OUR HOME PAGE
To me, the picture above is typical of my impression of West Virginia; "Wild and Wonderful West Virginia", as it has become known. I will start my story, from this vantage point, as I begin my long journey to bring you as much of my families background, (and MAYBE YOURS) as I can, in my remaining years. This is the New River as it winds it's way from North Carolina, where it originates, joining the Gauley River , in West Virginia to become the Kanawha River. There are several rivers that will be associated with all of my Pioneer Families, but the Gauley is one of the more closely associated with the Christopher Baughman Family and immediate descendants; both the Gauley & Birch Rivers. The banks of the Greenbrier River are the Workman's, Blankenship's & Fogus' stomping grounds. Big Coal River will be mentioned in relation to the Workman Families, as well as other locations. As you read through the text you will find that I have made, in bold print, the places, as well as all dates, which have significance for OUR pioneer families. As you study genealogy and family histories, it helps to know the history of the counties as they are created, and many times boundries were changed. I have tried to add a little history and geography to help with the study and identification of our ancestors.
HIGHLIGHTS in HISTORY of WEST VIRGINIA
Thanks to the great West Virginia State, I have found much information
on the social studies of the state.
West Virginia was used as a hunting grounds by a number of Indian tribes as early as 14,000 years ago until the 1700s when they were forced out by white settlers.  - German explorer John Lederer and his group reached the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in an western expedition and is believed to be the first white men to see West Virginia.  - Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam led an expedition in search of hunting grounds and transportation routes into what is now West Virginia.
[1726-1731] - Morgan Morgan of Delaware, believed to be the first white settler in what is now West Virginia, established a home at Bunker Hill, now Berkeley County. 1727 - Germans establish a settlement at New Mecklenburg, now Shepherdstown in Berkeley County. 1742 - Coal was discovered by John Salley near Racine. You may want to return later to finish or study for your own family history, so you can read now or return later. MORE County History Highlights
My ancestors lived in several counties in Virginia and later West Virginia, and appeared to move around quite frequently. I have no account of their doing anything else but farming, hunting, fishing, trapping and struggling to make a living. Most photos I have, are taken in later years, but they are the very land where my anceastors survived. As we mention West Virginia, we are referring to AFTER 1863, when West Virginia first became a state; our 35th. state.
MORE on the STATE of West Virginia
Above is Rich Mountain, Randolph County, West Virginia, where a battle of the Civil War was fought on October 3, 1861. When the Battle of Greenbrier River occured, it resulted in the withdrawl of the Union troops to Cheat Summit Fort Campaign: Operations in Western Virginia (June-December 1861) Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan and Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans [US]; Lt. Col. John Pegram and Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett [CS] Description:Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan assumed command of Union forces in western Virginia in June 1861. On June 27, he moved his divisions from Clarksburg south against Lt. Col. John Pegramís Confederates, reaching the vicinity of Rich Mountain on July 9. Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. T.A. Morrisís Union brigade marched from Philippi to confront Brig. Gen. R.S. Garnettís command at Laurel Hill. On July 11, Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans led a reinforced brigade by a mountain path to seize the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike in Pegramís rear. A sharp two-hour fight ensued in which the Confederates were split in two. Half escaped to Beverly, but Pegram and the others surrendered on July 13. Hearing of Pegramís defeat, Garnett abandoned Laurel Hill. The Federals pursued, and, during fighting at Corrickís Ford on July 13, Garnett was killed. On July 22, McClellan was ordered to Washington, and Rosecrans assumed command of Union forces in western Virginia. Union victory at Rich Mountain was instrumental in propelling McClellan to command of the Army of the Potomac.
From the Virginia state line, west past Knapp's Creek across Greenbrier River, onward past the Falls of Hills Creek, toward Richwood,and Summit Lake, we can follow the Mountanious waterways of West Virginia. Do you suppose this would have been similar trails the Blankenships would have taken west from Jamestown?
River Falls ----- West Fork of the Greenbrier River-----River Rocks
Today the West Fork of the Greenbrier River, follows the old railroad grade, from Durbin WV, the south trailhead over twenty miles north to Gladys, WV. This makes an exceptionally scenic route spotted with wildflowers and colorful vistas. Fishing is also accessible along the river. How much of this was available to our pioneer relatives? Only what they would have cleared themselves!
Although these photos have been taken in recent years, I want to express the feeling of the beauty of those days, and relate to the glorious show that Mother Nature had arranged for our Fore-Fathers.
The scene above perhaps looked this way to our pioneer ancestors when they first came to this country. During the 17th. Century most of the settlers that came to America were English, however there were also Dutch, Swedes and Germans in the central region, a few French, Italians and Spanards. Living on the edge of Indian country, our families cleared the land, built cabins, and began raising crops. They married and also began raising their own families. The men wore leather clothing made from skins, known as buckskin. The women wore garments they made themselves from a homespun fabric. Their food consisted of venison, fish and other wild meat. They made their own amusement with shooting matches, contests, dances, cook-outs, and the women started the great custom of quilt making, which is still with us today.
Samples of several quilt designs which might
have been used by the pioneer families.
Mound City in Spring~~~~~~~~~~~MOUND CITY in AUTUM
Now, I want to go back to long before any of our forefathers ventured into the "new lands". The land that became West Virginia was known to be hunting grounds for a number of Indians tribes as early as 14,000 years before early white settlers forced them out in 1700. The first native settlers in present day West Virginia were the Mound Builders. There are many artifacts located in, what is now, Moundsville, Marshall County, WVA. Present day West Virginia is rich in Indian history.
MORE on West Virginian Indians
I know there is Indian in my ancestory. It has been said, with some hesitancy, it is Cherokee. I consider the possibility that, because of the migration West of those, that were considered Cherokee, were many other Indian Tribe members. I have had a hunch or "gut feeling" that Hopewell Indians could have been our tribe. My grandfather, Jake Blankenship, migrated to two or three places that the township was called Hopewell. He moved so much and often it almost appeared he was searching for something. Another instance is my mother mentioned several times that her brother-in-law Mr. Auvil told her the Blankenship Family first settled along or near the Ohio River.
Explorers and fur traders came into what is now West Virginia as early as 1670. Since it was cut off by rugged mountains, this part of the country was uninhabited for more than a century after Virginia had a thriving society. The Eastern Panhandle was settled by Germans and Scotch-Irish, coming down the valleys from Pennsylvania. German families established a settlement on the Patomac around 1730 and named it Mecklenberg. It is now Shepherdstown, and the oldest town in the state. During the French and Indian War (1754-63) many settlers fled the area, to return after the English captured Fort Duquesne, in 1758, and broke the French hold on the Ohio valley. West Virginia would see it's share of wars; having an active part in the American Revolution, being invaded three times by British-led Native American forces. The Civil War also took it's toll on the struggling people of the wilderness.
~~~A Pioneer Wedding~~
Taken from History of Kanawha County, George W Atkinson, Charleston, WV, 1876.
Every nation has its customs, and every age has its peculiar whims of fashion, dress and style. The wealthy citizens of the great cities kill the "fatted calf," wine flows freely, and they have grand balls, and bridal tours which, in many cases, "take in" all places of note and importance in both hemispheres; but the poorer classes, of course, can not indulge in such extravagence when their sons and daughters are united in holy wedlock. It is their custom, however, to have all the fun they can on such occasions, and they seldom fail to enjoy themselves hugely. It is my purpose, in this chapter, to give a pen picture, as best I can, of a wedding on the Kanawha before Charleston was a city, and before you and I were born. Since this is a rather long story, I will continue it by having you click on it either now or come back to it at your leasure.
MORE about the Pioneer Wedding
Kanawha Falls Above: Although photo was taken just a short while ago, it is in the Kanawha Area where our ancestors originated. Perhaps they fished along the shore, just as these people, in the foreground, are doing. The falls can be seen in far distance.
Perhaps there wasn't much time for that ideal relaxed fishing and gardening, that we enjoy much today. There had to be " feeding your family" to be thought of, and there probably was more tention and less enjoyment. Or, on the otherhand, they may have combined pleasure with necessity.
Along with the wild game and animals that could be hunted and raised, there were always those good old vegies that were available with a lot of HARD WORK!!