Editor’s note: The Rev. Green Pendleton “G.P.” Goode (1868-1957) was the foremost authority on Wyoming County history, serving as the official county historian for more than five decades. While he did not publish a book, Goode wrote countless articles for a multitude of publications about the early county history and its people. His work was also published in “Reference Book of Wyoming County History,” by Mary Keller Bowman and in extensive historical editions of the Beckley Post-Herald, including Aug. 26, 1950 and June 5, 1963. This article was first published in the Aug. 26, 1950 edition.
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How Wyoming County got its name is still a matter of conjecture.
On the third reading of the Wyoming County bill in the General Assembly on Jan. 26, 1850, the Logan County delegate, Judge James H. Ferguson, inserted the name “Wyoming” in the blank for the name.
Some say the county was named for the Wyoming tribe of Indians, but historians know nothing of a tribe by this name.
Others say that Thomas Campbell’s “Gertrude of Wyoming” suggested the name.
The origin seems lost in obscurity.
More definitely established, however, is the geography and physical features of the county.
Wyoming is situated in the southern section of West Virginia.
The most southern point is near Peter’s Gap in Flat Top Mountain, and the most northern point is near Pilot Knob in the Guyandotte Mountains.
The most eastern point is on Bluff Mountain, 3,536 feet above sea level, and the most western point is at the mouth of Little Huff Creek, 927 feet above sea level. The difference between the two points is 2,609 feet.
Wyoming lies wholly in the upper Guyandotte Valley drainage system. It is bound on the north by Logan, Boone and Raleigh counties and on the east by Raleigh and Mercer, on the south by McDowell and on the west by Mingo and Logan. It has an area of 507.3 square miles.
The land area by magisterial districts is as follows: Oceana District, 100.13; Clear Fork, 52.98; Baileysville, 44.20; Huff Creek, 41.38; Slab Fork, 85.72; Center, 84.59; Barkers Ridge, 98.30.
The Guyandotte River heads against Flat Top Mountain in the southern edge of Raleigh County at an elevation of 3,400 feet and flows in a generally northwestern direction through Raleigh, Wyoming, Mingo, Logan, Lincoln and Cabell counties into the Ohio River just two miles above Huntington.
The Guyandotte River has a course flow of 525 miles and an airline flow of 28 miles from the mouth of Devil’s Fork to the mouth of Little Huff Creek. The stream is narrow, shallow and very rough and comparatively rapid, having a fall of slightly over 12 feet per mile.
The name Guyandotte is also a matter of conjecture. Swain’s History quotes H. Clay Ragland as saying that the stream was named for Henry Guyan who had a trading post near its mouth about 1750, but nothing is known as to how it got the “dotte.”
It is the opinion of (this writer) that the name is a French corruption of the Indian name “Wyandott” and that this name was given when the French expedition in 1769 planted leaden plates at the mouth of streams and gave them Indian names, thus claiming possession by right of discovery.