Monday, January 9, 2012

Research Plan: Gilmer County, West Virginia

For my next location research plan, I chose Gilmer County, West Virginia. This is where much of my paternal line comes from. Unlike some of the other locations I will be profiling this year, Gilmer County is a definite visit. I plan to visit in just a few months, and will be staying at the Carson homeplace (still owned by family) and visiting my great grandmother in neighboring Lewis County.

Background

Gilmer County was formed in 1845 from portions of Kanawha and Lewis Counties. As best as I can tell, the part my ancestors settled in was from the portion that came from Lewis County. The county seat is Glenville.

As with all West Virginia counties, it was once part of Virginia. The county was named for a former governor, Thomas Walker Gilmer, who served from 1840 to 1841. Gilmer later served in Congress and as Secretary of the Navy under President Tyler.

Gilmer County is definitely what some would call country. Unless something has changed in the last year, there is only one traffic light in the entire county. The county enjoyed a short population boom in the early 1900s thanks to commercial riverboat traffic, but it declined after the 1930s.

Courthouses

There have been three courthouses in Gilmer County. The first was built in 1850. The second was built in 1872. The third and current courthouse dates to 1923. Most records date back to the county's formation in 1845.

Historical Sites

There are a couple historic bridges that my ancestors most likely traversed. The first is the cable suspension bridge at Duck Run built in 1922. The Stouts Mill bridge is a rare example of camelback Baltimore truss design. It is no longer open to traffic, but can still be seen. Finally, there is the Glenville truss bridge, open to pedestrian traffic only and located just off Main Street in Glenville.

A Civil War era church, Job's Temple, is also located in Gilmer County and still in use today. For a return to yesteryear education, the Cedarville School was built in 1923 and still has many of its original features including the schoolbell.

I definitely want to stop in at the Little Kanawha Valley Bank. It was built ca 1900 and it's not unlikely that my ancestors used its services. I also want to see the Poor Farm Infirmary. Prior to the Social Security Act, these buildings were how the community cared for the sick who were unable to pay for their own care. The building dates back to 1845.

Last but not least are the museums. First is the Ruddell General Store, which now serves as the County Store Museum. It still has the original decorative tin ceiling. It is said to be an example of late 19th century commercial design. The second is the Holt House History Century. Built in 1903 as a residence, the Holt House is now owned by the Gilmer County Historical Society.

Since both my grandmother and great grandmother are still living, I plan to ask them if they recognize any of these places. I may end up getting some stories.

Libraries

There are two libraries in Gilmer County. The public library has around 100 volumes in its genealogy collection, including local and family histories. The second library, the Robert F Kidd Library, is located at Glenville State College. It houses a little over 1400 volumes and includes newspapers dating to the early 1900s.

Kirkpatrick Cemetery

The Carson homeplace was once the Kirkpatrick homeplace. My great grandparents bought it in the 1940s. On the property is the Kirkpatrick cemetery. My great grandparents, Argial Waitman Carson and Evelyn Edna King Carson, are buried there. As you may recall, my great grandmother's passing shortly after my daughter's birth is what spurred me to begin researching my family history in earnest. I will be staying at the homeplace, now owned by my great aunt and great uncle, during my visit and will be walking up the hill to visit with my great grandparents while there.


Boilon Cemetery

Many of my Radcliff ancestors are buried at Boilon Cemetery. These include my great grandfather, two of his children, my 2nd great grandparents and my 3rd great grandparents.

Messenger Cemetery

As the name implies, there's Messengers buried here. These include my 3rd and 4th great grandfathers. My 3rd great grandfather on my Neal line, Riley Neal, is also buried here.

Hiney Hill

This cemetery includes several of my ancestors, including Carsons and Messengers. There are also some related Radcliffs here as well.

Other Cemeteries

Other cemeteries I would like to visit during my trip include the IOOF Cemetery, the Otterbein Cemetery and Stalnaker Cemetery. A few have familiar names, others have some of my surnames even though I don't recognize the person. As I said in my Hancock County research plan, I intend to photograph all tombstones with familiar surnames in the hopes of connecting them to my family at some point.

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