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Formation of Upshur County ~

Hardesty's Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia 1883
Republished in the "Buckhannon Record" July 2, 1954

Researched and transcribed by Dorothy McCann

Editor's Note (1954)
71 years ago there was published "Hardesty's Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia"
It contained worldwide and United States History and then state and county history pertaining to the section in which it was sold. A copy of this interesting old book came to light and was loaned to
"The Record"  by Dr. G.L. Gaston. We feel that our readers would be interested in reviewing it, so
during the following weeks the section pertaining to Upshur County will be printed

William White, the leader of the expedition, became one of the most vigilant spies and efficient warriors of northern Virginia, but al last fell a victim to savage ferocity.  On the 8th day of March 1792, as he, in company with Timothy Dorman and his wife were going to and in sight of the Buckhannon Fort, they were fired upon by a party of Indians in ambush, and White, being shot through the hip, soon fell from his horse and was tomahawked and scalped and lacerated in the most frightful manner.  The spot where he fell is just across the river from the present town of Buckhannon and is pointed out to the traveler who visits that place.  Withers, in his book Border Warfare says that after the killing of White, it was resolved to abandon the Fort and seek security elsewhere.

About the year 1793 or 1794, it was nothing for the Indians to visit that portion of Virginia, now West Virginia, laying west of the Allegheny Mountains, and commit depredations in the various settlements, by killing persons, men, women, and children, and carrying away others in captivity besides killing and driving away stock, burning houses, barns, etc.  This seemed to be the closing up of what was known as "Wayne's War"  with the Indians.

(some of this history is bypassed,  and will continue with another section, as it is repetitive  .. d.m.p.)

Sixty-five years ago (this written in 1954)  this was literally a wilderness, almost an unbroken forest. Wild beasts such as bears, wolves, panthers were numerous. Says a pioneer of the county, "The dismay of hearing the howling of wolves on Little Bush Run is among earliest  recollections. "

The neighborhood was principally settled by emigrants from New England, and mostly from Massachusetts. Persons in New England claiming lands in these parts were earnest in sending settlers.  Among the most prominent of those were Dr. Daniel Stebbins, of Northampton, Mass. who caused meetings to be held in the town, at which glowing descriptions of this country were made, inducing people to emigrate hither.  Mr. Patrick Peebles of  Felham, Mass. who had an interest in lands here, is believed to have been the first from New England to visit this country.   he built a sawmill on the Buckhannon River, near the mouth of  saw Mill Run, which was swept away by high waters.  It was about the first of the century.  He went back to Massachusetts and did not return until 1810, when he came back, bringing his family.  The first actual settler from new England was Zedekiah Morgan Esq., who came from Conn. in 1801, and settled on the Buckhannon River on the farm now owned by Mr. Burner,  who married his, Morgan's,  grand-daughter.  Many of his posterity are now living in the county,  and some are members of  the French Creek Church. One daughter survives  (1954).  In 1808,  Mr. Aaron Gould Sr., came from Charlemont, Mass., and settled on the farm now owned by Randolph See.

This was the first settlement made in this particular neighborhood, some of his sons, however,  settled in the vicinity at the same time, or the next year.  His family consisted of his wife and eleven children, three of his being unmarried.  two of his daughters survive (1954) one of them residing within the county.  some others  of his posterity still here, but the majority of them immigrated to Illinois more than 50 years ago.

In the year of  1811, Messrs. Robert Young and Gilbert Gould, with their families came from Charlemont Mass., and  settled on the farm now owned by Rev. James Young.  They went farther into the wilderness than any others had.  There was an unbroken forest for perhaps one hundred miles to the southward, except a settlement to the southwest at Haymond Salt Works.

