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The Conaways of Marion and Tyler Counties, West Virginia, part 3


CHAPTER TWO

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Coat of Arms of the Conway family. Eltonhead Conway married Henry Thacker, born 1695. He was Clerk of the Virginia Council, Sheriff of Middlesex County and Vestryman of Christ Church.

Martha Thompson married James Taylor, companion of Governor Spotswood and his Knights of the Golden Horseshoe, and their daughter Frances, married Ambrose Madison on August 24, 1721. President James Madison was the son of James, son of Ambrose,son of John, son of John, who patented land in Virginia in 1653. James Taylor was the ancestor of John Taylor of Carolina, United States Senator and social philosop­her, and President Zachary Taylor. Edwin of Lancaster was a descend­ant of the Lords Conway who trace back to that Edwin who married Anna, daughter and heiress of Richard Burdett of Warwick, England.

One of the King’s Commissioners for Virginia in 1609-20 was Sir Edward Conway and associated with him was Captain Thomas Conway, The North Carolina Conways, I have found, were related to the Marquis of Hertford; William Conway of Pennsylvania came to America from Wales in 1770 and was a soldier of the revolution. He married to Ruth Adams. Of this was Doctor Thomas and William, who married Isabel Armour. Another William was born in Camden, Maine, in 1812.

Among the Conways in the Revolution were Lieutenants Joseph and James and General Henry and Lieutenant Colonel John Conway of New Jersey.

Among the marriage connections of the family in Virginia were the Fitzhughs, Blackwells, Stannards, Spanns, and Daniels. Moncure Daniels Conway, author of many books, was a native of Stafford County, Virginia. I have read in published genealogical sketches that along with the Byrds, Beverleys and Nevilles, the Conways are descend­ed from Edward I, the English Justinian, who reigned in England from 1272 to 1307. He was a Saxon.

Thomas and John Spann Conaway, soldiers of the Revolution, lived and died in a part of the Monongalia County which is now Marion County. I am of the opinion that they are the connecting link between the Conways of Marion County and those of the Rappahannock Valley in Virginia. John Spann Conway’s wife was Rachel Willison. Doctor Joshua B. Conaway lived and died at Bristol, Harrison County. His wife was Elizabeth Amos and one of their sons was Wickliffe M., a Clarks­burg lawyer. William H. Conaway was a lawyer in Fairmont. Calvin M. Conaway, Sheriff of Marion County, was a son of Major James E. and Miranda Ice Conaway, and the grandson of William and great-grandson of said John. Charica Conway in 1787 was the first Methodist preacher in the Ohio Valley between Wheeling and Parkersburg.

Charles I. Conaway and Elizabeth Virginia Stealey were married shortly after the Civil War. Along with Presley M. and Belle Smith Furbee and George B. and Sophia Furbee Stathers, they rode horseback to Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, and were married, among her mother’s people, and returned to McElroy where his mother, Parthenia, and William and Adaline Morris Stealey, her parents, were living. In 1850 John Wells, son of William conveyed to William Stealey 302 acres and 42 poles at the south of McElroy. In 1860, Louis S. Brown conveyed to William Stealey an adjoining tract of 125 acres and 115 poles and in 1875, Levi Hisson conveyed to him 187 acres nearby. This land was later owned by John Seckman of Middle Island. Lewis S. Brown was from Maine and was long known as Yankee Brown. He built and operated a grist mill on Middle Island about a quarter mile above the

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mouth of McElroy. The remains of the mill may still be seen. This farm was part of the share inherited by Didd Stealey and from her by Claud Myers. A tract of 105 acres opposite the mouth of Indian Creek belonged to William Stealey and was owned by Virginia Stealey Conaway at her death in 1910. It now belongs to Absalom Spencer’s heirs. The brick residence of William Stealy of McElroy, built by said John Wells, was destroyed by fire several years after the Civil War.

William Wells, buried at Stonehurst, conveyed in 1816, to his son, Charles, 450 acres near the mouth of McElroy. In 1821, he conveyed 159 acres at the mouth of Indian Creek to his son, Caleb. In 1830, Caleb, then of Kanawha County, reconveyed this land to his father. It was devised by William to his son, Oliver P. For many years it was the home of Susan Furbee Wells Taggart, his widow, and it was there James M. Wells lived in his old age and where he died. The heirs of William Wells conveyed to Amanda Morey a certain interest in the Ankrom farm of 391 acres on Middle Island Creek. In 1821 he conveyed 180 acres and 37 perches to his son, Absalom, at the mouth of McElroy, excepting 28 acres therefrom already sold to Jacob Cornell, on which he operated a grist mill, and one acre to the Methodist Episcopal Church, the original grant to Beechwood Cemetery and on which the first Methodist Church stood. The first neighborhood school was held therein.

