Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Founding of Marlinton

The current edition of The Pocahontas Times reprints a much-quoted passage about the founding of Marlinton in the weekly Fifty Years Ago...from the desk of Calvin W. Price, Editor feature. This is the version all the other versions quote, by Dr. William T. Price, Cal Price's ancestor. I believe most of the details are Dr. Price's own embellishment, in accordance with conventions of nineteenth century local history, in which one's ancestors are "worthy" and beliefs of the past are "quaint." Nevertheless, when you read a roadsign or a local history, these (probably unsubstantiated) details appear.

Thursday, April 25, 1957: Marlin and Sewell

The first persons of English or Scotch-Irish antecedents to spend a winter in what is now Pocahontas County, were Marlin and Sewell. This was the winter of 1750-51. Their camp was in the delta formed by Marlin Run and a slough or drain near the east bank of Knapps Creek.

In the course of time- having agreed to disagree- they separated and were found living apart by Colonel Andrew Lewis, Marlin in the cabin and Sewell in a hollow tree. Upon expressing his sunrise at this way way of living apart, distant from the habitation of human beings, Sewell told him they differed in sentiments and since the separation there was more tranquility, for now they were upon speaking terms, and upon each morning "it was good morning, Mr. Marlin and good morning, Mr. Sewell!"

Under the new arrangement, Sewell crossed the slough, and instead of building another cabin, went into a hollow sycamore tree on the west margin of the slough, quite near where the board walk now crosses, and about in line with a walnut tree now standing on the east bank of the drain and the court house.

The lower part of the tree bore a striking resemblance to a leaning Indian tepee. The cavity could shelter five or six persons, and the writer has been often in it for shade or for shelter from rain or heat.

At the top of the cone, some eight or ten feet from the ground, the tree was not more than twenty inches in diameter, and at that height was chopped off about the year 1839, to avoid shading the crops. Thus the stump was left, a great convenience for shade or shelter, until it disappeared during the War, being probably used for a camp fire.

These persons differed, Sewell told Colonel Lewis, about their "relagian." There is traditional hint that "immersion" was the theme of contention. But it is more than probable that one was a conformist to the thirty-nine articles of the English rubric. This is known to have been a very live question of those times, both before and after.

This new arrangement did not last long, and Sewell in search of less molestation about his religion, withdrew about eight miles to a cave at the head of Sewell Run, near Marvin. Thence he went forty miles farther on to Sewall Creek, west Greenbrier, and was found slain by Indians. How impressively this illustrates the evils of religious controversy, so called.

Against her foes religion well defends,
Her sacred truths, but often fears her friend.
If learned, their pride: if weak their zeal She dreads
And their heart's weakness who have soundest heads;
But most she fears the controversial pen,
The holy stride of disputatious men,
Who the blest Gospel's peaceful page explore,
Only to fight against its precepts more.

No comments: