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Pocahontas County Bicentennial ~ 1821-2021

Q. What is the area of Pocahontas County?

A. 942 square miles

Q. How does our county compare in size with other counties in West Virginia?

A. Third. Randolph is the largest county; Greenbrier is second largest.

Historical Sketches of Pocahontas County – 1901
by William T. Price

Some Preliminary Words

The contrast of the aims and purposes of the Indians and the pioneers is instructive and deserves more than a passing notice.

With Ottowas and more particularly the Shawnees, mere subsistence in the easiest way was the paramount question at issue, and for such a purpose no region surpassed this for their uses.

With the pioneers, homes were what they wanted, where fathers and sons could be settled in communities. Along with subsistence, they desired social comforts, and advantages of intelligent Christian worship, and securing these, their hopes and aspirations seemed realized. For their cherished hopes and aims, our region was equal to most and surpassed by none under the sun.

At the present day among their descendants, the making of money and the enjoyment of all that money secures is the paramount issue. Mere commercialism, in a more or less modified sense, is the spirit of the new order of affairs with the posterity, the children’s children of the pioneers. And for this new phase of human endeavor, our region is equal to most and surpassed by none for all the elements of commercial wealth in the forest and mines, in the streams and oil wells…


Richard Hill, whose ancestral blood courses the veins of a great many worthy citizens, now claims our special notice in this paper. It is generally believed he came to this region from North Carolina soon after the armies of the Revolution were disbanded. He was one of the more distinguished of the early pioneers as a scout and a vigilant defender of the forts.

Upon his marriage with Nancy McNeel, daughter of the venerated pioneer of the Levels John McNeel, he settled on Hill’s Creek, on lands lately occupied by Abram Hill’s family. As long as Hill’s Creek flows and murmurs, his name will be perpetuated.

There were three daughters, Elizabeth, Martha and Margaret; and seven sons, Thomas, John, Abraham, Isaac, William, Joel and George…

Richard Hill seems to have been endowed with a charmed life. It would be better to say that in the providence of God, he had a mission to perform, and was immortal until that service should be accomplished.

The Indian brave that slew James Baker, one of the first schoolmasters in this region, had shrewdly planned to shoot Baker in the act of crossing the fence and kill Richard Hill with his tomahawk before he could be able to re-cross and escape to the Drennan house, near Levi Gay’s.

While Richard Hill was repairing his broken rake in the rye field at Edray, near the grave yard, an Indian in a fallen tree top aimed repeatedly at his breast, and put his finger on the trigger time and again, and every time something seemed to restrain him. The Indian thought it was the Great Spirit, and seemed to have felt it would not do to kill a friend of the Great Spirit, and thus incur his anger.

Then while scouting in the mountains toward Gauley, Mr. Hill was thrice aroused by alarming dreams, and when the morning dawned, he discovered that an Indian had tried three times to steal upon him and kill him while he was asleep.

There is also a tradition that a detachment of Indians were in ambush for several days near Mr. Hill’s home on Hill’s Creek, for the special object of capturing or killing him, as they had come to feel there would be little or no use to raid this region while he was alive or at large. They had taken up the idea that the owner of such a nice house would dress much better than anybody else, and would not work with his own hands. They saw men at work in reach of their guns, but none of them dressed to suit their ideas as to how Mr. Hill would be attired. It so turned out that Mr. Hill was one of the hands, and it was his workday dress that beguiled the Indians and prevented his being shot at or captured.

Richard Hill was one of nature’s noblemen, who relied more on pure, genuine character than mere superficial appearances, and therein lay the secret of his safety and success. A pure character and a genteel appearance make a lovely sight, but a genteel exterior and an impure character make a nuisance that is simply unendurable to all except human John Crows or vultures…

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