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On October 7, 1890, William Straton, former clerk of Logan County, (West) Virginia, provided a deposition in a timber lawsuit. His deposition includes valuable recollections of his life during the Civil War and of the destruction of Logan County’s courthouse and records. So here it is:

Then came William Straton, another witness introduced by the plaintiff, being of lawful age and being by me first duly sworn deposes and says in answer to the following questions:

State your age, residence, and occupation?

I am 69 years old, and live at Logan Court House, W.Va., and am a lawyer.

State if you know who was clerk of the County Court of this County from 1861 to 1865?

I was the clerk during that time.

Did you have any deputy in said office during that time? If so, who?

I had a deputy, George E. Bryan. I might have some other deputy but if I did I have forgot all about it.

Which stayed in the office and attended to the business during that time, and especially in 1862, you or your said deputy George E. Bryan?

I was about the office myself very little during the year 1862, or any other time during the war. My deputy George E. Bryan stayed about here and about home more than I did, and during all of that time there was but little business done in the office anyway. It appears to me that it was in the winter 1862 and 1863 that they burned the Court House and clerk’s office.

What become of the records of marriages kept in said office in 1862?

There were some books such as deed books and order books carried to Ralph Steel’s on Island creek in the summer of 1861 and put there for safe keeping. But I don’t think the record of marriages was taken there but was left in the clerk’s office with most of the books and papers belonging to said office. I was not here at the time but the common understanding  afterwards was that all the books and papers were burned.

State if you know whether the said George E. Bryan is dead or living and if living where is he at this time?

The last I knew of him he was living at Ashland, Ky. I have never heard of his death.

Cross Examined.

Where did you live during the latter part of 1862 and the year 1863?

I lived at Logan Court House.

Where did your family live during that time?

Here.

When was it you speak of taking your family from here to Tazewell Co., Virginia?

I took my family, I think it was, in November 1862 as refugees to the County of Tazewell.

How long did your family remain there?

Until the fall of 1865.

And further this deponent saith not.

Source: Stuart Wood v. Joseph A. Dempsey (1889), Logan County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Logan, WV.

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