Hardesty's History of Wirt County


Wirt county lies in the western part of the State, and from its 
position may be called the central county of the little Kanawha 
valley. It is bounded northwest by Wood county, northeast by
Ritchie, southwest by Calhoun, south by Roane, and southwest
by Jackson. The surface area is 290 square miles, 190 of which
lie south of the Little Kanawha, and the remaining 100 north of
that river. The surface is for the most part broken and hilly,
but there lies perhaps fifty square miles of splendid bottom lands
upon the banks of the Kanawha; the soil, which is a mixture of 
white clay and sand, is very productive. The hill lands is for the 
most part an intermixture of yellow and red clay, while occa-
sionally is to be found a considerable deposit of black loam.
Much of this land is well adapted to agriculture and especially so
to grazing. We have said that it is hilly, but we are not to be 
understood as meaning that it is rough, for such is not the fact.
The lowest depression is at the mouth of Hughs river, and the 
greatest elevation is Jeffneys knob, one mile west of Elizabeth, 
which rises to the height of 350 feet above the level at the mouth
of Hughs river, so that it will be seen that the entire surface must 
lie within a perpendicular of 350 feet while a mean would be 175 

The Little Kanawha river flows through the county, in a north-
west direction, dividing it into two unequal parts.  It is navigable 
for steamers in high stages of water as far as Glenville, in Gilmer 
county, distant by river from Parkersburg 104 miles.  It is locked 
from Burning Springs to the mouth.  Its name is of Indian origin, 
being the same in both the Delaware and Wyandotte languages.
The signification is, however, very different.  In the former it 
signifies "River of the Woods," while in the latter it means "The 
River of Evil Spirits." Owing to the fact that many of their 
canoes were lost upon its rapid current, they supposed that an evil 
spirit resided at the bottom, which pulled their canoes beneath 
the water; hence the name. (See Johnson's Glossary of Indian 

Hughs river rises in Doddridge county, and after flowing
through Ritchie, passed through this county, flowing through the 
northern part for a distance of twelve miles.  It was named in 
honor of Jesse Hughs, whose memory is yet cherished in the
mountain homes of West Virginia, where, as the children crowd 
around the fire to listen to the winter evening's recital, they 
hear related many of his fierce encounters with the savages among 
the mountains from whose sides flow the silvery currents that go 
to form Hughs river.  Tuckers creek, Reedy creek, and Spring 
creek all flow in a northern direction and discharge their waters 
into the Little Kanawha, while Standing Stone-and Straight 
creek both fall into the same river from a northern direction. 

Good building stone is found in all parts of the county, that 
used in the construction of the locks in the Little Kanawka being 
taken from the immediate vicinity.  Bituminous coal exists in 
various localities, but has not as yet been developed to any 
considerable extent.  Surface limestone is found scattered upon 
the surface, which when collected and burned makes an excellent 
fertilizer, but no stratified deposits have as yet been discovered.  
Vast quantities of timber still exist, although many millions of 
feet of lumber have already been cut and shipped to distant 
markets.  The principal varieties are white oak, black oak, red 
oak, chestnut oak, hickory, sugar, poplar, beech, elm, sycamore, 
pine, etc.

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