Mason County Memories… How the districts got their names: Part II

By Chris Rizer - Mason County Memories

Last week, I covered the first five of our ten magisterial districts (West Virginia’s equivalent of Ohio’s townships) – Arbuckle, Clendenin, Cologne, Cooper, and Graham. This week, we’ll run through the other five.

First up is Hannan District, spanning the southernmost reaches of the county from Apple Grove to Glenwood and out to Upland and Mount Olive. Thomas Hannan, a veteran of Dickenson’s Company at the Battle of Point Pleasant and later a sailor and rifleman during the Revolution, became the first permanent settler in this area in 1790. He soon blazed the first road from Saint Albans to Chillicothe, the Hannan Trace, operated a ferry from Glenwood to Crown City, and built a floating grist mill near the mouth of Guyan Creek on the Mason-Cabell border. He passed in 1835 and is buried in a private cemetery just before the county line.

Lewis District, home to the county seat of Point Pleasant, is the smallest of the ten districts. It is named for Andrew Lewis, whose original 9,000-acre land grant makes up the largest portion of the modern district as well as portions of Robinson District to the north. Lewis was, of course, the commanding officer at the Battle of Point Pleasant and later a brigadier general during the American Revolution. He died before the end of the Revolution, never settling his lands here, and is buried today in Salem, Virginia’s East Hill Cemetery. His son, Thomas Lewis, and nephew, Charles Cameron Lewis, settled his land grant and established the City of Point Pleasant and neighboring Roseberry and Beechwood/Old Town Plantations. Both Roseberry Plantation and Simon’s Old Town Farm are featured in Main Street Point Pleasant’s upcoming Home & Garden Tour on June 25th (tickets available at the Main Street office and Peoples Bank for $25, or $35 at any participating home on the day of the tour).

Robinson District, just to the north of Lewis, covers the lands along the river between Sandhill Road and Lakin and as far into the county as Old Town, Bethel, and Sassafras. Contained within its boundaries are some of the flattest and most fertile farmlands in the ten districts, so-named the “Pleasant Flats”, which combined with the Upper Flats of Graham District and Kanawha Valley Flats ranks us among the flattest and most agricultural counties in West Virginia. Robison District was named for frontier scout Isaac Robinson, who settled and built Fort Robinson between Six and Eight Mile Islands in 1792. His unmarked grave, alongside those of fellow scouts Luman Gibbs and James Ball, is in the Ball Cemetery.

Union District, the easternmost of Mason County’s ten districts, was originally named the Van Bebber District in honor of Jesse Van Bebber. Isaac, John, and nephew Jesse were all present in 1774 at the Battle of Point Pleasant, and Jesse later served in Caperton’s Rangers during the Revolution. The Van Bebber’s settled this area where modern-day Point Pleasant stands in 1781, receiving town lots when Point Pleasant was laid out in 1784 for their service in guarding the area. In 1795, after the Treaty of Greenville ended Native American threats in the area, Jesse became the first permanent settler in Union District. The original name did not last long though, being changed to Union District during the patriotic fervor of the Civil War.

The last of Mason County’s ten magisterial districts is Waggener District, in the Bend Area. It is named for Revolutionary War veteran Major Andrew Waggener, nephew of original French & Indian War land grantees Thomas & Edmund Waggener. Major Andrew joined the Continental Army soon after the war’s beginning in 1775 and served as commanding officer of Fort Pitt in 1776, a captain in the 12th Virginia Regiment at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, and a major in the 8th Virginia at Yorktown. The Waggener land grant was finally settled in 1815 by his sons and son-in-law – War of 1812 Major Andrew Chapman Waggener, his brothers James and Thomas, and brother-in-law Archibald Williamson – and was later sold off to the large coal and salt firms of the 1850s and 1860s. Today, the Waggener Grant is made up of West Columbia, Clifton, Mason, and Hartford, and the Waggener graves lie peacefully inside the old walled section of Adamsville Cemetery.

Information from Hardesty’s Atlases of West Virginia and the Weekly Register.

By Chris Rizer

Mason County Memories

Chris Rizer is the president of the Mason County Historical & Preservation Society and director of Main Street Point Pleasant, reach him at [email protected]

Chris Rizer is the president of the Mason County Historical & Preservation Society and director of Main Street Point Pleasant, reach him at [email protected]