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Doors to the Past

Ousley's Gap

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE OUSLEY’S GAP COMMUNITY

by

 George S. Swann

2000

Most people today only know McComas Road takes you from Barboursville to Salt Rock. They do not realize that they are passing through three extinct little villages along the way. All the old history of Ousley’s Gap, Inez, and Roach has pretty much disappeared. 135 years ago they would pass by the tiny town of Ousley's Gap, West Virginia. Before going into further detail of Ousley's Gap and it's surroundings, it would be good to go back in time and explore the early families and occupations of this area. My family has lived in Cabell County since it was formed. Up until the last 30 years, most of the people you find living in this area of Cabell County descended from these pioneer families.
  Captain Andrew Supplee Hatfield, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, was born in Montgomery Co. Pennsylvania July 25, 1737. He made his way across Virginia, finally settling in Giles Co. after the War. Captain Hatfield bought 578 acres in Kanawha Co. from David McComas on a deed dated Sept. 15, 1802. The Land was located along the Guyan river and included what today is known as Roach & Hinchman Bend. Andrew moved to this area with his wife Christina, and four of their eight sons, in 1804. (Remember that this area was part of Kanawha Co. until 1804. Mason Co. was formed in 1804, and Cabell was formed in 1809). Andrew died Jan. 15, 1813 at Roach. He is buried by Roach Road in what is known today as the Frye Cemetery. However, due to the stones being removed many years ago, his grave is unmarked. Several years ago the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) placed a military marker for him in the Hatfield Cemetery at Inez.
  Ransom Dial was born in Antrim Parrish, Halifax Co. Virginia, on Dec. 28, 1774. After moving to Stokes Co. North Carolina in 1801, he came here. His name is on the 1806 tax list for Kanawha Co. By 1810, he was living in the Roach area of Cabell Co. where he married Nancy McComas that same year. Ransom Dial was a veteran of the War of 1812. His children would marry into the McComas, Swann, and Hatfield families. Ransom Dial died April 2, 1857. He and Nancy are buried in what is today called the Farley Cemetery at Roach.
  Leven C. Swann was born in Charles Co. Maryland in 1764. He married Elizabeth Jenkins Jan. 6, 1791, in Amherst Co. VA. The moved to Kanawha Co. between 1800 - 1805, and on to Cabell by 1810. Leven was a blacksmith, as was three of his sons. An interview with a grandson from about 1913 stated that Leven had made some of the first tools used for boring salt in Kanawha Co. No other documentation has ever been found to prove this true or false. Leven Swann died Jan. 10, 1842 at age 77. He is buried in the Swann Cemetery, which is located a few hundred yards down the hill from the Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church.
  John Tyler Morrison was born in Pittsylvania Co. VA. on Oct. 25, 1785. He married Nancy Thompson before going on to serve in the War of 1812. They came to the area about the same time as the Swanns. They lived around Roach for many years. John died on Nov. 21, 1867. He and Nancy are buried in the Swann Cemetery.
  Not a lot is known about David Woosley. He came to Cabell Co. before 1815. David purchased 50 acres of land on a hilltop from Thomas & Hannah Hatfield in 1816. On May 12, 1825 Woosley sold his land to Hezekiah Swann for $100 and moved west. David Woosley must have been a fine man. He was the first man to live in the hilltop area near Roach. He only lived there about ten years. Yet today, 175 years later, this area is still known as Ousley's Gap. No one knows why David Woosley's name and the town Ousley's Gap name are spelled slightly different and probably never will.
  Adam Hatfield, son of Andrew Hatfield, came this way in 1804 with his parents & three of his brothers (one of which, Thomas, was mentioned above). Adam was born Oct. 19, 1774 in Fincastle Co. VA. He married Mary Williams (German) and had a large family. Nearly all the Hatfields in this area of Cabell County descend from Adam's family. Two of his children, George and Catherine, married into Leven Swann's family. Another son, Henry, married Katherine Dial, daughter of Ransom. Incidentally, Ransom Dial's son Elisha married Adam's granddaughter Mary F. Hatfield. Adam Hatfield lived on what is today remembered as the King farm at Inez. He was a farmer, and also carried on  the work of tapping maple trees in what used to be  known as the "Sugar Forest" near Inez. Adam died on June 18, 1855. He and Mary are buried in the Hatfield Cemetery at Inez.
