Jefferson County
Monday, 14 May 2007 23:50

Two well-known treason trials were held in Charles Town, the county seat of Jefferson County.

John Brown was tried in 1859 because of his efforts to rescue slaves. The leaders of an armed miners revolt in Logan County were tried here in 1921.

Charles Town, a gentle southern community of high society wasn't so gentle during the trial of Brown. Cannons were trained on the courthouse to prevent anyone from taking the prisoner out and hanging him before sentence could be pronounced.

Brown was found guilty of treason against the state, conspiracy to commit treason, and murder as a result of his seizure of Harper's Ferry. THe jury deliberated less than two hours. He denied all the charges, saying he only wanted to rescue slaves. He was hanged on December 2, 1859. On that day Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in his diary, "This will be a great day in our history. The date of a new Revolution -- quite as much needed as the old one. Even as I write they are leading old John Brown to execution for attempting to rescue slaves. They are sowing wind to reap the whirlwind, which will come soon."

Also, on that same day, Abraham Lincoln wrote, "Old John Brown has been executed for treason against a state. We cannot object even though he agreed with us in thinking that slavery is wrong."

Sixty-three years later, three leaders of a miners revolt in Logan County were brought to Charles Town for trial on a change of venue. THey were indicted for treason and various misdemeanors. Only one, Walter Allen, was convicted. The other two, William Blizzard and Cal McCoy, were acquitted.

About 1770, Col. Charles Washington, youngest brother of George Washington, settled in the area, now called Charles Town, after its founder. The city was platted in 1786. It quickly became an education and social center for the region.

The Charles Town Academy for Boys was founded in 1787, and a few years later an academy was begun for girls.

The town was the center for many battles during the Civil War and it was all but destroyed because of numerous shellings.

Many people were bitter when Jefferson County was made part of the new state of West Virginia, and refused to accept or acknowledge the change.

The Charles Town Race Track is famous in history and song. Since 1786 there have been spring and fall races on the three-quarter-mile track.

Jefferson County is known for its horse breeding farms. The county is at the northeastern most tip of th Eastern Panhandle in the southern part of the Great Appalachian Valley. It is a scenic resort region. There are livestock, dairy and fruit farms, as well as limestone and dolomite quarries.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States is the namesake for this eastern West Virginia county. THe county was established in 1801 and contains some 212 square miles of land area. Considered by many to have been one of the greatest of all Americans, Jefferson was outstanding in many fields and while serving as president, his vision for the future of America set the stage for what it has become.
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