John Kincaid’s Rev War Narrative, Frontier Forts, Lead Mines, Scandal, and Forensic Pathology

I came across this interesting Rev War pension application, signed by one John Kincaid, with some cool local details, pertaining to the harshness of the winter of 1778-1779 in what is now Lewisburg, (West) Virginia, and as always, one thing leads to another, including a doppleganger John Kincaid, references to our fort, other forts, scandal, …

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The “Singing Cave” of Indian Creek and the making of gunpowder by frontier settlers

A local historian friend sent me this scan of an original 1777 document, signed by early frontiersmen of the Greenbrier Valley, where they are leasing the mineral rights of property belonging to one Jacob Mann, containing a cave with valuable saltpeter, which was used to make gunpowder. From the best that I can read it, …

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Our awesome two-part TV segment on the “Traveling West Virginia” series by Brad Rice

If you haven’t seen our sweet TV debut yet, it’s now on YouTube. This originally aired a few weeks back on Eyewitness News in WCHS and WVAH on Charleston and Huntington, West Virginia during their weekly “Traveling West Virginia” segment by photojournalist Brad Rice. Part 1 is about “Scavengeology” as a new field of science, …

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What does it really mean when you start finding little white dead baby dolls buried underground?

When I first pulled this creepy white dead baby figurine from the backyard trash pit of a 19th century log cabin, it was pretty creepy – especially for my 9 year old daughter, who was assisting me at the time. Even the dog seemed to think I was a goner at that point. Here’s the …

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The first “Thanksgiving” in America was in Virginia – and it’s in December

Most of us who are interested in Virginia history know that Virginia’s Jamestown settlement preceded the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, but do we also know that the Jamestown settlers celebrated their own “Thanksgiving” in 1619 – before the Pilgrims arrived? Today would not be Thanksgiving if Virginia history got its due. Americans would be …

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Relic Revolvers found in Montana, the Ohio River, and at the site of a Civil War battle

Here is a set of three different revolvers, in relic condition, which have been scavenged from the ground in some pretty interesting places. This first one is a Colt Single Action Army, which was dug in Montana, about 13 miles from the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn, where Custer and his army were …

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General McCausland’s house in West Virginia: an interesting story about war, the Emperor of Mexico, and even Egypt

You may have noticed this house on the side of Route 35 in Mason County, West Virginia, if you’ve ever driven the treacherous route from the West Virginia Turnpike through to Route 35 into Ohio. This is the home built by Confederate General John McCausland. There’s no good way to stop to get a photo …

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Felix Renick’s Drawings, his interesting family, and his life as a scavengeologist on the Ohio Frontier

When I first came across this map, I immediately recognized the name, “Renick,” though I didn’t recall seeing it associated with the name Felix. In the Greenbrier Valley, there is still a “town” named Renick (though it’s mostly just an unincorporated neighborhood at this point, or even you could call it a “ghost town”), and …

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Grandma’s Story About Being Captured by Indians in 1779

One of the most important historical narratives from 18th century Indian captives, came from a woman buried in the cemetery overlooking Union, West Virginia. There are no historical markers to identify her grave, but the story is an amazing one . . . . In the early 1840’s, a little-old-lady living in Lewisburg, (West) Virginia, …

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Last Will and Testament of John Byrnside (1763-1816) 2nd white child born in Monroe County (West) Va.

I recently found the 1816 Last Will and Testament of John Byrnside, who lived at Willowbrook from 1770 through his death in 1816. He was the owner of the plantation itself, beginning in 1788, when it was deeded to him by his father, James Byrnside. John then took over running the plantation, as well as …

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