PETER COALBANK, father of
SAMUEL COLEBANK, father of
Rolla (Also spelled Rawley and Raleigh) Coalbank was born to Samuel and Elizabeth (Everly)
Coalbank in Monongalia County, West Virginia on December 22, 1813. Margaret Simpson was born
between 1820 and 1822. It is thought that she was born in Tucker County, West Virginia.
Rolla grew up in Monongalia County, West Virginia. In 1845, at the age of 33, he moved with his
parents to Barbour County. It was only two years after this move that Rolla's father died in March of
The following fall when he was 34 Rolla married Margaret Simpson on October 26, 1847. Margaret
was about 26, Rolla farmed for 24 years in the Sandy Creek Valley which forms the boundary line
between Barbour and Preston counties. As time went by the Colebanks in the valley became
numerous and the community became known as Colebank. There was a time when the hamlet could
boast a post office, 3 stores, a blacksmith shop and a grain mill on Sandy Creek which was powered
by a water wheel. This is where all of Rolla and Margaret's children were born and raised.
Rolla died five days before Christmas on December 29, 1871 at the age of 58 in Colebank, West
Virginia. Margaret was left a widow at age 50 with 5 children under the age of 18: William, age 9,
Hanna, age 11, Mary, age 12, Elizabeth, age 15 and John, age 17. Rolla is buried in the Shiloh
Cemetery near the old Dunkard country church in Cove District, Barbour County, West Virginia.
Margaret was a widow for five or more years. She died after the age of 55 in Colebank. She is buried
with her husband in the Shiloh Cemetery.
The children of Rolla and Margaret were:
James Quinter Colebank (twin) - born 1849 in Barbour County, West Virginia. Died 1899 in Taylor
County, West Virginia. He married Louisa Deahl. (See James Quinter Colebank page)
Sylvanus H. Colebank (twin) - born 1849 in Barbour County, West Virginia. Died 1919 in Nebraska.
He married Adelphia Wolf. (See Sylvanus H. Colebank page)
Samuel M. Colebank - born July 12,1851 in Barbour County, West Virginia. He married Malinda Bell
Freeman, born December 20, 1854 in Preston County. His children were Harman Freeman
Colebank, born March 5, 1875 and Icy Frances Colebank, born in 1876 in West Virginia. Icy married
Daniel Nelson Dumire on April 28, 1902 in Tucker County, West Virginia. Samuel M. died in 1917 in
West Virginia and Malinda died in 1927 in West Virginia. (See Samuel M. Colebank page)
John Thomas Colebank - born 1854 in Barbour County, W. V. He married Hattie Maria Green, then
died in 1914 in San Antonio, Texas. (See John Thomas Colebank page)
Elizabeth Catherine Colebank - born 1856 in Barbour County, West Virginia. She married Lewis
Coleman Coffman. She died in 1934 in Barbour County. (See Elizabeth Colebank Coffman page)
Mary Virginia Colebank - born 1859 in Barbour County, W. V. She married Isaac Jackson Lohr. She
died in 1897.
Hannah M. Colebank - born 1860 in Barbour County, W. V. She died in 1877 at age 18 in Barbour
County, W. V.
William Jefferson Colebank - born 1862 in Barbour County, West Virginia. He married Sarah C.
Bolyard, daughter of James H. Bolyard, born November 29, 1866. Sarah died of tuberculosis on May
27, 1922 in Grafton, West Virginia. (See William Jefferson Colebank II page)
photo courtesy of Dorothy Schooley
Rolla Colebank grave in Shiloh Cemetery
Hannah M. Colebank headstone
|Mary Virginia Colebank / Isaac Lohr Marriage
Record (click to enlarge)
THE BATTLE OF PHILLIPPI
(County Seat of Barbour County)
"Although previous encounters between Confederate and Union troops had taken place at Gloucester
Port, Baltimore and Sewell's Point, the Battle of Philippi, on June 3, 1861, is said to have been the first
significant land battle between the Union and Confederate Armies during the Civil War. The Union
forces, under the command of General B. F. Kelly, surprised and routed the Confederate forces, under
the command of Colonel George A. Porterfield.
