Search billions of records on

The WVGenWeb Project


Taken from History of Charleston and Kanawha County West Virginia and Representative Citizens, W.S. Laidley, Richmond Arnold Publishing Co., Chicago, 1911.

The Bullitt Survey

It seems that in dealing with locality we should begin with Col. Thomas Bullitt, who was the first one to see that its location was a good one. He was born in 1730, in Price William County. In July, 1754, he was a Captain with Washington at the Great Meadows, (but not making hay). In 1756 he was at Winchester, on May 1st, and on Jackson's river in July and in November back at the Fort Cumberland, and in 1758 he was a captain in Major Andrew Lewis's command, and when they captured Fort du Quesne, he was called the "bold and ardent bullitt." In 1759 he was at Winchester, guarding ammunition provisions and wagons with a very few men, when he was attacked, defeated and lost heavily.

In 1760 he was made a surveyor and assigned to work on the Ohio. In 1773 he was on the Kanawha and there were with him others going to Kentucky: to wit: James Douglas, James Harrod, John Fitzpatrick, James Sandusky, Isaac Hite, Abraham Haptonstack, Abram Senour and John Cowan, and this year he made surveys for Frankfort and Louisville. He made a survey on Kanawha of 1,030 acres above Elk mouth and 1,240 acres below the mouth of Elk. He also owned a square of land of 2,618 acres opposite St. Albans. His will was probated in Faquier in 1778, and the patent for the 1,030 was given to Cuthbert Bullitt in 1779, and Cuthbert's will was recorded in Prince William in 1781, and he gave the 1,240 to his four daughters. The 1,030 acres Cuthbert conveyed by deed dated Dec. 28, 1787 to George Clendenin, a copy of which is found in 10 W.Va. Reports 404.

In the patent it says the survey was made in May, 1775 and the grant in 1779; and while on the subject of title, we might add, that Clendenin conveyed to Joseph Ruffner and he to his sons, and much of it is yet in the Ruffner family.

There were with Geo. Clendenin, also his father Charles, and his brother William, Robert, Alexander Clendenin and also Josiah Harriman. Chas. McClung, John Edwards, Lewis Tackett, John Young, James Hale and others continued to come.

It was in 1788 that George Clendenin began to construct the fort on the 1,030 acres and it was the 1,030 acres covered with elms, sycamore, beech and such like trees that had to be removed, and some of them to build the fort, to be thick enough to stop a bullet and there was no saw mill.

Growth of Charleston

Charleston is said to have begun to grow May 1, 1788. It was located on the east bank of the Kanawha river, immediately above the mouth of the Elk river, which empties into the Kanawha. There has always been a little irregularity as to the points of the compass at this point. We speak of North Charleston and if you proceed in the same direction across Elk, there is called West Charleston, or the West End, and if you go across the Kanawha, they call it South Charleston; so that, in fact, the compass seems to have nothing to do with the naming of names. Charleston was started before the county was organized, that is the town began to grow, while the county was made Oct. 5, 1789.

It is said that there were seven houses made in 1790, and probably this is all that were then needed. The fort could hold all that came, but the houses were more comfortable.

Charleston is in the line of 38-1/2 degrees north latitude which is the same as San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington D.C. yet we are a little south of the center of the state. There is no prospective rival in any other city, unless it is Kanawha City and that will be absorbed or Kanawha City will absorb Charleston, and they will make one good large city. So far as town room is concerned, we are surrounded by an "embarassment of riches." All of Kanawha City on the south, all creation on the north and west, so that there is no lack of room.

The growth in population of Charleston has been as follows:

From 1778 to 1790..... 35
From 1790 to 1800..... 60
From 1805 to 1810..... 100
From 1810 to 1820..... 500
From 1820 to 1830..... 750
From 1830 to 1840..... 1,200
From 1840 to 1850..... 1,500
From 1850 to 1860..... 1,800
From 1860 to 1870..... 4,000
From 1870 to 1880..... 4,500
From 1880 to 1890..... 8,000
From 1890 to 1900..... 11,099
From 1900 to 1910..... 23,000

There were two streets laid off, running up from Elk, to where Capitol street now is, and there were cross streets on the lots between. This map was made by the surveyor of Greenbrier county, a Mr. Welch. There were subsequently another map found in William Clendenin's possession with the streets somewhat extended, but practically the same. The houses at first located were about as this, to wit:

One on the upper corner of Kanawha and Truslow; one on the upper corner of Kanawha and Court; one between Alderson and Summers on Kanawha; one at N.W. corner of Kanawha and Summers; one at N.W. corner of Kanawha and Capitol; one at N.E. corner of Kanawha and Hale.

In 1789 when the county was organized there were seven houses. In 1798 there were about twelve, from 1803 to 1810, about twenty. The town had no name specially. It was called "The Town at the Mouth of Elk," and was sometimes known as "Clendenin's Settlement" or his Fort. The pound, shilling and pence, English money, was used in Kanawha until the dollar and cents were used in 1799. But there was no sufficient money in Virginia to answer the purpose of trade and business, and tobacco was made a legal tender and thus used. The assessor's books show the use of English money for some years after the county was organized and the calculation is not now easy, nor was the payment of taxes with tobacco, nor with money.

General Lewis Ruffner was the first white child born in Charleston and he was born October 1, 1797. Joseph Ruffner came from the valley of Virginia and started from his farm with a view of investing in iron lands in the Alleghanies. He met Col. John Dickinson and learned of the great salt springs at the mouth of Campbell's Creek on the Kanawha and also learned that said salt was on Col. Dickinson's 502 acres, and Ruffner purchased the same in the year 1793. He then went on and when he saw the Clendenin 1,030-acre tract, with the county and town started, he purchased that also. This was the beginning of the Kanawha Ruffners, and there has never been any end.

