was the father of five daughters and one son: Mrs. Anna Dye, Mrs. Elizabeth Hyman, Mrs. Sarah Rogers, Mrs. Louisa Hostetter, and Mrs. Drusilla Prince, and John Webb, who have all passed on, but his descendants in this county are quite numerous.

Frederick's mill, too, ranks among the oldest landmarks in the county. It was built, perhaps, in the early twenties by Benjamin Hardman and Benjamin Cunningham (whose histories belong to an earlier chapter), who owned and operated it for a number of years; and near 1845, the late Joel Westfall, of Smithville, rented it, and the following year he and his father, John W. Westfall, purchased it and the "Westfall farm" (now the home of Henry Barker), of Huffman and Camden, of Weston; and the son took charge of the mill, and the father, of the farm.

Shortly after they came into possession, they erected a new saw-mill and set it in motion, they having entered into a contract with Proviance Murphy to build a plank-road, from the Hardman farm to where Grass run crosses the Staunton pike; and they had much of the lumber ready for the road, when the flood of 1852 came, sweeping away lumber, grist-mill and all, except the saw-mill. Disheartened at this loss, Joel at once made his arrangements to go West; but the mill was rebuilt, and the elder Westfall continued to keep it in motion until 1857, when it passed into the hands of the later Joseph B. Frederick, who rebuilt it in 1858, and again, in 1876; and who continued to operate it until his death, on June 10, 1896, when it became the property of his son, Joseph L. Frederick, who repaired and changed it from a burr, to a roller-process, the following year; and who is still the owner.

The Fredericks are of German origin. Joseph B. Frederick's parents, John and Rachel Erhart Frederick, were both natives of the "Keystone" state and were both born of German parentage. He, in 1779, and she, in 1785. Shortly after their marriage, they removed to Virginia, where Joseph B., who was one of thirteen children, was born, on April 26, 1821, and where he grew to manhood. He then went to Hardy county (W.) Virginia, where he learned the miller's trade, and where he met and married Miss Rebecca Ghokenour; the marriage taking place on February 13, 1845; and there they resided until they came to this county, where the family still live. Mrs. Frederick died on April 10, 1893. Both rest on the old homestead with their children who have passed on: Isaac, Jacob, Mrs. Elizabeth Hardman, Mrs. Martha Cooper, Virginia and Rebecca. Mrs. Mary Goff sleeps near Burnt House, and the rest survive - Mrs. Lucy Slack lives in Ohio; Mrs. Frances Barker, near the old home; Lulu is Mrs. Allen Smith of Texas; and Ellen Mrs. Sylvester McCartney; Miss Sallie is at home; J. L. and Calvin are the two sons.

John Frederick, the father of Joseph B., was a brother of Philip, the pioneer of Grass run.

The McKinney Mills.- William McKinney, senior, was the author of the first grist-mills in what is now Grant district. The first one was erected near the year 1823, on the "Hatfield farm" - then the farm of William McKinney, junior; and the other one, a little later, about two miles below Cairo, where the County bridge now crosses the river. Both were carried away by the floods, and some time afterwards, his son, David McKinney, built a grist-mill four miles below Cairo, which served the public for many years, before it went out of existence.

James Drake built a saw-mill on Indian creek, near the Isaac Wilson residence, near 1825 or '30. This was one of the earliest of its kind in the county.

Brown's Mill.- The widely known Brown's mill is entitled to the first place in the history of the mills of Clay district. It was built by Isaac Clarke, of Pennsylvania, who is identified with the early settlers of Chevauxdefrise, in 1848. It came into existence as a grist-mill, but a sawing-apparatus was attached some years later. Among those who have owned it from time to time, we find the names of James Malone, James L. Collins, Lawrence Minor, Daniel Rexroad, Wilson Patton, A. S. Core, Martin Cochran, and Samuel Malone. Mr. Core and Mr. Patton, being partners, re-built and otherwise improved the property.

Mr. Cochran instituted the carding business in connection with the grist and saw-mill, but in 1875, while he was owner, the mill and all of its accessories was swept away by a flood; and Samuel Malone and Wilson Patton bought and rebuilt it. Then in the early eighties, John M. Brown purchased Mr. Malone's interest and finally that of Mr. Patton's, and he is still the owner and operator. It being the only old-time mill in this section that is still doing service.

