Archiver > WVPLEASA > 1999-04 > 0924373259

From: "west" <>
Subject: Re: WVPLEASA-D Digest V99 #40
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 14:20:59 -0400

The following is from an article which appeared in the St. Marys Oracle
February 24, 1973 and written by Dot R. Griffin. I believe Dot is

Now a tranquil suburbia, Grape Island was once a bustling little village
with its own post office, railroad depot, school house, church and --yes
-- even a summer resort.

In fact this 1000 acres or more of bottom land edged on one side by small
wooded hills and fronting the Ohio River was a town at least 20 years
before the City of St. Marys, three miles down river, came into its own.

Since the regional vocational educational center is to be built in the near
future on a 24 acre Grape Island site, it seems timely that some history of
this early settlement be recalled. The name Grape Island originated from
the abundance of wild grapes which at one time literally festooned the Ohio
River island opposite the West Virginia mainland. At one time there was a
smaller island to the north with only a small channel separating the two.
It was called Bat Island, obviously because it was inhabitated with
numerous bats. Down through the years, silt and sand accumulated until the
two islands became one long extension of land.

Early Settlers - Early settlers came from England, Germany, Ireland,
Holland, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. They
were hardworking --knowledgeable in such trades as blacksmithing,
husbandry, surveying, law, shoemaking, ship building, lumbering and
stock-raising. Grape Island offered fertile land for farming, good
pastures, stands of timber, hillside or orchards and the Ohio River for
easy transportation of produce to the large cities north and south.

The Cochrans were among the earliest settlers. The original Thomas Cochran
coming from Ireland in the 18th century. He took part in the Indian wars
around Fort Henry (Wheeling), served in the Revolution, was captured by the
Indians who wished to adopy him. (Nevertheless, they must have spoken with
"forked tongue" for when Tom tried to escape, they killed him.) With all
this activity he also found time to have a family. One son, Thomas
followed in his father's footsteps, fighting Indians. He finally gave this
up and moved to Tyler county. At one time he owned Grape Island and other
land nearby. In 1811 he sold the island to JAMES BAILEY for $90.
Later Edmund Holdren came into possession of the island. During the late
depression years the late Hiram Carpenter (who at that time owned Grape
along with some other 10 islands) planted potatoes on the island to give
employment to local citizens in need of work. This was a most successful
venture. The island is now owned by the Ohio Dever Land and Gravel

Browse Family - In 1830 Thomas and Eliza Browse came to America from
England and after some exploration bought the land along the river front
extending from Raven Rock and including the tract at Grape Island.
Schooled in husbandry, an erudite reader and an energetic citizen, he
served as a surveyor and justice of peace and was active in promoting the
formation of Pleasants County from Tyler, Ritchie and Wood counties. He
settled into the log house (already on Grape) adding to the structure as
his family and prosperity increased. Because the tract was so large he
employed a number of men who moved their families to this area. His
day-to-day journal in which he recorded the happenings, business
transactions, etc. were of exceptional value to the late Robert L.
Pemberton when he compiled "The History of Pleasants County."

Browse's older daughter, Eliza J., married Harry C. Creel, son of Alexander
H. Creel, founder of St. Marys. The couple moved to Missouri. Upon her
death in 1863 the coule's son came to Grape Island to be reared by his
grandparetns. Thomas's son, Robert H. Browse, built a fine home at the
Spring Hill (Colin Anderson Center). When his home was destroyed by fire,
he built another mansion which was a landmark for many years. This home,
too, was destroyed by fire in the late 40's.
The younger daughter, Mary E. Browse, married Edmund Holdren and they
continued to live on at the home place. When their only child, Dorothea,
married Elgin Adkins, the couple presented the newlyweds with a fine brick
home as a wedding present. This is now the Julian Stanley (Margaret
Adkins) home. Mrs. Holdren stipulated in her will that the original home
was to be torn down at her death and this wish was carried out. Robert
Adkins, her grandson, has recently built a one-story brick home on the
river front and the St. Marys Gold Club has leased another tract of the
original Browse land.

Editoral Note: Next week we will continue the history of Grape Island,
telling about the other early settlers and the Grape Island Postoffice.
(I'm sorry but I do not have this article-I would love to have a copy. tw)
Memo: This article was accompanied by five pictures.
(1) Shows William H. Steere maintaining road with church and school in
(2) "Down at the Station". William H. Steere assists his daughter
Grace as she prepares to board the train for Belmontwhere she teaches
school. Her grandfather, Theodore J. Bailey views the departture.
(3) Students in front of School - Harry Bradfield, Roy Virden, Bernard
Bailey, Charles Stewart, Ray Stewart, Addison "Pete" Bradfield, Frances
Reynolds and Rebecca Stewart, Eva Valentine, Miss Elizabeth LaRue
(schoolmarm), Mabel Steere and Grace Steere.
(4) Bert Riggs in front of his island residence in the winter.
(5) Channel between Grape and Bat Island where in winter skates
replaced boats when the channel became a ribbon of ice.
(I hope those who have an interest in Grape Island enjoys the above
article. I love the Pleasants County page. Thelma Wells West, Dover, OH.)


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