Saturday, March 10, 2007

Marlinton's Oldest House Discovered During Demolition

1850 McLaughlin house being torn down in Marlinton

There was an interesting article in our local weekly newspaper, The Pocahontas Times March 1, 2007. During the demolition of an old Marlinton house, the workers discovered that part of the structure was built of logs. Local genealogy enthusiasts Sandy McLaughlin and Ginger Must researched and wrote a history of the structure. Because Pocahontas Times articles disappear into their unsearchable paid-subscription archives after a week, I'm posting some excerpts here, along with Drew Tanner's photo. This local history lesson is just too valuable to bury.

....Hidden for over a century, and currently being exposed is a hand-hewn pioneer log cabin built by "Squire" Hugh McGlaughlin....He was one of the early settlers of Marlin's Bottom. McGlaughlin built the cabin about 1850 and [it] is the oldest existing house in Marlinton.

Hugh was a timber cutter who in 1829 moved with his first wife Nancy Gwin from Bath County to Pocahontas County. They came with five children (William Jacob, John Calvin, George Henry, Elizabeth,and Margaret) and little else. Hugh was 28....The family first lived near Dunmore and then moved to the Huntersville area. In 1849 he purchased his first land in the Marlin's Bottom area and made another move. Over the next few years he acquired a total of about 1600 acres on the east side of the Greenbrier River, north of Knapps Creek. Hugh was called "squire" because he was a member of the Pocahontas County Court for a number of years.

Hugh died in 1870. Twenty years later, under pressure from developers, his son sold the family home and the family's land, now grown to 2000 acres, for the formation of a new town and county seat. The son, Andrew McLaughlin....relocated to Maxwelton. (The land was sold to John McGraw and John Marshall. Out of the total, 640 acres were transferred to the Pocahontas Development Company for the proposed town.)

You've driven by it a dozen times... a ramshackle old house full of porches and odd additions, one block north of the courthouse....For decades it was covered by tar paper siding that faded with the years. None of us knew at the heart of this rambling home was a pioneer cabin built in 1850....Hugh built the cabin on a well-traveled dirt road (now Route 39) that connected to the "Huntersville-Warm Springs Turnpike." Perpendicular to it - about twenty feet away - he added a second house, also prior to the Civil 1854 reference in County Court records of Hugh getting a license to turn his home into a "house of private entertainment...."

Mary Davis wrote in a 1949 issue of The Pocahontas Times about the McLaughlin house "generally known as the first home in Marlinton...the building best known as the old McLaughlin Hotel was the Andrew McLaughlin home until 1890."

Troy Wilson - along with J.P. Duncan - is painstakingly disassembling the rambling, run-down home, and he noted that "All the nails used in this part [the second section] are square nails, which were only used before 1890." Wilson also said that the second section of the McGlaughlin home is constructed in the old fashioned, post-and-beam method.

"When we removed soffit and trim, we found one big main beam with holes notched along it. One-inch round wooden dowels were used to put in the posts," Wilson added with admiration. "I'd heard of this type of construction in old houses, but had not seen it til now."A third section was eventually built to connect the other two sections to each other. Wilson notes that older siding found on an inside wall of this part indicates it was added last.

Other artifacts Wilson found there are an old 1885 children's grammar book, some old lathe-and-plaster walls covered by newer sheetrock, and a board on the reverse of which is written "Buck Irvine, August 1961."

....Squire Hugh was the son of a Revolutionary War soldier. Moving to Pocahontas with Hugh in 1829 were his siblings Nancy, Jane, John and William. Already in Huntersville were their cousin Hugh and his father Irish John McLaughlin. Considering these three brothers and Hugh's five McLaughlin sons (by the two wives) plus the McLaughlins already in Huntersville - all here by 1849 when Harper was born....

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