Part 1 -The Pocahontas County Historical Society Museum – A Historic Time Capsule
In this first part of a multi-part story about the Pocahontas County Historical Society’s Museum in Marlinton, the Society’s Secretary, Dr. Denise McNeel talks about the founding of the museum then she describes, fittingly since Pocahontas County is celebrating the bicentennial of its founding, some of the artifacts in the museum that help us understand the very early colonial settlement of the area that later became Pocahontas County.
Dr. McNeel, what attractions does the museum have that people who live in the local area should come and see?
“Well, we have a lot of different things,” said Dr. McNeel, “and that is because the museum itself was erected to celebrate the centennial of the State of West Virginia. The people who decided to do this appealed to everyone who was interested -which was dozens and dozens- to bring in something that they valued, and that they thought future generations would appreciate. It is stunning what they brought in!”
“Since we are getting ready for the Bicentennial, I thought we should look back a little bit about the history. And so, the first things that most people head for are the Native American artifacts. We have an incredible collection going back to ten-thousand B.C., particularly the Price collections. We also have quantity -we have many, many of them, but we have the absolute best in the front room when you come in -things that you probably have not even seen in other places. Also in that room, we have the Bible that Martha Davis McNeel brought with her when, in the 1760’s, she married John McNeel, who was illegally here because of course, this was West of the Alleghenies -which was absolutely against the law because of the danger of the Native Americans. So, this Lass comes from Wales, he goes home, marries her, brings her back, and is immediately in an area where Native Americans travelled legally -this, through a treaty with the King of England.”
“Then, in the Sun Room, we have the original corner Oaks that Andrew Lewis established to make the claim of this area. Of course, this is when he ran into (Stephen) Sewell and (Jacob) Marlin. They were exploring, and he placed the claim. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to make that claim good until the King of England was out of the picture. The King of England -George the 3rd of course- had made an agreement with the Native Americans, that they would not attack the Virginia Valley, where most of the settlers were. They would come to hunt along Seneca Trail. And this (claim) couldn’t happen until the King of England was no longer the power. And Andrew Lewis came, with his brother through Bath County, and his brother decided to stop there because we were going into illegal territory. And so, Andrew set corner Oaks, and these corner Oaks stood on Mitchell Chevrolet land today. They were memorialized by the Women’s Club and we still have the sign of the Women’s Club. We also have a photograph in the 1930’s of the Oak trees which were still surviving. So, we have these in an exhibit in the Sun Room. And, this is what gave him (Andrew Lewis) the right to this land. Unfortunately for him, he then went on and was involved in the Dunmore War (1774) and then (went) up into Canada. So, it was only many years later that his claim became valid – he died the year after, and his son dies shortly thereafter.”
Be sure to listen for the future parts of this story where Mrs. McNeel continues the story of the early settlement of the county and how the museum memorializes the county’s developed and modernization into what we know today. She discusses the museums artifacts from Civil War period in the county and how the logging industry changed this area forever, and discusses some of the early music instruments on display in the museum which brought joy here during those early hard days.