The British Isles lie off Europe’s northwest coast and are surrounded by the British Channel, the straight of Dover, North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Included island of Great Britain, made up of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland.

The physical lay out of this part of Europe are principally rolling areas, rounded hills, and valleys and have comparatively little level land. The major reason, no doubt, these people, Brown, Johnston, Skidmore, Green(e), chose this geographical region. . . . . . . . . Virginia and (western) Virginia. It reminded them of their home-land.

In early history a constant stream of people made their way to Europe. The Europeans in turn immigrated to settle new lands and to carry the European culture and trade to the American shores and move westward.

English peoples are descendants of invaders and settlers from many North Sea areas - -.

The Races of Europe - Racial mixtures have been going on for such a long time, that examples of pure racial stocks are extremely rare. This diversity and mixture began long before the period of recorded history. It is difficult to trace the mixture of the racial background of the average European ancestry.

Group habits - customs - and cultures are as important as racial characteristics.

Religion is an universal force. Christianity, the universal religion. The Protestant strength as the center in such as Great Britain and the British Isles. The principle influence being to unite people. This being very important and predominant in their immigration to their new world the Americas.

The cultural relationship between Europe and the United States was quite important. The Europeans have exerted a greater influence on American ways of life than any people of any continent.

These “kinsfolk”, these immigrants came from Europe. English ancestry or one of the islands making up the British Isles.

These immigrants that came to America and became pioneers that conquered the new frontier; they knew how to effectively utilize all the resources of their surroundings.

Tey were farmers; they acquired land, cleared the fields, tiled the soil. They raised crops for their own needs and for use as trade for other commodities and goods needed for their homes. The raising of livestock for the same relative importance. They later turned to natural resources to make their living for their large families and the changing times

The mining of coal industry, responsible for employment of several members of each family. Father, son and yes daughters, all went underground to mine coal.

The mining of salt, for this area, Braxton County, Webster County, Clay and Roane Counties of West Virginia, all having abundance of salt. Many areas were known by name as Salt Lick Creek, Salt Springs, many more.

As was the custom of their European culture, in relation of the home to the land. The immigrants, pioneers dwelled together in small villages located in the midst of their fields. Families resided side by side. Sharing the land responsibilities working it. Many seldom leaving even the village community. Raising their families with the same beliefs; same cultural background; same religion. Marriages resulted between members of the village dwellers. Neighbors children, married neighbors sons and daughters. From the farm to the mine - from the mine to the factory.

These immigrants from across the ocean, be they from England or any of the British Isles; pioneered these United States of America. Truly hold an enviable and important position which is the result of a combination of physical and human factors unexcelled, and hold a great part in exceeding all others in all accomplishments.

Heartland of West Virginia

The boundry lines of counties are man made entities established to make possible for governmental functioning of areas. To provide laws, taxes, provide for peoples welfare. In West Virginia no lines exist to distinguish the heartland of this state. The peoples have been drawn together since the early frontier days. They have established their belonging along the water ways and in the hills and hollows of West Virginia.


When sunny days prevail in West Virginia,
And breezes blow on this state so fair;
The songs of the birds in the trees of West Virginia,
Is praise of charm unequaled anywhere,
And there’s the call to live on rugged soil;
Where mountain men are ever free and true.
Where one is partial to the land of hills
The land of peace with skies of azure blue.

The setting sun on scenic West Virginia,
Outlines ablaze the mountaineers stronghold,
The western view reflects in West Virginia,
Resplendent rays of burnished blue and gold,
While shadows fall and the daily cares are over,
Ones loyalty is pledged forever true,
Where we are partial to the land of hills,
The land of peace with skies of azure blue.

The earliest to establish this were the younger descendants of the Tidewater Virginia Families. The Scotch, Irish and the German. The indentured servants who paid their passage to America with seven years labor. And those who were shipped to the colonies as punishment. They migrated to the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. To the South Branch of the Potomac River.

Central Western Virginia was mostly the territory of the Shawnee and a few Delaware camps in the south. Many Indian trails crossed this area, many places have been identified as Indian Camps and burial grounds.

These first settlers were in total isolation. No stores, mills, churches or schools. No land office, no law, no government. All goods were from staples, to power for guns. Dry goods were brought in by pack mules or by the water ways.

Settlers came in droves, being unprepared for life’s turmoil’s and tragedies. Such was the case in 1773, when people exceeded the food supplies, “the starvation year.”

The early pioneer had to fight the danger of the panther, bear, and other beasts of the wilderness. But, few Indian problems in the first years. Later, white men killed any Indian they met. In 1774, with the defeat of the Indians at Point Pleasant, the kidnapping and massacres began.