The Broadwater Mills.- Jefferson Broadwater is accredited with the first saw-mill in Clay district, which is said to have come into existence in 1855, and to have been located near the present site of Tollgate. He owned and operated this mill for more than twenty years, and was also the builder of the Valley flouring-mill, near Pennsboro.

Mr. Broadwater was a native of Virginia, he having first opened his eyes upon this mundane sphere in Loudin county, on August 1, 1806; but he came to this county from Maryland, in 1842, and remained until his death on August 5, 1894. He rests in the U. B. cemetery at Pennsboro. He was first married to Miss Mary Beckner, of Maryland, who was laid in the Taylor cemetery, in 1861; and his second wife was Mrs. Elizabeth Scott*, of Harrison county, who, with her daughter, Miss Vashta, resided at Salem until her death in June, 1910; the late Wade Broadwater was her other child.

The children of the first union were twelve in number, and were as follows: the late Mrs. Eliza (M. M.) Taylor, Salem; Mrs. Mary (Archibald) Barnard, the late Mrs. Rebecca (C. R.) Brown, Mrs. Alice (Sherman) Wilson, Mrs. Isabella (L. C.) Wilson, all of Pennsboro; the late T. J. Broadwater, Tollgate; the late Peter, Lynn Camp; Mrs. Minerva (D. H.) Kelley, and Chas. P. Broadwater, Oxford; the late Mrs. Cena (E. J.) Taylor, Trilby; the late Mrs. Theodore Davis, Idaho; and the late Miss Elizabeth, Pennsboro.

* (Footnote) Mrs. Scott was the mother of H. J. Scott, of Pennsboro, and W. H. Scott, of Rutherford.

No other class of pioneers played a more important part in the early affairs of the county, than did these millers. They were in general men of unalloyed integrity, and were prominent factors in other walks of life, as well.

The Broadwaters are of English origin, but the time of their emigration to the "New World" is not known. Yet circumstances point strongly to the fact that one Charles Broadwater, who received, from the King of England, a grant for a tract of forty thousand acres of land in the Virginia colony in the early days of its history, and, by the provisions of this grant, settled a ship load of English emigrants upon it, was their ancestor. But so little is known of the subsequent history of this distinguished individual, that this fact cannot positively be established. But, he sleeps in the old burying-ground at Fairfax Court House, and this ancient land grant is preserved among the records at Richmond, Virginia.

The connected and authentic history of this family in America, however, begins near the year 1800, when Charles and Cornelius Broadwater, two brothers, settled in Loudin county, Virginia. Charles went from there to Tennessee, and became the founder of the family that scattered from there. But Cornelius lived and died in Loudin county. His son, Charles, married Miss Mary Ripes, of the "Old Dominion" and removed to Maryland, before the war of 1812, and settled near eight miles above the present site of the town of Westernport, where he constructed a residence of hewed-pine-logs, which is said to be still standing.

He and two of his brothers served their country as soldiers in the war of 1812, and were identified among the heroic defenders of historic old Fort McHenry, when the immortal "Star Spangled Banner" was penned. He was the father of Jefferson and Peter Broadwater, of this county; of Ephraim, who lives in Sommerset county, Pennsylvania, and is now eighty-one years of age; and of Ashford, of Tyler county, who survives at the age of seventy-nine years.

Peter Broadwater was born in "Maryland, My Maryland!" on March 20, 1820, and came to this county with his brother, Jefferson in 1842.

He married Miss Love Taylor, sister of the late Edmund Taylor, and settled on the farm that is now, principally owned by his son, Marcus M. Broadwater, near Hannahdale, where his life came to a close in 1858, and beside his first wife in the Taylor burying-ground he lies at rest.

His second wife, Mrs. Fannie Malone Broadwater, died in 1891, and she lies in the churchyard at Riddel's chapel.

Five children were the fruits of his first union; viz., Marcus M., of Hannahdale, who served as a soldier in the Union army; Edmund, of Illinois; Mrs. Margaret (Granville) Willis, of Market, Doddridge county; the late Mrs. Rachel (Thomas) Athey, Marion county; and Mrs. Lovisa (Peter D.) Calhoun, of White Oak.

The children of the second union were Jennie who is now Mrs. John M. Brown, of Hannahdale; and Charles, of near Harrisville.

C. L. Broadwater, principal of the New Martinsville school is the grandson of Peter, he being the son of Charles.

Return to Table of Contents

Send comments or suggestion to: Paul or Janet.
Copyright © 1998-99 jlwaite-pcox
Last updated on --