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Pendleton County, WV
History

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PENDLETON COUNTY.

Pendleton county was formed from Augusta, Hardy and Rockingham, December 1787, when the General Assembly enacted "That from and after the first of May next, all those parts of the counties of Augusta, Hardy and Rockingham, within the following bounds: beginning on the line of Rockingham county on the North Mountain, opposite to Charles Wilson's on the South Fork; thence a straight line to the Clay Lick on the North Fork; thence to the top of the Alleghenies and along the same and the east side of the Greenbrier waters to the southwest fountain of the South Branch; and thence between the same and the waters of James river, along the dividing ridge to the said North Mountain, and with the top of the same to the beginning shall form one distinct and new county, and be called and known by the name of Pendleton." The justices were directed to hold the first court for the new county at the house of Zariah Stratton.

Edmund Pendleton, in honor of whom the county was named, was born in Caroline county, in 1741, and early in life entered upon the study of law. He was the president of the Virginia Convention of 1775, and also of that of 1778, which ratified the Federal Constitution. He was twice a member of Congress and was long president of the Virginia Court of Appeals. Upon the organization of the Federal Government, he was selected by Congress as District Judge for Virginia but declined the appointment. He died at Richmond in 1803.

Seybert's Fort.—Twelve miles west from the present town of Franklin stood a small frontier post known as Fort Seybert. It was a rude structure, but with the inmates well armed it would have proven strong enough to resist an attack of the Indians. Like other structures of its kind, it was a place of refuge for the settlers around its walls. Into it they fled at the approach of the savage foe, and here they remained in safety during periods when the Indians were most troublesome. In May, 1758, when between thirty and forty persons were within the enclosure, it was attacked by a party of Shawnees under the blood-thirsty chief, Kill-buck.

The following account is given by De Hass:—

"Finding neither threatening words nor bullets of any avail, the cunning savages, after two days' trial, resorted to strategy, and, unhappily, with most fatal success. They made various propositions to the besieged to give up, and their lives should be spared; if not, the siege should be continued and every soul massacred.

"The promise of safety lured the unfortunate victims from their duty, and they yielded quiet possession of the fort. There were about thirty persons at the time in the fort and these the savages proceeded to secure. Instantly the whites realized the horror of their situation and saw the inevitable doom which awaited them. In a moment of false security they trusted the promise of the savages and now were about to pay the penalty with their lives. Of the whole number all were massacred but eleven."

The horrible scene was witnessed by a youth named James Dyer, who was carried to the Indian towns on the Sciota, and escaped after two years' captivity.

It is stated by Kercheval that a son of Captain Seybert, having killed two Indians, had his gun raised to present it at Kill-buck, when his father seized it, saying they would have to surrender to save their lives. Immediately after the surrender, Kill-buck saluted the Commander by a stroke in the mouth with his tomahawk. Young Seybert was among those taken off prisoners. When he told Kill-buck he had raised his gun to kill him, the savage replied, “If you had killed me you would have saved the fort; for if I had fallen my warriors would have given up the siege in despair."

Of the fate of the eleven prisoners, nothing satisfactory is known except concerning James Dyer. He was the father of Zebulon Dyer, who was afterward clerk of Pendleton County.

Franklin, the county seat, was established a town by Act of December 19, 1794, on forty-six and one-half acres of land, the property of Francis Evick.

Appointed trustees on January 10, 1814, enacted by the General Assembly. “The freeholders of the said town shall meet and elect five fit and able men, being freeholders and inhabitants of the said town, to be trustees thereof."

William McCoy,

James Patterson,

Joseph Johnson,

John Roberts,

Joseph Arbaugh,

James Dyer, Sr.,

John Hopkins,

Jacob Conrad,

Peter Hull

Oliver McCoy

[Source: History of West Virginia; By Virgil Anson Lewis; publ. 1887; Pgs.Transcribed and submitted by Andrea Stawski Pack]




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