Beginning in the early 1870s, following their construction jobs on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, seven Irish immigrants and their spouses purchased contiguous acreage, mostly mountainous, in Fayette and Greenbrier counties north of Green Sulphur Springs in West Virginia. This area became known as the Irish Tract. Part of the Greenbrier land became Summers County in 1871, so the tract is now divided among three counties. The purchasers were Richard Twohig, Terence Foley, Florence Donahue, Thomas Hurley, Cornelius Coughlin, Michael Goheen, and Michael Relihan. A log Catholic church was erected in 1879, and the present Sacred Heart Church of Spring Dale was built in 1899.
By 1900, there were 18 farms of the settlers and their children and later Irish arrivals on more than 3,000 acres within a common boundary. Nearby were the farms of Michael Powers and Cornelius McGillicuddy. Irish immigrants to the surrounding area prior to 1870 included Daniel Griffin, John Donahue, and James Hurley, all of them church members.
The highest elevation within the tract, at over 3,300 feet, was named Irish Mountain, not to be confused with the better-known Irish Mountain in nearby Raleigh County. Farming on the extensively cleared areas continued until the 1940s. The last cultivation within the original tract ceased in 1983. More than 200 people have resided within the tract boundaries. The cemetery has 175 graves.
This Article was written by Basil Hurley
Last Revised on August 27, 2012
Hurley, Basil. Tales from the Irish Tract. Goldenseal, Spring 1998.