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Barboursville Establisted

Barboursville Established By Virginia Assembly
   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 settlers.
   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 them.

   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.

DORIS C. MILLER
For  The Herald-Dispatch, 1976

From the collection of Dr. & Mrs. John Maxwell Bobbitt.
Submitted by Mary Bobbitt Richardson, 24 Aug 2007.
Typed for the Cabell County WVGenWeb by Candie Freeman.


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