Pendleton County was created
by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on December 4, 1787
from parts of Augusta, Hardy and Rockingham counties (Virginia).
It was named in honor of Edmund Pendleton (1721 - 1803).
Edmund Pendleton was born in Caroline County,
Virginia on September 9, 1721. He studied law and was admitted
to the bar in 1744. In 1751, he served as a justice of the peace
and was a member of the Virginia General Assembly from 1752 to
He was President of the Virginia Convention of 1775 and 1778 (that
ratified the US Constitution), represented Virginia in the Continental
Congress (1774-1775), and served as the Governor of Virginia (1774-1776).
He later served as the President of the Virginia Court of Appeals.
Judge Pendleton died on October 23, 1803.
In 1790, when the first national census
was taken, Pendleton County had the seventh largest population
(2,452) of the nine counties that were then in existence and fell
within the current boundaries of West Virginia. Berkeley County
had the largest population (19,713), Randolph County had the smallest
population (951), and there were a total of 55,873 people living
within the present state's boundaries at that time.
Van Meter, a Dutch trader from New Jersey, was probably the first
European to set foot in the county. He accompanied a band of Delaware
Indians on a raid against the Catawba Indians in 1732. The Delaware
Indians lost the battle, but Van Meter later told his sons, John
and Isaac, about the fine lands along the South Branch River and
his sons later purchased a warrant for 40,000 acres in the area.
In 1735, four squatters
named Coburn, Howard, Walker and Rutledge, moved into the South
Branch River area, near the current county's boundary. John and
Isaac Van Meter (killed by Indians in 1757) and Peter Casey arrived
in the early 1740s, as did two other men named Pancake and Foreman.
When George Washington passed through the area in 1748, he noted
that there were about 200 people living in the area. Most of these
settlers were squatters living just outside of or on the present
county's boundaries. At that time, Robert Green, of Culpepper,
along with James Wood and William Russell, had purchased rights
to almost all of the present county. It is believed that in 1745
a man named Burner was the first European to build a cabin within
the future site of Pendleton County.
first legitimate, title bearing settlers in the county were six
families who bought title to 1,860 acres for 61 pounds and 6 shillings
($230.33) from Robert Green in 1747. They were the families of
Roger Dyer; his son William and his son-in-law, Matthew Patton;
John Patton, Jr.; John Smith; and William Stephenson. There are
no records to indicate if they relocated that year or the next,
but it is assumed that they moved to the county in 1747.
Seybert's Fort, named for
Captain Jacob Seybert of Pendleton County, was one of the earliest
structures in the county. It was built by settlers about 12 miles
west of Franklin in 1756 as a place of refuge during Indian uprisings.
On April 28, 1758, with about 30 settlers, mostly women and children,
gathered inside, the Fort was attacked by a band of about 40 Shawnee
Indians led by Chief Killbuck. The Fort was surrounded by the
Indians and after two days siege, Captain Seybert agreed to surrender
the Fort to the Indians in exchange for their safe passage out
of the area. Unfortunately, when the Fort's gates were opened,
the settlers were attacked and all of them were taken captive
except for a man named Robinson who escaped. After setting the
Fort on fire, the Indians took their captives about a quarter
of a mile to the east and on a hillside separated them into two
rows and seated them on logs. The captives in one row were spared
and the captives in the other, including Captain Seybert, were
tomahawked to death. The 11 remaining captives were taken to the
Shawnee Indian village at Chillicothe, Ohio. Five of the captives,
including Captain Seybert's son, Nicholas, later escaped to tell
the tale of their misadventures.
The county seat, Franklin,
was settled by Francis (Frank) Evick and was originally named
Frankford in his honor. The town was chartered by the Virginia
General Assembly on December 19, 1794. The town's name was later
changed to Franklin because there was another Frankford in the