I get quite a bit of information from folks all over this country in reference to some of the material produced weekly in this column. I have received numerous books, letters, pictures and other materials through the mail, as well as numerous comments and suggestions via the internet. On some occasions, I have also received telephone calls from folks across the nation, and in one case, from England.
One such person, a former Loganite, is Kenneth Singleton. Ken has sent me pictures and articles that in some way related to his beloved Logan County. I think it only fitting that today I convey the written material from two former friends and history lovers who now have passed on to their happy hunting grounds. I use the words “happy hunting grounds” because both were talented concerning archeology that pertained to the first inhabitants of Logan County.
Here, in words typed from an old typewriter, is the combined writing of Ron Moxley and Sam Rogers. The information is courtesy of Kenneth Singleton and titled “Logan’s Pre-History.”
No true history of the settlement of what is now Logan County, West Virginia would be complete and accurate without mentioning the prehistoric Native Indians who first visited this area over 11,000 years ago. The settlement of Logan County, as we know it today, began two hundred years ago this spring, in the year of 1794. (The article was written in 1994).
The 11,000 years prior to this, we consider as pre-history, in that no written records were left to tell the story of the first inhabitants of Logan County. Only through archeology have we been able to learn much about these pre-historic people who first stepped foot on Logan County soil.
The first 200 years of this pre-history period saw nomadic hunters come in search of big game animals, such as the Mastodon, which was a large animal, resembling an elephant, but much larger in size. Mastodons died out at the end of the first ice age. These hunters used a flint spear that had a thinning flute running from the base towards the tip. Several of these spear points have been found in Logan and surrounding counties. Also, a fossilized Mastodon tooth was found on Rockhouse Creek near Man High School.
During the next 9,000 years hunting groups continued to hunt, but for smaller game, such as elk and deer. The tools and weapons of bands of individuals have been found on ridge tops throughout the county. The shapes of the projectile points (what most people call arrowheads) changed through time (like car models change now). By comparing the shape to known examples that have been dated, we can determine when the artifacts were used.
About 25,000 years age (500 B.C.) a new culture that we call Mound Builders began to bury their dead in earthen or stone mounds. The Mound Builders lived in small villages and may have been the first people to live year-round in Logan County. A number of these mounds once existed in Logan County; however, most have been destroyed during the past 200 years.
We have found that at least two major villages existed within Logan County between the years 1400-1650 A.D. One village was located where the downtown section of Logan now stands. The other was on the flat land near Man Hospital and Man High School. These large villages could support over 500 people at any given time.
The villagers grew corn fields, hunted game, and lived here until something (maybe smallpox) caused them to abandon these villages by the mid 1600s. However, it was not unusual for early tribes to up and move for much lesser reasons.
From all indications, starting in the mid 1600s until the spring of 1794, no people lived in Logan County on a year-round basis. We know this period of time as the sacred hunting grounds era: an era which saw various tribes, especially the Shawnee, Cherokee, and Delaware use these mountains and valleys as their sacred hunting grounds.
Bits and pieces
There have been at least three locations in downtown Logan where the remains of a decorated female Indian was uncovered during different types of excavation as Logan was being transformed from the previous name of Aracoma — the very person at each time that was thought to have been uncovered during excavations.
In 1979 during work on underground telephone lines at Cole Street by C&P Telephone Co., workers uncovered the skeletal remains of a woman, which was investigated by Ron Moxley and — after carbon dating— determined to be those of a female from the time period of 1770 A.D. However, three years earlier pottery fragments uncovered also at Cole Street were determined to be characteristic of that of Indian pottery of the late 1600’s.
Beads, iron axes, brass and copper items found indicated that Indians here had at least indirect contact with white settlers along the Atlantic coast. Moxley, a former Sharples High School teacher and coach, said there were only nine sites in all of West Virginia that are known to have been Indian villages. He noted that the village in Logan was likely the last one occupied in West Virginia; it being the most distant from the raiding war-like Iroquois from New York state who desired to control the fur trade with the English settlers.
Moxley speculated that the Indian village that is now Logan may have been so far out of the way that the Iroquois did not consider it a threat to the dominating force that expelled all other Indians from most of Appalachia.
Now, here’s something to consider. Nearly everyone locally knows the story of “Aracoma” and that Logan County is named after an Indian chieftain. Certainly, there is much local history that has been displayed over the years in “Aracoma Story” productions and the like. But have we really used our history to the fullest benefit?
Minds much sharper than my own should consider and take advantage of the fact that Logan may be the only city/town in the nation that was built over an Indian burial ground. As unflattering as that sounds, there are ways this fact can be used to tantalize people from near and far to visit a historical site that could be transformed into a chronicled and notable location of mystery and intrigue; perhaps s location featuring underground tours through an Indian graveyard, all the while the true vocal story of Aracoma’s life and death at the hands of the white man could be a riveting attraction to trail riders and many others.
There is much more local history that, with the use of imagination, could be transformed into attractions that only visionaries — whose spirits ride the waves of intestinal fortitude — can foresee as a part of a new face on a wrinkled town. Think of the Smokehouse restaurant murder and other killings in the streets of Logan. Think of notorious Sheriff Don Chafin. Think of Mamie Thurman. Most of all, just think of possibilities.
Quote of the week:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” — Albert Einstein
DID YOU KNOW that to save money during the World War I, President Woodrow Wilson’s wife bought a flock of sheep to keep the White House lawn trimmed. She auctioned the wool and gave the $100,000 proceeds to the Salvation Army.
CLOSING NOTE: Elections are sometimes comical, and this past May’s Primary is no exception to the unwritten rule. While some people consider certain candidates as “clowns,” the same can be said of some voters. I’m proud of the 5,411 votes I received in the May balloting, which, I’m pleased to say, was more votes than any other candidate in the election, and even 281 more approval votes than the fire and ambulance levy received. Still, there were 19 write-in votes against me, which I’ve had fun with because I used to do the same thing at election times. Here’s the list politely supplied by the Logan County Clerk’s office: Donald Duck was the winner of the write-in contest with nine votes, while Batman, Santa Claus and Barry Dingess tied for second with two votes each. Also receiving votes were Bugs Bunny, Leonard Codispoti, Jacob Lyall and David Adkins. Donald Duck got two votes from Striker precinct, while Dingess’ votes both came from Bulwark. Congratulations to Donald (the duck, not necessarily the president) for being the best “quack” out there.
As a side note, my compadre and fellow magistrate Joe Mendez had 15 write-ins against him, which, among others, included votes for Babe Ruth and Santa Claus. I’m jealous because I didn’t get any Babe Ruth write-ins.