  Josiah Swann was born Oct. 5, 1795 in Amherst Co. VA. He married Edith Maab in 1819. She was a daughter of Phillip Mayab, about whom very little is known. The Maab name is spelled at least three different ways within the family. Josiah & Edith moved with the Mayab family to Clay Co. Missouri about 1820. Their first son Calvary Morris Swann was born May 15, 1820. No one is certain if he was born here or in Missouri. The story passed through the family is that Josiah had three more children (two boys and a girl) in MO. Edith died about 1827. Josiah found the children homes and boarded a boat to return to Cabell County. Calvary, the oldest, sneaked onto the boat and hid until it was too far away from shore to return, then emerged and found his father.  Josiah & Calvary made their way back to Ousley’s Gap, where Josiah remarried and raised a large family. Josiah married Rachel Morrison, a daughter of John T. Morrison, in 1830. Calvary went on to marry Rachel’s sister Emily in 1841. Josiah Swann was a blacksmith and craftsman. He made blanket chests, buckets, barrels, wheels & rims for wagons, cow bells, spinning wheels, and numerous other items which he offered for sale. Cow bells, rocking chairs, spinning wheels, and blanket chests are still owned by members of the Swann and Hinchman families today, handed down from one generation to the next. Josiah died July 16, 1871 at Ousley’s Gap. He is buried in the Swann Cemetery. Tradition is that both of his wives are buried in the rock marked graves to the left of his. However, I do not know how they got his first wife back here from Missouri for burial.
  William Hinchman, Jr.  was born Dec. 23, 1800 at Wolf Creek, Montgomery Co. Virginia (today Monroe Co. WV). His parents, William and Mary Hinchman, were on the 1815 tax list for Cabell County. They actually lived in a part of the county that was cut away to form Logan Co. in 1824. William Jr. was married three times. Each wife was named Elizabeth. He had three children by his first wife, and seven by his second wife. William’s second wife was Elizabeth Hatfield, a daughter of Adam. William Jr. lived in what is today known as Hinchman Bend along the Guyan river at Roach. He was serving as a Cabell County magistrate when the Civil War broke out in 1861. William went to Guyandotte and voted against Virginia’s secession from the Union. He was captured by the Confederates at the Battle of Guyandotte in 1861, and imprisoned. He died in Libby Prison on Oct. 2, 1862. His body was supposedly brought back to Roach and buried in the old Hinchman Cemetery (now known as the Frye Cemetery) along Roach Road.
  While farmer and blacksmith were the most common occupations during this time, there were some preachers as well. Leven Swann’s son Benjamin Franklin was both preacher and blacksmith. He was licensed to preach by Mud River Baptist Church in 1821. He left the church in 1827, with no record of him ever preaching there. He moved to Sangamon Co. Illinois and lived for almost 10 years. He was back in Cabell County before 1840. Benjamin and his family were members of the Greenbottom Baptist Church from 1842 until 1859. Church records show that his license to preach was “recalled” in 1851 at Greenbottom. His preaching was deemed “unprofitable”. Benjamin lived in Mason County for a while. He died July 2, 1870 at age 68, while living with his brother Hezekiah at Roach.
  Thomas Rezin Swann was born in Amherst Co. VA. in 1776. He came here with his brother Leven. He married Isabelle Kelley and settled on Smith Creek. He was a blacksmith, but was also licensed to preach by Mud River in 1821. There is no record of him ever preaching there. Thomas died July 28, 1855. He is buried in the Swann Family Cemetery located in the Asbury Woods Methodist Church Camp, which is on Rt. 10, just over the hill from Roach.
  What town, or what family was not effected by the “War Between The States”. The issues of state’s rights and slavery created a deep division in the United States. It divided towns, states, families, political parties, and even churches. When war broke out in 1861, area men signed up on both sides. William Bramlett left teaching to join the Confederacy. The Hatfield and Hinchman families generally supported the Union. The Swann family, who had never been slave owners, mainly supported the Confederacy. Most families in the area had members who had fought for both sides. The War Between the States ended in April 1865. But the division created before and during the war would last well into the 20th century.
