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West Virginia Archives & History

History 0f Minnehaha Springs Community

(Consisting of Douthard's Creek, Cochran's Creek, and about five miles of the Knapp's Creek Valley in Pocahontas County, West Va.)

by Mrs. Sidney Wilson
Assisted by J. C. Harper, II. Lee White, Mrs. Maggie E. Lockridge, Mrs. Elmer Moore, and Miss Mamie White.

The territory referred to Minnehaha Springs Community consists of Douthard's Creek, Cochran's Creek, and about five miles of the Knapp's Creek Valley.

Minnehaha Springs is a small village which has largely sprung up within the last fifteen years. It consists of several residences, a post office, two stores, and two churches. There is also a hotel and a bath-house, and the Summer Home of Colonel H. R. Wylie, of Huntington, West Virginia. This home was formerly the Allegheny Club, belonging to the Allegheny Sportsmen's Association.

Minnehaha Springs is located where the waters of Douthard's Creek empty into Knapp' s Creek, near the base of the Allegheny Mountain. The elevation is about 2500 feet.

In the past, the mountains have been noted for their timber, as well as for game. The valleys are rich and productive and the people are prosperous.

Early Settlers

Being only three miles from the historic town of Huntersville, we do not boast of having permanent settlers quite so early as other sections cf the country. We find,however, that a man by the name of Knapp lived in our community prior to 1751, when Marlin and Sewell lived in Marlinton. Knapp's Creek was named for him.

One of the earliest permanent settlers was Michael Daugherty, a native of Ireland, who settled where his great-grandson, W. G. Ruckman, now lives. He obtained a patent for all the land from his home down the valley to what was known as the Lockridge lands.

It is not certain what other settlers were in the community prior to 1600. Price's History of Pocahontas County states that at that time there were only 155 persons in what is known as Pocahontas County, so that probably there were not more than two or three families in this community.

Early in the nineteenth century several persons made settlements, obtaining their patents from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Among these early settlers in the Knapp's Creek Valley, should be named Lanty Lockridge, Michael Cleek, and Henry Harper, Sr., each of these men owned large tracts of land.

No definite inforriiation is available as to the first settlers of Cochran's Creek, and Douthard's Creek, but Joseph Seybert and a Mr. Alderman settled on Cochran's Creek in the log house near the Rimel home, and lived there for many years, about the year 1881 or 1882. The writer recalls him as a very aged man. He was small in stature, jovial in disposition, and was well known for his hospitality to the many wagoners who sheltered under his roof when hauling supplies from Millboro, Virginia, into our county.

From 1825 to 1860, our community seems to have enjoyed a period of prosperity. The rich lands in the valley were cleaned up, the old up-and-down saw-mills were built, which sawed some of the choice pines into lumber, from which frame houses were built to take the place of the log houses of the earlier days. Also grist mills were built to grind the grain. Roads were built, mail routes and post offices were established.

Then came the devastating results of the Civil War, and it took years of toil and hardship to rebuild. The bridge that had been erected across Knapp's Creek near our village was not rebuilt until about eighteen years ago (1910).

Among the leading citizens and real estate owners who occupied the community soon after the Civil War, should be mentioned a Mr. Alderman, Henry Sharp, and Benjamin Herold who located on Douthard's Creek. Mr. Herold owned a large tract of land extending from what is now known as the Rimel land and the J. G. Sharp land to the public road at the Springs.

Mr. Sharp was a good citizen known far and wide for his hospitality. Among the first settlers on Knapp's Creek, should be mentioned Colonel James T. Lockridge, William Cleek, Sr., Joseph Seybert, and Samuel Harper, a son of the pioneer, Henry Harper.

Colonel Lockridge owned the farms that are now owned by Mrs. Maggie S. Lockridge, and D. W. Dever, and a large boundary of mountain land. He was a man who served his country in various positions. He was Colonel of the "127th Virginia Militia," and was at one time a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Next up Knapp's Creek came William Cleek, Sr., who was a large real estate owner and dealer in live stock. He was especially fond of horses, and kept many fine ones.

