What's in a Name?  Article by Sam Rogers, published in 1995 in the Logan Banner

Written for the 1995 Reunion of
Sharples High School and Friends

Where, When, and Who
of West Virginia Locations

By Tom Gayhart
Class of '43


To add something different for the 1995 Sharples Reunion, the subject of name origin came to mind.  How area cities, towns, hollows, etc. got their name seemed interesting to research. Numerous preliminary discussions with friends revealed help would be given. Added to the local areas were cities selected from our reunion directories. Locations were limited to West Virginia. With the help of newspapers, library references and friends, what you read is the outcome.

A special thanks to Mr. Wm. J. Clothier II and many others who assisted.  The information may not be real, factual or authoritative, but by-and-large, our efforts were as sincere as possible to obtain reasonably accurate and reliable information. Hopefully, you will be cheerfully enlightened with what you read. With your additional assistance, possibly more completeness can be achieved and missing locations added.

Tom Gayhart, '43

Note: As new descriptions and locations are being submitted, they will be presented in a brown font to differentiate between the original document and the additions.  Each submitter will be given credit for the submission.

Watch for link lines (blue) to indicate where you can find a description, location information, trivia, or maybe an amusing story of the area in days gone by.



SOVEREIGN - Limited Information is available about this name. The word means (1) above all others and (2) independent of all others. Therefore, it may refer to the work done by local residents or to the quality of coal mined. The Sovereign Coal Company was there.

ADKINS FORK - Previous name of Sovereign Hollow.

SPRUCE FORK - Previous name of Sovereign.  Named after the creek.

KELLY HOLLOW - Alternate name for Spruce Fork.

MIDWAY - So named because it was the "Midway" point between Blair and Seng Camp.   ~  clarified by Shelby Burgess

BLAIR - It was named for members of Blair & Company, a Philadelphia, Pa. bank that owned land there. [Note: see the Midway link for further references to Blair.]

OLD HOUSE BRANCH - This hollow in Blair was named for an old derelict house owned by Jon Burgess. ~ Shelby Burgess

FLOPPY HOLLOW - Named for Huey Aleshire who wore a floppy hat. ~ Shelby Burgess

GEORGE'S HOLLOW - Original name of Floppy Hollow.   ~ Shelby Burgess

ALESHIRE HOLLOW - Modern name of Floppy Hollow.  ~ Shelby Burgess, clarification by Melissa Aleshire Butterfield

WHITE'S TRACE - Named for the first settler in the area named James White.  Original name of the area now called Blair.  ~ Shelby Burgess

PIGEON ROOST - A creek near Blair named for the millions of passenger pigeons that were there about the turn of the 20th century.  ~ Shelby Burgess

OPERMAN - Except for a coal mine and a tipple located there no other information is available.

SPRUCE VALLEY - Named for a coal company of the same name in that area.

FIVE BLOCK - The town was named for the seam of coal mined there named "Five Block."   This mine closed in the 1920's.

MACNEER - No information is available.

C.C.C. CAMP - The camp was named for the Civilian Conservation Corps, a federally funded work program, where live-in housing was built. The workers did extensive work including building forest fire trails, etc. in and around Blair Mountain.

SENG CAMP - This area was rich in the growth of ginseng plants. The plant grew wild in the hills. The roots were dug and used for medicinal purposes,

<Note: The preceding three locations are names given the same area.>

HELEN - A favorite swimming hole for many years at a railroad bridge about a mile from the C.C.C. Camp. Some say, at one time, there was a small town in that vicinity. Rumors implied a lady was seen swimming there, privately.

GUT FORK - The term "GUT" was given to a narrow water contributory to a creek or stream. Maybe Gut Fork had such a contributory,

NUMBER 9 CAMP - The location of mine No. 9, where a number of workers lived in the vicinity.

ROBINSON - Located down the hill from the high school and across the road. An Afro-American by that name lived there. He was the caretaker of horses used by BCCC before the prominence of electricity.

