Hardesty's History of Wirt County

CLAY DISTRICT

Is the most northern in the county. It is bounded northeast and 
east by Ritchie county, south by Burning Springs district, west 
by Newark district, and northwest by Wood county. The surface 
for the most part is hilly and broken, but along Hughs river are 
some good bottom lands. This river runs west through the 
district, dividing it into two nearly equal parts. Goose creek, 
having its source in the highlands in the northern part of Ritchie
county, flows nearly south and empties into Hughs river near the 
centre of this district. Standing Stone creek rises in the eastern
part of Burning Springs district, and flows in a westerly direction 
along the southern boundary of Clay.

The first settler in this district was a man of the name of Graham,
who located upon the waters of Standing Stone about the year 
1800, and two years after his settlement his two brothers located 
on the dividing ridge between Standing Stone and Deevers Creek. 
Soon after, Elijah Rockhold and William Boheer found homes in 
the valley of the Standing Stone. Boheer lived for several years 
in a cave. A Mr. Shaw came from Ohio and settled here in 1812, 
at which time he found, in addition to those already named, Adam 
Deem, Peter Steed and Isaac Enochs, the latter of whom died in 
1858, aged seventy-seven years. In 1830, Thomson Cohen, whose
grandfather came from England with William Penn, settled on 
Parish Fork creek.

Old settlers, yet living, say that the first grist mill was built by 
Peter Steed about 1825, but the writer could learn nothing of it, 
save that it had once existed, but the first mill of any note was 
erected by Robert Malcolm in the year 1834. It was a water 
mill, and our informant says "it made excellent meal too." It 
stood at the junction of Goose creek with Hughs river. About
1836 they attached sawing apparatus to it, and they thus were not
only the first to erect a grist mill, but also the first to cut lumber
in this district, and most probably on the banks of Hughs river.

The first school was taught by Johnson Timms in a cabin at 
Deems bend about the year 1830. There are now six public 
school buildings in the district - all frame - erected at a cost of
from $500 to $1,000. The first postoffice  was established at 
Freeport, at the mouth of Goose creek, about 1842. The first 
sermon was preached in 1822, at the house of Adam Deems, by
no less a distinguished personage than Lorenzo Dow. He 
frequently preached here , and it is claimed organized the first 
church. Whether this be true the writer has been unable to 
learn for the reason that the records of this early body of 
Christians - probably the first organized in the Hughs river
valley - are lost. Among the first members were John Deems,
Daniel D. Tarvey, Isaac Dunn, and Jacob Deem. It was a
Methodist congregation. The second church organized was the
Baptist, and the third the United Brethren. Freeport is the only
village in the district. It is situated on the north bank of Hughs 
river, at the mouth of Goose creek. In this district are situated 
the Vernon Sulphur Springs, much resorted to because of the 
medicinal properties of their waters. A hotel has been erected 
for the accommodation of tourists. William Vernon and others 
are the present proprietors.

The population of Clay district in 1880 was 795.

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