(Consisting of "The Hills", Frost, Knapp's Creek, and
Written by Enid Harper in 1924
In the eastern part of Pocahontas County, West Virginia, is Knapp's Creek which has its source in the Alleghany Mountains about five miles above Frost. Its two branches unite at Frost from which place it continues to flow along the base of the mountains to the place where it empties into the Greenbrier River at Marlinton, a distance of almost twenty miles from Frost. The East fork of the creek is fed by a spring which comes forth out of the rugged mountain side near Paddys Knob, a peak with an elevation of 4450 feet.
One of the principal tributaries of Knapp's Creek is Douthard's Creek of the Minnehaha neighborhood which carries with it the waters of Cochran's Creek. At Huntersville Knapp's Creek receives two other streams, Brown's Creek fron one side and Cumming's Creek from the other.
Along the valley are numerous limestone springs, the waters of which are cold, an indication of purity. These help to make the creek larger. The first of them is a bold spring gushing out from under a hill near the fine home of S. Gibson. Further down the valley we find the stream called Mill Run near I. B. Moore's which receives water fron a number of springs within a half mile. Next is the Mill Run at D. W. Dever's flowing through his farm where fine cattle graze. From here we go on to W. G. Ruckman's where there is another stream of about equal volume. The source of it is also a magnificent never-failing spring.
Last but not least is the famous Minnehaha Spring on the Lockridge property. The crystal water of this spring is of a healing and medical nature. It has been shipped to various parts of the country.
"The Hills" is the hilly region on the northwest of the valley. These are very productive lands and are excellent for fruit and grazing. They were at one time heavily timbered but now only small tracts remain uncut.
The creek from which our good community takes its name was known as Ewing's Creek in the earliest land papers but was soon changed to Knapp's Creek in honor of a man by the name of Knapp who came into the valley from Virginia prior to 1749. His report of this country probably led Marlin and Sewall to make explorations in the Greenbrier Valley. At first the name of the creek was spelled N-a-p-s, later it was changed to K-n-a-p-p-s.
While here Knapp lived in a cabin on the west side of the creek about opposite the place where Mrs. P. L. Cleek now resides. It is not definitely known what became of him.
There are evidences that the Indians once roamed through the thick forests which covered what is now our beautiful section of country. Pieces of flint have been found by our citizens which were no doubt used by the Red Race. There was an Indian burial ground on a flat above the road a short distance up the valley from
I. B. Moore's dwelling. Indications were to the older people that several Indians had been buried here. It has been said that a few relics were found in later years when some excavations were made.
Michael Daugherty, a native of Ireland, settled in our valley near where W. G. Ruckman lives about the year of 1770. He was one of the first to occupy the Knapp's Creek Region.
The same year Moses Moore of Virginia came to Knapp's Creek. It is interesting to note that he bought the land extending from J. L. Herold's to D. W. Dever's for the consideration of two steel bear traps and two pounds of English sterling. One of the traps is in the possession of I. B. Moore at this writing. The original cabin of Moses Moore was built on land now owned by Mrs. Myrta Moore.
Mr. Moore was fond of hunting and would frequently spend several days in the region of the Upper Greenbrier searching for game. One Sunday morning while sitting at his cap reading the Bible he was surrounded and captured by five or six Indians who compelled him to march to Ohio with them but through his cunningness he managed to escape and return to what is now Pocahontas County.
It is believed that the pioneer, Felix Grimes, and his wife selected a site for a home in the Hills near the Mt. Zion Church at a date preceding 1800.
Old records show us that John Sharp, Sr., Christopher Herold, Henry Harper, and John Dilley settled in our community between the years of 1800 and 1825 inclusive. We should also mention that Lanty Lockridge and Michael Cleek came to the valley early in the nineteenth century.
It was a task for the pioneers to clear the forest and build their homes with the poor equipment they had. They worked with a shop-made poll axe. In places the thickets of white thorn and wild crab were almost impenetrable. When a primitive forest of white pine, sugar maple, and other trees of large size was cut, a log-rolling was soon in order and they were burned. Bears and wolves were numerous and sheep had to be penned near by the house to protect them.
Many of these hardy pioneers were granted land by James Monroe, John Tyler, and other governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia between the years of 1800 and 1825. Some of them made difficult trips to Richmond in order that the title for the land where they settled might be made good. The value of land was small in comparison with the cost per acre now. Old land grants show that one conveyance of land was made as late as 1857 at a little more than one cent per acre. This was a tract of timber land containing 11,000 acres in the Alleghany Mountains which extended over to Back Creek. The sum paid for it, only sixty-seven years ago, was $150. Since that time it has been sold and re-sold and millions of feet of valuable timber have been cut on it.
At one time a man by the name of Evick lived in what is now known as the Evick Hollow near Grover Moore's. He manufactured the Evick Rifle which was a famous gun in its day. We are told that one of these guns may be seen at The Pocahontas Times Office. There may be some other hollows along the mountain that received names from men who were not permanent settlers.
A fine lot of white pine timber stood along the foot of the Alleghany. Nearly all the good trees that grew on the level were destroyed because the settlers needed improved land more than timber. A number of sugar groves were left for the purpose of making maple sugar and molasses.
