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West Virginia Archives & History

Talbott Community

Talbott community is eighty years old. The first settler was Ollie Proudfoot who moved here in the year 1844. He was followed the next year by Daniel Weaver and a man by the name of Cole.

Robert R. Talbott, for whom the community is named, moved here in the year 1846. He came from a few miles north of Philippik, and built his cabin before he brought his family of a wife and one small child. It took them two days to walk from their former home, and Mr. Talbott carried all of his property on his back while his wife carried the child.

Other families who soon moved in were the Durretts and the Corleys from Virginia; Francis Hathaway from Taylor's Drain community of Barbour County; the Polings; and the Shomos. The principal reason for the settlement was the desire of young married men to own their own homes. These settlers were religious, industrious people.

Just before the Civil War broke out quite a number of Irish families reached the community, having recently come over from Ireland seeking homes in the wilderness. They were a good class of emigrants, being noted workers.

All of the early people worked for each others interests and for many years there was but little need of constables in the community.

In the year 1846, the few families making up the settlement organized a religious service meeting around in the various homes. Soon they decided to erect a church. They came to this decision one night at a service held in the home of Daniel Weaver on the farm now owned by Dewey Durrett. This first church was erected at the forks of the road near the old cemetery, and was known for many years as the Durrett church. This church was used as the place of worship for all of the people until the slavery question caused a division, and as a consequence a log building was erected where the Talbott church now stands. This was used as church and school house until after the Civil War closed. The present church was erected in the year 1883. A Delco lighting plant was installed in this church in the year 1921.

The first minister who preached in the settlement was a man by the name of Brooks, who preached at Clarksburg, Philippi, Beverly, and Buckhannon, and visited this community one night each month.

The first store was established in the year 1864 by Rev. Joseph Teter and Robert R. Talbott, in one room of the Talbott home. Later Talbott purchased Teter's interest, erected a store building, and continued the business until 1880 when his son Geo. E. Talbott took over the business and remained there until 1880 when his son Geo. E. Talbott took over the business and remained there until 1894. The Talbott post office was in the store building for many years. Goods were hauled from Webster until a railroad was built to Buckhannon.

C. W. Carpenter erected the first corn mill on the waters of Hanging Run. The first steam mill was erected in the year 1882 by Robert R. Talbott. The first teacher of the settlement was a man by the name of Harper. He taught in a little cabin near the Durrett residence. Other teachers before the free schools were established were Martha Wilson and Charles Streets.

Water Camp school formerly known as McCauley was the first school erected in the community after the free schools were established.

A number of men from the community enlisted in the Union and also in the Confederate armies. A number also did not take sides but remained at home and grew food for the army.

When a sufficient number of Irish came to the settlement a Catholic church was erected at Kingsville.

The Methodist Protestants erected a church near Kingsville but later it was moved to its present location, known as Woolly chapel, on the waters of the Middle Fork.

The people of Talbott community have always believed in education and have given liberally of their means to church work. Teachers, doctors, ministers, and lawyers have gone out from the community and are to be found in many states of the Union. At present the community has about 75 families with a population of 375 people and an area of 36 square miles.

There are now six stores in the community, three churches, and four schools. The leading occupation of the people is farming. The section is especially suited for fruit and potatoes. In 1913 the first agricultural extension school ever held in the county was held at Talbott church. This was followed by spraying and fertilizer-mixing demonstrations, a farmers' reading circle, and the organization of a farm bureau. This community also got the first county life conference in Barbour County. This was in the early spring of 1922, and Rev. A. H. Rapking was in charge.

A movement has been recently started for better livestock which has been very beneficial. As a result of these various activities in the community, lime has been used, fruit has been sprayed, houses have been painted and improved, and many modern conveniences have been added to several homes. Such improvements as running water and bath rooms, electric and carbide lighting, and radios, to the number of four have been added during the past six months. One W. Va. poultry house has been built according to State specifications.

Among those born or living in the community who have held office or have had good positions are as follows; B. B. Durrett, member of county court; R. R. Talbott, first postmaster at Talbott; W. T. George, attorney, speaker of W. Va. House of Delegates; Artie Shomo, member House of Delegates and pastor of a church in Illinois; G. C. Corley, Justice of the Peace; Walden Hathaway, graduate of Harvard University, with Law and Roberts of Wheeling; Myron Hymes, graduate Harvard University, lawyer in Buckhannon; M. H. King, lawyer in Charleston; J. J. Durrett, doctor; Patrick Ward, teacher and merchant; W. J. Goode, teacher and office worker in Harding, W. Va.; and H. B. Talbott, Newark, N. J., Railway Express Company.

