Madison Lodge No. 6,
I.O.O.F., meets in Odd Fellows' Hall every Monday; M. Forney, noble grand; R. L.
Shawnee Tribe no. 21, I.O.R.M. meets in Redmen's Hall every Tuesday; Hugh B. Striker, sachem; John I. H. Baker, chief of records.
Winchester Lodge No. 65, K. of P., meets every Thursday in Castle Hall; E. M. Houston, C. C.; William Riely, K. of R. & S. Endowment Rank, Section 870, K. of P., meets once in three months; H. D. Fuller, president; Henry Schneider, secretary.
I.O.G.T. meets every Friday in Red Men's Hall; Hugh B. Striker, C. T.; Richard Koontz, secretary.
W.C.T.U. meets every two weeks, on Thursday, in Odd Fellows' Hall; Miss Lonie Kern, president; Mrs. M. H. Spotts, secretary.
A. L. of H. No. 635, meets first and third Fridays of every month; John A. Rosenberger, commander; Richard L. Gray, secretary.
Company A, Actual Survivors Stonewall Brigade, meets in Judge W. L. Clark's law office, first Friday evening of each month; John H. Worting, captain; P. L. Kurtz, orderly sergeant.
Mulligan Post No. 20, G.A.R.; R. E. Houston, commander; Joseph Potts, secretary; meets in Red Men's Hall, Friday before the fourth Sunday.
Stephens City, formerly Newtown, and originally Stephensburgh, was erected a town by act of assembly, September, 1758. Following is the act:
An act for erecting a town on the land of Lewis Stephens in the County of Frederick:
I. WHEREAS, it hath been represented to this present general assembly that Lewis Stephens, being seized and possessed of nine hundred acres of land, near Opeccan, in the county of Frederick, hath surveyed and laid out forty acres, part thereof into lots of half an acre each, with proper streets for a town, and hath caused a plan thereof to be made, and numbered from one to eighty inclusive, and hath annexed to each of the said lots numbered 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, five acres of land, and to each of the remaining sixty lots ten acres of land, part of the said nine hundred acres: All which lots, with the land annexed thereto, are purchased by different persons who are now settling and building thereon, and humbly desire that the same may be by act of assembly erected into a town, and that they may enjoy the like privileges as freeholders and inhabitants of other towns in this colony do enjoy.
Be it therefore enacted,
by the Lieutenant Governor, Council and Burgesses, of this present General
Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the said
nine hundred acres of land, so surveyed and laid off by the said Lewis Stephens,
be, and the same is hereby erected and established a town, and shall be called
by the name of Stephensburgh: And that the freeholders and inhabitants of the
said town shall forever hereafter enjoy the same privileges as the freeholders
and inhabitants of other towns erected by act of assembly, in this colony, do
Stephens City, as will be seen from the above, ranks next to Winchester in age of establishment by law. Many years ago it was considerable of a manufacturing center, especially in wagons. It is located beautifully, and there seems to be every inducement for improvement. The Winchester & Strasburg Railroad passes not far from the town. It contains two very neat churches, Methodist and Lutheran. In 1789 Lewis Stephens made a deed for half an acre of ground, on the west side of Main Street, to trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, upon which lot, not long afterward, a log church was erected. The present edifice was built about fifty years ago. In 1799 Lewis Stephens, Jr., made a deed to trustees for two half-acre lots at the old graveyard for church purposes. About twenty years ago the town was incorporated, since which time it has a municipal government. Mr. Thomas H. Miller is the present mayor. From the Winchester Centinel of July 30, 1788, over 102 years ago, is gleaned the fact that Stephensburgh had a first-class tavern. Mr. William Glascock advertises that he has just opened a commodious tavern at the "Sign of the Ship," where he is prepared to furnish the best the market affords, including a "large variety of good liquors." He gives his prices as follows:
Lodging 6d.: Stabling 1s pr. Night.
