Within the walls of the Memorial Fort are sixteen hewn log buildings, a blacksmith shop, and several small herb gardens. Upon arrival, visitors should walk down the sidewalk and enter the large log building on the left. This building is called the Meeting House. It is used primarily as a place where visitors can sit down and hear about the history of Prickett's Fort. In addition, the building is used to demonstrate the domestic arts including spinning, weaving, sewing, and hearth cooking.
Benches in the Meeting House
When I worked at Prickett's Fort as a costumed historical interpreter, I told the story of Prickett's Fort to thousands of visitors over the years. Why don't you have a seat on the virtual benches and allow me to relate the story of Prickett's Fort.
Prickett's Fort was named after Jacob Prickett, one of the first permanent European settlers in what would eventually become the Fairmont, West Virginia area. In February 1772, he along with his family settled on the land where Pricketts Creek joins the Monongahela River. Of course in 1772, there was no city of Fairmont, state of West Virginia, or even United States of America. The Prickett homestead was on the western frontier of the Virginia Colony.
When Prickett arrived in western Virginia, the land was dominated by trees. Tall straight trunks thrust skyward supporting a thick leafy canopy that blotted out much of the summer sunlight. European settlers and Native Americans alike considered this land to be a "hunter's paradise." White-tailed deer, black bears, gray wolves, mountain lions, elk, and even small numbers of bison lived within these forests. Local furbearing animals included beavers, river otters, fishers, mink, and muskrats. Although the bison, elk, and wolves are now gone, modern visitors to Prickett's Fort State Park might still see beavers and muskrats near the mouth of Pricketts Creek - if they are quiet and lucky!
Within two years of Jacob's arrival near Pricketts Creek, trouble developed between the Virginians and some of the Shawnee and Mingo Indians. The fundamental problem was that Prickett, along with countless hundreds of other settlers, were invading land that the Shawnees and Mingos claimed as tribal territory. Throughout the spring of 1774, the number of violent encounters between settlers and Indians gradually increased. On 30 April 1774, things came to a head when a group of frontiersmen under the leadership of Daniel Greathouse ambushed and killed several members of the Mingo Chief Logan's small village. Included among the dead were his mother, brother, and sister. In addition, the Greathouse party kidnapped Logan's infant neice. When the previously friendly Chief Logan returned home and saw what had happened, he swore vengeance on the settlers. With a party of about eight Shawnee warriors, Logan began attacking homesteads all along the western frontier.
(to be continued . . .)