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New Martinsville

 

Communities of Wetzel County

The village of "Martinsville" was incorporated on March 28, 1838 but that was not the beginning.

According to old diaries and minute books kept by explorers, trappers and surveyors, the French discovered the Allegheny River and descended it and the Ohio as far as the Falls of the Ohio in 1669. In 1749, the French made another expedition into our area to bury leaden plates marking their claim. The first English exploration was made by Christopher Gist who surveyed and mapped the area in 1752. The George Washington Land Company supposedly slept in the Steelton area on September 12, 1770. Lewis Wetzel, Levi Morgan, Matthew Kerr and Joseph Dorsey were here in the early 1770's too.

Traditionally Edward Dulin was the first white settler on the site of New Martinsville. A survey dated 1785 states his settlement was made in 1773. He owned three tracts of land totaling 1400 acres. Dulin was not permitted to enjoy his settlement for long. A band of Indians killed him but spared Mrs. Dulin and their daughter, Sarah. They were rescued by Edmund Martin and taken up the river to Captina. He and a group of men returned to bury Dulin. The site of his grave is located near Third and Leap streets in front of the Iams Funeral Home. The daughter, Sarah, sold her father's property to Andrew Beall (400 acres), Joseph and John Witten (400 acres), Robert McEldowney (300 acres), Samuel McEldowney (100 acres), William Springer (100 acres) and Presley Martin (100 acres). The Beall acreage was conveyed to Obediah Jennings and then to Presley Neville Martin in 1823. It was on this tract of land that the original town of New Martinsville was laid out in 1838. The name Dulin has been perpetuated by the name of a small stream emptying into Fishing Creek at New Martinsville but the spelling was changed to Doolin at some point in time.

The original plat of `'Martinsville", "not to exceed 50 acres", contained 72 lots. More lots were sold and additions to the city were made. The first town officials consisted of a Board of Trustees appointed by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia. They were Henry McCabe, Samuel McEldowney, Lewis Williams, John Buchanan and Benjamin F. Martin. It was their duty to plat the town and record it in the office of the Clerk of Tyler County. Water Street, running along the river front, was the principle street. It was 80 feet wide, and between the street and the top of the river bank, there was a grass plot with large trees, a park for the citizens. This area was washed away many years ago by the Ohio River.

Other early settlers were Jeremiah Williams, Abraham Hanes, Friend Cox and Sampson Thistle.

Wetzel County was formed in 1846 and New Martinsville was made the county seat. The "New" was added to the city name when it was learned a town in Virginia was named Martinsville. It had been called New Martinsville for several years but was not officially changed by statute until 1871. In 1871, the municipal authorities of the town were changed from a board of trustees to a mayor, councilmen, recorder and constable. Brooklyn, sometimes called Coxtown, had been incorporated in 1889 and made a part of New Martinsville in 1934.

Some early businesses were: Lentz's Tannery, Koontz Planing Mill, Brooklyn Foundry Brooklyn Brick Works, Oil Well Supply, Burlingame Building, Muhleman and Wharton, furniture and undertakers, Herrick Brothers, Williams, Ankrom, Burrows and Huffman General Stores, Duerr Jewelry, Shiben Brothers, Winers, Gorby Brothers, Workman's Grocery, Widmer Grocery, Wells Hardware, Mrs. Snodgrass and Miss Pemberton Millinery, Oneacre, Leap, Richardson and Hornbrook Drug Stores, City and Sweet Home Bakeries, Leap's and Probst's Livery, Beck's Meats, Potts' Tin Shop, Powers' Plumbing, Kerr's Studios, Mangold and McMunn Harness, Brast, Eakin and Elk Hotels.

The 1980 population of New Martinsville was 7,109. Located in the city are the following: four parks, one library, one college, one high school, one elementary school, one newspaper, one theater, two radio stations and one hospital. We are served by one railroad and one bus line. The New Martinsville Bridge opened in 1961 giving the city access to the State of Ohio. The War Memorial Building is used for meetings, dinners, etc. The Northern Panhandle Mental Health Center maintains an office in the city.

The city is now governed by a mayor and six councilmen. The present city officers are Howard T. Jeffers, Mayor, Michael Francis City Attorney; Faye Smith, City Recorder; and Councilmen Joseph Blake, Jean Fitzsimmons, Jack Starcher' James Taylor, Tom Myslinski and James Fauber. Former mayors are: Robert L. Bruce, Lewis Newman, Harry Zohn, Gilford Frazee, Joe Theiss, and Faye Smith.

The city of New Martinsville has always been plagued by floods. But it seems when the Mighty Ohio River overflows, our city takes on an atmosphere of determination and togetherness and the people have always overcome the flood waters and survived.

Submitted by: Carol Hassig, Book Chairman

Source: Wetzel County West Virginia History 1983

Gloria Swanson arrives in New Martinsville
New Martinsville Flood 1936