- Grant Recipient
Legends & Lore®
- 572 Main St, Hundred, WV 26575, USA
- 39.683981, -80.459204
Friends of Wetzel County
In the 1850s, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad passengers hastened to the train’s windows to catch a fleeting glimpse of “Old Hundred” Henry Church, a centenarian who still gardened, putzed around his house, and farmed his fields, and his nearly-as-aged wife Hannah. He would later lend his nickname to his small town, the Town of Hundred.
Henry was born in Suffolk, England in 1750 and lived a long and colorful life. He began his career as a bodyguard to King George III before serving in the American colonies under Lord Cornwallis. He was captured by the Marquis de Lafayette and imprisoned in Pennsylvania. After the conclusion of the war, he chose to remain in the United States, where he married a Quaker girl, Hannah Keline, born 1755, the beginning of an eighty-two year marriage that would bear eight children. Henry and Hannah pioneered west to Wetzel County, where they cleared land and built a cabin. When the War of 1812 broke out, Henry, now a patriot in his sixties, cheerfully took up arms for his adopted country, but peace was declared before he reached any fighting.
The B&O Railroad opened in 1852, as Henry was turning 102. The Church cabin was visible from the train line, and conductors would direct their passengers’ attention to the Churches, hailed as the oldest couple in all of Virginia, as the train passed through Hundred, where the two venerable wonders might be sitting on their porch, tending their garden, or scything their fields.
Hannah died in July 1860 at the age of 106, and Henry died two months later, at the age of 109 years, nine months, and one day. He is buried in the Hundred Cemetery on the hill above the town, where his impressive longevity is inscribed on his tombstone as a lasting tribute.