Notes on History of Capon Bridge
This is a working draft; use with caution!
Over time anyone studying history compiles notes and images that await some processing as a published work of some sort. However, since history never ends but keeps piling up, so the notes and images keep piling up. At some point one must decide what to do with all that "stuff." It is just "stuff" until it is put into some kind of organized arrangement. Unfortunately, life does not always cooperate by miraculously presenting the time to accomplish all the projects. In order to make some of the information compiled available to others, one option is to simply present the information and allow others to make use of it. That is what this page is about. It is a list of information resources which others may use at their discretion. Take it for what it is worth - a compilation of tidbits, most of which have been verified or have come from what is considered reliable sources. Sometimes the sources are listed; at other times they are sources which wish to remain anonymous. Use at your own risk!
There is no definite agreement on when the town was named Capon Bridge. Usually early communities were named for a mill or a ferry or crossroad. Sometimes they took the name of an early or prominent settler. Maxwell & Swisher notes a 1790 list of ferries calls for "Over the Capon at the residence of Elias Poston." In an 1813 list of mills in Hampshire County there is a Caudy's Mill which we believe is on the Capon Bridge just south of Rt. 50. This mill was later run by a Mr. Gard (Guard) and called Gard's Mill. "Guard" is shown on Crozet's map of 1831. However, Mr. Kerns says the earliest mention of the name Capon Bridge as a town is in 1854-55 when the new metal bride was completed. There is speculation that it may have been named when a wooden bridge was built. [see the Advocate article on Elias Poston dated Monday, October 7, 1985; Nov. 4, 1985. Note some location info has changed due to research in more recent years! However, this Advocate article is a valuable resource.]
Another subject for which there is conjecture is the location of early roads into and around the town. We have produced a map to help understand the situation, click here. The situation is somewhat complex because, as with many communities, the roads changed course over time as new and better routes or political expediency dictated.
The earliest road, the Great Wagon Road from Winchester to the South Branch which continued on to Fort Cumberland, came along the path of Falls Road and probably crossed the river at James Caudy's home [shown in red on linked map with crossing noted by question marks since exact location is unknown]. That is what today is known as the Bealer farm or the Buffalo Farm just south across the river from Rt. 50 in Capon Bridge. George Washington stayed at James Caudy's on his way back to Mount Vernon on his first surveying trip to Hampshire County with George William Fairfax in 1748. This may be a hint that the river crossing at that time was on Caudy's land. Later the road crossed in the middle of Joseph Edwards's 400 acre tract where the present Fort Edwards Foundation Visitor Center is. At some point Elias Poston seems to have started a ferry business. One crossing may have been at Edwards's and a later one just below Bear Garden Mountain to what is known as the old Carlyle Mansion [shown in brown in linked map] as shown in Crozets survey notes which Mr. Kerns included in the Advocate article dated Monday, October 7, 1985. Kerns states that Poston's ferry was authorized at that location on Dec. 15, 1788 [Advocate article references Hening's Statutes at Large, chap. XLIV, pages 701-702]. There are several deed references to Poston's land holdings, but we do not have them readily available. If you research them we would appreciate a copy.
There was by the time of the French and Indian War (1754) a road south from Capon Bridge to Moorefield. Supplies from Fort Loudoun in Winchester were brought on the Great Wagon Road to Edwards' home/fort and divided; supplies for Romney/Fort Cumberland going north through North River Mills, those for southern forts going to Moorefield. This road probably went past Bubbling Spring.
By the time Crozet did his survey work for the Northwestern Turnpike there was a road west out of Capon Bridge approximately along the route Crozet chose (now roughly Rt. 50). However, we do not seem to have a precise date when it was commonly used for traffic. Many roads started out as horse trails and were later widened for wagons.
The original route of the Northwestern Turnpike west out of Capon Bridge followed Tannery Row and curved southwest to join the current road approximately uphill of Spectrum Signs.
Added from Hampshire County, West Virginia, 1754-2004, edited by Roberta R. Munske and Wilmer L. Kerns; published by the Hampshire County 250th Anniversary Committee, Romney, West Virginia, 2004, p. 16: "The first section [of the Great Wagon Road] was constructed in 1742 from Winchester to James Caudy's on the Cacapon River (the present town of Capon Bridge). The next section, completed in1744, went from Caudy's to North River (present North River Mills)..." "In 1746, a road was constructed from James Caudy's land, in present Capon Bridge, southward along the Cacapon River to Yellow Springs and continuing along the river into present Hardy County."
From an article in the Winchester Star of January 10, 1959, p. 5 entitled "History Reads Like Wild West Story."
