The WVGenWeb Project

Big Sandy District

Taken from History of Charleston and Kanawha County West Virginia and Representative Citizens, W.S. Laidley, Richmond Arnold Publishing Co., Chicago, 1911.
This lies on both sides of Elk River, next to Roane and Clay Counties and includes the territory watered by Big Sandy River, and part by Little Sandy, on the North side of Elk; and on the South side, by Morris Creek, Leather Wood and Falling Rocks Creeks. The district is noted for its coal, oil and especially its natural gas. It has many good farm and good substantial people, plenty of timber, bark and whoop-poles, and it has one town Clendenin, on Elk, at the mouth of Big Sandy, which has saw-mills, a national bank, two bridges and stores, shops and things that a town generally has, and a good place to locate factories, where cheap fuel is desired, and good people are appreciated. They have no saloons, but do have churches and schoolhouses.

Big Sandy is the most eastern of all districts into which Kanawha is divided. Roane county forms its northern boundary, Clay county lies to the east and Elk district to the west. Elk river flows in a southwestern direction and divides it into two nearly equal parts. Falling Rock creek, Leather Wood creek and Morris creek rise in the southern part, have a northwest course, and empty into Elk river. Big Sandy creek drains the southwestern part of Roane county and finds its way in a southwest direction through this district and discharges its waters into Elk, four miles below Queen Shoals.

John Young, the first white settler in the district, located at what is now known as the old "Norman Young plantation," about the year 1790. William Naylor came in 1795 and settled at the mouth of Jordan's creek, seventeen miles above Charleston. When he came he found John Slack living just above the mouth of Mill creek, John Young, as before mentioned nearly opposite Falling Rock creek, Edmund Price nearly opposite the mouth of Blue creek and William Cobb, M.D. - the first physician on Elk river - residing one mile up Big Sandy, not far from the present site of Osborn's Mills. These were the only settlers in this part of the Elks valley in 1795; but soon thereafter John Stricklin, John Hayse, George Osborne, John Snyder, James Hill and Henry Hill found homes on the banks of the Elk river.

Frontier life as it really appeared to these early settlers, was well described by Stephen Naylor - a son of William - who when a boy played amid the wild scenery of this then wild country. Mr. Naylor said: "My first school teacher was John Slack; the second was Robert Mitchell. We had two ways of getting bread - the hominy-block and hand-mill; for a sieve we stretched a piece of deer skin over a hoop and then perforated it by burning holes with an ordinary table fork. After several years my father built a mill on Jordan's creek - the first in the Elk river country - after which we fared better. Our clothing was made from flax and cotton which we raised and manufactured with our own hands. The supply of meat came from the forest; we killed bear, deer and turkeys, and got our salt from salt springs on Kanawha."

Mr. Naylor farther said: "I remember the killing of the last elk killed on Elk river. It was on Two-Mile creek. It seemed to be a stray one that the wolves or hunters had separated from the herd, and driven eastward from the wilderness then lying between the Elk and Ohio rivers. Its tracks had been discovered on the headwaters of Pocatalico river and Big Sandy creek, and several hunters were in pursuit of it. One of the name of Burgess shot at it while it was swimming Elk river, but missed it. Once south of the river it crossed the Elk road at the east end of the Cabell farm where then stood a large walnut tree. Old "Billy" Young saw it from his house and pursued it to Two-Mile creek, where he shot it while standing in a hole of water. He sent my father some of the meat, and kept the horns for many years. There were so large that when standing upon their points a man of ordinary height could walk between them without stooping. This elk was killed in the year 1818, and was the last one ever killed in this part of Virginia."

The first minister who visited this section appears to have been Rev. John Bowers, of the Methodist Church, in the year 1800. The first society organized was that of the M.E. Church at Falling Rock creek in 1837. The meeting was held in a log cabin and the membership at the time of the formation numbered 40; they continued to worship here until 1857, when the place of meeting was removed to Jordan's creek.

The Village of Chilton is situated on the north bank of Elk river at the mouth of Big Sandy creek, twenty-one miles from Charleston. It was laid out in the year 1877 by William E Chilton, the former proprietor of lands on which it stands. Its present population is small.

Back to Kanawha WVGenWeb