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Clendenin Family

The Clendenins, prominent early settlers of the Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Ohio rivers, came to the region from central Virginia. They were among the founders of Charleston and of Kanawha and Mason counties, and the Kanawha County town of Clendenin is named for them. Archibald and Charles Clendenin (Clendinen), possibly brothers, were the progenitors of the family in America.

Archibald lived on the Cowpasture River in what is now Bath County, Virginia, and never came to present West Virginia. He died in 1749, leaving a wife, daughter, and sons Archibald and John. John, the younger son, lived in present Monroe County before moving to Tennessee. Archibald Jr. was among the earliest settlers of present Greenbrier County. At his homestead, about two miles west of present Lewisburg, on July 15, 1763, he was among a number of settlers killed by a party of Shawnee led by Cornstalk as part of Pontiac’s Rebellion. Wife Ann soon escaped the Indians and daughter Jane was released many years later, but two young children were killed during or after the raid.

Charles Clendenin, born in Scotland about 1715, had emigrated to Augusta County by 1743. Charles settled with members of his family in the Greenbrier Valley in present Pocahontas County about 1771. Several of Charles’s sons, including George Clendenin, were in the army of Col. Andrew Lewis during Dunmore’s War of 1774. On their march from Lewisburg to the Battle of Point Pleasant the army camped for several days at the Mouth of Elk (present Charleston) to build canoes. It was at this time that the Clendenins first became acquainted with the fertile bottom land along the Elk and Kanawha rivers.

In December 1787, Col. George Clendenin purchased from Judge Cuthbert Bullitt 1,030 acres lying in the vicinity of the Mouth of Elk, the present site of Charleston. He, a company of 30 rangers commanded by Capt. William Clendenin, and other members of the family departed the Greenbrier Valley in 1788. They established Charleston, named in honor of father Charles Clendenin, who died there in 1790. George sold 507 acres of this land to his brothers, William and Alexander.

William Clendenin served as one of the first justices of the Kanawha County court, as well as sheriff, town trustee, and a representative to the Virginia General Assembly. In 1797, he moved his family to present Mason County, which he helped to found in 1804. He was appointed as one of the new county’s justices and elected as its first representative to the General Assembly. William Clendenin held a commission as major during the War of 1812. He died September 15, 1828.

Alexander Clendenin, born in 1754 in Augusta County, came to Kanawha in 1788 and was an ensign in Capt. John Morris’s company of militia. He later settled near Eightmile Island in Mason County, where he died in 1829. Charles Clendenin’s son, Robert, was wounded at the age of 16 in his right hand and arm during a 1763 battle with the Shawnee in present Alleghany County, Virginia. He came to Kanawha in 1788 and was one of the justices of the county. He shortly moved to Kentucky and later to Ohio, where he died in 1808.

Mary Ellen, a daughter of Charles Clendenin, married George Stephenson. They settled at an early date along the Ohio River near Eightmile Island.

Written by Gerald S. Ratliff


  1. Clendenen, John F. & Harriet M. Clendenen. Charles Clendenin of Virginia: His parents, his son Alexander, some of Alexander Clendinen's descendants vols. 1-4. San Luis Obispo, CA: Poor Richard's Press, 2000-2001.

  2. Handley, Harry H. The Clendenin Massacre. Journal of Greenbrier Historical Society, (1970).