Fort McCoy Project in Williamsburg Underway

 By Dr. Kim A. McBride

When is a barn much more than a barn – when it has a two story log house/fort inside, such as with McCoy’s Fort in Williamsburg.  According to McCoy Family tradition, the William McCoy house house/fort was built in 1769, making it one of the oldest standing structures in Greenbrier County.   It is the only standing log fort we know from the region, and as such, an incredible historic resource. Frontier forts were crucial to the continued occupation of West Virginia during Lord Dunmore’s War and the American Revolution. Without them many settlers would likely have abandoned the region for safer lands to the east.

McCoy’s Fort was briefly attacked following the Battle of Fort Donnally in May 1778, but local militia repulsed this attack. Sometime after the Indian Wars the McCoy family built a larger house nearby and the old log house/fort was transformed into an outbuilding and eventually enclosed in a frame barn. This barn helped the fort to survive for nearly a century and a half, but weakened by a tornado circa 2006 and the windstorm of June 2012, the outer barn is collapsing.

The Williamsburg District Historic Foundation, with support from the Daniel K. Thorne
Intervention Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Summers County Historic Landmarks Commission, the Greenbrier Historical Society, Preservation Alliance of WV, and the WV Humanities Council, is undertaking research and restoration of this important piece of history.  Efforts are underway to dismantle the outer barn and the inner log structure.  The latter will be restored, and reassembled on-site.  But first, as soon as the structures are removed, archaeological studies will be conducted to provide information on the early structure of the fort site.

On July 17, 18, 19, 22 and 23, 2013, scouts from the Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative of the National Scout Jamboree will come to McCoy’s Fort to conduct archaeology, led by Drs. W. Stephen and Kim Arbogast McBride.  Support and volunteers are always needed, even with with future archaeology.  Anyone interested in helping please contact Dr. Kim Arbogast McBride at kim.mcbride@uky.edu, or (859) 233-4690. Those interested in helping with other aspects of the project can contact Carolyn Stephens at cbstephens23@aol.com.  Interested members can also follow the project via updates in Appalachian Spring, or digitally on the Greenbrier Historical Society’s Facebook page or Blog at greenbrierhistorical.wordpress.com.

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6 thoughts on “Fort McCoy Project in Williamsburg Underway

  1. I have put thousands upon thousands of haybales in that barn in my younger days. There used to be a munitions/shed that stood just above where the dry pond is now, toward the road and to the driveway side that we dissassembled sometime around 1986-7. Another place they could possibly dig. I know the fort well, I find it funny that it was recently “discovered”, we’ve known about it forever.

  2. This is a great project. It will likely be one of the best preserved Indian Forts in West Virginia as well as the oldest house/fort in Greenbrier County. William McCoy et al built this following the Pioneer trek across the country when they encountered many hostile British as well as Indians. Letters of support to the sponsors of the archaeological work as well as funds for the work to be done are important in helping to move this preservation effort forward.

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