Calhoun County Seat

The Grantsville News
March 10, 1955

After Thirteen Years Of Dispute Grantsville Became A County Seat

This History Compiled from History Book Of County,
Old Newspapers and Information from Citizens
of Grantsville and Calhoun County


The founding of Grantsville as a County Seat was the result of a thirteen year dispute between the residents of the West Fork and the Little Kanawha valley over the location of the county seat. On the fifth day of March, 1856, a petition was formed, signed, and laid before the General Assembly in a session at Richmond, Virginia. The Assembly favored the petition and the bill provided for the formation of the county. And for the location of the county seat either at Pine Bottom at the mouth of Yellow Creek or at Big Bend on the Little Kanawha river.

A vote of the people was to decide the location for the county seat. The bill also provided that until the vote had been taken the circuit court and county court would be held at the home of Joseph W. Burson at Grantsville.

The first county court ever held in Calhoun county convened at the home of Joseph W. Burson, on the fourteenth day of April 1850.

The following justice of the peace, each holding a commission as such signed by his excellency the governor of the Commonwelth [sic] of Virginia, were present Hiram Ferrell, H. R. Ferrell, Joshua Knight, Absalon Knotts, George Lynch, and William Brannon.

The court was called to order and proceeded to organize the county by electing John N. Norman as sheriff of Calhoun county and George W. Silcott was elected clerk. After posting their required bonds, and taking oath of office, John Norman the new sheriff, appointed Alpheus Norman and Phillip Norman as his deputies, and the court approved his appointments.

After granting William A. Brannon a license to colevrate [sic - celebrate?] marriage rites and transacting other minor business the court adjourned to meet in September at the home of Perigrene Hays, where Arnoldsburg now stands and not to meet at Pine Bottom or Big Bend.

After the first county court meeting the trouble began between the residents of the West Fork, the residents of Grantsville, and the people farther down the river over the location of the county seat.

County court was held in various homes and places and at one time there were two county courts in session at the same time. This was in 1857 when one court was being held in Arnoldsburg and the other at Collins Betts home three miles below Grantsville.

In no county in the state has there been so much difficulty concerning the permanent location of the county seat as in Calhoun.

For 13 years it was a vexed question and by the time it was settled it had cost the county several thousand dollars.

By an act of the Grand Assembly, enacted February 13, 1862, it was provided that an election be held by the voters of the county on the fourth Thursday in May 1862, to determine whether they should retain the county seat at Arnoldsburg fixed by law or remove the same to Simon P. Stump farm where Grantsville in now located.

After the election in the county, West Virginia became a state and according to the status the election was carried on by law, but there being two different factions the location of the county seat was carried to the supreme courts.

After several discussion, it was finaly [sic] decided that the county seat be at Grantsville. A basement had already been started for a courthouse at Arnoldsburg. It was ordered to see all holdings of the starting of the new courthouse at Arnoldsburg, of which part of the basement is still standing which cost around $1,500.

While the dispute was carried on, a man at the mouth of Yellow creek, now Brooksville, was given a contract to erect a building to be used as a courthouse. He was E. McClaskey, who filled his contract and was paid $675.00. But legal proceedings were instituted, and on the fifteenth day of June 1858, the court again convened at Arnoldsburg, and here it continued to be held until 1869.

The question was once more revived and another move was made, this time in Granstville where a one story frame building was erected in 1869 for a courthouse but was burned before it was occupied; the second, a frame building, was torn down to make room for the third, the third, built of red brick, manufactured nearby was completed in 1880, and was was [sic] supposed to cost $8,400. It was a two story building and stood on a knowl [sic] about 5 feet above the street sourounded [sic] by a stone wall.

It was a very pretty location surrounded by large trees and was a perfect spot for loafing in the summer. At one time it was reported there was a telephone installed on one of the large trees so the office workers could answer the telephone without going in the building.

The first floor of the building was occupied by the sheriff's office[,] the assessor, circuit court[,] county court rooms and the prosecuting attorney office.

The second floor was the court and jurory [sic] rooms, and the county agents office.

An attorney who located in the county soon after its formation but afterwards moved to an adjoining county, once said that he was obliged to remove for he had been broken up trying to keep up with the county seat.

The first Circuit court in Calhoun county was held at the home of Peregrine Hays at Arnoldsburg, on Monday the sixth day of October, 1856, with Mathew Edmiston, judge of the nineteenth circuit in the ninth judicial district of Virginia, presided.

At this meeting the first grand jury, a jury of inquest for the body of the county, was empaneled and sworn in. They were Alexander Huffman, (foreman), James Ball, John H. Johnson, James P. Hunt, Daniel Nichols, Francis Robinson, Nicholas Poling, Daniel Stallman, Silas Pettit, Joseph Hayhurst, Lemuel Haverty, Isaac Starcher, Andrew Mace, Arnold Snider, Peter M. McCune and Anthony Conrad. The jury retired and returned to present three true bills of indictment all for misdeanors [sic].

Circuit court adjourned for some time. In the fall of 1860, a new judge was elected William L. Jackson of Weston. Circuit court was again held at Arnoldsburg.

In April 1861 the Civil war broke upon the nation and no future term of Circuit court was held in Calhoun county until September 1865, a term was held at Arnoldsburg, with Judge George Loomis, presiding.

He continued to hold circuit court at Arnoldsburg and including the May term in 1867 and the September term 1867.

The May term in 1868 was held in Grantsville at the home of Joseph W. Burson, this being the first time that the name of Grantsville appeared on the county records. At the March term 1869 a new Judge Robert S. Brown, of Jackson county presided, again the circuit court was held at Arnoldsburg and also the August term 1869. The November term 1869 and the April term 1870 were held in Grantsville, and the August term 1870 was held in the new Brick Courthouse.

On April 17, 1941, work was started on demolishing the old two story brick courthouse, with W. P. A. labor and under the construction of P. R. Lewis of Huntington, contractor. After the building was torn down, the five foot knoll was removed and the ground was made street level.

The new courthouse is of native stone cut from a quarry about two miles from Grantsville on the Russett road.

The building is a three story structure with basement containing 11 rooms; thirteen rooms on the first floor; the second floor has six rooms with a courtroom and balcony with a seating capacity of around 400 people and the third floor has two rooms.


West Virginia Archives and History