March 5, 1822 – Pocahontas County justices John Jordan, William Poage, Jr., James Tallman, Robert Gay, George Poage, Benjamin Tallman, John Baxter and George Burner gathered at the home of John Bradshaw in Huntersville to hold the first official county meeting.
March 5, 2022 – The Pocahontas County Bicentennial Commission, county officials, re-enactors and county residents gathered at the Huntersville Presbyterian Church to commemorate that first official county meeting.
Bicentennial Commission member Mike Holstine, in period costume, read the historical record of events that followed the December 18, 1821 establishment of Pocahontas County, including the records naming the county justices and the acts which founded the county government.
“There are several things happening during the time between December and now,” Holstine said. “It’s a transitional time, and Pocahontas County did not have a seat of government established yet, nor did they have the justices in place to handle the affairs of this government. The act allowed that others would continue to have the jurisdiction until the first court was held.”
The sheriffs of Bath, Pendleton and Randolph counties had permission to collect fees owed by inhabitants of the county and any legal cases were heard by court systems in those counties.
“It was vitally important for this Pocahontas County commission to meet and quickly decide on a seat of government, but until then, the justices were being readied and their meeting place was established,” Holstine said.
“The justices are to have taken their oaths of office and taken out the required bonds. They are also to appoint a clerk and select the place for courts to be held, until public buildings are constructed at the location to be determined by the commissioners named to do this task.”
There was a bit of a debate in the county as to where the county seat should be located. The town of Edray had the largest population, but John Bradshaw, who lived in and owned 7,000 acres of land in Huntersville, also happened to have won a lottery of $10,000. It was with the power given him by his land and money that Bradshaw was able to convince the county to locate the seat in Huntersville.
“Huntersville was the center of government established for this new county through the act, as the county court continued to meet thereafter – after today – on the first Tuesday of each month and at the June 1822 meeting of the justices, the commission report was finally received and Huntersville was officially named as the county seat.”
George Burner was one of the justices sworn in at the March 5, 1822 meeting. His descendent, Bob Sheets, of Green Bank, portrayed Burner, recalling his trip to Huntersville for the first meeting, as well as a trip back to the town 50 years later.
Portraying Burner, Sheets spoke about the small town and the many changes it went through, including its role in the Civil War.
Although he couldn’t remember everything about his time in the town, he was able to share a letter written by a judge who came to Huntersville in 1823 to hold the first court in the county.
The judge, whose name Burner [Sheets] did not share, spent five days in Huntersville, the guest of John Bradshaw. He spoke negatively of the “so called town” which at the time consisted of two buildings, Bradshaw’s home and the Loom House.
The judge was less than impressed with the “hovels” and spoke disdainfully of his time in Huntersville, but did have a few back-handed compliments for the people.
“Old Bradshaw’s family is scrupulously clean, which is somewhat remarkable in a region where cleanliness, for the most part, is on the outside,” Burner [Sheets] read. “We remained five days at Huntersville closely engaged in the business of the court, which I found profitable. Pocahontas is a fine grazing county, and the support of the people is mainly derived from their flocks, cattle, horses and sheep, which they drive over the mountains to market. There is little money among them except after these excursions, but they have little need of it – every want is supplied by the happy country they possess, and of which they are as fond as the Swiss of their mountains.”
While he may have been unsettled by the way the county residents lived, the judge couldn’t deny the beauty of the newly formed county.
“It is a pretty country,” Burner [Sheets] read. “A country of diversified and beautiful scenery in which there is a wealth of verdure and variety which keeps the attention alive and the outward eye delighted.”
The event included an introduction of descendants of the justices and music by Jake Hyer. Refreshments were provided by the women of Huntersville.
The event was part of the Pocahontas County Bicentennial year-long celebration and was sponsored by Citizens Bank of West Virginia, FirstEnergy, Pocahontas County Commission, Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Huntersville Historical Traditions.
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