Spirits 4d pr. Gill
Continental rum 3d. pr. Gill
Wines from 1s. 3d. to 3s. pr. Pint
Toddy 1s. pr. Pint.
Porter 2s. pr. Bottle
Punch 1s. 6d. pr. quart
Cattle kept in pasture 1d. per night
In addition to several fine mercantile establishments there are here a large carriage and wagon manufactory and an extensive creamery.
Middletown, situated south of Stephens City, is quite a bustling little city, it being also incorporated, and has a mayor in the person of Dr. J. W. Larrick. It received its municipal privileges about 1878 or 1880, and Mr. J. W. Rhodes was the first mayor. In the year 1796 Peter Senseney obtained a charter for the purpose of erecting a meeting-house and school and establishing a graveyard. There are two churches in the town. A small Methodist Church was built at an early day, which gave way to the present one in 1852. F. A. Strother is the present pastor. The Episcopal Church is a very neat edifice. It was established under the auspices of Strother Jones, the Hites and others. It has mainly depended on the ministers of Winchester. Rev. Mr. Bryant and Rev. Mr. Irish were each for a time settled among them. Several years ago Prof. G. W. Hoenschall established a private normal school, which he conducted about four years, at one time having about 100 pupils. He moved father up the valley. In addition to a number of fine stores, Middletown has an extensive woolen-mill and a creamery. Here is located "The Middletown Immigration and Industrial Improvement Company," Col. John M. Miller, president, and C. B. Guyer, secretary.
Kernstown and Marlborough both claim to have had the first church in the valley, and they certainly had places of worship at a very early day. There are two churches at Marlborough, Presbyterian and Baptist. The Presbyterian is the one claimed to have been the first, or rather one on the site of the present church. At Kernstown the foundation walls of the old Presbyterian, or, as it is claimed by the Reformers, the Reformed Calvinist Church, are still to be seen near the little yellow school-house half a mile from the village. In the graveyard are many ancient graves and tombstones, the oldest by far in the entire valley being one to the memory of the wife and two children of a Mr. Wilson, an Irishman, who is said to have been the school-master of that section. The rude slab is of the native limestone, rudely lettered, and now almost entirely illegible. It bears the date 1742. Brucetown, Gainesboro and a number of other smaller villages and hamlets dot the county, some of which have stores, mills and churches.
There are in Frederick County thirty-seven flouring-mills, including the largest steam roller-process mills in the State, eight woolen-factories and mills, one steam elevator of large capacity, two iron foundries, four glove factories, one boot and shoe factory, one sumac and bark-mill, three creameries, two canning establishments, two potteries, ten broom factories, a bottling establishment, four tanneries, including one of the largest in the State, one extensive paper-mill, three newspapers and a book bindery, eight cigar factories, one novelty company, two cigar-box and paper-box factories, three marble-yards, two furniture factories, in addition to many other industries in various sections of the county. In April, 1889, electricity was introduced into Winchester, and the streets of that old colonial town, along which Col. George Washington rode and walked for several years, are now among the best lighted to be found anywhere.
