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

     Raleigh County was formed from Fayette by act of January 23, 1850, and named in commemoration of Sir Walter Raleigh. The act creating the county made the town of Beckleyville the county seat. It was incorporated in 1850. Here, in the village school house, in March, 1850, the first court convened.

 

It was composed of the following named justices:

James Goodall,  Robert Scott,  Samuel L. Richmond,

Robert Warden,  Cyrus Snuffer,  Lucien Davis,

John T. Sarrett,  Benjamin Linkous,  John Stover.

 

The first county officers were:

Sheriff, John T. Clay;

Prosecuting Attorney, Edward W. Bailey;

County Clerk, Daniel Shumate;

Circuit Clerk, Alfred Beckley;

Assessor, John H. Anderson.

 

Pioneers.Among the early pioneers were:

Vincent Philips,  Samuel Pack,  Samuel Richmond,

Henry Hill,  Joseph Carper,  Sparriel Bailey,

Booker Bailey,  Joshua Roles,  Daniel Shumate, Sr.,

Cyrus Snuffer,  Owen Snuffer,  James Bryson,

John T. Sarrett,  Wilson Abbott,  Lemuel Jarrell,

Jacob Harper,  John Stover,  Fielding Fipps.

 

General Alfred Beckley.The following sketch of General Beckley was written by himself in 1887, and placed in the possession of J. C. Alderson, of Wheeling, who published it in the Register of that city, soon after the death of the subject, which occurred May 28, 1888:

 

"Alfred Beckley, Sr., born in Washington City, on Capitol Hill, on the 26th day of May, 1802, during the first term of the immortal Thomas Jefferson's presidency. My father, John Beckley, was the Clerk of the House of Representatives during the presidency of Washington, the elder Adams and Jefferson; was in 1783, Mayor of the city of Richmond, and a member of the Board of Aldermen, Clerk of the House of Delegates, and Secretary of the Convention of Virginia on the Constitution of 1788. He was the warm personal and political friend of Jefferson, and was the first Librarian of Congress.

 

"My father died on the 8th day of April, 1807, and in that year my mother removed to the city of Philadelphia with myself, a boy of five years, her only child. She lived in Philadelphia till some time in May, 1814, when she removed to Frankfort, Kentucky. While in Philadelphia, I was sent to several schools of repute, and in Kentucky was the pupil of Kean O'Hara, one of the finest classical teachers in that State, and became a good Latin scholar.

 

In 1819, Mr. Monroe, then President, and a warm personal friend of my father, on the application of my mother, through Gen. William Henry Harrison, gave me the warrant of cadet of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N. Y., and this warrant, signed by the great War Secretary, John C. Calhoun, I keep as a relic of the past. Upon Gen. Harrison's invitation, I became an inmate in his family at North Bend for six months, availing myself of the instruction of Gen. Harrison's private instructor to his children. In August, the General placing me in the care of a Mrs. Kinney, and paying my traveling expenses to West Point out of his own pocket, I started for West Point, but was taken sick on the journey, and did not reach the Point till the 25th of September, 1819, when my class of 1823, had been at their studies a whole month. I was examined alone by the academic staff, and admitted on the 25th of September. I graduated on the 1st of July, 1823, number nine in a class of thirty-five, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of the Fourth Regiment of United States Artillery on the same day. I served thirteen years honorably in the United States Army; two years in Florida, 1824-1826; two years at Old Point Comfort in West Virginia, in the schools of artillery practice; six years on ordnance duty at the Allegheny arsenal near Pittsburgh, and two years in garrison at Fort Hamilton Narrows, New York.

 

In 1836, having married Miss Amelia Neville Craig, daughter of Neville B. Craig, Esq., editor of the Pittsburgh Gazette, I resigned my commission as First Lieutenant, and removed to Fayette county, Va., to improve a body of unsettled stony lands for my widowed mother and myself, lying in the southern part (now Raleigh county). I devoted myself to the building up of wild lands, was instrumental in the building of the Giles, Fayette and Kanawha turnpike, and on the establishment of the new county, now embracing above 10,000 inhabitants, I was the first Clerk of the Circuit Court of Raleigh count)-, and in 1872, the County Superintendent of Schools; was Treasurer of the School Funds; was the delegate from the Thirteenth Electoral District of Va. to the National Whig Convention at Baltimore and voted for Henry Clay and Theodore Frelinghuysen as President and Vice President. In 1876, I was a delegate at large from West Virginia to the National Democratic Convention in St. Louis, Mo., and in 1877, represented Raleigh county in the House of Delegates at Wheeling, and was appointed by that Legislature to deliver, at the evening session of February 22, 1877, an address on the character of George Washington, and to read his farewell address. These duties I performed, and received the unanimous thanks of the House of Delegates. I was as warm an advocate for the acts of that Legislature, eventually placing the State Capitol at Charleston, as any other member, and rejoice that our efforts were successful.

 

"In 1849, the General Assembly of Virginia elected me as Brigadier General of Militia, creating for me a new brigadier district. In the civil war of 1861 to 1865, I was called out by General Henry A. Wise, and served with my brigade in guarding the fastnesses of Cotton Hill and the ferries of New river. The militia rendered poor service, and at my earnest solicitation General Floyd disbanded the militia early in 1862, at Jumping Branch. In 1862, Colonel Hays garrisoned Raleigh Court House with part of the 23d Regiment of the Ohio Volunteers, and I came home and surrendered myself to Colonel Hays. In April, 1862, General John C. Fremont sent a telegraphic order from Wheeling to Colonel Hays to arrest me and send me under guard to the headquarters of the Mountain Department at Wheeling. I was started with a guard of a lieutenant, sergeant and eight privates, but at Charleston General Core sent back the guard and told the lieutenant to conduct me honorably to Mountain Headquarters. After some detention Fremont sent me on to Camp Chase prison. I was in Pen No. 2, about a month when Governor Todd released me on my parole and gave the United States Quartermaster orders to give me transportation to Raleigh Court House. I went as a prisoner under guard and returned as a gentleman, thanks to good Governor Todd.

 

Since I left the army, I have spent half a century in West Virginia, and have filled many civil offices and been instrumental in founding a new county and the improvement of West Virginia, and have ever aimed, by the grace of God to present a good, religious, moral, temperance record to my fellow men.

 

"I have omitted my record as a friend of temperance. I had always kept up a division of the Sons of Temperance at Raleigh C. H., and think I saved my two eldest sons by this means.

"In October, 1839,1 attended the session of the Grand Division of Virginia of 1839, at Lynchburg, which was composed of delegates representing 15,000 Sons of Temperance of Virginia, and I was elected Grand Worthy Patriarch of the' Sons of Temperance and served during i860, as Grand Worthy Patriarch. This I regard as the greatest honor I ever received from my fellow men. I laid the corner stone or rather dedicated the monument in honor of Lucien Munroe, a most distinguished son of the Order, at Williamsburg. Va., and then attended the session of the National Temperance Grand Division at Portland, Me., and ascended Mount Washington, New Hampshire, and with my brethren of the National Division we held a temperance meeting, with a good many sisters of temperance, on top of the White Mountains.

 

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

 

Surrounding Counties

Kanawha    Fayette    Summers    Mercer    Wyoming   Boone 

 

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