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   HISTORY OF KINGWOOD by Bill Williams  


Kingwood was first settled in 1807 by Conrad Sheets, Jacob Funk and a Mr. Steel. They built houses and called the new town Kingwood, after a grove of big trees where the court house now stands.

On the 23rd of January 1811, the General Assembly established Kingwood as a town of Monongalia, the first town in Preston Territory.

The elevation of Kingwood, at the old stone bank building at the corner of Main and Price Street, is 1,862 feet.

In the early years Kingwood had a stone quarry at Zeverly (today we call it Pleasantdale), a brick yard located on the north side of Main Street in the dip below the post office, a glass plant at the Morgantown and Kingwood Railroad Station, and a tannery on the north side of Main Street close to the intersection of Sigler Street.

William Price moved to Kingwood in 1807 and built a tavern around 1810 on the north side of Main Street. This building was located across the street from the cannon on the court house lawn. It was called "Price's Tavern". Preston county was formed in the east upstairs bedroom. The building was demolished in 1918.

Preston County was formed from Monongalia County in April 1818 and named for James Patton Preston, Governor of Virginia (1816-1819).

John Robert's storeroom was used for court trials in 1818. It was called the "old red court house". The old stone court house was built by William G. Zinn around 1821, and had a whipping post in the back.

A brick court house was built by John McGrew in 1856 at a cost of $9,800.00. This court house was destroyed by fire on March 7, 1869. the Preston County Journal was published in the court house and all equipment was destroyed in the fire.

The next court house was built of brick in 1870 by Robert McCafferty, S.W. Smally and A.B. Menear at a cost of $11,000.00. It was torn down in 1932 and replaced by the present building. The new court house was dedicated August 24, 1934. Total cost was $113.500.00.

The monument on the court house lawn was suggested by The Kelley Post 111 of the Grand Army of the Republic, as a memorial to Preston County soldiers.

Preston County led the entire United States in Union patriotism by volunteering the largest percentage of its population to government service.

The canon on the court house lawn was fired April 1861 in defense of Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina. The canon was fired on April 12, 1861 to start the Civil War.

Thornsburry Bailey Brown, the first Union soldier killed by gun fire was born in Preston County. He died at Feterman, just west of Grafton, WV when he fired at a Confederate soldier guarding the railroad and was killed by the return fire.

S
everal of the houses in Kingwood were built shortly after the Civil War. A few, such as The Inn on Main Street, were built during the Civil War era. It was built by James A. Brown as a wedding present for his wife. The Carroll house located at the west end of Main Street was built in 1863.

Houses built before the Civil War includes the Charles Byrne house on High Street built in the early 1800's, and the Liston house also on High Street, built in 1857.

The Fairfax Manor built by Col. John Fairfax in 1818 just north of town is a two story stone structure. Col. Fairfax was overseer of George Washington's estate at Mt. Vernon for seven years and also served as an aide to Washington during the Revolutionary War.

It was on Washington's advice that the site of Fairfax Manor was chosen. Col. Fairfax was the first sheriff of Preston County.

West Virginia became a state on June 20, 1863, during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln, whose mother, Nancy Hanks, was born in what is now West Virginia, signed the papers making it possible.

Many houses were built in Kingwood in the 1870's, 80's and 90's.

The West Virginia Northern Railroad was the first railroad in Kingwood. It was a narrow gauge railroad built in 1897. Lumber was hauled tot the main line at Tunnelton where it had to be laded on regular size card.

In 1902 J.H. Weaver bought the coal at Irona and purchased the West Virginia Northern around 1905, so that he could move his coal by rail. He changed it to a standard gauge railroad.

Car loads of flour, new cars, groceries and other items were shipped by rail and unloaded along Tunnelton Street.

The M&K Railroad was built in 1898. It ram from Kingwood to Morgantown and later to Rowlesburg to the B&O that runs east and west.

On April 13, 1917, Company G of the West Virginia National Guards departed on the M&K for World War I. They also departed from here in 1942 for World War II.

President Franklin Roosevelt traveled on the M&K when he visited Arthurdale.

The government bought the land at Arthurdale for Mrs. Roosevelt's housing project, the first in the nation.

Tracks from Morgantown to Kingwood have been removed, but the Albright to Rowlesburg section is still in use, hauling coal.

The Academy building is located on the south side of High Street. The Preston Academy was established in 1841. Major William Conley, father of Governor Conley, taught here. William G. Conley was governor from 1928 to 1932 and our first Governor born in West Virginia.

The corner stone was laid in 1878 for the Methodist Church located on High Street. The building was dedicated May 25, 1879. It was built with local brick.

The first Methodist meeting house was built in 1807.

The Presbyterian Church located pm High Street was built and dedicated July 7, 1878. This church was also built with local brick. Two West Virginia Governors, W.M.O. Dawson and William G. Conley were members.

The Baptist Church on Jackson Street was established in 1882. The present building was built in 1884. It was remodeled in the 1950's and again in the 1970's.

The Journal Office on Main Street was built in 1880. Fire destroyed part of the building March 26, 1956. It was rebuilt and later remodeled. The Whetsell family owned The Journal for 68 years.

For years, Price Street was the business section of Kingwood. A few stores were located along Main Street between The Journal Office and Price Street, facing the court house. The streets were dirt, with trees along the sidewalks on the east side of Price Street.

The wooden store buildings on both sides of Price Street, between High and Court Street, have served the people of Kingwood since around 1900.

This is about the time the bank building at the corner of Price and Main Street was built. The stone in this building was cut and shaped at the local quarry.

1905 was the year they build the building on Court Street that was used for a hospital. This building is located behind the store building at the corner of Price and Court Street. Emory Strickler was the doctor.

In 1908 the Martin building was built at the corner of Price and Court Street. The "West Virginia Argus", a weekly paper, was printed in the basement the last paper was published April 19, 1945. Telephone operators worked on the second floor from around 1920 until they went to the dial system December 4, 1966.

Two buildings built in 1913 were the George A. Herring building at the corner of Price and Main Street and the Bank of Kingwood on Main Street.

Haymond Garner had his photography studio on the second floor of the Herring building. Most of the older pictures of Kingwood were taken by Mr. Garner

The Bank of Kingwood was purchased by the Albright National Bank, and they moved on November 30, 1934.

The building next to the Herring building on Price Street, built around 1914, housed a theater. This building was destroyed by fire in the early twenties and the present building was built around 1923.

In the thirties, the Wilson Brothers build the brick building at the corner of Price and Court Street.

Price Street was paved after World War I. Most of the streets in Kingwood were built in the thirties by the W.P.A. (Work Progress Administration).

Things have changed in recent years. Most people can to town to shop on Saturday afternoon and evening in the early years. The stores stayed open until nine o'clock and Price Street was crowded with people.

Now, the business section of town is moving east along Route 7. Hardees, Pizza Hut and the shopping plaza are located here.

A modern, up-to-date, hospital is located on South Price Street. A new water and sewage system was installed in Kingwood in 1986. Starting with the school year 1991-1992, the new high school will be in operation, located beside the Preston County Educational Center. We feel we have the best high school set-up in the state.

Kingwood, West Virginia, the home of friendly people, invite you to visit with us and see our beautiful scenery -- in the spring of the year when everything is in bloom, and in the fall when nature turns our leaves to all the autumn colors, you will see pictures only God can paint.