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Elk District

Taken from History of Charleston and Kanawha County West Virginia and Representative Citizens, W.S. Laidley, Richmond Arnold Publishing Co., Chicago, 1911.
Elk District lies on both sides of Elk river, between Charleston and Big Sandy districts. It almost encircles Big Sandy district, and extends from Roane, around by Charleston, to Clay county. On the west side of Elk are Little Sandy and its branches and Cooper's creek. On the east side there are Mill, Indian, Pinch and Blue creeks.

It has a railroad from Charleston, on the west side, up to Blue creek, where it crosses Elk and goes up Blue creek. On the east side of Elk, it has a railroad from Charleston, on through the entire district, and county, to Elkins, etc.

It has no town, but has many beautiful fountains and prospects of towns, to be named by the parties developing the same. It was in this district that the Indian fighters captured the boy prisoner, killed the white man that was playing Indian and gave the name "White Man's Fork" of Aaron's Fork of Little Sandy. Everybody claims to have coal, oil and gas, in every hill.

At "Big Chimney" are the remains of a vanquished industry, where stood a salt furnace - on Mill creek, where once made oil from Cannel coal. Now they are pumping it from the rocks, and gas is being wasted in many places.

The surface of the district for the most part is rough, the hills high, and, in most instances rising abruptly from the narrow valleys at their base. Coal exists in abundance, and the Peacock variety, which is found near what is known as the "Big Chimney," is said to be the best in the State.

The first settlers were Michael Newhouse, Martin Hamock and Allen Baxter, all three coming in 1783. Newhouse settled on the west side of Elk river, five miles below Jarrett's ford; Hamock one mile above the mouth of Little Sandy, and one-half mile below Jarrett's ford, and Baxter at Baxter's shoals on Elk, four miles from Charleston. The next settler was John Young, who chose as the site of his future home a spot four miles above Jarrett's ford and sixteen from Charleston. He was a noted scout and Indian fighter, and for many years did he wander, rifle in hand, over the hills and valleys lying between the Alleghenies and the Ohio, and his practiced eye enabled him to usually be among the first to discover the presence of the ruthless foe. Other early settlers were Henry Newhouse, who located near the mouth of the branch which still bears his name, William Porter, who reared his cabin on the north bank of Elk, and Edward Burgess, who built his near what is now known as Moore's dam, three and one-half miles above Charleston.

The first salt ever produced on Elk river was made within the present limits of Elk district by a Frenchman named Jinott, in the year 1817. In more recent years it was produced in considerable quantities, at what is now called the "Big Chimney," nine miles above Charleston.

The first grist mill was built in 1817 by a man of the name of Edmund Price. It has a water-mill, situated on Elk Two-Mile, two and one-half miles from Charleston. John McCollister was drowned in the dam at this mill, in the year 1826; the body was afterwards recovered, and buried at the foot of a large beech tree upon the bank. Nothing, not even a rude stone, now marks the spot to show the passerby the location of the grave. The first saw-mill was erected in 1831 by a man of the name of Joseph Moore; it was located three and one-half miles from Charleston.

When the first school was taught we cannot now learn, but among the pioneer teachers were John Slack, Sr., James S. Riley, Eli Chamberlain, Joseph Blackeny, Andrew Newhouse, Robert Malcome, Mrs. Fannie Thayer, James Eddy and Rev. William Gilbert. Such are the names of those who trained a generation now grown old, and as such they have now gone to meet earth's greatest teacher - He that taught in Jerusalem nineteen centuries ago. But they left an impress upon the age which succeeded them; their work was not in vain, and who can tell what the end shall be?

Among those who nearly a century ago called men to repentance were the Revs. Asa Shin, Jacob Truman, Samuel Brown, John Cord, Samuel Dement, William Picket, Henry S. Bascom, Thomas A Morris, Thomas Lowry, Burwell and Stephen Spurlock, Francis Wilson, Garland A Burgress, Bishop Cavenau, William Martin and Dr. William Gilbert. All have gone to their reward but their work has been like bread cast upon the waters, and to-day there are within the district hundreds of members of the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and other churches.


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