Charleston was established by Act of Assembly Dec. 19, 1794. "It was enacted that forty acres of land, the property of George Clendenin, at the mouth of Elk River, in the County of Kanawha, the same as laid off into lots and streets, shall be established as a town by the name of "Charles Town," and Reuben Slaughter, Andrew Donnally, Sr., William Clendenin, John Morris, Sr., Leonard Morris, Geo. Alderson, Abram Baker, John Young and William Morris, gentlemen, are appointed trustees."

Says John P. Hale: "On the 19th of December, 1794, the legislature of Virginia formally established the town, and fixed its name as "Charlestown." It is a curious fact that, although the legislature had officially established the county, in 1789, as 'Kanhawa,' and now the town, in 1794, as 'Charlestown,' both names by common consent, became changed - one to 'Kanawha' and the other to 'Charleston.' How, why or when, nobody knows. Some years ago there was much trouble and annoyance about our mail matter, growing out of the confusion of the post-office names of our Charleston, and Charlestown, Jefferson county. With a view to remedy this, a public meeting was called here to discuss the propriety of changing the name of our town from 'Charleston' to 'Kanawha City.' It was warmly discussed, but defeated, mainly on the sentimental ground that it would be sacrilege to abolish the name of the dear old pioneer who had shed his blood and risked his life here, "in an early day," among the Indians; had founded the town, given it his own name, and built a fort to protect and defend his neighbors as well as himself, etc. Sentiment prevailed, and the name remained unchanged; but the writer took some paines to look up the early history of the settling and naming of the town. It was soon discovered that the founder's name was George, not Charles.

This somewhat staggered the sentimentalists, but they recovered, saying that George was a very modest gentleman, and, instead of taking it himself, he had conceded the honor of the name to his brother, whose name was Charles; and they clinched this by quoting Howe, who, in his History of Virginia, so states; and other historians all follow Howe. But a further investigation of the family records show that George had no brother Charles; then it was conjectured that the name was probably in honor of his son Charles, but a still further investigation of the family genealogies proved that he had no son. After much search of records, and tracing of traditions among the old timers, the writer has but recently arrived at the facts of this case through Mr. C.C. Miller, of Mason county, a descendant of the Clendenins. He says the town was named by George Clendenin, the found, in honor of his father, whose name was Charles. He was an elderly gentleman, who came here with his sons, died in the Clendenin block house, and was buried near the upper end of the garden.

Charleston in 1794

There was a court, a court house, a jail and other like conveniences and accomodations for civilized man, there was a fort, stockade, and block-house for the benefit of Indians and other uncivilized men. There was plenty of water and wood, a very little salt, no coal (visible), and in the upper end of the country there were farms with everything thereon that a farm ought to have, there were fishes in the river, and bear in the woods with other animals which hunters like to find; and this year we hear the good news that in the wars between the white and red soldiers the Indians are glad to make peace and that the heretofore eternal, skulking, scalping Indian will bother the people no more.

We must not omit the case of the "White Man's Fork." About 1780 some Indians made their way into Greenbrier and there were among others killed, John Pryor, Hugh McIver, Henry Baker and the Bridges brothers, one of their wives, and some other women, and some of the children taken prisoners.

A short time thereafter, William Griffith, and his family were killed and one lad, his son, that was made a prisoner by them. There were two came down the river with the boy and they made their way up Elk river, when it was discovered and made known. There was John Young, Ben Morris, William Arbuckle and Robert Aaron, who took their guns and followed up some creek, out to the west of Elk - some unknown and unnamed stream, they came up to the camp of the Indians, they fired on them and killed one and the other made his escape, and young Griffith was secured and taken back with the white men. The man that was killed, although disguised as an Indian was a white man - a dead one, too. This creek was ever known as the "White Man's Fork" and it was the fork of Aaron Fork of Little Sandy. Long live the names of the men that killed that scoundrel white man that was willing to take unto himself the nature of an Indian.

Just one more, about Thomas Teays, who was captured by Indians in 1782. It was proposed to take him to Sandusky to be burned with William Crawford, but there was one Indian in the meeting that recognized Teays, to whom Teays had shown some favor, and his influence in Teay's behalf secured his release. Just one lone Indian, who had manifested some gratitude. We would not take one grain of good from any one - glad to credit one Indian with a spark of mercy to one who had showed it to him. We would like to record another, but we can but recall the two girls of Henry Morris, who went out to drive in the cows and both were killed; which deed so roused in Henry Morris eternal hatred to all Indians that he never again let one live; he treated them as the man did in the show, when he saw the snakes. "He always killed them whenever he saw 'em."

Charleston's 'First of Things'

"They were such men, take them for all in all, We shall not look upon their like again."

This is what Dr. Hale said of the people of Charleston and Kanawha county, when he wrote his 'Trans-Allegheny Pioneers.'

I refer to his book for the following statements:

The first pottery factory for milk crocks, whiskey jugs, etc., was by Stephen Shepperd, about 1818.

Mr. Gabriel Garrau was the first to carry on the hatters trade; he began about 1816 and we should guess he also was the last, but was not. James Truslow was the first tailor, about 1815. The first shoemaker was George Mitchell, about 1815. The first cart and wagon makers were among the salt furnaces. There were no mosquitoes, nor mosquito bars until 1840. Volney visited Charleston in 1776 and by Audubon, in 1812. Albert Gallatin and DeWitt Clinton located lands in this county "in early days." "Old Greasy" was the name given to the Kanawha river, on account of the oil, petroleum, seem on the surface of the river.