While most historians write of the white mans perspective, there is also the Indians side. Both sides took a stand and fought for what they believed.

The white man believed that land unclaimed by another white man was his for the taking. The forests his for hunting. The red man was little more than an animal. Indians resented the white man’s intrusion resulting from reduced game supply and the white man’s disregard for their lifestyles. War was inevitable. The Indians were convinced there was no peace until the “Long Knives” were driven back over the Alleghenies.

The pioneers were not to b turned away. They stood firm. They battled them on in their homes. Some escaped, many died, some were captured to return, some did not. The treaty was signed in 1775 and the warfare east of the Ohio was over.

In the late 1790’s and early 1800’s brought civility to Central western Virginia. Methodist and Baptist Preachers immigrated to the wilderness. Some schools were held in the settlements. Roads were built.

There was a new wave of settlers. The newcomers were different from the pioneer settlers. They were more determined to make a permanent home. They had more gentility, religion, a desire for law and order, a desire for education.

“You Can Tell’em Every Time”

If you’ve fished in clear waters and waded in mud,
Watched the calm rivers, seen many a flood,
Traveled the highways, on good roads and bad;
Cussed like a trooper, yet seldom are mad,
I’ll bet you’re from West Virginia.

If you’ve sweated in the valley, cooled off on a hill
Tramped through the mountains, drunk corn from a still
If you like a good fight, can loose and yet grin;
Get up on your feet and again try to win
I’ll bet you’re from West Virginia

If you ain’t afraid of the devil, got fire in your eyes,
God fearing, and loving the father on High,
Go to the limit for friends, but slow to forgive,
Nursing that hurt as long as you live;
I’ll bet you’re from West Virginia

If you’ve drunk sassafras and old Mountain Tea,
Used “Pennyrile” for the bite of a flea,
You say what you think whether sober or drunk;
Can tell by the wind the trail of a skunk
I’ll bet you’re from West Virginia.

If you’ve cleaned your teeth with a birch tree twig’
To “Old Dan Tucker” danced many a jig,
Stole behind the barn away from your folks
For Indian stogie and corn silk smokes,
I’ll bet you’re from West Virginia

If you’ve talked “Pig Latin”, sung “The old Grey Mare”,
Felt the bite of a “chigger”, love a good county fair,
A bit clannish of kin, though “ornery” they be;
And admit it yourself, but dare us to agree,
I’ll bet you’re from West Virginia

If you’ve eat syrup and sausage on your buckwheat cakes’
Snore while you sleep in a bed full of snakes
Hit what you shoot at, with a short gun or long,
And fight the devil while singing a song;
I’ll bet you’re from West Virginia

You fought the communists and Almond-Eyed Lice,
Itching to fight them and not pay the price;
You’re proud of your state and thrill when you hear
“The Star Spangled Banner” and stand up and cheer;
‘Hell’, I know you’re from West Virginia


‘Montani Semper Liberi’
“Mountaineers Are Always Free”

