Marshall County, WV
Early County History
Marshall County has an area of 240 square miles. It began its existence March 12, 1835, when the General Assembly enacted "That all that part of the county of Ohio, lying south of a line beginning on the Ohio river at a stone to be fixed on the bank of the said river one half mile above the mouth of Bogg's run, thence a direct line to the northern boundary of the town of West Union, and thence continuing the same course to the Pennsylvania line, shall form one distinct and new county, and be called and known by the name of Marshall county." The county was named in honor of John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States.
Robert C. Woods, of Ohio county, and John W. McClean, Sr., of Marshall, were appointed commissioners to run and mark the lines of the new county. The act made Elizabethtown the county seat, and provided that the first court should meet in a brick school house in said town on the first Thursday after the third Monday of May, 1S35.
The First Court for the county of Marshall met at the time and place for which the act creating the county provided.
The following justices were present: Jacob Burley, Benjamin McMechen, Zadoc Masters, Samuel Howard, Jacob Parrot.
Blair Morgan was the first sheriff.
The court elected officers as follows:
Commonwealth's Attorney, Elbert H. Caldwell;
Clerk of Court, James D. Morris.
Moses C. Good, William McConnell, Zachariah Jacob, John McFerren, Francis C. Campbell, Lewis Steenrod, Morgan Nelson, Isaac Hoge, James A. Clarke and J. Y. Armstrong were granted license to practice law in the courts of this county.
Robert Shoemaker, Thomas Stewart, Jesse V. Hughes, Samuel Gatts and Joshua Burley were appointed constables.
Richard Morton and William Woodburn were commissioned coroners.
The court appointed the following supervisors:
Edward Gregg, James Ramsey, Bennett Logsden, David Lutes, R. B. Howard, Thomas Howard, John Ward, William O. Rowell, Samuel Venice, Richard Ruling, John Barts, Joseph Mayers, Joshua Garner, Job Smith, Andrew Jenny, David Jenny, David Wells, Miner Burge, James Standiford, Jacob Reed, James Chambers, James Ewing, Ebenezer Gordy, David Rush, Henry Ewing, John Stricklin, Edward Dowler, John Gray, Silas Price, B. S. Gregg, John Minson, James Nixon, Thomas Pollock, William Vanscoyoe, John Rine, Michael Dowler, Samuel Dowler, Philip Jones.
— In 1769, John Wetzel and family built a cabin on Big Wheeling creek within the limits of what is now Sand Hill district, Marshall county. The Siverts and Earlywynes came about the same time, settling on the ridge near them.
In the summer of 1770, Joseph Tomlinson visited the flats of Grave creek. So enchanted was he with the beauty of the surrounding country that he determined to rear himself a home on the wide, fertile bottom. Building a cabin, he spent the remaining summer and succeeding autumn in his chosen abode. He returned east of the mountains, intending to remove his family when spring came. Indian hostilities increasing, he delayed the removal for two years.
A man named O'Neil, in Tomlinson's employ, came also in 1770
In 1777, Nathan Master, James and Jonathan Riggs found homes within the limits of Marshall county.
In 1785, a man named Cresap located land on the Ohio in what is now Franklin district.
In 1790, John, James and David Bonar built their cabin homes at a location afterward known as Bonar's Ridge.
In 1792, Peter Yoho settled on Fish creek.
In 1793, Richard Campbell, a native of Ireland, and Thomas Buchanon settled within the limits of Sand Hill district, and the following year Lazarus Rine settled near them.
In 1795, Henry Conkle, from Pennsylvania, bought land and became a settler in this neighborhood.
In 1798, Jonathan Purdy, who built the first distillery in the country, settled on Grave creek.
Nathaniel Parr’s Encounter with the Indians.— Nathaniel Parr, with his father and brother, settled in 1770, at a place which afterward took the name of Parr's Point. While hunting, one day, Nathaniel killed a deer, and the hour being late, hung it on a tree out of reach of the wolves and went home. Early next morning he returned for his venison. While in the act of taking it down he was fired upon by the Indians, who, discovering the game, had concealed themselves to watch for the hunter. The firing suddenly ceased and five Indians made toward him. He seized his rifle and fired twice, both shots taking effect. The remaining three were young and cowardly and unprepared for Parr's desperate defense. He was shot in the right thigh, but standing on one foot, supported himself by a tree and warded off his assailants. He fell and found himself unable to rise. Seizing the stones that were lying loose near him, he assailed the Indians with such fury that they finally drew off, bearing the bodies of their dead comrades with them. Mr. Parr, alarmed at his son's continued absence, started in pursuit, and after a diligent search found him, and conducted him home. From the effects of wounds received in this fight, Nathaniel Parr was a cripple to the end of life.
