Historic Markers: Point Pleasant

Title: Point Pleasant

Front: Fort Blair was built here in 1774 and later Fort Randolph, the center of Indian activities, 1777-1778. Here are graves of “Mad Anne” Bailey, border scout, and Cornstalk, Shawnee chief, held hostage and killed here in 1777.

Reverse: About 1771 was proposed as the capital of a new colony, “Vandalia.” It was visited by early explorers: La Salle, 1669; Celeron, 1749; Gist, 1750; and Washington, 1770. Daniel Boone had a trading post here.
Location: Point Pleasant Courthouse Square, WV 2 and 6th Street, 0.1 miles west of WV 62
Source: http://www.wvculture.org/History/markers/markers.html

Point Pleasant is a city in and the county seat of Mason County, West Virginia, United States, at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers. The population was 4,350 at the 2010 census.

Notable people

  • Among the early settlers at Point Pleasant was Samuel B. Clemens and his wife Pamela (née Goggin), grandparents of the celebrated author Mark Twain. They had migrated from Campbell County, Virginia and, according to family tradition, Samuel was killed in 1805 by a falling log at a house raising there.
  • Point Pleasant was the final home of Confederate Brigadier-General John McCausland, the next-to-last Confederate General to die. He died at his farm at Grimm’s Landing on January 23, 1927, and is buried in nearby Henderson.
  • Karl Probst, born in Point Pleasant, was an automotive engineer credited in 1940 with the design of the Jeep.
  • The Shawnee Chief Cornstalk was taken prisoner and later killed by an angry mob at Fort Randolph on 10 November 1777.
Point Pleasant (foreground) at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers. Gallipolis, Ohio is in the background right.
Photo By: By Charles Johnson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

According to: http://www.pointpleasantwv.org/Parks&Campgrounds/Local/Fort_Randolph/forts_randolph_blair.htm

The first recorded fort at Point Pleasant is written in the History 0f Mason County West Virginia page 3, Hardesty’s Historical and Encyclopedia 1883.

We here subjoin the account as witnessed and given by a prisoner who escaped from the Indians and reached General Andrew Lewis’ camp on the evening before the Battle of Point Pleasant, October 10, 1774, “on the 10th of October 1774 about sunrise, the hunters (spies) came in at full speed, and gave the appalling information that a large body of Indians had spread themselves from river to river and were advancing by slow degrees toward the FORT (camp): at the same instant we could observe the women and boys sulking up and down the opposite banks of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers.”

This first fort stood on the apex of the upper angle formed by the confluence of the great Kanawha and Ohio Rivers, it was built in October arid November of 1774 and named Fort Blair after John Blair, by Captain William Russell who was both the designer and builder. Captain Russell evacuated the Fort in June 1775, after those who were wounded in the battle had fully recovered. The garrison was removed by Lord Dunmore, the Colonial Governor of the British Colony of Virginia. A Short time later the fort was set afire by the Indians.

As the stockade was the only place of safety for the brave pioneers who were dwelling on the frontier during those days of savage warfare. Captain Mathew Arbuckle and a company of men were sent from Fort Pitt by General Hand, in 1776, to Point Pleasant to build another fort, here they reared Fort Randolph, a larger fort than fort Blair, a few rods farther up the Ohio River from the point.

This fort was garrisoned with one hundred men and left in the command of Captain Arbuckle. Fort Randolph was named for Peyton Randolph, a Virginia aristocrat who was unanimously elected as President of the First Continental Congress on September 4th 1774. It was at this fort that the murder of Chief Cornstalk, his son Elinipsico and Red Hawk occurred in 1777. Fort Randolph served to guard the “backdoor” of Virginia and was garrisoned throughout the American Revolution.

Anne Bailey (1742 – November 22, 1825) was a British-born American story teller and frontier scout who served in the fights of the American Revolutionary War and the Northwest Indian War. Her single-person ride in search of an urgently needed powder supply for the endangered Clendenin’s Settlement (present-day Charleston, West Virginia) was used as the template for Charles Robb’s 1861 poem “Anne Bailey’s Ride”. She is known as the Heroine of the Kanawha Valley.

Image result for chief cornstalk

Cornstalk (Shawnee: Hokoleskwa or Hokolesqua) (ca. 1720 – November 10, 1777) was a prominent leader of the Shawnee nation just prior to the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). His name, Hokoleskwa, translates loosely into “stalk of corn” in English, and is spelled Colesqua in some accounts. He was also known as Keigh-tugh-qua and Wynepuechsika.

Painting inset credits: Painting of Cornstalk, after a Smithsonian engraving by McKinney and Hall

“Vandalia”. Location: Riverfront Park, Pt Pleasant, WV
Artist: Dafford Murals

More reading on Vandalia here: http://www.wvculture.org/history/journal_wvh/wvh40-4.html

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