History of Hundred
~Henry Church: .Courtesy of Harper's New Monthly Magazine, June 1859~
~Henry Church's Cottage: .Courtesy of Harper's New Monthly Magazine, June 1859~
.....Hundred, of Wetzel County's Church District, was named for a man by the name of Henry Church. Henry Church was born in Suffolk, England in late 1750. He was a member of the bodyguard of King George III in Britain, and when the American colonists rebelled against alleged English tyranny and took up arms in defense of their rights, Church was dispatched to the colonies in 1781 as a member of the 63rd Light Infantry under Lord Cornwallis.
.....While on a scouting mission between Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia, Church was captured by General Lafayette’s troops and sent to Camp Chase near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He would remain a prisoner there until Cornwallis’ final defeat at Yorktown, ending the war and securing American independence.
.....Church elected to stay in America after the war. Shortly after this time, Church became acquainted with a Quaker maiden from Philadelphia by the name of Hannah Keine. The two were soon married, and the union would produce eight children.
.....The couple looked to the West for a place to settle. They crossed the Allegheny Mountains by following an old Indian trail that led them up Dunkard Creek. They finally landed at the headwaters of Fish Creek in what is now present-day Hundred. They built a cabin there and so remained until their deaths.
.....An Oath of Allegiance was required of all Englishmen remaining in America at the close of the Revolutionary War. Henry Church refused to comply with this edict, claiming he had already sworn to be true to King George. However, upon discovering that he must swear the oath to make a good title to his land in order to sell a portion of it, his steadfast devotion to the English ruler wavered.
.....During the War of 1812, Henry Church was called up by the Americans to serve in their defense. He, in fact, shouldered his rifle and headed out with the intention to aid in the fight against England. However, peace was declared before he had gone very far, so he returned home. This was the last time Church would have to prove his loyalty to his country (America or Great Britain) by taking up arms in its defense.
.....Henry Church was 101 years of age (his wife 98) when the section of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad running through north-central Virginia was completed in 1852. In 1858, B&O company officials sent an observation train over the line to Wheeling. When the train reached the community, several officials offered to take the old couple to Wheeling. To this, Church replied, “No, I never did make a show of myself and I never will.” From then on, the train conductors would point out the couple, sometime sitting on their porch, other times working in the fields, calling attention to “the oldest couple in the states.”
.....Henry Church died on September 14, 1860, at the age of 109. Hannah Church died on July 27, 1860, at the age of 106. Since the two were the first inhabitants of the area, lived to be such a ripe age, and Henry was sometimes called “Old Hundred,” the town was originally named Old Hundred. When the Hundred Post Office was established in 1886, the “Old” was dropped and the name Hundred remained.
.....Hundred was made a B&O flagstop in 1887, and as many as four or five passenger trains ran each way, per day.
.....The year 1886 was one marked by economic activity for Hundred. Hundred experienced an oil and gas boom, with the first well being drilled in that year. From this industry were born the Pittsburgh & West Virginia Gas Station, Manufacturer’s Light and Heat Company, Null & Morehead Gas Station, Round Bottom Gasoline Plant, Wetzel Natural Gas Company, Hundred Natural Gas Company, and Carnegie Gas Station.
.....Eventually, part of the Henry Church farm was sold to a man by the name of Phillip Shough, who later sold it to T. Benson Hamilton. Hamilton planned the town and sold numerous lots beginning in 1893. The town of Hundred was incorporated in 1894, with A.F. Gilmer serving as its first mayor and F.M. Keller as recorder.
.....The town of Hundred also had a stone quarry. Batson and Company of Moundsville opened the sandstone quarry one mile west of Hundred in 1904. The blue and buff colored stone was used by the B&O for bridge piers and was shipped to various cities for use as building stone.
.....In 1923, a high school was built in Hundred. Before this time, students had been attending classes in the Hundred Elementary School or traveling to Mannington, Fairmont (both in Marion County), or Littleton to attend high schools there. The school’s first senior class consisted of 17 students who graduated in May of 1923. Though housed in a new building, the school still functions on that site today.*
*History Compiled by Courtney Dennis