Skip Navigation
West Virginia Archives & History

History Of Locust Valley Community

(Wood County, West Virginia)

About sixty-five farms are located within the boundaries of the Locust valley Community, which were determined at the Country life Conference held at the Pleasant View Church in the autumn of 1925 under the direction of M. M. Reger, Miss May E. Prichard, Mrs. Hazel D. Graham, Mrs. Lena Sams, and others.

The community boundary as then determined may be defined as follows; beginning at the junction of the Rockport Pike and Sams's Creek road leading to Wadesville, and following this to the Belleville Hill road near Locust Valley schoolhouse, thence to the cross-roads near Mr. Wildman's, thence to Eli Store past the Frankhauser schoolhouse; about a half-mile from Eli Store on the Lubeck-Belleville pike, following the road leading up Woodyard past the G. C. Coull farm then to the Ball schoolhouse, from thence to the gravel road leading past Ingold Chapel Christian Church, the Pleasant View schoolhouse, the Pleasant View Baptist Church to the by-road beyond Peter Deem's farm leading over the hill past Winland's to the Rockport pike near Harry Butcher's, thence to the starting point at Sams's Creek road.

One other schoolhouse, New Era, and the Pleasant HiII M.E. Church, not mentioned in defining the boundaries are located near the central part of this community.

The following History was compiled and copied by Mrs. Lena Sams and Mrs. Estella Marshall, both born, raised, and now residing in this community. Folks submitting incidents and dates were: Mr. and Mrs. D. R. Sams, Mrs. Sarah Reeder, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Deem, Mr. William Winland, Mr. and Mrs. William Marshall, Mrs. Etta Coull, and Miss Helen Tallman.


About the year 1800, Johnathan Sams and his wife, who was formerly Miss Polly M. Potts, made their home near a little stream now known as Sams's Fork of the Big Tygart Creek.

The same family were natives of Wales and first settled Butler County, Pennsylvania near Pittsburg, but bowing to Indian attacks, the two brothers, Johnathan and John, left that settlement and traveled down the Ohio River. In some way the brothers became separated and never heard of each other again, as long: as they lived, but in later years decendents of both families discovered that John had settled in Ohio and Johnathan in West Virginia.

This community was still a portion of Old Virginny and was all in woods, with no roads but paths which were called bridle paths. The nearest neighbor lived at Wadesville, a distance of seven miles. This was probably the Mr. Wade from whom Wadesville took its name. Wild game, fish, and fowl were abundant. It is said that Mrs. Sams once killed a deer with an axe. She thought it meant to attack her small children but later decided it was after some pumpkins which had been left on a sled near the door.

Mr. and Mrs.Sams were the parents of thirteen children including one set of twins, David and Daniel. As the older boys were married, they were given a portion of the home farm. Two of these farms are still in possession of the heirs, being owned by Mrs. George Brown, a great-granddaughter, and by a grandson, Daniel Sams who was born on this same farm. Mr. Sams's father and mother , Daniel and Sally Sams, were married and settled on this farm in the Spring of l830. He is now 82 years of age and his wife is seventy-seven. She is a loyal member of the Locust Valley Farm Women's Club and has the distinction of being the only greatgrandmother in this organization.

Other old settlers who still have relatives living in this community are Simon Reeder, Mr. Cook, John Guinn, James Leach, Frank Poling, Marshall, McDonald, Dye, Burgy, and Ephraim Doty Myers.

An amusing incident is told of Mr. Myers, who heard of the need of a preacher who lived in that neighborhood, who had been very sick. One day he took a sack of flour and went to visit him. The preacher was overcome with gratitude and raised his eyes to heaven and said; "Oh Lord, I knew you would answer our prayer and send food if we only trusted thee. I thank thee Lord, Oh, I thank thee."

To which Ephraim added; "Hold on Fink! The Lord gave me strength to work and raise the wheat which was ground into flour, but he didn't have anything to do the packin it over here. Ephraim did that : you had better thank Ephraim."

