The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 27, Number 2, January 14, 2024, Article 26


Dick Hanscom passed along this well-illustrated Daily Mail article about a West Virginia man who discovered a 1770 log fort hidden in the walls of his home. Coins and many artifacts were discovered as well. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article and video online. -Editor

  Byrnside Fort

A small town lawyer from West Virginia was in for an extraordinary surprise when he discovered a 253-year-old pre-Revolutionary War fort hidden inside the walls of his Monroe County plantation home.

John Bryan, 43, a self-described history buff and amateur archeologist, purchased the property in 2019 with a hunch that the large white clapboard farmhouse was built around an old log fort known as Byrnside's Fort.

'We had to buy the property first before being able to take a crowbar to it to see if the logs were inside the walls.'

It was originally built in 1770 by an early settler of Virginia named James Byrnside after his cabin was burned to the ground by Shawnee Indians on the same site in 1763.

The fort — which never came under attack during the Revolutionary War — has been occupied ever since by three families until 2019, when the last descendant passed away.

  unidentified woman near house in old photo

It is believed to be the only one left of its kind along the original Virginia frontier. 'Most, if not all, are nothing but stains in the ground (if archaeologists can even find them),' Bryan says.

'This one, you can see and touch all the original architectural features that nobody living has ever seen.'

After purchasing the home, Bryan began the painstaking process of removing the 1850s plaster to reveal the solid hand-hewn white oak logs of the fort.

1725 cut Spanish silver coin In the process, he unearthed a priceless trove of artifacts belonging to the previous owners from a Civil War-era mourning dress, to 18th century Spanish silver coins, brass buttons from colonial coats, inscribed books from a Revolutionary War soldier garrisoned at the fort, World War I mementos, and hundreds of family photos and daguerreotypes.

  coins found around Union. WV

'We closed on the place and literally five minutes later I drove out there, got a crowbar and went upstairs to one of the bedrooms. Knocked my first hole in the plaster in the wall and uncovered the original logs.'

Thus Bryan began the four-year renovation that saw him remove all the heavy plaster that was installed when the fort turned into a large plantation home during the Civil War.

'It was much it was a much bigger job than I even anticipated,' said Bryan. 'A whole lot of manual labor just getting the stuff down off the ceilings and walls. It was a really big deal.'

Working on the weekends, Bryan slowly began to uncover the original log structure, and in the process he unearthed a trove of antique treasures from the former owners.

The fort was originally built in 1770 as a communal safehouse for six local families to hideout from invading Natives.

They devised a system to have a fort about every nine miles while simultaneously scouting the mountain passes and rivers, Bryan explained. In the event of an impending attack, locals would have enough time to get to their nearest fort.

'It's just really neat because when you stand in the yard, you know people were living there when we were still a colony of England.

'The Declaration of Independence hadn't even been thought of at that point.'

The fort's namesake, James Byrnside, fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant, against a coalition of Native American tribes. It was the last battle fought as a British Colony, paving the way for locals to fight in the Revolutionary War that began in 1775.

After one particular surprise attack in 1763 which saw two Greenbriar families brutally slaughtered when they invited local tribesmen for dinner; West Virginia settlers vowed to do things differently when they rebuilt.

To read the complete article, see:
Man discovers a 253-year-old pre-Revolutionary War fort hidden inside the walls of his West Virginia home and a trove of historical treasures including a sword, blacksmith keys, silver coins, a Civil War-era mourning dress and hundreds of family photos (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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