County History Harrison WV

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Excerpts from Hardesty's History of Harrison County, WV

Hardesty's 1882 Biographical Atlas of Harrison County

HON. JOHN C. JACKSON - Among the most prominent citizens of the, in its earlier history, was the subject of this sketch, who was born in Harrison county in 1777, a son of George Jackson, an early pioneer. He received a classical education, studied law, and was admitted to practice at a very early age; elected to congress in 1799, and re-elected every two years until 1811; again elected in 1813 and 1815; appointed judge of the district court of the United States for the district of Western Virginia, in 1824. He died March 28, 1825, aged 48, and his remains lie buried in the cemetery in the eastern part of Clarksburg. He was a man of great ability, energy and pubic spirit, engaged for some time in the manufacture of salt and iron near Clarksburg, and at the time of his death had commenced the erection of locks and dams on the West Fork, between Clarksburg and Fairmont, for the purpose of rendering the river navigable. In early life, he married Miss Payne, a sister of the wife of President Madison. She soon died, and he subsequently married a daughter of Hon. Return J. Meigs, of Ohio. She was born in Middletown, Connecticut, January 1, 1793, and died at Clarksburg, February 4, 1863.

HON. JOHN S. CARLISLE - was born in Frederick county, Virginia, December 16, 1817; educated by his mother until fourteen years of age, when he went into a country store as salesman and clerk. At the age of seventeen, he commenced business for himself, and at the same time studied law. He located at Beverly, Randolph county, Virginia, in 1842, and shortly after in Phillipi, Barbour county, where he became prosecuting attorney; he remained in the latter place but a short time, when he removed to Clarksburg. In 1847, he was elected to the State senate; in 1850, a member of the Virginia constitutional convention; 1855, a representative to congress. In 1861, he was largely instrumental in establishing the restored government of Virginia, and was that year elected to the 37th congress, being soon afterward transferred to the senate. In 1865, his term in the senate having expired, he removed to Frederick City, Maryland; returned to Clarksburg in 1868, where he died October, 1876.

HON. JOSEPH JOHNSON - The parents of Hon. Joseph Johnson removed to Harrison county from Orange county, New York, when he was a child, and settled near Bridgeport. He commenced life as a poor boy, and developed into a man of powerful energy and force of character. He was elected a representative to congress from 1823 to 1827; reelected and served 1835-41, and from 1845-7; elected governor of Virginia, 1852-6; died at his home near Bridgeport in 1875, at the age of 91 years.

"STONEWALL" JACKSON - On January 21, 1824, Thomas J. Jackson was born in a house which stood upon Main street, Clarksburg, Harrison county, and which was recently torn down to make way for the fine three-story brick block which now occupies the site. He is remembered by the older citizens of the town as a bright, unassuming lad, and he removed to the village of Weston when about twelve years of age. The history of "Stonewall" Jackson, who became so distinguished in the late war, is familiar to all; there was no other officer in the Confederate army so much respected by the North and revered by the South.

GEN. NATHAN GOFF JR. - was born in Clarksburg, February 21, 1842 and received his early education in the schools of the town. At the breaking out of the war of the states, he was a student of Georgetown College, and after graduating he entered the Federal service as second lieutenant of the 3rd West Virginia Infantry; was subsequently promoted to first lieutenant and adjutant, and early in 1864 was made a major of the 6th West Virginia Cavalry; was shortly afterward captured, and remained a prisoner at Richmond and at Salisbury, North Carolina, for a period of about eleven months. After the war, he attended a law school in New York city and prepared for practice of that profession, which he commenced in his native town, soon gaining a wide spread reputation for ability. In 1866, he was elected a member of the house of delegates of the West Virginia legislature; re-elected in 1867; in 1868, appointed by President Johnson United States district attorney for the district of West Virginia, serving as such until 1881, having been successively re-appointed at the end of each term, by President Grant and Hayes. In 1881, President Hayes appointed him Secretary of the Navy, to fill the vacancy which occurred by the resignation of Hon. Richard Thompson. President Garfield
re-appointed him United States district attorney in 1881, which position, owing to a pressure of private business, here- signed in 1882. Shortly afterward, he was nominated by the Republicans of the first congressional district of West Virginia, for congress, to which position he was elected, by a majority of 1,800 votes, having overcome a previous Democratic majority of 1,400. He is recognized as one of the leading criminal lawyers of the State.