ORGANIZATION OF BERKELEY COUNTY
ACT OF CREATION-THE ORGANIZATION-FIRST JUSTICES---THEIR DUTIES FORMULATED-SHERIFF, CLERK AND ATTORNEYS-GABRIEL JONES AND ALEXANDER WHITE-FIRST WILL-FIRST RECORD OF CRIME-FIRST GRAND JURY-INHUMAN SENTENCES-THE WHIPPING-POST-RATE OF TAXATION-A JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF G. WASHINGTON-MYSTERY OF "MORGAN'S SPRING" EXPLAINED-COUNTY SEAT-BUILDING A COURT HOUSE AND JAIL-PRISON BOUNDS-GENERALS HORATIO GATES AND CHARLES LEE-A NICE LAW POINT-INDENTURED SLAVES-FIRST CASE OF MURDER-THE REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD-EASY TRANSITION-EXIT GEORGIUS REX-THE NEW REGIME-"TAKING THE OATH"-SOME OLD PATRIOTS-SWIFT-WINGED JUSTICE-THE CHAMPION EXCESSIVE BAIL CASE-TAKING CARE OF SOLDIERS' WIVES-REMARKABLE WILL OF GEN. CHARLES LEE-POPULAR FALLACIES IN REGARD TO THAT ERRATIC SOLDIER-HIS REAL CHARACTER AND SURROUNDINGS-HIS DEATH
Up to the creation of
Berkeley County from the northern third of Frederick, the history of this
section is identical with the mother county, and need not be repeated
here. Increase in population and the necessity for a seat of justice a
trip to which would not require two or three days, were the impelling motives on
the part of the inhabitants of the lower portion of Frederick. Therefore,
at the suggestion of Gen. Adam Stephen and others, followed by a petition to the
General Assembly of the colony of Virginia, that body was induced to grant a
three-fold separation of the extensive county of Frederick, stretching from the
Potomac to the line of Augusta, nearly 100 miles, and from the Blue Ridge nearly
to the Alleghany Mountains. The upper, or southern third was named
Dunmore, in honor of the colonial governor of that name, but which was changed
to Shenandoah in 1777, in consequence of the public actions of his
lordship. The middle third of course retained its original name, whilst
the lower or northern third was named Berkeley, in honor, not of the infamous
Lord Berkeley, the pliant tool of Charles II - the brutal Berkeley, who had
Nathaniel Bacon assassinated, and who "thanked God," as has been recited in a
former chapter of this work, "that no schools or printing existed in the colony
of Virginia" - but of Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt, the "good governor
of Virginia," as he was called, under George III. He died at Williamsburg
October 15, 1770, two years prior to the erection of the county, and to whom a
statue was erected by order of the General Assembly of Virginia, which stands in
the campus of William and Mary College at Williamsburg, Va. The act
creating the new county, passed in February, 1772, recites, that,
"WHEREAS, Many inconveniences attend the inhabitants of the count of Frederick, by reason of the great extent thereof, and the said inhabitants have petitioned this present General Assembly that the said county may be divided into three distinct counties, Be it therefore enacted, etc., That from and after the 15th day of May, next, the said county of Frederick shall be divided into three distinct counties."
The act proceeds to give the boundaries of the entire district, but the lines including and forming Berkeley County will be sufficiently understood by stating that what is now Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties, was the district laid off as Berkeley. The usual directions in regard to court days also accompanied the act.
Pursuant to the above act, and having received commissions from the governor, Lord Dunmore, the gentlemen named in the commissions assembled on the 19th day of May, 1772, and the following is the first minute of the proceedings.
"Berkeley County, ss.
"Be it remembered that at the house of Edward Beeson, the 19th day of May, 1772, a commission of the peace and a commission of Oyer and Terminer, from his excellency, Lord Dunmore, dated the 17th day of April, in the year aforesaid, directed to Ralph Wormley, Jacob Hite, Van Swearingen, Thomas Rutherford, Adam Stephen, John Neville, Thomas Swearingen, Samuel Washington, James Nourse, William Little, Robert Stephen, John Briscoe, Hugh Lyle, James
Strode, William Morgan, Robert Stogdon, James Seaton, Robert Carter Willis and Thomas Robinson, and also a dedimus for administering the oath directed to the same persons, or any two of them, were produced and read; whereupon the said Van Swearingen, having first taken the usual oath to his Majesty's person and government, repeated and subscribed the test, taken the oaths of a justice of the peace, of a justice of the county court in chancery, and of a justice of Oyer and Terminer, which were administered to him by the said James Nourse and William Little, he, the said Van Swearingen, then administered the same oaths unto Thomas Swearingen, Samuel Washington, James Nourse, William Morgan, William Little, James Strode, Robert Stephen, Robert Stogdon, Robert Carter Willis and James Seaton, who severally took the same, and repeated and subscribed the test."
