A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE OUSLEY’S GAP COMMUNITY
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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,