Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paden Island, West Virginia

Are you familiar with Paden Island? In spite of growing up only a few miles up-river from it, I had never heard of Paden/Paden's Island until I was reading through the Civil War pension papers of my 2nd great-grandfather, William S. Church.  That was a few years back, but my current reviews of my info before I "go live" with a genealogy website have brought the island back to my attention.

It is commonly reported in a variety of records that William was born in Wetzel County, Virginia (which of course changed to West Virginia in 1863). Courtesy of distant cousin Candace Church, I have copies of several of the documents relative to William's "Invalid's Pension" entitlements for his Civil War service. I found a couple references to his place of birth:
  • "paten ilant, W Va" from a document he completed and signed 23 March 1915. (It becomes clear as you read this form that William wasn't one of the best spellers!)
  • "Patens Island, Wetzel County, W Va" from the Declaration for Pension filed on 08 August 1921

I believe both of these are misspellings of Paden Island, an 81-acre island in the Ohio River next to Paden City.  While Paden City straddles the line between Wetzel and Tyler counties (Wetzel was formed from the northern end of Tyler County in 1846), the island is part of Wetzel County.

Based on info from a variety of sources, Obediah Paden, patented 2,000 acres of land in 1796 (or 1790) which became known as Paden's Bottom. He reportedly paid $1,333 for that river bottom, surrounding hills, and the island in the Ohio River that was lying in front of the valley. In 1877 the U. S. Mail Service came to the town's new name, Paden Valley. In 1895 Paden's Valley changed it's name to Padensvalley (one word); then to Paden City in 1903.

One of the better written and quite interesting accounts of the life of Obediah Paden can be read at "A History of the Paden/Peden Family;" it supports most of the info shown here.  Other sources include a history of Paden City and the city website.

In the 1800's, there were families who lived on Paden Island for several years; there are no longer any active human residences. I have not yet found when that changed, but Paden Island is now part of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:
"Public uses of all types have occurred on and around the Ohio River Islands in recent years. The relatively undisturbed nature of many of the islands have made them popular areas for nature study, hunting, fishing, camping, picnicking, and pleasure boating. As islands are acquired for the Refuge, only those uses determined to be compatible with Refuge purposes will be allowed to continue."

A website about Ohio River fishing maintains that Paden Island is good for fishing:  "The head of the island is best—fish the gravel and small rock for black bass."

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