Then the venerable Mr. Seybert, occupying the land now owned by H. A. Shinaberry and L. R. Hiveley. His work was done so thoroughly and systematically that it is worthy of imitation.

Samuel Harper was a farmer and dealer in stock, and also operated a mill, a saw-mill, and a blacksmith shop.

The lands owned at and near the Springs, as previously mentioned, by Benjamin Herold, were purchased in I876 by Henry White, Sr., a native of Highland County, Virginia. Mr. White by industry, honesty, and economy, built a nice home and he and his descendants have contributed largely towards making this a better community.

About thirty-five years ago, D. B. McElwee purchased about two hundred acres of the White farm. The land on which a part of the village now stands, and also Col. Wyllie's land are a, part of this purchase.

IndustriaI Enterprises

Mr. McElwee was the real founder of the town, as he conceived the idea that there should be a trading point and a post office here. He built two residences, owned a small store, and was instrumental in the establishment of the first post office which was called Driscol, in honor of Col. John Driscol, an extensive operator at that time in pine timber. The logs were floated down the streams to Ronceverte where they were sawed into lumber. When the lumbering ceased to some extent the town failed to grow. About thirteen or fourteen years ago, Mr. H. M. Lockridge and the late Dr. J. B. Lockridge, anxious to see the developments on and near the Lockridge homestead, started new enterprises.

The large mineral spring on the Lockridge farm seemed to offer especially fine advantages. The water was tested first in 1891, then again in 1910, and found to be analogous in character with the water of the Hot Springs of Bath County, Virginia, and of Bethesda Spring, Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was named Minnehaha Springs, because of the Indian relics found near it, and perhaps the fancy that Pocahontas, the Princess for whom our county was named, might have lived at some time in this section; so the name of the other famous Indian maid was perpetuated.

A company was organized known as the Pocahontas Mineral Water Development Company, to place this mineral water on the market and to develop the property. A hotel was completed in 1914, on the top of the hill above the spring, and a bath-house with a splendid pool at the foot of the hill. The water is the same temperature the year round--- about 75 degrees. This property is now owned by Mr. J. H. Hobbs, of Florida, who spends the summer seasons here,

Mr. H. M. Lockridge was instrumental in helping to organize the Allegheny Sportsmen's Association. Four thousand four hundred acres of land were obtained here and in the adjoining mountains. A beautiful building known as the Club House was erected at the edge of a pine grove on the brow of the hill over-looking the Douthard's and Knapp's Creek valleys. Our townsman, Winston Herold, was the contractor, and completed the building in 1915, at a cost of $20,000.00.

For many years it was filled with guests during the summer months. The fish in the creeks and the game in the mountains furnished excellent sport. A herd of elk from Yellowstone National Park was turned into the surrounding park, and also several wild deer. At one time there were a number of imported Chinese and Austrian pheasants in the park, also. There are seven or eight elk in the park now.

In 1926, this property was purchased by Col. H. R. Wyllie, of Huntington, West Virginia, and has been made into a beautiful summer home. Many improvements have been made--an imposing entrance to the grounds, shrubbery and trees have been planted, and recently two deer have been put into the park.

Post Offices

At one time we had three post offices in this section. The first one was established on Knapp's Creek near Mt. Carmel and Westminster Churches, known as Sunset. Someone suggested this name because there was an office directly east of here in Bath County, Virginia, known as Sunrise. This office was established in 1855. The first postmaster was Samuel Harper. It was discontinued in 1866, and re-established in 1872, with Preston Harper as postmaster. In 1897 Zefiron Goulet was appointed as postmaster, and Mrs. Eudora Pritchard in 1909. The office was again discontinued in 1915.

The Rimel postoffice was established on September 5, 1903, Reuben D. Rimel was the postmaster. Mr. Rimel came here from Augusta County., Virginia, and the office was named in his honor. It was discontinued in 1924. A postoffice was established here at the Springs on July 21, 1890, known as Driscol, and derived its name from Col. John Driscol, who had much timber in this section. D. B. McElwee was the postmaster at Driscol for a number of years. It was discontinued on 0ctober 15, 1906. On December 12, 1912, it was re-established as Minnehaha Springs.