Mrs. Mary McDonald, 87 years of age, was born and has always lived in this community. Her memory is remarkable for one of her age. She is a daughter of Mr. Leach who was postmaster at Fountain Springs for more than 17 years. Her brother, William Leach, and wife lived in this community until the death of his wife, September 21, 1928. Mr. Leach now resides with his son and has reached the age of 84. Mr. and Mrs. William Marshall, aged 80 and 72, and Mr. and Mrs. Dan Brown, are other oldest couples and Mr. Walter Wildman, Mr. Peyton Ruble and Mrs. Weaver are nearly 80 years of age. These people have all been thrifty farmers and still own their farms.

The value of property in early times was very low, as money was not so plentiful. Simon Reeder bought a farm of 100 acres (now owned by Earl Shepard) for a few dollars, a sorrel horse, and a wagon. Fifty cents a day was considered good wages. So far as possible business transactions were carried on by trade.


Among thepopular geographic names applied to the parts of this community are: Dog Hollow—-so named because of the large number of fox abounds owned by Isaac Roberts, who lived there. Sheep Gap—-located on Gwynn's place near Wildman's place. Tight-squeeze— narrow hollow located in old Seffin's farm, now owned by Luther Sams. Suck lick hill— located on D. R. Sams's farm. So named on account of deer coming to salt lick.


The homes of these old settlers were made of round logs with open spaces between the logs filled with shale and mud was called "chink and daubed". There were usually but one or two rooms. Later hewed logs were used in building houses, and they were made with several rooms. One of these, a two story house belonging to the Coull heirs, is located in this community and is a work of real art in this handicraft.

Cat and clay chimneys made of sticks and mud were used, as open fires were the only kind in use in those days. Cooking was done by the open fire place. Iron tea kettles and pots were hung on crane which hung over the blaze. Dutch ovens were used outside and were heated by live coals of the fire. When the baking was ready, the coals were raked out of the oven and the bread and pies set inside and baked till done.

On account of houses being small, furniture was made to utilize as little space as possible, and was therefore built for service rather than style and show. Low beds called Trundle-beds, were made to push back under the high post beds which were the main pieces of furniture. These were minus springs but this deficiency was made up with luxurious feather beds, fine woolen blankets, coverlets, and lovely quilts made in the homes.


The first lighting system consisted of pine torches and saucers filled with grease with one end of a lighted wick placed in the grease. One proud old lady who added several bits of information to this history, told the writer that her husband, who was very much of a tease, always managed to invite a host of "quality folks" when he knew the oil supply was low and she would have to prepare grease lights, much to her embarassment.

Candle and oil lights were the next step in better lights. The first of these were made by filling a tin box with crude oil and covering with a tight lid with a small hole punched through the middle of it, through which was placed and lighted.

Such lights as those filled the rooms with smoke, so when the first lamps and refined oil or kerosene were introduced it was thought no better light could be invented.


In the early days of the community almost everything the people used was homemade, so there was located in this territory coopers, cobblers, carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers, etc. A tan yard was located at Parkersburg and tan bark was furnished by the settlers and hauled on wagons, made of wood, even the wheels being sawed about four inches thick from large logs from gum trees because this timber is not apt to split. Oxen were used instead of horses on account of the scarcity of harness.


Wheat, corn, potatoes, turnips, cane, beans, pumpkins, fruit, and flax were the principal products grown while the community was still young. Canning of fruits and vegetables was unknown as there was no glass jars, or "air tights" as they were first called. Fruits and vegetables were kept for winter by storing in the ground, pickling in salt brine, drying, and made into butters which were kept in wooden casks, which had tight fitting lids for covers. Molasses, maple, or sorghum syrup, and honey were used to sweeten fruit butter.


The women and the girls took the flax from the growing plant and made it into thread and linen cloth, from which bed ticks, sheets, pillow cases, table linen, clothing, and men's pants were made. The women were expert needle women, as there were no sewing machines. Many pieces of fine needle work are still in possession of residents of this community.

Dyes were made of bark from different trees and the roots of madder, a garden plant, made a beautiful red dye, which never faded. Wood furnished yarn, twiII, jaynes, linsey, and flannel, from which socks, stockings, dresses, pants, blankets, and coverlets were made. Shoe sox were knit of yarn and worn over the shoes in real cold weather. Theese served a double purpose, keeping the feet warm and also kept one from slipping on icy grounds.


