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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Archaeology at the North House

Wagon House

On Thursday, May 30th, the Greenbrier Historical Society will host an archaeological team from the West Virginia Division of Highways. The team, comprised of Archaeologist Jen Williamson, Archaeologist Amanda Payne, Archaeologist Karen Reed, and Environmental Resource Specialist Karen Ebert Allen, will conduct testing as part of a Transportation Alternatives Grant to repair the Greenbrier Historical Society’s Wagon House in Lewisburg.  As part of the Wagon House project, the Greenbrier Historical Society is planning on installing a handicap accessible walkway from the North House to the Wagon House. The archaeological team will conduct a phase I archaeological survey on the areas where the proposed sidewalk will be constructed – including both shovel testing and metal detector work. This testing will ensure that the construction will not disturb any artifacts that may linger beneath the surface. The public is invited to stop by the North House, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg, throughout the day to watch the archaeological team. For more information, contact GHS at 304.645.3398 or info@greenbrierhistorical.org