| For five years after the formation of Cabell
County, there was heated rivalry between the communities at the
mouth of Guyandotte River and the mouth of Mud River as to which
should be the county seat.
Guyandotte was first chosen. A courthouse was built there,
probably in 1810.
Barboursville, the second oldest town in the county, was
established Jan. 14, 1813, by an act of the Virginia General
assembly. Elisha McComas, Manoah Bostic, Thomas Hatfield,
Edmund Morris and Sampson Sanders were named as trustees.
The following year the county seat was relocated at
Barboursville. Another courthouse was built and a court
order of 1815 directed that stocks and a pillory be located
beside the jail.
The town is situated near where Mud River empties its waters into the
Guyandotte River. It was named for James Barbour, governor
of Virginia when the act of establishment was passed.
An early village is thought to have grown along an old buffalo and
Indian trail followed by the road built between Charleston and
the mouth of the Big Sandy River about 1800. Names of its
earliest settlers are lost in the shadows of time but the
first Cabell County Court convened in the home of William
Merritt said in early litigation to have been built on the
plantation of Thomas Ward.
IN THE SETTLEMENT of
ownership of the Savage Grant concluded in 1818, nine lots
numbered consecutively 49 to 57 were confirmed to Robert
Rutherford, who may have been the Revolutionary War veteran who
was early a tailor in Barboursville and moved west. These
lots include all the territory about the confluence of the
Guyandotte and Mud rivers and must have been sold to early
John Laidley and John Samuels came to Barboursville about 1813.
A court order of 1817 shows that Rufus Maynard and Philip
Baumgardner were residents of the town and F. G. L. Beuhring
also lived there.
Residents of Barboursville in those early days didn't need
television to see covered wagons. They could look out
their front doors almost any time and see them passing by,
bearing settlers going west or freight to the east.
Travelers on foot or horseback, in carriages or stagecoaches, and
drovers of cattle, sheep, hogs or turkeys enroute to eastern
markets passed through the town, bringing business there.
In 1826, some 60,000 head of hogs were driven eastward over the
James River and Kanawha Turnpike. Drovers started out with
hogs traveling about six miles per day, and fattened them
enroute. Farmers along the road raised corn for sale to
BEFORE 1830, when a road from Guyandotte to
Barboursville was built on the north side of the river, and
before steamboats and stagecoaches scheduled daily trips, some
of the stagecoaches bypassed the town on the Ohio and stopped
only at the county seat. Always, some traffic preferred to
travel the old road.
From the time it was established, Barboursville was a thriving
community. Lawyers, manufactures, builders and innkeepers
located there. From very early times, Merritt's Mill had
been in operation. One of the county's common schools was
reported there in 1832. Later, select schools were taught
by B. H. Thackston, a scholarly man who had graduated from a
Virginia college before coming to this area as a teacher at
Marshall College. In 1837, the Barboursville people were
given permission to hold school in the courthouse.
By 1838, the stocks and whipping post at the jail were in disrepair
and an appropriation was made to have them repaired. The
courthouse and jail were reported in disrepair in 1849 and were
replaced by 1851.
From 1855, until the Civil War, Barboursville was a port of call
for steamboats running on the Guyandotte River. One steamboat
ran on a fixed schedule, carrying both passengers and freight.
At this time, the town had a furniture factory, hat factory,
wagon and buggy factory, some harness shops, a tannery and a
sawmill which specialized in building bottoms for boats.
It also had a Thornburgh Store and a Hatfield Hotel.
IN JANUARY 1863, the four gentlemen justices
comprising the Cabell County Court adopted a resolution
requesting that the court be held at Guyandotte until further
orders, that it might have protection for its meetings.
Gov. Francis H. Pierpoint granted the request, and sessions of
the circuit court convened in Guyandotte until 1865.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, one of the only two covered
bridges in the county was located over Mud River at
Barboursville. It was destroyed during the war.
The town was the scene of two skirmishes. The first took place July
14, 1861, when Confederate forces under Col. Jamison Ferguson,
J. J. Mansfield and A. G. Jenkins were engaged by Kentucky
Federal forces under Col. William E. Woodruff. Four Union
soldiers were killed and 20 wounded, while he Confederate
casualties were one man killed and one wounded.
The second engagement occurred on Sunday, Sept. 8, 1862, between a
detachment of the 2nd West Virginia Volunteer Cavalry under Col.
W. H. Powell and a portion of he 8th Virginia Cavalry under Col.
Jenkins. In this action, one Union soldier was killed and
his comrades retreated.