Previous to the opening of the court as recited, the governor, Lord Dunmore, had forwarded to the gentlemen named as justices, a commission enumerating their duties, etc., the original of which is still preserved in the clerk's office at Martinsburg, with the bold signature "Dunmore" appended thereto. The document reads:
"Virginia Scl. John, Earl of Dunmore, his Majesty's Lieutenant and Governor-General of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia, and Vice-Admiral of the same, to Ralph Wormley, Jacob Hite, Van Swearingen, Thomas Rutherford, etc. (naming the other justices), greeting: Whereas, in pursuance to an act of assembly made at a General Assembly begun and holden at the capital in the city of Williamsburg, in the fifth year of his present Majesty's reign, entitled "an act for amending the act entitled an act directing the trial of slaves committing capital crimes, and for the more effectual punishing conspiracies and insurrections of them, and for the better government of negroes, mulattoes, and Indians, bond or free," the governor or commander-in-chief of this colony, for the time being, is desired and empowered to issue commissions of Oyer and Terminer, directed to the justices of each county, respectively, empowering them, from time to time, to try, condemn and execute, or otherwise punish or acquit all slaves committing capital crimes within their county: Know ye, therefore, that I, the said John, Earl of Dunmore, by virtue of the powers and authorities to me given by the said act as commander-in-chief of this dominion, do assign and empower you, the said Ralph Wormley, Jacob Hite, etc., or any four or more of you, whereof any of you, the said [named parties] shall be one, justices, in such manner, and by such ways and methods, as in the said acts of the General Assembly, are directed, prescribed and set down, to enquire of and hear and determine, all treasons, petit treasons, or misprisons thereof, felonies, murders or other offences, or capital crimes whatsoever, committed or perpetrated within the said county, by any slave or slaves whatsoever; for the better performance whereof, you, or any four or more of you, as aforesaid, are hereby required and commanded to meet at the courthouse of the said county, when thereunto required by the sheriff of the said county, for the trial of any slave or slaves, committing any of the offences above mentioned, and any such slave or slaves being found guilty in such manner, and upon such evidence as the said acts of the General Assembly do direct, to pass judgment as the law directs for the like rimes, and on such judgment to award execution, or otherwise to acquit, as of right ought to be done, or to carry into execution any judgment by you given on such trial. Given under my hand and the seal of the Colony, at Williamsburg the 17th day of April, 1772, in the twelfth year of the reign of our Soverign Lord, George the Third.
The justices being duly sworn and their authority exhibited the court was formally opened and proclaimed, and at once proceeded to business, the gentlemen named above being present.
William Drew, having produced a commission from the honorable secretary of the colony, Thomas Nelson, Esq., appointing him clerk of the court, and the same being read and approved by the said court, the said William Drew having first taken the oaths to his Majesty's person and government, took and subscribed the abjuration oath, and repeated and subscribed the test, was sworn clerk of the court.
Adam Stephen, having produced a commission from Lord Dunmore as sheriff for Berkeley County, took the required oaths, gave bond and entered upon the duties of the office. Samuel Oldham was appointed deputy sheriff.
Alexander White, having produced a commission from the attorney-general of the colony appointing him deputy king's attorney for Berkeley County, took the required oaths, etc., and was sworn into the position named.
