Hardesty's History of Wirt County

THE FIRST SETTLERS

The valley was explored and its resources made known in the 
East, but no settlements were made for a quarter of a century 
after.  The clouds of war now darkened the American horizon, 
the armed oppressor was already upon our shores, the war of the 
Revolution, which through the aid of France was to give the 
American continent to civil liberty as the home of the oppressed 
of all lands. was now at hand.  Patrick Henry was voiceing that 
struggle with his matchless eloquence, and Jefferson was penning 
the declaration.  Virginia called loudly to her sons to defend her 
soil against the invader, and from her plains and mountains that 
call met with a hearty response, and for eight long years western 
settlement was abandoned.  In 1783 Britain acknowledged the 
independence of the colonies and called her soldiers home, but 
behind she left her savage allies, who, for twenty long years con-
tinued to wage a relentless warfare against the frontier, and it
was not until Wayne's treaty with the Indians in 1795, that emi-
gration to the western part of Virginia again began.  But the 
savage was now forever, his frightful warwhoop was never 
to be heard again south of the Ohio, and hundreds of the old 
soldiers now sought homes in the wide domain of western Virginia.

The first one to find a home within the present limits of Wirt
county was William Beauchamp, who settled where the town of 
Elizabeth now stands, in the year 1796, where he made the first 
permanent improvement within the Little Kanawha.  If the 
traveler who visits the town of Elizabeth will take a stroll into 
the village cemetery, not far from the center he will discover a rude
brown sandstone slab, now, like the body of him whose resting place
it marks, is rapidly crumbling to dust, and from it he will learn 
that William Beauchamp was born in 1743 and died in the year 
1808, aged sixty-five years.  Here now reposes all that was 
mortal of the first pioneer of Wirt county.  He was the father of 
David and grandfather of Alfred, both of whom were identified 
with the business interests of the valley for many years.  But he 
was not to remain long alone amid the solitudes of his chosen
home; the closing years of the last century and opening ones of
the present witnessed many cabin homes on the banks of the little 
river.  Then came Benjamin Roberts, Thomas Prebble and Jona-
than Shepherd from the south branch of the Potomac, the latter 
bringing with him his three sons, William, Samuel and Henry. 
Then Samuel Coe, William Wells, who settled upon Reedy creek, 
William Petty, John Petty and John Willson, all of whom 
removed here from Harrison county, Virginia; John Bennett, 
who settled upon Tuckerís creek, Jacob Bumgarner, Frederick
Bumgarner, Andrew Bumgarner, Richard Reeder, Charles Rock-
hold, Elijah Rockhold and Jepheniah Wiseman.  These were the 
men who laid the foundation for the settlement of the territory 
now embraced within the limits of Wirt county. 

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