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West Virginia Archives & History

History Of Spanishburg Community

(Mercer County, West Virginia)
By Virgie Bowling
Aided by Clarence Wooten and Virginia Bowling

Purpose of the History

In order to stimulate more, the growth and develonment of the Spanishburg Community, the writers believe that a community history is necessary. Why? Because it will aid in arousing interest and pride in the present, as well as the on-coming generation, to fully realize the facts and conditions that have made the community, what it is today and what it must be tomorrow.

The educators that have come to score the community, to see just where it stands, urged the citizens to complete a history. It is the Four-H Club that has taken the responsibility of making inquiries of the older citizens concerning their social life and the events which have laid the foundation for the history.

Early Settlers

It was seventy-five years ago when man-eating animals were howling in the wilderness, and scanning the hillsides that the first pioneers came. These were James Calahan and Robert McCullock, who surveyed off a number of acres of land and thus laid claim to it.

Then a relative of Calahan, Spanish Brown, wandered into the new area, and it is from his name, that the word - "Spanishburg" is derived. He settled on what is now known as the Miller Farm, located on the Bluefield-Beckley road. The lower land was the first area to be cleared.

Joe Reid, Joe Sire Moxey, and Henry Karnes were the next early settlers. Joe Reid lived on the farm where George Akers now resides. Joe S. Moxey, the father of Mrs. Robert Shrewesbery of this community, lived on the farm now owned by O. P. Griffith, while Henry Karnes owned practically all the upper region of Rich Creek, amounting to about six hundred acres. The surveyed and divided land was then sold to Johnnie Bowling and it is now owned by .E. H. Ballard, J. H. Bowling and P. F. Lusk.

A little later a number of settlers came in from Virginia and North Carolina. Powotan McKinney lived where George Wooten now resides. Tom Moxey owned the farm of Isaac Lilly; while Zire Ferguson lived on that of L. B. Farly. These few men then constitute the citizens of the community.

Humble Conditions

The conditions under which they lived were very humble, compared to the living of the prosperous farmers of Spanishburg today. Rude log cabins, hewn out by hand, and roughly constructed furniture, also made by hand completed the tiny structure. They endured the hardships and braved the wilds to accomplish one main object - to settle the new area in perfect freedom. They then, by hard day toil turned the wilderness country into fruitful fields of abundance.

That which added adventure to the community in the year of 1863 was the battle fought by the Cherokee and the Shawnee Indian tribes. Many were killed and the homes of the few white settlers were threatened by the Indians. The site of the battle is today marked by the beautiful pleasure resort "Shawnee Lake", named for this famous battle.

Modern facilities were not available for two reasons: (1) There was no money, and (2) there were no roads except those cut by the men who first came to the community. The high spirited citizens now set about making a road, a pike - that would provide for transportation for all the men then settled here.


The main road, which connected Spanishburg with the neighboring town, Princeton, was known as Turn pike. The direct route was via Gardner, Miller Farm, Lusk store, down to the Ferguson farm - L. B. Farleys. Then the road went across the hilly region by R. L. Stoveall's and up to Lingohorn Goods' then out the ridge. The building of this road was under the supervision of Joe Sire Moxey and Captain Walker, and was completed in 1810.

Travel was by oxen, covered wagons, sleds, and those who could afford them had horses. It was a custom for the ladies to ride behind the men on their horses. They went in this fashion to church.


The first church was a Baptist Church located about one-half mile above the present high school building. L. M. Shrewesbery and his father-in-law Kinze Rhowbond built it, and Captain Earl Walker was the minister for three years until his death. It was within the walls of the little church that reading, writing and arithmetic were first introduced by the Rev. Mr. Walker.


A frame school house displaced the log building. Robert Lilly, of Bluefield was the first teacher in the new building.

The wooden building has given way to a modern, large, brick high school building. Two churches have been erected and Spanishburg is a thriving little community situated on the Bluefield-Beckley hard surfaced road.

Social Life

The social life of a community is a very essential item. The people would gather at the different homes and take their families. During the day there would be seen women spinning and weaving, as no time must be idled away. Some "skutched" flax and quilted, while the men would have log rollings and make split bottom chairs.

When the time rolled around for the noon day meal, there were many delicacies to tempt the appetites of industrious men and women. Then they would depart after a happy and pleasant day.

The young people's occasions were also very joyful. Beginning at about nine o'clock they would assemble, dance until a late hour, by the merry music of the fiddle, grind organs, and later graphaphones with large horns.

Many times the young lassie would be found in the kitchen applying the only known cosmetic in the form of a soluble wheat bran mixture.

The Community Today

In the field of education Spanishburg the high school holds high rank as a standard school.

There is a very good Sunday School, and very progressive woman's and Four-H clubs which have given their sole interest to uplifting the ideals and standards of the community.

Acknowledgment is here made to Mrs. Robert Shrewesbury for the invaluable information she gave the author in the preparation of this history.

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