History of the Early Settlers
Of Dry Fork, Rich Mountain and Shavers Mountain By E.C. Wyatt, Randolph Enterprise, Elkins, WV, 1922-1923
31 Aug 1922 – Randolph Enterprise [Elza]
The Elza’s are a very hardy race and a hard working people, they seem to hold their own in strength from one generation to the other more than any other of the early settlers. They are great lovers of music which they also inherit from generation to generation. They are of the Scotch Highland race and over in their native country these people still practice walking on long stilts and are adapted to stock raising and farming. But they have given up the former habit here. Thompson Elza, of whom I will write about, learned his boys to use stilts, but they are not used any more. They all love farming and stock raising as of old and enjoy their mountain homes.
These Scotch Highlanders first settled near Philadelphia but soon moved farther west to the mountain regions. I have heard of Bert and Jessie Elza in Pennsylvania but that is as far as I’ve been able to trace them in the late history. There is a man named Elza mentioned in March Brothers history of George Washington, we read of Elza being a candidate for member of the Virginia legislature and they tell of Washington and Thomas Payne getting into a dispute over Elza. (The name was spelled Elsey then and later Elzey). This history was first written by Rev. Mason Weems, a backwoods preacher who lived near the Washington home. This same man wrote about The Colt, the Cherry Tree and the Flowers that Grew by Chance, but we don’t find this in the histories written by Aaron Bancroft, Woodrow Wilson or Henry Cabot Lodge. Wilson and Lodge both mention Elza but they say the trouble between Payne is to be exaggerated as is The Colt, Cherry Tree and Flower stories and they call Weems a myth maker but Bancroft remains silent.
Then we next meet the Elza’s in Preston County, West Virginia high up in the mountains as the Scotchman in his native country.
We hear of John, Nicholas, Benjamin, Samuel, William and Frank Elza, and down in there our Captain Thompson Elza of Dry Fork was born. He only had two brothers, John and Nicholas. Thompson’s parents died when he was yet in his infancy and he partly grew to manhood over in Grant County and later came to Kelley Mountain and made his home with a man by the name of Levi Coberly. Then later was married to a sister of Soldier Joe and Bill White.
He settled in Dry Fork about 1830 on the east side of Rich Mountain which is now known as the Parsons farm. Then bought 196 acres of land above where Whitmer and Horton now stands and lived there the rest of his life.
He was a very large, raw-boned man, well fitted for the hardships he had to face. He was a great hunter, although like the other pioneers he never kept a record of the game he killed but many were the bear, deer, turkeys and smaller game that fell before his rifle, at first a flint lock and then later more modern guns. An old man related a story to me of when he was a boy he made his home with Perry Arbogast a neighbor of Mr. Elza’s and Arbogast got sick and Mr. Elza told this boy to come up and he would send Perry some meat. The boy goes up expecting to get bacon but behold when he gets there he sees some bear and deer skins laid down and bear and deer meat piled high on these skins and then covered over with skins in the same manner, and Mr. Elza being a strong man, also wishing to give Arbogast plenty he hardly realizes what the boy can carry and almost breaks him down with a load of meat.
(To be continued) [End of article]
Transcribed by Cathy Thompson