Of course, there were attorneys on hand ready to help prospective clients out of difficulties. James Keith, John Magill, George Brent, George Johnston, Philip Pendleton and Alexander White applied for Admission to practice as attorneys at the new bar just being established, and they severally taking all the oaths required were admitted to the privileges they sought. And these six gentlemen were no ordinary men. All of them were afterward prominent in various ways. James Keith, who practiced his profession over nearly the entire commonwealth of Virginia for a period of about sixty-four years, in addition to being a lawyer of note, had the remarkable experience of being clerk of the court of Frederick County for sixty-two year and five months, as shown in that portion of this work covering Frederick County. He entered upon his duties as clerk in the spring of 1762, and held it till his death in the fall of 1824. John Magill, in addition to being a lawyer of eminence, was the progenitor of a race of lawyers, five or six in number, who adorned their profession for over half a century. George Brent was one of the brilliant men of his time, and George Johnston was a compeer of the famous Gabriel Jones, who applied for admission to practice as far back as 1743, and who had the good fortune to live partially through the Revolutionary period, he being one of the first to apply for admission to practice under the new regime, in 1776. The name of Pendleton has always been associated with those in the front ranks of the law, whilst Alexander White had to superior and but few equals in his profession. He was engaged by the Quakers, who had been sent to Winchester during the latter part of the war of the Revolution, from Philadelphia, for giving aid and comfort to the English. He obtained the release of the prisoners, but privately said that, although he never desired to lose any case that he undertook, yet he would have rejoiced to have seen the full penalty of the law enforced against those "scoundrel Tories." White was also a delegate to the convention of Virginia that ratified the Federal Constitution, and he voted to adopt it, having made some most powerful speeches in its favor.
The first will to be probated was that of Dugall Campbell, and the first mortgage to find record was "an indenture of bargain and sale," from John Lemmon to Jacob Vandiver. The church wardens were ordered to bind out a boy by the name of O'Neal, an orphan, to William Dickey. Edward Lucas produced a certificate from a constable vouching for the fact that said Lucas had exhibited ten hundred and one-quarter pounds of winter-rotted hemp, for which he was entitled to a bonus.
Thomas Swearingen, gentleman, was ordered to take the list of Tithables and wheel carriages included in the following districts: From the month of the Opequon up the same to the Warm Spring road; thence down the said road to Robert Lemmon's; thence to Potomac at Mecklenburg, and return the same to court. William Morgan, William Little, James Nourse, James Seaton, James Strode, Robert Carter Willis, Robert Stephen, and Robert Stogdon, were also ordered to take lists in their various districts. Thomas Turner, James Quigley, Thomas Flagg, Matthias Shaw, Stephen Boyles, Henry Beddinger, Morgan Hughs, Jr., Thomas Babb, Robert Kenneday and William Graham, were ordered to appear and be sworn in as constables.
The court, as indicated at the opening above, was held at the house of Edward Beeson, but there was as yet no jail for offenders, so the sheriff was ordered to "confine such persons as he may take into custody at such place as may be most convenient for him, and that he bring in any charge that may accrue for the better securing the said persons, at the laying of the next county levy." Robert Worthington and David Shepherd were appointed coroners and sworn in, and William Jenkins was ordered to apply to the public printer of the colony for a sufficient number of law books for the use of the county.
First record of crime appearing in the minute book of the justices is as follows:
"At a court held in Berkeley County the 18th day of August, 1772, for the examination of Richard Lewis, committed upon the suspicion of forging the hands of Samuel Strode and Jonah Simmons, present Thomas Swearingen, Robert Stephen, Robert Carter Willis, William Little, and James Seaton, gentlemen, justices.
"The prisoner being sett [sic] to the Barr and being asked whether he was guilty of the offense wherewith he stood charged, or not guilty, declared that he was guilty, whereupon the prayer of the said Deft. To have some Punishment inflicted upon him immediately, it is ordered that the sheriff do take him to the Whipping-Post and give him 39 Lashes well laid on upon the bare Back."
What the extend of the forgery was in this case doth not appear by the records, and one may, from the stand-point of our highly advanced ideas of justice and mercy in combination, be inclined to look upon the sentence as severe, seeing that the prisoner promptly acknowledged his guilt, but it must be remembered that forgery at that primitive day was an extremely heinous offense - a felony, in fact - and punishable to the fullest extent of man's devising, short of torture, and many a poor criminal had had his neck stretched for the crime named; therefore, the old justices were not such a heartless set as we sometimes think they were; the times made the men and their ideas - they simply carried out the statutes as they knew them. The first shipping-post was probably an improvised affair: some convenient tree or fence-post, but the "authorized edition," erected later, stood in front of where the present court-house stands.