Foreman's Defeat.—About four miles above Moundsville may be seen a monument bearing this inscription: "This humble stone is erected to the memory of Captain Foreman and twenty-one of his men who were slain by a band of ruthless savages—the allies of a civilized nation of Europe—on the 25th of September, 1777 "So sleep the brave who sink to rest By all their country's wishes blessed." On the 25th of September, 1777, a column of smoke in the direction of Grave creek led the garrison at Fort Henry to believe that Indians were in that vicinity and had fired the stockade.
Captain Foreman — a gallant soldier, but unacquainted with the wiles of Indian warfare—with forty-five men was dispatched to render assistance, should any be needed.
Finding all safe at Grave creek, early next morning they began the return march. Captain Foreman was advised by one Lynn, an experienced Indian spy, to avoid the narrows, but apprehending no danger, the commander, with those of his own company, retraced the road by which they had come. Lynn, with seven or eight frontiersmen, took to the hills. At the upper end of the narrows Captain Foreman's party stopped to examine some Indian trophies picked up by several of the party, when they suddenly found themselves assailed by savages. With the foe on three sides, but one way of escape was left them. Those who were uninjured by the first fire fled up the hill, but so difficult of ascent was it that the Indians killed several before they could reach a place of shelter. Lynn and his companions heard the firing and were not slow to guess the source. Hastening to the brink of the hill, they arrived in time to assist one wounded man to a place of safety. They concealed him in a cliff of rocks. and leaving him their provisions, promised to send relief the next day. Colonel Zane, the following day, came to the scene of conflict, buried the dead and carried away the wounded man. Neither the number of savages engaged nor the loss of Captain Foreman's party can be ascertained with certainty. The latter was probably twenty-one killed, including the Captain.
Captain John Baker, an early settler in the country, who commanded a party for defense against the Indians, was killed in 1778. He in company with three men named Wetzel, from a block house at the head of Cresap's bottom, were watching a party of Indians who were reconnoitering on the opposite side of the river. waiting, as was supposed, an opportunity to kill some of those who had sought refuge in the fort. Baker fired and killed an Indian. The others, as though in great fright, fled. The four men at once crossed the river to examine the dead foe. No sooner had they stepped on the Ohio shore than they were fired upon by the concealed savages, who had been using the body of their dead comrade as a decoy. Baker fell severely wounded. The others escaped to the canoe unharmed. Returning shortly afterward, they carried Baker to the block house, where he died in a few hours.
Murder of the Misses Crow.
The following account of this sad event, which occurred in 1785, is given by Dr. De Hass: "The parents of these girls lived about one mile above the mouth of Dunkard, or lower fork of the creek (Wheeling). According to the statement of a third sister, who was an eye witness of the horrid deed and herself almost a victim, the three left their home for an evening walk along the deeply-shaded banks of that beautiful stream. Their walk extended over a mile, and they were just returning, when suddenly several Indians sprang from behind a ledge of rocks and seized all three of the sisters. With scarcely a moment's interruption the savages led the captives a short distance up a small bank, where a halt was called and a parley took place. Some of the Indians were in favor of immediate slaughter, while others were disposed to carry them into captivity. Unfortunately, the arm of mercy was powerless. Without a moment's warning a fierce-looking savage stepped from the group with elevated tomahawk and commenced the work of death. This Indian, in the language of the surviving sister, 'Began to tomahawk one of my sisters, Susan by name. Another Indian began the work of death on my sister Mary. I gave a sudden jerk and got loose from the one that seized me, ran with all speed and took up a steep bank and gained the top safe, but just as I caught hold of a bush to help myself up, the Indian fired and the ball passed through the clump of hair on my head, slightly breaking the skin. The Indian went around in order to meet me as I would strike the homeward path. But I ran right from home and hid myself in the bushes, near the top of the hill. Presently I saw an Indian pass along the hill below me. I lay still until he was out of sight; then I made for home.'"
The Tush Family.
— George Tush, one of the earliest settlers in Marshall county, lived on Bruce's run. September 6, 1794, when Indian depredations were beginning to be considered a thing of the past. Mr. Tush left his cabin for the purpose of feeding his hoys. Three savages, who were lying in wait, fired upon him. A ball took effect in his breast, inflicting a serious and painful wound. Frantic with pain, he rushed past his cabin, leaving his wife and children to the mercy of the foe. The Indians entered the house, and the mother was compelled to witness their horrid work. The four elder children were tomahawked and scalped; the infant, according to Indian custom, was caught by the heels and dashed against the side of the house. Taking such articles as they could carry, they retreated with the captive mother, whom they cruelly murdered about eight miles from her home. Tush, in his flight, jumped from a ledge of rocks, which so injured him that when he reached the house of his neighbor, Jacob Wetzel, it was late in the night. The infant was found alive the next day, and one of the children scalped by the Indians recovered.
