As of 2019, there are five incorporated municipalities within the borders of Logan County. And if the results of an election at Big Creek in 1907 had come to pass, there could have been at least one more.
During a recent cleanout inside the Logan County Courthouse, original items detailing an attempt to incorporate the community of Big Creek, located near Chapmanville, were found. These included legal documentation regarding the petition to incorporate, population and household information, a map and even the original sealed ballot box - which happens to be an old wooden cigar box - complete with the ballots still inside.
According to the documentation, Big Creek residents A.C. Collins, Creed Morrison, and Peter M. Toney completed a census of the community on June 24, 1907, in a petition to incorporate the community. The results were certified by Surveyor J.B. Stone two days later on June 26.
The census showed that, in 1907, Big Creek had a total population of 181 and 36 households.
One month later, on July 25, 1907, an election was held at the Big Creek School House. Only men could vote, as the election was held 13 years before the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that granted women the right to vote.
A total of 40 ballots were cast: 22 for incorporation and 18 against. Despite the majority vote, however, the efforts to turn Big Creek from small community into incorporated town were soon dismissed.
After the results of the election were certified, Collins, Morrison, Toney and C.H. Stone filed in court for an application to issue a certification of incorporation for the Town of Big Creek. The men presented all requirements of the statute at the time: proof of posting, a map or survey of the territory, a population census and proof of the election, certified and verified.
The matter was taken to an open circuit court case when several other citizens, including S.C. Fischer, W.B. Sanders, Thomas Kitchen, W.W. Lucas "and others" arrived with attorney J.S. Marcum to object to the proposal. After the court heard all the evidence, the opinion ultimately was that the applicants had "not shown themselves entitled to have issued and granted to them the certificate of incorporation," and the proposal was refused.
On Tuesday, Jan. 22, historians with the West Virginia State Archives paid a visit to the Logan County Courthouse in regard to the unearthed attempted Big Creek incorporation items. According to Randy Marcum, an historian with the Archives, the nearly 111-year-old documents were flattened out as best as possible and have been placed in acid-free folders for preservation.
"Our main goal is, of course, to get them preserved," Marcum said. He added that the documents are historically significant because they are preserved relics from a time period when more and more communities sought things like incorporation.
"This shows that, as the world was changing, they (Big Creek) were like, 'Hey, we need to step up a little bit too in the world.' They were starting to get their civic awareness," Marcum said.
During the visit, Marcum, whose family is from Logan County, also picked up personal property tax books ranging from 1911-1950.
According to the most recent U.S. Census in 2010, the still unincorporated Big Creek had a population of 237 - not a far cry from the 1907 total of 181.
Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196 or follow him on Twitter @DVidovichLB.