From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, in a story titled “Conditions Century Ago: Charleston Educator Tells of Settlement of Kanawha County Which Embraced Part of What Is Now Logan–With 550 Population Charleston Was Metropolis of Kanawha Valley,” comes this bit of history for the city of Charleston dated October 14, 1927:
Josiah Hughes, principal of the South Charleston graded schools, has written a sketch of Kanawha county, telling of the activities of a century and more ago. It is of interest here, because Logan county was created in 1824 from parts of Kanawha, Cabell, Giles and Tazewell, and because some of the pioneers he names have descendants in Logan. Kanawha county was formed Oct. 5, 1789. His article in part follows.
Charleston was the largest town in the valley, and had a population of approximately 550. It had its stores, its schools, its court house, its jail, its pillory, and its whipping post.
The postoffice at Charleston was “Kanawha C.H.” established under that name in 1801, and was so called until late in 1879. Among those who received their mail here one century ago were the following: Leonard Morris (an ancestor of Roy J. Morris, who is in the local C. & O. ticket office), probably the earliest of the pioneers of the valley; Fleming Cobb, the noted Indian scout, who lies buried near the mouth of Davis Creek; John P. Huddleston, who hunted and trapped with Daniel Boone; Alex W. Quarrier, who was many years clerk of the courts of Kanawha county; Herbert P. Gaines, founder of the first newspaper in Charleston; John Young, whose father saved him and his mother from death by Indians when Fort Tackett at the mouth of Coal River was destroyed about 1789; Dr. William Cobb, the first physician in this valley and the ancestor of the Cobb family near Clendenin; Michael Newhouse, a noted pioneer of Elk river; Ebenezer Oakes, a near ancestor of our townsman, L.H. Oakes; Charles Droddy, the first settler at Walton; Owen Jarrett, noted ancestor of the Jarrett family in Kanawha county; Col. David Ruffner, the noted business man whose enterprise made possible the establishment of Mercer Academy in Charleston one hundred and ten years ago; Benjamin Morris, a noted pioneer and near ancestor of Benjamin F. Morris of Marmet; Col. Andrew Donnally, whose father built Donnally’s Fort in Greenbrier county.
During the years 1825-1829. “The Western Virginian,” as it was called, was the only newspaper published in Charleston. Mason Campbell was editor.
50 Salt Furnaces
The first great industry in the Great Kanawha Valley was the manufacturing of salt. One hundred years ago more than fifty salt furnaces were in active operation. A few years later the annual production of salt reached upwards of 3,000,000 bushels.
Kanawha Salines, now Malden, was the center of the great industrial area. The salt companies had greater stores than could be found in Charleston and many of the citizens of Charleston went to Kanawha Salines to do their trading.
One hundred years ago only a few coal mines had been opened up. Wood was the principal fuel used at the salt furnaces. Prior to 1830 but little coal was used by the salt makers. The coal industry in this valley was of comparatively small value until the opening of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad in 1873.
By 1827 three steamboats had succeeded in reaching Charleston. In 1830 the first towboat on the Kanawha reached Charleston.
Before the close of the first quarter of the nineteenth century missionaries of various churches had visited the valley and preached in the homes of the pioneers. The Protestant Episcopal church established parishes in Kanawha valley about 1821. The Rev. Charles Page was the preacher for the churches at Point Pleasant, Charleston and Coalsmouth (St. Albans). But the Presbyterian church was probably the pioneer in the valley, although small congregations of communicants of the Baptist and Methodist churches may have worshiped in the homes of some of the pioneers. Dr. Henry Ruffner organized the first Presbyterian church in Kanawha county in 1818. The church was organized in Charleston.