Pocahontas County Celebrates Bicentennial of Organizing of County Government

In the early evening of March 5th, 2022, about 40 citizens and county officials gathered together in the Huntersville Presbyterian Church to celebrate the original organizing of the Pocahontas County government in 1822. After an introduction by Ruth Taylor, Mike Holstein, dressed in the attire of the 1820s, delivered a comprehensive history of the events in those early days of the county.  He said that although the county was officially formed by the Virginia General Assembly on December 18, 1821, the process of organizing the county was not yet complete.

Listen as we play for you just a little bit of Holstein describing some of that history.

“… The justices of a county in Virginia, which we were at that time, played two roles,” said Holstine. “One was the role that the County Commissioners of today play in West Virginia Counties. But their second duty was that carried out by the Magistrates in today’s Magistrate Court, so they had two jobs…. The final action of the General Assembly -to establish the original Pocahontas County governing body, was passed on February 15, 1822…. The Justices for the new county of Pocahontas, were not selected until another Act was passed by the General Assembly. Unfortunately, the date of that act is unknown, however, we do know that it named John Jordan, William Pogue Jr, James Tallman, Robert Gay, George Pogue, Benjaman Tallman, John Baxter and George Burner as Justices for the new county.”

Holstine’s recitation of that early history went on to describe many more events, including the first meeting of the new County Justices, which occurred at the home of John Bradshaw in Huntersville on March 5th, 1822.

Following that, Bob Sheets, also in period clothing and speaking as Justice George Burner, talked about his friend, John Bradshaw. Here is a humor sprinkled snippet from the beginning of this for you.

“Got these from my son, Dr. Allan Barner,” said Sheets, holding up his notes and speaking as George Burner. “I think they spelled it wrong, it says Durbin, should have been Dublin -I never heard of Durbin (audience laughter.) Fifty years since I come down here from Upper Tract to be sworn in. I knew John Baxter, knew him as an old man. Knew him from my father, Abraham Barner. They were both Rev War veterans. We’d stop here in Huntersville along the way across them mountains going to Hot Springs to do county business, to do legal business. That was a week trip. And John, he had fun. He had a little place here and we’d stop an he’d get dad going about the Rev War because John spent the Rev War down here in Monroe County, and he was a spy! Now, spies travelled alone looking for Native American sign during Indian trouble, and then they did the same thing during the Rev War because the British were supplying the tribes with guns and ammunition to create havoc here on the frontier.  Bradshaw would cover thirty -forty miles a week looking for sign and warn people. He did that in 1776, 1777, 1778 and 1779. He would start telling stories about his adventures and dad was upset, because Abraham Barner had been at Germantown and Brandywine and he spent the winter at Valley Forge.”

Of course, there was a lot more to Berner’s tales about John Bradshaw.

The evening’s events were a good opportunity to learn about the early days of the county and to listen to old-time fiddle music by our own Jake Hyer, to enjoy refreshments and to have an opportunity to hobnob with our current county officials, including all three County Commissioners, the County Circuit Clerk, and the County Clerk, as well as with the Mayor of Marlinton and with friends and neighbors.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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