Colonel Beeler, some time previous to the year 1780, attempted to form a settlement along the ridge that separates the waters of Big and Middle Grave creeks. Indian depredations became so frequent and so terrible that Colonel Beeler, in company with Joseph Tomlinson, of the fort at Grave creek, and Ryerson, of Ryerson's Station, Pennsylvania, walked through the snows of winter to Philadelphia to ask aid. The following spring, in answer to their entreaties, Captain Jeremiah Long, with fifty-three men, was sent to Beeler's Station.
January 13, 1798, a ferry was established from lands of Joseph Tomlinson, at the mouth of Little Grave creek, across the Ohio. The same year a town was laid out by the owner of these lands, and named Elizabethtown, in honor of his wife. The same was established by legislative enactment, January 18, 1803, with Joseph Biggs, Lazarus Harris, Jonathan Purdy, Jeremiah Woods and Jacob Wetzel, trustees. Elizabethtown was incorporated February 17, 1830. In 1831, the town of Moundsville was laid out by Simeon Purdy. The same was established by legislative enactment, January 28, 1832, with John Riggs, Lewis D. Purdy, John B. Roberts, Blair Morgan, Samuel Dorsey, Samuel Tomlinson, David Lockwood, Christopher Parrott and James Ramsey, trustees.
By act of the Legislature, passed February 23, 1866, the towns of Moundsville and Elizabethtown were consolidated into one corporation under the name of the Town of Moundsville.
The first officers were as follows:
Mayor, Robert McConnell;
Clerk, H. W. Hunter;
Sergeant, David Branter;
Councilmen, William L. Roberts, William Allum, W. K. Wade, Morris Rulong, Richard Shadduck and J. B. Shimp.
The Mammoth Mound, from which Moundsville receives its name, is the largest of a number of mounds in this vicinity, and stands near the centre of the town. It is 69 feet in height and the base 900 feet in circumference. On cutting transversely the trunk of an oak that once crowned the summit, the concentric circles showed an age of 500 years. This mound was discovered by Joseph Tomlinson a short time after his location at the place. Yielding to the importunities of his friends, Tomlinson opened the mound in 1838. The work was begun from the northern side at the level of the surrounding ground. At a distance of 111 feet from the circumference a vault was reached which had been excavated before the building of the mound. This vault was seven feet in depth, eight feet wide and twelve feet long. Upright timbers stood at the side and ends, which had once supported transverse beams closing the top of the vault. Over these had been placed unhewn stones, which by the timbers giving way had fallen into the vault. Particles of charcoal where the timbers were first placed, led to the belief that fire had been used in severing them, instead of edged tools. Within the vault were two skeletons. One was surrounded with ivory beads and wore an ivory ornament six inches long, nearly two inches wide at the centre and tapering to half an inch at each end. The other skeleton was without ornament The excavation revealed blue spots in the earth composing the mound, which upon examination were found to contain ashes and bits of bones, and are believed to be the remains of bodies burned before they were interred. An excavation from the top of the mound disclosed a vault similar in construction to the one beneath. This one contained a skeleton ornamented with beads, seashells and copper bracelets. Pieces of mica were strewn over the skeleton and near it was found a small flat stone inscribed in antique characters, which thus far have baffled all attempts at deciphering. The stone may now be seen at the Smithsonian Institute. The Mammoth mound is one of a series of mounds and other evidences that at some ancient time the place was occupied by a race superior to the savage tribes, which the whites found in possession of it.
The State Penitentiary is located at Moundsville. After the organization of the new Commonwealth, the State convicts were confined in the county jail at Wheeling, appropriations being made from time to time to provide for them. January 30, 1866, a bill to provide a penitentiary for the State was reported to the House of Delegates by R. P. Camden, a member of the committee on Humane and Criminal Institutions. February 7 the bill came to its second reading, at which time the location was fixed at Moundsville. The House passed the bill February 8, and the Senate gave its concurrence on the 16th ensuing. The erection of the building was begun in July following. The institution cost the State $363,061.15.
The farm once owned by James McMechen in the lower end of the county,—twenty eight miles below Wheeling, is a spot of historic interest for the reason that it was here that the Virginia Regiment, commanded by General William Darke, spent the winter of 1790-1 when on its way to Fort Washington to join the ill-fated expedition of General St. Clair.[Source: History of West Virginia; By Virgil Anson Lewis; publ. 1887; Pgs. 664-673; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack]]
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