The History of the West Virginia Farm Retreat

Some 2000 years ago, the area where the West Virginia Log Cabin Farm Retreat now stands, Shawnee Indians roamed the valley and lived in and around what is now Clover Bottom including the Lake Shawnee property in the Bluestone Valley. With rich soil, a crystal clear river (now the Bluestone River) and a cliff nearby (known as “Indian Lookout”  (located on the Farley property) it made this land perfect to raise a family and survive.

The story of the Farleys descended from Thomas Farley, a plantation owner and landlord, born in Worcester, Worcestershire, England. Thomas became the first Farley to come to America on the ship Ann on February 23, 1623 landing at Archer’s Hope, Virginia which was near Jamestown.

As a direct descendant of Thomas Farley, Drewry Farley became the first settler of European descent to make his permanent home in the Pipestem District (now Summers County, West Virginia), about the year 1800. A few years earlier, Drewry Farley's brother in law, Mitchell Clay had become the first documented European settler in Mercer County.  His home was located just 3 miles south of the Farley Farm at Spanishburg.

 

Indian Massacre - In the 1780s, while he was hunting, Shawnee Indians attacked Mitchell Clay's his home and kidnapped 3 of his children. One of them was taken and burned at the stake. Clay tracked them down and killed many of them but the horror of the massacre and loss of his children left the family scarred and the homestead was never the same. There is a historical marker and park in Mitchell Clay’s honor to mark the massacre and historical events of his life.

Before coming to Pipestem, Drewry Farley had served with Daniel Boone in the company of Hugh Caperton in the Virginia frontier militia in 1793.

After his military service ended in 1797, Drewry and his wife migrated to what is now known as Pipestem, West Virginia. One day when Drewry was hunting on an unnamed creek about two miles west of his home in Pipestem, he happened to notice a particular shrub (Spirae Alba) which naturally hollows itself very smoothly.  He gathered a supply because he saw that it would make a good stem for a clay or cob pipe.  He decided to name the creek Pipestem Creek and so it is still named that to this day.  Hence the surrounding area which grew into a small community was named Pipestem and years later, a state park would be named Pipestem State Park.

A monument to Drewry Farley was erected by the Pipestem Ruritan Club and the Summers County Historical Society near his grave that that has an inscribed granite plaque that memorializes the Drewry Farley family.  The location of the monument is located off Broadway Road near Gravely Point Road just before the entrance to Pipestem State Park.

The monument reads: "Drewry Farley settled 100 yards south of this grave. He and his wife, Mary Adkins Farley were the first white persons to make their permanent home in this area, about 1800. He served with Daniel Boone in the Hugh Caperton Company in Frontier Militia at the present site of Charleston in 1793. Born 1760, Bedford County, VA, died 1851. He named Pipestem because of the hollow stems found along the creek. Sons: Andrew, Archibald, Issac, Drewry, Jr, Gideon, Francis, Squire, Henley. Daughters: Nancy, Rachel, Cleo."

Drewry Farley had 11 children: Sons: Andrew, Archibald, Issac, Drewry, Jr, Gideon, Francis, Squire, Henley. Daughters: Nancy, Rachel, Cleo.

 

As a seventh generation member of the Farley family, Carla Farley Leslie descended from Drewry’s son Andrew, and from his son Jackson Farley who served in the Civil War and has a Confederate marker at his grave in the Cook Cemetery on River Ridge in Summers County.  Jackson had a son named Joseph Cephus Farley (Carla’s great grandfather who had 2 sons: Carlos Bee Farley (Carla’s grandfather) and Malcolm Bunt Farley.  Joseph Cephas Farley had a sawmill on Mercer Springs Road near Spanishburg, an area with an abundance of timber good for making barrels and building materials. The timber trade was passed down to his sons Carlos and Malcolm who both established their own sawmill business.

