from the book History Of Harrison County West Virginia
Transcribed and donated
by Barb Ziegermeyer
by Henry Haymond 1910)
from the summit of the hill of Pinnickinniek in the year 1764 in the
reign of King George the III. would have disclosed nothing to the
vision but a billowy sea of illimitable forest, and a glimpse of Elk
Creek flowing at its base, which for thousands of years had heard no
sound save that of its "own dashings."
sounds of civilization would have been unheard, not even the smoke of a
white man's cabin would have been seen, but stretching for thousands of
miles westward, all was wrapped in the solitude of primitive nature.
mighty transformation was destined in the near future to come over this
lonely scene, which had for an untold number of centuries slumbered in
the night of a savage gloom. The frowning barriers of the Alle-ghenies
were soon to be swept away before the restless advancing tide of
civilization ever moving Westward, and the great valley of the
Mississippi was soon to be peopled with teeming millions of the Anglo
As is stated elsewhere in this volume
John Simpson, a trapper, who in 1764 located his camp on the West Fork
opposite the mouth of Elk Creek is the first white man known to have
visited the present site of Clarksburg.
Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh, had been
garrisoned by British troops since it was captured from the French in
the year 1758, and it is more than likely that explorers had passed
through this region before the arrival of Simpson, but there is no
record of their doing so.
As early as the year 1772 settlers
began locating their lands near where Clarksburg now stands, and in
1773 Daniel Davisson took up 400 acres, upon which the principal part
of the town is now located.
The year 1774 found the following
persons settled in the neighborhood of Clarksburg, Daniel Davisson,
Thomas Nutter, Samuel Cottrill, Sotha Hickman, Samuel Beard, Andrew
Cottrill, Obadiah Davisson, John Nutter, Matthew Nutter and Amaziah
Davisson. There were no doubt others located on public lands of which
no official record was made.
The town was named in honor of General
George Rogers Clark, who gained great fame on the frontier by his many
expeditions against the British and Indians in the Indian Wars and the
war of the Revolution, particularly by his bold capture of the fort of
Vincennes now in the State of Indiana in the year 1778.
Major William Powers who resided on
Hacker's Creek was conversant with affairs in the early settlement of
Harrison County, stated that at a meeting of the settlers one of the
Shinn's suggested that the town be named after General Clark, which was
assented to and the few log cabins clustered together were christened
This event must have occurred between
the years 1778 and 1781 as General Clark was not generally known until
the former year, and the plats of the surveys of Daniel and Andrew
Davisson made in the latter year recorded in the surveyor's office of
Monongalia County both refer to Clarksburg, it follows that the date of
naming the town must have been between those years.
The first official recognition of the
name yet discovered is in the two surveys mentioned. It doubtless
occurred earlier in the records of the Monongalia County Court, but as
they were destroyed by fire in 1796 this cannot be verified.
In 1784 the town is described in an old
letter as follows: Clarksburg was built by two rows of cabins extending
from near where the Court House now is to Jackson's house on the East
side of Elk Creek. It had been built for a fort."
The Jackson house here referred to
stood on the East side of Elk Creek and on the North Side of Main
Street just East of the intersection of Maple Avenue.
This same writer states "Some little
time I went to school, but spent much of my time in Clarksburg playing
ball, &c. But I never could find agreeable company with those high
frolicking people for I never attempted to dance more than two or three
times in my life."
This glimpse into the social life of
the early inhabitants of Clarksburg indicates that they were a fun
loving people fond of innocent amusements, in spite of their dangerous
surroundings and hard struggles for existence.
In October 1785 the General Assembly of
Virginia passed the following act:
An Act for establishing the town of
Clarksburg in the County of Harrison.
I. Whereas: A
considerable number of lots have been laid off and houses built thereon
by the proprietors of the place fixed for the erection of the Court
House and other public buildings in the County of Harrison and
application being made to this Assembly that the same may be
established a town.
II. Be it therefore
enacted: That the said lots so laid off, or here after to be laid off
by the trustees, shall be and the same are hereby established a town by
the name of Clarksburg, and that William Haymond, Nicholas Carpenter,
John Myers, John McAlly and John Davisson, Gentlemen, are hereby
appointed trustees of the said town, who, or any three of them, shall
have power from time to time to settle and determine all disputes
concerning the bounds of the said lots, and in case of the death,
resignation or removal out of the County of any one or more of the said
trustees it shall be lawful for the freeholders of the said town to
elect and choose others in their stead, and those so chosen shall have
the same power and
authority as any one particularly named
in this act.
III. Provided always and be it farther
enacted: That half an acre of ground, or so much thereof as may be
thought necessary either in one entire or two separate parcels shall be
laid off by the said trustees in the most convenient part of the said
town, and appropriated for the purpose of erecting thereon the Court
House and other public buildings, and that the said trustees have full
power to lay off as many lots, streets and alleys as to them shall seem
convenient for the benefit of the said town, and that the possessors of
any lot or lots in the said town shall before the first day of January
one thousand seven hundred and ninety, build thereon a dwelling house
of at least sixteen feet square, either of stone, brick, frame or hewed
logs, with a stone or brick chimney and upon failure thereof shall
forfeit their lot or lots to the said trustees to be further disposed
of as they may think proper for the benefit of the said town.
IV. And be it further enacted that the
freeholders of the said town shall be entitled to and have and enjoy
all the rights, privileges and immunities which the freeholders of
other towns not incorporated have and enjoy.