Styles for ladies date back to hoop skirts, basques, Garbaldi, Polynnaise shaker bonnets, platted sun bonnets, and shawls. Men wore stove pipe hats made of fur, also caps knit of yarn.


Laundry work was done at the creek. Barrels sawn in halves were used for tubs. After the clothes had been in the tubs and washed, they were threw a process called "baffling", being laid over a log and beaten with wooden paddles. They were then rinsed and hung out to dry.

Soap was also a homemade product made from grease with homemade lye. In making lye, a groove was made in a small log and two rows of clap-boards were set upright in this groove and slanted so they were about 21/2 feet apart at the top. Boards were then fitted in each end, making a tight hopper that would hold ashes. This was then filled with ashes from hickory or other green wood and then water poured on until the ashes were rather wet, after while the water which had turned into lye from passing threw the ashes, reached the bottom and ran through the groove into a vessel placed for that purpose. This was boiled with grease, tallow, or meat scraps to make both hard and soft soap. These hoppers were called "ash hoppers."


Cattle, horses sheep, and hogs were raised. All stock ran wild and bells were used on horses as well as cattle and sheep to locate them. Each family had a mark to distinguish their hogs from others. These marks were made in the ears of the hogs. Some of the names of these marks were "over bit", under bit", "over and under slope" "swallow fork", "left crop", ect. Deer and wild turkeys were still found in this community as late as 1870.


Wooden plows, mauls, and harrows, were used first. Some of the poorer farmers dragged a large brushy limb of a tree over the ground instead of a harrow. Hoes, mattocks, axes, and wedges made of iron followed. The first buggies were called "broches".


The first settlers had to go to Charleston to salt wells and make their salt and carry it home on horseback. They boiled the salt in large iron kettles. These salt wells were owned by William Graham.


One of the first roads of this community was the road leading over the hill past the Harry Butcher's and Windland's into Pettyville. Roads were built very indirectly on account of a lack of bridges, and the streams were forded. In some instances this caused a traveler to doubt the distance to be traveled. Walking and horseback riding were the main modes of travel. All horses were trained to carry double as men rode with their wives or sweethearts behind them. Rafts, flat boats, John-boats, and canoes were used by water route.


The first post office was located at Fountain Springs, letters had addresses written at the top of the page and then were folded with the address out and stamped with a seal made of black wax which was warmed and stuck on the letters. These seals cost three cents each. Envelopes were unknown.


The first mill was located near the Reeder Cemetary and was built by Frank Reeder. This was saw mill and grist mill combined and ground both wheat and corn. The stone dam washed out and was rebuilt of pine brush by McDonald. Part of this dam is still there.


The first place of worship on Sams's fork was a long building situated on the farm now owned by Mrs. George Brown. Rev. Enoch Rector, founder of the Baptists churches in Wood County, was the first pastor and preached once a month. This building was also used for a school- house. Split poplar logs with pegs driven into the ends formed the seats. A large fireplace was built across one end of the room and the window was spaced where one log had been left out and was covered with greased paper.

This was a select or subscription school and was held about three months out of the year. Subscription fees ranged from three to five dollars per term. The teacher boarded among the scholars free of charge. Some of the first teachers were Robert Quinn, Ralph Black, and Nancy Lockhard. Pens were made of goose quills. Some ink was made from the bark of maple trees, boiled down to the right consistency. The color of the ink was black. Blue ink was made from indigo.


The first settlers had to go to Marietta for a doctor, as there was none located nearer. Dr. Moss and Dr. Bond were the first doctors in this community. Other preachers besides Rev. Rector were Johnathan Steele and Ozias Stephens.


It was customary for each family to have a family burying ground, usually located on its own farm. Several of these graveyards are scattered over the community. The first public cemetery was located at Pleasant Hill, opposite the church. This cemetery was fenced in 1927 and is kept in good condition by a fund raised by the Locusts Valley Farm Women's club. This club also solicited money and fenced the Sams' s graveyard in this community.

Coffins were hand made of walnut wood. One old fellow called Zebe Weiss, had his coffin made, and then lay down in it and had the preacher to preach his funeral while he listened. Aunt Hannah Melrose also had her funeral preached before she died by the Rev. McGraw.