Charleston and Cincinnati were settled in the same year, 1788, the former in May and the latter in December.

Near Kanawha & Goshorn streets there was an ancient cemetery of some primitive race. This was exposed by the caving in of the river bank. The first wholesale grocery was by Ruby and Hale in 1872. The first wholesale dry good house was by Jelenko Bros. in 1874. The first wholesale hardward house was by W. F & J. H. Goshorn, in 1875. The first wholesale liquor house was by S. Strauss & Co. in 1876. The first wholesale shoe house was by Jelenko and Loeb, in 1877. The first hearse and dray was by Noah Colley soon after 1830, previous to this, transportation was by oxen, and pack-horses. The first public school building was erected in 1870 on State Street. The first wharf-boar was established by H.W. Goodwin in 1865. The first machine barrel factory was started by Morgan and Hale in 1872. The first foundry and machine shops erected in 1871. The first woolen-mill by Rand and Minsker, in 1866. The temporary capitol was erected in 1871, the permanent capitol in 1885. The first steam brick machine was introduced in 1870. The first natural gas well in town, was bored in 1815 by Capt. Jas. Wilson and the first in America, as far as heard from. The Charleston Extension Co. bought the Cox farm, and sold it in lots in 1862. J.B. Walker purchased the land below Elk in 1871 and laid it off in lots. The Glen Elk Co. purchased and sold, up Elk in 1881 on the west side of Elk. The Brooks property, on which was the Clendenin block-house, was sold in lots in 1859. The first dry-docks were established by J.J. Thaxton & Co. in 1873 at the mouth of Elk. The first Opera House was built in 1873, and called the "Cotton Opera House." The first mayor of Charleston was Jacob Goshorn in 1861. The first ice factory was by Lieut. Staunton, erected in 1885. The water-works, by Col. E.L. Davenport was begun in 1885. Ward's patent tube boiler was established by Chas. Ward in 1883. The Kanawha Military School was established by Major Thomas Snyder in 1880. The U.S. Post Office building was completed in 1884. The Ohio Central Railroad was completed in 1884. In 1875 Judge Lynch held his first court here, and Estep, Dawson and Hines on December 24th, at night, (by about 300 men), were taken to Campbell's Creek and hung. Kanawha river improvement was begun by the United States in 1873. Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad opened for travel in 1873. The Hale House was opened in January, 1872 and destroyed by fire in 1885. In May, 1871, Charleston was lighted by gas. Spring Hill Cemetery was established in 1871. The first steam ferry was established in 1871. The streets of the city were given new names and recorded in 1871. The highest water known in the Kanawha river, was in 1861, and the next highest in 1878. The most violent hurricane was in 1844; its mark was left from central Kentucky to central Pennsylvania. Cholera visited Charleston in 1832 and again in 1849. High water was around the Court House in 1822. The Elk Log Boom was constructed in 1869 by Huling Brokerhoff & Co. The Keystone Bridge was built in 1873, destroyed by ice gorges in 1879, and rebuilt in 1882. The Suspension Bridge across Elk was built in 1852. Ferries across Kanawha were established in 1820. The first ferry was by Geo. Clendenin in 1794, across Elk and Kanawha river; John and Langston Ward in 1809 lived on the South Side and ran a ferry, from Ferry Branch to mouth Elk, on either side. The Bank of Virginia established a branch in 1832. The first Brass Band was established in 1858 by Prof. Carl Fine. The first newspaper was in 1819. The first Post Office was April 1801, the first post master was Edward Graham. The next was Francis A. Du Bois, Jan. 1, 1803, then William Whittaker, Oct. 1, 1808 and was for years managed by James A. Lewis. The official name of the postoffice was 'Kanawha Court House' until Sept. 30, 1879. The first blacksmith was John Greenlee, and Jack Neal, the second. The first school teachers were H.P. Gaines, next Levi Welch, then Jacob Rand, followed by James A. Lewis, Lewis Ruffner and Ezra Walker. Mercer Academy was built in 1818. The first Drug Store was by Dr. Rogers, father of Dr. J.H. Rogers in 1825. The first Undertaker was S.A. Skees in 1869. The first tan-yard was by William Blaine, below Elk "in early days." The first fruit trees were brought by Fleming Cobb. Anne Bailey brought the first pair of geese from Lewisburg. The first watch and clock-maker was in 1808, Thomas Mathews, Sr. He said the first settlers were all healthy, peaceable, moral and happy, until the doctors, lawyers and preachers came; then they began to get sick, to quarrel and law, and developed all sorts of meanness. The mail came from Lewisburg every two weeks, until 1810 on horse-back. The price of whiskey and peach brandy, per gallon $2.00 in 1820. The first resident physician was Dr. Eoff, in 1811, then Dr. W.W. Thompson and Dr. Spicer Patrick, came in 1816. The first taversn were the Boston tavern and the Griffith tavern both on Kanawha street. Dr. Henry Ruffner was the first Presbyterian preacher in 1816. Rev. Asa Skinn was the first regular Methodist preacher for the circuit. The Bibby Flooring Mill was operated by Joseph Bibby in 1837. The first Saw Mills were on Two-Mile of Elk between 1815-1820.

It is claimed that John Welch was a hatter and his shop was a log house, on the corner of Kanawha and Truslow street.

That Buster's Tavern was on the upper corner of Kanawha and Court. The proprietor's name was Thos. Buster and his house was the most noted house between Richmond and the Ohio river; and now it appears that Ellis Brown kept a hatter shop where Dr. Roger's Drug Store has been so long. And John Hart also was a hatter.

Griffith's Tavern was where Frankenberger's store now is.

