Calhoun County West Virginia

County History

Calhoun County
the area of which is 260 square miles, was created by Act of Assembly passed March 5, 1856. It-provided that so much of the lower part of Gilmer as lies within the following boundaries: "Beginning- at the west fork of the Little Kanawha where the Gilmer and Wirt county line crosses the same; thence up the West fork to the mouth of Henry's fork; thence up said Henry's fork to the mouth of Beech fork; thence with the dividing ridge between said Beech fork and Henry's fork to the Gilmer county line; thence to include all the waters of said West fork within the county of Gilmer to the Gilmer, Ripley and Ohio turnpike to the head of Cromley's creek; thence with said turnpike to the mouth of Bear fork of Steer creek; thence a straight line to the head of Muscle Shoals of the Little Kanawha river; thence by the shortest line to the top of the dividing ridge between the waters of Tanner's fork and Laurel creek to the Ritchie county line and the Wirt and Gilmer county line to the place of beginning, shall be and the same is hereby established a new county, to be called Calhoun." The county was named in honor of John C. Calhoun, so distinguished in American politics.

The First County Court
convened at the house of Joseph W. Burson, April 14, 1856. The following justices composed it: Hiram Ferrell, Daniel Duskey, H. R. Ferrell, Joshua L. Knight, Absalom Knotts, George Lynch and William A. Brannon. James N. Norman qualified as the first high sheriff of the county. He named Alpheus Norman and Philip Norman as his deputies, which appointments the court approved. By a viva voce vote, George W. Silcott was elected to the office of clerk. After the transaction of other miscellaneous business, the court adjourned to meet, in September next, at the house of Peregriene Hays, where Arnoldsburg now stands.

The First Circuit Court held for the county
convened on the 6th day of October, 1856, Judge Matthew Edmiston presiding. At this court the first grand jury was impaneled. The following gentlemen composed it: Alexander Huffman, foreman: Jasper Ball, John H. Johnson, James P. Hunt, Daniel Nichols, Francis Robinson, Nicholas Poling, Daniel Stallman, Silas Petit, Joseph Hayhurst, Lemuel Haverty, Isaac Starcher, Andrew Mace, Arnold Snider, Peter M. McCune and Anthony Conrad. The jury retired to consider of its presentments, and shortly reported three true bills of indictment. Some other unimportant business being transacted, the court adjourned.

Capture of Pedro and White by the Indians.
In the month of September, 1777, Leonard Pedro and William White were watching the Indian warpath which led up the Little Kanawha. It was probably within the limits of the present county of Calhoun that they, having eaten a late supper, lay down to rest and were soon fast asleep. During the night White awakened and discovered Indians near. He whispered to his companion to lie still, hoping they might escape notice; but the Indians sprang upon them. White pretended great friendship, and tried to impress the Indians with the opinion that he was glad to see them, but the savages were not to be deceived. Both men were bound, and at daylight Pedro was painted black, which signified that he was to be burned and White red. The Indians then returned to their towns with the captives. White soon managed to escape, and on foot began the long march for home. Meeting an Indian on horseback, he shot him and appropriated his horse. Pedro was never after heard of.

In 1810, Philip Starcher built his cabin where Arnoldsburg now stands. Soon after he was joined by Peter Coger, Isaac Mace, William Brannon, Peter McCune and Adam O'Brien, all of whom found homes on the West fork of the Little Kanawha. The first settler in what is now Sheridan district was James Mayes, who built his cabin on the Little Kanawha in 1814. At that time his nearest neighbor was thirteen miles distant. He was soon followed in his wild retreat by Benire Mayes, James Niler, Audrey Sharpe and Stephen P. Burson. In 181 5, Peter McCune settled in the valley of the West fork of the Kanawha. The solitude of his retreat was soon broken, Anthony Parsons, Thomas Cottrell, Barnabas Cook, George Conley and Thomas P. Brannon finding homes near him. No settlement was made in what is now Sherman district until 1830, when John Haverty and John B. Gorf located on the Little Kanawha.

The County Seat.
In no other county in the State has there been so much difficulty regarding the permanent location of the seat of justice as in this. The act creating the county provided for its location either at Pine Bottom at the mouth of Yellow creek, or at Big Bend on the Little Kanawha, a vote of the people to decide between the two places. Further, it required the first court to be held at the house of Joseph W. Burson. This last requirement appears to have been about the only one which was regarded, for when the first court adjourned; it was to meet—not at Pine Bottom or Big Bend, but at the residence of Peregriene Hays, on the West fork.

2nd Court
Accordingly the second court convened at that place, September 9, 1856, and here it was held until 1857. But in August of that year two courts were in session at the same lime, one at Arnoldsburg and another at the house of Collins Betz, on the Little Kanawha. For the purpose of effecting a reconciliation between the opposing factions, it was decided that the courts should be held at the mouth of Yellow creek—now Brookville. A contract for the erection of a court house at that place was let to E. McClosky, who for the sum of $675 erected a neat frame structure. But legal proceedings were now instituted, and on the 15th of June, the court again convened at Arnoldsburg, and here it continued to be held until 1869. It now seemed that the matter was settled. The erection of a substantial brick building was begun at Arnoldsburg. But after the basement story had been completed—all of cut stone, at a cost of $1500 —the question was once more agitated and another move made, this time to Grantsville. Here a frame court house was erected, but burned to the "round before it was occupied. Another arose upon its ruins and was occupied until 1880, when a brick building was erected at a cost of $8400. A lawyer who settled in the county at the time of its formation, but later removed to an adjoining county, said that he was compelled to do so for he "had been broken up trying to keep up with the county seat."

the county seat, is on the north bank of the Little Kanawha. The first improvement on the site was made by Eli Riddle, more than half a century since. The town was laid out by Simon P. Stump, and became the county seat in 1869.

on the north side of Henry's fork, derives its name from Charles Arnold, who patented the land on which it stands. A post-office was established here in 1832, and the same year the first school was taught by Charles Arnold. Peregriene Hays was the first merchant. He began business in 1833.
[Source: History of West Virginia; By Virgil Anson Lewis; publ. 1887; Pgs. 720-724; Transcribed and submitted by Andrea Stawski Pack]


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