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The West Virginia. Cyclopedia


The Founding of Charleston

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The land on which the city of Charleston, WV now stands was granted in 1773 to Colonel Thomas Bullitt for services in the French and Indian War. He sold it to his brother Cuthbert, of Maryland, who transferred it to his son Cuthbert of Prince William County, Virginia.

Charles Clendenin removed to the Greenbrier Valley as early as 1780. He had four sons -- George, William, Robert and Alexander -- all distinguished in border war. George rose to prominence and in 1787 when in Richmond, he purchased the land at the mouth of the Elk River, and a year later removed to it with his aged father, brothers and an only sister.

Here these founders of the future capital of West Virginia, on May 1st, 1788, began the erection of a block-house, which later served the purpose of dwelling, fort, court-house and jail. It was afterwards known as Fort Lee, so-called in honor of Governor Henry Lee, of Virginia.

Soon others came to dwell in and around the fort and in December 1794, the General Assembly enacted "That forty acres of land, the property of George Clendenin, at the mouth of Elk river in the County of Kanawha, as the same are already laid off into lots and streets, shall be established a town by the name of Charleston," so called for Charles, the father of the Clendenin brothers, who were its founders.