Norris Whitteker was born where Dr. Hale's residence was, and Mr. Atkinson says, he was the first white child born in Charleston, although the date of Genl. Lewis Ruffner came earlier than Whitteker by four years. Dr. Patrick took down the log house and erected a brick, which is owned by the Kanawha Presbyterian church, known as the "Manse." The Central House was burned in 1874, just below Alderson street on the Kanawha Street. Charleston was incorporated December 19, 1794, named for the brother of George Clendenin, says Mr. Alderson, while Hale says he had no such brother. Maps of Charleston are of record in the County Clerk's office, in the Circuit Court Clerk's office in land cases records and in the West Virginia Historical Magazine.

Legislation Relative to Charleston, Kanawha

Act of Dec. 19, 1794, established the town of Charleston at the mouth of Elk, on the Kanawha, on forty acres of land, the property of George Clendenin, and appointed the following trustees, viz: Reuben Slaughter, Andrew Donnally, Sr., William Clendenin, John Morris, Leonard Morris, George Alderson, Abraham Baker, John Young and William Morris.

Act of Jan. 29, 1805, appointed John Reynolds, William C Williams, Joseph Ruffner, Andrew Donnally, Jr., David Ruffner, gentlemen, trustees of the town of Charleston, in the county of Kanawha in the room of those formerly appointed and in the case of death or resignation, the remaining ones were authorized to supply the vacancy.

Act of Jan. 19, 1818, incorporating the town of Charleston - "Be it enacted," etc., "that the town of Charleston, in the county of Kanawha, including the same as laid out, including the shores and bank between Front street and Kanawha river, is hereby erected into a town corporate, to be known by the name of Charleston" and provision was made to elect by ballot its president, recorder and trustees, etc.

Act of Jan. 21, 1821 - "Be it enacted," etc., "that the land adjoining the town of Charleston in the following bounds, *** beginning at upper corner of said town on the river bank at low water mark then 40 poles to a stake," *** "andSamuel Shrewbury, Charles Morris, Philip R. Thompson, Jesse Hudson and Andrew Parks, gentlemen, are appointed to lay out and make the survey and plats and deliver one to the commissioners and the other to be recorded," etc.

Act of Feb. 4, 1825, amended Act of Jan. 19, 1818, giving to the president, recorder and trustees power to assess and collect taxes on the property in said town, and extending the limits, etc., beginning at the upper back corner of the town lot of Philip G. Todd; then by cross street toward the hills 25 poles; then by line parallel with back street to Elk river, to be laid off into lots, etc.

Act of Feb. 19, 1833 - Be it enacted, etc., that James C. McFarland, Samuel Chilton, John P. Turner, Aaron Whittaker, Spicer Patrick, George Goshorn, James Y. Quarrier and Henry Rogers are appointed commissioners to raise by lottery money not exceeding $10,000 to be applied to paving the streets in the town of Charleston in Kanawha county. This in an act for improving the ways of the people of the town, by way of chance, as a lottery is a game of chance, and this act makes it legal to improve said ways.

Act of March 5, 1846, to extend the limits of the town of Charleston which is to include Lovell's Addition, and the brick house of James Downard, Thomas Whittaker, W.R. Cox, etc.

Act of Feb. 15, 1849, amending act incorporating the town of Charleston, etc.

As the town grew the limits were changed, and as there would be no end to such acts, we have concluded that for the purpose of history the above are sufficient.

West Virginia Decisions Relating to Charleston

16 West Virginia, 282 - Gillison, Trustee, vs. Charleston. Surface water.
17 West Virginia, 628 - Fisher vs. Charleston. Mandamus.
27 West Virginia, 681 - City vs. Reed. Fire Ordinance.
41 West Virginia, 658 - Ch. & S. Bridge Co. vs. Kan. Co. Erro. Acct. of Bridge.
43 West Virginia, 62 - Blair vs. Charleston. Change of grade.
45 West Virginia, 44 - Charleston vs. Beller. City non-liability for costs.
46 West Virginia, 88 - Arthur vs. Charleston. Streets - negligence.
57 West Virginia, 433 - Shaw vs. Charleston. Prison damages.
62 West Virginia, 654 - Cavender vs. Charleston. Liability for bridges.
62 West Virginia, 665 - Fellows vs. Charleston. Ordinance Injunction. Hagar vs. City Injunction. Street assets or assessments.