  William D. Algeo was born April 25, 1829 in Breckenrich Co. KY. He was an abolitionist and veteran of the Mexican War. He joined the newly formed Republican party in 1856, because of it's stand against slavery. He married Amazetta Swann in 1858 and began teaching at the Gap. When the war broke he joined the Union army. He also moved his family to Lawrence Co. Ohio for a few years. After the war he resumed teaching. He was superintendent of schools in Cabell County for many years. He lived several years in a cabin that stood near Swann Cemetery. About 1874 he moved up the hill to a cabin near the school. William also ran a Post Office and general store out of his home until his death. He is buried in the Algeo Family Cemetery located on the hilltop across from the present day church. With the Swann Cemetery located nearby, people may wonder why William Algeo chose to be buried on the hilltop. A likely answer is the Algeos supported the North while the Swanns supported the South. Maybe he thought it was better this way.
  Before the War, Dangerfield Bryant taught school in Woosley’s old cabin at the Gap. He was an early teacher of this area. Later in life he ended up at the Cabell County Poor Farm on Tyler Creek, and died there. Mrs. Daniel (Emily) Swann remembered going to a Mr. Jones in 1855. Another early teacher was William Bramlett, son-in-law of Rev. Thomas Swann. A veteran of the Confederacy, he taught at both Dusenberry Dam (Martha) and Ousley's Gap. He lived over on Merritt's Creek and is buried in the Swann Cemetery at Asbury Woods. 
  Moses Hatfield, youngest son of Adam Hatfield, sold about an acre of land to the Cabell Co. Board of Education in 1866. He was also a member of the Board at that time. This piece of land was used for the Ousley’s Gap School. Moses Hatfield built the school out of hewn logs later that year. In the early 1880’s Calvary Lunsford built a new school to replace the old log structure built at the end of the war. It was enlarged around 1900. William Algeo, Emma Swann, Charlie Paine, Edgar Swann, Missy Peyton, Henry Lambert, and Frank Burdette, among others, taught here in the years prior to 1900. Edgar Swann, F. B. Lambert, and Myrtle Swann were among the later teachers. School was taught here until well into the 1950’s. The building was left to decay and finally fell to the ground in the 1970’s.
  Unfortunately, Ousley's Gap acquired the derogatory nickname of “Nigger Hill” after the Civil War, which stuck for about the next 125 years. There are several stories handed down about how happened. Several are variations of a story about a black man (probably a freed slave) who lived around the Gap. He either stole from someone, or attacked a white woman (depending on which story you go by). I’ve been told he was hung in a barn up from the church, that he was caught hiding out near the Guyan river in a huge hollowed out tree and killed, that he was caught and hung at the schoolhouse. With no known newspaper accounts, I do not know if anyone will ever know for sure. What I do know is that there is a lone rock-marked grave in a corner of the Swann cemetery, and I was always told by relatives that it was the grave of “an unknown colored man”. The only written information I have seen as to the origin of this nickname concern my great-great-grandfather Calvary Morris Swann. (These can be found in the F.B. Lambert Collection at Marshall University.) For several years after the War ended, tensions still ran high among the people. I guess it was common for  supporters of the Confederacy to be discriminated against in various ways. In the 1868 election, Calvary went to the Ousley’s Gap schoolhouse to vote. Being a Democrat, he was not allowed. It is said he called the place “Nigger Hill” and left.
  The Ousley’s Gap Post Office was began operating in 1866. It was ran out of the home of William Algeo. Mail was delivered on horseback from Barboursville to Logan. James Shelton is the only mail carrier whose name is known. Mail was delivered weekly. But the Post Office was not to stay at the Gap. William Algeo died on April 17, 1888, and the Post Office was closed out soon after. The schoolhouse operated through the 1950’s. The old building sat empty and finally fell to the ground about 1975.
  All that remains of Ousley’s Gap today is the Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church. Built in 1874 as Mt. Pisgah Methodist Episcopal Church North, the church recently celebrated 125 years. It's roots go back at least to 1866, when Union veterans of the Civil War formed a small congregation and began having services in the newly built Ousley’s Gap School. Worship services had been held at homes in the area for several years prior to the Civil War.
  About a mile down the road James Hatfield had opened a general store near the Hatfield Cemetery. Postal authorities approached him about putting a Post Office in his store. James agreed, but a name was needed. He saw his little girl running around the store, and decided on her middle name, Inez. The C&O Railroad came through in 1900, laying a double track from Barboursville to Logan. The train would stop at Inez Station to exchange passengers and pick up mail. Then it would go another mile or so to Ferguson’s Store at Roach and do the same. The Inez Post Office lasted several years. But with Post Offices at Martha and Roach, Inez soon fell by the wayside. The train station at Inez operated well into the 1950’s. With less and less train travel through the area, C&O finally took up one of the tracks in the early 1970’s.
