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West Virginia Archives & History

History Of Lee Creek Community

In the year 1785 Joseph Wood of New Jersey became the agent and surveyor for the colonization and sale of a large tract of land near Bellville. He brought four Scotch families with him and they landed at what is now Bellville December 16, 1785. Others came later. They brought cattle and farming implements with them. Clearing was commenced immediately and from the timber a block-house 20 by 40 feet was erected, surrounded by a stockade ten feet high. The block-house was the usual type with loopholes from which to shoot intruding Indians.

The first settlers who came with Mr. Wood came from Wyoming and Carlisle, Pennsylvania and from above Wheeling, West Virginia. The following are the names of the Scotch families that came with Mr. Wood and those that came the following spring. McDonal, Greathouse, Taylor, Jemerson, Andrew McCash, F. Andrews, and Thomas Gilruth. In 1787 they were joined by the following persons: Joel and Joseph Dewey, Stephen Sherrod, Malcolm Colman, Petre and Andres Anderson and their families. Decendants from some of these families still live in the southern part of this county and in Jackson County.

Prior to the year 1785 a hunter and trapper named David Lee settled at the mouth of the creek now called Lee Creek. He was a native of Pennsylvania and resided in this vicinity a number of years. He married a sister of Peter Anderson. Many of his decendants are now residents of this county. In the spring of 1785 a company of hunters and trappers from Wheeling took possession of an Indian improvement of about twenty acres at the mouth of Lee Creek. This company consisted of Mr. Flinn and his family, Mr. Parchment and family, John McCessack and John Barnett. These people later moved down to Bellville, thus adding strength to the protection against the Indians. About the year 1796 or 1797 the settlement at Bellville received an important addition of immigrants from Connecticut. The leading man was George D. Avery. He was a professional surveyor and civil engineer. He was granted leave to construct a dam on Lee Creek near the falls and built a mill January 5, 1803. He laid out some of the streets of Parkersburg. Avery Street was named for him. The native Indians of this community belonged to the Shawnee Tribe, one of the most warlike tribes with which the white people came in contact. Before the coming of the white man the Indian built his wigwam along the streams and hunted and fished and went on the warpath against any foe of his own race or the early white settlers. In the fall of 1790 Jacob Parchment left the garrison at Bellville to hunt deer on the south fork of Lee Creek and was killed and scalped by the Indians. Late in the spring of 1792 Stephen Sherrod left the garrison at Bellville, and after feeding his hogs went into the woods to cut an ox-gad. He was surprised and captured by a party of ten Indians. His wife left the garrison a short tine after to milk the cow and was seized by two of the Indians who intended to make her a prisoner also. She resisted with so much force and screamed so loudly that they struck her senseless with a blow from the tomahawk, and were about to scalp her when a shot from the rifle of Peter Anderson wounded the Indian in the arm causing him to flee. Mrs. Sherrod was badly cut about the head. The nearest Doctor lived at Marietta and the only way to get him was to go in a canoe. This took forty hours. Mrs. Sherrod recovered from the wound and her husband escaped from his captors and returned home. After the danger from Indian attacks became less these people began to scatter and some settled on Lee Creek. Mr. Flinn and his two sons settled on the farm now owned by Mr. Will Sellers. The Andersons and the Willards settled farther up the creek. Philip Wigal came from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania in 1799 and settled about five miles from Bellville. He later settled on the farm now owned by Mr. J. W. Huffman. Peter Dernberger, John Boso, and Jacob Kiems came about 1800. The descendants of some of these early settlers still live within our boundaries.

Peter Anderson became the first Justice of the Peace May 4, 1801 and held the office until old age caused him to resign. Rev. Benjamin Mitchell succeeded him and filled the office until his death in 1834.

