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CHAPTER XIII.

THE WAR OF l8l2 NEWSPAPERS.

From 1811 to 1825.

 

1. West Virginia in the War of 1812.—When the second war with Great Britain was declared, Virginia called upon her sons to defend her soil from the foot of the invader, and nowhere did that call meet with a more ready response than amid the hills and valleys of West Virginia where dwelt the sons of the Minute Men of the Revolution. There lived the descendants of the men who had seen service in the War forIndependence and had withstood the storm of savage warfare for many years. From the summit of the Alleghanies to the banks of the Ohio, men mounted their horses, strapped on their knapsacks and turned their faces from home.

 

2. Their Gathering at the City on the James. — There was no distinction of the rich and the poor. Gentlemen who had occupied conspicuous places in the halls of legislation, the plowman fresh from the fallowed field, officers, soldiers, citizens, all went with one accord. Within a fortnight after the call to arms, fifteen thousand men were encamped within sight of Richmond, among them the largest body of cavalry— horsemen from the west side of the Blue Ridge—that, up to that time, had ever been reviewed on the Continent. There were too many and in one morning, one thousand of them were discharged and sent home. On their way over the Blue Ridge they met whole companies, some from the banks of the Ohio, still marching to the East. Commanding one of these companies was Captain Peter H. Steenbergen. Nearly a regiment of West Virginians marched to the West and served with General Harrison on the Maumee- Dr. Jesse Bennett, the first regularly educated physician in Mason County, was the surgeon of the regiment. Major Andrew Waggener, of Berkeley county, was the Hero of Lundy's Lane, and the first men to double-quick up Pennsylvania avenue, after the British General Ross had fired the National Capitol, was a battalion of minute men from the Virginia mountains.

 

3. Direct Tax Paid by the Counties of West Virginia.the collection of a Direct Tax by the General Government is only resorted to in cases of great emergency. The second Section of Article I, of the Federal Constitution, declares that "direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union according to numbers.'' The first time that Congress availed itself of this constitutional provision was to aid in the prosecution of the second war with England, when, on August 2nd, 1813, an act was passed requiring the collection of $3,000,000.00. There were then eighteen States, and the amount apportioned to Virginia, was $369,018.44. Of the counties now embraced in West Virginia, sixteen then had an existence, and each paid as follows: Monroe county, $1,030.50; Greenbrier, $1,650.44; Kanawha, $2,167.50; Cabell, $1,546.50; Mason, $1,130.50; Randolph, $5,465.50 Harrison, $2,672.50; Wood, $1,338.50; Monongalia, $2,992.50; Ohio, $1,907.50; Brooke, $1,195.50; Pendleton, $1,428.50; Hardy, $2,126.50; Hampshire, $3,795.50; Berkeley, $6.147.22; Jefferson, $6,876.28—a total of $43,469.94, which the pioneer settlers paid to assist in securing the rights of Americans upon the high seas.

 

4. First Newspapers in West Virginia.—The first newspaper published in West Virginia was The Potomac Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser, founded at Martinsburg in 1789 by Dr. Thomas Henry, a physician of Berkeley county. The second was the Martinsburg Gazette, established by Nathaniel Willis in 1789. The third was the Berkeley and Jefferson county Intelligencer and Northern Neck Advertiser, which was established in the year 1800, John Alburtis being the publisher. The first newspaper printed in Wheeling was the Repository, which made its appearance in 1807. Following closely after it were the Times, Gazette, Telegraph and Virginian. In 1808, The Farmer's Repository published at Charlestown, Jefferson county, made its appearance. The first newspaper published at Charleston, the present Capital of the State, was the Kanawha Patriot, published by Herbert P. Gaines in 1819.