List of Families in Talbott Community

Gordon McCauley, Geo. Regester, Howard McCullough, A. J. McCullough, A. J. McCauley, H. F. Shomo, J. W. Shomo, Benton McCauley, Benton Talbott, Granville Yeager, J. O. Thacker, A. Yeager, Abraham Ware, Enoch Ware, Peter Devitt, D. C. Talbott, C. D. Talbott, A. P. Talbott, F. H. Thacker, Harrison Talbott, J. U. Ulderich, Fred White, Phillip Wagoner, M. L. Yeager, A. H. Browning, Albert Browning, Earney Coontz, Monroe Shomo, J, D. Poling, J. W. Paugh, Johnson Regester, Burton Everson, D. C. Foy, A. J. Coontz, Howard Goode, J. W. Foy, E. C. McCauley, Albert Goode, Ira Booth, Henry Foy, Erskin Booth, Roy Watkins, Arthur McCauley, E. L. Knight, Elam Lantz, Henry Streets, Bernard Yeager, John Swich, E. S. Proudfoot, Dewey Durrett, Ralph Durrett, Roscoe Tallman, Sam Ball, Marion Strader, Harley Elbon, W. P. Wilson, W. R. Lance, K. A. Booth, J. B. Potts, Ralph Quattro, Dominico Centofanti, Pompey Ricotelle, Ova Wagoner, A. W. Cade, Chester Rennix, A. Skidmore, Alfred Kittle, Andrew Hathaway, Austin Hathaway, Wesley Davis, T. E. Avington, James Yoakum, Charles Rucker, Daniel Ware, and A. Glendenning.


William Corley was born in Dublin, Ireland, about the year 1754, and with three brothers emigrated to this country in the year 1777 or 1778 on a sailing vessel. The brothers were six months and twenty-four days on the water before reaching New York, While on board ship William Corley met Susan Frogg, a German girl born in Berlin, Germany. They were married soon after reaching America. On this same ship came Elizabeth Walker with one sister and one brother. Elizabeth Walker was born in London, England, May 27, 1780. The Walkers belonged to the peerage of England and were considered wealthy and of high caste.

Among the other immigrants we find Moses Wilson and his father, William Wilson, and William Wilson's two brothers. One of these brothers became the grandfather of Woodrow Wilson. The Wilson's came from Dublin, Ireland. They all settled in Fauquier County, Virginia. Later William Corley and wife, Susan Frogg Corley, came to Beaver Creek near Weaver, where, in the year 1825, William Corley died. He was the William Corley who fought in the War of 1812, although an old man. He was the father of ten children: Noah, James, John, Allen, Henry, Patsy, Catherine, Caroline, and Jane, all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood except Catherine who died at the age of five months.

James and Allen Corley moved to Braxton County; John lived above Philippi in Barbour County; William lived near Roaring Creek Junction, now Norton in Randolph County; Henry lived in what is now Texas; Patsy married Henry Jewell, who got the gold craze in 1849 and started for California but fell into the hands of the Indians, as also did John Wentz, uncle to William Corley; Jane married Archibald Wilson; Caroline married William Bonner and lived near Belington; Noah purchased land in Roaring Creek district in 1847 known as the Whitcroft Survey. The mother, Susan Frogg Corley, spent her last days with her son James. She died in 1854 and was buried in Braxton County.

As before stated, the Walkers and Wilsons settled in Fauquier County, Virginia. Later the Walkers moved to Ohio with the exceptions of Elizabeth who married young Moses Wilson, before mentioned. To this union were born four children; one boy, John D. Wilson; and three girls, Susan, Elizabeth, and Louisa. They lived near Beverly. John D. Wilson went to Missouri in 1833 and died there the same year. Louisa Wilson narried Noah E. Corley, son of William and Susan Frogg Corley. As before stated, Noah Corley purchased land in Roaring Creek district, Randolph County, part of which land extends into Barbour County. To the above union were born five boys and five girls: William Jackson, Augustine Smith, Henry, Winfield Scott, Gideon D. Camden, Ellen, Sarah Elizabeth, Martha Jane, Eliza, and Katherine Columbia. Elizabeth Walker Wilson spent her last years with her son-in-law, Noah E. Corley, and died in 1861. She is buried in the Talbott M. E. cemetery.

Noah E. Corley was a Union soldier in the Civil War. He was taken prisoner and imprisoned in Georgia, was exchanged at the end of the war, and was sent to Annapolis, Maryland, but died there in a weakened condition due to lack of food while in prison. Louisa, his wife, is buried in the Talbott M. E. cemetery.

Only two of Noah E. Corley's children survive, Henry of near Parkersburg and Gideon Draper Camden, now 84 years of age, who resides with his daughter, Mrs. C. D. Talbott, on the old Noah Corley homestead. Camden was married to Lydia Thorn on December 9, 1866. To this union were born four girls and two boys, of which three girls now survive: Mrs. A. G. Schoonover, Mrs. George Skidmore, and Mrs. C. D. Talbott.


The Durretts were French and the Durrett family was prominent in educational and scientific lines in France as early as the fourteenth century. Their lineage is traced to Louis Durrett who was a professor of medicine in the Royal College of France and Physician to King Henry III.

The Durretts were Huguenots and fled from France during the Persecution following St. Bartholomew's massacre. They took refuge in England where they became wealthy and owned a large estate called "Durants". (Virginia Historical Magazine.) Philip Duret (Pronounced Du-ray) subscribed to the Virginia Company in London and one or more of them emigrated to Virginia about 1609.

There are found a number of instances where they patented large acreages of land in Virginia and their names appear among the earliest marriage records. A part of the old Virginia records were destroyed by Cornwallis and later again by the Yankees, so that it is impossible to trace a direct lineage in every instance. Among those who fought in the Revolution were James, Marshall, Ruben, Claiborne, Thomas, and Robert. The first census gives a number of heads of families and shows them scattered over the state of Virginia.

Tyler Durrett, whose wife was Abigail Hines, lived on a plantation near Partlows, in Spotsylvania County. The old house, or part of it, is still standing, and a family by the name of Harris lives there. Tyler's son, Jonathan, who was born April 4, 1771, married Polly Lively, October 23, 1804, and went to live on another plantation two miles west of his father's. The fifth child born to this union was Braxton Byrd Durrett, who later was one of the early settlers of Talbott community. His brothers and sisters were Albert who married and lived in Virginia; William who lived in Missouri and had ten children, one of whom died in infancy, the others all marrying and raising families, except Charley; the two youngest sons, still living (1923), John of near Kansas City, Missouri, and C. D. in Colorado; the youngest daughter, Avah Durrett Stephenson, in St. Marys, Kansas, and now a great-grandmother, Oscar Fitz Alien, who died at the age of eight; Abigail who married Carter, had seven children one of whom she named Braxton Byrd Durrett (She died early and her mother grieved and only survived her ten days); Jonathan Jackson, commonly called Captain John, who resided near the old homestead and of whose children now living are Minor in Oklahoma, and Robert, Dean of Coker College, Hartsville, South Carolina; Laurie Tremble, a widow in Virginia; Thomas in Georgia; Ellis in Virginia; and Mary E. who married a Hines.

When the Civil War broke out, Albert was too old to be a soldier; William was under Federal bond in Missouri; Braxton was confined in Federal prison in Parkersburg, which confinement so undermined his health that he never fully recovered. Therefore only John was a soldier.

Of the four brothers, Braxton was the most popular and stories of his pranks are still afloat in the neighborhood of his birthplace.

In the year 1886 the sisters, Abigail and Mary (whose pet name was Mollie), were dead, but the four brothers were again at John's home in Virginia. They went to their home church, Bethany Baptist, together for the last time and sat on the front seat. The following poem was written in memory of this occasion.

The Durrett Brothers

I saw a scrap within a paper late
Which set to work at once my roving pate;
'Twas of the brothers, Al. and Will and Brack,
To nothing say of nimble little Jack.
For ten and twenty years they had not met.

So jolly were the times they had, you bet.
They went to church at Bethany, these brothers four,
And on the topmost bench sat in a row.
Much was the talk of who and what they were;
The Judge said: "Sexton, mind those boys don't stir",

Albert was the eldest, tall, with hair so black;
Will, tall and straight but short was funny Brack;
While little Jack so proud and glad to see
There side by side his noble brothers three.
"How old these lads?" I will not tell to you,
Suffice to say that Al. is eighty-two.

All jokes aside, there comes one solemn thought
And good the lesson by that sight was taught:
For long, long years and many miles apart,
Each for the other kept a loving heart.

God bless these "boys" from eighty-two and down,
And let a heartsome cheer go round and round.

- N. M. Lewis, Christmas 1886.

