West Virginia Journal


 Preston County History   

Preston County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on January 19, 1818, from parts of Monongalia County. It was named in honor of James Patton Preston (1774-1843). He was born on June 21, 1774 in Smithfield, Virginia. He was a student at William and Mary College (1790-1795), organized a company of artillery in 1799, was a member of the Virginia General Assembly in 1802. He served as a Colonel in the War of 1812 and was seriously wounded at the Battle of Chrystler's Field on November 11, 1813. He later served as the Governor of Virginia from 1816 to 1819. During his tenure in office, the University of Virginia was established (in 1819). He ended his career as postmaster of Richmond, Virginia. He died on May 4, 1843.

    Preston County was visited by several trappers and hunters during the early 1700s, but their names were not recorded. In 1752, Samuel and Thomas Eckerlin (or Eckarly) became the first English settlers in present day Preston County. They were members of a monastic religious order that did not approve of violence, war or military service. They first settled along the Monongahela River and then moved to what has since become known as Dunkard Bottom, along the Cheat River. In 1756, Thomas Eckerlin was killed by Indians. After burying his brother, Samuel left the county.

    In 1761, four deserters from Fort Pitt, William Childers, Joseph Lindsey, John Pringle and Samuel Pringle, may have passed through the present county as they headed south, away from the Fort.

    In 1766, Thomas Butler became the first, permanent resident of present day Preston County. He was soon joined by Thomas Chipps, Jacob Corzel, John Scott, James Clark and John (or Jacob) Judy. In 1767, the surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, ran their famous boundary line along the northern edge of Preston County. Other early settlers in the county included Samuel Worral and his son, Samuel, David Frazee and Richard Morris. They were all living in the county by 1770.

    The first meeting of the county court was convened at the house (tavern) of William Price in Kingwood in March 1818. The house was known for many years as "Herndon Hotel." Kingwood, the county seat, was originally settled by Conrad Sheets, Jacob Funk and a man named Steele in 1807. They named it Kingwood after a large grove of large and stately trees that grew in the area, known as "King-wood." The Virginia General Assembly established the town by legislative enactment on January 23, 1811, with John Roberts, Jacob Funk, William Price, James Brown and Hugh Morgan serving as trustees. Kingwood was incorporated by the Virginia General Assembly on March 22, 1853.

Information from :County Commissioners' Association of West Virginia Early History of West Virginia Counties