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Mabie, Randolph Co., West Virginia
The first settlement was made in 1786 by the Westfall, Woods, and the Rev. John Rowan families. The Rowans settled near the falls, below the place now known as Coalton. The Woods family settled about a mile west of Coalton, while the Westfalls settled west of Mabie on what is now known as the Phillips' farm.
The only outlet for these pioneers was a trail known as the Rowan-Westfall Trail which led across Rich Mountain to the Wilson Fort located on Wilson Creek where they obtained their groceries and had their milling done.
About ten years later came Ben Kittle, Moses Phillips, and John Bevlin. They settled on the old State Road. Mr. Kittle located near what is now known as the Brady mine. His place was known as the "Old Stage Stand." When the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike was constructed, Mr. Kittle moved to what was later known as the Hillary farm and still kept the Stage Coach.
Later came Cranes, Hillarys, and Whitecottons. The Cranes settled where Eli C. Rowan lives; Whitecottons settled where H. F. Rowan lives; and Hillarys bought the Ben Kittle farm.
These people came from Maryland and east of the Blue Ridge. They selected this as a location for their homes because of the fertility of the soil and because of the excellent hunting and fishing at this place, and because it seemed to be a healthful location in which to raise their families. Later, settlers came for the purpose of lumbering and mining. Trees as large as six or seven feet in diameter are known to have grown here in the early history of the community. Timber of this sort naturally attracted lumber men. At that time the farmers did not know the value of timber, so they cut it down and burned it in order to clear their land-to grow crops.
The old Indian Trail ran almost through the center of this community, across Roaring Creek near where H. J. Yeager now lives, through H. F. Rowan's Farm, and across Rich Mountain.
The first road through Mabie was known as the Old State Road. It was located about one-fourth of a mile from the present Staunton-Parkorsburg Pike and connected Virginia and Buckhannon. The Staunton-Parkersburg Pike was constructed in 1840.
Branch roads which have been made later are the Cassity, Kelly, Ryan, and Coalton roads. A new state highway from Elkins to Buckhannon has also been constructed.
The first "up-and-down" sawmill in this community was established by Mr. Hillary. Then a grist mill and a sawmill run by water were erected by J. A. Rowan. Later a steam power sawmill was built by Mr. Isaacson. In 1897, the Mabie, McClure Lumber Company set up a bandmill.
Mr. Kittle opened the first mine. Later, the Hart mine on top of Rich Mountain was opened. From both these mines coal was hauled by wagon to Beverly. When the Hillary mine was first opened, four slabs of coal three feet thick were hewn out by W. J. Rowan, Bill Cutright, Moses and Randolph Phillips, and hauled by wagon to Webster Station and shipped to the World's Fair at Washington. These slabs were placed together, showing a vein twelve feet thick. This won the premium and showed what a marvelous vein of coal had been discovered in Roaring Creek District. This induced coal operators to invest.
The first mine that shipped coal was opened by W. H. Green. This mine was located on the Kittle place and is now called the Brady mine which is being operated by A. Spates Brady of Elkins. The Brady and West Virginia mines are now in operation.
The people coming to this community did not forget to worship God. They held services in their homes at first, but later, services were held in a school house by the Rev. Mr. Warner, an M. P. minister. Assisted by the Rev. Mr. Barnett from Harrison County, he held the first revival meeting and converted forty-five people. Later the Rev. Cyrus Kittle organized the M. E. Church and preached the first sermon. The Rev. Hanning Foggy then took charge of the work.
In 1870 a frame church was built near the present site of the Rowan school. In 1899 the church was moved and rebuilt. It was dedicated to the memory of Annie Rowan in 1900, during the pastorate of the Rev. Mr. White. It is now known as the Rowan M. E. Church.
Seven pupils were enrolled in the first school which was taught by Moses Phillips in his home west of Mabie. Later, school was held in a blacksmith shop on the Hillary farm. Greased paper was used in the windows as a substitute for glass, and large hewn slabs of wood with peg legs and no backs were used as seats. The floor was of dirt. The teacher, Julia Hart, was hired by the parents.
The first school house was built in the forks of the road on the Hillary farm on land donated by Mr. Hillary. The first teacher was Bill Epperson. Now there are four schools in the community, three one-room buildings, and one two-room building.
The first post office was in the Hillary home with Allen Hillary as Postmaster. At that time no boxes were used, the mail being put on shelves. The name of this post office was "Roaring Creek." Later it was called "Fisher" and at the present time is known as "Mabie."
E. H. Rowan had the first blacksmith shop. It was located on his farm near the iron bridge across Roaring Creek.
Dr. John Hillary was the first doctor in the community. He lived where J. A. Corley now resides. Later he moved near Buckhannon.
The first store in Mabie was owned by John Addison Kittle, who sold groceries, boots, and dry goods. He later sold out to E. H. Rowan. Mabie now has six stores.
