William Warrick Blake and the Legend of the Scottish Castle

For years, local historians generally accepted as fact the family tradition concerning the origin of this early Fayette County settler. The legend is quoted in the book "History of Fayette County" written by Peters and Carden and published in 1926. It appears in the works of other authors, again presented as a historical fact. According to the tradition, William Warrick Blake and his young wife, Sarah, came to the region from Scotland in 1805 leaving behind an estate reputedly worth six million dollars. William built his cabin at the site of present-day Mount Hope, and thus became the first permanent settler of that city. In the late 1800's, several family members tried to establish their claim to the Scottish estate. Their efforts failed when they could not prove the Atlantic crossing of William and Sarah Blake.

Actually William and Sarah were from the Greenbrier Valley in present-day Pocahontas and Greenbrier Counties, West Virginia. The area then was part of Augusta County, Virginia. William was born February 22, 1779 in near present-day Cass, in Pocahontas County. Sarah, daughter of John Blake, was also William's first cousin. Their grandfather, Theophilus Blake, migrated to Giles County, Virginia about 1764 from Chester County, Pennsylvania.

The couple came to Fayette County along with two of Sarah's brothers, Peter and Isaac Blake. At least three other cousins and their families formed the rest of the group. William and Sarah set up temporary quarters in an old abandoned fort while building their cabin on nearby land William had purchased a few years before. Peter and Isaac built their cabins near present-day Glen Jean, a short distance farther north. Other family members settled along the plateau at Hill Top and near Oak Hill. Most of the settlers remained in the region except Isaac. He moved his family to Cabell County about 1820, settling north of Huntington on the Ohio River. Most of the Blake families in the areas around Huntington, West Virginia are descended from Isaac Blake.

William was very ambitious. He entered many patents for large tracts of land in the area and became actively involved in the building of roads. The New State Road, completed in 1812, ran from the mouth of the Bluestone River past the Blake settlements to present-day Oak Hill. William supervised building a link from this road to the Old State Road at Fayetteville. When the new county of Fayette was formed in 1833, he was appointed Justice of the Peace and a member of the Fayette County Court. William also operated "The Old Blake Inn" at Mount Hope. This perhaps was the beginning of the tourist business in the area. The tavern was a resting place for travelers, and a favorite spot for the locals. Records exist of many official government meetings held at the Inn.

Four children were born to William and Sarah. Only the oldest son, John, outlived his father. In 1822, both Sarah and an infant son died. The two daughters both died in 1838, at ages 20 and 22, while living with their father and his second wife, Elizabeth Wiseman. William's second marriage to Elizabeth Wiseman produced three more children, William Warwick Blake, Andrew Jackson "Jack" Blake, and Martha Ann Blake. William Warwick, my great great grandfather, lived in the Oak Hill area. Andrew's descendants are living in the Beckley area. Martha Ann married Charles C. "Coots" Brown. She lived and died in Mount Hope. Her daughter, Elizabeth, married A. D. Moseley of Mount Hope. Elizabeth died sometime after 1956, at more than 92 years old.

Richard H. Blake
2922 Thomas Avenue
Huntington, West Virginia 25705

Created 6 Jun 2006 with RootsMagic Genealogy Software