The Huntersville Road
By Andrew Price
March 1, 1928
… I want to make some mention of a citizen who, so far as I can figure out, has the right to be known as the father and founder of Huntersville, and that is John Bradshaw.
The name of Bradshaw has faded out of Pocahontas county, but a large number of citizens of the name of McLaughlin, Cackley, Gwin, Hogsett and Tallman are direct descendants of the old pioneer. It is safe to say that enough descendants of this Soldier of the Revolution could be named who would far outnumber the members of the societies known as the Sons of the Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution in West Virginia, as large and prosperous as those societies have become.
John Bradshaw had four sons who removed to foreign countries, two to Missouri, one to Virginia, and one to Lewis county. He had four daughters who married here and left a host of descendants. At the time that the Revolution broke out, John Bradshaw was eighteen years old. At the time, he was scouting around on the western waters somewhere about Wolf Creek, in Monroe county.
Early in that war, the Indian armies appeared on our western frontier, and the backwoodsmen were organized into a branch of colonial service known as rangers, but officially designated as Indian spies. It was their duty to watch the country along the Seneca trail from Monroe county to Preston county. Along this line a large number of stockade forts were built in the bloody seventies. The best men were detailed for this service. They took the usual oath of the soldier and in addition to that oath they swore not to build a fire at night no matter how cold or rainy it might be.
Bradshaw said that he usually made a three or four days’ tour in the country lying between New River and Big and Little Stoney creeks, Indian Draft and Wolf Creek. That the spies traveled two in a company, and that it was his custom to scout through the woods and meet a similar detail from Burnside fort. Bradshaw traveled out of Cook fort. The eastern border was watched in this way between the line of forts extending from the Tennessee country to northern Pennsylvania. Bradshaw went in company with James Ellis at times, and on other occasions his partner was Col. Samuel Estell, of Kentucky. Each tour of duty made a circle of about thirty miles. His service was for six months each in the summers of 1776, 1777, 1778 and in 1779. In these months he engaged in no civil pursuit. The service lasted until November of each year, when it was considered that the country was safe from Indian raids on account of cold weather. If the weather stayed warm, or a warm spell occurred in the winter, the thoughts of the pioneers would turn to the danger of an Indian raid, and they would call it Indian summer.
At the end of 1779, Bradshaw went to the east side of the Alleghenies and married Nancy McKamie, and settled on the Bull Pasture river about ten miles below McDowell in the part of the country covered by Fort George, one of the forts of the line of forts built by Dinwiddie in the French and Indian war. Bradshaw seems to have had about a year at home. From November 1, 1779 to January 1, 1781. That was about the time that Col. Tarleton and his dragons chased the Virginia assembly into the mountains until the statesmen met in Staunton, and an alarm in the night caused the legislature to scatter in great haste at that place.
Bradshaw joined the company of Captain Thomas Hicklin, in Col. Sampson Matthews’ regiment, and served an enlistment of three months from the highlands to the sea. He was in a battle at Portsmouth with John Slaven, and a lot of other mountain men, and being discharged, he came home for the summer. But along in August he was called to the colors again, and again marched down from the mountains to the sea, and by the time he got to Yorktown the colonial troops had penned up Lord Cornwallis and a big British army on a narrow peninsular and there is where John Bradshaw waded in human blood, shoe mouth deep. Cornwallis surrendered to the American army there, and John Bradshaw stood in line with the other ragged colonial soldiers one morning in October. The Americans formed a double line and the Cornwallis army marched out of Yorktown between the lines and reached a place where they were required to lay down their arms. Some of the British soldiers threw their muskets down with force enough to injure the gun. Then the British marched back between the lines into Yorktown.
The next day the British prisoners were marched off to Winchester under guard, and Bradshaw was one of the guards, and when these prisoners were duly delivered at Winchester in the Valley, Bradshaw was discharged and came back to his home.
Soon after the Revolution, John Bradshaw moved west of the Allegheny and founded Huntersville. He got for his mountain home the plantations now owned by Sherman P. Curry, the Amos Barlow heirs, and J. H. Buzzard, several square miles of territory, and this included all of the site of the town of Huntersville. The Bradshaw home was placed on a bluff looking down on the beautiful waters of Knapps creek, at or near the place where Isaac Barlow lives. Bradshaw was monarch of all he surveyed.
About this time, John Bradshaw had a stroke of luck which made him one of the richest men on the mountains. A ticket that he held in a State lottery drew him a prize of ten thousand dollars and that was an immense fortune in those days.
He was a prominent figure in Bath county and in this county after its formation. My father remembers seeing him. My father was seven years old when John Bradshaw died. He was seventy-nine years old. In his old age, he was a large portly man, with elegant manners, and fine dress, and walked with a crutch richly inlaid with silver.
When Pocahontas county was organized in the spring of 1822, the commissioners met at John Bradshaw’s house, and they took from him a deed for about an acre of ground on the bluff across the lane from his house for the county buildings. This site was accepted and a brick courthouse built on it that lasted until the county seat was moved six miles west on the Huntersville road to the new city of Marlinton.
To be continued…