            Named in honor of Carter Braxton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, is the central county of the state. It’s county seat  is SUTTON.
           The county, bounded on the northeast by Lewis County; southeast by Webster; south by Nicholas; southwest by Clay; west by Calhoun and northwest by Gilmer. A high ridge extends from west to east dividing the waters of the Little Kanawha to the north from the Elk River to the south.
           The Little Kanawha River drains the northern portion. Coming from the western part of Upshur County. It enters Braxton at the eastern angle and follows along the northeastern boundary and enters Gilmer County at Long Shoals.
           Several streams flow in it as it passes through Braxton County, Salt Lick Creek, Right Fork, Gauley Creek, Three Lick, and Oil Creek, it flows northwest into the Little Kanawha below Glenville in Gilmer County.
           The name Kanawha is of Indian origin, In Delaware it means “River of the woods” and Wyandote “River of evil spirits.”
           Braxton county is drained by the Elk River to the south and it’s tributaries, it rises in the Elk and Cheat mountains in the western part of Pocahantas County and flows through Webster and enters Braxton to the center and follows through Clay and Kanawha County into the Great Kanawha.
           Many of the early settlers were hunters by occupation and chose instead of the rich river bottoms, a home far up among the mountains.
           The first to find a home in the present limits of Braxton County were two brothers - Jeremiah and Benjamin Carpenter and their wives. They settled on the Elk River, about one mile above the mouth of Holly River, in the year 1784 They were attacked by savages and Benjamin and his wife fell victims. Jeremiah and his wife escaped and took refuge about three miles away in a cave. Here they lived three months. Mrs. Carpenter gave birth to a son (Soloman), the first white child born with-in the limits of what became Braxton County.
           David O’Brian, came to the spot where Sutton now stands in the year 1795. He took residence in a large sycamore tree, which stood near a suspension bridge. He was joined by Robert Givens a year later.
           In 1798 Nicholas Gibson, 1800 Benjamin Conrad, John Conrad, Daniel Conrad, Thomas Murphy, in the years to follow: Col. John Hayman, Asa Squires, Elijah Squires, Andres Friend, Thomas Frame, Edward Posey, John F. Singleton, George F. Gerwig, William McCoy, John M. Brown, George W. Greene, Andrew Skidmore. Col. John Hayman, settled in what is now known as Bulltown. So called on fact it was occupied for many years by friendly Indians whose chief was known as Captain Bull.
           The county formed parts of Lewis, Kanawha, and Nicholas as counties. A petition was signed and forwarded to Richmond where it was presented to the general assembly. It was heard and approved and the winter of 1836 Braxton County with population 2,371 and 400 voters was made a county on the map of Virginia.
           The county seat of Sutton was laid out in 1836. Sutton was originally called “NEWVILLE”. It was first incorporated in 1875.
           On the night of Sunday between Christmas and New Years in 1863, Confederate Soldiers entered Sutton. The town was fired and burned, All but four houses. Those included the county buildings.
           Burnsville or Lumberport is situated on the Little Kanawha River at the south of Salt Lick Creek. It was laid out in 1830 by P.B. Burns.
           Henry Cunningham, at his own expense built the first church and school building in the Kanawha District. He came to Braxton County and erected his cabin on the forks of Knawles Creek where he had purchased 1,500 acres of land.
           The principle tributary of the Little Kanawha is Salt Lick Creek, it is formed by the Left and Right hand forks. Copen Creek empties into the Little Kanawha two miles below the Gilmer County line. It derives it’s name from a man who settled there in 1848.
           The first settlers in the Salt Lick District known as “Flatwoods” were Peter Shields, Asa Squires, in 1807. Soon after joined by P.B. Burns, John Hayman, Issac Riffle. Christian Heater, William McCoy, and John F. Singleton.
           The territory of the (Salt Lick) was Clay from 1863 to 1873 part of Kanawha until 1875 then the Salt Lick District.
           The first school in the district was taught by a man by the name of William Berry in the year 1871.
           The first sermon was preached in the Salt Lick District or in Braxton County was by an old school Baptist Minister, name of Robert Tissol. The first society formed was the Methodist in the town of Burnsville in the year of 1823.
           The Methodist Episcopal Church on Copen Run was instituted 20th June, 1880.

* How Granny’s Creek got it’s name *

At that time a survey was being made. There was great danger of the Indians. There was no settlements and the workers had to live as best they could. A young man in the party was always complaining about the hardships, wishing he was home where his grand-mother could cook him  a good meal with lots of green beans and garden vegetables, hence his fellow workers were always teasing him about his “Granny. A Name which perhaps it will remain until grand-mothers are no more.

* What about Old Woman’s Run *

This stream empties into the Elk at the upper end of Sutton, Granny’s Creek is at the lower end. Between Granny’s Creek and Old Woman’s Run are large cliffs of rocks where wild animals gathered to make dens. As late as 1870 it was hard to raise pigs and lambs in this surrounding community. There was a very large bear in the settlement and had reared several broods of cubs. The hunters had given the bear the name of “Old Woman”. The bear had escaped for many years, known by it’s very large tracks. It was killed at last and the citizens gave the stream the name of “Old Woman’s Run.”

* Salt Lick Creek *

Salt Lick Creek derives it’s name from the fact there was a salt spring or lick near where the Weston and Gauley Bridge Turnpike crossed the stream.

* Strange Creek *

Strange Creek a tributary of the Elk, was a scene of a sad tragedy. In early days a survey team engaged the assistance of a hunter as a guide through the wilderness. His name was Strange. He left the survey team one day to scout ahead of the party, but never returned. Some time later his gun was found. This poor unfortunate frontiersman cut his name in a beech tree along with the inscription “ Strange is my name and strange is the woods, and strange it is that I can not be found.”

There are many small streams with familiar names. All were named with some associated connection. Bee Run, Spruce Run, White Oak Run, Slab Run, Copen Run, Gras Run, Bull Run, Tom’s Fork, ect.