SHARPLES - One source said this area was named "Bend", West Virginia. Apparently there was a long time resident family that lived there named Sharples. "Bend" was later changed to Sharples. Others said there was a BCCC official by that name; however, the 1921 annual report to stockholders did not list a Mr. Sharples as an official.



          MCKINNEY FARM - A farmer by that name lived near the 'head of right fork
          south of Monclo. He grew the best strawberries in the world.

          ANDROSSAN - Some information Indicates a post office, a train stop and mine
          numbers 4, 5, 7, and 8 were in that area. The post office closed around 1924.
          The railroad crew called it "Hard Rock."

          BUMBO HOLLOW - The area was named for "Bumbo" Baldwin, a local resident.

          WOLF PEN HOLLOW - It was named because numerous traps were set to
          catch wolves there.


          HAGER HOLLOW -  Located just north of the coal processing plant (tipple)
          towards Sharples.  It was named for the Hager family, who were early settlers.

          ELIZA JANE HOLLOW - Another name for Hager Hollow.  Named for a young

          FAN HOLLOW - The area was named for the location of a large exhaust fan
          installed and used by BCCC.

          NAPIER HOLLOW - Named for the Napier family, who were long- time

          LANE HOLLOW - Named for the "Shady" Lane family that lived on the opposite
          side of the valley from the Monclo grade school.

MONCLO - According to some this location was to be named Montgomery.  However, there already was a city named Montgomery, WV. It was decided to use the first three letters from names Montgomery and Clothier, two of the founders of BCCC.

BEECH CREEK - Early name of Monclo.

HURRICANE  - This area is towards Monclo from Ball Hollow. No information available.

BALL HOLLOW - This area named for the Ball family, long-time residents there.

SODOM - Town was named by the Elders of the Ball Chapel Church. The name is a biblical term from sinful cities-Sodom and Gomorrah. It was alleged that this area was mean and sinful, thus the name Sodom was chosen.

DUFFY HOLLOW - The hollow was named for a family that lived there. One source said they had two sets of twins.

DOBRA - This word in the Czechoslovakian language means "GOOD."  No other information is available.

ROCK-HOUSE - This area war. apparently named for a small "shack- like hut" built under a rock cliff near Mifflin.

CORCO - No information available,

MIFFLIN - No information available.

COAL VALLEY - This area was richly surrounded by coal. No additional information available.

BEN'S BRANCH - No information available.

LAUREL - The town was named for the abundance of laurel shrubs and trees that grew there.

CLOTHIER - The town was named for Mr. William Jennings Clothier, the principal founder of BCCC.

SPRUCE LAUREL CREEK - About 11 miles in length, ending at Clothier. ~ Shelby Burgess


                    BURNT CABIN CREEK - No further information available.  ~ Shelby Burgess

                    WHITE OAK - No further information available.  ~ Shelby Burgess

                    SKINNED POPLAR -  Also called Ticklebritches because the creek was
                    infested with Nettleweed. ~ Shelby Burgess

                    TROUGH FORK - Paris Jarrell was a shoemaker and had his leather curing                ingredients in a hollowed out log When the surveyors came to this site
                    they named it Trough fork after finding the log there.  ~ Shelby Burgess

                    DENNISON FORK - No further information available. ~ Shelby Burgess


ACCOVILLE -  Name composed from first initials of the Amherst Coal Company plus ville.  Named when they opened the mine about l9l6.

BARNABUS - Named in 1910 for Barnabus Clay.  Earlier called Cow Creek from a stream the town is located on.

BIG CREEK - The community sits by a large creek also called Big Creek.

BRUNO - Source of name unknown.  On Rte 14, about 6 miles south of Man.   ~ Shelby Burgess / Mike Bush

CHAPMANVILLE - The city was established in 1800 and incorporated in 1947. It was named for an early storekeeper and postmaster, Edward "Ned" Chapman.

DEHUE - The name is an abbreviated and phonetical rendition of D. E. Hewitt, a resident of some note.

FARLING - It was named for the first settler there in the early 1900's.

EARLING - For the first settler in 1906.