At this court, August, 1772, the first license to keep an ordinary (a tavern) was granted to John Miller, one being also granted to George Hilleback. Thomas Shepherd also obtained permission to erect a mill on a stream of water running through the town of Mecklenburg (Shepherdstown). A seal for the use of the county was ordered to be procured. It was made of silver, and fell into the hands of some thieving vandal during the late war, who carried it off and confiscated it, after a service of nearly 100 years. The seal of Frederick County, made 132 years ago, is still used.
But here is an item recorded September 15, 1772, that is of interest in these centennial times: Col Samuel Washington, a relative of the immortal George, and one of the justices, who the year before (1771) whilst serving as colonel of the militia of Frederick County had appointed the "old wagoner," Daniel Morgan, a captain of militia, asked "permission to erect a water grist-mill on Bullskin Run, on the land he purchased of Philip Pendleton."
As a matter for preservation the following "first grand jury" is copied: John Smith, foreman; Hezekiah Swearingen, Josiah Swearingen, Joseph Barnes, Martin Antler, Joseph Turner, Abraham Smith, John Taylor, Samuel Taylor, Jonathan Simmons, George Cunningham, William McConnell, Jacob Beller, Andrew McCormick, Matt Duncan, John Sewell, Thomas Lafferty and George Creamer. No presentments were returned, which is quite commendable in the inhabitants of the new county. In those old colonial, kingly days offenders had to hide their deeds pretty securely, and when caught there was not much dilly-dallying with the culprit. In nearly all cases when an alleged criminal was brought before the justices they asked him a few questions, examined a witness or two, and then decided for themselves, immediately discharging the prisoner, or sending him off at once for punishment. But there was one practice that stands as an eternal disgrace, even for that age. It was so inhuman that it is a wonder that even the cold judicial hearts of those who awarded the punishment in the cases referred to, did not rebel against the barbarity of it. It was in accordance with law, but still that law was flexible. It originated in the midst of fanatical religious excitement in England, at a time when the law-makers thought they were doing the Almighty a favor by anticipating his after-death punishments. The burning of alleged witches was an outgrowth of this same fanaticism, and it would have been less improper by Cotton Mather and his descendants, but how the Cavaliers ever tolerated the relic of barbarism is strange indeed. What is referred to is the whipping of females because they were wronged and bore the fruit of their sin. A delicate girls being arraigned before the justices charged with illegally bearing a child, would almost invariably be sentenced to be "taken to the common whipping-post and receive twenty-five lashes on her bare back well laid on." Imagine the poor weeping girl, with her delicate back bared, tied with her arms clasping the post, shuddering and quivering beneath the cruel strokes of the ferocious executioner. And these things were done almost up to the declaration of Independence, scarcely more than 100 years ago. It is astonishing how slowly progress progresses.
November 17, 1772, the first county levy was laid, the amount being £591 3s. 0d.; the number of tithables were 2,252, and the rate 5s. 3d. After paying off the entire indebtedness of the county and appropriating £450 (nearly $2,200) for the building of a court-house and jail, the sheriff had in his hands at the next levy nearly $75. But here is an item referring to that illustrious man, any fact in regard to whom is now valued, be it ever so insignificant.
"Nov. 18, 1772, on the motion of Col. George Washington, judgment is granted him on a replevying bond against David Kennedy and James McCormick, legal notice having been given them."
This is the only mention of the "father of his country" within the covers of the Berkeley records. Washington was the owner of several tracts of land in the eastern portion of Berkeley County, now Jefferson, and the suit indicated above was, possibly, instituted for the recovery of payment for the purchase of land.
