First copy of story of written wills presented to local judge

The first copy of, “The Story of Written Wills in North Central West Virginia,” written by local author and historian Barbara Smith, was presented to Circuit Judge Alan Moats during a recent lull in Barbour County Courthouse proceedings. The new book is a study of courthouse records in Barbour, Randolph, Harrison and Upshur counties.

“This book began with a casual comment from a friend who wondered about the will of an ancestor,” said Smith, who offered to do the research. “This moment of curiosity led to two years of investigation in the record rooms of Barbour and adjacent counties. It confirmed my suspicions that the values and concerns of my own county were present in other communities with a strong focus on family, religion, and land.”

Smith’s publication covers the history of American laws of succession, changes in the law, the primacy of families, negative provisions, unusual bequests and slavery in north-central West Virginia.

Moats said, “Barbara Smith is a county and state treasure, who has done more to preserve our county history than anybody else I know. She has worked tirelessly for the good of our county and state.

“This book is unique,” he added, “in that it is written from a perspective most people would never consider. There is much to be learned here. It sets forth those things that are most important to people, whether family, property, religion or personal beliefs. Barbara Smith has captured those elements which teach us about our counties and their occupants.”

Smith said, “Judge Moats has been supportive of my historical work ever since the restoration of the Barbour County courthouse and my writing of that story. He has been an exemplary leader and role model in both restoration and historical projects, and in his judicial responsibilities. We are fortunate to have him representing Barbour and neighboring counties.”

“The Story of Written Wills in North Central West Virginia” is available from Mountain Treasures, Philippi Public Library, Alderson-Broaddus University Bookstore and the author.