On December 4, 1789, the General
Assembly passed an act entitled:
An Act granting further time to the
possessors of lots in the towns of Clarksburg, Morgantown, Harrodsburg
and Louisville for building thereon :
Whereas it is represented that the
hostilities of the Indian tribes and other causes have prevented many
of the possessors of lots in the town of Clarksburg in the County of
Harrison, of Morgantown in the County of Monongalia, of Harrodsburg in
the County of Mercer and of Louisville in the County of Jefferson, from
building thereon in pursuance of the Acts by which said towns were
Be it therefore enacted by the General
Assembly, that every possessor of a lot in any of the said towns shall
be allowed the further space of three years, after the day limited by
law, shall expire for building thereon, conformably to the acts for
establishing the said towns respectively.
By an Act of the General Assembly
passed November 2, 1792, the purchasers of lots in the towns of
Clarksburg, Milton, Abingdon, and Morgantown from the difficulty of
procuring materials were allowed a further extension of five years to
build houses thereon and save the same.
The County Court of Harrison County at
its first session held on the 20th. day of July 1784 at the house of
George Jackson near the present town of Buckhannon selected Clarksburg
as the County seat of the new County and the place where the public
buildings should be erected, on lots numbered Seven and eight, donated
for that purpose by Daniel Davisson and Joseph Hastings.
This Court adjourned to meet in the
following month of August at the house of Hezekiah Davisson in
Clarksburg, which was the first Court of any kind held in Clarksburg.
The first Court House, which was built
in 1787, stood on what is now the North East Corner of Second and Main
Streets and the jail stood on the opposite side of Main Street near
where the Presbyterian church now stands.
There is a tradition that it was
proposed to locate the County Seat on Simpson's Creek on the farm
afterwards for many years owned by Doctor William Dunkin, but it was
stated that the land was owned by a widow who objected to the location
being made on her property for the reason that she did not wish her
boys to be brought np in or near the town that she knew would spring up
at the County seat, and Clarksburg was then selected.
The American Gazetteer published in
Boston in 1797 has the following information about Clarksburg:
"Clarksburg is the chief town of
Harrison County, Virginia. It contains about forty houses, a Court
House and jail. It stands on the East, side of the Monongahela River 40
miles S. W. of Morgantown."
The County Court Passed an order on
June 16, 1828, appointing Thomas Haymond, Joseph Johnson and John
Reynolds to lay off Clarksburg into streets and alleys under the Act of
Assembly passed January 16, 1828.
Clarksburg was incorporated by an Act
passed March 15, 1849, which authorized the voters on the first Monday
in May in each year to elect viva voce seven free holders to serve as
trustees for one year, and in case an election should not be held then
the same trustees last elected shall remain in office until a new
election shall be held.
The boundary of the town was as follows:
"Beginning at the mouth of Elk Creek,
thence running up the same to the mouth of a small drain a few rods
below the North Western Turnpike Bridge on the land of James ML
Jackson, thence due East one hundred rods to a stake: thence due South
to Elk Creek, thence down the same to a point in said creek, lying due
west from a certain spring known as the Monticello Spring on the land
of John Stealey; thence due West to the West Fork of the Monongahela
River and thence down the same to the mouth of Elk Creek to the
From time to time the laws
incorporating the town were amended as the population increased one of
the amendments dividing it into five wards until on February 26, 1897
an act was passed amending and re-enacting and reducing the several
acts into one and this charter is still in force.
town records prior to 1832 cannot be found but the officers elected
that year were:
Charles Lewis, President,
John Field, Clerk,
T. S. Prim,
and William M. Bartlett, Assessor,
James Reed, Bailiff,
Treasurer Jacob Stealey.
Since that time the following persons have been presidents and Clerks
of the Board of Trustees:
Presidents, John Stealey,
A. J. Smith,
Jas. P. Bartlett
and Enoch Tensman,
Wm. P. Cooper,
Thomas S. Spates,
L. D. Ferguson and B. S. Northcott
A. J. Smith,
Richard W. Moore,
James P. Bartlett,
E. L. Stealey,
Robert L. Criss,
Samuel R. Stealey,
Robert S. Criss,
the town authorities accepted Chapter 42 of the Code and thereafter the
chief officers were a mayor and recorder and the governing Board
designated as a Council.
In 1832 the total assessed value of
properly was $110,745, Tax $124, tithables 107.
In 1785 the list of tithables or those
liable to pay taxes residing on Elk Creek including the inhabitants of
Clarksburg was forty three.
Isaac Van Meter of Hampshire County in
1801 with George Harness, L. Branson and John Miller made a tour to
view lands west of the Ohio. He kept a record of the journey of which
the following is an extract:
"Saturday, April 18. Crossed Cheat
River, which is about the size of the South Branch or perhaps larger;
hills remarkably high on both sides. Passed through the best body of
timber and upland I ever saw, for about two miles. The face of the
country from that to the Monongahela River, which appears to have about
as much water in it as Cheat, but not quite so wide, has generally a
good appearance for wheat and lies well for cultivation, but not rich
and well timbered.
From there to Clarksburg the land is
more fertile and inclined to
Lodged at Joseph Davisson's six miles
this side of Clarksburg.
Sunday, April 19. Breakfasted at Daniel
Davisson's in Clarksburg and waited until after dinner.
Clarksburg has a tolerable appearance
on Main Street with an Academy on an elevated piece of ground near the
We were informed that nearly fifty
children are generally taught there. The Court House is on one side of
the street, and the jail on the other near the center.
Left Clarksburg and lay at Mr.
