In 1837 Marshall Academy, the forerunner of Marshall University, was created in the town of Barboursville. Named after U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, it started as a subscription school, and after being closed during the Civil War it reopened as the State Normal School of Marshall College to train teachers. Inhabitants of Cabell County during the Civil War were divided about their allegiances. The Border Rangers were a local pro-South militia formed in 1860, but the county’s representative to the Virginia secession convention of 1861 voted to remain in the Union. While Virginia seceded, Cabell County voted to stay in the Union, with the exception of the town of Guyandotte, now part of Huntington. The Battle at Barboursville in 1861 was the first battle in the county, won by the Confederacy. The town was eventually captured by Union forces, which then burned most of Guyandotte to the ground. It was due to the area’s Union leanings that caused the State of West Virginia to be created in 1862. Huntington, originally called Halderby’s Landing, was named after Collis P. Huntington, a railroad baron who was a major partner in the Central Pacific Railroad, and who bought out the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. In 1869 he began construction of the western terminus to the C & O, connecting the Ohio River and trains from the Midwest to the Atlantic Seaboard. The city was incorporated in 1871 by the West Virginia State Legislature. In 1873, the first locomotive arrived from Richmond to the celebration of the entire community. The railroad was the city’s largest employer for a century, until eventually becoming part of CSX in the 1970s.
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