EMMETT - A coal town started  about 1921 by Franklin Emmett King of the
King Fuel Co. located here.

ETHEL - It was named for the wife or daughter of a prominent mine official.  It also is the birthplace of my Dad and Uncle; Paul and Tommy Gayhart. :-)

HENLAWSON - A name composed from a local landowner, Henry Lawson.

HOLDEN - The town was named for Albert F. Holden.

LAKE - Nicholas Lake ran the first post office from his home and the town was named for him.

LANDVILLE - A mining town established about 1914 and named for a mining company official named Landstreet.

LOGAN - The city was first named Lawnville around 1827 and later changed to Aracoma. Then about 1907 changed to the present name in honor of Chief Logan, son of Chief Wingohocking of the Cayugas tribe.

LORADO - The name is a composite of Lora Coal and Dock Co.

LUNDALE - Named after Lundale farm in Amhurst County, Virginia.  The farm was owned by the Jones family, who ran the Amhurst Coal Co. in Lundale.

MALLORY - Named in 1917 when Mallory Coal Co. started operations.

MAN - The town was named for the last syllable in Ulysses Hinchman's surname.

McCONNELL - For a man of this name who helped build the C&O railroad spur to here.

MICCO - Named for the Main Island Creek Coal Company. ~ Neal Thompson

MITCHELL HEIGHTS - Incorporated 1949 and named because it is on the old
Mitchell farm.

MONAVILLE - For Mona Wilkinson, Daughter of a substantial owner of land and  a circuit judge.

MOUNT GAY - For the Gay Coal and Coke Co. owned by Henry Gay.

OMAR - Named, around 1913, after an early settler with this first name.

PEACH CREEK - For a stream it is on which got it's name from the first peach orchard in the county planted by the Farley family.

PECKS MILL - First named White's Mill until around 1860 when the Peck family bought the mill.

POPLAR - Previous name for Man.

PINE CREEK - Allegedly the stream the town is on was lined with pine  trees in the olden days.

RITA - Probably for Rita Hendman, daughter of a resident.

RUM CREEK - Large quantities of rum was being transported when their vehicle wrecked and all their rum cargo was spilled in the creek--thus Rum Creek.

SHIVELY - Probably for a local family.  Post Office established abour 1910,

STOLLINGS - Named for Floyd D. Stollings, who owned the land where the town was built.

SWITZER - Likely for a resident family.  It is a fairly common German surname.

VERDUNVILLE - Named by a veteran who fought in the WWI battle of Verdun.  Post Office established in 1920

WILKINSON - For a judge of the name who once owned the land.

YOLYN - A reverse tribute to Lynn Yoder, a prominent family.


BIG UGLY - This area is located in both Boone and Lincoln counties, a short distance from Danville. Surrounded by Big Ugly Hunting Ground, Big Ugly Creek and even Little Ugly Creek, local partisans say it is neither big nor ugly. They say railroad surveyors found the area rugged and bushy making it "ugly" for clearing lines for surveying. Others say the land was "ugly" and not suitable for farming.


DANVILLE - First named Newport, then Red House and changed to present name for Dan Rock, first postmaster.

GORDON - Asa White, first postmaster, named the town for a fav- orite nephew, Gordon Mason. It was also known as Detroit from the Detroit Mining Co., which had a mine there.

HEWETT - So named because It is on Hewett Creek, which honored Richard Hewett. He was killed by Indians about 1782.

JEFFREY - The town was named for the first postmaster by the same names

MADISON - In 1861 the Union soldiers burned the town named Boone Court House. Present name is probably for James Madison Laidley, a Charleston attorney instrumental in reorganizing county government after the fire. It was incorporated in 1905.

MORRIS CREEK - See Turtle Creek.

NELLIS - One source said the town was named by mine owners for Frank E. Nellis, editor of the Mount Clements Independent in Michigan. Another source said the name was for an official of American Rolling Mills, a large steel company, which operated a mine nearby.

OTTAWA - Some say the town was named, for unknown reasons, after the Canadian Indian tribe. Others believed it was because of a local resident's connection with Ottawa, Canada.

