When Andrew Lewis, early American pioneer, soldier, surveyor, and soldier from Virginia, came to survey one of the land grants for the Greenbrier Company in 1751 he found Jacob Marlin and Stephen Sewell living where Marlinton is found today. They had come from Frederick Maryland in 1749 and are considered the first settlers west of the Alleghenies. They built their original cabin where Marlin Run met Knapp’s Creek but Lewis found Sewell living in a large hollow sycamore tree near the cabin in what is now the area between Eighth and Ninth Avenues between Eighth and Ninth Streets.
The move Westward by settlers was not met well by the Indians as this was one of their many favored hunting areas. A treaty of 1758 confirmed the land west of the Allegheny Mountains to the Indians and forbidding any of his Majesty’s subjects to settle or hunt.
As the white settlers encroached onto the Indian land, there were many raids and massacres reported. After the Revolution, the Indian squabbles quieted and the settlers’ land claims were secured in an orderly manner.
In June of 1863 West Virginia became the 35th state of the Union. Although part of Virginia at the time, the two areas differed culturally and pioneering individuals traditionally settled the western portion, while a slave holding aristocratic society developed in the eastern portion. When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861 the residents of the western counties, few of whom owned slaves, decided to stay with the Union. For West Virginia it truly was a Civil War.
The railroads came late to Pocahontas County as building rails over the mountains was not only a tedious but an expensive job. It was not until 1899 that construction began but after that, the task moved with startling speed. The 1900 census of the county indicate many Europeans came to the region to build the railroads.
Commercial timbering quickly began upon completion of the railroads. By the end of 1920 dozens of small railroading towns dotted the landscape including Denmar, Warntown, Watoga, Campbelltown, Deer Creek, Boyer, Nottingham, Thornwood, and Winterburn all on the C & O Line.
Pocahontas County, like so many rural regions in the country, has its own distinct and novel history. Land is rich, forests are thick, and waters are abundant and clean. People from here are no different than anywhere else – proud of their past and who work to insure their children have a successful and peaceful future.
Photos courtesy the Pocahontas County Historical Society.