For many years our people were greatly handicapped in their efforts to travel by the bad roads. The Huntersville and Warm Springs Turnpike was built in 1858, while it is not yet an especially good road, it is used and we are still hoping it may some day be improved. The Knapp's Creek road was re-graded and taken over by the State in 1925. A hard top dressing of gravel was put on in 1927, and work still is being done on it.


Mt. Carmel M. E. Church, South, was practically built by Preston M. Harper and Newton Moore. This church was dedicated October 1, 1905. Rev. H. L. Hout of Roanoke preached the dedicatory sermon. Rev. J. D. Pope was pastor in charge.

While digging the foundation of this church, the workmen found some pewter spoons and other articles which were, no doubt, the property of William Moore and wife who came here about 1780, and built a home on the bank where the church now stands. They were not relatives of the other Moore's of the county. They lived and died at this home, and were buried on the east side of the Creek just below the grove of pines near the line separating Mrs. E. A. Pritchard and G. M. Sharp.


The Cochran's Creek Church (Baptist) was built in 1907 and the writer is told that Johnny Rider practically built the church himself. The dedicatory sermon was preached by the Rev. Stump, and the

Rev. Thomas Woolridge was the pastor. Mr. Rider moved to Fayette County a few years later and since that time the church has been used by different denominations.

New Hope Lutheran Church

The New Hope Lutheran Church at Minnehaha Springs was built in 1895 through the efforts of Henry White, Sr., and his family who came to Douthard's Creek in 1876. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Rev. J. F. A. Lautenschlaeger. B. Frank White and H. Lee White were ordained as elders, and also as trustees of the church property, Before building the church, they held occasional services by Lutheran pastors in their homes, near-by churches, and in schoolhouses. For some years after the building of the church the congregation was supplied by ministers from the South Branch charge of Highland County, Virginia, and Pendleton County, West Virginia;, of which this church was made a part. Later it was made a congregation of its own along with Valley Center, Virginia, and Headwaters, Virginia. Rev. P. L. Snapp served as pastor during 1895. Then Rev. S. H. Puffenberger was pastor of the church from 1900 to 1904. Since that time there has been no regular pastor, but the pulpit has been supplied by an occasional visiting pastor.

In 1894, a union Sunday School was organized with B. F. Fleshman as Superintendent and H. Lee White as assistant. There was an enrollment of sixty-three members. Since that time, Sunday School has been in progress. Some of the Superintendents have been: Rev. P. L. Snapp, Rev. S. H. Puffenberger, P. A. Rexrode, and H. Lee White. And to the present time, the little band of Lutherans have been loyal to the church of their choice.

In 1895 the Pocahontas County Singing Association, which was quite an organization for the betterment of church music, met in this church.

In 1907, A Community Christmas tree and Sunday School entertainment was held here. This was the first Community project carried out in the Huntersville District, and was very much enjoyed by all.

On July 12, 1912, the Huntersville District Sunday School Convention was held in this church. H. Lee White was President of the Association, and J. C. Harper, Secretary. Again in 0ctober 6, 1919, the Convention was held here. P. A. Rexrode was President, and G. M. Sharp, Secretary.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

The Westminster Presbyterian Church was built in 1905. Rev. G. W. Nickell was the pastor. A few years after the church was completed, probably in 1908, the first Huntersville District Sunday School Convention was held in it, with W. A. G. Sharp, President, and J. C. Harper, Secretary. In 1925, the first County Sunday School Convention to be held in the District, was held here.

The Minnehaha Springs M. E. Church South

The Methodist Episcopal Church South, church was built in 1926, being formally opened Sunday, October 51, of the same year. Rev. Mack Thomason was the pastor at the time. The opening day services consisted of an all-day meeting, with dinner on the ground. Rev. J. W. Leggett of Vinton, Virginia, a former pastor, preached the first sermon at eleven o'clock, and Rev. F. B. Wyand, of Monterey, Virginia, preached at 2:50 p. m.

This was made a separate appointment on the Huntersville charge, in 1915, under the pastorate of Rev. J. W. Leggett. The place of worship was transferred from Browns Mountain school house in which building the worship was held until the completion of this church.