Clayton's fifteen miles distant. The face of the country is very rough,
but some small strips of bottom well adapted for meadow.
Monday, April 20. Down Middle Island
Creek fourteen miles in which distance we crossed it seventeen times. A
rough hilly country and poor.
I was informed that on the Creek there
is a bend of seven miles around and comes within thirty yards of
itself. A ditch is cut through and a mill erected with only a seven
feet fall in that distance.
In digging the race which I am informed
is twenty five feet deep, the earth was so hard that it was a custom to
give visitors a pint of liquor to dig up as much dirt. The undertaker
after being at a very great expense had thought of giving out on
account of the expense of digging when a person who understood blowing
rocks proposed to try it, and completed it at a small expense compared
with what its digging would have cost. It was solid clay and no
appearance of rock. Lodged at Mr. Bonn ell's on Hughes River. Country
still very hilly. Scattering new settlements and a tolerable appearance
of range, which has not been the case heretofore.
The Buckeye leaves nearly half grown
and vegetation much more forward than with us. Severe hurricane and
powerful rain just after we got up."
At an election held in the Court House
for trustees of the town of Clarksburg on the 21st. day of May 1804 the
following persons were elected as such: viz.,
Benjamin Wilson, Jr.,
and David Hewes.
Only eleven votes were cast at this election.
of taxable property in the town of Clarksburg taken by David Hewes,
assessor, and subject to taxation under the corporation laws of the
town April 3, 1810 contained the names of thirty one tax payers.
total valuation in the town amounted to $84,115. In order to show the
number and names of the tax payers living in the town at that date the
list is here given:
||Peter Link Col.
||Alexander F. Lanham
||Daniel Davisson, Major
||Benjamin Wilson, Jr.
||Archibald B. Wilson
|George I. Davisson
||Asher Lewis Rev.
||John G. Jackson
the Indian troubles were settled the accessions to the population were
mostly from Eastern Virginia particularly the professional class, and
they introduced the manners and customs of that part of the country,
which still to some extent clings to the people of Clarksburg.
While the social and political
relations were with Richmond the trading and commercial relations were
always with Baltimore, and now that railroad facilities have increased
so rapidly in other directions there is but little communication with
the mother State, and her influence has not the prominence it had in
days of yore.
Statement of John Scripps
at 18 years of age I was sent an unbound apprentice forty miles from
home to Clarksburg, Harrison County where I served out my time four
years and continued one year longer at journey work at two dollars
higher wages per month than was wont to be given. Those five years were
the turning point in my life. My coming out to the West had established
my health and I had become robust and my perpetual application to work,
exposure to all weather general privations frequent fatigues, hard and
cold lodgings &c. had habituated me to any endurance so that my new
mode of life which to my fellow apprentice was a little purgatory was
to me a terrestrial paradise.
I had greater liberty and much more
leisure than I had ever enjoyed, and I worked with a will and obtained
a greater proficiency in the trade than even my seniors, and being the
only scholar among them had the books of the concern put into my hands
with the entire management of the business at the end of my second year.
There were two very distinct classes of
society in the town the one consisting of the upper ten, the merchants
and professional characters, the others of the mechanics, journeymen
and employees, a reckless, drinking, swearing, gambling class, who
spent all their leisure and every night at the tavern. This class I
could not associate with for although raised in a tavern, which my
father had kept to help out for our awkwardness and deficiency in
farming, yet I could neither endure spirituous liquors, nor the
hilarity they occasioned, and being naturally addicted to study and
literary pursuits I spent most of my leisure in them. This drew me to
the attention of the better class.
Rev. G. Towers, a Presbyterian
clergyman and Professor of the Academy and his wife were the only
religionists in the town. They gave me access to their large and select
library. He was sociable and instructive and at his special request I
visited him two or three evenings every week. Both he and his wife
smoked and encouraged me in my smoking, as an incentive to study and he
kept a pipe constantly for my use. Everybody then used tobacco and amid
its fragrant fumes I derived much instruction.
Dr. Williams the most literary man in
the community found me out and often visited me. He also advised me to
smoke for the benefit of my eyes, which had become much impaired by the
small pox. Mr. Towers preached regularly twice a month in the Academy,
but he had no church members.
In May 1808 I left the place against
the strongest remonstrance's of my friends and even of my own biased
friends for I had a gratuitous induction into either of the three
professions of law, medicine or divinity but family reasons induced me
to forego their friendly offers.
Letter from Benjamin to Wm. Scripps of Morgantown from New
"It gives me pleasure to hear he is so
agreeably situated at Clarksburg and of the pecuniary advantages he
derived from Mr. Stealey's liberality, together with Mr. Tower's
library that enables him to indulge himself in the pleasing pursuits of
The writer of the above worked with and
learned the trade of a tanner of Mr. Jacob Stealey, whose tannery was
on Water Street near the present flour milL
In October, 1798, Mr. Felix Renick
passed through Western Virginia on his way to look at lands in Ohio,
accompanied by Joseph Harness and Leonard Stump from the South Branch
of the Potomac.
The journey was on horseback and in
part is described by Mr. Renick as follows:
"Having a long journey before us we
traveled slow and readied Clarksburg the third night, which was then
near the verge of the Western settlements in Virginia, except along the
Among the first inquiries of our
apparent good, honest, illiterate landlord was whether he could tell us
how far it was to Marietta, Ohio, and what kind of a trace we should
have. His reply was "Oh, yes, I can do that very thing exactly, as I
have been recently appointed one of the viewers to lay out and mark a
road from here to Marietta, and have just returned from the performance
of that duly. The distance on a straight line which we first ran was
seventy five miles, but on our return we found and marked another line
that was much nearer."