 

5, The Founding of Lewisburg Academy.—This was the most important school in the early history of the State. Its founder was Reverend John McElhenney, who was one worthy of the institution and the institution was one worthy of such a founder. He came as a minister to Greenbrier county in 1808, and the same year he opened a classical school which he continued and which four years later, developed into the Lewisburg Academy, which was incorporated by Act of the Assembly in 1812. Dr. McElhenney continued as president of the school until 1824, and was president of the Board of Trustees from 1812, to 1860 —a period of forty-eight years. From its walls went forth legislators, great debaters and scientists, to become active characters in establishing western commonwealths.

 

6. Establishment of the Linsly Institute.—The establishment of this institution at Wheeling dates back to the year 1814. Its founder was Noah Linsly, who was born in Bradford, Connecticut, in 1772. He was a graduate of Yale College and in 1798, came to Morgantown, then in Virginia, where he spent two years and then removed to Wheeling, where he died of hemorrhage of the lungs in 1814. In his will he made provision for the establishment of a school, to be free to such white children as the trustees might deem worthy. Samuel Sprigg and Noah Zane were named as executors of the will and they hastened to apply to the Virginia Assembly for a charter for the school. This was granted and the school put in operation. It still continues its usefulness.

 

7. The National Road.—Virginia led in the work of constructing roads over the Alleghany mountains, and in the year 1802, the State began the construction of a road from the mouth of George's Creek to the nearest western navigation. But before its completion the National Government began the construction of the most important highway ever made on the Continent. It began at Cumberland, Maryland, in 1808, and the last appropriation was made in 1844, to complete the survey of the route to Jefferson City, Missouri. The total cost of this great thoroughfare was $6,824,919.33.

 

8. Completion of the Road to Wheeling.—Ten years passed away after work begun at Cumberland, before the road was opened to Wheeling. The road when opened to the Ohio River at once became a great commercial, military and national highway. In a speech delivered in Congress in 1832, it was stated that: "In the year 1822 a single house in the town of Wheeling unloaded 1,081 wagons averaging about 3,500 pounds each and paid for the carriage of the goods $90,000. At that time there were five other commission houses in the same place, and estimating that each of these received two-thirds the amount of goods consigned to the first, there must have been nearly five thousand wagons unloaded and nearly $400,000 paid "as cost for transportation." There were no railroads at that time and the National Pike was for years the only thoroughfare connecting the East with the West. It was the most important road ever built by the National Government.

 

9. Road Making early in the Century.—In the first decade of the present century many roads were constructed in the territory now embraced in the State. Among these were the following: from Morgantown to the mouth of Grave Creek—now Moundsville; from Dunlap's Creek on James River to Morris, —now Brownstown on the Great Kanawha; from the mouth of Elk river—now Charleston—down that stream to the Ohio river—now Point Pleasant; from Lewisburg in Greenbrier county to the Falls of the Great Kanawha. Thus were the highways of civilized men rapidly extended through the wilderness.

 

10. The Greenbrier White Sulphur Springs. — This is the most celebrated summer resort in the Southern States. The land on which it is situated was patented by Nathaniel Carpenter, who reared his cabin near the Spring and removed his family to it in 1774. Soon after the Indians murdered all the family, except Kate, the mother, and an infant with which she escaped to a high mountain where she lay concealed until the Indians were gone and then made her way to Staunton to tell of the sad fate of her family. "Kate's Mountain" will ever be an object of interest to those Springs. William Herndon was the first to make it a place of resort, but in 1818, James Caldwell became the owner of the property and with that year begins the history of the Springs as a national resort. Both Nature and Art have done much to render it an enchanted spot. The fountain is crowned with a stately Doric dome, supported by twelve large pillars, the whole surmounted by a colossal statue of Hygeia looking toward the rising sun.

 

11. Steam Navigation on the Great Kanawha.—In the year 1819—the same in which the first steamship crossed the Atlantic Ocean—a steamboat called the "Robert Thompson" ascended the Great Kanawha for the purpose of ascertaining whether it was navigable to Charleston. The voyage continued as far as Red House Shoals, where two days were spent in a vain effort to pass the rapids, and the boat returned to the Ohio; the officers reported to the Virginia Assembly the result of the experimental voyage, and that body in 1820, made the first appropriation for the improvement of the river.

