Welcome to Kingwood, West Virginia, the heart of Preston County. In this article, we will explore the rich history and cultural heritage of Preston County. From the original settlers to the unique landmarks, we will dive deep into the fascinating past of this beautiful region in the state of West Virginia.
Early Settlement and Mound Builders
Preston County, originally part of Monongalia County, was separated in 1818. However, its history predates this separation. The area was once inhabited by the Mound Builders, believed to have come from Asia. The Mound Builders left behind burial mounds, such as Castle Mound at Lick Run and Pringles Run, which were later used by Native American tribes for their own burials.
The Algonquin Indians, including the Shawnees and Delawares, followed the Mound Builders. They primarily used Preston County as hunting grounds and had no permanent settlements after 1759.
First White Settlers and Indian Hostilities
The first permanent white settlers arrived in Preston County in the late 18th century. James Clark and John Judy were among the earliest settlers, arriving in the Bruceton area in 1769. They were followed by Samuel Worrell and his son in 1770, who settled in the Sandy Creek glades.
However, tensions with Native American tribes, particularly the Indians, resumed in 1774. In response, forts, such as Fort Morris and Fort Butler, were built for the protection of settlers. While there were occasional skirmishes and attacks on settlers, the forts provided a sense of safety during this tumultuous time.
Formation of Preston County and Development
In 1818, Preston County officially separated from Monongalia County, with Kingwood becoming its county seat. The county was named after James Patton Preston, a revolutionary hero and governor of Virginia. The first county court was held at the home of William Price until a courthouse was built later on.
During the 19th century, Preston County saw significant industrial development in the iron industry. Iron furnaces, such as the Jackson Ironworks and the Virginia Iron Furnace, provided employment opportunities for many residents.
The Winchester and Clarksburg road, known as the Monongalia State Road, played a crucial role in connecting Preston County to other parts of the state. This road brought travelers and businesses to the region, contributing to its growth and development.
Cultural Heritage and Landmarks
Preston County is not only rich in history but also boasts several landmarks and cultural heritage sites. The Mount Carmel Cemetery, established in 1796, is one of the oldest cemeteries in the county. The Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, built around 1796, was the first church in the county.
Another notable landmark is the Eckhart House, the former home of the Eckerman brothers, who were among the first white settlers in Preston County. The house has historical significance and provides a glimpse into the lives of early settlers.
Preston County, with its fascinating history and cultural heritage, offers a unique glimpse into the past. From the Mound Builders to the early white settlers and the development of various industries, the county has witnessed significant changes and growth. By exploring the landmarks and embracing its heritage, Preston County continues to honor its vibrant history. Visit this beautiful region in West Virginia and immerse yourself in the rich culture and captivating stories of Preston County.