James Keith, the old clerk and lawyer, was appointed overseer of the road from his mill into the road leading to Sniggers' Ferry. This adds another occupation to the busy old gentleman. November 20, John Nevill, in whose house the jail was kept, as will be shown further along, James Seaton and James Strode, gents, were appointed to lay off the prison bounds. The first case of counterfeiting was reported at this court: William Merchant and Barnaby Hagan were convicted of counterfeiting money of the coin of this colony, and sentenced to give bonds in the sum of £50 each for their good behavior. The following entry found at the close of the proceedings of one of the sessions of the November term of the court has always puzzled those who have given the matter any thought:
"Adam Stephen, Esq., having produced a writ from the secretary's office adjourning the court to Morgan's Spring, on the lands of the said Stephen, in this county, which being read, ordered that the court do adjourn until to-morrow morning, nine o'clock, and then to meet at the place of adjournment, according to said writ."
Now where was the Morgan's Spring alluded to? The first thought is of the famous spring on the place of Col. W. A. Morgan, near Shepherdstown. Jefferson at that time being a portion of Berkeley County, clearly that would seem to be the locality. But it was not, for several reasons: Adam Stephen never owned the land on which is located the spring named, as it happens that the Morgan plantation has never passed out of the possession of the descendants of Richard Morgan, who obtained his grant from Gov. Gooch away back in 1730, or thereabouts. Another reason is that Stephen would not have schemed to take the county seat away from his town, Martinsburg, which, although not named nor established by law as yet, was ten or a dozen years old at that time, and contained a mill and a number of houses and taverns. Another family of Morgans lived up near Bunker Hill, but Adam Stephen would not have moved court there; his land was all around and in Martinsburg, and he had every motive to keep the court-house here. The only conclusion that can be arrived at is that the spring which has been known as the Town, or Stephen's Spring, by some now unexplainable process became known as Morgan's Spring, which afterward fell into disuse. The only plausible theory in regard to the name is this: Morgan Morgan, the first justice named in the commission of the peace for Frederick County, was a very early settler in this section, he being put down as being here as early as 1826 by one historian. Morgan owned many thousands of acres of land, and it is possible (although the writer has no data for the assertion save what is here given) that he may have originally owned the land upon which the "Morgan Spring," alluded to, was located.
Certain it is, however,
that the county seat was never moved away from where it is now. It was
moved from Beeson's house which stood a short distance north of the city of
Martinsburg into the town, and until the building of the court-house the court
was held in a house belonging to Joseph Mitchell, and a building belonging to
John Nevill was rented for a jail. These facts are established by the
county levies, wherein it appears that "Joseph Mitchell was paid the sum of
£7:10 for the use of his house as a court-house," and "John Nevill was paid the
sum of £5 for the use of his house as a jail."
Where did Joseph Mitchell live? In confirmation of the supposition that he lived in Martinsburg there is a minute on the records which states that Joseph Mitchell and three others were appointed to "view the ground for a road from Martinsburg to the Opeckon." Also to "view ground for a road from Winchester by the Watkin's Ferry road to run through Martinsburg." The court was moved to the house of Isaac Taylor about 1774, as the next levy shows that he was paid £5 for the "use of his house to hold court in." The court-house was not finished for several years after the last date given. Joseph Mitchell served in the Continental army as a captain, and is said to have joined Daniel Morgan at the famous spring in the fall of 1775. After his return he kept a tavern.
The writer has thoroughly examined the records in regard to the "Morgan's Spring allusion," and has given the result thereof, from which there can be no doubt of the inference - that Martinsburg always has been the seat of justice for Berkeley. And in regard to that story of a serious contest between Adam Stephen and Jacob Hite, related by Kercheval, over the location of the county seat, which resulted in the death, indirectly, of Hite, there appears not one iota of evidence of a contest upon the records. The justices advertised for some one to build the court-house and jail, their proposition was accepted, and the buildings erected in Martinsburg as a matter of course.
November 15, 1772, the justices ordered the sheriff to advertise the letting to the lowest bidder of the building of a public jail, to be thirty-six feet long and thirty feet wide, with three rooms on a floor, and the walls to be built of stone and lined with two-inch plank, a plan of which was to be exhibited in December. At the same time the letting of the building of a court-house of stone was to take place, a plan of which was also to be furnished. Adam Stephen appeared