(04/11/2019)
By Bob Weaver

Rev. Barnabus Cook made a long journey to the hills of West Virginia to what what would become Calhoun County, then Kanawha County, about 1820.

He said to be among the first ministers to preach a sermon in Calhoun's Washington District.

Born in 1784 in Litchfield, Kinnebec, Maine, the pioneer clergyman, a veteran of the War of 1812, pulled up his roots, and came Ohio, a missionary for the Disciples of Christ, and was then sent to the Calhoun backwoods.

His departure from Maine was the result of an ill-fated marriage to Lydia Adams in 1806.

When Barnabas and Lydia were married, her first husband was supposed to have been lost at sea. However, sometime between 1816 and 1820, Lydia formed a habit of taking long walks in the woods. Barnabas was curious and followed her and found that she was meeting her first husband, who was very much alive.

Not long after, Barnabas loaded a covered wagon and left Lydia, for northwestern Ohio, apparently no formal divorce. Divorces were almost impossible to obtain in those days and that difficult was usually overcome by placing a couple of hundred miles between the parties.

Long after their separation, Lydia filed a pension petition in 1850 with the US government to obtain money for his service in the War of 1812.

Within a short time, Barnabas Cook went to Charleston and filed a deposition that he was alive and well and no one's deceased spouse.

He was a pioneer of Kanawha county, where he served as justice of the peace and one term as Sheriff. He also managed to spend much time preaching the Christian gospel over a period of twenty-five years. The marriage records of Kanawha are strewn with his name and reports of marriages that he performed.

According to "Hardesty's History of Calhoun County", Barnabus was one of the very early settlers in the West Fork community where he met and married his second wife, Christina McCune about 1820.

Christina was born in 1804 or 1805, a daughter of Peter and Christina (O'Brien) McCune, historic settlers of Calhoun.

Peter McCune of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 (1748-1832) was the first permanent settler in Washington District. Coming from Ireland to the Monongalia-Harrison County area, he enlisted twice during the American Revolution. McCune married 14-year-old Christina O'Brien in 1881, the daughter of explorer Adam O'Brien. The relationship started in 1880, after the O'Brien's had sought refuge from Indians at Fort Richards near Clarksburg.

Daniel DeWeese, a Civil War veteran (who was a native of Gilmer and Calhoun counties), recorded the following, in his 1905 book, "Recollections of a Lifetime":

"Squire Cook, in company with a comrade, Elijah McCumber, came as missionaries to the then wilderness of the West Fork, and Cook was the first minister of the gospel to preach a sermon within the present limits of Washington district, Calhoun County."

"Squire Barnibus Cook married Christena McCune, a daughter of Peter McCune, before referred to, while I was at Squire Cook's, who then lived just above the road opposite where what is now known as the Dock Parsons place, just South of the Lee district line. In the fall of 1841, I was at Squire Cook's when one of the settlers in the Squire's bailiwick, Daniel Coger, who had sold his wife sometime previous to Timothy McCune for an averagible deer's skin, dressed to be as large as a doe's hide, in delinquency of which payment, Coger sought a redress of grievance in Squire Cook's court, it being the first law suit that I ever attended, both litigants and witnesses being present and the cause coming on for hearing, the court heard all that was adduced by plaintiffs and defendants and the material facts being overwhelmingly in favor of the plaintiff, judgment was accordingly awarded for the deer hide and the costs upon which Wm. Truman, constable, was armed with an execution and commanded by the court to proceed accordingly."

Rev. Barnabus Cook died in 1863 and Christina in 1879, with whom he had 12 children.

He is buried at Amma, Roane County, WV. His monument at Pleasant Hill Cemetery lists him as a veteran of the War of 1812.


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