| When Thomas and Jonathan Buffington came to lot 42 in the spring of
1796, they cleared land, put in a crop and probably erected a
cabin before Thomas returned to Hampshire county for his family.
Perhaps they had a few neighbors by that time. It is said
that Jonathan built his house on the east side of the
Guyandotte, while Thomas chose a site on the west side for his
SETTLEMENT increased rapidly after 1796.
In 1802, Kanawha County Court appointed William Huff as
constable for the neighborhood at the mouth of the Guyandotte.
In the same year, William Merritt, John Russell and Thomas
Buffington were chosen to view a road leading from Merritt's
Mill to Van Bibber Ferry on the upper side of the Guyandotte
River, and Jeremiah Ward was named overseer of the road from Big
Sandy to John Morris' home on Mud River.
In creating the county of Cabell, the Virginia Assembly in 1809
named a commission of five men from communities outside the new
county to select a location for its county seat. The
commission reported on May 9, 1809, fixing "the mouth of
Guyandotte, on the upper side, in the middle of a field occupied
by William Holderby" as the site.
No settlement at this location was mentioned either in this report
or in court records of the time. There must have been a
few houses, including a trading post where goods for shipment on
the river could be stored and a hotel or "ordinary," where
travelers on the road from Kentucky to Charleston, open since
about 1800, were accommodated.
IN 1810, the Virginia General Assembly passed an
act establishing a town by he name of Guyandotte, to be located
on 20 acres of land owned by Thomas Buffington. Names as
trustees were Noah Scales, Henry Brown, Richard Crump, Thomas
Kilgore, Edmund Morris and Elisha McComas.
Three years later, the General Assembly authorized the sale of town
lots, which were probably sold at auction. Thomas
Buffington signed the deeds and collected the money. One
of the purchasers was James Gallaher from Gallipolis, who
immediately floated his house down to Guyandotte, set it on his
lot and went into business. He held interests in a store,
a tannery, a shoe and saddle shop, a saw and grist mill, a
distillery and a carding mill during the next 16 years.
With increasing traffic on the river and road, the rise of the timber
industry on the Guyandotte River and growing business in general
stores and factories, the town prospered. Tradition tells
that the William Holderby who occupied the field where the
courthouse was located also kept the Holderby Hotel, which was
well patronized by travelers and timbermen.
A TRAVELING French artist paused on the bank of
the Ohio opposite Guyandotte in 1823 to sketch the town.
His sketch, which hangs in the Huntington Galleries, shows at
least a score of buildings, including several businesses or
manufacturing enterprises. Flatboats, steamboats and a
ferry appear to be moving on the river.
The Cabell County Court convened in Guyandotte for the first time
on Oct. 8, 1810, though an order shows that the contractor's
work on the courthouse was not accepted until August of 1812.
From the beginning, there had been disputes about the courthouse
location. In 1814, Barboursville was designated as the
county seat and it remained there until confusion arising from
the Civil War caused it to be returned on March 27, 1863, to
Guyandotte, where it continued until 1865, then was moved again
In 1830, the Guyandotte Turnpike Company built a road on the north
side of the Guyandotte River to Barboursville. Thereafter,
the stage line used this road instead of the old pike.
WITH STEAMBOATS and stagecoaches making daily
stops, discharging passengers from all directions for transfer,
Guyandotte continued expanding. By 1835, the village
contained 40 dwellings, five store houses, a steam grist and
sawmill and carding machine, one saddler, two cabinet makers,
several other artisans, a primary school and a house of public
worship free to all denominations, in addition to its
Incorporated in 1848, the Guyandotte Bridge Company completed a
suspension bridge over the Guyandotte River in 1852. A
navigation company chartered in 1849 built locks and dams in the
The town was incorporated in 1849 and its corporation limits were
enlarged twice during the 1850's. Beautiful homes being
erected by this time gave the town a dignified and prosperous
Other enterprises being planned, including a bank and a railroad,
did not materialize, die to the onset of the Civil War.
PEOPLE WEST of the mountains were predominantly
Union in their sympathies, but Guyandotte and its vicinity were
chiefly Southern. Savage Grant settlers came principally
from Eastern Virginia and family loyalties changed slowly in
To show the town's Southern sentiments, citizens of
Guyandotte erected a flagpole on the banks of the Ohio River in
November of 1860 and hoisted a Confederate flag thereon. A
company was organized on Dec. 10 to protect the flag, which was
kept flying until April 10, 1861. n this date, A. G.
Jenkins spoke to the company, which disbanded and followed him
to his home. Later that day, at the Old Greenbottom
Church, the men from Guyandotte met with others from Mason
County and organized the Border Rangers with Jenkins as captain.
In the following month, this company was sworn into the
A Federal recruiting office with Col. K. V.
Whaley in charge was opened in Guyandotte in September of 1861
to protect the town from rebel invasion. On a peaceful
Sunday night, Nov. 10, 1861, when it was believed no enemy force
was within 80 miles, some 800 Confederates under Jenkins and
Col. John Clarkson suddenly raided the town.
APPROXIMATELY half of Col. Whaley's 180 men were
captured; to these were added a dozen civilians known to be
Union sympathizers. The next morning the entire group was
started of at a run for the Confederate prison in Richmond.
Later in the day, Col. J. L. Ziegler arrived
from Ceredo with his 5th West Virginia Volunteers. A
number of civilians know to be Southern sympathizers were
captured and dispatched by boat for the Federal prison at Camp
Chase. Then torches were applied to the town, and all its
principal buildings, including the Buffington mill, the hotels
and a number of residences were destroyed.
A proud town lay in ashes from which it never
rose to full height again. The innocent suffered along
with those who had taken part in the civil strife.