Home, it is something that defines us all in a way. No matter where we come from, our hometowns have shaped and molded our values and morals from our infancy. My hometown of Ceredo, WV is a little speck on the map in the extreme western part of West Virginia. It is home to little more than 3,500 souls, it is a quaint hamlet that has seemed to change very little through my 30 years. The story behind the town is something that goes overlooked often, even by locals. The town was caught in the middle of fierce sectional conflicts in the late antebellum years right before the Civil War.
In the late 1850s, it was becoming very apparent that the sectional conflicts in the country were steering us towards a Civil War. The scene of some of the most violent actions in the antebellum period was the Kansas and Missouri border. See, in Kansas they were about to vote whether they would be a free or a slave states, and pro-slavery forces were constantly clashing with abolitionist forces. It was into this environment that a group of New England speculators started to buy up land and form land companies to build abolitionist cities in this violent, protested land. The idea was to make money from buying up the land and their moral reasoning was to show that communities would function without slaves quite easily in the area. One of the most famous of these abolitionist towns was Lawrence, Kansas which would have a very rocky start with multiple pro-slavery led raids into the town.
One of the men who had a hand in all of this land speculation was a Massachusetts congressman by the name of Eli Thayer, and now Thayer's vision was moving east. Thayer decided to found his new town in the most famous and influential slave state, Virginia. He goes on multiple trips up and down the Ohio River area and decided to buy a ton of land around the area of Twelve pole Creek right on the Ohio border. He and his other founders name the town Ceredo after the Greek goddess of grain and wheat, Ceres. The goal of the town was to build a farming and manufacturing community relying completely on paid labor, no slavery at all. The backlash from pro-slavery advocates in and around nearby Huntington, WV was swift. It was a poorly kept secret that the people of Ceredo were very influential in helping slaves escape across the Ohio River, becoming a part of the famous Underground Railroad.
Ceredo would not have a chance to flourish like Thayer envisioned, war would break out and kill the active land speculation. The town of Ceredo would survive though and would become home to the 5th West Virginia volunteer infantry that would serve through the first few years of the war, with their most famous battle being their service at 2nd Bull Run. The town of Ceredo would never make the fortune that Thayer envisioned, but the legacy of abolition gives all Ceredotonians something to be extremely proud of.