 

12. Towns Established in West Virginia From 1800 to 1825.—The Assembly increased the number of towns west of the mountains as rapidly as the increasing population demanded. Elizabethtown, laid out by Joseph Tomlinson at the mouth of Grave Creek in 1803, was named for his wife; Guyandotte in Cabell county and Middlebourne in Tyler county were both laid out in 1810; Kingwood in Preston county was made a town in 1811, and became the county seat in 1818; Barboursville in Cabell county, was established in 1813; Bridgeport, at Simpson's Creek bridge, in Harrison county, and Buckhannon now in Upshur county, became towns in 1816; Weston, in Lewis county, was established under the name of Preston in 1818, but the name was changed to Fleshersville and finally to Weston in 1819; Summersville in Nicholas county, and Fairmont, then called Middletown, now in Marion county, were made towns in 1820; Huntersville Pocahontas county, began its legal existence in 1821, and Harrisville, then in Wood, but now in Ritchie county, was established a town in 1822.

 

13. Doddridge's History of the Indian Wars.—In 1824, Rev. Joseph Doddridge published a book at Wellsburg, entitled "Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars of the Western Parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania from 1763 to 1783, Inclusive.” It was the first work published which gave a view of the state of society, manners and customs of the first settlers of the Western country. It has been widely, read, and it must form the basis of the intelligent study of Western annals, for without a knowledge of the character of the people who made pioneer history, it will be impossible to understand it properly, and without this correct understanding, an attempt to study our National History will result largely in failure.

 

 

•Rev. Joseph Doddridge, author and minister, was born October 14th, 1769, in Friend's Cove, Bedford county, Pennsylvania, and when but four years of age removed with his parents to a cabin home near the Western Pennsylvania line; and from there, later in life, to Brooke county, Virginia. He was sent to school in Maryland, where he received an excellent English education, and later was a student in Jefferson Academy at Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania. Entering the ministry, he became pastor of three churches in what is now West Virginia, viz.: one at West Liberty, Ohio county, and St. John's and St. Paul's in Brooke county. Dr.

Doddridge died at Wellsburg, Brooke county, November 9th, 1826. He was one of the most scholarly men whose name appears in the early history of West Virginia.

  

General Peter H. Steenbergen was born July 12th, 17S8, near Moorefield, in Hardy county. He was educated at Washington Hall, now Washington and Lee University, Virginia, and settled on the Ohio river in Mason county, now West Virginia, in 1811. When the second war with England came, he entered the army as captain of a cavalry company mustered in Mason county. He rose to the rank of colonel in the Virginia military establishment, and then to that of Brigadier-General, which he held for many years. He died July 31st, 1863.

 

Dr. Jesse Bennett was born near Philadelphia, July 10th, 1769. After completing his medical studies, he removed West and settled on the Ohio river, six miles above the mouth of the Great Kanawha. Upon the organization of Mason county, in 1804, he was made Colonel Commandant, and as such was the custodian of the military stores belonging to the county. The same year he was visited by Harman Blennerhassett, who tried to induce him to join in the wild and visionary scheme in which he and Burr were then engaged. Bennett refused, but, fearing that the guns in his possession might be taken by force, he had them buried on Six-Mile inland until the danger was past. Dr. Bennett represented Mason county in the Virginia Assembly of 1808-1809, and was surgeon of Colonel Dudley Evans' 2nd Virginia Regiment, in the War of 1812. He died July 18th, 1842.

 

Reverend John McElhenney was born in South Carolina in 1781, and was educated at Liberty Hall Academy, now Washington and Lee University, Virginia. Entering the ministry, he came to Lewisburg and began a pastorate which continued more than sixty years. In 1808, he founded the Lewisburg Academy. He died January 2d, 1871, in the ninety-first year of his age.

[Source: History and Government of West Virginia; By Virgil Anson Lewis; Publ. 1912; Pgs. 151-160; Transcribed and submitted by Andrea Stawski Pack]

 

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