PARKERSBURG SOLD FOR A HORSE AND A GALLON OF WHISKEY
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1249 Gihon Road
Parkersburg WV 26101
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For Early Parkersburg History and Old Pictures
Once upon a time believe it or not the site of what today is proud Parkersburg sold for a horse and a gallon of whiskey.
The purchaser was Alexander Parker, and the man who made the deal was Robert Thornton. and the history of the deal is recounted in an old volume titled The History of Harrison County "from the pen of Henry Haymond.
The Wood County deal is included because once upon a time Wood County was a part of Harrison County. As for the book a copy of it is on file at the Carnegie Library. The historic deal took place around 1781 this was18 years before the creation of Wood County. The consideration that Thornton received for his 1and, on Iwhich is city now stands. is mentioned in a letter written to the author of the book by one: D. R. Neal. The writer says Thornton sold 400 acres of land with a preemption of 1,000 acres; adjoining for the horse and whiskey. The horse was described as "old," but the state and quality of the alcoholic stimulant involved in the sale was not given.
Manhattan Island Sale
Such a transfer ranks Parkersburg with the famous Manhattan Island sale, where the Indians sold New York City to the Dutch for strings of beads. It depends upon one's point of view whether Thornton or the Redskins drove home the best bargain in the irrespective sales. Thornton did not actually lose any money in the deal since he ' acquired the large tract of land by tomahawk marks, so the writer says, but Parker gave the land to a daughter whose husband made a clear profit of $8,000 by subdividing in and selling the lots to a company of Parkersburg citizens. The citizens in turn realized fortunes from the lots as the struggling village blossomed into a city, the writer says.
Following is Haymond's brief account of the beginning of Parkersburg: I The commissioners for adjusting the claims to unpatented lands on the western waters for the county of Monongalia in the year 1781 issued a certificate to Robert Thornton for 400 acres of land on the north side of the LittIe "Kanaway" river to include his settlement made in 1773 with preemption of 1000 acres adjoining. This entry included the land on which Parkersburg now stands. Thornton sold his land to Alexander Parker for whom the city of Parkersburg was named.
Captain James Neal in the year 1783 came down the Ohio river in a flat boat from Pittsburgh and located his homestead on the south side of the Little Kanawha river about one and a half miles from its mouth. Here he built a block house. which was the rendezvous of the settlers along the Ohio river during the Indian troubles, and "Neal's Station," as it was called was a celebrated locality on the frontier, and nobly did its part in aiding the pioneers to sustain themselves in a savage wilderness against the raids of the Indians from north of the Ohio. Captain Neal was one of the early justices of Harrison County was prominent in public affairs and had entire confidence of the frontier.
D. R. Neal's Letter
This brief account is followed by a letter to the author from D. R. Neal and dated November 25, 1893. It is as follows:"Land of northwestern Virginia was obtained by purchase of area survey warrant costing two cents per acre. Before that system was adopted many persons got title by tomahawk marks around the land they desired, which was the case with the land upon which our own (Parkersburg) was built.
"A man by the name of Thornton made an entry of that kind and sold his claim to a man by the name of Parker, a resident of Chambersburg, Pa., for an old horse and one gallon of whiskey. "Parker gave it to a daughter. She married a man in Pittsburgh by the name of Robinson who had it surveyed into lots and some time after sold to a company of our citizens for the sum of $8,000, from which at small prices they realized quite a fortune.
purchased from the original owner five acres in the center of the town then in a forest for which I paid $400.00 from which I realized $50,000 with a portion yet remaining. I state this to show you the great advance in price of ground since I made the purchase.
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