History Time Capsule (Mingo, Wellsburg)

A bit of history in the Ohio Valley. The Wells Log House, mentioned below, still stands to this day.

The following information was written in 1906 and was found in the cornerstone of Jefferson School, June 23, 1967. Some of the landmarks have been updated to reflect current locations for better reference.

In the year 1749, the French inaugurated the trading system with the Indians along the Ohio River Valley. At that period, the Mingo Indians held the undisputed possession of what was formerly known as “Old Mingo Bottom”, where the City of Follansbee is now located. Here, they had large fields of maize, and the surrounding hills were their hunting grounds. During the years from 1754 to 1756, while the French and Indian War was waging, the English settlers who had forged their way in to this district were forced to return to the more thickly populated districts beyond the Allegheny Mountains for protection against Indian massacres. As a result of the French and Indian War, and the subsequent withdrawal of the English settlers, there was little development along the Ohio River Valley in this section from 1758 until about 1762, when a treaty was signed. The Indians; however, held control of the greater part of the Ohio River Valley until about 1768. At that time, at the suggestion of the General Assembly of the Virginia Colony, a treaty was drawn up between the Six Great Nations of Indians and the English settlers, by which it was agreed that the settlers were to have all the territory south of the Ohio River, the River to be the boundary line between the lands held by the settlers and that held by the Indians. The rich bottom land known as “Old Mingo Bottom” was, until the signing of the treaty in 1768, still the home of the Mingo Indians, but under the conditions of the treaty, they were compelled to move across the Ohio River to what is now Mingo Junction, where they pitched their tents on land now occupied by Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation.

After the signing of the treaty in 1768, the settlers again pushed westward to the border and, in the spring of 1772, Isaac Cox and his companions, eager for adventure, located on Mingo Bottom and erected a log house. During the same year, Isaac Cox made a formal entry upon the land, but afterward transferred all of his rights in the same to John Decker. In 1774, quite a number of massacres occurred and many forts along the Ohio River fell into the hands of the Indians. In order to protect his family and property, John Decker built a fort on the land he had taken up on Mingo Bottom. This fort was constructed of logs and stone and was situated on the ground over which the tracks of the Norfolk & Southern Rail Road now run, at a point immediately in front of the old Rail Station and just south of Broad Street in the City of Follansbee. This fort, known as Fort Decker, was the scene of many conflicts, as the leaden bullets and arrow-heads found on the River bank in front spot bear witness. The indications are that the fort had been fired upon from Mingo Island. John Decker owned 343 acres which comprised of the land from the Wabash Bridge, west of the top of the hill, including the land once owned by W.B. Mahan.

In 1780, Alexander Wells received a patent from Thomas Jefferson, then Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 200 acres of land “lying and being in the county of Ohio, on the eastern branch of the Ohio River and including the lower end of the rich bottom land called “Old Mingo Bottom” opposite the “Town of Mingo”. Shortly after this patent was received, we find that Alexander Wells institutes suit against the Heirs of John Decker for possession of the land, and the suit seems to have been decided in favor of Alexander Wells. Alexander Wells conveyed this land to his son, Henry Wells in 1799, who held the same up until the time of his death in 1815. In his will, it appeared that previous to the time of his death, Henry Wells agreed to sell the tract of land containing 360 acres to William Mahan for a consideration of $3,500.00. The 360 acres includes all of the land once owned by Webster B. Davidson and the Brooke County Improvement Company and about 100 acres lying immediately north of the land of the Brooke County Improvement Company.

William Mahan was a native of Hartford Cross Roads, Hartford County, Maryland. He was born in 1776, married in 1800, and in 1814, he brought his family, then consisting of his wife and one small son, Thomas, 8 years of age, to Mingo Bottom where he agreed to purchase the land of Henry Wells. William Mahan and his family made the trip from Maryland to their home by wagon. They descended the fill from what is now Walker Road through the Tenth and Eight Addition Plans of the City of Follansbee, to the log house that was to be their future home.

(I'm interrupting: This log home, dear readers, is the same one mentioned.)

