Featured, Local History, The Centennial History of Hurricane

Centennial History of Hurricane: The Wise Family of Putnam County

In 1988, The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV was published to commemorate the town’s 100th anniversary. Since the Centennial History is now out of print, the Breeze is reprinting articles from the book as space allows. This week’s selection will be the 246th installment of the Centennial History.


Submitted by Charles D. Wise

The Wise family of Putnam County is descended from an old-line Pennsylvania-German family. The family came to America in the early 1700’s to seek a better life free from the religious and civil strife then rampant in the vicinity of the Rhine River. Although the Germans coming to America during this period of rime were generally referred to as Palatinates, many of them were not from Rheinland-Pfalz (Palatine) but also from Baden-Wumemberg, which area includes the Neckar Valley and the Black Forest.

Among the earliest records of this Wise (Weiss) family in America are those church records of the Old Goshenhoppen Reformed Church and the New Goshenhoppen Reformed Church in what is now Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. These records reveal that Johann Ehrhart Weiss, an ancestor of this family, was a member of the Old Goshenhoppen Reformed Church, and further research has revealed that he was born in Germany in 1723 and came to America at the age of fifteen.

Also, the records show that Johann Ehrhart Weiss had a son Philip Weiss, born in 1749, who moved from that community to York County, Pennsylvania, where he and his family were living in Lower Chanceford Township when the 1790 Census was taken. Later, about 1810, Philip Weiss and several members of his family, including his sons John, Jacob, and George, moved to Belmont County, Ohio. His son Henry remained in York County and there are numerous of his descendants living there today.

Jacob, born in 1779 in Pennsylvania, became a blacksmith, but was killed at a relatively early date (1817) in a horse related accident, leaving a widow and several children including Samuel Wise born in 1815. Samuel married Margaret Hinkle, daughter of Christopher Hinkle, a veteran of the War of 1812, and they had children Sarah, Jacob, Susannah, Thomas, John, and Samuel David. The Samuel Wise family moved first to Licking County, Ohio, where Sarah was born, and later to the Wegee settlement in south Belmont County, Ohio, and then finally to Gallia County, Ohio, in 1856. Susannah and John died as children in Belmont County.

In Gallia County, the Wise family lived first along Raccoon Creek as neighbors of several others of their cousins and their families. Later, the Samuel Wise family moved to Clay Township in Gallia County, where Samuel Wise maintained a wood-working shop and worked as a carpenter, undertaker, and farmer. All three of his sons moved to Putnam County, West Virginia, at different times, but Thomas, who married a Putnam County woman, Charlotte Meddings, returned to Gallia County, where he remained until his death. Thomas was well known in the county as a fruit farmer and undertaker.

Jacob Wise, who was a farmer and fruit grower, first married Martha Wise of Gallia County, and later married Martha Meddings after the death of his first wife. Jacob Wise is buried in Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Putnam County.

Samuel David Wise, born in Belmont County, Ohio, in 1850, became a wood-worker and carpenter. He learned his trade as an apprentice to his father. Together they built houses in the Gallia County area and wood products in their shop in Clay Township. In 1870, Samuel David Wise brought a wagon-load of grain cradles across the river to sell in Putnam County. At 20 years of age, he was not yet emancipated, but after selling the grain cradles, he remained in Putnam County. At the James Thomas Ellis farm he met Henrietta Ellis, who he married in 1870. He was twenty years of age; she was seventeen. From this union, a large and boisterous family resulted.

Samuel David (usually referred to as David or S.D.) and Henrietta settled in the new Village of Hurricane to establish one of Hurricane’s pioneer families. In time, thirteen children made their appearance in the household, as follows:

Launa Myrtle Wise Clarence E. Wise Charles A. Wise
Lovell E. Wise (born in Gallia County, Ohio; died in infancy)
Lillian Pearl Wise Sarah Buelah Wise
Cordelia B. Wise (called Carie) Harry Virgil Wise
Fannie R. Wise (called Fay) Claira L. Wise
Nellie A. Wise Fred Eugene Wise
Mary Marguerite Wise

David Wise was able to put his trade to good use in the Hurricane area. The coming of the C&O Railroad brought a building boom for a time. In the 1880 Census for the Village of Hurricane, David Wise is the only house-carpenter listed. But he not only built houses, churches, and such buildings, but any other wooden structures. For a time, he built culverts and bridges for the C&0 Railroad. Later, he worked as a carpenter for the Black Diamond Coal Company at a place in Kanawha County now known as Diamond. This company experienced somewhat of a boom from about 1900 until about 1905, the time during which members of the Wise family lived in the area. It was here that David lost Henrietta to cancer of the uterus in 1904. Her death, lingering and painful, was a traumatic event for the whole family. As she neared death, the children were called to her bedside co kiss their mother goodbye. It was an experience they would never forget. Henrietta is buried in the Witcher Creek Cemetery.

David never re-married. He continued to build houses, churches, schools, barns, or whatever people needed that a carpenter could build. At times he would be assisted by sons and/or sons-in-law. He continued such work until he neared eighty years of age when he went to live with the family of his daughter, Cordelia Childers, near Coal Mountain on Route 60. There in 1933 he succumbed to diabetes and the relentless processes of aging at eighty-three years. He is buried in the Mt. Vernon Cemetery.


A digital copy of the Centennial History can be obtained from the Hurricane City Hall for a small donation. For more information, call the City of Hurricane at (304) 562-5896.

Please follow and like us: