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Littleton

 

Communities of Wetzel County

 

The town of Littleton was named for a family by the name of Little who settled there in pioneer days and who are buried in the hills of Wetzel County.

The end of the Mason-Dixon line is about a mile northeast of Littleton. The town is built on the banks of Big Fish Creek and on the north and south hills which form the valley.

The main branch of the B&O Railroad winds its way through the valley. The rail transportation did more than any thing else to encourage the settlement. Many of the crew on the railroad construction were immigrants from Ireland. During the years 1896 to 1906, there was a great "oil boom" and the population grew rapidly. The town was the depot for supplies for the oil fields. Pipelines to carry the oil and gas had to be laid, so pipelining furnished much work.

Our Lady of Assumption church was built in 1870 by Father Edward Delahunt. It is said the first money-making project for the church was a square dance.

About the year 1892, it was decided that the village should be incorporated. The meeting was held outdoors near Martin Tunnel by the watering tubs, where locomotives stopped to fill their water tanks. Because of the location, it became known as "the Tub Convention". Lindsey Ferguson was nominated and elected Mayor. Charles Sturms and Daniel Gump agreed to act as councilmen. James Robinson, Frank Ashcraft, Thomas Pendergast, John Earnest and Albert Connelly completed the Council.

Ab Connelly opened up a stone quarry north of town which employed at least twenty men.

According to the 1900 census, the population of Littleton was 1,000. At this time, the town had four hotels, each of which had a saloon, an Exchange Bank, a flour mill and numerous other businesses.

On February 9, 1906, fire almost completely leveled the town. The fire began in A. M. Grow 's store in the middle of town. The fire spread in both directions. Stores, banks, a mill, schoolhouse, the B&O Station and many dwellings were destroyed. In time the rebuilding began, even before the year was over. Brick buildings replaced wooden structures in the business section. Littleton got a new school building. Students from Hundred and Burton came by train each day.

Some leading establishments were: Bernard Farrell's Drug Store; Jessie Loudenslager's Barber Shop, John Pettit's Grocery and later Pettit and Cullinan; Berger's General Store; Harry Winer's Clothing; James Robinson's General Store; Antill's Undertaking Parlor; and Mollie Prendergast's Millinery Shop.

There was also a stogie factory, a glove factory, a gasoline plant and Chaney's flour and feed mill.

Some professional people were: Dr. Bob Reger, Physician and Surgeon; Dr. Lemley, Physician; Dr. King, Dentist; Dr. George W. Anderson, Physician; and J. C. Hupp, Clay District Superintendent and teacher in Littleton School.

By 1907 the population was 725. The stone quarry was sold to American Stone Company in 1916 and in 1920, closed down. The declining population forced the closure of the Exchange Bank and many other businesses. During the 1930's and 1940's, the Bank of Littleton closed and the students in grades seven through twelve were removed from Littleton Public School and consolidated with Hundred High School.

By 1950 the B&O stopped passenger service in the area and in 1960, freight service was discontinued. Few businesses remained in town. The population in the 1960 census was 324. During this time many local men found employment at the chemical plants in the New Martinsville vicinity.

Some time ago Consolidated Coal and Gas Company purchased land near Littleton on which they plan to build a power and coal conversion plant.

Littleton, once a dying community, promises to be alive in the coming years.

Submitted by Mrs.R. L. Evans, Mrs. Mary Long and Russell Kimble

Source: History of Wetzel County, West Virginia 1983