People were rather superstitious and many ghost tales have been handed down to the younger generations. The bravest of the young men would manage to have a few of the timid ones along, especially at a wake, and if they could find a loose board in the floor, or could loosen one, they would see that one end of the coffin rested over one end of it, they would sit at the other end of the board and move the board with their foot or chair, and cause the coffin to move. This, coupled with the telling of ghost stories, was a real hair-raising episode. The timid ones stayed and endured it because they were more afraid to leave and to go home alone.


Among musical instruments were Jew's harps, banjos, dulcimers, and violins, some of which were made of gourds, Community spirit was more manifest in those days than now, as neighbors worked together and played together. Parties, called "frolics" such as flax pullings , wool pickings, apple peelings, bean stringings, husking bees, and quilting bees were some of the amusements. These were usually followed by an old fashioned dance.


This community played a part in the Civil and later wars, having given soldiers in each of them. General Morgan passed through here on his raid and took several horses from farmers. In some instances, other horses which were tired out from the long march, were left instead. One in particular, which was afterwards called "Old Morgan", proved to be a much better horse than the one taken in his place. A wounded soldier was left at the home of Aunt Sally Sams, a widow with a large family. He was in critical condition condition, and although he was a rebel he was kindly and faithly nursed back to health and sent back to his own company. Some of the soldiers from this community who served in the Spanish American War were; Bert Sams, Frank Huff, George Cooper, and Charles Pickens.


George Curtis Sams, Fred Sams, Phillip J. Sams (three brothers), James P. Epler, Earl Sams, Fred Myres, Herbert Daily, Scott Gilchrist, Charles Lee, and Carl Hall all served in active service overseas but two. George Curtis Sams died in camp from influenza.


Woodyard creek section was first settled by Woodyards, Beckwiths, Munseys, and Henry and John Page, on Tygart toward Mineral Wells. Wigals and Lowers were some of the nearest neighbors. The Woodyards were Ehglish. The grandfather, Johnny, came from Virginia and settled in Pruntytown. His son Henly Woodyard, came to now what is Woodyard Creek and he is the father of the Woodyards here. He served in the war of 1812. Henly Woodyard went through Bellevelle with General Tyler and they camped there one night under a large sugar tree.

Presley Woodyard, uncle of Henly Woodyard, settled on Sand Plains. He had a son named Jim who was sheriff of this county. Tracewells, a noted family, came out of Virginia, Tracewell was sheriff of the county at one time. Jake Woodyard was his father-in-law. Mrs. Francis Leach, mother of the present sheriff and deputy sheriff, was a member of the Locust Valley Farm Women's Club. Lem Muncey, son of Elijah Muncey, joined the Yankee army and was Corporal.

Other old residents of this section were Mr. and Mrs. Chris Frankhauser, of German decent, who raised a family of ten children. Mr. and Mrs. Frankhauser lived to be near eighty and ninety years of age, respectively. Mrs. Frankhauser was disabled by paralysis but her influence left its mark by her patience and Christian spirit and her willingness to help others. Mr. and Mrs. Walter B. Wildman were parents of two daughters, one of whom, Sarah Camp, was a school teacher and taught several terms in this community. She now resides near Pleasant Hill.

Mr. Mrs. John Watkins raised a family of six sons and one daughter, Clara Gangloff, who was also a schoolteacher. Mr. Watkins served in the Civil War and suffered the loss of an eye.

Mr. and Mrs. Dan Gilchrist, of Irish descent, raised a family of twelve children who are all still living. Mr. Gilchrist has been dead several years. He was a soldier in the Civil War. Mrs. Gilchrist still owns a good farm and lives on it with her son. She is 76 years of age.

Mr. and Mrs. John A. Sams also located in this section. Mr. Sams died at the age of sixty. His wife, Mrs. Alice Sams, was left a widow with seven children but took up nursing and kept them together and also cared for an old lady for five years, who lived to be almost 99 years of age, and who was left homeless by the death of her sister. She was one of the first schoolteachers of this section, Mrs. Sams being one of her pupils when she was a little girl. The Sams's farm is still in possession of the heirs, one of whom still resides in this community.

