Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Henry McWhorter

Henry McWhorter 1760-1848 was born in New Jersey son of Gilbert McWhorter (1742 -1767) who was a linen-weaver by trade, hailed from Northern Ireland and settled in New York. His father died leaving his mother in extreme poverty with six small sons; James, Henry, John, Thomas, Robert and Gilbert, all born between 1760-1765 and later known as the “The Orange County McWhorter Boys.” Since times were hard, the children were bound out. Henry was apprenticed to a millwright. He enlisted as a Minuteman at age 15 to fight in the Revolutionary War. After his term of service expired, he volunteered six more times in a 22 month time span. His brothers Thomas and James served in the same regiment with him under Sergeant Hugh McWhorter (1735-1812), their uncle and brother of their father.

Afterwards, he lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he married Mary Fields in 1783. In 1786, the couple moved to Hampshire County, (West) Virginia. Three years later, Henry sought a home in the wilds of McKinneys Run a branch of Hackers Creek in Harrison County, (West) Virginia.

In 1793, the McWhorters moved again, this time building a log house near West’s Fort on the south bank of the murky Hackers Creek, where they reared three sons. A mill was erected on the creek near his cabin home, and the place became known as McWhorter's mill, which is now known as Jane Lew, West Virginia. To this mill came the settlers from a radius of many miles to get their corn ground. And it is a traditional fact that at one time the settlements were suffering from a scarcity of breadstuff, and parties came from distant settlements and offered him over $1.00 per bushel for all the corn stored in his mill, which offer he refused, giving as his reason that if he did so his neighbors and friends would suffer.

Henry's brother, John, died in 1797 at the age of 35, one month before his daughter Hannah was born. His widow was left with seven young children. Henry went by horseback to New Jersey to visit his people and having no daughter of his own, offered to take Hannah, the little daughter of his dead brother home with him. He did and raised her as his own.

Eventually, a saw mill was added on the property as the population in the West’s Fort area grew. Henry was a Methodist and was a class leader for 50 yrs. Very often the services were held in his home, as there was no church there at the time.

Henry made frequent trips to Fort Pitt in flat boats, via the West Fork and Monongahela Rivers, exchanging furs, jerked venison, etc., for ammunition and other home necessities. On one of these trips he was accompanied by Jesse Hughes, the most noted Indian scout and fighter in Western Virginia.

Three generations of the McWhorter family were born in their cabin during the forty years they lived on Hacker’s Creek. The family was forced to leave the homestead in 1827 and return to McKinney’s Run after a series of security debts put the family in a bad financial situation. It was there that Henry died in 1848. Henry was buried on his farm beside his wife, in the quiet country cemetery where sleep six McWhorter generations.

His eldest son, John (1784-1880), became a barrister and never married. The second son Thomas (1785-1815), inherited part of the home farm on McKinney's Run and was a prosperous farmer, and the third and youngest son, Walter (1787-1860), inherited with his brother Thomas, the homestead on McKinney's Run in Harrison County. He was a Major in the militia, a noted athlete and never met his equal in wrestling, jumping or foot racing. He fathered 17 children.

The McWhorter 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 a Jackson descendent who decided to turn the cabin back into the hands of the descendants of the original owner and builder of the condition that the cabin be removed and preserved. With leadership provided by 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 rededicated by the McWhorter Family Association to the state of West Virginia on July 24, 1993.

Source; John Stewart, Longhunter 1744-1770


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