Copyright
Hu Maxwell.

History of Tucker County, West Virginia : from the earliest explorations and settlements to the present time ; with biographical sketches of more than two hundred and fifty of the leading men, and a full appendix of official and electional history ; also, an account of the rivers, forests and caves online

. (page 1 of 41)
Online LibraryHu MaxwellHistory of Tucker County, West Virginia : from the earliest explorations and settlements to the present time ; with biographical sketches of more than two hundred and fifty of the leading men, and a full appendix of official and electional history ; also, an account of the rivers, forests and caves → online text (page 1 of 41)
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HISTORY



OF



TUCKER COUNTY,

WES 7' VIRGINIA,

FROM THE E.\IILIEST EXPLORATIONS AND SETTLE-
MENTS TO THE PRESENT TIME;



WITH



BIOGIiAPHICAL SKETCHES OF M(J]tE THAN TWO HUNDKED AND

ITFTY OF THE LEADING MEN, AND A Fl'LI. APPENDIX OF

OFFICIAL AND ELECTIONAL HISTOltY; ALSO, AN

ACCOUNT OF THE PIVERS, FORESTS AND

CAVES OF THE COUNTY.



By HU maxwell



ILL US T R A TE I) W FT If



IWKNTY-KIOHT PHOTOTYPES OF NOTKD I'KKSOXS.



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KINGWOOD, W. VA.:

PRESTON PUBLISHING COMPANY

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^"-DENFOUNO.T/ONS



COPYRIGHT BY

JI U MAXWF.LL.

1884.






Press of
Journal Printing House

KiNGAOOD. W. Va.



AS A



SLIGHT, BUT 8INCKRB KXFKESSION OF GRATITCDK,



AS A TOKEN OP RESPECT FOR mTEGRITY AND FIRMNKS.H



IN THE CAUSE OF HISTOBICAL KESEARCH,



AS A MARK OF ESTEEM FOR NOBILITY OF PURPOS]«



IN ALL THE LESSER AND LESS-TRODDEN PATHS OF LIFE,



THE AUTHOR



DEDICATES THIS BOOK TO HIS I'lJlJlXD,



WILBUR C. BROCKUNTUR.



INTRODUCTION.



Had some things been different from what they were, I
believe that I could have made the History of Tucker
County better than it is. The labor required to collect and
arrange the material was greater than would be supposed
by one who has never undertaken a task of similar nature.
No previous history, covering the period and territory, has
ever been compiled, and I had to enter upon original and
unexplored fields wherever I went. There was no scarcity
of subject-matter ; but, at times, it was not easy for me to
decide what to use and what to reject. I am not certain
that I have not erred seriously in one thing — that I trusted
more to the whims of others than to my own judgment.
The plan of the work would have been quite different had
I followed mv own inclination to make the whole thinsj one
connected storj' instead of biographical fragments, as it is.
l?et, as it is, it will please more people than it would if cast
in the mold for which it was first intended. I was not wri-
ting it for myself, but for others ; and, as my tastes and fan-
cies differ from those of others, I thought it best to suit the
book to those for whom it was intended.

But, as I said, if some things had been otherwise, this
book might have been better. The circumstances under
which the work was done were not at all times pleasant or
favorable. I commenced it in 1881, and devoted to it only
what time was mine after devoting twelve hours a day to
school work. At first it was my intention to publish it in
the Tucker County Pioneei\ as a serial story; but this was
abandoned when it was seen hf)w unwise it was. The his-



6 INTKODUCTION.

toiy as it was then was less than half as large as now, al-
though it devoted more spaot^ to the guerrilla warfare that
was carried on along our county's borders during the Civil
War. When the idea of publishing it in the newspaper was
abandoned, it was next proposed to bring it out in book
form, and the first half-dozen pages were actually set in
type. But, I was not pleased with it, and concluded to re-
arrange the whole work, and the printing was accordingly
suspended until the writing should be completed.

