By Bob Weaver

Calhoun's earliest shaker and mover, Peregrine Hays knew when the time was ripe to make some money.

In 1845, he purchased 5,000 pounds of ginseng from the Arnoldsburg area growers for 25 cents a pound.

In more recent years it has exceeded $500 a pound,

He hauled the plants by wagon from Arnoldsburg to Winchester, Virginia, where he sold it for 52 cents a pound, a total of $2,600.

A 1923 newspaper account says 75 years later, the market price of his sale was $60,000.

Hays took his profit of less than $1,500 and invested it in land up and down the West Fork of the Little Kanawha.

The seng money purchase made Hays the largest landowner in the region, owning about 30,000 acres before the Civil War.

By the 1920's, the Hays descendants owned about 4,000 acres.

The Village of Arnoldsburg is situated on Hays property, originally founded about 1840 by Hays, Joseph Knotts, George Gibson, Henry Mace, Clay Starcher and others.

The original village included a mill, a blacksmith shop, a general store, and a church and school.

A 1923 Times-Record newspaper article describes Arnoldsburg as "a thriving little Calhoun city," with three general stores, three garages, two hotels, two blacksmith shops, rollers mills, a telephone exchange, a grade school and two churches.

The Roane County paper went on to say "All of the Arnoldsburg business is practically done through Spencer, and this connects Spencer and Arnoldsburg as closely as though the two towns were in the same county."

The paper carried news from Arnoldsburg in 1923, calling it "our sister city."

PEREGRINE'S GHOST - His Presence Lingers Over Calhoun Since 1840

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