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Town of Iaeger

Welch Daily News
July 28, 1983


Iaeger Named For Early Resident

The town of Iaeger in McDowell County, West Virginia, is named after Colonel William G. W. Iaeger whose son, Dr. William Iaeger had a plan of the present town made in the year 1885.

The town was incorporated in 1917 and is located in the western end of McDowell County about midway between Bluefield and Williamson on U. S. Route 52.

According to a news article in the Welch Daily News, written by the Rev. W. S. Barbery, Friday, November 18, 1949, the corporate limits of the town extended east and west along the Tug River.

Barbery also wrote in the 1949 issue, “Iaeger is surrounded by small communities known as Coon’s Branch, Mile Branch, Christian’s Branch, Red Bird, Sandy Huff, and Johnnycake.”

The areas around Iaeger include Panther, Avondale, Litwar and Krolitz.

Barbery listed the population of Iaeger at about 986 in 1940, and 1,500 in 1949. The 1980 census gives the total population as 833. It is presently, (1980 census), the sixth largest town in McDowell County.

The elevation for the town of Iaeger is 982 feet.

Elections are held annually and the present mayor is P. H. Roberts.

Iaeger has had four different names across the years. It was first know[n] as “the Forks of the River” and before it official[l]y became Iaeger it was known as Williamsburg.

In the early days of what is now known as Iaeger Major Andrew Lewis and a contingent of soldiers camped in the area on their way to capture or destroy Shawnee Indians who had been making trips into the section of Tazewell County known as Abbs Valley burning houses and capturing people.

A marker on U. S. 52 near Iaeger reading “Lewis Camp” tells about Major Lewis being camped there on February 26, 1756.

The site of the camp was located where the old railroad station once stood.

One of the first families to locate in the area of Iaeger were the descendants of Allen Steele.

The second name of the town, “The Forks of the River,” was so-called because the Dry Fork empties into the Tug River near what is now Iaeger High School.

Railroad ties were drifted down Dry Fork to the “Deep Hole” (near the High School) when the railroad was building the main track along Tug River.

The Forks of the River was also known in the early days as a favorite place for deer hunters. They would drive the deer down Dry Fork and as they attempted to swim across the river the hunters would shoot them.

Arthur L. Godfrey, first cousin of Dr. Iaeger’s wife, is the authority for the third name given to Iaeger.

Godfrey was noted by Barbery in 1949 as saying, “When Col. Iaeger came from Pennsylvania about 1876 he was accompanied by a man named Williams. When it came to naming the town Iaeger, called it Williamsburg.”

Barbery also pointed out that a railroad magazine article noted that Williamsburg was named after Col. Iaeger, whose first name was William.

In the early days of Iaeger the mail was brought from Perryville, which is now English. Wesley Brooks, a well-known merchant and resident of Iaeger (1949), recalls that his father, Beverley Brooks carried the mail from Perryville and at that time there were only three or four houses between the two towns.

Timber rafts were common in the early days along the Dry Fork and Tug Rivers. The crude means of transportation were about 60 feet long, 7 feet wide and required four men to operate them.

It took two weeks for one of the timber rafts to make the trip between Iaeger and Catlettsburg, Ky. They usually made the trip when the tide was high.

Salt was brought into Iaeger by rafts in those days from Saltville near Charleston.

To the right of Iaeger is a mountain farm. It is reported that Col. Iaeger lived there for a time. It was known as the Iaeger Mountain Farm. Crops of corn, potatoes and apples were among the items grown there.

On the mountain there was a log house reported to have been built by a man named Deskins. Later the log house was moved into Iaeger and occupied by the family of Fleming Roberts.

It is said that Colonel Iaeger brought the first road wagon into McDowell County as well as the first cooking stove.

The Iaegers moved from their namesake town in 1903, to establish residence in Glouchester County, Va., where they spent the latter part of their lives.

More on the early days of Iaeger will be published in Friday’s issue of the Welch Daily News.


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