This theory to Mr. Harness and myself,
each of us haying spent several years in the study and practice of
surveying was entirely new. We, however let it pass without comment and
our old host to his great delight entertained us till late in the
evening, with a detailed account of the fine sport he and his
associates had in their bear chases, deer chases &c. while locating
We pursued our journey the next morning
taking what our host called the nearest, and which he also said was
much the best route. The marks on both routes being fresh and plain,
the crooked and nearest route, as our host called it frequently crossed
the other. We took particular notice of the ground the straight line
had to pass over, and after getting through we were disposed to believe
that our worthy host was not so far wrong as might be supposed. The
straight line crossing such high peaks of mountains some of which were
so much in the sugar loaf form that it would be quite as near to go
around as over them."
Mr. Renick and his party encamped two
nights in the woods between Clarksburg and Marietta where the land
office was then kept by General Putnam and from his office they
obtained maps of the Government land for sale.
"Howes History of Virginia printed in
1845 describes Clarksburg as situated 253 miles North Westerly from
Richmond and 70 miles East of the Ohio River, at the junction of Elk
Creek with the West Pork of the Monon-gahela. The village stands on a
rolling table land, surrounded by an amphitheater of hills, while Elk
Creek meandering through and around the town imparts additional beauty
to the scene.
Clarksburg was established by law in
1785 and is now a flourishing town. It contains seven mercantile
stores, two newspaper printing offices, two fine classical academies,
one Methodist and one Presbyterian Church and a population of about
There are inexhaustible supplies of
coal in the immediate neighborhood and being in the midst of a fertile
country possessing great mineral wealth in its iron, salt etc., it
possesses the elements of prosperity.
This immediate vicinity was settled a
few years before the commencement of the Revolutionary War. The early
settlers in this region of Country suffered greatly in the wars with
the Indians until Wayne's treaty in 1795."
A Christmas Party in the Long Ago.
Benjamin F. Shuttleworth stated to the author that on Christmas day in
the year 1829 when quite a child he remembers of being at a children's
party at the residence of John Wilson, who lived on the South Side of
Main Street opposite the intersection of Fourth Street.
The company assembled early in the
morning before daylight and enjoyed a bountiful breakfast by candle
light. Afterwards they were conducted into another room and surrounded
an elegant dressed Christmas tree laden with fruits, nuts, candies and
The occasion was such an enjoyable one,
that although more than three quarters of a century had elapsed since
its occurrence, it still lingered in the memory of the participant as a
pleasant recollection of the days of his childhood.
to the commencement of the civil war in 1861 Clarksburg was noted for
its hospitality and social gatherings.
During the sessions of the several
courts it was the custom to entertain the officials and members of the
Bar. Dances were a common form of amusement.
Debating, Thespian Societies and church
festivals were numerous and occasionally a banquet would be given to
some public man or by some political party, and the 4th. of July was
generally celebrated by patriotic gatherings.
Below is given some invitations to
attend the dances:
The pleasure of your company is requested at a ball to be given at the
Hotel of Major Wm. M. Bartlett on New Years Eve.
|G. D. Camden
||Geo. H. Lee
|A. J. Smith
||W. P. Goff
||G. G. Davisson
The pleasure of your company is
respectfully requested at a "Cotillion party" to be given on Thursday
evening the 1st. proximo, at 6 o'clock at Dent's Hotel in Clarksburg.
|Richard W. Moore
||G. G. Davisson
||John S. Duncan
|R. F. Criss
||James M. Jackson
|A. J. Smith
||And. S. Criss
The pleasure of your company is
respectfully solicited to attend a ball, at the Court House on the
evening of the 5th. of July.
||Col. D. F. Hewes
||Major Uriel M. Turner
|Col. Luther Haymond
||Wm. P. Irwin
||G. D. Camden, Jr.
|Hugh H. Lee
||Capt. A. P. Davisson
Clarksburg, Va., June 24, 1858.
The Harrison Republican in its issue
of August 15, 1845, states that
"A census of Clarksburg taken last week
by some youths connected with the Academy shows the following as the
number of inhabitants:
|Heads of families
Those living on the "Point" were not enumerated.
H. DisDebar an accomplished young Frenchman, who came to West Virginia
as agent for the claimants of large bodies of land known as the Swan
lands, gives an interesting account of his first visit to Clarksburg in
April 1846 and put up at the North Western Hotel on Pike Street kept by
James Carder. He describes the building as a large wind shaken two
story frame with a long ell and double porches in the rear, and as
ranking second in the town because the other tavern kept by a Mr.
Bartlett was built of brick and adjoined the Court House lot.
The frame building is still used for a
hotel and has for many years been known as the Walker House.
He further says that "The denizens of
Clarksburg are chiefly of Old Virginia descent, and constitute a
somewhat exclusive conservative set with all the traditions and social
prejudices, pertaining to an ancient moss grown aristocratic town, such
as Clarksburg was reputed to be. With very few exceptions there was but
very little actual wealth to back up their pretensions, which were by
common consent founded upon antiquity of pedigree and superior culture
and manners. Their language was uniformly correct, their conversation
refined and their hospitality generous within their means.
