The Craik Family
With the westward expansion of the frontier in the early 1800s, residents of the Kanawha Valley, VA began to build finer homes, replacing the common rough-hewn log cabins of the early settlers. James Craik was one of the pioneers of this trend when he built his Greek Revival house in 1834 and, in the style of the day, named it “Elm Grove”.
The Craiks were a prominent family originally from the tidewater area of Virginia. The family had close ties to George Washington. Craik’s grandfather, Dr. James Craik, was Washington’s personal physician and first Surgeon General of the Continental Army. The elder Craik traveled widely with Washington during the General’s extensive surveying work, much of which was conducted in what is now West Virginia.
Dr. Craik’s second son, George Washington Craik, continued the family’s association with Washington by serving as his secretary during his second term in office. Clearly, Dr. Craik’s admiration and affinity with Washington is reflected in the name given to his son. George Craik’s son, named for his grandfather, was James Craik who built the Craik-Patton House.
Having studied law at Transylvania College, James Craik initially worked as a lawyer when he moved to Charleston with his wife, the former Juliet Shrewsbury, in the early 1830s. Juliet was the youngest of ten children of Samuel Shrewsbury, who had established a salt business that was thriving in the area southeast of Charleston.
After building “Elm Grove”, which was one of the first clapboard frame houses in the valley, James Craik became involved in the Episcopal Church. He eventually abandoned his law practice to become rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, one of the earliest churches founded in Charleston.
Craik moved his family from the area in 1844 when he was chosen to lead a church in Kentucky. The Craik-Patton House was sold at that time to Isaac Read, who owned it until it was purchased by George S. Patton in 1856.
The Patton Family
The owner of the house following Mr. Read is the most well known. Confederate Colonel George Smith Patton purchased the house in 1856 from the Read family. It was in this house that his son George William Patton later to change his name to George Smith Patton, II was born in 1856. George Smith Patton's son, General George Smith Patton, became the most well known of the Patton's through his outstanding generalship during World War II.
Colonel Patton graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1852 and following his marriage to Susan Thornton Glassell moved from Richmond to Kanawha Courthouse—the original name of Charleston—to practice law with Thomas Broun and later George Summers. While in Richmond, Patton had known of the famous “Light Infantry Blues” militia organization and was inspired to form a similar company in Charleston. The company—the Kanawha Riflemen—was referred to by many in town as the “Kid Glove Company” because it was comprised of the most prominent young men in the area. Patton used his VMI education while conducting exercises with the Riflemen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s influence may have been manifested during these drills as he was one of Patton’s former VMI instructors.
Patton’s career as an attorney was short-lived as the approaching clouds of Civil War broke with the bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861. With the succession of Virginia, the Kanawha Riflemen were mustered into Confederate service as Company H, 22nd Virginia Infantry. Only a short time later, the unit faced its baptism of fire. On July 17, 1861, Patton, then a Captain, led his company in an engagement at Scary Creek, in what is now St. Albans, West Virginia. Although the Confederates were victorious in the fight, Captain Patton was wounded and out of action for some time. By 1864, following several more years of combat and distinguished service, Patton had been promoted to Colonel. Colonel Patton’s Civil War service and his life came to a close as a result of a battle at Winchester, Virginia in that year. Colonel Patton was mortally wounded and lingered some days before dying of his wounds.
Following the death of her Col. Patton the house was sold to Andrew Hogue, and the family eventually settled in California. It was here that General George Patton of WW2 was born and eventually embarked upon his brilliant military career. General Patton indicated that his grandfather’s service in the Civil War was one of the catalysts for his embarking upon a military career.
