CALHOUN'S FADED VILLAGES - How They Got Named, Other Fascinating Stuff

By Bob Weaver

Here is a roving look at Calhoun places and villages, now mostly gone, and a few tales about their origins.

Census, Names, and Post Offices:

Census of 1890 - Altizer, 26; Arnoldsburg, 100; Beech, 15; Big Bend, 89; Big Springs, 50; Bruin. 25; Buffalo Lick, NL; Freed, NL; Grantsville, 278; Henrietta, NL; Hur, 20; Industry, NL; Lockney (Gilmer) NL; Milo, 100; Minnora, 42; Mount Zion, NL; Nobe, 30; Oka, NL; Pink, 50; Rilla, NL; Rocksdale, 20; Richardson, 100; Staten, 25; Sycamore, 26; White Pine, 150.

How They Got Named:

ARNOLDSBURGH-PO was first established in 1832 after teacher, Charles Arnold. The settlement started when Phillip Starcher, often referred to as the first permanent settler in Calhoun, built his cabin in 1810. Peregrine Hays, son of Congressman Samuel Lewis Hays, came to Arnoldsburgh in 1840.

Hays played a significant role in formation of county and established the first store. A Confederate, he engaged in the squabble over the location of the county seat. While he often blamed the "Grantsville bunch" for taking the seat from Arnoldsburgh, he purchased land below Big Bend, just in case the seat would go to northern Calhoun.

He also dallied with Roane County, Gilmer County, and other political areas to place the Washington/Lee Districts into California County, which would have made the West Fork region part of Roane. Arnoldsburgh was also the site of a Civil War battle. Population has ranged from 100 to 200 people.

EUCLID-Established as a PO in 1901. Ira Reip said he was reading Chamber's Encyclopedia and read the names of Dalton and Euclid, and "I named my son (1889) Dalton Euclid Reip". (Used Euclid named for PO in 1901.

FROZEN-PO on Frozen Run. In 1936 the PM, William H. Hunt said, "Some very early pioneers came here on this creek and killed and skinned a buffalo and had to wrap up in the green skin to keep warm (from freezing to death). When the fire burned down the man had to be pulled out of the skin (nearly frozen) and thawed.

MILO-PO was moved twice, first located at the mouth of Flat Run (Roane Co.) and in 1869 to the mouth of Duck Run, and then to it's final location on Beech (Fink Run). Named for Milo Brennan (Brannon?) in 1859. Formerly known as BALOS.

MINNORA-Now located on State Rt. 16. PO named in 1890's by Capt. Abasolm Knotts of Civil War history for his youngest daughter, Minnora Knotts (Proudfoot) who lived to be over 100. Earlier named Township Hall. Until recently had Minnora Elementary School, now the Minnora Community Center. Location of the old IOOF lodge hall and a retail store.

NICUT-Was named about 1850. "A near way to travel by foot from Rosedale to Minnora," according to PM D. W. Chennoweth in 1937.

NOBE-PO was established about 1887 after "Nobah," a biblical name.

HUR-PO created in late 1880's, named after novel "Ben Hur." Corporate headquarters of The Hur Herald and "vicious" local political battles.

RILLA-Named PO in 1896, later became the FEZ and later ORMA PO about 1905, named after Miss Orma Stalnaker. Rilla was said to have been a boom town during the 1890's with population up to 300, and even had a newspaper "The Rilla Signal."

ROCKSDALE-Named for the large rock cliffs that surround it, according to Hazel Kingsbury PM in 1938. First store prior to 1900, closed about 1975.

STATEN-PO was named in 1888 by Clayton T. Stump from a map he saw of Staten Island NY. Located on Steer Creek near Russett and Dodrill. Early years had a population of 50 with general store. lumber and flour mill.


ALTIZER - Originally known as LYNCHS MILL. Post office and store named for member of WV House of Delegates, Henry A. Altizer. A nearby village was ADAM, named for Adam Starcher.

ANNAMORIAH-Situated on State Rt. 5 between Grantsville and Elizabeth, once a PO, general stores, beer parlor, and adjacent to the Annamoriah/Creston Flats. Now home to Miller Lumber Company.

BETHLEHEM - A post office located in the home of Joseph Bennett about 1850, before Grantsville became a town. Near present site of Bethlehem Church.