Carlos Bee Farley was born in 1899 and some 18 years later moved further down to the Spanishburg area to a large tract of farmland located by the Bluestone River. He and his wife, Lorabell settled in the Bluestone Valley where Indians had roamed for thousands of years before them. Carlos built his own sawmill on the property and began clearing the land. Here Carlos and Lorabell envisioned their dreamhouse, a log cabin built with logs cut by his own hand from wood cut from his beautiful land. Each piece of wood used in the wall, ceiling, windows, doors, and floor was carefully cut and put into place. Large round logs were used for the exterior and huge sandstones gathered from the river bed were chiseled to a perfect match for the fireplace and foundation. For the next several years they enjoyed farm living raising black Angus cattle, hogs, chickens, corn crops, and plenty of hay.

Lorabell planted and cared for her massive garden on the farm where she grew and canned all kinds of fresh vegetables, gathered apples from the old apple tree, and stirred them in the huge iron kettle to make applebutter. Lorabell was also a one-room schoolhouse teacher and would tell stories of having to head out for school in the early morning darkness, often very foggy, on her horse to reach the various schools scattered throughout the area. She couldn’t see a thing until the fog lifted, but the horse knew the way. Lorabell was active in her church, the Spanishburg United Methodist Church, and also her community serving on many committees for the local county fair and quilting guilds. Lorabell always would have a quilt set up in the loft and a fine meal awaiting the church ladies who would gather once a week to quilt and gossip!

Carlos and Lorabell had a son, Carlos Bee Tad Farley (Carla’s father), who grew up working on the farm that had also evolved into heavy equipment and excavation services for the rapidly growing community around them. Tad worked by himself for years on the farm, often back breaking work on the farm while also trying to work a job of surface mining in parts of West Virginia. The strain of trying to care for his own farm, his parent’s farm and working a coal mining job became just too much and he passed away at the young age of 46. His son, Tim, was Tad’s only son and had to assume the responsibility of both farms at the young age.of 16. At 6’ 7” tall, Tim was a basketball standout leading his high school team to its first perfect season record.  He went on the graduate from Bluestone State College where he was also a basketball standout. For years Tim made sure the hay crop was put away every year and once said he knew the land so well he knew where every groundhog hole was on the 60 acres. He dutifully took care of his widowed mother until her passing and his sisters, Martha, Carla and Kimberly.

 

Tim was loved by all his family, friends and neighbors and until his sudden death in 2021, Tim never stopped taking care of both family farms by himself. He never stopped finding ways to serve his community and did so by establishing the Bluestone Valley Fire Department serving as Fire Chief. He served the citizens of Mercer County as the Flood plain Manager and was also the Emergency Services Director for Mercer County.

 

The Farley family has long been a well respected family unit, deeply rooted in Christian faith, community service and helping others.  

Today little has changed since Carlos and Lorabell once lived in the historic homestead.  Their granddaughter, Carla, invites guests to visit and stay in the old house where time seemingly stands still and reminisce about how much simpler life was ‘back in the day’.

 

GENERATIONS OF THE FARLEY FAMILY
1769 Drewry Farley
1797 Andrew Thomas Farley
1832 Pvt. Jackson Farley
1862 Joseph Cephas Farley
1900 Carlos Bee Farley
1927 Carlos Bee Tad Farley
1952 Carla Ann Farley Leslie (brother is Tim Farley)

 

In the 1980s WVU and Marshall University joined to conduct an archaeological dig on Indian burial grounds found just 3 miles south of today’s Farley farm on Mitchell Clay's farm. You can still view the burial grounds, ancient artifacts, photos of the Marshall University and Concord University archaeological digs, and hear stories about their lives and deaths.

wvu and marshall university indian burial ground dig at shawnee lake - Bing images

In 2008 the US Air Force Special Operations Command landed an MH-53 Pavelow Helicipter as part of its final mountain training mission on the Farley Farm at Spanishburg (WV Farm Retreat). The great grandson of Carlos Farley, Brian, flew on this aircraft during his military career.

MH-53 Pave Low Final Mountain Training - West Virginia - YouTube – Landed on Farley Farm at Spanishburg

www.wvfarmretreat.com – For more info and to rent the WV Farm Retreat

VRBO: www.vrbo.com/1486365 - To rent the WV Farm Retreat

AirBnB: https://airbnb.com/h/wvfarmretreat To rent the WV Farm Retreat

West Virginia Farm Retreat

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