HON. JOHN J. DAVIS. - The subject of this sketch was born at Clarksburg, May 5, 1835, the eldest son of John and Eliza A. (Steen) Davis. More than sixty years ago, the father settled in Clarksburg, and the son (early exhibiting a desire for knowledge) was sent to the private schools taught in the place, and afterward to the Northwestern Virginia Academy; at the age of seventeen, studied law under the late Hon. George Lee, and at eighteen attended the law school of the late Hon. John W. Brockenborough, at Lexington, Virginia; when now quite twenty years of age obtained a license to practice, and admitted to the bar in his native county at twenty one; in May, 1861, elected to the house of delegates of the Virginia legislature, and (having been elected as a Union man) took his seat in the legislature which met at Wheeling, in June, 1861; re-elected in 1870, being the first Democrat who succeeded in carrying his county after the war closed, and Nathan Goff, Sr. (Republican), was his colleague from this county; 1870, elected to the forty- second congress from the first congressional district, and re-elected in 1872, when his seat was contested, but decided by Congress in his favor. At the expiration of his term he retired to private life and devoted himself to his profession, carrying with him the respect and esteem of his colleagues without distinction of party. He has attained great prominence as a jurist, stands among the leaders of the bar, and his public record is without a stain. In August, 1862, he was married in the city of Baltimore, to Miss Anna Kennedy, and now has four children living.

HON. BENJAMIN WILSON - has played a conspicuous part in the affairs of Harrison county. In his early manhood he was deputy sheriff of the county, afterwards studying law and beginning the practice in Clarksburg; also prosecuting attorney of the county for several years; in 1861 a member of the Richmond convention; 1870, a delegate to the constitutional convention of West Virginia; 1874, elected to congress from the first district, and re-elected in 1876, 1878, and 1880.

THE PIGOTT FAMILY. - Dr. Edward Pigott came from England prior to the Revolutionary war, and settled in what is now New Jersey, and one of his brothers was in the battle of Bunker Hill. Edward's son George settled in Cumber- land, Maryland, and George's son Jesse came to Harrison county, Virginia, in 1808, and married Anna Hildreth, March 8, 1810. She was a daughter of Frazier Hildreth, whose ancestors came from New Castle, twelve miles from Philadelphia, and were of English and French ex- traction. The maiden name of Frazier's wife was Rebecca Jacquet. Jesse died May 3, 1829, leaving four boys and four girls, all living with their families at the present time (May, 1883), excepting one. Elam F. Pigott, a grandson of Jesse, is now living in Harrison county. His father has seen seven generations of his family, and is now 72 years old.

Clay District.
This district is covered with low hills, Having gradual slopes and a fine blue grass soil. Limestone is found in veins from five to seven feet thick, and a five-foot vein of fine iron ore under- lies the whole district. An excellent quality of coal is found in veins, seven, eleven, and thirteen feet thick, and there is no gravel beds in the district. Valuable white sand exists in some parts, and a fine quality of potters clay supplies the Shinnston pottery with a material for manufacture. A branch of Booths creek heads in the southwestern part of the district, flows north- ward, and empties into the Main creek where Taylor, Harrison, and Marion Counties join. Sugar Camp run heads in the eastern part of the district, and flows west into Booths creek. Coons run heads in the southwest, flows north- east, and empties into West Fork river. Homers run and Shinns run are other small streams in the district.

Early Settlers: The first actual settlers in the district were Clement, Jonathan and Levi Shinn, three brothers, who came in 1775 and located on Booths creek, afterward re- moving to where the village of Shinnston now stands, which was laid out and named by them. Among the first cabins erected was that of Captain John Thomas, on the farm now owned by Samuel Kester, on Booths creek, in 1777. The story of the terrible massacre of Capt. Thomas and his family, on the night of March 5, 1781, by savages, is told in the pre- ceding pages. Among other early settlers were the following, who took part in the early history of this section: Phillip Coon, Capt. John Richardson, William Martin, Leonard Cutcher, John Swiger, John Owens, John Righter (from Baltimore, in 1791) Enoch and Edward Cunningham (1790), Richard Moore, Nathan Ogden, William Nuzum and William Gifford. The first grist mill was built in 1807 by Clement Shinn, on Shinns run; it was about fourteen feet square, and native millstones were used. A few years after it was built he attached a saw mill.

