Preserving Pocahontas

Remembering Joseph Wilson 1851-1923

Celebrating Black History Month. This is Joe Wilson in a photograph taken in Judge George McClintic’s yard on Tenth Avenue in Marlinton. Mr. Wilson and his brother, both born into slavery, moved here from Virginia in or around 1877 and purchased farms north of Marlinton in what is known as Brownsburg. It was on property donated by Joe Wilson that the Wilson Chapel was built. ID: PHP003254

Upon his death in January of 1923, the following obituary was printed on the front page of The Pocahontas Times.

Joseph H. Wilson, colored, aged 72 years, departed this life January 17, 1923, at the hospital at Denmar, where he had been under treatment for some time. Thus passes one of the best known and best beloved men of this county and state.

He was born a slave on the Wilderness Farm in Bath County, and moved to this county as a young man forty-six years ago and established a home in the Brush country near Marlinton. He never married.

For about forty years he has from time to time during each year gone with hunting and fishing parties into the woods and in the intimate life of the camp came to know hundreds of the most prominent men in West Virginia, and there never was a man who met Uncle Joe that did not like him.

It is not too much to say that during his long life Uncle Joe never had a disagreement with anybody. He was a good man and a good citizen.

Judge McClintic writes us from Bluefield: “I will send to you before this week is over a memorial and appreciation of Joseph Wilson. Only a court of many cases prevented my attending the funeral.”

I’ll wrap up Black History Month next week with the Memorial to Joseph Wilson written by Judge George McClintic.

Access the “Preserving Pocahontas” Digital Library at or If you have historical records or photographs to be scanned for the county Historical Archive contact Preservation Officer B. J. Gudmundsson at 304-799-3989 or email Prints of photographs are available.

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