Braxton Byrd Durrett, when a young man, went from Spotsylvania County to Albemarle County as an overseer on a plantation. While there he met Ann Elizabeth Williams, a little motherless girl who was under the care of her grandparents Mayo and going to school at Charlottesville. They were married when she was only fifteen years of age. He told his people that he wanted to raise her right. To this union were born five children: John Hines born February 22, 1845; Lillian Alfred born October 25, 1846; Frances Braxton born April 1, 1849; Mary Sophia born June 15, 1855; and Oscar George Price born February 9, 1863. Of these children John H. of Elkins and Mary Sophie Teter of Belington are now living.

In the fall of 1848, Braxton Byrd Durrett, with his wife and two boys, John and Willie, moved fron Albemarle County, Virginia, to Laurel Fork, Upshur County (near Buckhannon), then Lewis County, Virginia. He soon became discouraged and wanted to go back home, but his wife said that they would try it for a year and then decide whether they would go or stay, The following spring they moved to Barbour County and settled in Talbott community. Their new home was two log cabins in the woods, surrounded by a few acres of cleared land. Some of the neighbors were Robert Talbott, David Cole, Joe Hawkins, Soloman George, and William Proudfoot.

In 1861 work was begun on a new house a few feet back from the cabins. A man by the name of Cottrell was the carpenter and Jack McCauley the mason. When they completed their work and the family moved in, the Civil War came on and the house was not fully finished until 1865 when a Mr. Mann did the plastering. Home-made carpet was hung over the studding during these years to keep out the cold.

This home was the scene of several exciting incidents during the Civil War. The soldiers marched by on their way from Philippi to Beverly. Mr. Durrett was a Southern sympathizer, but took no active part in the war. In 1861 he was taken prisoner to Camp Carlile, Parkersburg. After three months he was released upon petition and returned to his family.

He was taken prisoner another time, but he made his escape by lagging behind and pretending to take off his shoes before crossing a stream. He spent a night or two in hiding before he thought his enemies far enough away for him to make his escape. He then climbed a tree to get a look at the sunrise that he might know what direction to take for home.

One time in the absence of her husband, the soldiers paid Mrs. Durrett a visit and told her that it was reported that she carried a revolver and that they had come to search her. She told them that she did not carry a revolver and that if they didn't believe it they could get any respectable female in the community to search her but they should not. She was not searched. Instead of having a revolver she had two hundred dollars in gold sewed in her clothing.

Another time the soldiers searched the house for guns. One boy was out hunting. He was given warning and he hid his gun in a fodder shock before going to the house. Another gun was hid behind the carpet previously mentioned. So the soldiers went away a second tine unsatisfied.

Braxton B. Durrett kept Broadfoot postoffice, the first in Valley District. The name Proudfoot was chosen, but through mistake the name Broadfoot was established. G. C. Corley carried the mail from Burnt Bridge to Broadfoot, for which he received the sum of thirty-two cents per day. The office did not pay, and after a short time was discontinued.

At that time there were no railroads in the community and Mr. Durrett and his eldest son, John, made many trips by wagon to Clarksburg and hauled supplies. Many of the trees for his two orchards, which at one time were the best in the county, were brought from Clarksburg in that way. He owned between four and five hundred acres of land. His wife named their home Viewmont which name, though seldom used, is still retained. Both Braxton B. and his wife, Ann E., taught subscription schools; the former in the Protestant church which then stood near the present road to Kingsville and the latter taught in the old Durrett church.

John H. and O. G. P., the eldest and youngest sons of B. B. settled in Talbott community. The children of O. G. P. Durrett are: Orvis Ansil, born September 1, l885, died May 28, 1909; William Harold, born May 11, 1889, died July 7, 1914; Avah Eleanor, born December 27, 1890; Oscar Braxton, born August 28, 1892; Dewey Lee, born December 21, 1898; Ralph, born March 21, 1901; Cecil, born December 2, 1904. Dewey, Ralph, Cecil, and Avah are living in the community, the three latter at the B. B. Durrett home.

A marked family trait of the Durretts is a desire to wander. The second generation is seldom found under the same roof tree. The descendants of Tyler Durrett are scattered from Alaska to Texas and South America. There is also a great tendency to name after each other. Nearly every family has a John. The name Oscar has been popular since Polly Durrett named one of her sons Oscar after her favorite brother. This son died before reaching manhood.

None of the Durretts have become wealthy, but nearly all are well well educated. They have a high sense of honor. There has not been found a degenerate among them.

The following letter appeared in the Barbour Jeffersonian:

"Talbott's, April 5, 1881.

"Editor of the Jeffersonian:

"We note with a great deal of pleasure that your correspondents throughout the country are giving the local news of their several communities and we propose to give you a few locals from this vicinity.

