WATTERS SMITH MEMORIAL STATE PARK
The heritage of early West Virginia is preserved in the pioneer homestead restoration at this park. Through the wisdom of a descendant, the late 1700s farm of Watters Smith was bequeathed to the state park system to be preserved for posterity. A log cabin similar to the original was moved and reconstructed on the park, the Smith family home (c. 1876) has been restored as a museum, and an additional museum houses many early farm artifacts. Guided tours are offered from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. In addition, the park features swimming, picnicking, hiking trails, and horseback riding.
This 532-acre historical park stands as a memorial to the pioneer spirit of Watters Smith who settled here in 1796. The park came into being when Burr Smith, a descendant, died in 1949 and willed his 236-acre farm to the state to be developed into a park to honor his paternal great-great-grandfather.
Watters Smith, the son of Thomas Smith of England, was himself born in Trenton, New Jersey, on July 15, 1767. In 1793 he married Elizabeth Davisson, a first cousin and neighbor of his father. His father owned a 1,000-acre tract of land in Harrison County, then in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and therefore it was only natural for Watters Smith to choose land adjacent to his father's when searching for a place to establish a home and family. Smith purchased 112 acres adjoining his father's for the sum of $266 in 1792, but the lingering threat of Indians prevented him from moving to the area immediately with his new bride.
In 1796, he and his wife moved to their future farm on Duck Creek and began clearing the land, planting crops and building a cabin. His tools were made by hand and necessitated the construction of a blacksmith and a carpenter shop. The goods that could not be grown or handmade were obtained from distant urban areas over "roads" that were mere wide, hazardous trails cut through the wilderness.
Watters and Elizabeth Smith had eight children, and Charles, their second, was the first white child born on Duck Creek. The youngest child, Watters Smith, Jr., eventually inherited the property. He, in turn, gave it to his son John, who passed it on to his son Alexander, who was born in 1847. In 1876, Alexander, better known as "Uncle Doc", had a home constructed to replace the original hand-hewn log Smith cabin. Today, this home is used as one of two museums on the park and is open to the public.
The farm was operated as a business for four generations, and the implements seen in the museums and in the barns and sheds were used to keep it running. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of Burr Smith, the farm now stands as a lasting tribute to a family who carved a life out of the wilderness and preserves for us a view of frontier life from 1796 to the early 1900s.