Items of Interest
The first cooking stove was in the home of Mrs. Ben (Nancy) Kittle. She boarded the travellers in the days of the stage coach and had always used a fireplace for cooking purposes. To lighten her work, she installed a cook stove. It had six lids - four large ones and two small ones. For moving the lids, a bail like the bail of a syrup bucket was used. Each lid had one of these bails.
Mrs. Hillary owned the first sewing machine in the community. To display the wonderful work of this marvelous machine, she made a black sunbonnet and stitched it with white thread.
The first mowing machine was a Buckeye owned by Ira Kittle. It was an improvement over older methods, but, even so, the horses had to go at a trot before it would cut.
The first patent churns were purchased from Barlowe Brothers by E. H. Rowan and Ira Kittle. They did not prove to be successful. The first cream separator, a De Laval, was owned by Eli C. Rowan. The first telephone was installed by M. King, and the first radio by N. E. Miller. The first automobile, a Ford, was purchased by G. C. Corley in 1916.
Torches, candles, and grease lights were the first methods of lighting used in the community.
In the early days, while the men hunted, fished, and cleared the land, the women spent their time spinning and weaving. Calico was fifty or seventy-five cents per year - a prohibitive price - so most of the material used was woven in the home. Even the men's suits were made in the home. Julian Hurdle, a young man from Washington who was visiting his aunt, Mrs. Hillary, was so impressed by the fine spinning and weaving of the pioneer women that he persuaded Mrs. E. H. Rowan to spin thread from the wool of a black sheep and weave it into material for a suit. He had a tailor make the suit for him. The people in the city thought it was marvelous because the material was so fine.
The stockings used by the early settlers were hand-knit. A shoe maker from Beverly made the best shoes for the family, but the supply of every day shoes was made by the men themselves.
In pioneer days, the woods abounded with deer, bears, and other wild animals. Mrs. J. A. Corley relates an interesting story about the killing of a deer by herself and brother, Bailey Rowan. The deer, which had been shot in the leg, was chased by hounds into the stream near the home of E. H. Rowan.
Bailey, aged fourteen years, jumped astride the deer and hold its head under the water. His sister Annie (Mrs. Corley), aged sixteen, ran with the butcher knife and the boy cut the throat of the door while his sister held the creature's horns. They took the skin to Beverly and sold it for one dollar. The hams sold for six dollars. Mrs. Corley still has a small bone of the deer to remind her of this incident.
E. H. Rowan one time killed a deer with a rock, near the bridge. Ira Kittle pulled a bear backwards out of a hollow log and killed it.
Rattlesnakes are still occasionally found in the woods but are not as numerous as they once were. There were four large dens near the community and one man has killed thirty-six in one day. Andrew Kittle, while working in the woods one day, sat on a slab of wood to eat his lunch. Under the slab a large rattle snake was coiled, but it was held so tightly it was unable to rattle. When Mr. Kittle finished his lunch and arose, the snake made known its presence by rattling and Mr. Kittle killed it.
The timber was so dense in early days that it was not unusual for children to become lost. While hunting cows one day, Mrs. Ned King was lost and wandered in the woods for two days. She was finally found by James Phillips. John Lewis was also lost while hunting cattle. He was found after a day and a night.
An interesting anecdote is told about a horse thief. Bailey Shumate had had a number of horses stolen and in order to prevent further theft, he had a patent lock made by E. H. Rowan. He put this on his barn and thought that his horses were now secure. He showed the combination to a friend, not realizing that the friend was the man who had been stealing his horses. The man soon returned and stole the rest of the horses. He had worked the combination with his knife, which he left behind him and which gave the evidence of his guilt. Mr. Shumate followed the trail and found one horse in Staunton, Virginia, but he never recovered the others. The thief escaped.
Mr. Hillary and Mr. Crane were the only slave holders in this community. Mr. Hillary was a very wealthy man and liked to tell people about it. A story is told that one time an assessor came to the home and stayed all night, the host not knowing the official capacity of his guest. Mr. Hillary told him all about his twenty-five slaves, hundreds of acres of land, bonds, and money. To finish the story, he lit a cigar with a five dollar bill. When the assessor went to assess him, he was dumbfounded and wished he had not boasted so freely. He did not keep his slaves long for the other settlers did not believe in slavery.
Individuals Who Have Made History Here and Elsewhere
Steve Lewis, Paul Scott, and Marshall Philipps are ministers from this community. Samuel Crane has been prosecuting attorney of Randolph County and. has been in the legislature . Perry Lewis has been county surveyor of Gilmer County. He formerly taught school. Wellington Rowan, a school teacher from Mabie, was also a member of the legislature. William King is now a wealthy real estate man in Pittsburgh. Miss Kathleen King, a former teacher, is now in the fruit business in Florida. Walter King is a plumber in Buckhannon. Lillian King Armentrout, a teacher, is now in Pittsburgh.
The teachers from this community are Anna King Fallon, Katherine Hart Frame, Emma Rowan Pritt, Sadie Ryan Van Gilder, Pearl Ryan Pennington, Dorinda Pingley Zickafoose, Alma Coontz Ryan, Vernie Hart Ward, and Nelson Pingley. Frank Madden was county superintendent of schools and also government clerk in Washington. Thomas, James, Martin, Peter, and William Madden were all school teachers.