  In the years following the War Between the States, the descendants of our pioneer families were building families of their own. Adam Hinchman bought several hundred acres of the John Morris estate between the Gap and Roach, in 1868. Half brothers Calvary and Beverly Swann bought 285 acres of the Morris estate in 1869. Their portion was located down the hill from the church and included the Swann Cemetery. Calvary & Emily (Morrison) Swann had lived near Tom’s Creek in Sharp’s Hollow. He built a log cabin down the road from the cemetery in 1869. James A. Wine lived up the hill from the school in a house that would later belong to William Algeo. John T. Thompson, son of William & Martha (Morrison) Thompson, lived on out the Gap toward the Guyan river. Elisha & Mary (Hatfield) Dial lived down toward Roach. Elisha died in 1870, leaving two children, Amelia and Benjamin.
  Calvary M. Swann, son of Josiah and Edith (Maab) Swann, died Dec. 27, 1870. The 285 acre farm was split. His widow was to be cared for by the oldest living sons, Benjamin and John Tyler. They received 135 acres jointly, most of which was sold to Benjamin L. Dial in 1901. Beverly R. Swann, son of Josiah & Rachel (Morrison) Swann, retained the other 150 acres. Beverly married Emily Hatfield in 1872 and had three children. Edgar Allen (1872-1937) married Lizzie Hinchman. William Cullen (1874-1897) died a few days after being drug down Tom’s Creek by a team of runaway horses. Effie May (1875-1882) died after she fell out of an apple tree and broke her back. Beverly was a book salesman and merchant. He died in 1877, and like Calvary, was buried in the Swann Cemetery. In 1879 Emily married Daniel Webster Swann, Calvary’s son. They lived in the same cabin that Calvary had built. “The Homeplace” as it became known, stood for 131 years. It was dismantled and removed, due to deterioration and termite damage, in May 2000. Only 9 1/2 acres of the original farm remain in the Swann family today.
  Benjamin L. Dial (1865-1940) was married twice and had a large family. His first wife, America Morrison, died in 1900 leaving four small children. Ben married Lucy Gue in 1902 and moved to the land he had purchased from the Swann brothers. They had seven children. Two of these, Adam “Judd” and Beulah, would play important roles in the development of Mt. Pisgah Church.
  Moses Hatfield (1822-1895) was an important figure around the Gap and Inez. He was a member of the Board of Education, sold the land to the county for the school, built the school in 1866, and helped to organize the church. He died of typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated well on his farm. Two of his sons, James G. and Albert, were prominent in the church also.
  James G. Hatfield (1857-1919) was a farmer, storekeeper, member of the Cabell County Court, and later a road contractor. His store housed the Inez Post Office. After the railroad came through in 1900, Inez Station began to grow while Ousley’s Gap faded away. The little girl for whom the Post Office was named, Mary Inez “Mayme” Hatfield, married Robert Swann and raised a large family. They lived in William Algeo’s old home near the school. Rob’s brother Henry married Maude Hash, granddaughter of Joseph Hash, Sr. over on Hash Ridge. They bought the farm stretching over the hill from the church toward Inez. It was a portion of the Moses Hatfield estate. Robert and Henry both worked for the C&O.
  James Hatfield died in 1919 and the general store was moved Roach and operated by his son Albert for many years. Inez did survive as a railroad stop through the early 1950’s. Daniel Hinchman, a cousin of mine who lives in Richmond, VA. once told me he could remember coming in on the train with his parents to Inez for visits. His dad Cyril worked for the C&O and that made the fares cheap. After Grandpa retired, he received a card each year allowing him & Grandma to ride free on the trains. I’ve heard some of my older cousins tell that a lot of Saturdays he & Grandma would board the train at Inez and ride down to Hinton, in Summers County, for the day.
  A lot has changed in the last 80 years. Alfred Hinchman ran a general store at Tom’s Creek. The Hatfields ran Inez Station. Albert Hatfield ran a store at Roach. All are gone now. The Post Offices of Roach, Martha, and Inez are all gone. But for those of you who grew up “out in the country” or remember boarding the train at Inez, the memories are as real as ever.


Sources:
  History of Ousley’s Gap- 1926  (unpublished) by Miss Myrtle Swann.
  Personal Collection of George S. Swann.
  Various writings from the F.B. Lambert Collection- Marshall University, Htgn., W.V.

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