Charleston in 1838-40

Author, Dr. Caruthers
Builders, John Mays, Norris Whittaker, John True John, Thos. R. Fife
Butcher, John G.M. Spriggle
Blacksmith, John Hill, John Hall
Boatman, James Mays
Bakers, Justin White, John and Charles Allen
Bank Officers, J.C. McFarland, Samuel Hanna, John M. Doddridge
Brick Makers, Norris S. Whittaker
Brick Mason, Andrew Cunningham
Cabinet Maker, James G. Taylor
Crockery Maker, Stephen Taylor
County and Circuit Clerk, Alex. W. Quarrier, Wm. Hatcher, Dpy.
Coal-haulers, Dock and Gabe
Constable, William Hutt
Carpenters, Charles Neal, Silas Cobb, John Wilson, John Truejohn, Thos. R. Fife, John Starke, Thomas C. Thomas
Drayman, Noah Colley
Editor, Mason Campbell
Ferryman, Charles Brown, Geo. Goshorn, Lewis D. Wilson
Farmers, Bradford Noyes, W.R. Cox, Charles Brown
Hatter, Gabriel Garrou
Hotel-keeper, H.B. Sanders, Geo. Goshorn, John Mays, Aaron Whittaker, Capt. Jas. Wilson, L.D. Wilson
Jailors, W.A. Kelly, William Hatcher
Lawyers, M. Dunbar, G.W. Summers, B.H. Smith, J.M. Laidley, C.D. Doddridge, J.L. Carr, Jas. Hedrick, Joseph Lovell
Merchants, Joseph Caldwell, Crockett Ingles, Thomas Whitteker, Gilbert Adams, Mason Campbell, Joseph Friend, W.T. Rand, James A. Lewis, Franklin Noyes, Joel Shrewsbury, Jr., J.F. Foure, N.B. Coleman
Miller, Joseph Bibby
Magistrate, William Gillison
Preachers, John Snyder, Jas. M. Brown, James Craik
Physicians, Spicer Patrick, Thompson C. Watkins, Harry Rogers, Dr. Caruthers, Noah Cushman
Post-masters, James A Lewis
Salt-makers, Crockett Ingles, Joseph Friend, Isaac Noyes, F. Brooks, W.T. Rand, J.H. Fry, Franklin Noyes, W.R. Cox, Joel Shrewsbury, Jr., T.F. Foure, Joseph Lovell, N.B. Coleman
Salt Inspector, Franklin Reynolds
Saw-mill-man, Thomas Whitteker
Silver Smith and Watchmaker, Wm. Honeyman
Supt. River Improvement, Ezra Walker
Sheriff, Jas. H Fry, Deputy, Jas. Y. Quarrier
Shoemaker, Andrew Beach
School Teachers, Mrs. Alethia Brigham, W. J. Rand, Jacob Rand
Toll Collector on River, W. Whitteker, Sr.
Tailors, Garrett Kelly, John A Truslow, James Truslow
Saddle and Harness Maker, W.W. Kelly
Steamboat Captains, Snelling C. Farley, N. B. Coleman
Stage-runner, H.B. Saunders
Widows, Mrs. S. Cook, Mrs. Chilton, Mrs. Todd, Mrs. Snyder
Washer-women, Judy Grinnam, Nancy Gibson

List of Mayors of the City of Charleston, West Virginia (from 1861)

1. Jacob Goshorn
2. John A. Truslow
3. John Williams
4. George Ritter
5. J.W. Wingfield
6. H. Clay Dickinson
7. John P. Hale
8. C.P. Snyder
9. John D. White
10. John C. Ruby
11. C. J. Botkin
12. R. R. Delaney
13. John D. Baines
14. J.H. Huling
15. Joseph L. Fry
16. J.B. Pemberton
17. E.W. Staunton
18. J.A. deGruyter
19. W. Herman Smith
20. John B. Floyd
21. George S. Morgan
22. C.E. Rudesill
23. John A. Jarrett
24. James A. Holley

Court House of Kanawha

There has always been more or less mystery concerning the location of the lot in Charleston for the court house of the county. In so far as is deemed sufficient, we give the proceedings of the court in relation thereto; we imagine that there was never any deed made or there would never have been any mystery about it.

On the first day of the County Court of said County of Kanawha, which was the 5th day of October, 1789, after the said Court had been organized, amongst many other things we find the following:

"October 5th, 1789 - Ordered, that the public buildings for said county be erected on the lands of George Clendenin, and until so erected, to hold the said Court at the mansion House of the said George Clendenin.

"May 2nd, 1790 - Ordered, that George Alderson do recover back his lot which the Court had purchased and George agrees to return his one hundred dollars.

"Aug. 2nd, 1796 - Ordered that George Alderson be allowed $100.00 for his lot, for erecting balance of the building on for the County. Ed Graham and John Reynolds are appointed commissioners to let the contract for the Court House.

The bond by Goodrich Slaughter for completing the house of Charles Donnally for the Court House, be given up to him as the contract has been cancelled.

"Aug. 7, 1797 - Wm. Morris, Joseph Ruffner, and John Reynolds do report a plan of prison.

"George Alderson, Sheriff, protests against the sufficiency of the present jail.

"Nov. 7, 1797, George Alderson protests against the sufficiency of the jail.

"April 18, 1798 - On settlement with William Clendenin, late sheriff, there is a balance in favor of the county for nineteen pounds, three shillings and three pence, less the sum of three pounds, seven shillings and six pence paid Goodrich Slaughter for building the Court House.

"June 16, 1798, George Alderson came into Court and acknowledged a sale of one acre lot, to the magistrates and their successors; it being the lot on which the Court House now stands and a conveyance is to be made at next Court, and a credit to be given George Alderson for one hundred dollars, the purchase money on his account with the Court.

An allowance made for one lot, $100.00. Ordered that George Alderson do appear next September Court, to adjust his account with the Court respecting the County and Parish levies for the year 1797.

Charleston as the State Capital

For the following account of the removal of the capital from Charleston to Wheeling, and the subsequent action of the people, our readers are indebted to Hon. Charles Hedrick, at that time secretary of state, by appointment of Governor Jacob, who knows whereof he speaks, as the citizens of Kanawha county do not need to be told. Says Mr. Hedrick: "I was appointed Secretary of State by Governor John J. Jacob, March 4, 1873, and the appointment was confirmed by the senate. This was while the State capital was at Charleston, whither it had been removed from Wheeling in 1870, and where the law declared it should be located permanently. But by another act of the legislature, passed February 20, 1875, to take effect ninety days thereafter, it was directed to be again removed to Wheeling, until otherwise provided by law. An injunction was sued out by some of the citizens of Charleston, restraining the removal of the records, papers, and property pertaining to the capital. The Governor and other executive officers started on the day appointed by law, May 20th, but took no records or other public property with them.

