WALNUT GROVE CHURCH ESTABLISHED 1858 - "Billy Blue Head" Starcher Founder


By Bob Weaver (First Published 2001)

William "Billy Bluehead" Starcher was a shaker and mover in starting one of Calhoun's earliest churches at the mouth of Barnes Run, along the West Fork of the Little Kanawha.

The Barnes Run meeting and school house, later to be named the Walnut Grove Church, was launched in 1858.

William "Billy Bluehead" Starcher also founded a church on Egypt Ridge above the West Fork of the Little Kanawha, known as the Bluehead Church, later known as the Dry Hill Church.

Aerial view of Church in 2005 along the West Fork
taken by Dustin Simmons from Harry Simmons' Flying Machine

However, the first official sermon in the county was preached at the home of Phillip Starcher near Altizer, Billy Bluehead's father. Legendary Methodist minister Lorenzo Dow rode into the community in 1820 for the service, which was well attended.

It was Reverend George Martin that is credited with bringing Methodists to the county, teaching classes in the home of Thomas Jarvis in 1836. Some of the early students included Joseph Knotts, Mary Knotts, Alsa Jarvis, Caleb Jarvis, Dianna Jarvis, Hannah Hardway, Patrick Conley, Tarleton Vaughn and his wife.

Samuel Black brought the Methodist Episcopal-South church to Arnoldsburg in 1848.

The Barnes Run church, Walnut Grove, was started by several "subscribers" in January, 1858, listing the following supporters:

Jacob Starcher, provide roof
Alford Starcher, floors, door and window shutters
Jacob Starcher $10
Alford Starcher $5
Phillip Starcher $5
Issac Nutter $5
Henry Brannan (Brannon) $5
Levi Nutter $5
Henry Starcher $3
William Starcher (Billy Blue Head) $5

The agreement for the start-up of the church stated "We the undersigned doth agree to pay William Starcher, Henry Brannan and Alford Starcher, trustees (appointed to superintend the completion of a meeting and school house) open to all preachers who preach the gospel. The sum annexed to our names in work on said house to be done on or before the first day of April next."

"The said house to be 22 feet square with two plank floors joined and nailed down, one window six lights, window and two sides of the said house one high window. The chimney to be stonework 8 feet high, one door with lock and latch. Roof - three feet boards nailed on."

"Billy Blue Head" Starcher was a principal land owner in the immediate area, having title to at least 350 acres.