The mountain timber has been going on the market since 1890. The white pine was cut first. The logs were peeled and floated down Knapp's Creek and the Greenbrier River to Ronceverte where they were manufactured by The St. Lawrence Manufacturing Company.
Capt. A. E. Smith and Janes Whiting, who did business under the firm name of Smith and Whiting, had ten million feet white pine cut each year for a period of six or seven years,
At that time the hardwood seemed to be of little value. During the past fifteen or twenty years it has been cut rapidly, perhaps as much as one hundred and fifty to two hundred million feet have been taken from Knapp's Creek and Douthard's Creek and some valuable tracts are still standing.
The first saw mills to dot this section were the up and down mills run by water power. If we are rightly informed, there were three of these; one owned and operated by the Moores at a point about opposite the Moore school house, one was on the Lockridge farm where Douthard's Creek unites with Knapp's Creek, and the third mill was built by Henry Harper and operated by him and his son, Samuel, for a number of years. This last mill continued. sawing until about 1890 and was the last mill of its kind to be operated in the community. Sometime during the eighties P. M. Harper sawed lumber on this mill to build his house where Mrs. E. A. Pritchard now lives.
The first circular saw mill in this neighborhood was brought here from Augusta County, Virginia for Wise Herold and I. B. Moore. Many people visited the new mill to observe it working.
The first mill to grind grain was the one owned by Michael Daugherty on the Mill Run where he settled. Peter Lightner, who was a well known citizen here in 1855, had a mill on the run at D. W. Dever's. Joseph Sharp, a pioneer of Frost, had a mill constructed close where A. A. Sharp now resides, one-half mile from the village.
Henry Harper also had a grist mill which ground wheat, corn, and buckwheat. It was located on the farm owned by Harmon Shinaberry. In connection with the grist mill Mr. Harper had a saw mill which has already been mentioned, a tan-yard, and one of the old fashioned tilt-hammer blacksmith shops. The tilt-hammer was run by water power. The mill for grinding grain crushed the kernels between two large revolving stones which were brought from Rockbridge County, Virginia. It was not used longer than 1896.
A mill of later years was the one built by Wellington G. Ruckman on the same stream where Michael Daugherty had the first one. Mr. Ruckman did grinding on this mill for a period of eleven years, discontinuing the industry probably twelve or fifteen years ago.
No battles of the Civil War were fought on the territory embraced, within the Knapp's Creek Community but brave men who have lived here were in service. Some were valiant soldiers of the Federal Army while others joined the ranks of the Confederacy. Squads of Yankees frequently passed through this section and General Averell, a Union Commander, with his army, camped one night at Frost, marching on the next day to Huntersville.
A post office was established at the village of Frost in l853. Francis Dever was the first postmaster. In conversing with the oldest person of the community, Mrs. Ellen Buzzard who was ninety-nine years of age on June 23, 1924, she says she does not remember how the name originated, but the presumption is that the name Frost was given to the office on account of the high altitude. The merchants of the vicinity have frequently been the postmaster. Early store-keepers were Francis Dever, Stuart Wade, Samuel Gibson, and J. B. Hannah.
Before "Uncle Sam" favored the people with a Rural Free Delivery Route there was a post office on Knapp's Creek near the Mt. Cartel and Westminister Churches known as Sunset. Someone suggested this name because there was an office directly east of here in Bath County, Virginia by the name of Sunrise.
Another post office which was not established till later years was called Driscol and derived its name from Col. John Driscol who had much timber cut in this region. D. B. McElwee was the postmaster at Driscol for a number of years. In 1914, largely through the efforts of our highly esteemed physician, Dr. J. B. Lockridge, deceased, a nice hotel was built for the accommodation of tourists and all those seeking a pleasant summer resort surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. The next year the Alleghany Club House was built. It is also a magnificent building, well located on a hill overlooking the Knapp's Creek Valley. When these improvements were made the name of the place was changed fron Driscol to Minnnehaha Springs, an Indian name signifying "Laughing Water."
When mail was first carried to the early established offices it was only brought on Wednesdays and Saturdays. One of the early mail routes was from Huntersville to Mill Gap in Virginia.
The people were very much handicapped in their efforts to travel. Like Daniel Boone when he went to Kentucky they had to make the roads when they came into the country. The first known road leading from what is now Virginia into the Knapp's Creek Valley came across the Alleghany Mountains just opposite the Old Harper Mill. We find fron the old land grants made by governors of Virginia where corners were called for on this road which was then known as Knapp's Spur, or the Spur Road. This name was likely given it because it was the road traveled by Mr. Knapp who will always be honored by the valley that has been named for him.
While the road is now only a pathway and but little traveled in this age of automobiles it shows evidence of having been dug or graded in a few places where it leads up a ridge on each side of the mountain. For years the people of Back Creek used it in coming horseback to the Harper Mill in bringing their grain to be ground.
The first wagon brought to Pocahontas County was brought over Knapp's Spur Road and was taken up the hollow where the Westminister Church now stands and which was known as the Ervine Hollow at that tine and on to Cloverlick where it was used.
