In 1988, The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV was published to commemorate the town’s 100th anniversary. In 1994, the Centennial Committee published a follow up book which included family histories which were not submitted in time for the 1988 Centennial History. This week’s selection is the 30th history from The Centennial History of Hurricane WV Continued — 1994.
THE MATTHEWS FAMILY
Joseph and Elizabeth Johnson Paul
The Paul Family has been part of the history of the Hurricane area for more than 180 years, going back to about 1810. In the 1850 census, there were 11 Paul families living in Putnam County, most of them in the area south and east of Hurricane Bridge, and probably related. Prior to 1848 when Putnam became a county, they would have been living in Kanawha County, near the Cabell County line. In 1824, a Margaret Paul who lived in Kanawha County, married John Wheeler who lived in Cabell County, but they only lived 1 or 2 miles from each other. (It should be noted that the Carpenters, Johnsons, and Wheelers were also old families in the area.)
This story is about Joseph Paul. Joseph, in essence, had two families. The name of his first wife is unknown, but they had four children: Thomas, b. 1836; m. a Carpenter; Mary Jane, b. 1837; Brice, b. 1840, and who reputedly “left between two suns”; and Charles. b. 1843, who we think was arrested at the same time his father was taken by the Union Army during the Civil War.
After the death of his first wife d. 1843, Joseph then married Elizabeth Johnson about 1846. At the time of their marriage, Joseph was 43 and Elizabeth was 25. They were the parents of at least 7 children: George, b. 1848, reportedly went west and was never heard from again; July Ann (pronounced “Julie”) b. Mar. 9, 1849, m. Dave Craddock; Dollie, never married; Susan, m. Charlie Tackett; Ezbina, m. Thomas Mannon; Mary Margaret, b. Mar. 15, 1854, m. John W. Matthews; and Kate, who m. Samp Garrett.
Mention has been made in the John Matthews Story about those in this area who were in sympathy with the Confederate cause and their efforts to protect their homes and give aid to “Rebel” soldiers passing through. Joseph Paul and some of his sons were active in this effort. Their home was one of many known as a “safe house”, where a soldier could get a meal and have a place to rest. The Union Army, stationed at nearby Hurricane, of course kept a close watch for this kind of activity. If they merely suspected someone, they might burn his house, as in the case of the John Henderson house not far from the Paul home. If they had what they thought was good evidence, they would generally arrest the offender and either give him a local trial, or send him away to a Military Prisoner of War Camp.
Late in the war, soldiers from both armies were deserting in large numbers. They were tired of fighting and just wanted to go home. In addition to aiding Confederate soldiers, there is some indication that Joseph Paul also helped deserting Union soldiers. In any event, and for whatever reason, one night (day) while Joseph was sick with the flu, Union soldiers came to the Paul home and arrested Joseph and either one or two of his sons, Thomas and/or Charles. While they were there, the soldiers raided the house and farm and took all of the food and livestock, even dug up the winter vegetables stored in the garden. Joseph and his son(s) were supposedly taken to the Camp Chase Prisoner of War Camp at Columbus, Ohio, but there is no known record of their ever arriving there. The men were never heard from again.
Elizabeth, not knowing if her husband was dead or alive, never remarried and raised the family alone. She died about 1885 or 1888. I have a picture of her tombstone but it is hard to read. She was buried in the Mt. Moriah Cemetery on Trace Fork. Her daughter Elbina is buried near her.