Meanwhile, I found it necessary to give some attention to
other matters ; for, it has never been my fortune to be so
situated that I could devote my whole time to literary
work. Soon, too, I grew doubtful if it was worth while to
do anything further with the matter. So, it was allowed to
lie idle, while I found more agreeable employment in other
fields of history. Thus, nothing was done till the winter of
1883-4. I was then in California, and had done as much on
a new history (" Conquest of the Ohio Valley ") as I could
do without a personal visit to the Library at Washington
City, and, as I was not yet ready to return to the East, I
began to consider whether it would not be a good opportu-
nity to revise the musty manuscripts of the Tucker History.
I was the more inclined to do this because I did not like
the idea of having commenced a thing without finishing it.
So, I sent to West Virginia for the manuscript and revised'
it by the time I was ready to start home, in April, 1884.
Upon my arrival at home, I added the part embraced in "Brief
Biographies," and sent the book to the press late in August.

If I had quieted myself to this task, and had nothing else
to lead mv mind off or to disturb me, I could have done
better. I could have better interwoven the stories, one
with another, ar.d made of them one continued purpose.



IXTKODUCTION. 7

and about them there would have been a completeness
which I am conscious that they do not now possess. But it
is not necessary to speculate upon such things as might have
been. The book is as it is, and those who feel troubled at
the discovery of logical errors may, if they will, let charity
cover what is best concealed. It is not my intention to un-
dertake another task of the kind, so I cannot truthfully
promise to profit by irregularities that may be pointed out.
But, from this, it should not be inferred that I look upon
my labor as that much thankless drudgery. Far from it.
The people of Tucker County have lent their aid and en-
couragement to me, and have done what they could
to assist me, and, on their account, if for nothing else,
the work, in spite of its many discouragements and dif-
ficulties, has been to me a pleasing one. No person feels a
deeper and kindlier interest in the majestic mountains, the
quiet valleys, the green meadows, the blooming orchards,
the sweeping streams and the crystal springs of our little
county, than I do. The interests of the people are mine,
and their hopes and aspirations are in unison wdth my sym-
pathy. The whole county, from the wind-swept crags of
the Alleghanies to the sugar-bloom of the Seven Islands, is
throbbing with the pulse of universal life. The past with
its romance is lost in the present, and the present is newer
and beautifuller than the past ever was. Who w^ould not
feel a pride in such a county ? If I have done anything for
it in the present undertaking, I am glad of it ; if I have done
nothing, I am sorry, for I have not done my duty.

Some of the history has been wholly neglected or only
touched, because I could not utilize it all. What I have
left has been principally romances that cling around old
memories. I would like to fling history aside and cast my



8 INTEODUCTION.

lot witli them for a season. No mountain of Scotland has
echoed to the themes of more beautiful legends that our
mountains have. The temptation to me was great as I was
writing the history, fori wanted to turn myself loose among
such landscapes and people and stories as my fancy could
create or my eyes could see already created. Bat I held
steadily before my mind the fact that I was writing history,
and I did all I could to weed from it what was not sober and
true. I have given nothing that I do not believe to be the
truth. I am able to rid myself of all partiality when it is
necessary to do so, and in this case I have done it. I feel
that I have done injustice to none. If I have, it was unin-
tentional on my part. It has been necessary to write of
some who are anything but my personal friends ; but I have
done it without one shadow of desire to do them a wrong
or to let them suffer by neglect. All I could ask of any man
is to be treated as fairlv as I have treated mv characters in
this History of Tucker County. I hold that no man should
be misrepresented ; but, if misrepresentations be tolerated,
it is better that they affect the dead than the living. I would
rather harm the memory of a dead Wasliington, although
he was my friend, than to take a mean advantage of a living
enemy — to injure him in a manner wherein he could hot de-
fend himself. Whether right or wrong, thus I believe.

To those who will read this book closely enough to notice
errata, where they exist, I would say, bear in mind that the
book Avas written in fragmentary parts, and did not receive
the supt;rvision that all histories should have. However, I
feel confident that the serious errors are few, and what they
are, they are there without the knowledge of the author at

this hour.

Hu Maxwell.
Kingvjood, Octoher 23, 1884.



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

JAMES PARSONS.

Page.

The County of Tucker defined. First visited by James Par-
sons. He discovers the Horse Shoe. Passes up Horse Shoe
Run. ThePringles.* Simon Kenton. The Indians. Mound-
builders. Mound in tlie Horse Shoe. Graves, bones and ar-
row points. Captain Parsons and his brother locate lands
on the River. Chased by Indians 17

CHAPTER II.