RAMAGE - Named, around 1911, for J. B. Ramage, first superintendent of the Spruce River Coal Co.

SETH - The town was named for Seth Foster, who was instrumental in getting the post office started in 1890. Earlier known as Coon Mills apparently after Jake Coon, a landowner.

TURTLE CREEK - One story is that it was named for the turtle shaped stones in the creek bed and the other is that men hunting on an island near the mouth of the creek caught and ate a large turtle. Previously had been named Breckenridge Creek and before that Morris Creek.  These prior names were for men that had hunting camps.  ~ Myra Elaine (Miller) Freeman

VAN - Named to recognize Van Linville, first postmaster, deputy sheriff and representative of House of Delegates.

WHARTON - Joseph Wharton was a Pennsylvania capitalist. He and A. W. Mellon family established mines in the county.

HIGHCOAL - So named because the first seam of coal mined there was said to be between eight and nine feet high.

WHITESVILLE - It was named for Benjamin White, who was living there when the first railroad reached that point. When the town was originally laid out, it was known as Pritchard City and also as Jarrolds Valley.

UNEEDA - The residents of this area came to F. G. Leftwich, a Madison attorney, with a petition for a post office, to be named Jarrells Branch, It was rejected by postal authorities. Later the petitioners found Leftwich tending store for his father-in-law, Col. Joel Stollings. While discussing another proposed name, one of them noticed a box of "Uneeda" crackers on the counter and jokingly surmised the name would not conflict with another post office name. It was submitted and the community became known a Uneeda.


ANSTED (FAYETTE) - Originally named New Haven, this town was renamed in 1831 for British Scientist , David T. Ansted, who had interested English investors in building coal mining operations. ~ My research notes

BARBOURSVILLE (CABELL) - City was named for Phillip Barbour around 1813.

BECKLEY (RALEIGH) - This place is named for General Alfred Beckley, an early settler.

BELLE (KANAWHA) - It was named for the first postmaster, Belle Gardner Reynolds.

BLUEFIELD (MERCER) - Founded in 1889 and named for the many chicory flowers growing wild along the hilsides. ~ My research notes


CHARLESTON (KANAWHA) - The city was first named Charles Town around 1794. The name was changed in 1796 to current name. Charles was for Charles Clendenin, father of the town founder, George Clendenin.

CHARLES TOWN (JEFFERSON) - Named for the brother of George Washington, who laid out the town in 1786.  Streets bear the names of Washinton's family members. ~ My research notes

DUNBAR (KANAWHA) - Town was named for Dunbar Baines, a Charleston banker and lawyer. Incorporated in 1921.

ELEANOR (PUTNAM) - Named for Eleanor Roosevelt , who spearheaded the first Vocational Technical Center, a federally-funded program.

ELKINS (RANDOLPH) - This town was named for Stephen B. Elkins, secretary of war and U. S. senator from 1895-1911. ~ My research notes

FAIRMONT (MARION) - The post office was established about 1820 as Polsley's Mill. Present name was given around 1843, possibly for the town's position on a hill and written as a contract version of "fair mountain."

FAYETTEVILLE (FAYETTE) - Settled in 1818 by Abraham Vandal, Fayetteville was originally named Vandalia.  In 1836-1837, he renamed it Fayetteville in honor of the Marquis de Fayette.  ~ My research notes

FRENCH CREEK (UPSHUR) - The name comes from the local legend about three Frenchmen who prospected for gold in the area in 1725. ~ My research notes

GERRARDSTOWN (BERKELEY) - Named in 1787 for the Reverend David Gerrard .
~ My research notes

GRAVE CREEK (MARSHALL) - See Moundsville.

GREEN BANK (POCOHONTAS) - So named because of green banks of a stream on J. Pierce Woodell's land.

HAMLIN (LINCOLN) - The town was mostly named for Hamline or Hamlin Chapel, which was named for Leonida Hamline, a Methodist bishop. Others believed the town was named when Lincoln County was formed during Abe Lincoln's first administration and Hannibal Hamlin was his Vice President.

