History

When you visit the reconstructed fort today, you will find historical interpreters dressed in 18th century frontier clothing and involved in activities which would have been found on the Virginia frontier at the time: farming, spinning, weaving, carpentry, blacksmithing, and repairs to buildings, tools and weapons, as well as other activities. The interpreters, working as laborers and artisans in the fort, will be able to talk with you about their activities, both as they existed on the early frontier and as they developed later, when the first communities were beginning to appear.

The reconstructed fort you see today represents the original fort as it would have been found during a period of quiet. You will probably not see any militia activity, unless you are here for a special event. You will, however, find most of the weapons and equipment used by militiamen and be able to talk to interpreters who are knowledgable about militia functions and weaponry. You might even find a native interpreter at the fort, dressed as a Shawnee warrior, who can talk with you about military matters from the American Indian point of view, as well as Shawnee culture in general.

The Prickett family continued to live on the original Prickett homestead for just under two centuries: from the 1770's until the 1960's. About 1859, construction began on what is now referred to as the Job Prickett house, and it is this structure which still stands, a mere stone's throw from the reconstructed fort. After visiting the fort, you might consider taking a tour of the house. To do so will be to move forward through the history of one family, and this history of the country, almost ninety years, from the eve of the American Revolution to the eve of the Civil War.

The Fort

Pricketts Fort, constructed in 1774, provided a place of refuge from American Indian attack for early settlers. It was built at the confluence of Pricketts Creek and the Monongahela River within 10 miles of three major American Indian trails. The Fort, which covers a 110 by 110 foot square, was built by the community militia and is named after Captain Jacob Prickett.

Two-story blockhouses are set in the four corners of the 12-foot high log walls and were used by the Fort's defenders as lookouts. Lining the weathered stockade walls are 14 tiny cabins, some with earthen floors, which served as shelter for the women and children. A meeting house and storehouse fill the common. There are two large gates: one double gate facing north and one smaller gate facing west.

When the threat of American Indian uprising occurred, up to 80 families from the surrounding countryside would gather at the Fort. Referred to as "forting up," the families would stay as long as the threat existed, from days to weeks. Under cramped and primitive conditions, the settlers understood life in the Fort to be a sacrifice for survival on the dangerous frontier of the late 1700's. Today's Fort still speaks eloquently of that life and time.

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Job Prickett House

Just south of the Fort stands the Job Prickett House built in 1859 by Captain Jacob Prickett's great-grandson, Job. This original structure has been restored to provide visitors a glimpse of the progress that took place at the Fort between the 18th and 19th centuries. Although still primitive by today's standards, the brick home illustrates the evolution of an increasingly civilized lifestyle and the availability of mass-produced furnishings.  

The simple floor plan of the home is typical of a 19th century farmhouse, however, Job Prickett incorporated several unique architectural styles to the exterior. The front of the home reflects Federal style with two doors and four windows. The Greek Revival style was used in the appearance of the flush chimneys and the four panel doors with transoms above them.  

Many of the family's original furnishings, tools and handmade objects have been carefully preserved and are on display in the house. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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American Indians in West Virginia .

Virginia-Pennsylvania frontier a place of countless dangers, it was the presence of numerous Indian tribes, in particular the Shawnee, which Europeans especially feared. For centuries the Shawnee, Mingo, Wyandot and Lenape/Delaware tribes lived throughout the upper Ohio Valley.  Pricketts Fort was never directly attacked by Indians and written documentation of any interactions between people living on the grounds of the fort and American Indians is sparse. Many historians believe that between the 1600's and 1800's the area that encompasses modern-day West Virginia was a hunting ground for Eastern Woodland Indians such as the Shawnees and Delaware. Since hunting and gathering were activities by which American Indians sustained their lives, they considered West Virginia their home.

Testimonies from the earliest traders and settlers in the region make clear that there were small Indian settlements scattered throughout the region in the first half of the 18th century. It is well known that there were extensive trade relationships between the Indians of the Ohio River Valley and the European frontier settlers during the 18th and 19th centuries. Between the 1700's and 1800's the Ohio River Valley was alive with interactions between Woodland peoples and European settlers. During this time, many treaties were made and wars were fought.   Often times, land ownership was at the root of these confrontations. Documented evidence suggests that some of the primary Indian inhabitants of the middle Ohio River Valley during the 1700's and 1800's were people who spoke two general languages: Macro-Siouan, particularly Iroquoian languages, and Macro-Algonquian. These people can be traced to the ancestors of modern day Shawnee, Delaware, and Iroquois people.

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Video

Experience the pioneering spirit of early settlers as we present you with a glimpse of Pricketts Fort State Park. See the landmarks and meet historical interpreters just as they appear at the Fort today. Learn about the history of the Fort. But be prepared; we think once you've seen the video, you'll just have to come experience Pricketts Fort for yourself.

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PRICKETTS FORT MEMORIAL FOUNDATION • 88 State Park Road• FAIRMONT, WV 26554 • 304.363.3030