As the valley was improved and fields fenced the road was kept on the Alleghany side the greater part of the way. On account of the shade and ice there in winter parts of it were changed from time to time until the entire road was made on the opposite side of the valley. The last change was made about forty years ago by two colored men, Jacob Kernel and Andrew Daugherty of Frost.
The State re-graded the road in 1923 making it much wider to accommodate the increased traffic.
In 1833 Mt. Zion Church in "The Hills" was built. It is a log structure but has been materially repaired and is still used for a house of worship. Previous to the erection of Mt. Vernon Church the people of Upper Knapp's Creek attended services at Mt. Zion. Many of them went horseback across the country by way of the Hill Run at I. B. Moore's.
Mt. Vernon Church was erected in 1856. A noticeable feature of this building is the good quality of the lumber used. Scarcely a defective spot can be seen in the ceiling. John McElwee and son did the carpenter work. All the lumber was planed by hand at a shop on the land owned by Moses Moore who was a noted Christian character.
Trinity M. E. Church at Frost was dedicated in 1888. The opening prayer was offered by Rev. Wm. T. Price of Marlinton. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Rev. Niece of Monroe County. His text was taken from Galatians the sixth Chapter and second verse: "Bear Ye One Another's Burdens, and So Fulfill the Law of Christ." Rev. George Spencer was the pastor in charge of the circuit. Other ministers present were Wm. and O. B. Sharp, both natives of Frost.
New Hope Lutheran Church at Minnehaha was built in 1893 through the efforts of Henry White, Sr., and his family who came to Douthard's Creek in 1876. Before building the church they had occasional services by Lutheran pastors in their home, in nearby churches, and in school houses. For some years after the building of the church the congregation was supplied by ministers from the South Branch Charge of Highland County, Virginia. Later it had a pastor of its own, but at the present time it is again supplied by an occasional visiting pastor. During all this tine there has been a Sunday School in progress and to the present time the little band of Lutherans have been loyal to the church of their choice.
The Westminister Presbyterian Church was built in 1903, Rev, G. W. Nickell was 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 1923 the first county convention to be held in Huntersville District convened here. Mt. Carmel M. E. Church South was dedicated October 1, 1905, Rev. H. L. Hout of Roanoke, Virginia preached the dedicatory sermon. Rev. J. D. Pope was pastor in charge. While digging for the foundation of this church the workmen found some pewter spoons, and other articles which were no doubt at one time the property of William Moore and wife who came here about 1780 and built a home on the bank where the church stands. They were not relatives of the other Moores 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 pine trees near the line, separating the land owned by Mrs. E. A. Pritchard and G. M. Sharp.
We do not boast of any high school in our community at this writing for a reason that the settlement is a scattered one, but we are proud of the progress the schools have made since the age of the log schoolhouse.
We are unable to say when the first school was taught at Frost. A person now living tells us of one being taught there in an old store building before the Civil War. At some later period a one room school house was built near the location of the present two-roomed house. This was abandoned in 1912 and a modern schoolhouse was erected. In 1923 it was found to be too small to accommodate the pupils who should attend and an additional room was added.
When the Civil War began school was being taught by Miss Mattie Gum, the mother of the late George Gingar of Huntersville, in a log school house which stood on the knoll near L. R. Hively's residence. The next building used for school in the Sunset neighborhood was on the hill not far from J. A. Cleeks. The last term taught here was by Enoch H. Moore in the year of 1896 and l897. By the next winter a new building had been constructed at the present location. It was destroyed by fire a few years ago. The building in which school is taught now, was located on the site of the old one.
The Moore schoolhouse first stood on the east side of the creek at the foot of the Alleghany Mountain a short distance- above Coe Beverage's as the road was there at that time. Later, after the road was changed the school house of this sub-district was built further up the valley above C. D. Newman's. When it was decided that this structure could not be used any longer the house in which school is taught at this time was built.
The first school taught at Cove Hill near Frost was approximately in 1894 by J. M. Barnett.
Douthard's Creek school house was built in 1910. It has also been used for preaching services and Sunday School.
A one-roon building was first used at Minnehaha Springs. It was probably erected twenty-five years ago. The two-roomed building was put up in 1915. W. L. Herold was the contractor.
The pioneer hones have mostly been replaced by new modern buildings. A telephone line reaches nearly every one. Many of the houses have been provided with water systems and light plants.
The only brick residence in the valley is the one where I. B. Moore dwells. Mr. Moore's father had this house built. The man who had the contract burnt the brick and did all the work for the consideration of two sorrel horses. The home has been well preserved to this day.
In conclusion I wish to say that Knapp's Creek Community has furnished to the world ministers, college professors, a judge, doctors, lawyers, civil engineers, teachers, and people of many other professions. Seven teachers have come from Douthard's Creek school alone since 1910.
We are all very much indebted to Rev. Wm. T. Price for the history he recorded and left us. It is to be hoped that the people of each neighborhood will follow his example and keep a record of future events in a more accurate manner than they have in the days past.
Community Histories Index