WEST VA. PIONEERS
InLewis, Harrison, Upshur and Wood
[From Letter of Roy B. Cook, Huntington, W. Va.,
to G. D.H., of Glencoe, Ills. [sic]]
Early Republicans in Upshur and Lewis
Early inthe 30s, a colony of New England folks came to what is no Upshur county andsettled on French Creek, among whom was the celebrated AsaBrooks now buried under the Presbyterian church, at Clarksburg, of which hewas the founder. This little band wasone of the first to promulgate the doctrines of the Republican element in ourcommunity, and at that time there was no paper in that section.
A few yearslater—about 1853—there came to Weston one Benjamin Owens, a foreman in Greeley’s office, who brought with him a Washington hand-press, upon which he and anuncle of mine got out the Weston Herald. Mr. Owens, faithful to his former employer, took his paper, and wasalmost mobbed for it on several occasions.
In thecampaign of 1856 the paper passed to H. J. Tapp, whotook a whack at the “dirty seven” who voted the Republican ticket in the FrenchCreek section. This article was one ofthe most scathing arraignments I ever read; and it brought back an answer fromone of the Brooks family that set things on fire for a while.
JudgeGideon Draper Camdenand Johnson Newlon Camden,were not brothers, but uncle and nephew respectively. Gideon D., judge of theLewis-Harrison circuit; Richard P., farmer, banker and member of the West Virginialegislature in 1866. JohnScribner, Sr., merchant, of Sutton and Weston and representative in the WestVirginia Assembly (father of my father-in-law, John S. Jr., etc., and father ofJohnson Newlon Camden, director of the Standard OilCompany, U. S.Senator, President West Va., and Pittsburgh Railway and Ohio River R. R. Co.,and L. D. Camden, of the Standard Oil Company.) These were the most prominet [sic] of thefathers of the elder Camdens, who were all childrenof Rev. Henry Camden, founder of the M. E. church at Buckhannon and Weston, whomarried Mary Belt Sprigg, of the Maryland Sprigg family.
The familywas divided in the War, as you will note from their political activities. Dr. Tom Camden was arrested and sent to CampChase;and then the Union element had him released and made post surgeon atWeston. E. D. and L. D. served in theConfederacy, as did Gideon D., Jr., son of the Judge. J. S. Jr., was too young to take any activepart, having been born in 1851: but they used him to carry money from theWeston Exchange Bank to the express office at Clarksburg, in order—so he was told—to evadePierson’s Rangers, of whom you have no doubt heard.
A Cork-Lined House
Mr. Camdentells me today that the Mr. M. C. Church you mention was a very eccentric man,who for several years made money in the pipe line department of the CamdenConsolidated Oil Company or in some connection with the transportation divisionthereof.
He erecteda home—now occupied by the Amblers—which he had lined with cork, so as toretain the heat or cold—as the case might be—and to shut out the air and noise;and that he had furniture made so as to fit in the corners or other breaks inthe walls of the rooms.
In lateryears he lost much of his fortune in some manner, and went to live with adaughter in the South. Another daughter,in executing some political ideas of her father, is said to have made nodiscrimination between black and white children in the school of music whichshe conducted.
Clawson, the Wild Man.
You mentionin your “Old Gold” Samuel Clawson, the “wild” preacher. In this connection, it may be of interest toyou to know that there was erected in the 80’s [sic] a church at home (in Lewiscounty) known as the Clawson Memorial, and that last week Conference was heldtherein, which was attended by Mr. Clason’s onlyliving son; and the assembly, in a body, repair to Macpelah[sic] Cemetery, where services were held at the grave of Rev. Clawson. I often wished that I might learn more ofthis man; but efforts along that line have not been altogether successful. So many of the older ones look upon theefforts of young fellows like me, to preserve the facts about folks ofyesterday for those of tomorrow, as efforts that might be put to better use.
Richard L.Brooks, Upshur Co. delegate to the West Va.. Constitutional Convention of 1861-2-3, was doubtless ofthis stock. G.D. H.
[Retrieved and transcribed by NanciHeadley Kotowski
from The Shinnston News of September 26,1918, page 1.]