JOHN MIXEAR.

John Minear. Early life. Leads a colony lo the Horse Shoe.
Builds a fort. Trouble with the Indians. A settler chased
from the Sugar Lands. Settlement broken up. St. George
founded in 1776. Fort Built. Mill. Prosperity. Reverses.
New trouble with the Indians. The small-pox rages in Tuck-
er. An Indian raid. Sims killed. St. George besieged. Am-
buscade. Jonathan Minear killed. Washburn taken priso-
ner. Pursuit of the Indians. Skirmish. Indians defeated.
Washburn rescued. A rash Indian. Boy taken prisoner
near St. George. Killing of John Minear, Cooper and Came-
ron. Escape of the Millers and Goffe. The Indians pass into
Randolph. Routed by Jesse Huglies. Burial of Minear,
Cooper and Cameron 34

CHAPTER in.

MISCELLANIES.

The manners and customs of the pioneers. Moving. Pack-
horses. Plunder. Household articles. Bread and meat.
Building houses. The style of houses. Clothing. Mill at
St. George, 177G. Intoxicating liquors. Guns. Tomahawks.
Religious worship. The customs of the times. Schools.
Teachers. Modes of unparting instruction. Singing schools.
Romance of Manassa Minear and Lyda Holbert 69



10 TABLE OF CONTENTS.

CHAPTKli IV.

MISCELLAXIES.

Silent History. James Goff. His peculiarities. The land agent.
The supper. The Parsons family. The Bonnifields. Settle-
ment of Clover District. First school-house. The Dumire
family. The Losh family, William Losh and two friends go
to Ohio. John Losh, the hunter. Canada : the bed of a lake.
Lost in the woods. Captures cub-bears. Crosses the river
on a raft. Old settlers. Greneology, Nimrod Haddix breaks
his neck. Ambrose Lipscomb. Adam Harpei- 87

CHAPTER V.

FORMATION OF TUCKER COUNTY.

Efforts to obtain a new county. Meeting in St. George. Com-
mittee select site for court-house. William Ewin sent to the
Legislature. Judge John Brannon. Name of the county
and county-seat 121

CHAPTER VI.

SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES.

The influence of schools and churches. Should be co-workers.
Growth slow but permanent. Common schools the greatness
of the country. Home supply of teachers 125

CHAPTER VIT.

«

MOUNTAINS AND CAA'ES.

Mountains of Tucker. Limestone mountains. Falling Spring.
Jordan's Cave. Blooming Cave. Subterranean wonders 130

CHAPTER VIIL

LUMBER INTERESTS OF TUCKER COUNTY.

Primeval forests. Description of trees. Sugar making. Saw
mills. Cheat River. Springs. Wells. The blackness of the
water of Cheat. To what due. History and description of
the river. Alum Hill. Job's Ford. Slip Hill. Turn Eddy.
Willow Point. St. George Eddy. Miller Hill. Murder Hole.
Turtle Rocks. Seven Islands. Rafts and raftsmen. Shin-
gle mills. Lumber interests opposed to farming 139



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 11

CHAPTER IX.

WEST VIRGINIA CENTRAL AND PITTSBURGH RAILWAY. i

General view of the subject. Coal. Railroad plans of 1856- i

1881. Reports. Wealth of the company's lands 167

CHAPTER X.

MISCELLANEOUS STATISTICS.

The value of statistics. Various lists and tables. Reports of ■;

County Superintendents 173

CHAPTER XI.

i

NEWSPAPERS OF THE COUNTY.

First paper in Tucker County. Founding of the Pioneer. The
Democrat comes into existence. The progress of the two i

papers 190 (

CHAPTER XII. I

*

THE ST. GEORGE BAR.

Sketches of William Ewin. Rufus Maxwell. A. B. Parsons.
Lloyd Hansford. L. S. Auvil. W. B. Maxwell. Philetus
Lipscomb 198

CHAPTER XIIL

TRAVELERS.

Abe Bonnifleld. Starts to Missouri. Joins a show. Leaves it.
Joins another. Rumpus with Indians. Goes to Canada,
The old black scalawag. Returns home. Joins the Confed-
erate army. Fights to the last. A. T. Bonnifleld. Goes to
California. Returns. Chased by a tiger at Nicaragua. Visits
W. Va. Returns to California 306

CHAPTER XIV.

TRAVELERS. —(CONTINUED. )

Captain Ezekiel Harper. Early life. Volunteers to g'o to
the Mexican war. Starts overland to California, The jour-
ney. The Humboldt desert. Harper leaves the company.
Proceeds on foot. Crosses stupendous mountains. Arrives
at the gold fields. Digs gold to buy his breakfast. Various
reverses and successes. Indian war. Harper leader of



12 TABLE OF CONTENTS.

the iiiiuers. Skiriiiishes with the Indians, Rescue of priso-
ners. The Indians driven from the country. Harper revis-
its W. Va. Returns across the plains to California. Drives
4000 sheep. Jacob Harper dies on the Rocky Mountains.
Fortunes and reverses. Harper comes back to W. Va. Re-
turns to California. Terrible storm at sea. The "Central
America" goes down. Letcer from Aspinwall. Jerome Har-
per goes to Chili. Insurrexion there. Prisoners sent to
Patagonia. Captain Harper starts to hunt his brother.
Meets him at Pataluma. Returns to the mines. Comes back
to W. Va. and joins the Confederate army. Various skirm-
ishes. Taken prisoner. Carried to Camp Chase and Rock
Island. Suffering. Escape. After history 220

CHAPTER XV.

TRAVELERS. -(COXTIXUED.)

Henry Bonnifield. Early life. Adventures. Goes to Cali-
fornia. Rides wild horses. D&sperate ride over Millerton
Mountain. Dragged by a wild horse. A wicked mule. In-
vited to ride at the Centennial at Philadelphia. Goes to Ar-
izona. Haunted house of Tulare. A lying emigrant. Mo-
jave Desert. In Arizona. Sick. Lost in the desert. Falls
into the hands of the Indians. Passes down the Colorado
River. Trouble with the Indians. Reacheshome 250

CHAPTER XVI.

TRAA^ELERS.— (COr^TINUED.)



The Minears. Farm work. School. St. George Inn. A. P.
Minear. Works on the B. & O. R. R. Starts to California.
Adventures on the Isthmus of Panama. Reaches California.
Takensick. Kindness of E. Harperand Mr. Buckelew. Goes
into the lumber business. Fails. Goes to Oregon. Sue- j

cesses and reverses. John W. Minear goes to California. To '

Oregon. A. C. Minear follows. Letters on the way. Sol- i

omon Minear killed. The Minears goto Idaho. Mining. Fam-
ine. Snow, Storms. Attempt to murder A. P. Minear.
Struck by sixteen bullets. Escapes. Joins a railroad enter- j

rpsie in Florida. Fails. Goes to New York. Returns to
the Pacific coast and engages in mining. A. C. Minear in
Idaho. Fights Indians. Letters. Returns to W. Va, David
S. Minear 273 \

I
]



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 13

CHAPTER XVII.

THE WAR.

The commencement of the struggle in Tucker County. Cap-
ture of a Confederate flag at Saint George. Death of Lieut.
Robert McChesney. Letters bearing on the subject. Ad-
vance of Garnett. Battle of Corrick's Ford. Confederates
retreat. Capt. E. Harper pilots the flying army. Destruc-
tion and ruin marked the way. The army deserted by the
cavalry. Retreat of the Union forces from the Red House.
E. Harper leads the scouts up Backbone Mountain. Escape
of the army. The raids of Imboden. Surrender of Hall.
Paris. Battle of St. George. Close of the war 316

BRIEF BIOGRAPHIES.

In this department the subjects are treated alphabetically 438

APPENDIX.
Biographical sketch of the author 511

APPENDIX.

POLITICAL STATISTICS.

Election returns of the county 532

Index. 573



ILLUSTRATION S.



Capt. Ezekiel Harper, .
W. B. Maxwell,




Frontis}


Page

yiece.