"The suit was carried to the Supreme Court of the State, and after very able legal arguments on both sides, the injunction was dissolved, whereupon the archives, property, etc., of the State were removed to Wheeling, and an old building called Lindley's Institute, was occupied as the capitol. This is the same building formerly used by the State government as the capitol before the removal from Wheeling to Charleston under an act passed February 20, 1869, which took effect April 1, 1870.

"It remained as the capitol until a new one, built by the city of Wheeling, was completed in 1876.

"The people of West Virginia never intended that Wheeling should remain the permanent seat of government, so the legislature passed an act February 21, 1877, authorizing the submission of the question of the permanent location of the capital to a vote of the people, the vote to be cast for Clarksburg in Harrison county, Martinsburg in Berkeley county, and Charleston in Kanawha county, and for no other place. After an earnest and excited canvas Charleston was chosen by a large majority.

"The act provided that the place receiving the largest number of votes should be the permanent seat of government of the State, from and after the first day of May, 1885. And, further, that it should never again to removed except by a vote of a majority of the qualified voters of the State, cast at an election held for the purpose of pursuance of an act of the legislature, the adoption of a new constitution, or an amendment of the present one. That the act should be deemed to be a contract between the State and the persons who might donate real estate or money, or both, as provided by the act; that the seat of government should not be removed except as therein provided; and that the circuit court of the county in which it should be located, should have jurisdiction and power upon a bill filed by any such donor (or his heirs,etc.), or any one or more of the taxpayers of the county, to perpetually enjoin the removal if attempted in any other way thatn the act provided.

"A fine and commodious building is now being erected by the State, on the site of the former capitol, which was donated to the State by certain citizens of Charleston and accepted by the State. It will be a handsome building, and finished by the time the seat of government is to be removed. Thus it is shrewdly suggested that the location at Charleston will be doubly permanent."

In his own behalf Mr. Hedrick adds: "I was violently opposed to the removal of the capital from Charleston. It was my home. Nor would I have gone with the other officers, but would have resigned, had not Governor Jacob, who had kindly given me the office when it was desirable, urged me to remain with him. So, like my somewhat remote ancestors, Adam and Eve, when they were removed from first seat of government of which we have any account, 'with wandering steps and slow,' I took my weary way to Wheeling, remaining in the office during Governor Jacob's gubernatorial term."

Chamber of Commerce

Some apt turner of phrases has denominated the Chamber of Commerce a "city's power house." The Charleston Chamber of Commerce has been no exception to this characterization during the last five years of its existence and it justifies the appellation today. Originally incorporated a little more than ten years ago as a close corporation of the city's leading business men, smacking more of a club than of the commercial organization as it is understood and developed today, this policy was changed six years ago when Charleston entered upon an era of industrial growth and the idea has been broadened and strengthened ever since.

The Charleston Chamber of Commerce was incorporatd as a stock corporation in 1901, application for charter being made October 26, 1900, and the following citizens signed the original charter: Charles Capito, Charles Loeb, Kanawha Valley Bank, E.A. Barnes, Jack Carr, C.C. Lewis, Jr., C.K. Payne, P.H. Noyes, Geo. F. Coyle, Ben Baer, I. Schwabe, Lewis Loewenstein, H.P. Cannon, W.B. Donnally, W.F. Goshorn, Philip Frankenberger, N.S. Burlew, F.J. Daniels, Frank Woodman, Kanawha National Bank and W.S. Lewis.

The purposes of the Chamber were indicated as follows: "For the purposes of collection and preservation of statistical information connected with the commercial and manufacturing interests of Charleston; promoting just and equitable principles in trade; establishing uniformity in the commercial usages of the said city; settling differences speedily and without litigation and promoting the general progress and prosperity of the community." The corporation was originally empowered to hold, lease, sell and convey real property to the value of $2,500 and this provision was later amended to cover $100,000 of real and $25,000 of personal property. The first officers of the Chamber were as follows: Charles Capito, president; Charles K. Payne, vice-president; Charles Loeb, secretary; J.L. Dickinson, treasurer, and W.S. Lewis, F.M. Staunton, R.G. Hubbard, E.A. Barnes and Philip Frankenberger, with the officers as directors. President Capito, Secretary Loeb, Treasurer Dickinson and Directors Staunton, Hubbard and Barnes held their offices for more than ten years or until the reorganization of the Chamber on June 1, 1911, with the employment of S.P. Puffer as a salaried secretary to succeed Mr. Loeb and the creation of an Industrial and Traffic department with R.P. De Van as secretary and manager.

The early work of the Chamber of Commerce was marked by the closest interest of the body in civic affairs, especially in co-operation with the city poltiical and administrative bodies in the adjustment of taxation and the development of improvements, more particularly those relating to sewage and street paving. Some factories were located, the first being the National Veneer Company, and much attention was paid to the development of the city's transporation facilities, and water, gas, electric and insurance rates with marked beneficent results.

In 1903 the preparatory work leading to the campaign for the location of industries was begun with the visit of Charles Capito and D.C. Boyce to the Indiana oil and gas fields where investigations were made with the later lead to the acquisition of the Kelly Axe Manufacturing Co., the largest concern of its kind in the world. The acquisition of this plant stimulated interest in the work of the Chamber, largely increased its membership and influence and lead to the later development of South Charleston as an industrial suburb where several important industries were located in the years 1904, 1905, and 1906.

In August, 1903, the Chamber secured its present permanent quarters in the Kanawha Banking & Trust Co. building. In 1910 there was much activity on the part of the Chamber in the discussion of a public market project, in the investigation of proposed industries and in the preparation of a water works franchise.

