Skip Navigation
West Virginia Archives & History

History Of Frenchton Community

(Upshur County, W. Va. ) Prepared by Mrs. C. B. Wilson


Frenchton is situated in the northern part of Banks District, Upshur County, West Virginia, in a beautiful little valley, surrounded by hills, with the head waters of French Creek flowing through it.

Early History

The original name of this community was Beechtown, so named from a legend handed down to the first settlers, by those who had seen and frequently talked with the Indians, who, occasionally made invasions at an early date, into this part of Virginia, The tribes that traveled west to the Ohio River, and from the west to the eastern valleys, made this point one of their stopping places; arid in order to protect themselves more carefully, they built a number of Indian huts, out of poles and logs, on the old site of the Beechtown Church. These poles were beech, hence, the name Beechtovm.

Pioneer Settlers

The first settler in this community was Valentine Powers who erected a cabin near the old post office site. Among the earlier settlers were the Damerens, the Clarks, the Stones, and this community has the honor of being the birth place of Sallie Ann Stone McQuain, the oldest living resident of Upshur County. She was born one hundred years ago in a cabin on the site of the Frenchton Hotel, She resides about three miles from here and last

August rode on horse attend Banks District Sunday School Convention. The first permanent settlers were the Talbots, the Wilsons, the Bennetts, the Armstrongs, the Douglasses, and the Heafners - later the Rusmisells and Currys. In those early pioneer days the means of travel were confined to horse back or foot. Aunt Polly Curry came from Highland County, Virginia, to this community on horse back and carried her three children, two of whom she put in a bag, one in each end, and put the bag across the saddle. The third she carried in her arms.

Most of the pioneer settlers came from Virginia, they were a thrifty industrious people some of the farms are still owned and cultivated by descendants of the original owners - viz the Adams P. Rusmisell farm now owned by John D. Rusmisell, the Samuel Talbot-farm owned and cultivated by his descendants. The Samuel Wilson farm by his descendants.

What is known as the Jimmy Hull farm, now owned by Rev. L. E. Ressegger was at one time the home of wild animals, such as bear and deer. The Hulls were descendants of Daniel Boone and were a nature loving people, much given to hunting, and would get such animals as fancy directed and enclose them in pens, thus protecting them from hunters. We might almost, say, this community was the pioneer game preserve.

More than seventy years ago a red, white, and blue coverlet was woven, by Sallie Ann Stone McQuain for Mrs. Foster Wilson. At one time during the war when marauders were raiding the country seeking what they might devour, this coverlet was hidden in a hollow log in Lewis County, for a short period of time, later it was taken to the home of Johnnie Douglass at Beechtown, now Frenchton, for safe keeping. One day an old lady, - Mrs. Smith by name was washing down at the spring under the hill, on hearing a noise she started for the house. As she came near the house she saw it was on fire and a band of marauders leaving, the flames were soon extinguished and to her surprise, upon investigating she found the coverlet had not been molested. Mrs. Wilson, donated the proceeds from the sale of this historical coverlet to the church. It was purchased by Mrs. Ora Douglass Curry, she being a descendant of John Douglass and the hiding place, the home of her childhood days.

This community has the honor of having the first post office in Banks District and the first school house. Hyre D. Clark taught the first school. The first election was held in the school house. At this election a vote was taken for and against the formation of Upshur County, out of parts of Randolph, Lewis, and Barbour counties.


The first religious society was organized more than one hundred years ago by a pioneer band of Christians. Later they built a church which was called the Beechtown Chapel, This was a crude log building not much better than the Indian huts. This was supplanted by a frame building called Wesley Chapel this served the people for more than sixty years, when a modern building was erected in the village, the name Wesley Chapel was still retained.

Famous Sons and Daughters

From the descendants of the permanent pioneer settlers of this community viz.- The Armstrongs, the Bennetts, the Currys, the Douglasses, the Rusmisells, the Wilsons, and the Talbots, have gone out a number who have made good along the line of their chosen profession or business. From these families we have seven graduates from medical college, two from dental college, four graduate law- yers, seven from business college, forty school teachers, some of whom are college graduates, one railway mail clerk, one minister, and one member of the House of Delegates 1923-24. This community was the early home of Robert A. Armstrong, head of the English Department in West Virginia University, and W. D. Talbot who died while serving his people as State Senator.


As to clubs, our first club was organized in 1913 and known as the Chas. B. Wilson potato and chicken club. The boys had for their project potatoes, and the girls had chickens, the day for the exhibit of their projects came, one girl had one lone chicken but she was game to the finish and was "Johnny on the spot" with her one chick. This, the first club exhibit, not only in the community, but the first in the County, was judged by Wm. H. Kendrick and H. B. Darnall, October 18, 1915.

So we may boast of having the pioneer club later known as the Four-K club. From this club have gone out the following: An All Star, a Four-H Camp instructor, nine high school graduates, who are teachers, four teacher who are not graduates, two graduates from business college, and one trained nurse. One club member joined the navy, others are in various pursuits of life, and a few still remain in school.

Our present club activities are as follows: A men's farm club, women's club, and a Four-H club. The women's club meets once a month and has a plan of work for the year including the study of the lessons put out by the Extension Division of West Virginia University. The members of the club patronize the Mountain State Home industries Shop, have sent money to the Near East Relief Work, paid quite a sum on the new church, and fifty dollars on the Upshur County cottage at Jackson's Mill. Some of the farmers belong to the Co-operative Poultry Association. Eggs are marketed once a week, graded, crated, and shipped from our station. A few farmers pool their wool and ship to the warehouse .at Clarksburg. Several first premiums on sheep have been won at the County Fair. Our Four-H club members have won several premiums, have been in stock judging contests at the county fairs, and. one of our boys was on the judging team that went to the International Livestock exposition at Chicago. Some of the club members have been charted and wear the Four-H pin. The Four-H club also paid fifty dollars on the Upshur County cottage at Jackson's Mill.

More than twenty years ago the Coal and Coke Railroad was built through our community, putting us in touch with the outside world,

Frenchton has at present, a population of 335 mostly rural minded. folk, who own small farms, or houses and lots in the village. Frenchton has three general stores, one feed store, one millinery store, one jewelry store, one garage, one confectionery, one depot, one post office, one hotel, one two-room school building, and two churches. This community has had three Country Life Conferences, been scored three times, and each time raised the score a few points.

Community Histories Index

West Virginia Archives and History