"GOOD AND FAITHFUL LESSONS OF HOME" - Gilmer's Farnsworth House Along Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike


One of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike's
historical places is the Farnsworth House near Troy

The estate and house date back to 1840 during
the construction of the 180-mile long road

By Bob Weaver 2006

The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike brought great prosperity to the James and Abigail Farnsworth family, who built their plantation home near Troy, Gilmer County.

James Stout Farnsworth was born in New Jersey in 1793, and served in the War of 1812. He married Abigail Wilcox on Staten Island, New York in 1815. The couple moved to Buckhannon, Virginia in 1821 and to the pastoral farm in Gilmer County about 1840, while the Turnpike was being built.

The Farnsworths' built a tavern across the Turnpike from their beautiful home for the hundreds of men who traversed up and down the 180-mile long road project, and they farmed the 300-acre estate.

It is likely one of the many toll booths on the Turnpike was across the road, but unfortunately a local coal company refused to allow the building to be restored.

They also built a cattle weighing station for drovers who were moving their animals to market in Weston.

The holders of the estate and several of their relatives are
buried in the Farnsworth Cemetery behind the estate house

Including the original owner, James Farnsworth,
father of the state's second governor

Both are buried behind the Farnsworth House in the family cemetery, James passing in 1878 and Abigail about 1860.

James and Abigail were parents of the second governor of West Virginia, Daniel Duane Thompkins Farnsworth (pictured left) who followed Arthur I. Boreman.

Boreman resigned to join the US Senate and D. D. T. Farnsworth, president of the senate, filled the position for about seven days.

He was the shortest term governor in the state's history, serving from Feb. 26, 1869 to Mar. 4, 1869.

He sent the following letter to his parents, after being elected governor:

The State of West Virginia
Executive Department
Wheeling, Feb. 27th, 1869

My very Dear Father and Mother,

I thought I would drop you a line and let you know that I have not forgotten you, and more especially since by the source of circumstances which has placed me in the position which I now occupy. I must confess that I owe my success in life, to the goodness of God, and the early training that I received from faithful and ever to be honored parents. I have never yet forgotten, the last good and faithful lesson which you gave me, when I first left your home. Nor have I forgotten the promises that I then made to keep and obey that council. I say this, because I feel that it is but a poor tribute to that respect which is due you. I send you a paper that will give you the strange news of the location of the Capitol at Charleston. I should be pleased to hear from you. My love to all. Your unworthy Son.

D.D.T. Farnsworth, Governor

Governor Farnsworth was born on Staten Island, New York, and moved to Buckhannon, Upshur County at the age of two with his parents. He was raised on the Farnsworth farm at Troy, and later worked as a tailor, merchant, banker, railroad director, and as one of the first Upshur County justices of the peace.

In 1861, Farnsworth became a member of the first Wheeling Convention, proposing the first statehood resolution.

He served in the Reorganized Government of Virginia and West Virginia state senates between 1862 and 1869, and helped revise the state code in 1868.

During the 1870s, Farnsworth was a leader in the state's Greenback Party and attended the 1872 constitutional convention. He died in Buckhannon in 1892, where his house is now a bed and breakfast.

D. D. T. Farnsworth, during his political career and after raised his
15 children in this Buckhannon residence, now a bed and breakfast

Visitors can return to the days of Victorian grace and charm by visiting Farnsworth's home in Buckhannon The Governor's Inn

It is a red brick mansion, which the stately gentleman spared no expense and no detail.

He, his wife and fifteen children lived in the Upsher County dwelling.

It is located within 10-minute stroll from West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon.