HENRY MCWHORTER CABIN

History Abounds at the
200 Year Old Henry McWhorter Cabin


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The Henry McWhorter Cabin served the Hacker's Creek community as home, church, school, and post office. Today it serves as a reminder of the courageous pioneers who settled the Central West Virginia area.


The McWhorter Cabin is thought to be among the oldest "family dwellings" in central West Virginia. Constructed in 1793 along the banks of Hacker's Creek of the West Fork River at what was then called West's Fort (now Jane Lew), it served as church, school, post office and community center as well as a dwelling place for Henry and Mary (Fields) McWhorter and their family.

In 1927 the cabin was moved to Jackson's Mill State 4-H Camp where it was placed on what was believed to be the original Jackson cabin site; and, though it is not an exact replica of Stonewall Jackson's boyhood home, it does typify a rural early 19th century (West) Virginia homestead. .

Today it is "preserved as a memorial of the stirring and tragic days of the West Virginia border," and as a shrine to which people of all ages may go to "gather strength and courage from the memories of the rugged virtues exemplified by their pioneer ancestors 'round cabin campfires. ."

Henry McWhorter was born in New Jersey in 1760. While living in Orange County, New York, he enlisted as a minuteman at age fifteen to fight in the Revolutionary War. After his term of service expired, he volunteered six more times in a 22-month span. Afterwards, he lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he married Miss Mary Fields. In 1786, the couple moved to Hampshire County, (West) Viriginia. Three years later, Henry sought a home on McKinney's Run in Harrison County.

In 1793, the McWhorters again moved, this time building this 18' x 24' log cabin near West's Fort where Henry, a millwright, had constructed the region's first large gristmill. The mill operated for more than a century and provided cornmeal and flour for a large portion of the population of the region. A sawmill was added later. The mill was destroyed by fire in the early twentieth century.

The McWhorter cabin was much better than the average pioneer cabin of that day, being built of hewn logs and having a substantial wooden floor. The windows, too, had small panes of glass instead of the customary greased paper. The immense chimney of stones and clay was constructed inside the cabin as a precautionary measure against the attacks of Indians. It took in the greater part of one end of the cabin. In the great fireplace were placed the large irons called dogirons upon which rested the huge back logs.

An iron crane was swung from the center of the fireplace upon which hung the immense iron pot where much of the family's cooking was done. The baking was done in a heavy iron pot set in the hot ashes, with more hot ashes placed upon the heavy lid.

On the right side of the huge chimney was the built-in cupboard, and here were kept the few dishes and cooking utensils carried across the mountains from the old home. On the left side of the chimney was a stairway leading to the upper room where the family had their sleeping quarters.

On one side of this upper room were two small windows, not more than a foot square, through which the inmates could fire at the Indians should they come too near.

Three generations of the McWhorter family were born in this cabin during the forty years they lived there. The family was forced to leave the homestead in 1833 and return to McKinney's Run after a series of security debts left Henry financially embarassed. It was there that Henry died in 1848.

The log homestead and the mill were sold to Edward Jackson, a cousin of "Stonewall" Jackson. The cabin remained in the Jackson family for many years. In time it became the property of Mrs. Walter Neely, a Jackson descendant, who in 1927 decided to remodel or tear down the old cabin to build a home for her son who had recently married. She finally decided to turn the cabin back into the hands of the descendants of the original owner and builder, on condition that the cabin be removed and preserved.

With leadership provided by Miss Minnie McWhorter, a great-great granddaughter of the pioneers, the cabin was moved to Jackson's Mill and dedicated there on August 14, 1927.

The cabin was re-dedicated by the McWhorter Family Association to the state of West Virginia on July 24, 1993, in observance of it's 200th anniversary with more than two hundred persons present for the weekend event. A McWhorter Family Endowment was established for the cabin's maintenance and upkeep. A time capsule was buried under the front step of the cabin on August 14, 1993, during the Eleventh Annual Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants Gathering. It contains momentos of the anniversary celebration and other items reminiscent of the year 1993. It is to be opened in 2043 by a committee appointed from the family's younger generation in 1993.


Bibliography
McWhorter, Robert D. Celebration Bulletin, The Henry McWhorter Cabin Bicentennial Observance, July 23-25, 1993.


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This page written by Joy Gilchrist on January 8, 1996.