Historical Sketches of Pocahontas County – 1901
By William T. Price
Natural Features and Social Customs

Owing to climatic influences, life with our ancestors was a hard, continuous struggle for mere existence, and hence, the accumulation of wealth became a necessity, to provide for the uncertainties of old age, or the requirement peculiar to their complex social relations. The European climate with its long, cold and dreary winters in many localities, the difficulties of cultivating the land, the conflicting interests between rival communities, developed the instinct of self preservation to such an extent that most of the virtues and many of the vices of European people can be traced back to climatic causes. The character we inherit was formed under the influences mentioned, and so by inheritance, by education, and by necessity we are what we are, in large measure.

The life of our ancestors in Europe and America was a fighting life; hence our highest ideal of life is a life of action and endeavor. Hence our people work until they can work no longer, and are proud to die with the axe or plow handles in their hands, thus choosing rather to wear out than to rust out.

Nothing interests what we term the better and more respectable and prosperous element of our population than the history of what they or their ancestors have accomplished by diligence in business in rearing homes, starting business enterprises, or in improving our commonwealth. As the result of this restless characteristic, unsatisfying accumulation of earthly possessions, conveniences and accomplishments, it comes almost naturally to imagine that human life is made perfect thereby, and in many instances so attractive that persons have been known to be sorry to leave what has been gathered together by their energy and self sacrifice.


One of the oldest families in our county is that of the McCollam relationship. While it is not certain, yet there is good reason to believe that the pioneer ancestor was named Dan. McCollam…of Scotch-Irish descent, and the son of a physician, a graduate of the Universtiy of Edinburg.

Mr. McCollam, the ancestor, came from New Jersey in 1770, or thereabouts, and settled on Brown’s Mountain near Driscol, which is yet known as the “McCollam Place,” and now in possession of Amos Barlow, Esq.

His children were Jacob, Daniel, William, Rebecca, Mary and Sarah.

Jacob first settled a mile or so west of Huntersville on the road to Marlinton; thence went to Illinois, and was killed by a falling tree.

Daniel married Anna Sharp, daughter of John Sharp, the Frost pioneer, and settled first on the Bridger Place near Verdant Valley, thence to the Marony Place near Buckeye, and finally settled in Noble County, Missouri.

Two of his daughters remained in Pocahontas, Mary (Polly) became Mrs. John Buckley. Her son was the Rev. Joshua Buckley, a venerable and greatly respected citizen of Buckeye who died April 23, 1901, at the advanced age of 92 years. The other daughter Jane, was married to the late Joseph Friel and lived on the Greenbrier above Marlinton…

Rebecca McCollom was married to the late Robert Moore, Senior, of Edray. Sarah McCollam was married to John Sharp, and lived on the place occupied by her grandson, J. Wesley Irvine, near Verdant Valley…

Ruth McCollam was married to William Kee, Esq., near Marlinton.

William McCollam married Sally Drinnan, daughter of Lawrence Drinnan, whose home was on the Greenbrier River, on the upper part of Levi Gay’s farm, very near the bank of the stream…Soon after his marriage he settled near the summit of Buck’s Mountain, about 1798…

William McCollam was one of the original members of the Stony Creek M. E. Church, and while he lived was prominent in meetings and the official proceedings. Upon one occasion while the parents were absent attending meeting or visiting the sick, the house caught fire and was consumed with the most of its contents. At the time of the burning, John, the eldest son, was about eight years old; Lawrence was about two. In the confusion the baby boy seems to have been forgotten, and when John asked where the baby was he was told by one of the little girls that he was in the cradle asleep. John pressed his way through the smoke and heat at the risk of his life, and brought his brother out alive, but in doing so, both were so badly burned as to have scars upon their persons long as they lived.

This man [William] toiled on, however, rebuilt his home, opened more land, and in the meanwhile eleven children had gathered around his table. At the time when his care and presence seemed most needed, it seemed good to the God he loved to call him away from a responsibility so important.

The sugar season had just opened – the morning was such as to indicate a heavy run, and much wood was needed to keep the kettles boiling fast enough. On the 4th of March, 1818, he had morning prayer, sang a hymn of praise to Him that watches the sparrow when it falls, and went forth cheerfully to his work. A large red oak tree suited to his purpose was selected, which soon bowed and fell beneath his stalwart strokes, but somehow a limb from another tree in its rebound smote him with such furious force that he never seemed too conscious of what had happened…