Lincoln County Origins

Lincoln County, West Virginia Origins

Lincoln county was first formed in 1867 from Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, and Cabell Counties and was the 53rd of 55 West Virginia counties. The new county was named for Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, who had been assassinated in April 1865.

There is some debate concerning who the County Seat , Hamlin, is named for. Some historians believe that the town was originally incorporated by the Virginia General Assembly in 1833 as Hamline, in honor of Bishop Leonidas L. Hamline of the Methodist Episcopal Church and a postmaster later dropped the final "e", claiming that Bishop Hamline had added the "e" to the family name. Others argue that the town was named in honor of Hannibal Hamlin, President Lincoln's Vice-President during his first Administration. However, the town was incorporated several years before Lincoln and Hamlin were elected President and Vice President of the United States. It is difficult to determine which claim is correct, largely because most of the county's early records were destroyed when the county courthouse burned to the ground in 1909.

On the 23rd of February 1867, the West Virginia Legislature passed the act establishing the county of Lincoln. From the Acts of the Legislature of West Virginia: 1867; Ch. 61; pp 76-79, we have the following boundaries for the new county of Lincoln:

        "Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

        1. So much of the counties of Cabell, Putnam, Kanawha, and Boone as are included within the following boundary lines, to wit: Beginning at the old ford of Mud River, about two hundred yards below the mouth of Trace Fork of said river, thence with the dividing ridge between Trace creek and Little Buffalo creek to the dividing ridge between Bear creek, Trace creek, and Tyler creek to Guyandotte river, at the mouth of Madison's creek; thence south forty-five degrees west to the Wayne county line; then with said line to the Logan county line; thence with said line to the Boone county line; then with the original line of Cabell county to the head of Big Creek, a branch of Mud river; thence along the top of the ridge above said creek to a point opposite the ford above the ford above the farm of Mark Adkins; thence crossing at said ford and along the top of the ridge below Parcener creek to the head of Horse creek; thence with the dividing ridge between the waters of Mud and Coal rivers and the waters of Big Hurricane creek to and with the dividing ridge between the Trace Fork of Mud river, Charley's creek and Little Two-mile creek to the place of beginning, so as to include all the waters of the Trace Fork of Mud river, shall form one distinct and new county, which shall be called and known by the name of the County of Lincoln, in honor of our late chief magistrate, who paid his life as a forfeit for his devotion to our glorious Union."

After Lincoln County had been marked off it was discovered that Putnam County did not have adequate land to qualify as a county. Therefore, Lincoln was required to return a portion of the Putnam County land. On the 3rd of March 1868, the West Virginia Legislature changed the boundary lines for Lincoln County.

Jesse, John, David, William and Moses McComas were the first English settlers in Lincoln County. They cultivated 20 acres of corn, the first ever grown in the area, in 1799. Later that year, they returned to Virginia to get their families. Their families were initially left behind because it was not known if there were any Indians in the area, or if the soil would be suitable for cultivation. John Lucas, William Hinch and John Johnson soon joined the McComas' in the county. They built cabins in the county around 1800.

The act creating the county provided that the County Seat was to be built on the lands of Charles Lattin, now Hamlin. The land was originally an old brier field, cleared by David Stephenson who had patented the land and built a cabin on it in 1802. The land changed hands several times before being sold to Charles Lattin in the early 1860s. The first public building constructed on the land was the county jail, in 1867. Hamlin was made the permanent County Seat by the state legislature on February 26, 1869.

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This page last updated: 30 Apr 2004
Copyright 2004 Marilyn Gouge