Pendleton County History
Pendleton County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly adopted on December 4, 1787, and effective as of May 1, 1788, from parts of Augusta, Harding and Rockingham counties (Virginia). It was named in honor of Edmund Pendleton (1721-1803). He was born in Caroline County, Virginia on September 9, 1721. After studying the law, he was admitted to the bar in 1744. In 1751, he was appointed a justice of the peace for Caroline County and, from 1752 to 1774, served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. He served as President of the Virginia Convention of 1774 and represented Virginia in the Continental Congress of 1774-1775. In 1776, he returned to the now renamed Virginia House of Delegates and was elected its first speaker. Later that year, he joined George Wythe and Thomas Jefferson in a three-year effort to rewrite Virginia's legal code. In March 1777, he fell from his horse and severely injured his hip, forcing him to use crutches for the rest of his life. His disability did not prevent him from continuing his public service. After resting over the winter, he returned to his speaker's duties that spring and continued to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates until 1788 when he was appointed to the newly-created Virginia High Court of Chancery. In 1788, he also served as President of the Virginia Convention of 1788 which ratified the U.S. Constitution. He also received an appointment to the federal court system that year, but he declined the offer. In 1789, he was named President of the now renamed Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. He served in the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals until his death in Richmond, Virginia, on October 23, 1803.
The First Settlers
The first native settlers in West Virginia's Potomac Highlands (Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker counties) were the Mound Builders, also known as the Adena people. Remnants of the Mound Builder's civilization have been found throughout West Virginia, with many artifacts found in the Northern Panhandle, especially in Marshall County.
A more thorough presentation of the first native settlers in West Virginia can be read on-line here. The following is a brief overview of that history:
• Several thousand Hurons occupied present-day West Virginia during the late 1500s and early 1600s.
• During the 1600s, the Iroquois Confederacy (then consisting of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida, and Seneca tribes) drove the Hurons from the state and used it primarily as a hunting ground.
• During the early 1700s, the Shawnee, Mingo, Delaware, and other Indian tribes also used present-day West Virginia as a hunting ground. West Virginia's Potomac Highlands was inhabited by the Tuscarora. They eventually migrated northward to New York and, in 1712, became the sixth nation to formally be admitted to the Iroquois Confederacy. The Cherokee Nation claimed southern West Virginia.
• In 1744, Virginia officials purchased the Iroquois title of ownership to West Virginia in the Treaty of Lancaster.
• The Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee sided with the French during the French and Indian War (1755-1763). The Iroquois Confederacy officially remained neutral, but many in the Iroquois Confederacy allied with the French.
• When the French and Indian War was over, England's King George III feared that more tension between Native Americans and settlers was inevitable. In an attempt to avert further bloodshed, he issued the Proclamation of 1763, prohibiting settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains. The Proclamation was, for the most part, ignored.
• During the summer of 1763, Ottawa Chief Pontiac led raids on key British forts in the Great Lakes region. Shawnee Chief Keigh-tugh-qua, also known as Cornstalk, led similar raids on western Virginia settlements. The uprisings ended on August 6, 1763 when British forces, under the command of Colonel Henry Bouquet, defeated Delaware and Shawnee forces at Bushy Run in western Pennsylvania.
• In 1768, the Iroquois Confederacy (often called the Six Nations) and the Cherokee signed the Treaty of Hard Labour and the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, relinquishing their claims on the territory between the Ohio River and the Alleghenies to the British.
• In April 1774, the Yellow Creek Massacre took place near Wheeling. Among the dead were Mingo Chief Logan's brother and pregnant sister. Violence then escalated intoLord Dunmore's War.
• On October 10, 1774, Colonel Andrew Lewis and approximately 800 men defeated 1,200 Indian warriors led by Shawnee Chief Cornstalk at the Battle of Point Pleasant, ending Lord Dunmore's War.
• The Mingo and Shawnee allied with the British during the American Revolutionary War (1776-1783). One of the more notable battles occurred in 1777 when a war party of 350 Wyandot, Shawnee, and Mingo warriors, armed by the British, attacked Fort Henry, near present-day Wheeling. Nearly half of the Americans manning the fort were killed in the three-day assault. Following the war, the Mingo and Shawnee, once again allied with the losing side, returned to their homes in Ohio. As the number of settlers in the region grew, both the Mingo and the Shawnee move further inland, leaving western Virginia to the white settlers.