The Epworth League was organized in 1915. Following are the first and present officers:
- Wellington Rowan
- H. D. Elmore
The Knights of Pythias was organized in 1917. The Farm Women's Club was organized by Mrs. Ray Ward and Mrs. Gilbert Scott in July 1924. The first and present officers are:
- Mrs. G. C. Corley
- Mrs. Frank Shipman
This club has taken an active interest in community affairs. It gives at least one community party each year. It helped with the project of painting the church inside and outside and sponsored the planting of trees in the church yard, the man of the community doing the actual planting. The club stands for community betterment and is willing to give assistance along this line in any way possible.
The Aurora Four-H club was organized in 1925. The first, and present, officers are as follows:
- Clair Corley
- Wanda Yeager
This club now has a membership of ten. Three prizes were won the first year at the fair and two the second year.
The first country life conference was held in 1923. A conference has been held each year since. The scores are as follows: 1925 - 586; 1924 - 614; 1925 - 657; and 1926 - 646 1/2.
Civil War History
The families living in this community during the war of 1861 were Rowans, Ryans, Kittles, Lewis, Hillarys, Harts, Cranes, Fiddlers and Phillips. All suffered heavy losses during this war. The Union army camped where Eli C. Rowan now lives. General McClellan's headquarters were in the old Hillary house. When the battle of Rich Mountain was fought these families all had to leave their homes for safety. When they returned they found their homes in a sorrowful condition. The fences were burned, cattle killed, and crops destroyed. Clothing and bedding were destroyed and dishes and furniture broken. These families had to start anew and yet had to feed the soldiers of both armies who were passing by.
Clark and Jake Heavener of Buckhannon were on their way home from Beverly. They were fired upon by "bush whackers" near where the A. P. Hart farm is located. One man had thirty-two bullet wounds. His horse was shot from under him. His brother, not being seriously hurt, put him on his horse and held him on until he reached the home of Eli H. Rowan, where he was cared for and where he remained until he was able to return to his home.
There were several men in the battle of Rich Mountain who afterward became prominent in the affairs of the nation, among whom were Arthur B. Hayes and James A. Garfield.
Battle of Rich Mountain
On the evening of the 9th of July, 1861, General McClellan arrived at Roaring Creek, two miles from the base of Rich Mountain. The Confederates had destroyed the bridge over the creek, but that had little effect in checking the Federals. This was two miles from where Colonel John Pegram, with thirteen hundred Confederates, was in command at Rich Mountain. The Confederate works were located one and a half miles west of the summit of Rich Mountain, where the Staunton-Parkersburg Pike crosses.
On July 10, a strong reconnaissance was made by Lieutenant Poe within two hundred yards of the fort, resulting in the killing of one and wounding of another Federal. The dense thickets with which the Confederate works were surrounded prevented the attainment of satisfactory information, but it convinced McClellan that the works could not be easily carried by direct assault in front, and he laid plans for throwing a force in the rear, if any road could be found. When it was decided that a flank movement should be made, arrangements were commenced for carrying it into execution.
About ten o'clock on the night of July 10, a young man named David Hart, whose father Joseph Hart, lived on the summit of Rich Mountain a mile and a half in the rear of the Confederate camp, came to General Rosecrans and offered to pilot troops through the woods to his fathers farm, from which point Colonel Pegram could be attacked in the rear. The plan was talked over between Rosecrans and McClellan and was decided upon. Rosecrans was given 1,917 men with which to execute the movement. Tho proposed route lay south of the pike by the "Lone Tree". The start was made at three o'clock in the morning of July II, the men being supplied with rations for one day.
Rosecrans was ordered by McClellan to send a messenger every hour during the march up the mountain. He did so, but a messenger sent about noon lost his way and was captured by the Confederates who learned from him of the flank movement, and had time to send 550 men to Hart's house on top of the mountain, and they were there waiting the approach of the Federals, and opened fire the instant they came in sight.
When the battle began, several Confederates took shelter in Hart's house, but the Federal bullets came through the windows and drove them out. The house, still standing, is of logs, and has many bullets in the walls, and bullet holes are seen in the partitions between the rooms. A Confederate who was trying to shelter himself in a far corner of an upstairs room was killed by a bullet which came through the window and passed through a partition. The hole is there yet. Dead and wounded were carried in the house, and upstairs. Blood stains on the floor and on the stairway are seen to this day after sixty-five years of scouring. The blood has penetrated the wood and cannot be washed out.
Both sides fought stubbornly for about three hours, but Colonel Pegram's men became panic stricken and fled, leaving their baggage and artillery to fall in the hands of the Union army. The soldiers who were killed in the battle of Rich Mountain were buried near the Hart house, but their bodies were later removed and taken to Mt. Iser a little knoll overlooking the town of Beverly.
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