HARTS  (LINCOLN) - Source of name unknown.  Area of HARTS CREEK is located in both Lincoln and Logan counties. ~ Logan WV List discussion

HICO (FAYETTE) - Received it's name in 1895 when the postmaster moced the post office from his house to a nearby store.  The store sold a brand of tobacco called Hico, and the Post Office was named for it. ~ My research notes

HINTON (SUMMERS) - Most probably the town was named for Jack Hinton, lawyer and early pioneer. However, others claim it is in honor of Evan Hinton, "the father of Summers County."

HUNTINGTON (CABELL) - City was named for Collis P. Huntington, President of Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Co.

HURRICANE (PUTNAM) - Named for a creek of the same name. Another version of the naming attributes it to the admonition--"HURRY CAIN"--Given by a blacksmith to a man named Cain at the beginning of a rapidly developing rainstorm.

KENOVA (WAYNE) - The town was named because its proximity bordering three states-Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

LEET (LINCOLN) - Named for a prominent local family of that name.

LEWISBURG (GREENBRIER) - Lewisburg's name was changed from Camp Union to honor General Andrew Lewis, who organized the Virginia militia in 1774 for a victorious campaign against the Shawnee. ~ My research notes

MARLINTON (POCAHONTAS) - This town was named after an early settler, Jacob Marlin. ~ My research notes

MASONTOWN (PRESTON) - It was founded around 1856 by William Masony who had a store and the first post office.

MECKLENBURG (JEFFERSON) - See Shepherdstown.

MORGANTOWN (MONONGALIA) - First permanent settlement began in 1768 by gachquill Morgan.

MOUNDSVILLE (MARSHALL) - Originally named Grave Creek, Moundsville started as a cabin built by Joseph, Samuel, and James Tomlinson about 300 yards from the Grave Creek Burial Mound.  In 1865, this area consolidated with Mound City and was named after the large burial mound from the Adena Indian culture. 
~ My research notes


NITRO (KANAWHA) - It was named in 1918 when the U.S. Government constructed a high explosive plant there. At first it was named REDWOP (powder spelled backwards) but was quickly dropped because of unpleasant ethic connotation.

OAK HILL (FAYETTE) - The earliest post office in the vicinity was named Hilltop situated on a hill and near a large oak tree. That oak tree became associated with this post office as a reference place. The post office was later moved some three miles and the name Oak Hill was given.

PARKERSBURG (WOOD) - Alexander Parker laid out the area   Later Parker's daughter donated the land for the Courthouse.

PETERSBURG (GRANT) - Settled in 1745, it was named after German colonist Jacob Peterson, who established the town's first store. ~ My research notes

POINT PLEASANT (MASON) - It is said that when George Washington surveyed the area in the 1740's, he referred to it as the Pleasant Point. ~ My research notes

RIPLEY (JACKSON) - Town was named for Harry Ripley, a young preacher and newcomer to the area. He missed the easiest ford across rain-swollen Mill Creek and fell in when he tried to cross at another place. He took chill and died despite a resident's efforts to save him. It was in his memory the town got its name.

SHEPHERDSTOWN (JEFFERSON) - One of the earliest settlements in West Virginia, Shepherdstown was established by German and English farmers who had crossed the river from Pennsylvania in 1730.  The first legal land grant was purchased by Thomas Shepherd in 1732.  The town's name was changed from Mecklenburg to Shepherdstown in 1798.  ~ My research notes

ST. ALBANS (KANAWHA) - It was most likely named for the English city, hometown of one of the engineers who helped build the C&O railroad.

VANDALIA (FAYETTE) - See Fayetteville.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS (GREENBRIER) - A fashionable health and pleasure resort as early as 1778.  It was named after it's mineral springs, which are said to possess curative qualities.  The site of the original springs is on the grounds of the Greenbrier Hotel.  ~ My research notes
What's in a Name?  Article by Sam Rogers, published in 1995 in the Logan Banner

This page was last updated on: 6/23/09