Modern buildings, with somewhat tasty
surroundings did not exceed a dozen all told, and to a traveler from
more progressive sections of the Country, the town viewed from within
or without presented a rusty time worn appearance, relieved, however,
by neatly cultivated flower plots, vegetable gardens and orchards,
which with the absence of all business like bustle lent the place an
aspect of almost idyllic repose.
Shops and stores of any kind were few
and mostly confined to the ill lighted front rooms of dingy dwellings.
Clarksburg was always widely and justly
famed not only for its distinguished legal talent, and brilliant
oratory in the line of polities, bat also for the general ingenuity of
its citizens in trades and shifts of any kind.
As illustrating the thrift of her
people in holding the balance of trade, the following anecdote is
related: A wholesale grocer of Parkersburg was asked what he intended
to do with his oldest son then coming of age. The reply was "I intend
to set him up in business at Clarksburg with a thousand dollars and if
he can keep that for three months I will entrust him with all I
United States Court was held at
Clarksburg twice a year in the spring and fall. On such occasions card
parties, for gentlemen only, were given by leading citizens, with a
display of lavish hospitality in the shape of generous refreshments of
the choicest brands from various climes. These entertainment's
generally lasted from eight of nine P. M. until the dawn of day, and
besides a selection of local friends embraced the Court officials,
members of the Jury, witnesses and visitors, all hailing from more or
less distant parts of the State. It was never a cause of surprise that
a large proportion of these invited guests required the help of some
good Samaritan, to find the way back to their lodgings in the morning
fog, and it is scarcely necessary to add that after all and every one
of such functions "the balance of trade" was found to be largely in
favor of the town.
Mr. DisDebar speaks of Hon. William A.
Harrison and Luther Hay-mond to whom he had letters of introduction,
also of Messrs. Lloyd Lowndes and S. Hartman as merchants of the period.
He gives a humorous account of a frog
supper given at the Carder Tavern, at which were present John S.
Duncan, James M. Jackson, Caleb Boggess, Lloyd Moore, U. M. Turner,
Robert Johnson, Robert Sommerville, Oranville G. Davisson and Edgar M.
It appears that the fires were out at
the tavern when the frogs arrived, and the landlord refused to have
them relighted, so the frogs were prepared in a salad by the versatile
son of France, and with the addition of various liquids immensely
enjoyed by the jovial company. And he adds, "A year or two later my
friend Duncan, who had served a term in the State Legislature as a
brilliant champion of the right of way for the Baltimore & Ohio
Railroad, was again a candidate in competition with Col. Joseph
Johnson, later Governor of Virginia. It was one of the most spirited
contests known in that section and decided in favor of Johnson by a
majority of one vote magnanimously cast by Duncan for his opponent who
on his part failed to vote for Duncan.
A short time afterwards riding to
Randolph County with Judge Edwin S. Duncan I was surprised to learn
that it was my French frog supper that had defeated his son's election
beyond a doubt. Three of the Judges rural neighbors, staunch whigs,
incensed at John's lack of self respect in feasting on raw frogs, had
remained away from the polls where their votes would have given him a
In early days the neighborhood of
Clarksburg was a good boy's country.
In the Spring was the fishing season by
hooks, trot lines, brash seines, gigging and nets. A little later came
mulberries, Dew berries, wild plums, black berries and raspberries. In
the fall there were service berries, wild grapes, persimmons, cherries,
paw paws, chestnuts, beech nuts, walnuts, butter nuts, hickory and
hazel nuts. The nuts were gathered and stored away for winter use.
Later in the Fall came the season for trapping snow birds, snaring
rabbits, trapping muskrats and coon and possum hunts at night.
The Point mill dam in the West Fork was
famous as a fishing place for bass, as was the "fish pot" in the bend
below the dam.
The mill dam in Elk Creek called the
"Town dam" was another fishing resort.
The swimming holes were for the town
boys the Mill pond in Elk called "Saint Denis" another was just below
the Fourth Street Bridge called the Pike Hole, the next was at the bend
of the creek below Broad-dus College called the Deep Hole.
Then there was the old Ferry in the
river at the foot of Ferry Street, which was famous as a swimming
place, mostly for men and big boys. It was too deep and broad for the
There was a Ferry conducted at this
place for many years by "Daddy Eib" and hence its name.
"Despards corner" at Third and Main
Streets was a famous gathering place for boys of evenings, around the
old horse block which stood out in front of the store room. Many
expeditions for the purpose of fishing, gathering nuts, tramps through
the woods &c. were arranged there.
The amusements were games of marbles,
shooting at a mark with bow and arrows, town ball, pitching quoits,
tag, Anthony over, Hunt the Hare, jumping, wrestling and foot races and
sliding on the ice, coasting and snow-balling.
As the conditions of the country
changed the boy's occupations and amusements changed also. As the woods
were cleared out with them went the nuts, fruits and wild animals.
The Stealey tanyard was located on
Water Street opposite the Mill, and the used up tan bark was dumped
over the bank into the creek between the mill and the bridge, and the
accumulation of years formed a steep slide into the water and many is
the wheelbarrow, cart or any loose vehicle left on the streets at
night, that would be found in the water the next morning and nobody be
the wiser for it. For many years the expression "over tanbark" was a
familiar one and meant sliding an article over the bank built by
tanbark into the creek.