Wood County was organized in 1798. The first homes were made of logs. Small trees were felled and the logs were cut the proper lengths. Houses were built of these. The cracks were filled with chinks and daubed with clay. Clapboards were laid for the roof and these were weighted with poles to keep them in place. The floors wore made of puncheons. The only windows were small holes covered with paper. These homes were really small factories were everything that they used were made. Wool and flax were made into cloth and blankets. Food was raised and stored for home use. Their lights were candles made of tallow. Those settlers turned the wilderness into fruitful fields. In these plain homes boys and girls grew to be strong and courageous. To succeed required caution, energy, presistence, courage and hope. Other settlers followed these. They came from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Ohio. Some of those who came about the turn of the nineteenth century were Bibbee, Fleak and Buckley. Mr. Fleak owned the first saw mill in this community and helped build the road along the south fork of Lee Creek. Charles Townsend his grandson, owns his old home farm. Mr. Buckley owned a large amount of land along Lee Creek and about Buckley Chapel Church, from which it received its name. Land was very cheap some selling for twenty-five cents an acre. One neighbor stated that his father bought forty acres for ten dollars, and another one hundred and twenty acres for fifty dollars.

The first church of this community was near the site of this present one. Later a frame church was built where this one now stands. The present one was built in 1896. It has been repainted this summer. There are two other churches in the community. We have regular church services and two Sunday Schools that are well attended.

The first schools were like the homes. They had a very small pane of glass for a window or a greased paper, the seats were made of split logs with pegs driven in them for legs. We now have four one-room school houses. Two of them are modern and well lighted and have been repainted this year, a new floor put in one and some new furniture in all of them. There are libraries in all the schools. Three of our teachers hold first grade certificates and the other is a high school graduate.

Settlers still continue to come to Lee creek community from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. They cleared the land, built better homes, improved their stock and crops, churches, and schools. Candles gave place to oil lamps. These lamps have been improved and gasoline, acetylene, and electric lights are now found in the community. Household conveniences have been much improved and we now have cookstoves, washing machines, sewing machines, electric washers, separators, musical instruments, and many other conveniences. The farmer has riding plows, tractors, reapers, mowing machines, manure spreaders, power sprayers, hay balers, and automobiles. We have very pretty homes in Lee Creek Community and most of ths folks own their own homes. The farmers depend solely on agriculture for support, there being no coal, gas oil or other source of income. There about fifty homes in our community. Twenty-eight of them belong to the Wood County farm Bureau. There isn't a store in the community. Host of the trading is done at Bellville where there are several good stores and a railroad. Quite alot of produce is shipped to Pittsburgh on the Ohio River boats. General farming, dairying, poultry raising, and fruit growing are the most important industries. There are two miles of travel road in the community.

We might mention here a few of the folks who have gone out from this community in other lines of work. Rev. J. R. Beckett was known and respected by everyone in this community. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Conference of West Virginia. He was always interested in the welfare of his church and community. He died several years ago. Mr. Walter E. Cochran, who was a teacher for several years in our public schools, went to Mountain Village, Alaska to teach in the Government schools, where he did a splendid work. He died in Alaska after spending five years as a teacher there. Miss Maud Bonar was a graduate of the Presbyterian Hospital, Pennsylvania. She spent three years as a Reserve Nurse in the Army Nurse Corps with rank as Second Lieutenant. She was honorably discharged September 9, 1921 and died October 9, 1924. Some of the others who have held positions of trust were, W. T. Cochran who served two terms as County Superintendent of Schools and one term as Sheriff of Wood County. Lee Bonar is teaching in the Department of Plant Pathology of the University of California. Miss Mary Bonar is a missionary in French Equatorial, Africa. William Blevins is a minster in Illinois. Clyde Bonar is County Agent of Mineral County. Martha Bonar is Home Demonstration Agent in Upshur County. Those who remained at home cannot be overlooked, for today they, more than any others, are making Lee Creek Community what it is and what we hope it will become. When we get better roads, centralized schools, better churches, and more cooperation among the farmers it will be difficult to find a better community in which to live than Lee Creek.

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