The valley through which Woodyard creek makes its way contains several hundred acres of fertile soil, many of which are being improved by farmers now owning them. One of these farms formerly owned by Mr. William Winland, now in possession of Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Coull, his daughter, has been used to demonstrate the growth of alfalfa in this section. Mr. and Mrs. Winland were among the old settlers, having been born in Monroe County, Ohio, and were very industrious and interested in agriculture and took much pride in improving their property. They owned and operated one of the first grist mills and kept a grocery store. Mr. Winland was a carpenter by trade and built many houses and barns located between his home and Rockport. He died in the spring of 1929 at the age of 83 years.

This farm is now called Fern Dale Dairy Farm. Mr. and Mrs. Coull are improving their land by rotation of crops, raising alfalfa and keeping cattle and other livestock. Mrs. Coull won the home beautification contest in 1923.

The Woodyard farms, about five in number, were once among the best farms in this section, having large well built dwellings, barns, and other buildings. The oldest of these, owned by Henry Woodyard, was destroyed by fire about 1890 and never was rebuilt. Miss Hannah Parker Jackson, a sister-in-law of Ephraim Woodyard was two years older than Abraham Lincoln, having been born October 12, 1807. She was one of the first schoolteachers in this community. Her grandfather came over on the Mayflower. The Woodyard farms have been sold out of the family, one being by Mr. E. H. Carpenter and another by Mr. L. M. Foglesong. Both are well kept farms and are being improved inside the homes as well as the barns and the farm lands.


Missouri Creek is supposed to have been named after a man who came from Missouri and bought a farm in this locality, then became dissatisfied with his purchase and soon left. Barker Cook, Stephen Lee, and Harman Ruble, were among the first settlers on this creek. Barker Cook's children were David, William Franklin, Joseph, Mary, Prudence, and Elizabeth. David settled on Woodyard Creek, Prudence on Badgeley Creek, Elizabeth and William on Missouri Creek, "Uncle Bill" (as he was called) was a cooper by trade. He owned several farms in this community, a few which are still owned by his descendants. He was deputy sheriff for twelve years. He died at the age of eighty-four. Thomas and Joe Cooper, brothers, were the older settlers of this place. Thomas, and his wife Hannah, who was an invalid for years, both lived to be more than 80 years of age.

Joe Cooper married Anne Sams and raised a family of 11 children. He lost his arm in one of the first threshing machines seen in this community. Four of his daughters still own good farms and still live in this community.

Uncle Bill Cook's daughter, Viola (wife of Peter Deem), was born on Missouri Creek and lived there until her death at the age of 71 years. She was always interested in church and community affairs and at the age of 68 served one year as vice president of the Locust Valley Farm Women's Club, of which she was an active member. Mr. Deem is 76 years of age and lives with his son Ralph on the farm purchased from John Cooper, father of Tom and Joe Cooper.

Ralph Deem is now 47 years of age and has taught school for 22 years, all being in Tygart District except two terms taught in Lubeck District. His daughter Ruth, at the age of eight years won the Judge Reese Blizzard prize, given for the highest average percent in grade school in the county.

Fred B. Deem, another son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Deem, is a lawyer and is located in Clarksburg. He composed the words of "Hail West Virginia" one of the state songs.

Uncle Wesley and Aunt Molly Sams settled in this section and raised a family of 5 children. Aunt Molly was one of the first school teachers in this county. Her son, Charles, was also a schoolteacher and for several years has served as a mail carrier. Aunt Polly died in 1928 at the age of 82 years. Uncle Wesley makes his home with his son, Charles, at Pettyville and is now 85 years of age,

Stephen and Polly Lee settled on Missouri Creek. Polly was blind but did her own house work, also plain sewing and knitting. Stephen was a farmer. They had one son Daniel, and three daughters, Salina Muncey, Betsey Jackson, and Rhoda Ball. Daniel lived on Missouri Creek and was a cooper by trade. He and Uncle Bill Cook coopered together and sold barrels to the late Charles Shattuck, once sheriff of Wood County. He died at an advanced age.