With the reorganization of the Chamber in June, 1911, and the employment of salaried secretaries, the Chamber entered upon a new era. Its affairs have been put upon a business basis and regular office hours are maintained. The work of the newly organized industrial and traffic bureau has been recognized as productive of results. A membership campaign, pending at the time of the publication of this book, bids fair to increase the membership of the Chamber to satisfactory proportions and to cover all elements and interests of the city while several important industries are now seeking location in Charleston and may be secured before this publication leaves the presses.

The Chamber of Commerce owns a lot on Quarrier street where some day it may erect a permanent office a building and home.

The Water and Electric Light Plant

The Kanawha Water & Light Company supplies water and electric light to the city of Charleston. It is a corporation chartered under the laws of the state of West Virginia.

These utilities have during their existence been under many different ownerships, and the evolution of them is somewhat interesting. During these times of rapid progress in business we are led to overlook the many inconveniences we have heretofore labored under. Up to the early eighties the city of Charleston had no waterworks system, either for domestic purposes or fire protection. The city depended upon their water supply by securing it from the Kanawha river, or wells. Parties at that time being in the business of delivering water in barrels. In November, 1884, the city granted one E.R. Davenport a franchise for the erection of a waterworks system, and soon after the granting of the franchise, work progressed on erecting of the plant. The corporate limits of the city at that time being very limited - close to what is now the center of town, only eight miles of small size pipe, eight and ten inches being the largest size which was to be laid, and only a few fire hydrants were ordered installed. The contract with the city at that time was that the water company install pumping machinery capable of pumping one million gallons of water in twenty-four hours. The plant was installed on Slack street and the water supply taken from Elk river. At a later date a small reservoir of about 800,000 gallons capacity was erected. Col. Davenport interested Judge J.H. Brown, C.C. Lewis and Col. W.H. Hogeman, who began to prepare for the organization of the company. Col. Hogeman's death destroyed the enterprise insofar as the organization was concerned and Col. Davenport had his franchise, and a limited time in which to construct the works, but without money or a company.

He failed for some time to interest any parties when he satisfied W.D. Laidley that his plan was a feasible one, and by certain negociations, a quantity of pipe was ordered and when it came, was placed in the ground.

After a while the National Tube Works came on, by its officers, to see about the pipe that had been sent, and they found no company, no money, with the pipe under ground, and Davenport satisfied them that the enterprise was an excellent one and all they had to do was to put it through; and it looked that this was the only thing to do, and they did it.

They were required to throw water over the top of the flagstaff on the capitol and it was done, and they continued to do all that was required of them. Mr. Frank Woodman and others became interested after the Tube Works men got the waterworks built. To Col. Davenport is the town indebted for the waterworks.

In its earlier history many Charleston people were interested in its management, among whom were Mr. Frank Woodman, Mr. J.A. DeGruyter, Mr. James Brown, Mr. E.W. Knight, Mr. W.S. Laidley.

In 1871 an artificial gas plant was started by Charles Ward, and in 1880 it was reorganized by E.B. Knight and others. The Kanawha Electric Company was organized in 1887 by Philip Frankenberger and O.H. Michaelson for the purpose of supplying electric light.

In 1891 the Charleston Gas and Electric Company was organized and merged with it, the Artificial Gas Plant and the Kanawha Electric Company. The gas plant being operated on Virginia street between Truslow and Goshorn streets, and the electric light plant on Alderson street between Virginia and Kanawha streets. This company had at that time some dynamos which were modern in those days. Officers of the company were Frank Woodman, president; W.S. Laidley, secretary; J.A. DeGruyter, treasurer, and J.A. Hatcher, superintendent; O.H. Michaelson, manager.

In 1902 the Kanawha Water & Light Company was organized by the different parties named, and merged with it the Charleston Water Works, the Artificial Gas Plant, and the Charleston Gas & Electric Company, and the necessary electrical equipment was installed with the water plant, after which the Alderson street electric plant was shut down. Then the local owners continued the management for a time, after which the company was sold to Wheeling capitalists headed by Mr. Howard and associates, who operated the property until March 1, 1906; at which time the property was sold to the present owners.

Up to this date the capacity, and efficiency of these properties were taxed by reason of the fact that Charleston had experienced an extensive growth, both as to population and territory, and as the machinery and equipment through its years of constant usage were not able to cope with the situation, lines which were at one time large enough to deliver the necessary water to the small territory were found to be too small. Pumps at the plant were becoming obsolete, and not capable of furnishing the required volume and pressure.

The following are claims of the present company: The present owners, while being in possession of the property but a short time, began in 1907 to install and equip a modern and up-to-date water and electric light plant. Two (2) new Allis-Chalmers high duty pumps were installed with a capacity of ten million gallons of water in twenty-four hours. A modern mechanical filter plant was installed with a daily capacity of eight million gallons of filtered water. Instead of depending on ten-inch line from the pump house to the center of thecity, there was installed a new 20-inch line. In the power plant all the old electrical equipment was disbanded, and modern machinery installed. New steam lines were installed, in fact everything installed is practically in duplicate for the purpose of furnishing a continuity of service. The new equipment represents an expenditure of over $400,000. The installing of the new electrical equipment has enabled the company to furnish first-class service both for lighting and power.

The officers of the company are: President, W.O. Johnson, Chicago, Ill; Secretary, Walter M. Johnson, Chicago, Ill; Treasurer, W.C. Davisson, Charleston, W.Va.

The Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. The head office of his company is located in Atlanta, Georgia. The company operates in seven states, this territory being divided into six divisions. Operations in Charleston, W.Va. were begun in 1888 or 1889, at which time the company has in all less than one hundred telephones. The long distance lines of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., with which the Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. connects, were brought into Charleston in October, 1897. Following the general development in Charleston, the telephone system also grew, and by 1901, 700 telephones belonged to the Charleston exchange besides fifty miles of toll lines from Charleston.

