HISTORY OF MY COMMUNITY - Arnoldsburg By Mattie Starcher Carper

This is a brief history of Arnoldsburg written by the late Mattie Starcher Carper, a Calhoun school teacher. It was written for and re-printed from "Calhoun County Centennial 1856-1956" a celebration of the county.

In the study of the history of a commonwealth, be it an empire or a village, it is necessary that we understand something of the causes which led to its foundation, and that have since acted in creating and advancing, or retarding and destroying the various institutions, civil and otherwise. Then that we may know the history of my community, Arnoldsburg, we must first know something of the history of Calhoun County, of its settlement and occupation by the white man.

It was in -the year 1607 that the first permanent English Colony was planted on the shores of the new world. For one hundred years the settlements were confined to the coast and the river basins of the Atlantic Coast. At length, however, the red man retreated beyond the Ohio River and bold adventurers crossed the Alleghenies and carried the standards of civilization with them; they first planted it along the south branches of -the Potomac and Monongahela and soon were founded many pioneer homes. But no white man had yet settled in the Little Kanawha Valley.

It was in the autumn of the year 1772-the same in which Washington located his lands in the Great Kanawha Valley-that William Lowther, Jesse Hughes, and Elias Hughes set out from their homes near where Clarksburg now stands, with the determination of reaching the Ohio River. They journeyed up the west fork of the Monongahela, and crossed the dividing ridge or watershed, separating the eastern from the western waters, then they came down Leading Creek and, reached the Little Kanawha river near the present site of Glenville, in Gilmer County. From here they journeyed down the river and halted at the mouth of Steer Creek, where they stood, the first white men on the banks of the Little Kanawha, or within the present limits of Calhoun County. They continued, to travel down the river until they reached the Ohio and then they returned to their homes.

The work was done; the county was explored; the story of its hunting grounds, of its forests, of its fertile soils, was told, and it was enough to induce many of those who had already crossed the mountains to again become pioneers, to remove farther into the wilderness. James Mayes, Thomas Holbert, John Haverty, Phillip Starcher, and Peter McCune were some of the first settlers in Calhoun County.

The first cabin was erected by a man by the name of West, who came from Ohio to the vicinity of Arnoldsburg about the year 1807. He was a squatter and did not remain long.

The first actual settler was Phillip Starcher, my great-grandfather, who built his cabin where Arnoldsburg now stands, in the year 1810. Soon after his settlement he was joined by Peter Cogar, Isaac Mace, William Brannon, and Peter McCune, all of whom found homes along the West Fork. Descendants of all these men are still living in my community and I have heard them tell many interesting stories of pioneer days which have been handed down from one generation to the next.

Although the first permanent settlement was made at Arnoldsburg in 1810, it was not until 1856 that Calhoun County was- formed out of a part of Gilmer County. The county was named for John Caldwell Calhoun, one of the most distinguished men in the political history of the United States.

In no county in the State has there been so much difficulty concerning the permanent location of the county seat as in Calhoun. For thirteen long years it was a perplexing question and one, ere it was settled, which cost the County many thousands of dollars.

The bill providing for the formation of the county, also provided for the location of the county seat, either at Pine Bottom at the mouth of Yellow Creek, or at Big Bend on the Little Kanawha, a vote of the people to decide between the two places. And further it provided, that until the vote be taken, the circuit and County courts should be held at the house of Joseph W. Burson This last requirement on the part of the general assembly appears to be about the only one complied with, as we shall now see.

The first court ever held in the County convened, as prescribed by law, on the 14th day of April, 1856, and adjourned to meet in September, not at Pine Bottom or Big Bend, but at the residence of Peregriene Hays where Arnoldsburg is now located.

Accordingly, the second court convened at that place on September 9, 1856; and here it continued to be held until 1857. But in August 1857, two courts were in session at the same time, one at Arnoldsburg and the other at the house of Collins Betz, on the Little Kanawha, three miles below where Grantsville now stands. For the purpose of effecting a reconciliation between the opposing factions, it was decided that the Courts should be held at the mouth of Yellow Greek, now Brooksville.

A contract for the erection of a court house was now let to a man by the name of Ernest McCloskey, who, in compliance with his contract, erected a frame building for which he received $675.00. But legal proceedings were instituted, and on the 15th day of June, 1858, the court again convened at Arnoldsburg, and here it continued to be held until 1869. It now seemed that the matter was; settled and the question would never more be agitated.

The erection of a substantial brick building was begun at Arnoldsburg, but after the basement story had been completed-all of cut stone at a cost of $1500.00-the question was once more revived, and an other move made, this time to Grantsville, where a frame court house was erected, but burned to the ground before it was occupied. Another arose upon its ruins which continued to be occupied until 1880, when a brick building was completed at a cost of $8,400.

