Wyoming County Report

History of Wyoming County

March 15, 2010

Marauding ‘Home Guards’ wreaked havoc during Civil War

Editor’s note: — Wyoming County was one of the border counties between the armies of the north and south and, while no major battles were fought in this section, Wyoming was the scene of much sectional strife and “guerilla” warfare between the marauding thieving “Home Guards” of the two contending sides.

In Wyoming County, both sides maintained small squads of Home Guards. The commanders of the Union Home Guards were Lt. Ferdinand Neumann, Richard M. Cook, Thomas Godfrey, Charles Stewart, Hiram Lambert and Sanders Mullens. On the Confederate side there were Major Dick Stratton of Logan, the “Logan Wildcats,” Andrew Gunnoe, Charles S. Canterbury and Russel Cook, who commanded Home Guards.

Home Guards were consumers and very poor producers. They felt that they had to live as well as other people, consequently, their captains on both sides allowed their soldiers to rob the corn cribs, smoke houses, granaries and chicken coops of the folks whose sympathies were on the other side in conflict.

This confiscation of property led to the guerilla warfare and the killings that took place in Wyoming County.

The families of every member of our history were involved in this war feud. Some of us have been trying for 81 years to outlive it and forget it, but the regrettable facts continue to bob up, so we have decided to make a clean breast of it and let the world know the facts as they are now history.

First Man Killed

This sectional feud took many lives on both sides. One of the first men killed in these skirmishes was John Allen Jr., generally known as “Crap” Allen. Allen lived on the Perry McGraw place near Glens Fork Gap. His brother-in-law, Ralph Laferty, with some of Lt. Neumann’s men (Union), captured him in early 1862 and took him prisoner to Charles Stewart’s on Laurel Fork.

Here he was given charge as a prisoner to Laferty, Dick Elkins, Owen Smith, and John J. Mitchell, who were to deliver him to the Union forces in Kanawha County.

In Walnut Gap, on the Wyoming-Boone line, they told Allen that he might run for his life, and as he started running, Laferty and Elkins shot and killed him and left him lying in the woods.

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History of Wyoming County
  • Logging gave birth to Mullens

    The City of Mullens, West Virginia, is located in the eastern part of Wyoming County, which is in the southern part of the state. Mullens is in the heart of the southern coal mining region at the intersection of the Guyandotte River and the Slab Fork Creek.

    April 14, 2014

  • County faced smallpox epidemic back in 1883

    Wyoming County authorities felt unprepared to take care of a smallpox epidemic which spread in upper Wyoming County and adjoining Mercer County in 1883 and called in assistance from Hinton.

    April 7, 2014

  • Surveyor appointed to lay out Oceana in 1850

    The historic meeting of the 14 justices to organize the Wyoming County government in March 1850 took place at the home of John Cooke Jr., located on his farm a mile below Cassville.

    March 31, 2014

  • ‘Railroad fever’ spread in 1860s

    The desire to develop the coal industry in Wyoming County and throughout southern West Virginia by Eastern industrialists and corporations was largely responsible for the “railroad fever” which engulfed Wyoming County as early as 1868 and continued for several decades.

    March 24, 2014

  • Coal discovered before first settlement was made in county

    John Peter Salley first discovered coal along West Virginia’s Coal River in 1742. So the knowledge of western Virginia’s massive coal reserves was widespread before 1799 when the first settlement was made in Wyoming County.

    March 17, 2014

  • Kopperston school opened in 1940

    The first school opened shortly after the completion of the upper camp. Classes were held in two houses of the camp, with 140 pupils, and the first principal was Rev. Wayne Rollins.

    March 10, 2014

  • Kopperston once lauded as ‘Nation’s Model Coal Camp’

    Kopperston, West Virginia, located seven miles northeast of Oceana, was founded in 1938 and owned by Koppers Coal Company as a community for its employees. Now a community of individual land owners, Kopperston has been lauded as the “Nation’s Model Coal Camp.”

    March 3, 2014

  • McDonald family played key role in early county history

    William McDonald, son of Edward (1790-1862) promoted the move to divide Logan and form Wyoming County in 1850. Floyd McDonald, another son, was school commissioner of Wyoming County 1856-61, inclusive, resigning to join the Confederate Army.

    February 24, 2014

  • First settlers built their homes in or near Oceana

    The first settlers to permanently settle in present Wyoming County built their homes in or near Oceana: John Cooke (1752-1832), soldier of the Revolution, the first settler, in 1799; Capt. Ralph Stewart (1749-1835), soldier of the Revolution, the second settler, in 1800; Capt. Edward McDonald (1761-1835), soldier of the American Revolution, the third settler, in 1802.

    February 17, 2014

  • County clerk's death tragic episode in county's history

    One of the tragic events in the history of Wyoming County was the murder of County Clerk Alonzo Marion Stewart (1866-1910), the son of George W. and Chloe Ann Walker Stewart. George W. Stewart was the son of Charles and Nancy Cooke Stewart, making A. M. Stewart a great grandson of Capt. Ralph and Mary Clay Stewart, the second family of Wyoming County.

    February 10, 2014

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