On Traders Alley between Third and
Fourth Streets was a pond of water caused by bad drainage and heavy
rains called "Lake Erie" and many a luckless wight who had taken too
much on board of Corbins whiskey was soused in its waters in order to
sober him and of course no one knew anything about it.
the existence of the Militia laws each Regiment of Militia was
compelled to assemble for drill once each year generally in the
Nobody was in uniform. Here and there
an officer would have a white and red plume in his hat, or a sash or
sword belted around him and it was sometimes the case that a newly
elected officer would mount a pair of Epaulette. Great crowds would
collect around the fife and drum corps on the streets a cavalry
company, or rather a party of men on horseback with nothing military
about them, would occasionally dash through the streets headed by a
bugler who would sound his bugle, which with the drum and shrill notes
of the fife, the neighing of the horses, barking of dogs and shouts of
the officers with clouds of dust and the delighted howls of the young
population, created pandemonium and an amusing and exciting scene, one
never to be forgotten, alas Big Muster is a thing of the past. The
Civil war broke up the Militia system and no one had a taste for
military display after four years of actual conflict.
On Big Muster day as on all other
public occasions Mrs. Cline had her stand set up in the Court House
yard where she did a heavy traffic in ginger bread and spruce beer. The
author can cheerfully testify that in all his subsequent application to
confection, beer and drinks of "like nature" he has never yet
encountered anything to equal Mrs. Cline's products, and all the old
stagers of Clarksburg he candidly believes will verify this experience.
The coming of a circus and menagerie
was an event among the young population of the greatest moment, and
nothing else was talked about for days before the performance.
At that time the whole outfit of the
show traveled by wagons as there was no railroad and it was the custom
for every boy in town to go out to meet the caravan, sometimes two or
three miles out.
It is remembered that shows were held
on Main Street East of the Presbyterian church, between Pike and Main,
near the Southern Methodist church and at the northern terminus of
North Third Street and on the Jackson place.
In a Clarksburg paper published in 1847
appears an advertisement that Robinson & Eldreds Great National
Circus composed of 100 men and horses will exhibit in Clarksburg on
August 21. Among the attractions it is
stated that Mr. Robinson is the greatest equestrian living the first
and only successful four horse rider in the world.
The spacious water proof pavilion
enclosing an area of 6000 square feet will seat 1000 persons. The
Company was formed by J. R. Robinson in 1827.
Occasionally small traveling troops
would visit Clarksburg and amuse the people by performances consisting
of theatricals, dialogues, sleight of hand tricks interspersed with
music and song.
Sometimes local Thespian Societies
would give an entertainment. The Court House was always used for these
The earliest Menagerie or animal show
of which there is any record was one that held forth in a house in Main
Street between Third and Fourth Streets in the early
twenties. The animals exhibited according to the
recollection of one who attended were a Leopard, monkeys and birds. The
Leopard seems to have been the "star attraction" and to have made the
greatest impression on the author's informant.
The hills South of town known
successively as Criss', Duncan's Hay-mond and Lowndes' Hills were
famous places for the boys to set snares for rabbits.
The West end boys set snares in
Humphrey's Hollow on the Stealey place near the Old Fair Grounds, and
also over the creek to the North on Werninger's Hill and the fields
The Hollow above mentioned was called
Humphrey's Hollow after Uncle Humphrey, an old colored man, who with
his wife Aunt Easter lived close to the river just below the South End
of the Fair grounds bridge.
Captain Charles Leib, who was Post
Quarter Master at Clarksburg in the first year of the war gives the
following description of the town at that time. The Captain in guarding
the interests of the Government had made many enemies, and it was not
likely that he formed a favorable impression of the town or its
inhabitants. He says:
"This ancient metropolis of Western
Virginia as its people delight in calling it, lies in a little Valley
on one side of which runs Elk Creek and on the other the West Fork of
the Monongahela River.
On all sides loom up wild desolate
looking hills covered to their summit with the "forest primeval."
The town itself is only approached by
dilapidated looking bridges across the streams before mentioned, and is
laid out irregularly with little regard to taste or beauty. It is
motley collection of rickety frame houses, dirty looking brick
dwellings and old stone buildings, some of which are propped up by
large pieces of scantling, shattered monuments of the first families of
For the most part the grounds around
the dwellings are alike destitute of good taste or comfort.
The town boasts a Court House, a most
extraordinary specimen of architecture, which is used for every purpose
besides its legitimate one; for fairs, balls, parties, political
indignation and other meetings.
The Eleventh Regiment assembled in
Clarksburg and the day was called "Big Muster" and the boys looked
forward to it with the greatest pleasure and interest.
every sect is represented by a Church, the most of which have been
sadly disfigured by the troops occupying them for barracks. There is
also an Academy, which has been turned into a Guard House and prison
for the numerous political prisoners sent there.
An air of listless inactivity broods
over the whole town. Many of the people are hospitable and kind, the
ladies, refined and educated, have more energy than the men, who for
the most part are lazy and indolent, and delight in interfering with
the affairs of strangers. Their principal occupation in the drowsy
summer afternoons is to sit upon their door steps with their little
negroes playing at their feet, and gaze into the street, at times
discussing the war and marking out plans for our Generals to follow.
Pacing along the deserted streets in
the twilight, the only sounds which are heard besides the tramp of your
own footsteps are the merry ringing laugh of childhood, the tinkle of a
distant cowbell and the braying of the Government mules.
The languid inactivity of the town
reminds one of those primitive Dutch places in New York so graphically
described by Washington Irving. There the resemblance ends for an
ancient Dutch Burgher would be horrified at the unthriftiness and
laziness of those claiming to be descendants of the
Cavaliers. This is the old town.
depot, half a mile distant where the government buildings are erected
for the commissary departments all is activity and bustle. Trains are
continually coming and going bearing stores to distant posts. Troops
are passing rapidly through, enthusiastic with patriotism and anxious
to get a glance at Secessia. Messengers with dispatches are rapidly
hurrying from camp to camp. There is the ceaseless roll of white topped
army wagons, dissatisfied claimants hanging around the Quarter-Master's
office, importuning the sentry for admission though knowing it is
already full; the endless ringing of the blacksmith hammer, the
activity and bustle of the wagon shop, enthusiastic individuals who
have just discovered a new plan by which transportation can be
hastened, or anxious to dispose of horses at a high price from
disinterested motives, because they are good Union men; the arrival and
departure of special trains laden with every description of stores and
numerous Secessionists in the guise of Union men, watching the
slightest movement and catching every whisper, hoping thereby to learn
something favorable to the rebel cause, which they may be able to turn
to advantage. This is the new town.
In a large orchard belonging to Major
Jackson, between the old town and the new is located the government
"corral" where are kept the horses, mules and necessary equipment's for
Everything betokens the activity of the
government depot. Here is a large hay house filled to its utmost
capacity with a dozen men pressing and curing hay, forage masters
issuing forage, men digging wells, ostlers cleaning and feeding horses,
others breaking them to harness. All is bustle and work. There are no
idle men here and every man is required to do his whole duty.
Again we cross the bridge, the outer
world is left behind and we breathe the enchanted air of "Sleepy
Along in the thirties there was printed
a piece of poetry describing several of the prominent citizens of
Clarksburg in no very favorable light It depicted them as land
grabbers, negro stealers and hog thieves and desperate characters
generally. The publication of this doggerel while creating wide spread
comment and amusement put the town by the ears and resulted in a law
suit for defamation of character against the poet and it was many years
before the effects were effaced by time.
There is given below three of the
verses that mention no names and will give a general idea of the
character of effusion. Twelve verses are omitted.
Old Uncle Josey in a trance when he fell
He thought in his vision that he was in hell
Where the Devil was jailer, and turned the key
"Step in Uncle Josey, you're my prisoner" says he.
Oh then Uncle Josey when will they be
With hot lead and brimstone begin to prepare,
And all of your old friends play each one his part.
For they'll buy and sell hell if you do not be smart.
Pray Uncle Josey come tell unto me
When you were in Hell what there did you see?
I saw lawyers and doctors of every degree,
But mechanics and farmers not one did I see."
The following notes are taken from the diary of a citizen of Clarksbur
June 17, 1840. A daily line of stages
started on the North Western Turnpike to-day.
December 23, 1842. The Point Mills burned down.
May 1851. Great fire on the North side of Main Street burning from he
Despard corner to the Goff building.
This includes the buildings from Third
Street to David Davidson's business house, the site of the Stonewall
November 12, 1851. Fire destroyed all buildings on the South Side of
Main Street from the Adams property to the Court House including
1850. Waldo P. Goff had the first door
bell in town and Luther Hay-mond the second one.
April 4, 1859. Bartlett's Hotel burned.
Illuminating gas was introduced into Clarksburg in 1871. Natural gas
for heat and light was piped into town in 1891 from Big Isaac,
Doddridge County by the Mountain State Gas Company.
Water works were established in 1888.
The street car line built in 1900.
Electric light plant was established in 1887.
The discovery of oil and natural gas in the West End of the County in
1889 has made great changes in Clarksburg. The population has
increased, manufactories have been established and it is destined to
become a large and prosperous city in the future.
On the 24th. day of April 1810 two young men stood facing each other on
the banks of Elk Creek, back of the Randolph Academy, where the Central
High School building now stands with pistols in hand and at the word
fired directly at each other.
Their names were Thomas P. Moore and Charles E. Burnham the result of
the firing was that Burnham received a severe wound in the
hip. Moore escaped unhurt.
The records of the County court show that on the 28th. of April, 1810,
Thomas P. Moore and Charles K. Burnham were arraigned before the Court
charged with fighting a duel on April 24, with weapons that might have
The order of the Court states that Burnham was not present owing to
Both parties entered into bond to keep the peace for twelve months and
no further action seems to have been taken of the affair.
On the same day Archibald B. Wilson was charged with having been guilty
of conveying a challenge from Burnham to Moore and acting as his second
in the duel and also Lemuel E. Davisson for acting as second for
Moore. They were also bound over to keep the peace
The same course was pursued in the
charges against Hugh M. Tate and Alexander H. Creel for assisting,
aiding and abetting Moore and Burnham in fighting a duel
The records also show that Wilson who had acted as second for Burnham
in the duel with Moore was charged with sending a challenge to fight a
duel to John Phelps and that Davisson who had acted as second to Moore
was charged with conveying the challenge. They also gave bond to keep
What caused the outbreak between Wilson and Phelps is not known, the
gilded youth were evidently on the war path and were industriously
engaged in painting old Clarksburg a bright red on that April day long
An interesting romance, which came so near resulting in a sad tragedy,
is behind these formal Court proceedings, clothed in legal verbage, but
the mist of almost a hundred years has obscured the occurrence from the
recollection of men and only a dim tradition remains.
The innocent cause of this disturbance can be traced to Miss Rachel
Pindall, a pretty blue eyed maiden, who had recently come to Clarksburg
from Monongalia County, and who was a sister to the celebrated lawyer,
James Pindall, and to whom the two principals in the duel had been
paying marked attention. It was the same old story of rivalry for the
hand of a fair daughter of Eve that will be repeated in the future time
and again as long as the human race shall exist.
