Pine Grove, WV


Pine Grove BridgeLegend has it that the first known inhabitants of what is now Pine Grove was a band of Cherokee Indians in more or less permanent encampment on a large nearly flat bench on the hill of the railroad depot and Post Office, now known as Simpson Hill. There were supposedly about 200 men, women and children living in wigwams there.

History is pretty confusing about the first white settlers here, but among the first was John Wyatt in 1790, and James Troy in 1791. Among the old family names we find: Morgan, Jolliffe, Stone, Long, Lantz, Allen, Stackpole, Gorby, Headley, McAlister, Hayes, Willey, Holbert, Wallace, Renner, Pizarro, Brookfields, Roome, Garvy, McCuskey, Lowe, etc.

About the first industries of note were the dams across the north and south fork of Fishing Creek for saw mills, and for flour mills. Some of the old foundations and large stone burrs for grinding are still there.

The first church was built by the Methodists of hewn logs, near the property known as the Sam Yoho house. It was called The Community Church, and probably used by all denominations. The Methodists later built a church near Wilson Run, but it was torn down to make way for the railroad bridge. They then built at the present location, but it was burned during the town fire, and rebuilt in 1906. Later was added The Church of God, The Christian Church and the Church of Christ.

A school was started by a Ms. Hostutler in her father's kitchen. Then another teacher by name of Stacy Stevens taught school, and the tuition was an outlandish $3.00 for three months of school. A school was finally built below Wilson Run, and called free school, and finally a more modern school was built at the present location.

The first Post Office was started at the Mouth of Shenango Run in 1830, which at that time was Tyler County, Virginia. John McArdle was the first postmaster. The office was finally moved to the Big Forks, and since the Post Office was already called Pine Grove the village at the forks was thereafter name Pine Grove.

The bustling town kept pretty much of an even keel through most of the century, and business grew. They now had hotels, boarding houses, drug stores, furniture and hardware, funeral directors, blacksmiths, Variety store, Millinery (the ladies wore hats then), and general mdse. and groceries, as well as numerous saloons, pool rooms and dance halls.

A few years before the turn of the century some exploration was made for oil and gas, and after a few test wells it was found that oil and gas were plentiful. A new industrial boom was on. Derricks sprouted up like mushrooms all over the town, and the surrounding area. Oil workers from all over the country, especially Pennsylvania came to work and the economy boomed.

The B & O started building the Short Line railroad, from New Martinsville to Clarksburg, in the 1890's. The road was finished to Pine Grove in 1900, and one of the oft-told stories that seemed to tickle the funny bone of most listeners was when the first train brought supplies to the end of the finished line at Pine Grove. When the whistle was heard everybody rushed to the depot for a look-see, then as the train was ready to leave the engineer turned on a noisome hissing of steam, which nearly scared the day-lights out of everybody, blew the whistle and yelled, "Look out - I'm going to turn her around", and they all took to the hills.

Then in 1905 tragedy struck. The story goes that several men occupied the third story of the Cottage Hotel. That night two men came down and asked for kerosene for the lamps, although they had all been filled for the night. They had killed a man over a gambling debt, and poured oil over him and set the mattress on fire. Since the town had no fire department, but only a bucket brigade, the whole center of town burned to the ground.

The first bank opened in Pine Grove in 1900 with H. A. Jolliffe as President and Smith Blair as Cashier. Then as the oil and gas industry started a downward trend the bank closed its doors in 1925 never to open them again. We now have two branch banks preparing to open in 1983.

The history of Pine Grove would not be complete without mentioning one of our most memorable citizens, Ol Gallagher, who once said, "We have gas enough to light the world, oil enough to lubricate it and brains enough to rule it," and by gum I tend to believe he was right.

by Fay Brohard and Joe Long.

Pictures of Pine Grove, WV

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