A HISTORY OF ROWLESBURG
Twila Fretwell Doegen typed this history from a notebook found among her grandmother's memorabilia. Her mother is Leola Lantz Robinson and her grandmother was Mrs. Lucien (Amy) Lantz. Some data may conflict with documented history of the area.
(Written in 1928)
Rowlesburg- situated and lying between the crest of laurel ridge and Briery Mountains, in the district of Reno and on the largest body of water in the County Cheat River; was settled for inhabitation in 1850. The Catawba warpath was originally the main trail from the North to the South passing through a portion of what is now Rowlesburg. The Nemacolin Indian trail through to the Monongahela River also passed here.
In 1756 a settlement was made here but the Indians destroyed it. In 1763 a proclamation was issued by the King of England upon complaint of the Indians prohibiting even any settlement at all in Preston County.
In 1836 just a few settlers came in from Maryland, Pennsylvania and what was then termed as old Virginia. In 1836 came the building of the much renowned north western turnpike three miles south of Rowlesburg, passing through Cheat Bridge which was built in 1834 and the timber is still well preserved in the bridge.
In 1845 they began the building of the road leading from Macomber to a point at or near the B. and O. R.R. Bridge which is known as the Buffalo and leading creek turnpike, in 1847 Mr. James Rowles, then Chief Engineer of the B. & O.R.R. opened an office where N. C. Dawson's garage is located near the banks of Cheat River.
In 1850 a real settlement was started and it took the name of the Chief Engineer Rowles and added the Burg therefore the name of Rowlesburg was established and you can safely say the only Rowlesburg in the wide world today. This strange thing of none other taking our name might have been brought about by the Indians not wanting anyone to settle here. In 1851 Christmas day the first steam engine crossed the R.R. Bridge at Cheat River. The building of this great trunk line system gave great impetus to internal development of Rowlesburg and an era of progress followed, which meant transportation of people, and products assured. The first house was erected out of logs and was located on the site where I.O.O.F. Building now stands and was owned by Mr. David Wonderly, the father of Mrs. Randolph McVicker. In the same year 1851 the first school was opened in the building now owned by Nassif Joseph and son. Prof. Butterfield being more than six feet in length and his height and make up reminds us of our unparalleled aviator "Lindy". In this same building is where the M. E. Church's first service was held. In 1856 Rowlesburg applied and got a charter from the Virginia Assembly. The first Mayor was Henry H. Wheeler, father of Charles Wheeler. Recorder James Hooton, father of Mrs. Minnie Wilson and Mattie Boogher. Councilmen W. M. Hall, C. M. Bishop, T. B. Hebb, Albert Hooton and John Brathewode. Rowlesburg is still being managed under the old charter. In 1860 a catholic school was opened in the Frank Golotta property near J. T. Hooton's residence and the first Catholic Church was held in this same place.
In 1870 they erected a building on the corner of the lot near the J. M. Buckner residence, which was their school building. In later years they abandoned their school and sold the building to R. S. Hollis, who moved it on his property on Buffalo Street, which is now being occupied by N. C. Dawson as an undertaking establishment. In the year of 1871, the Catholics built their present church in which they now worship.
In 1868 the old M. E. Church was erected at or near the site upon which the new one now stands. The bricks used in its construction were all made upon the ground and the clay taken from the banks upon which now stands the Dr. M. H. Proudfoot property. The contractor's names were Garey and Atherton. The late Mrs. C. M. Bishop of Kingwood donated the ground. During the Civil War the Union Soldiers occupied Cannon hill and a fort marks the place. While the Confederates occupied the mountain known as Farmers Knobb. During the night cannon balls were being shot from the hilltops and many of them lighting on the ground, which is now Main Street in the town of Rowlesburg. (The boys (then but men who are past and gone now) said they go and dig lots of them out of the ground. (When going through the air they would remind you of the Lanham Myers Meteorite, having a long tail of fire attached.) The picturesque cannon hill rises to a height of 550 feet while that of the knob is 700 feet. When Major Showalter, who was in command of the Union Soldiers during the Civil War, was leaving Rowlesburg, they threw several of these cannon balls into the river and the boys dived into the water and brought up several of them. Thomas and Henry Perkins, relatives of Mr. Marshall Perkins, were standing on the corner near where Mrs. Addie Peaslee now resides, were attempting to pick one of these canon balls open with their pen knife when it exploded killing both of the boys.
A tannery was built near the east end of the County Bridge
that crosses Cheat River in the year of 1850, being one of the
largest in the world at that time. The first game of baseball
ever played in Rowlesburg occurred in the year of 1876 and the
grounds were located just out from where Aunt Daisy Lloyd now
resides. Although you will see it is occupied by water now, the
old M. P. Church was completed in the year of 1882. Mr. James
Hooton was the leading man in forming the organization. The lot
was purchased of Mrs. Susan Coniff, mother of Mrs. W. E. Maloney.
Miss Rebecca Emerson, sister of Miss Jane Emerson, collected
most of the money to pay for the Church. The charter members
were: James Hooton, Emily Pugh, Charlotte Moore, Peter Cozad,
and D. N. Shaffer, John Heath, John Jackson, Rosella Dawson,
John McWilliams. John Bishop, Rebecca Emerson and Mrs. May Heath.
In 1907 the M and K R. R. ran into Rowlesburg, this opened a
rich agricultural, mineral and coal section. In 1908 electric
lights were turned on in Rowlesburg, bringing the town out of
darkness. In 1911 natural gas was brought to Rowlesburg saving
much in furnishing fuel for our stoves. In 1912 pure mountain
water spigots were open to furnish Rowlesburg with soft water
and making disposition of most all dug wells. As you are familiar
that the topographic features are very irregular, consisting
of rounded hills and a few flats with broad shallow streams and
valleys. In general the climate is genial and healthful. The
summers are comparatively short, the nights cool and periods
of hot weather are rare and of short duration. The winters are
not vigorous and the periods of extreme cold are not extended.
The prevailing winds are west and southwest.
This Book belongs to Mrs. Lucien Lantz.