THEY STARTED IT ALL
by Joy Gregoire Gilchrist
In the earliest days, the Hacker's Creek area was a part of West Augusta District, Virginia, and under the rule of the King of England. In 1776, the Virginia House of Burgesses created Monongalia County and two others from old West Augusta. Until the Mason-Dixon line was run in 1779 and it was discovered that a part of what was considered Virginia (now Washington and Green counties in Pennsylvania), the county seat was in Washington, Pennsylvania; afterwards it was in Morgantown, now West Virginia.
In 1784, Harrison County was created from Monongalia and the first seat of government for the county was at Bush's Fort (now Buckhannon); it later moved to Clarksburg. The Hacker's Creek area remained a part of Harrison until 1818 when the new county of Lewis was formed with Weston as the county seat.
Leaders of the early Harrison County government included several Hacker's Creek pioneers. John Hacker, John Sleeth, and Colonel William Lowther each served as sheriff for the county. The first justice registered with the new court was John Sleeth; others included William Hacker and Jacob and William Cozad.
Other firsts for the Hacker's Creek area included the first white child born in the confines of present Lewis County (William Hacker, son of John), the first grist mill (at the home of John Hacker), the first religious services (again at the home of John Hacker), and the mother church of Methodist Protestantism west of the Alleghenies. Additionally, the first book to be published west of the mountains, Chronicles of Border Warfare, was written as a manuscript by two Hacker's Creek men, William Hacker and William Powers; it was later edited and added to by Alexander Scott Withers.
Progress has continued in the Hacker's Creek area for well over two hundred years. What began as a spot of civilization in the wilderness progressed to a quiet rural community; now, with the coming of I-79, the spot has become an industrial development with property values doubling, tripling and even quadrupling in the past ten years.
What began as a point at the end of a long blazed trail became an east-west travel route as settlers moved on to Ohio and points further west; during the Civil War, the area served as a highway for troops from both sides; and, in modern times, it has become a main thoroughfare as travelers move from Canada to Florida in a stream of traffic north to south.
Descendants of these early pioneers have scattered to the four corners of the United States and beyond. Many were the first settlers in areas as far-flung as other counties in western Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington state. They took with them the hardiness, courage, and reliability of their early ancestors and helped to make this nation what it is today, "the land of the free and the home of the brave."