Pendleton County, (West) Virginia - Formation & Early Middle Period (1787-1818)
As we learn more about our ancestors of Pendleton county, (West) Virginia, we have found many names listed below showing up in our paternal genealogy of the Warwick/Gwin/Eckard ancestors. Especial how the Poage/Poague family married into the Warwick family. I have tried to include in parenthesis those in my ancestry tree.
Abraham Eckard's relationship to this NW Okie is as a paternal grandfather of wife of great grand aunt (Reuhama Gwin). Such as, Abraham Eckard (1791 - ), relationship to me: paternal grandfather of wife of great grand aunt;
Absalom Eckard (1825 - 1898), Son of Abraham; Job E Eckard (1847 - 1911), Son of Absalom; Reuhama "Hami" GWIN (1857 - 1921), Wife of Job E.; Samuel GWIN (1825 - 1871), Father of Reuhama "Hami"; Signora Belle Gwin (1860 - 1934), Daughter of Samuel; Constance Estella WARWICK (1882 - 1968), Daughter of Signora Belle; Gene M MCGILL (1914 - 1986), Son of Constance Estella Warwick McGill; and that leads to me, Linda Kay MCGILL Wagner, daughter of Gene McGill.
Between the Early middle period of 1788-1818 we find that the county of Pendleton began its separate existence as the ninth of the counties which now constitute West Virginia. It entered upon a long career of peaceful and steady development. The Redstone insurrection of 1794 and the war of 1812 were remote from its borders.
At the close of 1787 the population of Rockingham was nearly 7000, including about 700 slaves. Two fifths of its area lying beyond the high, broad, and infertile Shenandoah Mountain, the time had come when it was too inconvenient to travel from 30 to 60 miles to reach the courthouse. Accordingly the State legislature passed an Act, December 4, 1787, for the formation of Pendleton county, Virginia.
Within the limits defined by the Act of 1787, the area of Pendleton was perhaps 850 square miles. On the east, north and west, the original boundaries had remained unaltered. On the south there had been two subsequent changes. The original boundary included the northern portion of the Crabbottom and all the rest of the present county of Highland that lies north of the watershed between the streams flowing into the Potomac and those forming the upper basin of the James. near Doe Hill the line therefore fell even northward of its present location.
The population and distribution of Pendleton inhabitants between the three valleys lived mainly along the larger watercourses with the mountains being an unbroken forest.
Seraiah Stratton house was decreed that the new county should be organized and the first term of court be held, laid about a fourth of a mile south of the Ruddle postoffice, only a few yards tot he west of the present highway, and close to a watering trough. The only present vestige of the dwelling was a mound of rocks marking the site of the chimney and from the midst of which rises a young tree. Tradition states that the court used the barn instead of the house. Whether the house or barn ws used, the charge of four dollars for the whole period of time during which the premises were used as a county seat does not look exorbitant.
The organization of the county government was described in the records as such: "Be it remembered that at the house of Seraiah Stratton, in the county of Pendleton, on the 2nd day of June and in the year of our Lord 1788, and in the 12 year of the Commonwealth, Commissions of the peace and of Oyer and Terminer, directed to Robert Davis, John Skidmore, Moses Hinkle, James Dyer (NW Okie's 5th great grand uncle), Isaac Hinkle, Robert Poage/Poague, James Skidmore, Matthew Patton, Peter Hull (NW Okie's 4th great grand uncle), James Patterson, and Jacob Hoover, Gentlemen, was produced and read and thereupon the said Robert Davis took the Oath appointed by the Act of Assembly giving assurance of fidelity to the Commonwealth, and took the Oaths of a Justice of the peace, of a Justice of the county court in Chancery, and of a Justice of Oyer and Terminer, all of which Oaths were administered to him by the said John Skidmore and Moses Hinkle. Robert Davis administered all the aforesaid Oaths to the said John Skidmore, Moses Hinkle, James Dyer, Isaac Hinkle, James Skidmore, Matthew Patton, and James Patterson."
"A commission from his excellency the Governor to Robert Davis, gent. to be high sheriff of this county during pleasure was produced by the said Robert Davis and read, thereupon together with Seraiah Stratton, Francis Evick, Roger Dyer (NW Okie's 6th great grandfather), James Davis, Isaac Hinkle, and George Dice, his securities, entered into and acknowledged two Bonds for the said Robert Davis's due and faithful performance of his office, which are ordered to be recorded. And then the said Robert Davis took the oath for giving assurance of fidelity to the commonwealth and was sworn sheriff of said county."
Of the eleven justices, Davis, Dyer and Patton were brothers-in-laws. The Hinkles were of one family, and the Skidmores were of one other, and were related to the Hinkles. It is quite probable that still other relationships existed.
The organization of the county government was perfected by the following selections:
President of the court, John Skidmore; Clerk of court, Garvin Hamilton; Prosecuting Attorney, Samuel Reed; Deputy sheriffs, John Davis, and John Morral.
Overseers of the Poor, James Dyer, John Skidmore, Christian Ruleman, Ulrich Conrad, John Dunkle.
Constables, Gabriel Collett, George Dice, Jacob Gum, Johnson Phares, Isaac Powers, William Ward, George Wilkeson. County Lieutenant, James Dyer. Regimental Militia Officers: Colonel Robert Poage/Poague; Lieutenant Colonel, Peter Hull; Major Henry Fleisher.
Overseers of Roads: North Fork; (north to south) Michael Eberman, Abraham Hinkle, Isaace Hinkle, Moses Hinkle, South Branch; George Fisher, Michael Alkire, Francis Evick, Christian Pickle, Nicholas Harper, McKenny Robinson, George Nicholas, South Fork; John Wortmiller, James Dyer, Roger Dyer, Henry Swadley, Jacob Hoover, Christian Ruleman.
After building the courthouse on the lands of Francis Evick, and to hold the next court at his house, James Patterson was directed to attend the surveyor in laying out the courthouse grounds. He was also appointed jailer. To make the seat of local government more accessible, road surveys were ordered to Roger Dyer's, to brushy Fork, and to the North Fork at Joseph Bennett's.
The first grand jury met September 1, with Jacob Conrad being foreman. The other members were Michael Arbogast, Lewis Bush, Jacob Coplinger. Abraham Eckard (paternal grandfather of wife of NW Okie's great grand aunt), Nicholas Harpole, Isaac Hinkle, George Kile, Adam Lough, Robert Minniss, Frederick Propst, George Puffenbarger, Jacob Root, Joseph Skidmore, John Sumwalt, Philip Teter, and Peter Vaneman. With Hardy and Hampshire, Pendleton became a judicial district with the court sitting at "Hardy Courthouse."
Robert Davis was of a welch family that settled in North Carolina and moved to Virginia. He may have been the son of Robert Davis, an early settler of Augusta and its first constable. He settled a half mile below Brandywine, at least as early as 1764, purchasing land in that year of Matthew Patton. About this time he married Sarah, daughter of Roger Dyer and widow of Peter Hawes. His older brothers, John and William, settled also on the South Fork.
Whether John Davis was the one who was a justice of Rockingham and was appointed to let the building of its first courthouse was not really known, though. William died in 1773, and Robert was his executor. Robert was a major in the Continental army and saw active service, especially among the Indians west of the Alleghanies. He was present at the killing of Big Foot, a noted chief.
In 1779 he was commissioned Captain of militia for Rockingham, resigning in 1781. He was one of the first justices of that county, but owing to his military duties, he was not present to take his oath of office until May 25, 1779. In 1780 and 181 he was the leader if the South Fork patriots against the Tory faction. The disturbance was brought to an end by a truce he arranged with Ward and Hull. In 1784 he was recommended as coroner. In 1785 he and James Davis were the committee to view the repairs on the new Rockingham courthouse. In 1786 he became sheriff of Rockingham, and held this office until he became the first sheriff of Pendleton. He was again sheriff in 1804, and served his county as member of the house of delegates in 1793-94. He was a justice of the peace from 1778 until his death in 1818 at an advanced age. he was frequently called upon in the settlement of estates and in other matters of public business, thus indicating a high degree of practical judgment. he was one of the substantial residents on the South Fork. On his land stood with one exception the first mill in that valley and probably the very first schoolhouse.
Matthew Patton was one of the very first members of the Dyer Settlement, and after the murder of Roger Dyer he became a leading citizen of the Pendleton territory. he was commissioned a justice of the peace, August 19, 1761, and for a number of years he took the lists of tithables for this portion of Augusta.
James Dyer, brother-in-law to Patton, has been elsewhere mentioned. he was a prominent and well-to-do citizen, and much concerned in the public affairs of the county. The Skidmores of the South branch were enterprising citizens and large landholders. Captian John Skidmore had a military career in the Indian wars and doubtless also in the Revolution. He was wounded in the battle of Point Pleasant, and is said on one occasion to have killed an Indian in single combat.
Moses and Isaac Hinkle, cousins to Captain Skidmore, were progressive and energetic and of more than usual ability. Isaac was a sheriff of Rockingham a little prior to 1783.
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