Before getting into the column, I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year.

A couple of sad acknowledgements before we get started. Another local historian, Concord University Professor of History Emeritus Dr. David Bard passed away. Dave was a source about the Civil War in West Virginia and elsewhere, teaching classes related to the subject. He also taught West Virginia history classes which is where I met him. My condolences to his family.

Also, condolences to the family of former Mercer County Sheriff and Assessor Winfred Shrewsbury.

Returning to the history of Island Creek by Tammie R. Dove and company as it appeared in the 1987 edition of the Mercer County Historical Society’s “History of Mercer County”, we come to two houses left standing which date back to the 1800s.

The first was the old Mac McCrosky home better known as the “Mac House” situated on the property of Mrs. Kermit (Reva) Butler. The hewn log house dates at least back to the late 1800s.

The second is located on the Shannon property and is known as the “Shannon Place”. The home and property was once owned by Captain Robert Gore. The Ken Shannon store stood in front of the house. The stone wall was reportedly built by the slaves of Mr. Cash, another former owner of the property, possibly the first.

According to Reva Butler, people came to Island Creek in covered wagons looking for gold allegedly buried by the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Another story related to the Civil War involved a man named John Thompson who helped hang a deserter during the war. He lived at the old Clark place. Friends of the hung man tried but failed to get revenge on Thompson several times. Finally, they caught him by surprise while he was eating dinner. Thompson wanted to shoot it out from an upstairs window but his wife, fearing for the safety of the family, begged him not to shoot from the house. He ran from the house via an old escape route but was caught and shot dead with cornbread in his mouth.

There are other stories such as the one-room schools, church homecomings, moonshiners, Sal Allen, who dug one of the elbow curves on Basham Hill by hand, and feuding families who exchanged gunfire from their houses.

Island Creek remains a close-knit small farming community although the majority of farmers are now part-time.

As a bonus, we’ll look at Pettry which is about three miles north of Athens on the Glen Lyn Road at the intersection of Bent Mountain Road. The community was named Pettry when the local merchant applied for a post office to be opened in his store. At the time, there were many descendants of James Petry’s 21 children living in the area.

The merchant asked the post office be named Pettrey which was the local spelling of the family name. When the application reached Charleston, the authorities there were familiar with the Pettrys living in the Marsh Fork District of Raleigh County and, believing the spelling to be wrong, corrected it and permitted the post office “Pettry” to be opened. Information courtesy of James R. Pettry from the 1987 MCHS book.

You can contact me c/o “Mercer Memories” at P.O. Box 781, Athens, WV 24712.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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