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Museum gives Holliday’s Cove history lesson

September 20, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL - Special to the Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

WEIRTON - Visitors to the Weirton Museum and Cultural Center Tuesday were taken on a trip through time as they learned about the early days of what would eventually become the city of Weirton.

Three area historians - David T. Javersak, Michael Nogay and museum President Dennis Jones - each discussed the town of Holliday's Cove at different phases in its history, starting in its early days as part of the American frontier and leading up to the founding of the city.

"West Virginia wants to wedge itself into the Civil War," Nogay, a local attorney, said during his presentation.

However, as Nogay explained, there was a great deal of history to the state and what is now the Northern Panhandle prior to the American Revolution.

Nogay focused much of his presentation on the construction of a cabin and blockhouse by John Holliday in the 1770s and the early days of Holliday's Cove, noting his research into the militia assigned to the fort, comparing it to forts and blockhouses in existence at the same time, including Fort Pitt and Fort Henry.

He noted Holliday's Cove Fort was located near where Overbrook Tower stands today and the community eventually grew up around it.

He said, however, it has taken a lot of work to find this information, and up until recently not much has been publicly observed, unlike in Pennsylvania and Virginia where there are markers and memorials for many historical sites and events.

"We're not making this up, but we have no history here," Nogay said.

Javersak, meanwhile, focused on the community during the 1800s when the population was estimated at around 250 people, with 50 houses, a church and school and a few businesses.

He explained the economy of Holliday's Cove in the late 1800s was based primarily on agriculture and sheep, with large farms, and transportation was primarily provided by horses.

"This is a pretty rural existence," Javersak said. "This is an agricultural area. This is small-town America."

Javersak explained how Holliday's Cove found itself having to transition its economy following the Civil War as the price of wool dropped and the farming of wheat moved west. The result was the creation of fruit orchards, including almost 70,000 apple trees, 12,000 pear trees, 8,500 cherry trees and 6,000 plum trees. The area also produced thousands of pounds of maple sugar each year, he said.

For his part, Jones presented a showcase of photos of Holliday's Cove from the early 1900s, including the establishment of the first Cove School, a local baseball team and the growth of the community after E.T. Weir brought the Phillips Sheet and Tin Plate mill to the area from Clarksburg.

Jones also focused his presentation on the Flood of 1912, during which a storm caused Harmon Creek to flood, damaging a large portion of Holliday's Cove and the Colliers area.

"If there was a bridge across Harmon's Creek, it was wiped out, including the railroad," Jones said.

According to Jones' research, 112 houses were destroyed during the flood, along with several businesses, the Holliday's Cove post office and the Christian church. There were two deaths in Holliday's Cove and 10 in Colliers, Jones said.

All three encouraged the residents in attendance to learn more about the area's history and to teach it to future generations.

 
 

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