Little-known monument recalls origins of Farley family in W.Va.

8447
Little-known monument recalls origins of Farley family in W.Va.
A monument at Old Farley memorializes Drewry Farley and his wife, the first permanent settlers in the region.

PIPESTEM, W.Va.—Of the tens of thousands of people surnamed "Farley" who can claim to hail from southern West Virginia, almost all come from one place—Old Farley, as it was once known, a quiet farm upon which their ancestor, Drewry Farley, settled.

Advertisement

Farley and his wife, Mary (Adkins) Farley, established their family in an upland pasture overlooking the New River at the summit of what's long known as Shockley Hill. They are believed to have been the first permanent settlers of European descent in that region.

A 1912 map by the U.S. Geologic Survey shows Farley.
A 1912 map by the U.S. Geologic Survey shows Farley and the Warford on the New River.

Most sources agree that Drewry and Mary arrived in about 1800, shortly after the threat of Shawnee attacks had subsided in the region, though the couple was no stranger to the conflicts of the Border Wars, as those times of hostility were known.

In the 1770s, Drewry's uncle Thomas Farley had built a fort on the New River at the foot of Shockley's Hill, though the fort, known as Farley's Fort, had been abandoned after Shawnee raiders burned it.

Advertisement

Thomas’ half-brother, Matthew, was also an explorer and settler in the New River area and was a companion of James Ellison, who a group of Shawnee warriors captured. Thomas Farley's brother-in-law Mitchell Clay was attacked with his family by a group of Shawnee nearby. Two of their children were killed, after which the family returned to more defensible parts of the New River Valley near present-day Pearisburg.

Not coincidentally, the Farley homestead was built along the old native trail that crossed the New River at the bottom of Shockley Hill at a fording known as the Warford. The trail followed Indian Creek east from that crossing and west, mounting what's long been known as Indian Ridge. It is possible that frontier heroine Mary Draper Ingles had been led along this trail after her capture by the Shawnee in 1755.

Drewry Farley served with Daniel Boone in the company of Hugh Caperton of the Virginian frontier militia at Charleston in 1793. He was born in 1760 in Bedford County, Virginia, and died in 1851 at Farley.

Some sources believe that Farley had named nearby Pipestem Creek for reeds in the marshes near its source that were commonly used by indigenous tribes to fashion stems for tobacco pipes.

Advertisement

Farley's sons were Drewry, Jr., Gideon, Frances, Squire, and Henley. His daughters were Nancy, Rachel, and Cleo.

For many years the old Farley cabin stood in the field about 300 feet south of the present Farley monument, and around it was a farmstead and village with a post office that came to be known as "Farley" or "Old Farley."

Indigenous groups once crossed the New River at a ford above Bull Falls.
Indigenous groups once crossed the New River at a ford above Bull Falls, now under Bluestone Lake. (Photo courtesy Yvonne Reed Wilcox)

Old Farley lingered as a locally known point of interest well into the 1960s when the establishment of Bluestone Lake on the New River cut off local travel routes. The place may best be known as the location of the Bull Falls Campground, which includes 15 lakefront campsites on the New River just below the old town.

A monument to Drewry Farley stands near his grave in the Farley Cemetery at Old Farley off Grape Vine Lane and Broadway Road near Gravely Point Road. Taller than other stones in the small cemetery, the monument includes an inscribed granite plaque that memorializes the Farley family. The monument is not in the Drewry Farley Cemetery on River Ridge Road, a mile to the north.

Advertisement

Old Farley and the monument are a drive of approximately 2.3 miles from Pipestem, West Virginia, and Pipestem Resort State Park. Google coordinates for the landmark are 37.536338, -80.925904.

For more information on travel in the area, contact Explore Summers County.


Sign up for a FREE copy of West Virginia Explorer Magazine in your weekly email. Sign me up!

Facebook Comments

Advertisement