Historical Sketches of Pocahontas County – 1901
By William T. Price
Natural Features and Social Customs
First court continued…
The next business transacted at this historic term of the court appears to have been the organization of the 127th Regiment of the State militia as a part of Virginia military establishment. The following citizens were nominated as “fit and proper” to fill the requisite offices, and the Governor and Council were requested to issue commissions to them: John Baxter, Colonel; Benjamin Tallman, Lieutenant-Colonel; William Blair, Major; Boone Tallman, William Arbogast, Henry Herold, Isaac Moore, and Milburn Huges, Captains; Andrew G. Mathews, Robert Warwick, William Morgan, William Young and James Rhea, Lieutenants; Jacob Slaven, James Wanless, Samuel Young, James Callison, Ensigns.
Mr. Abram McNeel was recommended to the Governor for Coroner.
Travis W. Perkins was granted license to open a hotel.
Thus organized, Pocahontas took her place among the counties of Virginia, and Huntersville was designated for the County Seat. A location near George Baxter’s present residence, in the vicinity of what is now Edray, had been selected by a committee on location and reported on favorably as the place for the permanent location of the County Seat. Inducements by John Bradshaw were so enticing and favorable, and the people at the head of Greenbrier so anxious on the subject, that Huntersville prevailed, and the report of the committee on location was overruled.
In 1800, the population of the region conterminous with the present limits of Pocahontas County amount-ed to about one hundred and fifty-three persons, and were for the most part members of the first families that had permanent homesteads, whose heads were John McNeel, Thomas McNeill, Moses Moore, Peter Lightner, Henry Harper, John Moore, Felix Grimes, Samuel Waugh, James Waugh, Aaron Moore, Robert Moore, Timothy McCarty, Robert Gay, Jeremiah Friel, Jacob Warwick, John Slaven, John Warwick Sampson Mathews, Josiah Brown, John Sharp, William Sharp, William Poage, John Baxter, Levi Moore and John Bradshaw.
From the census returns it appears that in 1830, the population of the county was 2,542; in 1840, 2,922; in 1850, 3,598; in 1860, 3,958, in 1870, 4,069; in 1880, 5,591; in 1890 6,813; in 1900, 8,572…
The smallest rate of gain was between 1860 and 1870, about 2 percent. In this decade the war occurred. The next less rate of gain was between 1850 and 1860 – about 9 percent. This indicates that just previous to the war, the county was about ready to progress backwards, such was the disposition of people to look for homes in the far West, and the western counties of the State.
The late George Kee was one of the early settlers of our county, and deserves a place in the history of the Pocahontas people. He was a native of Tyrone, Ireland. He and his brother, William, left Ireland when he was underage, and owing to the shipping regulations he was not allowed to embark as a regular passenger. Young Kee went aboard to see his brother off, and concealed himself until too far away at sea to put him off the vessel. The intention was to take him back, but upon landing at Philadelphia, he eluded the parties in search of him, and escaped to the country.
He came to America in 1780, landing at Philadelphia after a voyage of thirteen weeks. At Lancaster City, the brothers spent some time, and separated at that place and never met again, and Mr. Kee never heard anything more of him.
From Lancaster, Mr. Kee went to Lakeville, near the Susquehanna River, where he stayed for some time. From Lakeville, he came to Pendleton County, West Virginia, where he met a relative, Aaron Kee. This relative was a merchant, and furnished George Kee with some goods, and sent him to Pocahontas County, then Bath, to dispose of them. He became acquainted with John Jordan, who had been in that business before him, and Mr. Jordan had him make his home with him, and for six or seven years, he spent the most of his time in the Levels at John Jordan’s.
It seems, too, that the young Irish merchant was fond of making trips to Joshua Buckley’s on the east bank of the Greenbrier, opposite the mouth of Swago Creek. Hetty Buckley, with her smart and tidy ways, took his fancy, and they were married in 1800, and opened up their home at the place now occupied by Aaron Kee, a grandson, two miles below Marlinton.
There were six sons and one daughter. Two of the sons died in childhood. The four sons that lived to be grown were Joshua Buckley, Andrew, John and William. The daughter’s name was Hannah.
Joshua B. Kee, the eldest son of the Kee family, married Rebecca Stevenson, of Bath County, and settled on the Greenbrier, a mile below Marlinton…
Joshua Kee was a person of remarkable mechanical skill. He could work in stone, iron and wood, as well as farm. His specialty was gunsmithing, in which he excelled, and in his time when so much hunting was done, this was of great service to the people…
William Kee, the youngest son of George Kee, the Ancestor, was a very estimable person, being an honest industrious citizen, he was of great service to the community in which he lived. He and his brothers, Joshua, Andrew and John, built with their own hands and at their own expense one of the most comfortable school houses anywhere in their section of the county, in order to have their children educated. It was near the stone quarry…
George Kee, the progenitor of the Kee Relationship, was in many respects a very remarkable person.
He read a great deal and reflected on what he did read, and could converse fluently and intelligently on whatever subject that was discussed in books or the public journals…
Mr. Kee claimed to be an Associate Reformed Presbyterian, commonly known as the Seceders or Covenanters.
It was a blessing to our county to have such a person as Mr. Kee identified with its history. I think this is a sentiment with which all will agree who remember something of his sterling character.