Hardesty's History of Wirt County

HISTORY OF WIRT COUNTY

One hundred and fifteen years passed away after Columbus
first saw the shores of the New World before a permanent English
settlement (in 1607) was made in America.  For several years the
population was confined to the coast of Virginia, but as additions
were made by emigration from the Old World, the settlements
extended as far to the north as the present southern boundary of
Maryland, and as far south as the river Dan, so that by the year
1631 Virginia was divided into eight shires or counties similar to
those of England.  During the intervening period from the above 
date to the year 1700 the settlements were extended to the west,
so that at the close of the period the homes of the pioneers dotted
the landscape along the eastern base of the Blue Ridge.  Another
half century rolled away before the banner of civilization was
planted west of the mountains.  But the French had lost their
sovereignty in the New World, and all the vast continent
stretching away to the Pacific had passed under the dominion of
the "Island Empire," the monarch of which was now bestowing
titles to large tracts of land in the Ohio Valley, upon his soldiers,
who had carried his successful arms against his powerful rival
both in Europe and America.  It was the year 1772 when 
Washington -- afterward the most illustrious name in the annals
of America -- with Col. William Crawford (burned at the stake by
the Delaware Indians in 1781) as his first assistant, together with
about thirty others, mostly survivors of the massacre at
Braddocks Field, left Williamsburg -- then the capital of Virginia
-- and after being joined by Dr. Craik, a physician of Philadel-
phia, came by way of Pittsburg, and descended the Ohio to the
mouth of the Great Kanawha, and there began locating vast
tracts of land, which they received patents for the next year.
These were the only surveys made on the banks of the Ohio prior
to the Revolution, which began a year later and continued for
eight dreadful years; but the storm ceased; the Briton was
forever driven from our shores.  Virginia was free; the hoarse
murmurs of her unnavigated rivers no longer responded to the
tread of her armed oppressors, and she in turn now parceled out
her vast western domain among her sons, who had by force of
arms decided that the decaying institutions of the Middle Ages
should not be transplanted from Europe to the New World, but
that institutions having civil liberty and universal suffrage
as their foundation stone should exist instead; and now these old
war-worn veterans were not slow in securing a home for them-
selves and their posterity.  In 1788 Virginia ceded all her territory
beyond the Ohio to the General Government, and by close of
the eighteenth century nearly all her lands lying between the
Allegheny mountains and the Ohio river,. had been "entered"
and "taken up" by those who were willing to stand the shock
of savage warfare, who with a steady nerve could listen to the
warwhoops of the merciless savage and witness night made 
lurid by burning homes.  Such were the men who settled what is
now West Virginia, and such were the fathers of the men who
felled the forests and converted her hills and valleys into gardens.

The organization of counties followed fast in the wake of the
thousands of pioneers.  Greenbrier in 1777, Kanawha in 1789,
Wood in 1795, Mason in 1831, and the many early settlers who
had found homes on the banks of the Little Kanawha and 
Hughs river now wearied with long jaunts to Parkersburg or
Ripley, in 1847 petitioned the General Assembly of Virginia,
asking for the formation of a new county.  The prayer was heard
with favor, and on the 19th day of January, 1848, a bill entitled
"An Act establishing the county of Wirt of part of the counties
of Wood and Jackson" passed that body. By its provisions the
new county was to contain so much of the counties Wood and
Jackson as is contained within the following boundaries: "Begin-
ning where the Ritchie county line crosses Goose creek; and
thence a straight line to the mouth of Hughs river; thence down
the Little Kanawha river to the mouth of Daileys run; thence
a straight line to the head of the Buckeye fork of Sandy creek,
near John Stephens, jr.; thence with and along the top of the
dividing ridge between Sandy and Tuckers creeks and Sandy and
Reedy creeks to the Jackson trace road, where the same crosses
said dividing ridge; and thence running with and along said road
to and including the residence of John P. Thomasson in Jackson
county; and thence continuing with and along said road to and 
including the residence of William Goff on Spring creek; thence
to the head of Tripletts run on the Gilmer county line; thence
running with and along said Gilmer and Ritchie county line to the
place of beginning."  Another provision was that the first court
for the county should be held at the residence of Alfred Beau-
champ in the county of Wood, situated in the town of Elizabeth,
on the first Monday in May ensuing.

previous page     next page


Return to Hardesty's Table of Contents
Return to Wirt County, WV Home Page

This page was last updated
You are our visitor.
Copyright © 1999 by WVGenWeb. All rights reserved.