In 1854 James Nesbit and his wife, Caroline, of the County of Monroe and State of Ohio, Susan Wells, Thomas Wells, and Mary Ann his wife, John S. Wells, Daniel Sweeney and Mary Ann, his wife, and Issac Smith and Parthenia, his wife, conveyed to Peter Smith 50 acres out of said tract of 186 acres and 37 perches on the southwest side of Middle Island Creek and in 1857 they conveyed 118 acres to Daniel Sweeney. In 1870, Daniel Sweeney conveyed to Peter Smith a tract of 38-1/2 acres, the same land conveyed to said Thomas Wells by Zachariah Barker. This land adjoins Thomas Smith near the John Forrester house. In 1854, Issac Smith and Parthenia Smith, his wife, conveyed Peter Smith “two tracts on Middle Island Creek, the first of which adjoins the lands of the heirs of Thomas Ankrom, deceased, Zachariah Barker and others and is bounded as follows: “Beginning at a peeled dogwood on the ridge in M. K. Jones’ line, a north east course 120 steps to a beech stump in Parthenia Wells’ line near a small run, and with the same in part to a poplar and stone in a field of the heirs of Thomas Ankrom, deceased, thence north-west to the beginning, supposed to contain five acres, conveyed by Samuel Way and wife to said Parthenia (whilst the widow of Absalom Wells) on July 9, 1842.” Second tract: “Situate on the meeting house run near the Town of Centerville and bounded as follows: Beginning at a stone, corner to land formerly owned by Jacob Thomas, standing in Ankrom’s line, thence east 22 poles to a stump, where said Ankrom’s line intersects Wells’ line, thence N. 60 W. 20 poles to a stake, corner to said Wells, thence S. 27 W. 10 poles to the beginning, containing two rods and 30 poles and conveyed by Commonwealth of Virginia to Michael K. Jones on June 30, 1847, and conveyed by said Michael K. Jones and wife to said Parthenia (whilst wife of Eli Conaway) on November 18, 1848.”

In 1865, Peter Smith conveyed the said four tracts to James M. Smith, who in 1878, conveyed them to J. C. Warner, his son-in-law, who came from Pendleton County and who, in 1902, sold this land to C. B. Riggs, husband of Nancy Conaway. Meeting House Run is just west of

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Beechwood Cemetery. Parthenia lived in the John Forrester house. It burned down some years ago and its site is now within the boundary of Beechwood Cemetery. Peter Smith was drowned at the mouth of McElroy in 1865.

In 1826, Jacob Cornell sold 28 acres purchased by him from William Wells to Joseph Ankrom of said Greene County and in 1830, he sold to Hiram Sweeney, also of Greene County, and in 1843, Waitman Furbee, of the Delaware Furbees, sold him 3-1/2 acres. Lots 7 and 8 in McDonaldsville, sold to 0. C. Sweeney in 1896, eventually passed to said 0. W. 0. Hardman by tax deed. On this land stood the old Sweeney and Hardman grist mill, so long operated by Jacob Cornell, Hiram Sweeney and 0. W. O. Hardman. There in my youth lived Harrison H. Hardman, man of genius, and his mother, Amanda, and Rachel Riddle, colored, and Sallie her mother before her. The Sweeney distillery stood near the present Yoho Garage. The Grove grist mill stood on Indian Creek, on the farm now owned by Palmer 0. Nichols. The Hardman mill, the old Sweeney home, the Smith home and the Furbee and Conaway stores were all destroyed by fire. The Hardman tract is now owned by Martins who tore down the house and built again a little above the old

Home site.

On November 13, 1820, William Wells conveyed to the members of the Methodist Episcopal Society one acre of land, lying and being in the County of Tyler, State of Vest Virginia, “beginning at a sugar tree, thence to a lynn, thence to a stone, thence to a beech and thence to the beginning.” This was the original acreage that now forms Beechwood Cemetery at Mount Moriah Baptist Church. On this tract a church was built and the first burials made. Absalom Wells was buried here in 1837.

On February 8, 1854, Thomas Henderson and Lydia, his wife, and Lydia Ankrom, the wife of Thomas Ankrom, deceased, conveyed to James Morris and Philip Seckman, deacons of the Baptist Church called Mount Moriah, near Bond’s lower run and opposite the mouth of McElroy, two acres and nine poles, for a consideration of fifty dollars. Mount Moriah Baptist Church was erected on this tract. Bond’s lower run is now generally called Wheeler’s Run.