The road down over Walker Hill (before it became know as Walker Road) was the only one in this part of the country at that time. The log house on the plantation purchased by William Mahan was one of the first built by Isaac Cox in 1772. Henry Wells, during his possession of the land, built an addition about twelve feet from the original house, which consisted of but one room, leaving a porch between the two houses over which he built a roof. When William Mahan and his little family arrived at the log house described above, they found Henry Wells, then an old man, sick on his death-bed, which made it necessary for them to wait for the possession of their new home. They journeyed on to the Army Barracks at Fort Steuben, which stood where the City of Steubenville is now situated, and took up winter quarters at the fort. During the month of February, 1815, Henry Wells dies and William Mahan took possession of the Old Mingo Bottom Plantation, which he made his home until his death in 1853 at the age of 77 years. He left his plantation to his son, Thomas Mahan, who enjoyed possession of the same until he, also at the age of 77, died in 1883 leaving quite a number of heirs, who all joined in conveying the farm to TJ Mahan and H.B. Mahan, sons of Thomas Mahan, and it was used by them as a fruit and truck farm until 1902, when they sold it to Benjamin G. Follansbee. Benjamin G. Follansbee conveyed to Follansbee Brothers Company a tract of 40-acres on which they have erected their large Tin Mill, and the remainder of the land they conveyed to the Brooke County Improvement Company, who laid the same out in town lots.

Since the establishment of the Follansbee Brothers Company Tin Mill and the many improvements made by the Brooke County Improvement Company, the City of Follansbee has grown very rapidly and much credit for its rapid advancement is due to William Banfield, the able Manager of Follansbee Brothers Company Mill and President of the Brooke County Improvement Company, whose discretion and judgment and tireless efforts have largely contributed to the marked success of this thriving little City.

At the June term of Court, 1906, the City of Follansbee received is charter as a municipal corporation, and at the first election held in the new city, Thomas J. Mahan, one of the former owners of “Old Mingo Bottom” was selected as Mayor, Brown Latimer the first City Recorder, and the following citizens compose the City Council: Thomas Rogers, George Hahne, J.W. Nott, Harry Herbert and A.S. Craig.

When the Brooke County Improvement Company laid out “Old Mingo Bottom” in town lots, there were forced to destroy two landmarks in order to secure the proper grade for the streets. These landmarks were two prehistoric mounds, supposed to have been built by the Indians who formerly inhabited the country. The smaller of the two mounds showed evidence of being fifteen or twenty feet across the base and several feet high, and was located on Main Street, midway between the intersections of Broad and State Streets with Main Street. This mound, by reason of the cultivation of the soil was partially destroyed many years ago. The large mound was thirty feet in diameter and twelve feet high. When these mounds were removed, quite a number of Tomahawks, arrowheads, scalping knives and other Indian relics were found.

In the year of 1830, William Mahan tore away a part of the old log house originally built by Isaac Cox and to which he made an addition shortly after purchasing the land from Henry Wells and built part of structure occupied as the office of the Follansbee Brothers Company. The structure consisted of a room north of the hall, the hall-way and rooms over it, while the balance of the log house was removed by Thomas Mahan in 1864 and the remaining portion of the building was erected, and up until the time of the sale of the property by Thomas J. Mahan and H.B. Mahan to Benjamin G. Follansbee on May 9, 1902, it was occupied as the Mahan Homestead.

William Mahan, soon after he acquired the “Old Mingo Bottom” plantation, built a log house near the site of the brick house once owned by W. D. Davidson, and the W.D. Davidson Homestead was built by Thomas Mahan in 1864. Thomas Mahan also erected the house near the one once owned by W. B. Mahan, and known as the William Mahan Homestead, and which was the property of Cyrus Ferguson and others, and stands immediately north of the City of Follansbee.

The Sheet Metal Specialty Company occupied the tract of land on Broad Street, adjoining the old P.W. and Ky Depot and were engaged in the manufacturing of sheet metal specialties. The S. Keighly Metal Ceiling and Manufacturing Company was once situated immediately north of State Street and near the Pennsylvania Depot and manufactured steel window and door frames, iron shutters, reinforced iron work for concreting, and metal ceilings.

The Jefferson Glass Company’s plant was located immediately south of State Street and it was their intention to manufacture fine glass table ware. The Union Lumber Company purchased a lot south of Duquesne Way where they had their lumberyard. The Builder’s Supply Company occupied land immediately west of Mill Alley and Ohio Street. The last two name Companies have furnished nearly all the material used in the early built structures in Follansbee.

The Pan-Handle Abstract Company who have charge of the sale of lots for the Brooke County Improvement Company report that there have been 931 lots offered for sale since June 1, 1904 and 572 lots sold up to September 27, 1906.

R. Humes who purchased 28 and 29 of the Original Plan to the Town of Follansbee on June 1, 1904 broke ground for his store room the same day and erected the first building in the the town of Follansbee, as platted and laid out by the Brooke County Improvement Company. The first brick structure erected in the City of Follansbee was by H.H. Provines on lot #121 of the Original Plan, and the front room of the building was known as the “Citizens Bank of Follansbee.” This bank was established in July, 1906 with an authorized total stock of $25,000.00. The United States Post Office was first established in Follansbee in 1905 with Mrs. Mary Hately as Postmistress, and was located on Lot #34 of the Original Plan of Follansbee.

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