Around 28,000 acres along the Ohio River Valley were granted to John Savage in 1772 as payment by King George III for services in the French and Indian War. In 1802, William C. Merritt and Jerimiah Ward surveyed a portion of the Savage Land Grant and decided to buy a parcel of land on each side of the Guyandotte River. Ward bought land on the north side, and Merritt purchased land on the south side of the river. Merritt’s Mill became Barboursville in 1813, named for Governor James Barbour of Virginia.
Early plans for the village called for 34 plots of land to be parceled out along three streets: Water, Central and Main. With a well-established town plan, Barboursville, in 1824 was names county seat. Also contributing to Barboursville’s growth was the completion of the James River and Kanawha Turnpike (Main Street), and early stagecoach route that opened up the western territories for further settlement, as well as providing a way for farmers to transport their goods. New businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, and saloons were constructed specifically for catering to those coming through on their way west. Due to the ease of transporting goods, Barboursville transitioned from a town supported by agriculture to a manufacturing town. In 1840, they could boast of being the center of industry, producing everything from furniture, wagons, fan mills, to a tannery and a lumber mill. Many of these buildings are still standing today and can be visited while exploring our walking tour throughout the downtown area. Stop by the Visitor’s Center or the Barboursville Public Library today to find out more information!