The date of the first school taught in uncertain, but in 1813 Rev. Asa Shinn taught in a small log cabin located at Shinnston. The Shinnston Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1800, by Revs. Levi and Asa Shinn. Shinnston Methodist Protestand church was organized in 1841, by Rev. Asa Shinn; constituent members, M. F. Fleming and wife, J. M. Foutney and wife, Silas Nay and wife, and Sarah Martin. Coons Run Baptist Church was organized May 5, 1805, with Rev. John Denham, pastor; first members, Margaret East, William Wood, Sarah Martin, Thomas Jenkins, Mary Campbell, Elizabeth Pindell, Margaret Boyles and Thomas Martin. The Shinnston Baptist Church was organized in 1873, with Rev. George W. Bailey, pastor. The Laurel Point Union Church is composed of a union of the Methodist Episcopal, Lutheran and United Brethren societies. 

The Village of Shinnston is located on the Clarksburg and Fairmont pike, on the West Fork river, eleven miles from Clarksburg. It was laid out in 1818, by Asa Shinn. The first house on the site was built by Rev. Levi Shinn in 1802.  The land on which the village stands was first patented by the three brothers, Clement, Jonathan and Levi Shinn, who came to this vicinity in 1775; the first child born in the new settlement was Asa J. Shinn.  The town became incorporated in 1853, under the old state, and the following were the first officers: S. S. Fleming, mayor; B. Tyson Harmer, R. K. Shinn, Col. J. W. Janes, council; Richard Jackson, sergeant.   This was the first post office in the district; the others are Adamsville and Enterprise.

Grant District.
The principal streams in this District are as follows: Lost creek arises in the south- western corner, runs northwesterly and empties into the West Fork, which forms the western boundary line of the district. Duck creek and Browns creek take their rise in the same direction, run the same course, and also empty into the West Fork. Hackers creek rises in Upshur county, runs north- westerly through a corner of Lewis county, and the southwest corner of this district, and empties in the West Fork. These are all historical little streams, and intimately connected with the pioneer recollections of the early settlement of this fine section of country. The first permanent settlement in the district was made at Lost creek, in 1790. Among these early pioneers are the well remembered names of Walter Smith (who settled on Duck creek, in 1796), William Van Horn, John Reed, Richard Bond, Conrad Richard, William B. Cain, John Hagel, Stephen Jackson, Hezekiah Stout, and Col. William Lowther

Elk District.
The first settler in this district was Thomas Cottrail, who built a cabin in 1778, and whose name is identified with many thrilling events which occurred during the war with the Indians along the West Fork river. The first permanent settlement is said to have been made at Quiet Dell in 1800. Among other noted early settlers of this district was Sotha Hickman, Abel and Richard Bond, Stephen Dicks, Major Haymond, Joseph Bell, John McCullough, Samuel Davis, Joseph Jenkins, James McPherson, John Radcliff, Thomas Nutter and John Greathouse.

The principal streams in the district on which permanent settlement were first made, are: Elk creek, a branch of the West Fork; Gnatty creek, a branch of the Elk; and Rootind creek, a branch of the Gnatty. These small streams are prominently mentioned in the early history of the country as being the scene of fierce encounters
with the Indians.

The pioneer school teacher was Joseph Skelton, who taught the young ideas how to shoot upon Fall run, three miles above Quiet Dell, in 1807. His school was held in one of the rude log structures in common use in this new country at that time, and was attended by twenty-two scholars, only nine of whom were males. The date of the opening of his school was May 27, 1807. 

There are three post offices in the district, the first was established at Quiet Dell, the others are Romines Mills and Johnstown.

Religious services were held in this district as early as 1783, but no society was regularly organized until twenty-eight years afterward, when Horeb (Methodist Episcopal) Church was established in 1811, of which John Bear was the minister in charge. James Sansome was one of the pioneer ministers of this church, and
became the presiding elder of the Clarks burg district in 1836. Among the original members of this society were Joseph Bell, John Greathouse, Mrs. Arnold and Mrs. Haymond and their families. A Methodist Episcopal society erected a house of worship known as the John Davis Church, upon Rooting creek, in 1828;
another at Green Hill, in 1845.