Daniel Lee's daughter, Anna, was married to C.W. Myers. They made their home on this creek and raised seven children. She lived to be 65 years of age. Mr. Myers was prominent in public and community affairs, having served three years as county commissioner and ten years as a member of the Board of Education and was always one of the first to respond to any call in church or religious matters, having been a member of the Pleasant Hill Church for 57 years and a faithful worker to help build up the church. He served in most of the offices in church and Sunday school. Until the time of his death September 17, 1929, at the age of 75 years, he took active part in the social affairs of the community, singing being one of his greatest pleasures. He enjoyed the company of young folks and helped many a one to live better by his good advice, sympathy, and cheery smile. One daughter, Estella Marshall, settled on Sams Creek and maintains the Locust Valley Grocery, the only store located in this community.

Stephen Lee's brother, David, was among the first school teachers in this community. He settled near Pleasant Hill. He enjoyed fox hunting, and an amusing incident is told of him and "Little Bill" Gwynn on one of their hunts. They always carried a horn with them to call their hounds off the chase when they got ready to go home. Once in company with several other boys, they had been out all night and had a feast around their campfire just before day break, then started home. It began to rain about the time they reached the old log church at Pleasant Hill so they climbed up into the garret until the rain was over to take a nap. There was to be preaching that night at the church. The boys slept so soundly that night came, the folks gathered into church and services began and they still slept. Finally the preacher began to preach louder and louder and told how Gabriel blew his trumpet just as the boys awoke. Dave said, hand me that horn and they will sure to think Gabriel is here and Bill had quite a time preventing Dave from blowing the horn and disturbing the meeting.

David was one of the foremost men in this section. When the Civil War broke out he was captain of the militia and mustered all the men in the country. He mustered at Mineral Wells. They first mustered at Fountain Springs, but later moved to the old Mineral Wells. All young men over 18 years of age had to muster or drill. D. R. Sams and Hiram Sams walked 9 miles to Parkersburg to the General Muster, which was held twice a year, mustered all day long, and walked the distance back home in the evening. Only a drizzling rain kept them from lying down along the roadside and camping for the night. Young men over 18 was also compelled to work three days on the road, or more if necessary. They worked under a supervisor.

David Lee died at the age of 81. He had three or four children who settled in this community, among them being two sons, Horasce and Otis. Both died at an advanced age. Descendants of these still live in this community. Reeder Lee Sams, a grandson of Horace is a student in Parkersburg High School. Other high school students from this community are Dorothy Cook, Forest and Irene Ward, Edward, Florence, Veva and Eugene Shepard, Clara Yoho, Eldron Coull, and Robert Ward. Fred Coull is a graduate of Parkersburg High School and is now enrolled in West Virginia University, Morgantown. Clara Ward Wise a Parkersburg High school graduate, attended Marshall College, and taught school in 1928. Leah E. Sams, a graduate of Parkersburg High School in 1928, is now teaching her second term of school.


Mrs. Adaline Ruble, wife of Peyton Ruble, and nephew Gordon Davis, were burned to death when their home was burned to the ground. This was located in the Pleasant Hill section.

Mrs. Edie Caplinger, aged 80, and her niece, Linda Caplinger, a deaf mute, were both burned to death. They lived alone, it was supposed that the old Lady's clothing had caught from an open fire and that the niece had died in trying to save her aunt.

Angeline Radcliffe was burned to death accidentally about two years after her mother, Jemina Radcliffe's death, which was caused by severe burns received while helping her husband burn brush.

Aunt Jane Ruble, age 87, met death by falling into the cistern and drowning.

Ben Hill fell off his wagon as he was returning home from Parkersburg and he was dead while found by a searching party after the horses had came home alone.

Robert Graham was shot and killed by an Indian at Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Among the greatest calamities in this community was the explosion of the boiler of a sawmill owned by George Shultz and Mr. Mahaley, while at work on a sawmill set located on the farm now owned by J. H. Marshall, near the Locust Valley Schoolhouse. The explosion occurred at noon hour and all the children were at the mill sitting on the logs. The boiler went over the heads of the children to a point about two hundred yards distance, striking a beech tree near the Belleville road. Fortunately none of the children were hurt, but the owners of the mill, Shultz and Mahaley were struck by the belt being killed instantly and Schultz died the evening of that day. D. R. Sams was severely scalded, besides bruises, S. A. Cook received a broken leg , and other bruises and burns. Henry Mayhew was also burned but not so severely. The mill set was finished by George Kaufman and was operated by him and his sons.

Community Histories Index

West Virginia Archives and History