"We understand that A. D. Brock has sold his saw mill to R. P. Talbott and that it will be removed to this place sometime next month. We are glad of it as there will be an immense number of logs to saw. "Our farmers are beginning now to prepare for the usual spring work. Some clearing is being done and, although the spring has opened out late, nevertheless the general opinion is that warm weather will come in earnest when it does come and that we will have a favorable season.

"Our popular merchant, R. R. Talbott, seems to be selling lots of goods and in consequence is always in a good humor.

"We see by the Jeffersonian that the County commissioners will determine at their next session whether or not a new district shall be formed out of Barker to be composed of that part of the district lying on this side of the river. We hope that this will be done for, as it is, Barker district is inconveniently large and will make two districts, both almost as large as any others in the county.

"Braxton B. Durrett is at present in your town attending court as a member thereof. Our people are very much pleased with Mr. Durrett as a commissioner and are not at all sorry we voted for him. He is one of the best citizens in the county.

"We have just received the news that the county court has substituted to the voters of the county a proposition to vote a subscription of $50,000 to the capital stock of the Grafton and Greenbrier railroad and now the railroad question is rapidly engrossing the attention of our people in place of the dog law. Our people are almost a unit in favor of the road, as you will find when the vote is taken. Many of us know all about them, have worked on them, and it will come right to our hands to do so again. Besides we recognize the fact it will bring in a new era of prosperity unknown to us before. We are anxious to have market for the immense quantities of coal for which this section of the country is famous. In addition to all this we have an immense amount of timber which at present is doing us no good but which, if we only had this road, would be worth thousands of dollars to us. We will not mind the few cents taxes that it will cost us since it is sure to bring us so many dollars in return. Another feature of this company that we like is that it is composed of men living in our own county. In other words a home company and hence the county will not run any risk in voting her subscription to it. We say bring on the railroad. Let every man of us go to work at once in its behalf and carry it through with a rousing boom.

"We notice our efficient Justice of the Peace, G. C. Corley, stepping around as pleasant as ever. Squire Corley is one of the best citizens of this district and of course is in favor of the G. and G. R. R. Middle Fork."


At the close of the year 1600 the countries of Europe were at peace with each other. The close of their wars left thousands of people out of employment. In looking around for places to live and establish homes, they turned toward America. Companies were formed to make settlements in the New World.

During the next 50 years a great many colonies were formed. To the one called New Jersey, Robert Hathaway came probably among the first. He had a son named John. John had two sons: Lawson and Francis T. Lawson left New Jersey and went to Pennsylvania. Trace of him was lost, but in the course of time there sprang up a large family of Hathaways in that state.

Francis T. Hathaway came to Virginia and settled in the western part of the state on the Valley River five miles below Philippi, in what is now Barbour County, West Virginia. It is not known to the writer who Francis T. married for his first wife, but he reared a large family of children. Their names were: Elijah, John, James, Mort, Henry, Meridith, Epp, Francis, Andrew, Sarah, and Mildred. For his second wife he married Mrs. Adams to which union were born Elizabeth and Moore. About half of the family settled in West Virginia, and the others went west and settled in Iowa and Missouri.

The Proudfoots who are of Scotch-Irish descent came to this country at an early date. Their predominant traits were industry, honesty, and patriotism.

Francis Hathaway, Jr. married Leaner Proudfoot, who was the daughter of William Proudfoot and Jane Robinson Proudfoot. Francis and Leaner Hathaway with two children, Alexander and John, came to what is now Valley district in 1848 and settled near this place. Soon after this their eldest child died. After they came to this community they had five other children. Six of their children grew to maturity. Besides these they had twenty-nine grandchildren and twenty-eight great grandchildren, a total of sixty-four. They came here when there were not more than a half dozen settlers in three miles around. There was not a store, grist mill, road, bridge, wagon, mowing machine, rake, or sewing machine in all of Valley district.

They lived in times when men worked for twenty-five cents a day. They helped to organize and were members of the first church in this community. They helped plan and build the first church house in the community. They were always in favor of education and were well read in the literature of those days. Francis Hathaway, Jr. was a devoted student of the abolition question and all the measures that led up to the Civil War. He was reared a Democrat and voted that ticket until 1856 when the Republican party was formed for the purpose of freeing the slaves. He joined in and voted Fillmore for president, he stayed with the party ever after.

The Hathaways were always in favor of prohibition of the whiskey traffic and every other reform that was for the betterment of the community. They were persistent workers for a better government and the Kingdom of righteousness.

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