BIG BEND-Below Grantsville on Little Kanawha River (Rt. 5) Laid out by Joseph Cain in 1856. Longtime PO. After Civil War had population of 50, churches, school, four general stores, two blacksmiths, wagon maker, hardware store, grist mills and two physicians. Reaped benefit of great Yellow Creek oil boom starting in 1901, along with LK River traffic. The village is also referred to as Brooksville, interchangeable in conversation, and is associated with famous Calhoun character, Creed Crooks. A great fire swept through village in 1932 when a gasoline truck exploded at Holbert's Store, which was destroyed a second time in 1963. Holberts is a very classy country store that has most everything, and is Calhoun's longest lasting retail business.

BIG SPRINGS - Located on WV 16. First named Chestnut Grove, became early PO which still exists. Named for two springs in area. Once had population of 100, three general stores, mills, blacksmith, mason, cabinetmaker, realtor and hotel. Also benefited from Yellow Creek oil boom. Several major oil-gas companies maintained operations there.

BRUIN - Was another "once was" village that quickly disappeared, claiming a population of 300 in the 1800's, located 12 miles from Grantsville. Barber, sewing machine dealer, lawyer, hotel, general store, and lumber mills.

CABOT STATION - Named for oil and gas pioneer, Godfrey L. Cabot of the Boston Cabots, who came to Calhoun about 1900. Cabot developed a large carbon black factory on a site that was later developed for a compressor station by Hope Gas. The station was destroyed by an explosion in 1945, which resulted in the deaths of workers. The lamp black factory and Cabot Corporation provided employment for many Calhoun residents.

CHLOE - Washington District village on State Rt. 16 first appeared in 1912 with PO, merchants, physician and music teacher. Population once reported as 36, once scene of Civil War skirmish.

CLARIA - One of Calhoun's short-lived villages which some claimed had a population over 200 at turn of century. Located 10 miles southwest of Grantsville with general stores, blacksmith, church and saw mill.

CREMO - Post office on Rowels Run during much of 1900. Site of Duskey Store and Knights of Pythias lodge hall.Named after a famous cigar.

EDEN - Settled by Chennoweth family and made post office by 1882 after "Garden of Eden." Population reported as 20 before turn of century, with the law office of Aristotle Smith and a grist mill. Discontinued with advent of rural free delivery.

FIVE FORKS - Rural hamlet strung along State Rt. 16, where five roads meet. Once a PO, currently has two general stores. Put on map in recent years by merchant Jim Sullivan who printed the "Five Forks Free Press." Unofficial, self-appointed mayor is Willard Jones.

FREED - Early businesses in late 1800's and early 1900's included PO, blacksmith shop, coal mine, physicians office, law office,telegraph agency,hotel,general stores, mills, and livestock dealership. A prosperous community created by early oil and gas production, destroyed by fire in 1933.

GOMEZ - Records indicate a post office in 1900 in remote area along Left Hand of West Fork River, between Crooked and Bear Run.

GRANTSVILLE-County seat, population currently less than 800, on Little Kanawha River at State Rts. 16/5. Center of commerce for county, established by Simon P. Stump in 1866. The history of the town is well documented. It was once a bustling place, with dozens of specialty stores, driven by the oil and gas field economy. Stores would remain open until 10 pm every night but Sunday and parking places would be scarce.

HASSIG - An almost forgotten village one mile above Richardson. Sprung to life in oil/gas boom in early 1900's, but had gone by 1920. Once had three stores, two beer parlors, houses, and oil and gas company, later known as Hassig Yard. (See HUR HERALD story on village).

HATHAWAY - Late 1800's post office at the intersection of Road Road and Sycamore Creek.

HENRIETTA (Booger Hole) Early century PO and country store at the mouth or Laurel Creek where in empties into the Little Kanawha. Located on State Rt. 5.

INDUSTRY - Village sprung from early timber and oil works. Post office in late 1800's with general store.

JOKER - Small village and PO which sprung to life in late 1800's. First PM was Joker Sewel, who owned the first store. Later the Bryner family operated the store and started the Bryner Chapel Methodist Church which still stands. During 1880's it was known as Epperly, between Hur and Annamoriah.

LEATHERBARK/LETHERBARK - Located on US 33/119 near Roane County line. Area post office population was about 200 in 1897, with two stores.

LOSIE - Located on Walnut near the the Calhoun-Braxton line. One time post office named for Losie Smith, wife of Aristotle Smith, writer of the oral history of Col. D. S. Dewees. Stories indicated that Daniel Boone once slept in a nearby cave. INDEX - Probably had a post office near the Gilmer-Calhoun line north of Steer Creek and south of the Little Kanawha River.

MILLSTONE- Located intersection on US 119/33 and State Rt. 16. Turn of the century village and PO with early population of 30.

MT. ZION- Early Calhoun village and PO on Rt. 16( still exists) with homes and early merchants like the Proudfoots, Gunns, Kellys and Umpsteads. School, blacksmith, grists, lodge hall, and the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church and cemetery.

Currently on the ridge is the Mt. Zion Drive-in Theater, which is one of America's longest operating drive-ins, established about 1953. It is now the location of the new multi-million dollar Calhoun Middle/High School. Also Mt. Zion Ridge is location of many country homes, a couple stores, the WV Department of Highways, a low-cost housing project, and the Church of Christ. A nearby post office on the headwaters of Pine Creek (early 1900's) was called Star.

MUDFORK - Located along Mudfork Run off State Rt. 16 south not far from Stinson.

OKA - A backwoods settlement and one time post office on Cottrill Run a few miles from Chloe.

ORIENT - Little known post office and village on the right fork of Rush Run below Orma, early 1900's.

PERRYVILLE - Village was laid out in 1882 by early Calhoun settler, Perry Mollohan, a grandfather of the late Congressman Robert Mollohan. Village barely got off ground with Mollohan's store, but then became Minnora.

PINE BOTTOM/PINE CREEK - A very early post office at the mouth of Pine Creek, below Grantsville, as early as 1852. Location was considered for county seat.

PINK - A post office by 1890. Located on upper Henry's Fork on the Calhoun-Roane line.

PLEASANT HILL - A relatively long ridge (Rt. 16 north) between Grantsville and Smithville. During most of this century a residential neighborhood.

PURDY - A tiny village on State Rt. 5 between Big Bend and Grantsville.

RHODA - Located between Big Bend and Ayers, long gone.

RICHARDSON (also known as Richardsonville) was a bustling village and early post office in late 1800's and now a large grassy meadow, with only one dwelling.

Located on the lower West Fork of the Little Kanawha River, it was the location of the Richardson Dam and Mill - ground grain and sawed lumber. A specially built paddle boat with steel spikes on the paddle (to pull over sand bars) was used to bring goods and oil and gas field supplies up the West Fork to the village and beyond.

The "spiked" boat was said to have gone all the way to Arnoldsburg when the water was up.

Population never exceeded 100, but area grew after oil and gas boom immediately after turn of century. Hotel, general stores , physicians offices (Dr. Ira Connolly), shoemaker, barber shop, drug store, blacksmith, flour and lumber mill, along with the Methodist Protestant Church and the nearby Pine Grove School in early 1900's.

McConaughey, Bee, and Company, C. H. Richardson (founder of village), James Duskey (son of Civil War Daniel Duskey) and B. Sturnett, were early businessmen. Site of drilling boom which used steam boilers to drive engines. A large boiler house fed steam lines which extended great distances around the hills and valleys.The steam was also used to heat houses in the village.

RUSSETT - A post office much of 1900, located where Sycamore Creek empties into Little Kanawha. Two general stores, three grist mills, two boarding houses, two Baptist ministers and two carpenters, all long gone.

SAND RIDGE - Home of the round church, Albert's Chapel, on the National Registry. Once a post office and general store on US 33/119 east of Millstone.

STINSON - Late 1800 post office at the intersection of Mud Fork and the West Fork of the Little Kanawha, WV Route 16. Often described as one of Calhoun's wild and wooly places.

SYCAMORE - A bustling community before 1900 with post office,three hotels, schoolteachers, lawyers, two flour mills, five general stores, and a physician. Site of one of Calhoun's Civil War battles.

WALNUT - May have had an area population of 100 during early 1900's. Post office and general store, with Dr. J. A. Dye residing there.

WHITE PINE - May have been the most prosperous community in Calhoun with area population reaching about 350. As early as 1880 it had three stores, a post office, and a newspaper called "The Cottage Home," short-lived after 1884. A flood destroyed much of the main village in 1943.