In 1812,  the war broke out, and lasted about three years. Some of the new settlers were called to the Army to the defense of the northern frontiers. Capt. Gilbert Gould, Daniel Gould, and Aaron Gould jr., were of the number.  In 1814 or 1815, Mr. John Loomis, then unmarried, and in 1815, Mr. Elijah PHILLIPS  and Mr. David PHILLIPS, his brother, both having large families, emigrated from Florida, Berkshire County  Mass., and went on a little farther into the forest southward.   Mr. Elijah PHILLIPS settled on a little farm now owned by his son Edwin PHILLIPS (1954),  and Mr. David PHILLIPS on that now owned by Col. Darnall.  Ebenezer, (son of David PHILLIPS),  and Anson (son of Elijah PHILLIPS)  and having families of their own, came about the same time.

From the families of these settlers, very many of the people of the area have sprung. In 1815 Messieurs. Daniel Barrett, Martin Root, and Jushua Bosworth, with their families, came from Montgomery County, Mass. and settled on the Buckhannon River, some miles below the town now known as Buckhannon. The town did not then exist.

In the year 1816, several other families came from Mass.  Mr. Nathan Gould Jr., and family, including his aged father, Mr. Nathan Gould Sr. came from Charlemont, Mass.  Mr. Jonathon Alden and family, from Ashfield, Mass, Messrs. John Burr, Noah Sexton, and Ebenezer Leonard and their families from Worthington.  Mr. Daniel Haynes came from Monson, Mass.,  in 1815. Mr. Nathan Gould Sr. died two weeks after his arrival, of Pneumonia,  having traveled a long journey in his old age to find a grave in the wilderness.

Mr. Nathan Gould Jr., and Mr. Jonathon Alden settled on Bull Run, the former on a the  place owned by Benjamin Gould.  Messrs. Burr, Sexton and Leonard settled first on the middle Fork of the Buckhannon.  In 1816 the Rev. Asa Brooks came out as a Missionary, ordained and sent by the Central Association of Hampshire County, Mass.  He was followed by his brother Esra Brooks.  Amos Brooks, and John Brooks of Halifax, Vermont. (Plymouth County).

Time would fail to speak minutely of the Knowltons, (Roswell and Warren), of Messrs. Bartlett, and Perry, who all came from the town of Belcher, Mass., and settled in Beechtown about the year 1816 or 1817; of  Elias Perry Sr., of Sylvanus Rice, of Joseph Howes, of the Shurtliffs, of Alpheus Rude, Jacob Hunt,  Ezra Morgan, Asa Boynton, Job and Murray Thayer,  and others from New England. There were other early settlers who came from time to time. Besides those settlers from New England, there were other early settlers from other parts of Virginia, among them. were Messrs. Valentine Powers, Samuel Tolbert, Abram, James and Daniel Wells, Joseph McKinney, and William Clark  with his sons, all of who settled in Beechtown. Mr. John Vincent and VanDevanters lived on Slab Camp
Fork of French Creek.   Abner Rice was also an early settler.

There being great troubles about the titles to the lands bought by these early settlers, an emigration set in; commencing about the year 1830, to the western states, especially to Illinois, which took away nearly, if not entirely, one half of the people.  Great discouragement was felt by those who remained, about making improvements. Some had to purchase their farms for the second and third times, and many have been the changes and trials through which the people had been called to pass.

(bypassing more text here)

From the first of the year 1811 to 1812, the few families met every Sabbath for worship, and generally at the house of Aaron Gould. The first reader of sermons was Robert Young, Esq.  Sermons were sometimes read afterward by Jonathon Alden, Pascal P Young, Augustus Sexton, William PHILLIPS, and others. But the principal reader for more than forty years was Capt. Festus Young. This, at first, the singing was very poor, and confined to 2 or 3 tunes. This part of the worship was rarely omitted, . In 1816 Mr. Jonathon Alden, having come, and being a teacher of music,  he taught a class very successfully. After him Mr. William PHILLIPS greatly improved the music. Since that time music on French Creek has been excellent, under such leaders as Richard PHILLIPS, Samuel Barrett, Adolphus Brooks.


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