In the village: Barboursville has almost two centuries of rich history
BARBOURSVILLE -- Although Barboursville has been in the shadow of Huntington for decades, this village in eastern Cabell County has had a rich history and identity spanning nearly two centuries.
Barboursville was established in 1813. Named after Virginia Gov. James Barbour (1812-1814), the village was the county seat of Cabell County from 1814 until 1887, when Huntington received the honor. Following the Civil War, Barboursville was incorporated by the West Virginia Legislature on Feb. 12, 1867.
Over the years Barboursville has grown by leaps and bounds. An active business sector coupled with a small-town atmosphere has created a thriving community.
Village demographics Population: 3,267 Median household income (2005): $40,500 Median house/condo value (2005): $92,300 Racial Mix: White non-Hispanic, 97.1 percent; black, 0.8 percent; Hispanic, 0.7 percent; two or more races, 0.5 percent. Leading employment industries: Men, health care and educational services, 8 percent each; women, health care, 25 percent.
Median household income (2005): $40,500
Median house/condo value (2005): $92,300
Racial Mix: White non-Hispanic, 97.1 percent; black, 0.8 percent; Hispanic, 0.7 percent; two or more races, 0.5 percent.
Leading employment industries: Men, health care and educational services, 8 percent each; women, health care, 25 percent.
According to a 1925 report by J.W. Miller to the W.Va. Agricultural Extension Service, "One of the first battles of the Civil War was fought in Barboursville on July 11, 1861, between the Wayne and Cabell County militia under Colonel Ferguson, and the Second Kentucky under Col. Woodruff. The militia could not stand up under the bayonet charge, and retreated in haste, leaving one dead. Federal loss, five killed and eighteen wounded."
"Our second fight was on Main Street in September 1862 between the Eighth Virginia Cavalry and a regiment of Ohio Cavalry under Col. Powell. This battle was fought after night. Both sides retreated, one Union soldier being killed. The Eighth Virginia Cavalry was commanded by Gen. Jenkins, and most of the boys from our county belonged to it."
"They were sent here when Loring took the Kanawha Valley, to cut off the retreat of the Union forces. They were the first Confederate soldiers to invade Ohio. They crossed into Ohio at Ravenswood, and recrossed at Greenbottom, arriving here just in time to meet the retreating Federals."
According to a 1989 Robert R. Bowers article in "Wonderful West Virginia," "Even today people from this small western West Virginia town on the Guyandotte River, are quick to point out the loyalties of their ancestors. Essentially, those who lived along the James River-Kanawha Turnpike were Confederates and those on the south side of town were 'Yankees.' "
Barboursville has always been a manufacturing town. Services included a furniture factory, a fan mill factory, hat factory, wagon and buggy factory and several tailors, blacksmiths and shoemakers.
Immigration was heavy in the village, particularly German. Barboursville's immigration history is apparent with 11.4 percent of the village with German heritage.
The Barboursville Seminary was established in 1888. On May 28, 1901, the institution's name was changed to Morris Harvey College in honor of Mr. Morris Harvey, a generous benefactor. The institution found its final home in Charleston in 1935 and officially changed its name to the University of Charleston on July 1, 1979, to "strengthen ties to the community," according to the university.
Information provided by a 1989 Robert R. Bowers article in "Wonderful West Virginia":
- Water mains were laid in 1913 and a water supply tank was built above Morris Harvey College. Fires were fought by bucket brigades until 1913.
- Electricity came to this village in the early 1900s, powered by a generator located on the hill near the bridge. It provided light at night only. The town barber was permitted to use his electric clippers in 1908 only from 6 to 9 p.m. daily.
- Barboursville was first known as Merritt's Mill, being named after William C. Merritt who in 1802 settled here on 500 acres of land, upon which he built the area's first gristmill.
Mayor: Paul Turman
Council Members: Orman Hall, Paul Hockenberry, Donnie Plybon, Dick Spencer and Chris Tatum.
Recorder: Kandy Miller
Web site: www.barboursville.org.
"The best thing about Barboursville is the people who live here. The people in Barboursville care about others," Turman said. "The reason I ran for mayor was to give back to the community that has given me so much."
"Barboursville is a great community to live in," said council member Orman Hall. "There's a great bunch of people here."
Council member and life-long resident Dick Spencer, 72, said the greatest aspect of Barboursville is the community.
"We have a very friendly community here whose always willing to help people."