"Cattle drives were held here each year about a quarter of a century ago. Henry Slonaker now live on a farm where the old cattle scales are located. Neighbors banded together to bring their cattle to the scales and walk then on to the sales at Winchester. Mr. Slonaker said the 20 mile hike required two day's walk."
"The Tannery was opened in 1888 by a Mr. Zepp. He sold out to Thomas Cover and Son, who enlarged the operations, and later sold the business to Cover, Drayton and Leonard.
"Omar Williamson says that the tanned hides were taken to Winchester three times each week. This was a two-day journey by mule team. In Winchester the drive picked up raw hides for the return trip."
"...The three businessmen sold the tannery to the Ameican Leather Trust at a "fabulous price," according to historians."
"Mr. Shanholt's forefathers operated a lime kiln not too far from the fort. This closed about 25 years ago."
From Gertrude M. Ward's Memoirs
"Mother cooked for boarders who attended Professor Sine's Normal School in the Hall building standing on the abandoned Christian Church property." (p. 4)
"The Offutt house was built by Grandfather with Beverly LaFollette's great-grandfather as carpenter. During construction, a log house back of the one being built served as home. The log structure was moved to near Gore and served as a dwelling until it burned." ( p. 5)
"In contrast to Uncle Pudge's large office built by Mr. LaFollette, was Grandfather's smaller one at the entrance of the present lane to the garage. The big office was divided, one end being used for medical service. Aunt Manny, postmaster for about twelve years, occupied the other end. The large front room was a lobby for both." (p. 6)
"Hard work and crowded quarters called for a new home, which resulted in the purchase of a house built by Captain John Towers, who wed Cousin Gertrude Ross. This home.... is situated on land adjoining the Offutt property. It more recently became the Presbyterian manse." (p. 7)
"Most unusual was Miss Mattie's knack in leading us to discover near-by springs. Among them were Sulphur Springs on the Northwestern Turnpike past the Webster home; two springs owned by the Marvin Hook family, one on each side of Capon River, the old Wolford spring, present source of the town’s water supply; another at the Godlove place, later the residence of Mrs. Marvin Hook; one at the John Monroe place now owned by John Wotring, Jr.; another above Marvin Miller’s home; the Nixon Spring not far from Capon Chapel; and a large one on Miss Mariah Caudy's land, now the property of the Garland Whitacre family. The latter still supplies water to several homes on River Road."(pp. 11-12)
"My grandfather, J. J. T. Offutt, was Capon Bridge’s first postmaster* as well as first doctor. Next was post-lady, Cousin Minnie Beall whose office was on the site of what later became Lester Haines’ home. She was followed by Aunt Manny in part of Uncle Pudge’s office. My father was in full charge thirteen years in part of Sammy Cooper’s store building near the bridge. Already familiar with the work since childhood, I passed the required examination and took my long, long turn behind the window. My retirement in 1965 marked one hundred years of continuous service by our family." (p. 14) *Note: Offutt was not the first postmaster; see article by Len McMaster (scroll down to Capon Bridge). However, there may be some difference respecting locations.
- April 10, 1748 George Washington and George William Fairfax spend the night at Caudy's before crossing the Cacapon and heading home.
- 1750 Joseph Edwards oversees the road from North River Mills to Jeremiah Smith (Gore, Va)
- 1787 Elias Poston gets possession of the Joseph Edwards land (Fort Edwards property)
- Dec. 15, 1788 Virginia Legislature authorized Poston's Ferry on Poston's land
- 1820 by this time Samuel Gard had mill at Capon Bridge
- 1830 1st stage line from Winchester to Capon Bridge established
- 1831 Claudius Crozet publishes his map of the suggested route of the Northwestern Turnpike
- by 1834 the Northwestern Pike reached Romney; by 1838 it reached Parkersburg on the western edge of the state.
- 1898 Telephone lines completed from Romney to Capon Bridge
- Jan. 1, 1992 According to superintendent Gerald Mathias, construction on the Capon Bridge Elementary is complete and students may be having class there by Jan. 10.
- 1996 Gov. Caperton signed a state budget which included $200,000 for new industrial park just east of Capon Bridge.
ResourcesSee the following issues of the West Virginia Advocate:
April, June and July, 1984
October 7, 1985; Nov. 4, 1985
Capon Bridge Land Grant maps: southeast, southwest
Hampshire County Deed Book 11, pages 161-169
Claudius Crozet map of the Northwestern Turnpike: Library of Congress download
clips shown here: west section, east section
Map showing some old road routes around Capon Bridge.
It is unlikely that this page will be updated or enlarged unless those who make use of this information and continue the research send us some additions or corrections! History is a community affair: it takes a community to make it; it takes a community to preserve it!