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West Virginia Archives & History

History Of Sinking Creek Community

By Mrs. W. Farley Bush


Many years ago, so many in fact that it cannot be ascertained, but a hundred to say the least, Ruben Holbert came over from Ritchle County to the wilds of Sinking Creek seeking a home. He found a large tract of woodland abounding with wild animals, and being, presumably, of a timid nature, did not venture far from the main thoroughfare, but settled near the mouth of the creek on what is now known as the Robt. Burnside farm.

Later, in the year 1833 two of his sons ventured a bit farther into this forest, John Solomon building his cabin home where his son Dolphin now resides and William locating on what was known for several years as the Geo. S. Bush farm but now owned by Frank Woodford, Jr.

About this time Hiram Allen Goff, grandfather of Allen E. Goff, a present landowner and merchant at Lucerne, obtained a patent from the Governor of Virginia, granting to him a large tract of land extending from the Waldo Bush farm to the Geo. F. Bush homestead. The tract contained more than one thousand acres. Mr. Goff being heir to a large estate on Leading Creek did not settle here, but several years later, having disposed of one hundred acres, he divided the remainder equally between two of his daughters Mrs. Alfred Riddle and Mrs. William F. Hall. Mrs. Riddle received the part known later as the Powell farm. Her home was built in the bottom opposite the residence of Ira H. Williams. This farm has changed hands many times since then and has been sub-divided into five good-sized farms. Its present owners are: Mrs. James Allman, Guy Powell heirs, Scott Mason, Granville Ellyson, and Charles Peterson.

The part given Mrs. Hall has likewise changed hands. Some of its owners were H. B. Griggs, Warren Hall, Henry Heckert, and Dale Heckert. Its present owners are: Asa Bailey, Freeman Bush, James A. Jeffries, W. Farley Bush, and Allen E. Goff.

The next to come in quest of a home was George Farley Bush. A brief sketch of his life follows: Geo. Farley Bush was born in Lewis County then Virginia in the year 1820. He married Joanna Goff Springston in the year 1842, and began his married life in Roane County. He met with financial reverses there and came to what is now Gilmer County in 1843 with his wife and child. He came over from Leading Creek by way of Bee Tree Run to Sinking Creek, bringing all their worldly possessions, which consisted of some bedding, some cooking utensils and a few articles of wearing apparel, on a sled drawn by one horse. His wife with the baby in her arms rode, and guided the horse, while he walked and carried a spinning wheel.

The house into which they moved was on land owned by Hiram A. Goff. The site on which this cabin was erected is the one on which the barn near the residence of Re B. McGee now stands. After living here one year he bought fifty acres of land of Hiram A. Goff and paid for it by days' work at fifty cents per day. On this little farm he built his home. After paying for this he bought another fifty acres of Mr. Goff on the same terms. Later he obtained a patent conveying to him several hundred acres of land.

Next we greet John and Isaac Ellyson and Frank Woodford Sr., brothers and brothers-in-law, who came here from Barbour County in 1834. The farms on which they settled are still in possession of their heirs.

Soon after came Zebulun Phillips who was a blacksmith by trade. Whence he came or whither he went is not known. He lived for several years on the land now owned by Zackary Ellyson on Lance Run of Sinking Creek.

Then in the early 60's came Henry Heckert, Henry Bell, Waldo Bush, Abram Bush, Joseph Woods, and many others, all worthy and highly respected citizens, and we feel sure a full history of their lives would be most interesting - but after all it really isn't necessary. They had the same sorrows and the same joys. They stood side by side, working together, willingly and gladly.

Our records show that we have come into possession of our homes through patents, deeds, and inheritance, but when we think of the hardships these fine pioneer men and women had to endure and the sacrifices they had to make we are almost forced to think that our homes were acquired by conquest.


The occupation of these men was principally farming. They managed by industry, frugality, and perseverance to pay for their homes and eke out a comfortable living, and at the same time many of them reared large families. Because of the pure air they had to breathe and their regular and simple habits of living very little sickness was experienced among them - except what could be successfully treated by the matron of the household with her preparation of herbs.