In 1939 the citizens of the county decided to build a modern court house and jail so in January 1940 the building was started and cost about $45,000. Such is the history of the seat of justice of Calhoun County. An attorney who located in the county soon after its formation, but afterward moved to an adjoining county, once said that he was obliged to move for he had been broken up trying to keep up with the county seat.

So Arnoldsburg was once the county seat and the stone basement is still standing. As I stand on the cut stone reminiscing I always wonder in what ways the county might have been different if Arnoldsburg had remained the county seat. The basement of cut stone reminds one, perhaps, of some of the ruins of the castles in Europe and I always think of the poem, "The Prisoner of Chillon", especially in the lines which go "My hair is gray though not with years, Nor grew it white in a single night". I wonder how many prisoners might have languished in that dismal and gloomy basement, which was to be used as the jail, until their hair turned white.

To go on with my history. It was on the 31st of July, 1863, that a bill entitled, "an act to provide for the, division of the various counties composing this State into townships", passed both houses of the legislature, and a few days later became a law.

One of the sections of the bill made provision for the appointment of several prominent and competent men in each of the counties. Those selected in Calhoun County were: James Barr, Thomas Jarvis, Morgan Marks, and G. W. Blackshire These gentlemen convened at an early day, and with the aid of the county surveyor, divided the county into five townships. The name was changed to districts under the Constitution of 1872. These districts were: Sheridan, Center, Sherman, Lee and Washington.

Arnoldsburg is in Lee District along the West Fork of the Little Kanawha. It was named in honor of James Arnold who patented the land upon which the town stands. A postoffice was established here in 1832 and in the same year the first school was taught by Charles Arnold.

It was in the year 1835 that the pioneers decided they should -have a permanent place for schooling so they joined together and erected a log cabin for a schoolhouse. An old pioneer describes the building thus: "It was a log cabin, fourteen by sixteen feet, a dirt floor, and without a loft or chimney. A fire place was constructed of flat rocks set on edge, and the smoke was permitted to seek the upper regions through the roof; for windows a log was cut out, and grease paper was used as a substitute for glass". Michael Haverty was employed to teach in this building during the winter of 1836-37 and thus became the first "regular" schoolmaster in Calhoun County at Arnoldsburg.

In 1848, Dr. David Chapman was the first to practice medicine in this vicinity, but Dr. John P. Lynch was the first resident physician.

John Campbell was the first blacksmith and a blacksmith shop is still operated on the same site, now owned and operated by F. N. King.

The credit of having preached the first sermon has been awarded to two gentlemen, both noted pioneer preachers, and to which the credit belongs is a matter of dispute. All, however, are agreed as to the place. It was the house of Phillip Starcher at Arnoldsburg. The preachers were the Rev. Barnabas Cook and the Rev. Lorenzo Dow. A study has been made of the early church, records of the respective denominations represented by these ministers and it has been decided that probably the Rev. Mr. Dow preached the first sermon in the year 1820 but that the first church was organized in 1822 by the Rev. Mr. Cook. The first Sabbath School was organized by George Lynch in 1856.

The Arnoldsburg Baptist Church was organized in 1840. It was located at the mouth of Crummies Creek, two miles from Arnoldsburg. In 1920 this building was moved to its present location in Arnoldsburg. Because the new location was very inconvenient for some of the members, in 1928 they built the Knotts Baptist Church about four miles from Arnoldsburg.

In 1848 the M. E. Church South established a church at Arnoldsburg. The Rev. Samuel Black was the first minister of this church. The building is still used.

The Rev. John A. Thomas was the first Presbyterian minister who ever visited in Arnoldsburg; he made a visit in 1856 but no church was organized until 1878 when the Rev. Samuel Hench began preaching here and organized a church. However, there is no Presbyterian church in Arnoldsburg at the present time. They united with the Baptist Church about 1895.

The first grist mill was built by Daniel Duskey in 1843. George Lynch and James Mayse erected and put in operation the first saw mill in 1855.

Arnoldsburg is located in an agricultural section. Corn and vegetables are the leading crops. The population is about 200. There are five stores, carrying a line of groceries and general merchandise, three garages, one restaurant, and one blacksmith shop in Arnoldsburg.

There is a new nine room school building and a bus takes the high school students to the Calhoun County High School at Grantsville. Arnoldsburg is on routes 119 and 33.

There are no railroads in Calhoun County, but oil and gas developments have furnished employment to many people, especially around Grantsville and Arnoldsburg. Also offering employment to several people, is the recently located factory, The Rubber Fabricators, Inc., near Grantsville.