Appalachia, Boone County, Camp Creek, Charles L. Estep, civil war, Coal River, Coal Valley News, Cumberland Gap, Danville, education, Hadalton, history, Huntington, Isaac Barker, Jackie Dolin, John E. Kenna, John Halstead, John Morris, Kanawha River, Kentucky, Kinder Hill, Little Coal River, Logan, Logan Banner, Madison, Marshall A. Estep, Maysville, Mud River, North Carolina, Ohio River, Olive Branch Baptist Church, Spruce Fork, Spruce Ridge, Texas, Thomas Price, Turtle Creek, W.H. Turley, W.W. Hall, West Virginia, White Oak Creek, Wilderness Road
A story titled “Old Times in Boone County Told About By Historian” and printed in the Logan Banner in Logan, WV, on April 20, 1928 provides some history for Boone County:
Old-timers and students of local history should be interested in the following excerpt from the history of Boone county by Prof. W.W. Hall. The family names mentioned are familiar ones.
What is here reproduced was taken from the Coal Valley News:
About the year of 1798 Isaac Barker reared a pole cabin on the brow of the hill on the lower side of White Oak Creek, near old lock seven. This was the first white man’s home established in Boone county. The second settler in the county was Johnson Kinder, a brother-in-law of Barker. He settled on Kinder Hill a few months after Barker came. The first settler on Little Coal River was John Halstead, who settled at the mouth of Camp creek about 1800. A few months later Jackie Dolin was married to Isaac Barker’s daughter and led his blushing bride, attired in her homespun, through the trackless forest up Brush creek and over the hill to a scantily furnished home on Camp creek. Not long after this Thomas Price, a daring hunter from North Carolina, wandered over the Wilderness Road through Cumberland Gap to Maysville, Kentucky, where he embarked in a canoe, ascended the Ohio, the Kanawha, the Coal and the Little Coal rivers to the present site of the town of Danville, and became the first settler there.
For some years after the coming of the white men there were no churches, but when an Old Baptist or Methodist preacher would arrive in the settlement, word was passed around to the neighbors and that night earnest prayers, exhortations and hallelujahs would ascend from those rude homes. The first church erected in the county was the Olive Branch Baptist church at the mouth of Turtle creek. The first term of the circuit court held in the county after its organization in 1847 was held in this church. The grand jury made its investigations while seated on the framing in Ballard’s old water mill near by, and the petit jury retired to the paw paw bushes below to consider their verdicts.
The daring hunters, adventurous pioneers and brave soldiers who came from the best families in the east to establish home in the wilderness, were not contented to let their children grow up without the rudiments of an education, so they established Old Field schools in the slave cabins, tanneries, country churches and abandoned dwellings, when an itinerant teacher who could read, write and cipher a little came along. The first free school in the county was taught by John Morris, just after the Civil War, in an old house abandoned by Dr. Church. The old house stood across the hollow from W.H. Turley’s present residence in Madison. Within the next year or two a log school house was erected near the upper end of Danville and another on the point across the river from Hadalton. The children of Madison had to go to Danville or Hadalton to school until 1885, when the people of Madison, by mandamus, compelled the board of education to give them a school. The first school house erected in Madison is now used by Dr. Smoot for a barn. While the course of study in these early schools was meager and the work crude, yet they did succeed in inspiring a few boys to strive for higher education. Former United States Senator John E. Kenna was born in Boone county and attended his first schools in a log house on Big Coal river. Dr. Marshall A. Estep, an eminent physician of Texas, and his brother, Judge Charles L. Estep, of Huntington and Logan, were reared in the “Promised Land,” the name of their father’s mountain home on the summit of Spruce Ridge, and attended their first schools in a log house on the Spruce Fork. One of these early log school houses still stands on the head of Mud river, remote from the highways frequented by trade and travelers. Two of the most recent prosecuting attorneys of the county, two clerks of the circuit court, two of the clerks of the county court, four county superintendents of schools, chief U.S. Marshal for the southern district of West Virginia, and two prosperous dental surgeons attended school when boys in that little log school house on the head of Mud. The attendance in it was never large.