The clothing worn was mostly homespun. Manufactured cloth was almost unobtainable and the settlers had to depend upon themselves for the material with which they were clothed. Nearly all the wives and daughters were adept at manufacturing cloth of different material and in almost every home could be heard the hum of spinning wheel and click of the loom. It was a pleasant recreation for them and they would often congregate together of an evening and they had frequent bouts in speed and skill. The only recreation afforded the men and boys was, hunting wild game, fishing, swimming, and an occasional wrestling or shooting match.


The first house built for school purposes in Troy District was located on Sinking Creek in 1848. The site chosen for this building was on Sinking Creek side of what is usually referred to as the low gap between Horn Creek and Sinking Creek on land now owned by Loyd Morrison.

The house was a log cabin. The roof was held in position by weight. The building had a puncheon floor. There was a huge fire place in one end of the room, while in the other end a log was chopped out. With greased paper pasted over the opening this served as a window. The seats were made by splitting small logs and inserting pins for legs in the oval sides. Harvey Cooper taught the first school.

From 1916 to 1923 there have been fourteen Normal School graduates in this community, ranging in age from 17 to 24 years. Of this number two have received their degree from West Virginia University and one from Marshall College. The Rev. Asa B. Bush was the first person from this community to receive a college degree. Hallie Ellyson Rohr was the first Normal School graduate. She finished the Short Normal course in 1916.

There are at present twenty-one teachers whose homes are in the community in spite of the fact that many have abandoned teaching; some to make homes for themselves, and others to take up work in other vocations.

There are as yet only two standardized schools in Gilmer County. One of these is located on Sinking Creek and is known as "The Mound Run School". It was standardized in 1922 with Doyle Woodford as teacher.

Quite a number of the younger boys and girls are attending Normal School.


The Union Baptist church was organized in 1882 with a membership of 33. Its first pastor was the Rev. John Woofter. The meetings were held in the Hall school house before the building and dedicating of a church house in 1888. Prior to the organization of the church in 1882 the membership was with the Leading Creek Baptist church. The church has preaching services once a month, Sunday School nine months in the year, and B. Y. P. U. meetings once a week. The present membership is 137. Rev. Albert Smith is the pastor.


A Good Roads Club was organized in 1922 - with R. B. McGee as president. The membership of the club was composed of those persons who subscribed money to buy a Fordson Tractor to be used for the improvement of the roads. The tractor was bought in 1922, and the remainder of the money needed was raised by a community social under the auspices of the club. The speakers for the occasion were Robt. F. Kidd and B. W. Craddock of Glenville.

The Lucerne Farmer's Club was organized in 1916 at the Hall school house with E. F. Ellyson as president. A. F. Hedges was the County Agent at that time. Following Mr. Hedges the County Agents have been: E. D. Turner, Harvey Hall, and M. W. Harrison.

A Mothers' Club was organized In August 1923, with Mrs. R. B. McGee as president. Miss Ruth Ann Priest the county health nurse meets with the club.


The first electric light and water system in the community was the one installed by A. E. Goff in his home in 1919.

The first automobile that ran on Sinking Creek roads came from Glenville and brought guests to the home of James A. Jeffries.

The first car owned by a resident of the community was bought by H. P. Woofter and was of Metz make.


We haven't made the progress along agriculture lines that we should. We have had farm journals and papers in our homes for years, but we didn't read them much. At last, however, the farmers began talking acid phosphate, oxygen, nitrogen, rotation of crops, and silos, but it wasn't until 1916 that any one had the courage to build one. F. T. Bush and Alien E. Goff were the first to make the experiment. Recognizing its merits Mr. Goff built another silo the following year. Mr. Jeffries also built one, and so on until now we have nine silos in the community. And since the coming of the County Agent we have been moving right along. We are reading more and seeing things differently, and progress is being made.

The first purebred cattle were the Durham - bought of D. W. O'Brien by A. E. Goff, E. F. Ellyson, and Will Bailey.

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