The Pocahontas County Bicentennial ended where it began – in Huntersville. The year-long celebration began December 18, 2021, commemorating the formation of Pocahontas County, which happened December 21, 1821, in Huntersville, Virginia.
The final official Bicentennial event was the Huntersville Traditions Days celebration which took place Friday and Saturday.
Friday evening, visitors were served a hunter’s feast of ham, turkey, roasted potatoes, roasted vegetables and apple cobbler with cream. After getting their fill – but remembering to save space for a piece of “birthday” cake – visitors settled in under a large tent to enjoy a presentation about the history of Huntersville.
Ruth Taylor and Mike Holstine set the scene of Huntersville 200 years ago as the rain poured down, adding rhythm to the fiddle and guitar stylings of Jake Hyer and Ethan Jones.
“Until the first hunters and trappers discovered the vast wilderness west of the Allegheny Mountains, this area was known only to the Native American tribes who hunted here,” Taylor said. “During the 1700s, before and during the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, mountain men and Indian scouts working for the colonial militia – those brave enough to cross the mountains into unchartered territory – began to make inroads into the western edge of the Colony of Virginia.”
“The men discovered forests rich with wild game and streams teeming with fish, as well as beautiful vistas. The area was first known as Ewings Creek – now Knapps Creek – and was soon known as a gathering place for woodsmen and adventurers, looking for respite from their travels.
“Here they might pause to buy, barter and sell their furs, meat and skins, exchange supplies, perhaps hear news from civilization and, if they were so minded, to enjoy the company of other fellows,” Taylor said. “The frontier village that grew up here eventually became known as Huntersville, so named by Colonel John Bradshaw, who was an Indian scout for the Virginia Militia before the Revolutionary War, and who fought with distinction against the British in that war.”
Holstine continued the tale, sharing more about Bradshaw, who was integral in the birth and growth of Huntersville.
“Colonel Bradshaw was a very interesting man,” Holstine said. “He started out his career as a young man working for the Virginia Militia and was an Indian spy – it’s what they called them. Basically, an Indian scout. He had a territory, and he would actually walk all summer long from between Monroe County and Preston County – about a thirty-mile hike – and would do a circle. They would always meet up with the next circle and determine whether there were any Indians on the move or on the march.
“You think about that,” he continued. “Then when he went on to the Revolutionary War – fought in it with distinction – he was in line with the other soldiers when the British surrendered at Yorktown, and then he decided to come home. And if you can imagine, all those travels and all that Indian hiking and all of that stuff that he did – this is where he decided to call home.”
Not only was Bradshaw the one to name Huntersville, he was one of its most prominent residents. The first county court was convened in his home in 1822 and he hosted visitors traveling from other parts of Virginia for the court sessions.
“Huntersville grew to be a thriving town with homes, stables, stores, hotels and even a ballroom,” Holstine said. “As Huntersville was the county seat, it required a courthouse. In 1822, Bradshaw donated the land upon which to build it. It was situated near his home and the courthouse was finally completed – like most government projects – twenty years later in 1842.”
The clerk’s office is all that remains of the courthouse today. It is situated near the county’s first jail, which was built in 1883.
The two-story, two-room school was built in 1880 and served as a place for first through sixth grade students to receive an education.
During the Civil War, Huntersville was at the center of the conflict, due to its location at the crossroads.
“The town was actually occupied by Confederates, who used it as a supply depot and, in 1861, General Robert E. Lee himself was camped here in Huntersville as part of the Confederacy’s western campaign.
“Huntersville’s beautiful Presbyterian Church right across the way was used as a hospital during the war. It stands today as the home of the Masonic Lodge and is one of Huntersville’s proudest historical legacies.”
“Most of the town was burned during the conflict between the Union and Confederacy, but when the war was over, and Pocahontas County was part of the newly formed state of West Virginia, Huntersville began the task of returning to life as usual.
“The county and local Huntersville government got back on its feet,” Holstine said. “Residents, school, churches and businesses – those businesses were saddle shops, doctors, lawyers – all struggling to return to normalcy.”
In 1891, after much fighting within the county, the county seat was moved to the growing logging town of Marlinton, located six miles west of Huntersville.
“Huntersville settled back into life as a farm village with a few stores and a lot of Pocahontas County historical significance,” Holstine said.
After the presentation, one of the crowd’s favorite Huntersville Traditions Days traditions – the pie auction – began, with more than 20 homemade fruit and cream pies going up on the auction block.
Feeling the remnants of Hurricane Ian, the rain never let up Friday night, but neither did the goodwill of those in attendance.
On Saturday, the gloomy, rainy weather continued, and so did the celebration. The young members of the pre-Civil War soldier re-enactors from Cabell County set up camp and shared their knowledge of a soldier’s life during the Civil War.
Beautiful quilts and handwork were on display as demonstrators shared their crafts of quilting, blacksmithing and wool spinning.
Lois Mamak won first place in the Salt Risin’ Bread Contest. Kim Clifton came in second and third place went to Jessica Varner.
Stacy Kelly won the Cornbread Contest.
History, cake, ice cream, clogging, toe-tapping music and more helped to round-out this special Bicentennial year of events.