The church building was begun some time during the year 1925, while Rev. Palmer Eubank was pastor. He was very faithful in all his labors. In the first place, two lots were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Amos McLaughlin as a memorial to their son, C. C. McLaughlin, who died. from wounds received in battle in France during the World War. These lots were later exchanged for two lots nearer the parsonage for the reason of a better location. Mr. P. A. Rexrode donated the timber for the frame work for the outside of the building. Quite a lot of free labor v/as given. June 5, 1924,was set apart for the excavation, the men doing the work, and the ladies serving a free dinner at the parsonage.

All denominations gave quite liberally in this community and adjoining communities and also in the town of Marlinton. The largest money donations were made by Elmer Moore, Mrs. Effie Campbell, Mrs. Sidney Wilson, Dr. H. H. Jones, Mr. W. H. Grose, and Mrs. A. D. Cash.

This church is deeply indebted to a very faithful Building Committee, which overcame many trying obstacles. This Committee was: W. H. Grose, President, J. C. Harper, Mr. and Mrs. Amos McLaughlin, G. M. Ervine, Mrs. J. G. Sharp, and Mrs. Elmer Moore, Secretary and Treasurer. The two non-resident members, Mr. Grose and Mr. Harper never missed a committee meeting and deserve special mention for their faithful and most helpful assistance.


There is no high school in this community for the reason that the settlement is a scattered one, but the schools have made rapid progress since the age of the log school house,

When the Civil War began, school was being taught by Miss Mattie Gum, the mother of George Gingar, of Huntersville, in a log school house which stood on the knoll near L. R. Hiveley's residence. The next building used for school in the Sunset neighborhood was on the hill not far from J. A. Cleek's. The last term taught here was by Enoch H. Moore, in the year of 1076 and 1877, By the next winter a new building had been constructed at the present location. This was destroyed by fire a few years ago. The building now in use was located on the site of the old one.

The very first school at Minnehaha Springs, then Driscol, was taught in a dwelling located on the bank above the warm spring. H. M. Lockridge and Mrs. W. L. Herold were the teachers. School was held here between 1880 and 1885. The next school known in the Minnehaha Springs neighborhood was located near Earl Dever's residence. A one- room building was then erected at Minnehaha Springs about 1900. Some teachers who taught in this building were: Miss Anna Fleishman, Miss Emma Warwick, Miss Anna Cleek, Miss Maude Lockridge, Miss Margie Herold, Miss Grace Moore, Mrs. Sidney Wilson, Miss Mamie White, Miss Margaret Sharp, Miss Elisabeth Herold, Miss Helen McElwee.

It became necessary to have a larger building, and in 1915 a two-room structure was erected. W. L. Herold was the contractor.

The school building at Rimel was built about 1900 or 1905. J. A. Reed and J. G. Sharp were the contractors for the construction.

Octave Alderman donated the land on which the first school house on Douthard's Creek was erected. This school was known as "Lonely Dale School."

Miss Lillie Friel, Boud Hannah, Gilbert Alderman, and Moser Herold were teachers. The present Douthard's Creek school house was built in 1910. This school boasts of having more young men and women enter the teaching profession than any other school in the community. Nine from this school were teachers--four being from the family of B. F. White. The Douthard's Creek school building is also used for preaching services and Sunday School.

The first school known on Brown's Mountain was held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Amos McLaughlin about 1895. Miss Nora Riley was teacher. The next year the school was taught in Mr. and Mrs. Mack Ervine's home. Miss Lillie Friel was the teacher. Then a school building was erected and at the present, school continues in this building.

Miss Anna Lee Ervine, Miss Clara Palmer (now Mrs. G. 0. Wade), Austin Dearman, Miss Ethel Correll (now Mrs. D. C. Adkinson) are noted teachers who have taught in this school.

It is thought that a school house once stood where H. Lee White's residence now stands. When the late Henry White and family moved here from Virginia In 1876, the residents of the community referred to this particular hollow as "School House Hollow". Then when workmen were excavating for the building of the residence, the remains of a chimney were found: also tin pails, knives, forks, spoons, etc., which evidence leads one to believe that several years before, a school had been located on this site.

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