On October 28, 1854, Samuel Nicklin and Martha, his wife, conveyed to Jno. Lonon, James Taggart, William W. Clark, William Brown, John Nicklin, William B. Smith, Andrew D. Conaway, Samuel Nicklin and Issac Smith, trustees for the Methodist Episcopal Church, lot 42 in Center-ville. The present Methodist Church stands on this land.

On February 18. 1869, Alf Conaway, conveyed to Daniel Ripley, William Gregg, Nicholas Orr and A. W. Duty, trustees for the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, 23 poles near Centerville, on which the Evangelical United Brethren Church now stands. In this church was formed in 1858 the West Virginia Conference of the United Brethren Church. Among the ministers present and participating were Daniel Engle of Braxton County and Zedebee Warner of Pendleton. Bishop Weekley often preached here both as minister and Bishop.

In 1868, Daniel Sweeney sold to Charles I. Conaway, Captain, U. S. Army, 1865, and Thomas Smith, one acre and fifty-seven poles at the mouth of McElroy. Here Conaway and Smith began their merchandising

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career. In the years that followed they were dealers in timber, tobacco and cattle. They became large land owners. In the old home here Absalom and Parthenia Morris Wells lived and here Charles I. and Elizabeth Virginia Stealey Conaway began housekeeping. Upon the dissolution of their partnership, Thomas took Stonehurst and Charles built a home on the hill, later owned by Silas P. Lemasters. Thomas became sheriff and at the time of his death on February 16, 1894, Charles owned about one thousand acres in West Virginia and about five hundred in Missouri. Among his neighbors were Doctor Eli B., Thomas B., and Alpheus Conaway, Thomas Smith, Sheriff, James Birkhead Smith, John M. Smith, Jonathan Ankrom, Oliver P. Wells, Harrison H. Hardman, Captain John W. Wells, Confederate States Army, George B. Stathers, James C. Warner, David N. Furbee, Presley M. Furhoe, Arza H. Underwood, and Caleb B. Riggs.

By way of conclusion, let me say that I have written this sketch not only for the present generation of Conaways but upon this beginning each can easily base a genealogy of his own family.

While we all lived at McElroy farm, our school was Sunnyside at Hardman’s Mill. The house still stands but was abandoned as a school house long ago. Among the pupils there in my time and before were John D. Sweeney, Master of Science, Joseph McElhattan, Doctor of Medicine, Arza H. Underwood, merchant, Waitman Furbee of George and Mary Jane, financier, Gilbert D. Furbee, Doctor of Medicine, Madison D. Stathers, Doctor of Philosphy, Charles Ankrom, Baptist Minister, and Thomas C. Conaway. Among the teachers were Doctor Bell and Walter Barnes, Doctor of Philosophy and Professor of English, New York University, New York City. The first school at Centerville was on the point facing the road on the lot later owned by Doctor Eli B. Conaway. The second school stood on the site of Fred M. Conaway’s house. Here summer schools were taught by Lawrence J. Corbly, Thomas W. Haught, Martin L. Weekley, James W. Duty, Lafayette Davis and others. Among the pupils here were E. Leslie Long, State Treasurer, Essie Haught, Edna Conaway, Lillie Riggs and Erma Marsh.

It may not be out of place for me to say that I was born June 21, 1879; and was graduated from the West Virginia Conference Seminary at Buckhannon, now West Virginia Wesleyan College, in 1900; from West Virginia University, Bachelor of Arts, in 1903; and Bachelor of Laws in 1906. Since then I have practiced law in Middlebourne, Sisterville and Parkersburg, was Mayor of Middlebourne for one term and Prosecuting Attorney by election for three terms and for one by appointment. Maude K. Conaway taught school for a number of years in Middlebourne and Elkins. Orrin B. Conaway, Jr. was graduated, Bachelor of Arts, from West Virginia Wesleyan in 1940, Master of Arts from American University in 1944, Doctor of Philosophy from Syracuse University in 1950, and is now teaching in the Maxwell Graduate School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York. Beginn­ing in September, 1950, he will teach at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts. Ann Hardman Theiss Conaway was graduate, Bachelor of Science, Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1946 and Master of Arts, Columbia University, in 1947, and has taught in Cazenovia Junior College, New York, and in Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.

Orrin Bryte Conaway

Middlebourne

Tyler County

West Virginia

page 18

June, 1951.

Note:

Tyler County was created from Ohio County in 1814 and was named for John Tyler, eighth Governor of Virginia and father of John Tyler, tenth President of the United States. Middlebourne was established January 27, 1813 on land of Fiobert Gorrell. with William Wells, Joseph Martin, Joseph Archer, Thomas Gregg, Daniel Haynes, William Delasmutt and Abraham S. Birckhead, trustees. It was incorporated in 1871.

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