. 202


A. P. Minear,






. 272


A. T. Bonnifield,






. 482


John G. Moore, .






. 512


The Maxwell Brothers — a group


s




. 176


Tjieut. Robert McChesney,






. 320


Dr. B. Baker,






. 368


AVjraham Bonnifield,






. 512


Eufus Maxwell, .






. 450


Capt. Joseph A. Paris, .
Mrs. Anna Minear,






. 320
. 96


Mrs. Sarah J. Maxwell, .






. 176


Mrs. Elizabeth Bonnifield,






. 96


Mrs. Mary J. Minear,






. 320


Mrs. Mary A. Spesert, .
Mrs. D. A. Lowther,






. 196
. 196


George A. Mayer,






. 368


David 8. Minear,






. 320


Jeff. Lipscomb, .






. 482


Hu Maxwell,






. 512


Knoch Minear, .






. 96


Job Parsons,






. 482


Dr. A. E. Calvert,






. 3G8


kelson D. Adams,






. 320


Philetns Li]iscomb,






. 482


Cyrus H. Maxwell,






. 512


Dr. T. M. Austin,




I


. 368



HISTORY



OF



TUCKER COUNTY



CHAPTER I.

JAMES PA ESQ XS.

Tucker County, West Yir^inia, is bounded on the north
by Preston, on the east by Maryhmd and Grant County ;
on the south it is bounded by Kandolph, and on the west
by Barbour. It lies along the valley of Cheat Eiver, and
includes the triljutaries of that stream for about tliirty-tive
miles north and south, and twenty east and Avest. The
area of the county would, therefore, be about seven hun-
dred square miles; but, if an actual measurement were
made, the area would prol)ably fall a little short of these
figures.

The county is not mentioned in history prior to the
French and Indian War, about 17G2. Of course, it is un-
derstood that when the county is spoken of in this manner,
reference is had only to the territory now included in the
county of Tucker. The territory so considered appears to
have been unknown to civilized man till about the year
1702 or 1703. The accounts of the earliest explorations



18 HISTOEY OF TUCKER COUNTY.

are vague and conflicting, and very few positive statements
can be made on the subject. However, it is certain tliat
both Preston and Randolph were visited by white men be-
fore Tucker was.

Probably the first white man in the county was Captain
James Parsons, who then lived on the South Branch of the
Potomac, near Moorefield, in the present county of Hardy.
During the French and Indian War, the Indians often
passed from beyond the Ohio, across the Alleghany Mount-
ains, into the settlements on the Potomac Biver, and partic-
ularly on the South Branch. They killed or carried away
as prisoners everybody they could catch. On one of these
raids they captured Capt. James Parsons." They carried
him with them all the way to Ohio, and kept him a prisoner
for some time. At length, however, he managed to escape
from them and set out for home. He knew that the South
Branch was in the east, and he traveled in that direction.
He guided his course by the sun by da}' and the moon by
night. But, as it was often cloudy, he wandered at times
from his way. In this manner he proceeded many days,
and from the length of time that he had been on the road,
he thought that he must be near the South Branch. He
struck a small river, Avhich he thought to be the South
Branch, because it flowed in an easterlv direction. He
followed it until it emptied into a larger river, which flowed
north. This stream he followed, thinking it might be a
branch of the Potomac, flowing in this direction to pass
around a moimtain, and that it would turn east and south
again in the course of a few miles. With this impression
he followed it. But it did not turn east, and showed no



* It is now a question wlietlier it was Parsons or anotlier man. Tlic best autliorities
say Pai"sons.



JAMES PARSONS. 19

sign of turning. He l3ecame convinced tliat lie was on the
■wrong river, as indeed he was. The first river followed by
liim was the Buckhannon. At its mouth he came to the
Valley Eiver, and down it he had traveled in liopes that it
would conduct him to Moorefield.

As soon as he was satisfied that he was on the wrong
river, he left it and turned eastward across the mountains.
He passed Laurel Eidge somewhere near the head of Clover
Eun, and came to Cheat above the Holly Meadows, proba-
bly near the farm of "Ward Parsons, Esq. He concluded
that this must certainly be the South Branch, and followed
down it. AVhen he reached the Horse Shoe Bottom he was
struck with the beauty of the country, and noticed in par-
ticular the great forest of white oak trees that covered the
whole bottom land of the river from the Holly Meadows to
the mouth of Horse Shoe Eun. The trees w^ere nearly all
of the same size, and there was little underbrush.

Up to this time he had thought that the river must be
the South Branch ; but, now he began to doubt it. It was
too large. Already it was larger than the Branch was at
Moorefield ; and, he knew that he must still be far above
that town ; because no country like that in which he then
was could be found near his home. He knew that, if it was
the South Branch at all, he was above the mouth of both
the Xorth and South Forks, or upon one of those rivers.
Neither was half as large as Cheat at the Horse Shoe.
Therefore, he was certain that he was not on a tributar}" of
the Potomac. He was confirmed in this conviction when
he had passed round the high point of land, where Judge
S. E. Parsons now resides, and saw that the river, instead
of continuing toward the north-east, broke away toward the
west, and flowed in that direction as far as he could see.



20 HISTOEY OF TUCKEK COUNTY.

He could not divine where lie was. He knew of no river of
this kind anywhere in the west. For the first time, in all
his wanderings, he became confused, and knew not where
to go next. He would have followed down the river, in the
hope that it would lead him to some settlement ; but, he
felt sure that it must em]otj into the Ohio.

After pondering over the matter for some time, he re-
solved to continue his eastward course. He saw a long
valley extending east ; and, crossing the river, he was at the
mouth of Horse Shoe Run. As far as is known, he was the
first white man ever in Tucker Count3\ However, there is
a tradition that a band of Indians, with a prisoner, once
halted at the mouth of Horse Shoe Run ; and, leaving their
prisoner tied on the bank of the river, they went up the nin
after the lead. In a few hours iliej returned with some.
Whether this event, if it happened at all, was before or after
Captain Parsons was there, cannot now be determined. One
account saj's that the prisoner was Captain Parsons' brother
Thomas. But, all accounts of the subject are vague and
conflicting. If the Indians got lead in that manner, it was
probably some that they had hidden on a previous expedi-
tion. There are not known to be any lead mines in that vi-
cinity ; although some people think there are. It was a
custom among the Indians, when they went upon an expe-
dition, to hide lead along the road so that, upon their return,
they might have a supply without carrying it with them
during the whole journe}-. This is likely wh}' they went
up the run to get that article, at the time mentioned. This
probability is strengthened by the fact that an old Indian
war path crossed Cheat River at the mouth of Horse Shoe
Run ; and, if lead were left anywhere, it vrould likely be
along a path.



JAMES PARSONS. 21

When Captain Parsons crossed the river at tlie mouth of
Horse Shoe Pam, it was with the intention of continuing
toward the east. This he did. He pursued his way up the
stream a little distance, when he came upon a large, old
path. It was perhaps an old Indian trail ; or it might have
been made by animals. Parsons would have foUowed this ;
but, it turned to the north, and he left it. At the mouth of
Lead Mine, he left Horse Shoe Eun ; and, by going up Lead
Mine, he crossed the Backbone Mountain near Fairfax.

This path across the mountain was the route by which
nearl}^ all of the first settlers of Tucker found their way
into the county. After crossing the mountain, Parsons
struck the North Branch of the Potomac, and finally
reached home. Of the Horse Shoe Bottom he gave an
account that filled the settlers about Moorefield with long-
ings to see it. But, it was several years before any of the
people from the South Branch again visited the Cheat
Eiver lands.

At that time there was a large fort at the mouth of
the Monongahela Pviver, where Pittsburgh now stands. In
1761, four of the soldiers who garrisoned the fort became
dissatisfied and deserted. They passed up the Monon-
gahela, and at the place where Geneva, Penn., now stands,
they made them a camp. But, they did not like the place,
and moved into Preston County, and made them another
camp not far from Aurora. No one then lived anywhere



Online LibraryHu MaxwellHistory of Tucker County, West Virginia : from the earliest explorations and settlements to the present time ; with biographical sketches of more than two hundred and fifty of the leading men, and a full appendix of official and electional history ; also, an account of the rivers, forests and caves → online text (page 1 of 41)