In 1963 when local physician Dr. Harry E. Handley founded the Greenbrier Historical Society, he had already amassed volumes of information on Greenbrier County families. This year those papers have been donated to the Society by the estate of Dr. Handley's son, Harry M. Handley. The Handley Collection contains papers, photographs and books on 135 Greenbrier County families. The pictures shown here are a sampling of those now residing in the Society's Archives & Library at North House Museum.
From 1800 to the 1840s many Greenbrier County families began the great migration westward, looking for less crowded spaces, open land and new adventures. Kentucky and Ohio were the first benefactors of the sons and daughters of Greenbrier, then Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and on westward with the growth of a nation. Greenbrier County planted families across the wide prarie expanses and past the Rocky Mountains to the western shores of a young country. Those who left Greenbrier County wrote letters and sent photographs back home to the families they left behind. Their letters home were sometimes heartsick, sometimes lonely, sometimes full of the spirit of adventure of taming yet another frontier. They would begin new families, new lives and new histories. The photograph to the right is one such family. Like Nancy Caroline Handley Hook, proudly seated here with husband John William Hook and family, they were gone to Missouri . . .
The photograph to the left is of John Handley, grandson of John Handley (d. 1834) and son of John & Margaret Walkup Handley who moved from Greenbrier County to western Missouri about 1844. The photograph to the right is a daguerrotype labeled simply "Nancy Handley". It was probably made about 1860.
On-line documents from the Handley Collection at the Greenbrier Historical Society include the following:
1834 Will of John Handley
Copyright 1999, Greenbrier Historical Society, Inc.