Beverly: A More Complete History (part three of three)

The 1900’s: Progress and Decline

The next significant event in Beverly’s and Randolph County’s evolution was the expansion of railroads. Henry Gassaway Davis in 1889 brought the railroad to Elkins, then called Leadsville. Davis laid out the new town and opened up the area to timbering and mining. The railroad was extended to Beverly in 1891 but Elkins remained the primary shipping center. Within a few years, Elkins had five times the population of Beverly.

As a consequence of the railroad, the new citizens of Elkins began a campaign to have the county seat removed to Elkins. The first county wide referendum was held in 1890 and was defeated. Beverly built a new courthouse in 1894 in the hopes of hanging on to the county but this building was burned down in 1897 under suspicious circumstances.

The court records were returned to the old courthouse for safekeeping. This event revived the efforts to have the count seat moved to Elkins. On the third vote the balloting was close enough to have the election referred to the courts. A number of Elkins supporters, fearing this would cause endless delay, gathered with weapons to make a surprise assault on the old courthouse in Beverly, intending to move the records themselves. Beverly residents heard of the plan and gathered to defend the courthouse and town. A delegation of community leaders, particularly, Dr. Humboldt Yokum, persuaded the Elkins faction to give up their fight and avoid bloodshed. When the court later ruled in Elkins’ favor, the county records were peaceably moved to Elkins about 1899.

The Beverly Bank opened on January 1, 1900. The Hill Store, the Masonic Lodge, the Beverly Store and the IOOF Hall were constructed within the next decade or so giving the town its current appearance. The new prosperity and growth was centered in Elkins, though, and Beverly came to be more of a residential and agricultural community.