Pocahontas County Bicentennial ~ 1821-2021

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

It may not be inappropriate at this time to embody some facts concerning the development of the county in the last decade of the 19th century, which were momentous years for Pocahontas County.

In December 1890, an epoch marking snow fell making it the “winter of the deep snow.” While it lay on the ground to the depth of three feet or more, Colonel John T. McGraw, of Grafton, made a visit to this county and purchased the farms known as Marlins Bottom for a town site. Five families lived on the land now occupied as the site of the town of Marlinton. The name of the post office had been changed a few years before from Marlin’s Bottom to Marlinton.

Mrs. Janie B. Skyles, a Maryland lady, who was living here, being instrumental in effecting the change. It was bitterly opposed by some of the older citizens who objected to the giving up of the descriptive and historic name of Marlin’s Bottom.

The purchase of the town site by Colonel McGraw was the first intimation that county people had of proposed railway developments. The plan was that the Camden System of railroads was to be extended up Williams River, across the divide at the head of Stony Creek, and to Marlinton. It was a part of the plan that the C. & O. & O.R.R. would build an extension from Hot Springs to Marlinton and connect with the Camden Road at that place.

The town of Marlinton was laid off in town lots in 1891, and widely advertised as a place where a town would be built. The building of the railroad was regarded as a certainty. The Pocahontas Development Company was chartered and took a deed for 640 acres on which the town was to be built…

The railroad was not built at that time because of the money panic which came on the country at that time. Colonel McGraw, who had invested largely in lands elsewhere in the county, never ceased to try to interest capitalists in this county and develop it with a railroad. His attention being called to the natural route for a railroad up the Greenbrier River, he had a survey made from Marlinton to Ronceverte, at a cost of $10,000, and it was on this location that the railroad was afterwards built. The Greenbrier Railway was commenced in 1899 and finished in 1901.

In two years, Pocahontas County changed from being one of the few counties in the State without a railroad, to the county having the greatest rail mileage of any county of the State.

Marlinton began to improve at once. It was incorporated at the April Term of the Circuit Court, 1900, and held its first election of officers May 5th, 1900…


Concurrently with the past century the name Burgess has been a familiar one in lower and middle Pocahontas. The progenitor of this family was John Burgess, Senior, a native of Ireland. He was a weaver by occupation, and settled near Albany, New York, where he diligently plied his vocation, some years previous to the Revolution. The name of his wife or her family are not remembered. There were two sons and four daughters.

Elizabeth Burgess became Mrs. William Young…

Nancy married William Mayse and settled at Millpoint. He was among the first blacksmiths to strike sparks from the anvil in that vicinity. William Mayse, a grandson, was a captain in the Civil War, and afterwards a government clerk in Washington, D.C…

Nathan Burgess married Martha Kinnison, of Charles Kinnison, the pioneer, and settled on lands now in possession of the Payne family. He was a skillful gunsmith. Late in the 18th century and early in the 19th, many of the older hunters were supplied rifles by him… One of the best specimens of his workmanship was made for the late William McNeill, of Buckeye. When last heard of, it was the property of James Moore. It was reputed to be one of the most accurate in aim and far reaching of mountain rifles ever in the county…

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