Doors to the Past


Our farmers came mostly from Virginia and Pennsylvania. Schools 
were good for those times and were well attended. Boys and girls came to 
school from all over the county, as nearly everybody had a horse, or in 
winter they could board in town at $1.50 to $2.00 per week. 
The first teacher I have any record of was David McGinnis, who taught here 
in about 1840. He was one of the first Marshall College students, and was 
studying for the ministry. The teachers, as I remember them, were Mr. 
Simpson, Edward Vertegan and wife, Joseph Foster and wife, Miss Fannie 
Chapman, Jared Armstrong, Mr. McClelland, Dr. V. R. Moss, James Thornburg, 
B. H. Thackston. All taught private schools before the Civil War. Tuition 
was $1.00, $1.50 to $2.00 per month. If it were possible to trace the boys 
who attended these schools, it would undoubtedly be found that their 
education compared with the best. 
Barboursville was surrounded by an agricultural section, producing large 
crops of grain, fat hogs, sheep, and cattle. Hogs constituted the "cash 
crop". They were butchered and packed in Barboursville. Hams and lard went 
to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia; side meat and shoulders to the salt works 
in Kanawha. Hogs were as fine as we have today, and were much cheaper to 
raise on mash, and finished with corn. Wagons came from North Carolina, 
loaded with apple brandy. They sold it here, and loaded back with bacon 
and salt. 
It would no doubt create much consternation to hear a boat whistle here in 
Barboursville, for the gate to open at the locks, so the steamboat could 
pass through. Then the polite clerk, in the old days, went down, assisting 
the ladies and children ashore, followed by the colored porter with the 
baggage. Yes, we saw just that sixty-five years ago. For Guyandotte River 
was locked and dammed by the New York Navigation Company as far as 
Branchland. Seven locks were put in at great expense, in order that the 
company might ship coal out. This was the beginning of coal development in 
the Guyandotte Valley. These locks and dams had no keepers during the 
Civil War, and so were ruined by floods, and were eventually taken out by 
the Government. My father, W. C. Miller, built two of these locks by 
contract, one just above the mouth of Mud River, and one at Branchland. 
His foreman, Billingly Stafford, was drowned during this work, and was 
buried in our old cemetery. 

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Templates in Time