West Virginia is a land of tragedies, if we but knew them all - tragedies that brought the deepest sorrows to the mountain homes of a race of fearless pioneers.

The Early History of Gilmer County, West Virginia

“Montani Semper Liberi”
“Mountaineers are always free”

The first white men who stood within the limits of Gilmer County, were William Lowther, Jesse Hughes and Elias Hughes. Elias Hughes, was the last survivor of the battle of Point Pleasant, fought October 10, 1774. They left the spot where Clarksburg now stands in the autumn of 1772. Traveled up the West Fork River to where Weston, the county seat of Lewis County now stands.

From there on down the Sand Creek to the junction of the Little Kanawha river.

As they traveled down the river they named the tributaries. The first being Leading Creek, the next Cedar Creek, Pine Creek, yellow Creek, Straight Creek, West Fork, Spring Creek, Burning Creek. And on they went until they reached the spot where Parkersburg now stands. Here the journey ended and there they turned homeward and once again arrived at the point from which started. Col. Lowther to take his seat in the colonial assembly. Jesse and Elias Hughes, to join Gen. Andrew Lewis’s army and participate in Dunmore’s war. The exploring opened to settlers the territory of Gilmer County and the Little Kanawha Valley.

The first pioneers of Gilmer County were Henry E. Heckert in 1808. Heckert raised his cabin where the village of Troy now stands. Peter McCune at the mouth of Leading Creek in 1810. Adam Bush, in 1811 at the mouth of Cedar Creek, George Collins on Stewarts Creek in 1818. These men laid the foundation for Gilmer County. Others to come were Lewis Stalnaker, George Goff, John Smith, Henry and Jacob Bush, Joseph Hardman, Ben Riddle. John Brannon, John Fling, John Cline, Philip Fisher, the Beasley’s, Schoonover’s, Stout’s. Burk’s, Conrad’s, Thomson’s,  Norman’s.....

Gilmer County continued to be part of Lewis and Kanawha counties until 1845. A petition was sent to Richmond asking for a new county. A bill was passed establishing the county of Gilmer on the 3rd. day of February, 1845.

{The boundaries}
       Beginning at the corner of Braxton County line - at the left-hand fork of Three Lick fork on Oil Creek - a straight line to fork of the road on Leading Creek - a straight line to southeast corner of Ritchie County - to the Ritchie, Wood and Jackson County lines; to the crossing of the West Fork of the Little Kanawha River, to embrace all the waters of the West Fork of the Little Kanawha River to the Braxton County and Kanawha County lines. To form one county and known as Gilmer .

*** the first court convened at the residence of Salathiel G. Stalnaker, on the 24th. day of March, 1845. The court was composed of Benjamin Riddle, Michael Stump, Beniah Maze, Barnabas Cook, Samuel Conrad, William Bennett, Philip Cox, Jr., Robert Benson, Joseph Knotts, John F.W. Holt, James N. Norman, William Arnold.

*** Prosecuting Attorney was, Jonathan M. Bennett, first surveyor was Michael Stump, Commissioner of Revenues was Salathiel G. Stalnaker, Joseph Knotts and Benjamin Hardman were granted licenses to perform marriages. James M. Camp was appointed county clerk, protem.
Gilmer County cont.

{The early record shows}
       The court proceeded to lay off the county into districts for overseers of the poor. So the West Fork and it’s waters, Steer Creek, Lower Leading Creek, and Yellow Creek to form the first district and the little Kanawha River and tributaries above the mouth of Steer Creek form the second district. The second Saturday in April was designated the day of election for the overseers of the poor. The first election to be held in the house of Joseph Bennett. And for the second district in the house of Benjamin Riddle.

{Moving the county seat}
       A majority vote of sixty-six was in favor of moving the county seat from DeKalb to “The Ford”. [now called Glenville] in 1845.

After removal of the county seat to Glenville, Benjamin Riddle became the first sheriff, Michael Stump, the first surveyor of lands, William Stalnaker, as coroner, William Staknaker and Thomas M. Brannon were appointed deputy sheriff.

It became necessary to erect public buildings, such as court-house, jail. A deed was recorded from William H. Ball and Christian Ball, his wife, giving title to the land where the present court-house now stands. The court house and jail was to be completed by November 1st., 848, and not to exceed $3000.00. The work was completed and local government in operation. Gilmer County entered upon her career as a part of the “Old Dominion”, but, destined afterward to become the daughter of the “Old Commonwealth”.

Glenville, was named by Col. C.B. Conrad. The name being suggested by the glen or valley in which it is situated. This place before had been known as “The Ford”, for the reasons that the old state road leading from Weston to Charleston here, crossed the Little Kanawha where the water had to be forded. The town of Glenville was incorporated in 1871.

All over the “Old Dominion” the clouds of the civil war hung thick and dark, in 1861. Every county in the state was prevailed with excitement. Businesses became paralyzed and the conditions existed which made it safer to be in one or the other contending armies. There were 360 entered the Federal Army and probably an equal number went south and joined the Confederacy.

The 31st. day of July, 1863, a bill entitled “An act to provide for the division of counties into townships of this state.”

Troy district is the most northern. The first settlement was on the north side of Leading Creek at the mouth of Horn Creek, by Henry E. Heckert, in 1808. The first election was at Troy about 1846. The first school was taught by Rev. John Woofter, his successor was William Bell.

DeKalb district lies in the extreme western part of the county. And took it’s name from DeKalb, the oldest town in the county. The first settler’s was Peter McCune, at the mouth of Leading Creek in the year of 1810. The first election was held 1832. The first school was taught by James Westfall, at the mouth of Leading Creek about 1814.

Center district is the most southern in the county. The first cabin was built by Adam Bush on Cedar Creek. The first school was taught by Joseph Bangs on the right hand fork of Steer Creek in 1836.

Glenville district is the most eastern in the county. The first settlers were the Beasley’s, Schoonover’s, Stout’s, Goff’s, Burk’s and Thomson’s. The Stout’s settled at what is now Stout’s Mills. William Bell taught the first school; in 1818 in a log cabin in the Stout’s Mills settlement.

The State Normal School, at Glenville was established by an act of the legislature, passed on the 19th. day of February, 1872 and was opened the 14th. day of January 1873. The building donated by the citizens of the town to the state. This establishment known now as Glenville State College.

“A Place In History”
Lewis County

Lewis County, West Virginia is a treasury of American History...............................

Pioneer settlers from the east first trekked into the wilderness of Lewis County in 1769, and for the next twenty years was to be America’s western frontier, the longest lived frontier in the nation’s history. In those two decades, there were frequent bloody conflicts between the white man and the Indian from which emerged dozens of exciting stories of grand adventure and incredible bravery and sacrifice on both sides.

By 1800, the wilderness had been largely tamed. Then began the economic and social development of the region.

A working grist mill, five miles north of Weston became the home of young Thomas Jonathan Jackson. Years later he enrolled at West Point, then found fame as a victorious Civil War General and America’s most renowned military strategist. The Jackson mill still stands, a museum surrounded by a huge educational and cultural complex, the Kackson’s Mill Conference Center.

During the Civil War, Lewis County was more or less evenly divided in loyalty between the North and South. Some families were broken apart by their divergent allegiances and the wounds remained unhealed for generations. Weston and Jane Lew were occupied at different times by armies of the Union and Confederacy. Two future presidents, Rutherford Hayes and William McKinley, were soldiers in the Union armies stationed for a time in Lewis County.

Construction had begun before the Civil War and was completed after of a 19th century monument to the treatment of mental illness, then America’s greatest and most modern hospital for the purpose at Weston.

Weston became a center of glass manufacturing at the turn of the century. At one time there were six plants operating, making everything from window glass and lamp chimneys to sparkling beverage sets sold in every major department store in the country and overseas. Glass manufacturing and decorating remains a vital part of the local economy; local outlets have been established for the sale of locally made glass.

The former Colored School in Weston, one of the town’s more historic buildings, dating from 1882, is currently being renovated for conversion into a museum to celebrate Lewis County’s romantic and exciting past.
Opposition to slavery began to make itself felt early in the nineteenth century. The abolitionists were its active opponents on moral grounds, while the Northern farmers feared the competition of the Southern plantation owner, who benefited by slave labor. When in 1860, Abraham Lincoln, was elected on an anti-slavery platform, the South saw its very existence threatened. And eleven states seceded from the Union, precipitating the Civil war. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 ended slavery in the United States.

Virginia seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy in the Civil War. As a result, Virginia lost its western counties, which in opposition to the Confederacy, broke away and founded the state West Virginia. Some of the most important campaigns of the war took place in Virginia. The Civil War ended on Virginia soil in 1865.

At the beginning of the Civil War, many sections of the western part of Virginia had no sympathy with those elements. of the state who wished to secede from the Union. As a result in 1861 the western counties set up an independent government and in the following year adopted a state constitution. The new state was admitted to the Union in 1863. In the early part of the Civil War several battles were fought on West Virginia soil and the new state contributed much to the Union cause.

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