Pocahontas County Bicentennial ~ 1821-2021


Among the early settlers of our county, Henry Dilley deserves more than a passing notice. He was one of the four Dilley brothers, one of whom was the late Martin Dilley. It is believed the Dilleys came from Maryland, and very probably of French descent.

Henry Dilley went over to John Sharp’s, the early settler of Frost, often enough to persuade his daughter Margaret to have him for better or worse, and they were happily married and settled on Thorny Creek, and, as long as Dilleys Mill will be known, his name will not be forgotten. Mr. Dilley never doubted the truth of the Bible – especially that place in Genesis where it speaks of the ground bringing forth “thorns and thistles.” He had enough of these things to contend with on his Thorny Creek land, where he settled, opened up a home, and built a mill – one of the best of its kind at that day – and its successor keeps up a good reputation as Dilleys Mill yet.

Men may come and men may go, but the beautiful perennial stream, that was utilized by Henry Dilley, still goes on in its useful service for the benefit of his children’s children, and a great many others, far and near.

Joseph Dilley, son of Henry Dilley, married Mary Ann, a daughter of the late Joseph Friel, on Greenbrier River, five miles above Marlinton, and near the mouth of Thorny Creek, and settled on a part of the homestead, where he yet lives.

Thomas Dilley married Peachy VanReenan, a native of Holland, and lived on Cummings Creek. He was a Confederate soldier.

Ralph Dilley married Mary Jane, daughter of William Moore, near Mount Zion, and settled on a section of the Moore homestead, at one of the head springs of Moore’s Run, which debouches into Knapps Creek at Brown Moore’s.

The name Dilley indicates a French origin, and although Martin Dilley claimed to be of German descent, it does not necessarily follow that the family is of pure German origin. A very important element of the immigration to this country in the previous century were the Huguenot French, who had refugeed from France about or soon after 1685, to England, Holland, and Germany, and thence to the New World, as it was then so frequently called.

William Penn’s colony had great attractions for the Germans, and for many others besides…

For a long time, too, Lord Baltimore’s Maryland colony was really one of the best places for the early immigrants, and a great many of the early settlers of Maryland were attracted by the inducements he offered. But as “burnt children dread the fire,” it is not likely that very many of the French Protestants should be inclined to settle permanently in a Roman Catholic colony, managed by an avowed Roman Catholic. To Lord Baltimore’s credit, however, let it be remembered that there was more religious tolerance under his administration than almost anywhere else in the civilized world of that period. Some writers go so far as to say that Maryland was the birthplace of religious toleration. The matter is an interesting one to inquire into.

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