After the duel Burnham abandoned the field and moved West, and in the
following year Moore married the young lady in question and many of
their descendants reside in Clarksburg to this day.
In the war of 1812 with England Thomas P. Moore entered the army and
was promoted to the rank of Major, serving with distinction in the
invasion of Canada and along the Atlantic coast.
In the fifties there was a rustic wooden bridge spanning the Pike
Street crossing of the little stream to the East of town, known by the
un-poetic name of Still House Bun.
Its ancient stone abutments were covered
with vines and foliage and each end was shaded by trees growing up from
the banks of the stream beneath.
On summer evenings this secluded spot was a famous trysting place for
young lovers and strolling couples, and rarely was there a moonlight
night without its low railings being occupied.
This retired sylvan retreat was called Lover's Bridge by the young
people and how many promises were there made to be broken will never be
known as their name is "legion." It was the same old story and yet ever
The great civil war changed the social life of Clarksburg, and many of
the boys who stood on the bridge in the moonlight and whispered sweet
words of constancy and devotion in the ears of trusting maidens, were
destined in the near future, to face each other on bloody battle fields
in the great civil war, and never to meet again.
Alas! the sparkling waters of the rivulet are changed to the
sulphurous drainage of a coal mine: the bridge with its beautiful
natural surroundings is gone and its place is taken by a rude stone
culvert with an unsightly fill over it. The little god Cupid who
controls the destiny of lovers has fled in disgust. The romance
hovering over the charmed scene has departed and Old Father Time has
proven himself to be what he always has been, a relentless image breaker
The gulf of half a century yawns between
those bright lovely hours of gilded youth and the realities of the
present, and may the hand of the recording angel trace lightly in his
book the unfilled pledges of the youthful lovers made on the tree clad
old bridge in the long gone past.
From recollections of Rev. John Scripps who was born in Bridewell
Parish London and came to Baltimore with his father's family Wm.
Scripps in May, 1791, and settled in Alexandria, Va. In the fall of
1792 his father Wm. Scripps removed to Morgantown, the following is his
description of the trip.
In speaking of his father he says: "Suddenly recollecting that he had
come to be a farmer he suffered himself to be victimized by land
speculators in the purchase of a large tract of land said to lie on the
bank of the Monongahela River and began immediately to prepare for
removing to his purchase. The mode of transit in those days
particularly across the mountains for all movables was on the backs of
pack horses, but his chest of books and clothing, mahogany tables,
cushion chairs, high post bed steads and even large flat boxes of
window glass in frames, with which to furnish his new abode would not
admit of such a mode of conveyance. His movables filled three wagons,
one six horse and two four horse teams.
My mother rode Caviler, a favorite horse that had carried General
Washington through the war of the Revolution, but being old and
superannuated he was sold by the General's overseer to my father aa
suited for my mother. This was the last essential service poor
Chevalier performed. The settlers on our road had been Revolutionary
Soldiers and generally recognized and sympathized with the poor animal.
My father took upon himself the entire
expense of the journey, not only of the wagoners and their teams but
also of some hangers on Mechanics, who were to form a little colony on
his estate and carry on business under his patronage.
There was not a public house on the whole 250 miles we traveled, unless
in the towns which were far and few between.
We were fully three weeks on the road and arrived at Morgan town early
in December 1792.
My father on his arrival at Morgantown found his land twenty miles from
any settlement and as he was not prepared to settle in a wilderness
where no help could be hired, he set about
purchasing a more suitable tract but was again victimized and bought
another and another with the same results.
In 1794 he moved out to the least objectionable of his purchases.
In the beginning my father could be seen grubbing in his broadcloth and
satin till they were worn out before he could get any other, for there
were no stores in the country and no money in circulation to buy with
if there had been.
Everybody made their own clothes of flax beginning with the cultivation
of the staple. Wool there was none for wolves prevented our keeping
sheep. We once got a flock of twenty but they were all destroyed
Provisions were not to be obtained save only by hard and constant labor
for few settlers had land in cultivation more than sufficient to raise
food for their own consumption, and generally by Spring there would be
no bread in the country and people lived on greens, of spontaneous
growth, which were daily gathered by women and children until they
could raise vegetables. It was sometime before we had tillable land
enough to raise wheat. Butter we could not indulge in, for what little
we made with our surplus maple sugar at six cents a pound and a few
eggs was all we could market to get money to pay taxes.
Previous to the construction of the North Western Turnpike through
Clarksburg about the year 1836 now Pike Street, Main Street was the
only Western entrance into town, Pike Street extending no further West
than 4th. Street but after the new street was opened the town began
gradually to spread to the West.
Robert Childers built the first house on
the new extension on the South side of Pike Street just East of its
junction with Sycamore.
Granville G. Davisson built the next one
at the North East corner of Pike and Sixth, followed soon afterwards by
Luther Haymond on the same side of Pike across Sixth from Davinon's.
BACK -- HOME
The first mill built in Clarksburg was prior to 1781, probably about
1776, and was owned by Webb & Davisson and stood above the present
site on Elk Creek at the entrance to the "Narrows."
The Mill house stood it is supposed on the East Side of the Creek, as
the ground there is more suitable for its location and more accessible
than the opposite or Western side. In low water the remains of the dam
are still to be seen.
In 1784 George Jackson obtained permission of the County Court to erect
a mill on the site of the present one.
The "Point Mills" were afterwards
constructed on the river below the mouth of Elk Creek about one mile
from the Court House.
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