UPDATE: PEOPLE OF PLACE: NOTTINGHAM'S BELONG ON THEIR MOUNTAIN SINCE 1823 - A History Of Strange Creek

(03/18/2022)
Editors Note: A few weeks (3-18-2022) after doing this story on the Nottinghams, Minnie Hefner Nottingham died of a stroke, having enjoyed her pickled corn and kraut. My life was made a little better with the meeting on Nottingham Mountain. She is being buried on their mountain. - Bob Weaver

Brantie and Minnie Hefner Nottingham are "people of
place" on their historic mountain at Strange Creek WV

By Bob Weaver 2022

In the 21st Century "home" is a place people are moving toward, with feeble connections to their place of origin.

In West Virginia the outward migration picked up speed after World War II, and has continued through 2020 with the state having the largest population loss in the USA.

"People of Place" are diminishing, those connected physically and spiritually to their humble roots.

The backwoods mountain road leads to the holdings of the Nottingham family, since 1823, "We belong here"

The Nottingham's of Nottingham Mountain at Strange Creek (Braxton County WV) are clinging to their place of origin on a 1,000 acre tract owned by their family since 1823, coming from Randolph County.

Brantie Nottingham, 83, and his wife, Minnie Hefner Nottingham, 82, have a spiritual gleam in their eyes while talking about their family and place, living high on a mountain with a glorious vista that brings the power of God and earth to their every breath. They have been married 62 years and have three children.

"We live in a place away from the fast lane that brings peace of mind," said Brantie, near generations of his family members on Nottingham Mountain.

Brantie Nottingham stands in front
of six generations of his family

The Nottingham cellar speaks loudly for self-sufficiency

"I recall taking my lard bucket full of cornbread and buttermilk to school," he said.

Brantie, not unlike many West Virginians, left his roots for work in Ohio, but returned to reassemble the Nottingham holdings. "We belong here," he said, projecting a nature of self-sufficiency while still working on some project every day.

Brantie displays sets of augers used in early dynami-
ting, among his large collection of historic tools

His wife Minnie, is now confined to a wheel chair, but has led the charge with canning fruits and vegetables, a cellar full, with making over 500 quilts, most of which have been sold.

Brantie is full of history and is the organizer of Strange Creek Day, an annual event held in the village, set for July 16, 2022.

Iron furnaces built at Strange Creek (still
standing) was a short-lived enterprise

Strange Creek was originally know as Savage Town. About 1875 the Savage brothers of Ohio discovered iron ore at the location, said to be of superior quality, and building a smelter furnace, still standing.

The only means of transportation to the market was by flat boats on the Elk River to Charleston, the river being navigable with high water. The business was found to be unprofitable, and the enterprise was soon abandoned.

The naming of the village to Strange Creek was prompted by an early legend, according to a story written by native Skip Johnson.

About 1795 William Strange was a young surveyor’s cook, or at least part of a surveyors crew that was taking pack horses to a certain location to rendezvous with the surveyors. They were surveying a large land grant that was commonplace at that time.

During this rendezvous, Strange lost his way. Some say Strange became scared and lost due to thinking that he was under attack from Indians, as Indian raids were commonplace.

Supposedly a skeleton was found years later at Strange Creek in 1835. Some say there was also an old musket and the remains of a dog. Most importantly there was a carving on a tree, which, according to Skip Johnson “the wordings differ in every telling” but is the “heart and soul of the Strange Creek Legend.”

"Strange is my name,
And strange the ground,
And strange that I
Cannot be found."

The village of Strange Creek once had general stores, a blacksmith shop, a mill and several households and over 100 years old, the Masonic Lodge remains in the village, site of the former Ballengee's General Store.

Nearby Nottingham Store at Duck WV has been in family
over 100 years, shown Pauline Nottingham, a fourth gener-
ation of storekeepers, along the Elk River rails to trails

A short distance downstream along the Mighty Elk at the village of Duck is Nottingham's General Store, a business over 100 years old, and run by Bryan and Pauline Nottingham, who proudly proclaim their family heritage and dedication to keep the store going and the community together.

Some of the Nottingham clan from Braxton-Clay came to Calhoun's Washington District in the late 1800s.

The visit with the Brantie Nottingham family was a reminder that in the deep forest near Strange Creek, there are yet places no human being has set foot.

Wood hicks harvest timber near Strange Creek in early 1900s