By Bob Weaver (First Published 2001)
William "Billy Bluehead" Starcher was a shaker and mover in starting one of
Calhoun's earliest churches at the mouth of Barnes Run, along the West Fork
of the Little Kanawha.
The Barnes Run meeting and school house, later to be
named the Walnut Grove Church, was launched in 1858.
William "Billy Bluehead" Starcher also founded a church on Egypt Ridge above the West Fork of the Little Kanawha, known as the Bluehead Church, later known as the Dry Hill Church.
Aerial view of Church in 2005 along the West Fork
taken by Dustin Simmons from Harry Simmons' Flying Machine
However, the first official sermon in the county was preached at the home of
Phillip Starcher near Altizer, Billy Bluehead's father. Legendary Methodist
minister Lorenzo Dow rode into the community in 1820 for the service, which
was well attended.
It was Reverend George Martin that is credited with bringing Methodists to
the county, teaching classes in the home of Thomas Jarvis in 1836. Some of
the early students included Joseph Knotts, Mary Knotts, Alsa Jarvis, Caleb
Jarvis, Dianna Jarvis, Hannah Hardway, Patrick Conley, Tarleton Vaughn and
Samuel Black brought the Methodist Episcopal-South church to Arnoldsburg
The Barnes Run church, Walnut Grove, was started by several "subscribers"
in January, 1858, listing the following supporters:
Jacob Starcher, provide roof
Alford Starcher, floors, door and window shutters
Jacob Starcher $10
Alford Starcher $5
Phillip Starcher $5
Issac Nutter $5
Henry Brannan (Brannon) $5
Levi Nutter $5
Henry Starcher $3
William Starcher (Billy Blue Head) $5
The agreement for the start-up of the church stated "We the undersigned
doth agree to pay William Starcher, Henry Brannan and Alford Starcher,
trustees (appointed to superintend the completion of a meeting and school
house) open to all preachers who preach the gospel. The sum annexed to
our names in work on said house to be done on or before the first day of
"The said house to be 22 feet square with two plank floors joined and nailed
down, one window six lights, window and two sides of the said house one
high window. The chimney to be stonework 8 feet high, one door with lock
and latch. Roof - three feet boards nailed on."
"Billy Blue Head" Starcher was a principal land owner in the immediate area,
having title to at least 350 acres.