A HISTORY by Amy Lantz 


provided by Joycelyn Ayersman, President
Rowlesburg Area Historical Society 
When asked where she gets her history, Joycelyn replied "My History comes from Harry Hollis and A. J. Moore through Mary Virginia Moore Jones and Ethel Peaslee Beerbower (her mother married Harry Hollis).
My other reference is Mrs. Lee Sanders who wrote articles for the Dominion Post and she interviewed William Ford on this locality and the Civil War. A lot of her information and notes were published in TABLELAND TRAILS ,VOLUME 1, NUMBER 4, Published in the summer of 1954 - A Special Preston Issue and I have a copy of it."
The arched stone masonry viaducts Tray Run and Buckhorn were completed about 1907 by the B & O railroad. Originally these were made of cast-iron trestles built on top of stone walls. The design of the trestles were early works of Albert Fink. When they were built in 1852 it was considered the greatest engineering feat of the time. The picture of the Tray Run arched masonry viaduct appears on the back of the West Virginia State Seal.
(See Tray Run History)
Cheat River Grade and M&K Jct

Very early settlers were Salathiel Goff, John Wheeler, David Loudon, David Wonderly, Knotts, later Hooton Graham. David Wonderly erected the first house (a log home). It is still a part of the Randolph McVicker house as the house was built around the log house and is still standing today. In 1825 David Wonderly purchased the land from Salathiel Goff.

Rowlesburg was first named Vicksburg. James Goff sold 207 acres of his 441 acres teakettle shaped property to his son-in law, Robert Calhoun in 1815 which was Manheim. Then in 1817 he gave the remaining 204 acres to his son Salathiel which was Rowlesburg
Hezikiah Frazer settled here in 1775. He was deeded four hundred forty one acres of land by survey bearing the date of 18th October 1784 including the land he settled in 1775 on the west side of Cheat River at the mouth of Salt Lick. This deed was signed by Patrick Henry, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Hezikiah Frazer and his wife Catherine sold to James Goff this 441 Acres of land for One Hundred Twenty Five Pounds lawful money on the Sixth Day of September in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred.

A. A. Perry built a tavern, The River House in 1831.

The first store was operated as early as 1850 by a Mr. Offut.

In 1890 Mr. William Shoch organized a local telephone company. The first telephone switchboard was located in a corner of Mr. Shock's Store, which stood near the railroad just a few hundred yards west of the B & O Bridge. It was later moved into the oldest building in Rowlesburg, at that time owned by Harry Wheeler, and now occupied by the Joe Nassif Family. It was in a small room on the second floor. But there is also another version of the origin of Rowlesburg's telephone.

Other residents state that a telephone was in use in 1888. A phone was located in the Pugh Store, owned by Pugh and Stone in the building at the railroad crossing, now owned by L. B. Holland. It was known as the old C. M. Bishop Building (no longer exists). The central office was located in St. George, Tucker Co.

Sometime after A. A. Pickering located in the town he became owner-manager of the telephone system, operating it until selling to a Mr. Marsh of St. Mary's. Mr. Marsh in turn sold the system to the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. This Company formally opened its offices in Rowlesburg, July 26, 1938. While Mr. Pickering owned the system the central office was located in a small building on the east side of Church Street on what was once the Maloney property, then owned by John Gary.

Mrs. Gertrude Shaw was an operator for the Company Mr. Shock organized. She worked from 7 AM until 9 PM and was paid $15.00 a month . She was employed in 1906 and 1907 in the office in the Nassif building. Winifred Malloy was also an operator for the local company. Mr. Shock's company ran lines to Amboy, Aurora and Terra Alta. Some of the stock- holders were William Shoch, Peter Wotring, A.J. Moore, Orlando Crane, Andrew Goff, George Hayes, Paige McCrum.

The lumber industry began booming about five years after the Civil War and continued until shortly after World War I. In 1880 O.D. Downey and Hinkle and King had sawmills. Logs for these mills were "rafted" down Cheat River. Later mills: Allegheny Land, Lumber, and Boom Co.(1881), Palmer, Garcel, (handle mill), Rowlesburg Lumber and Iron Co. (two mills.planing and stave), Eberly, Senselman, Hickley and Co. (steam saw mills), Mrs. A. J. (Mary Alice Bolyard) Wolfe, (saw and grist mill), later mills: M.E. Howe, Cross, Felty and West, Jackson
and Bowman.

1870: The largest sawmill and stave factory in the county was operated by A. A. Perry.

Note: Mrs. Americus Jasper Wolfe was my great-grandmother. katie

In 1873 Lot #35 in the town of Rowlesburg was deeded to the I.O.O.F Airy Lodge #17. They built the building and it served as a meeting place for the (Odd Fellows) lodge until August 4, 1994. It is the second oldest building in Rowlesburg and the lodge was deeded to the Rowlesburg Area Historical Society in 1995.
The Rowlesburg Park was established by Harry Hollis, Randolph McVicker and Abraham Wotring. Mr. McVicker gave land which he valued at $l,000.00. Mr. Hollis and Mr. Wotring matched the value: Total $3,000.00. The first park commissioners were appointed for life: A. J. Moore, E. F. Giffin, H. R. Hollis. Mr. Hollis, the last remaining member of the committee, gave the park to the Town of Rowlesburg.

On Christmas Day 1852, the first engine crossed the B & O bridge over Cheat River.

In 1891, Rowlesburg was the largest town in Preston County.

In 1899, a Fire Company Bucket Brigade was organized. The equipment was one set of ladders and tin buckets. First Fire Chief was N.C. Dawson.

So, was it 1867, 1869, or 1871?

In 1871 St. Philomena Catholic congregation erected a church. This building, with alterations, is the same building that is still standing today but is no longer having regular services.

From History of Methodism in Rowlesburg by Reverend Jennings H. Fast, published 1946. page 10 "The Roman Catholic church was built in 1869 and in the early days of the railroad was strongly supported by the Irish. They even had a parish school. The school building was moved and is now occupied by the cleaning establishment of "Bo" Thompson."

From the 1-22-1959 newspaper "A History of Rowlesburg":
"With the coming of the rail, came the Irish, and St. Philomena's Catholic Church was established as a parish in 1867, and a Catholic school about a year later was taught in a small building at that time, located just across the street from the church. That building was moved before the turn of the century and is now located on Buffalo Street, in use as an office for Mankins Insurance Agency."

Note: That little building (located next door to the Exxon) has been many things but no longer exists. It belonged to N.C. Dawson who used it for his funeral home and when it was razed, the Historical Society moved the concrete stoop bearing his initials to the side door of their building. Katie

In 1862-Civil War: Union soldiers were stationed on Cannon Hill. Peter Wotring hauled cannons to the top of the hill with his team of oxen. Confederates were located on Farmers' Knob. At night shots "with light" streamed across the town from one hill to the other. General Jones, Confederate General against Major John Showalter, Union.
(See Jones Imboden Raid)

In 1912, The Peoples' National Bank was organized. President : A. A.
Pickering; Vice Presidents: Harry R. Hollis, F.M. Fogle; Cashier: O. C.
Hileman; Board of Directors: R. McVicker, C.E. Emerson, C.A. Miller, John J. Mckone, Jr., J.E. Stitzinger, A. Bliss McCrumb.

The bank was one of very few that didn't go under during the Great Depression due to Randolph McVicker who went to Clarksburg and pulled all his money out of that bank and brought it to Rowlesburg. 

A HISTORY by Amy Lantz