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Joseph Doddridge


Historian and clergyman Joseph Doddridge (October 14,1769-November 9, 1826) was born near Bedford, Pennsylvania. At age four, his family moved to the frontier, settling in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Doddridge, the brother of Philip Doddridge, received a strict religious education at home and attended school in Maryland until age 18. He then spent several years as an itinerant preacher in the Wesleyan Society, traveling for a time with the great Methodist bishop, Francis Asbury. In 1792, Doddridge was ordained a priest and became the first minister of the Protestant Episcopal Church in trans-Allegheny Virginia. There he established churches in Brooke and Ohio counties as well as in Pennsylvania and Ohio. After being married, he studied medicine to supplement his income as a minister, and thereafter he treated both the souls and bodies of his parishioners in his frontier travels.

While noted in his day as a minister, Doddridge is remembered now for his writings, ranging from a Treatise on the Culture of Bees to poetry, songs, and prose dealing with Indian life, including Logan, the Last of the Race of Shikellemus, Chief of the Cayauga Nation. His most important work was Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars of the Western Parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania from 1763 to 1783, Inclusive. Theodore Roosevelt called this book, commonly known as Doddridge’s Notes, ‘‘the most valuable book we have on old-time frontier ways and customs.’’

As frontier minister, physician, scholar, and author, Joseph Doddridge was an important contributor to the development of Western Virginia whose significance is in leaving a record of the history of that time and place. He died at his home in Brooke County.

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Written by Dan B. Fleming

Sources

  1. Ambler, Charles H. West Virginia: Stories and Biographies. New York: Rand McNally, 1937.

  2. Ambler, Charles H. West Virginia: The Mountain State. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1940.

  3. Doddridge, Joseph. Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars of the Western Parts of Virginia. Wellsburgh, VA: Office of the Gazette, 1824, Reprint, New Werner, 1912.