Hardesty's History of Wirt County

FIRST WHITE MEN IN THE LITTLE KANAWHA VALLEY

The first white men that saw the Little Kanawha valley were 
William Lowther, Jesse Hughs and Ellis Hughs.  Both the latter, 
and probably the former, were soldiers in the battle of Point 
Pleasant, October 10, 1774, and Ellis Hughs was the last survivor 
of that sanguinary struggle. (See History of the Virginias in 
this work, p 196.) It was in the autumn of the year 1772 that
these three daring adventurers, whose names are all illustrious 
in the annals of border warfare, left the spot where Clarksburg now 
stands, and traveled up the west fork of the Monongahela river 
to its source, where they crossed the dividing ridge near where 
Weston, the county seat of Lewis county, now stands, and
journeyed down Sand creek to its junction with the Little 
Kanawha river, upon the banks of which they halted.  Here was 
a beautiful mountain river, upon whose rapid current the eye of 
civilized man had never before rested, and amid the surrounding 
hills his voice had never before been heard.  But they must follow 
its tortuous course -- its windings like a silver thread -- to its 
junction with some other mighty river, they knew not what.  So 
the journey was continued down the river, and as they proceeded 
they bestowed names upon its tributaries which they have
ever since borne. The first they reached from its general course 
they supposed was the one which they should have descended from 
the point near Weston, instead of Sand creek, it being a more 
direct route to the river which they were now exploring, and 
they christened it Leading creek.  Then the next stream was one, 
the banks of which were-fringed with cedar, and Cedar creek was 
left behind; then one flowed out from beneath lofty pines, and it 
was named Pine creek; then high yellow clay banks indicated 
the mouth of another, and Yellow creek was left behind, after 
which a stream stretched away into the hills, a long line of its 
course being visible, and it was called Straight creek; then one 
flowed in from toward the setting sun, and it was West fork.
From another they drank of its cool transparent waters, and it 
has ever been known as Spring creek; then the descent was 
continued a short distance, and upon the bank of the river the
course of which they were traversing was discovered no less a 
curiosity than a burning spring, and the creek which here 
discharged its waters was named Burning Spring creek.  Little 
thought these intrepid adventurers that they were upon the spot 
which should one day be honored with a world-wide celebrity, and 
that beneath their feet lay the "oily fluid" which a century
hence was to attract men from all parts of the world, and that it 
was to become the Eldorado in which immense fortunes were to 
be made and lost in a day.

Then another tributary was reached, and they called it Reedy. 
Upon the next an ascent was made, and several. miles up it a lofty 
stone was found standing erect upon one of the little bottoms that 
lay upon its bank, and Standing Stone creek has ever since been 
familiar to everyone acquainted with the Little Kanawha valley.
Farther down a beautiful river united its rapid current with the
Kanawha, and Jesse Hughs claimed the right to bestow his own 
name upon it.  His comrades acquiesced, and on every map of 
Virginia since engraved Hughs river has been delineated.  At the 
mouth of another stream were bluff banks filled with slate, and 
Slate creek was left behind.  But the mouth of the river down 
which they were journeying was now near at hand, and soon the 
mighty "La Belle Riviere" of the early French voyagers was in 
sight, and our explorers stood upon its banks -- probably the first 
Englishmen that ever stood upon the spot where the city of 
Parkersburg now stands.  Here the journey ended, and from here 
the homeward march was begun, and in due time all three arrived 
at the point from which they started, Colonel Lowther to take 
his seat in the colonial legislature, and Jesse and Ellis Hughs soon 
after to enroll their names as soldiers in Gen. Andrew Lewis' 
army, and to participate in all the vicissitudes through which it 
passed during Dunmore’s war. Thus was opened to settlement 
the beautiful valley of the Little Kanawha, now dotted with 
villages and thousands of happy homes.

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