Pendleton County's European Pioneers and Settlers
John Van Meter was probably the first European to set foot in the county. In 1725, he accompanied a group of Delaware warriors on their way to attack the Catawba Indians. During their travels, they crossed through present-day Hardy County and southern Grant County and were ambushed by a group of Catawba warriors near present-day Franklin, in Pendleton County. He escaped and returned to his home in New York. His son, Isaac Van Meter, played an important role in the settlement of Hardy County.
When George Washington passed through the northern portion of the county in 1748, he noted that there were about 200 people living in the area, with most of the settlers living to the north of the present county's boundaries. At that time, Robert Green, of Culpeper, along with James Wood and William Russell, had purchased rights to almost all of present-day Pendleton County. It is believed that in 1745 Abraham Burner was the first European to build a cabin within the future site of Pendleton County. His cabin was located about a half a mile south of present-day Brandywine.
In 1747, six families, then located in the Moorefield area, purchased legal title to 1,860 acres in present-day
Pendleton County for 61 pounds and 6 shillings ($230.33) from Robert Green. They were the families of Roger Dryer;
his son William and his son-in-law, Matthew Patton; John Patton, Jr.; John Smith; and William Stephenson. There
are no records to indicate if they relocated to the county that year or the next, but given the relatively short
distance from Moorefield, they probably moved to the county in 1747.
Important Events in Pendleton County during the 1700s and 1800s
By the mid-1750s, there were about 40 families, or 200 people, living within present-day Pendleton County. In 1756, Seybert's Fort, named for Captain Jacob Seybert of Pendleton County and located about 12 miles west of Franklin, was built by the settlers as a place of refuge during Indian uprisings. On April 28, 1758, with about 30 settlers, mostly women and children, gathered inside, the Fort was attacked by about 40 Shawnee Indians led by Chief Killbuck. The Fort was surrounded by the Indians and after two days siege, Captain Seybert agreed to surrender the Fort to the Indians in exchange for their safe passage out of the area. Unfortunately, when the Fort's gates were opened, the settlers were taken captive. While the Indians were setting the Fort on fire, a Mr. Robinson was able to escape. The Indians then marched their captives about a quarter of a mile, separated them into two rows, and seated them on logs. The captives in one of the rows were spared. The others, including Captain Seybert, were tomahawked to death. The 11 remaining captives were taken to the Shawnee Indian village at Chillicothe, Ohio. Five of the captives, including Captain Seybert's son, Nicholas, later escaped to reveal what had happened at the Fort.
Many of present-day Pendleton County's earliest settlers left the county during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Following the war, settlers began to return and, by 1790, when the first national census was taken, Pendleton County had 2,452 residents.
Most of Pendleton County's residents sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War, though there were pockets of support for the Union. In 1861, the Franklin Guards, a group of approximately 140 men, were formed and attached to the Confederacy's 25th Regiment. During the course of the war, many more joined the Confederate Army. Also, a smaller number joined the Home Guards, commonly known as the Swamp Dragons, who served as an auxiliary force for the Union Army.
The Pendleton County Seat
The county seat, Franklin, was settled by Francis (Frank) Evick and was originally named Frankford in his honor. Francis and George Evick arrived in the area in 1769. Francis settled in present-day Franklin, and George settled just to east, across the South Branch River.
The first meeting of the county court took place in June 1788 at the home of Captain Stratton, six miles south of the Evick's homes. One of the court's first orders of business was to select a permanent county seat and they selected Frankford.
Francis Evick immediately laid out a town and placed the lots for sell. One of the first buildings constructed in the town was the county court house. It was made out of logs by Thomas Collett, and was 22 feet by 23 feet. It remained in service for 28 years before being replaced by a brick court house.
By 1794, the town's population increased to around 50, sufficient to apply for a town charter. On December 19, 1794, the town was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly as Franklin, primarily because another town in the state was already called Frankford. Several sources indicate that the town was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. However, since Mr. Evick was known as Frank, the town may have been named in his honor. For example, the West Virginia Blue Book indicates that the town was named in Mr. Evick's honor
Mills, Donald, Editor. 1991. Pendleton County, West Virginia: Past and Present. Waynesville, N.C.: Don Mills, Inc.
Morton, Oren F. 1910. A History of Pendleton County, West Virginia. Franklin, WV: Oren F. Morton.
Dr. Robert Jay Dilger, Director, Institute for Public Affairs and Professor of Political Science, West Virginia