The Saga of William Curry

By C. A. Curry

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I am proud of all my ancestors. They crossed the mountains into what is now Pocahontas County, carved their homes in the wilderness, and paved the way for generations to come. I am especially proud of William Curry. William T. Price gives details about the saga of William Curry in his 1901 book, Historical Sketches of Pocahontas County, West Virginia.
Pocahontas County, Virginia, was formed in 1821 from portions of Bath, Pendleton, and Randolph counties. A small addition was made in 1824 from Greenbrier County. The community of Huntersville was selected in 1822 by an act of the Virginia general assembly as its first county seat. All important county records such as deeds, taxes, births, marriages, and deaths were recorded and stored at the county clerk’s office. These were all hard copies and the only record of the vital county transactions.
The Civil War (1861-1865) had a great impact on Pocahontas County and at times Huntersville was occupied by both Federal and Confederate forces. During the summer of 1861 Confederate troops commanded by Colonel William Jackson were stationed at Huntersville. They used the county clerk’s office as barracks and scattered his papers on the floor for their blankets. The Federal forces considered Huntersville an important supply depot for Confederate forces and it became apparent they would soon take Huntersville. It was reported that they planned to burn the court house. In anticipation of this action, the county court directed the county clerk to “look out a safe place for county records”.
William Curry was the son of John Curry (1798-1880) and grandson of Captain Adam Curry (1752-1857). Captain Curry served under General Braddock in the Revolutionary War. William was elected county clerk in 1858 and held that position in 1861. The volume of records was substantial requiring a wagon and team to transport them. He began by recruiting a youth, R. W. Hill, to assist him. If caught by Federal troops, they could be considered traitors and hanged. Thus began their long and dangerous journey!
The first leg of this journey is about 20 miles southwest to the residence of Joel Hill (son of pioneer Richard Hill) near Hillsboro. It would have taken several hours by horse and wagon with a risk of discovery by Federal troops at any time. In January, 1862, Curry believed it was necessary to transfer the records again to a safer place. Young R. W. Hill again served as teamster to carry the records through Lewisburg to Covington, a distance of about 70 miles. At Covington the records were first kept in a storeroom of William Scott and later in a room in the county clerk’s office for a few weeks.

In September, 1863, Federal General Averill’s troops approached Covington. Curry again found it necessary to move the records and transferred them to the residence of William T. Clark, 8 miles north of Covington. It was here that the records were stored in one of the most unusual hiding places. They were taken to a buckwheat patch in the midst of a forest and hidden in a buckwheat rack where they were stored for three weeks.

As conditions worsened, the records were again moved four miles into the mountains to the residence of a Baptist minister serving in the Confederate army. Curry was assisted in this transfer by Andy Daugherty, a farmhand of Clark and an African- American. Afterward Daugherty became a citizen of Pocahontas County and a resident of Clover Lick. For the next two years the safety of these records depended on his loyalty and secrecy.

In January, 1865, Curry enlisted the assistance of John B. Kinnison and a three horse team to move the records back to the residence of Joel Hill. A month later they were moved to the nearby house of Rev. Michael D. Dunlap.

 

The first court after the war was held in the Hillsboro Methodist Church and thereafter the records were stored in the old Academy building. In June, 1866, they were moved back to Huntersville to the residence of John Garvey near the court house. A few months later they were restored to the county clerk’s office. During the Civil War, on June 20, 1863, Pocahontas County, Virginia, had become part of the new state of West Virginia.

After an absence of more than 5 years, travel in a wagon for nearly 200 miles, and storage in at least 10 different locations, Price reports “nothing was lost but an old process book of no intrinsic importance”. It is a tribute to those who assisted and held such actions in confidence. It is also a tribute to William Curry whose actions saved nearly 40 years of Pocahontas history that otherwise may have been lost forever. He continued to serve as County Clerk until 1878. William Price best praises Curry as follows:

“So far as known there is no other like instance of fidelity to official duty that surpasses the preservation of the Pocahontas County records.”