The Ruffner Log House
Very often, those who visit the Craik– Patton, are struck with two things; first they are impressed with the beauty of the Craik Patton House and secondly, they want to know what the deal is with the log house? The Ruffner Log House is not typically on the museum tour but if visitors show a lot of interest, we will kindly allow them a behind the scenes view. The Craik - Patton House property includes one of the oldest surviving structures in the Kanawha Valley. The Ruffner log house was moved to our site in 1976. It was built by the Ruffner family between 1797 and 1800 on the 1500 block of Kanawha Blvd, at that time part of the Historic Midland Trail. The Ruffner family came to the Kanawha Valley from the Shenandoah Valley about 1795. Joseph Ruffner purchased around a thousand acres of land and virgin timber on that land was plentiful. He built our log house to serve as a sawmill and office for his business, but by the 1820’s larger more profitable sawmills had been built, and the need for a hand powered sawmill was not needed. At this point, Joel Ruffner the grandson of Joseph was living in the log house and upon his marriage in the late 1820’s and early 30’s, the old log house was renovated. First, more rooms were added to the dwelling outside of the log structure. Secondly, the logs were covered with clapboard siding. Third, and most interestingly, a 25,000 gallon stone lined cistern was dug adjacent to the house. This would have been filled with fresh rain water from the roof of the building providing a clean water source for the family instead of the dirty Kanawha River that was being polluted from early industry. The Ruffner’s called the newly refurbished home “Rosedale.” The family raised 12 children in the house. An interesting Ruffner family tradition recounts that the Ruffner’s would plant a holly tree upon the birth of each child. Thus on old Ruffner property in the valley, one will see many ancient holly trees still surviving.
“Rosedale” stood quietly as the town grew up around it. By the 1860’s Charleston, like many other towns in what is today West Virginia, was thrust into the sectional conflict. In the summer and fall of 1862, Charleston was in Union control with the Confederates in pursuit. The valley was exceptionally important to both Union and Confederate Armies as salt (so prevalent in the area) was needed for preservation of food. During the Union occupation, “Rosedale” became the headquarters of then Colonel, later General, Joseph Lightburn of the 4th (West) Virginia Infantry. Substantial earth works were built around the building. On September 13, 1862 Charleston was evacuated by the Union Army in the face of advancing Confederate troops. “Rosedale” suffered heavy action and actually was stuck with several cannon balls. The building did survive the Civil War during both Union and Confederate occupation and passed from generation to generation until the late 1960’s when the last Ruffner descendant passed away and “Rosedale” passed out of family hands.
In the early 1970’s, the house and land had been purchased for development and the new owner hoped that the old building could be saved off site as it had been discovered that the original log structure was still in existence. Around this same time, the Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society appealed for funds from the City of Charleston and money was allocated from the mayors discretionary fund to remove the logs and store them until such time as funds and a location could be secured for the reconstruction. In 1975 several Women’s clubs in Charleston: The Altrusa Club, Pilot Club, Quota Club, Soroptomist Club, Zonta Club, and Quota Club of South Charleston formed a Bicentennial Association aimed at preserving local history in the Valley. These groups worked closely with the Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society to secure funding for the restoration of the Ruffner Log House. Some of the original logs had been destroyed in the demolition of “Rosedale” and other logs were donated from Mr. and Mrs. Carlos Thomas from another historic log structure owned by John Hoffman on Dutch Ridge. At the same time the Craik-Patton House, moved in 1973 to Daniel Boone Park, was being restored by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of West Virginia. The land was then owned by the City and it was thought that the Craik– Patton complex would greatly benefit from another greatly historic building on the site. On October 31, 1976 the Women clubs dedicated the Ruffner Log House to the National Society of the Colonial Dames in America in the State of West Virginia presenting it to then NSCDA-WV president Mrs. Joe Witcher Dingess. In the early 2000’s the city of Charleston turned over the Craik - Patton House, the Ruffner Log House, and the property to Craik - Patton Inc. The mission of the Craik - Patton House is to preserve and to promote the history and culture of the Kanawha Valley and the State of West Virginia and with the Ruffner Log House, we are excited to do just that. Hopefully we can help preserve the building for another 219 years!