In 1901 Mr. Williams, who is now commercial and traffic superintendent of the Charleston Division of the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Co. began his duties as manager of the Charleston Exchange and has been promoted successively until he has reached his present position. Under Mr. Williams the Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. has increased from 700 to 3,550 telephones in the city of Charleston and 1,000 miles of toll lines into Charleston and connections with long distances lines of American Telephone & Telegraph Co., with which the Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. coming into Charleston connects and controls. The Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. has been under the present management since 1901. There are twenty-five exchanges in the Charleston Division giving regular employment to 265 people in this one division and at times many more in the extension of lines and improvements. The physical condition of the lines is good which adds materially to the business. Of these employees, consisting of the office force and those engaged in outside work, about 100 are in Charleston. Mr. Williams was the first and only commercial traffic superintendent of the Charleston Division since the creation of the same. Charleston is not only the district but division headquarters. Charleston is supplied with the most up-to-date equipment in use anywhere in the country. The first home of the Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. was in what is now the barber shop of the Ruffner Hotel, sharing the office with the Western Union Telegraph Company and the city ticket office of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad until 1896. In 1896 the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company moved into the building where the Western Union Telegraph Company is now located, both occupying the same building. The Southern Bell & Telegraph Company was on the floor above the Western Union Telegraph Co. In 1906 and 1907 the Southern Bell Telegraph & Telephone Company erected its splendid office building at 210 Hale St. and moved into it in 1907.

The local officers are Mr. Williams, first superintendent division offices at Charleston; C.M. Boren, district and commercial manager; W.G. Rauch, division plant superintendent; D.J. Collins, district plant chief; J.S. Kirk, district traffic chief.

The Charleston House Telephone Company began business in Charleston in 1895 and in 1901 rebuilt and installed a new plant. This concern was absorbed by the Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company during the summer of 1911 (Aug. 27, 1911). The Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company has four large buildings in Atlanta, Georgia.

City Cemetery

The deed to the first cemetery tract of land made to the town of Charleston was for one acre on the road above the city and was made by Daniel Ruffner in 1831. Just what disposition was made of the dead previous to that time we are not advised. There was another graveyard on said road nearer the town, but it was not conveyed to the town but belonged to Lewis D. Wilson.

About 1859 a company was formed - the Kanawha Cemetery Company - which purchased about 20 acres on the hill just back of the town and a good road was built up to it, just at the beginning of the Civil War, being finished in 1860 or 1861. This road was made by Henry Chappell, but there were but one or two burials made when from the United States hospitals and the ranks of the Federal Army in the valley a few soldiers were buried in the new cemetery, called "Spring Hill Cemetery," which name was given because of the spring at the foot of the hill on which the cemetery is located. This tract contained some twenty acres and since this purchase by this company, it was bought by the city, and other lots or parcels of land have been added to the cemetery. One, for instance, by purchase from E.A. Bennett of thirteen acres, and others of similar dimensions - all of which will be found of record in the office of the clerk of the County Court of Kanawha county.

We refer to deed book H, page 3, for deed from Daniel Ruffner to the town, to deed book No. 37, page 270, where information will be found in reference to the original purchase by the company. See also the exchange of deeds with Richard Walls p. 272 and also exchange of deeds with Hebrew E. Society in 99. p. 532 and in deed book No. 47 p. 26 and 28.

In the vicinity of the original tract were lands laid off into lots by G.L. Jeffries, some of which have been purchased. A map thereof is found in map book No. 1, page 72 and lots 5, 11, 14 and 15 were conveyed by Mr. Bennett in 47 p. 26 and by others since.

There was purchased a tract adjoining that held by the city in the rear, where the Roman Catholic Church buried its dead. The Hebrews have a lot adjoining the City Cemetery, which they use.

A company has erected a cement building near the city cemetery called a "mausoleum," where persons are entombed above ground.

Spring Hill Cemetery has been laid off into lots and roads and has been kept in fairly good condition, and there have been erected therein many monuments, some imposing, some beautiful, some handsome, and all good.

Charleston City Officials in 1911

While there are a large number of council men, the business of the city is done by the Board of Affairs, and this board is made of four persons, two Democrats and two Republicans, and one of the four becomes the Mayor for a certain time, which is what is called a nonpartisan arrangement, and is a late thing in municipal government. For the year 1911, the officials were:

Mayor - James A Holley
Recorder - J. Shirley Ross
City Sergeant - Chas. I. Hubbard
Treasurer - J.F. Bedell
City Solicitor - Upshur Higginbotham
Auditor - H.L. Flournoy
City Engineer - William A. Hogue
Police Judge - A.D. McCorkle
Chief of Police - A.T. Guill
Chief of Fire Dept. - C.C. Rand
Lock-up Keeper - M.P. Spradling
Health Commissioner - O.L. Aultz
Street Commissioner - William F. Kain
Building Inspector - James H. Cain

Board of Affairs

J.A. Holley, J.B. White, H.B. Buster, and L.L. Price. During the year there was an election - White and Buster retired and J.F. Bedell and O.A. Petty were electd and Bedell became Mayor. Upshur Higginbotham, solicitor, died in September.

Charleston, Kanawha C.H., W.Va., population in 1900, 11,099; population in 1910, 23,000. From Charleston it is 63 miles to Wheeling; 23 miles to the head of navigation.

Charleston is on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, the Kanawha & Michigan Railroad, the Coal & Coke Railroad, and the Kanawha and West Virginia Railroad, and the Virginia Railroad comes to the Kanawha river at deep water, and has its trains come to Charleston on the C. & O. tracks.

The Coal River Railroad makes connection with the Chesapeake & Ohio at St. Albans.

Back to Charleston District