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Strange Creek Legend

In 1795, a young greenhorn surveyor’s cook, William Strange, became lost from his party in the forests near the mouth of Holly River. Hearing gunfire and fearful of Indian raiders, he ran. He and his dog scrambled for days across 40 miles of inhospitable country to the upper reaches of what was then known as Turkey Creek, near the eastern corner of present Clay County. The starving Strange settled beneath a sycamore tree to die.

Around 1835, settlers found both skeletons undisturbed, with rifle and shot. Legends say they also found, carved on the sycamore, a poem. Various versions have been quoted over time, but according to W.E.R. Byrne’s Tale of the Elk, it read:

‘‘Strange my name, And strange the ground, And strange that I Cannot be found.’’

Turkey Creek was renamed Strange Creek in commemoration of the unusual event.

Written by Peter Silitch


  1. Sutton, John D. History of Braxton County and Central West Virginia. Parsons: McClain, 1919, Reprint, McClain, 1967.

  2. Byrne, W.E.R. Tale of the Elk. Charleston: West Virginia Publishing Company, 1940, Reprint, Charleston: Quarrier Press, 1995.

  3. Bell, C. W. A Strange Man in a Strange Land. Braxton Democrat, 1/6/1927. Reprinted, 10/2/1987.