The Philippi Bridge, built in 1852, was the first bridge captured during the Civil War. Local legend has
it that President Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, held a secret meeting at
the bridge shortly after the Civil War began in a futile effort to end the conflict."
"Early History of Barbour County, West Virginia"
From: "West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia", compiled by Hardesty.
"The Philipi bridge was the first bridge captured during the Civil War. In 1863, the Union Army was
going to burn it down, but Southern sympathizers in the town prevented it from happening. Sadly
though, in 1989, an accidental fire almost completely destroyed the bridge. It was reconstructed, as
close as possible to the original, and reopened in 1991. It is the only bridge of its kind on the national
Local legend has it that President Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, President of the
Confederacy, held a secret meeting at the bridge shortly after the Civil War began in a futile effort to
end the conflict.
There were many southern sympathies in Barbour County. In January 1861, the Confederate flag was
raised above the county court house. It remained there until Union troops, under the command of
Colonel B.F. Kelley, occupied Philipi on June 3, 1861.
On March 7, 1861 a meeting was held at the county court house to discuss succession for the Union.
Only one man, Spencer Dayton, a native of New England, rose to speak in favor of joining the Union.
After attempting to speak, a gun was leveled at his chest, and he abruptly removed himself from the
meeting by jumping through a court house window.
Fearing for their lives, a group of Unionists later held a secret meeting in Martin Myers Shoe Shop to
elect delegates to the Wheeling Convention (a meeting held in Wheeling to decide whether to
reorganize the state's government or to form a new state). The meeting was later called the "Shoe
Shop Convention." During the meeting, the shop's windows were darkened, the doors were locked,
and only enough candlelight was used to enable the clerk of the meeting to write his minutes.
Aware that Unionists had elected delegates to the Wheeling Convention, southern sympathizers
posted guards at the end of the covered bridge in an attempt to prevent them from leaving the town.
When the time came for the delegates to leave, the only one who would go was Spencer Dayton, the
many who had jumped through the court house window to save his life. He waited until past midnight,
hoping the sentries would be asleep by the time he came through. As he approached the bridge he
whipped his horse to a full gallop and sped across this bridge and onto the turnpike towards Webster.
Although previous encounters between Confederate and Union troops had taken place at Gloucester
Port, Baltimore and at Sewell's Point, the Battle of Philippi, on June 3, 1861, is said to have been the
first significant land battle between the Union and Confederate Armies during the Civil War. In
mid-May, 1861, Confederate Colonel George A. Porterfield arrived in Philippi with an army of 775 men
(600 infantry and 175 cavalry). He then marched to Grafton, and after a very short occupation of the
town, returned to Philippi. On the night of June 2 1861, two Union columns under the command of
General Thomas A. Morris converged on the city from two different directions in an attempt to trap the
Confederate troops. Colonel Benjamin F. Kelley led approximately 1,600 men over back roads from
near Grafton to reach the rear of the town and Colonel Ebenezer Dumont led 1,450 men south from
Webster. Dumont was the first to arrive. He established cannons on the hill overlooking the covered
bridge and opened fire before dawn on June 3rd.. Kelly had barely reached the town's outskirts when
he heard the sounds of attack. He rushed to join in, but his troops were approaching from the north
and east, leaving the turnpike clear to the southwest. Outnumbered and without artillery, experienced
officers, or reliable munitions, Porterfield was forced to call for an immediate retreat along the turnpike
to Huttonsville. Thirty men lost their lives during the engagement, four from the Union Army, and 26
from the Confederate Army. Porterfield was immediately relieved of his command. He later demanded
an inquiry and in it was praised for his coolness under fire, but criticized for his failure to take
precautions against a surprise attack.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, almost all of the county's elected officials supported the South. Many of
them left with Colonel Porterfield, or left by themselves soon after the battle. As a result, the county
government stopped functioning for about five months (the county court adjourned on May 8, 1861 and
did not reconvene until October 7, 1861). On October 27, 1861 elections were held to "fill vacancies."
Lewis Wilson was elected county clerk, James Trahern was elected sheriff, Nathan H. Taft was
elected prosecuting attorney, and Josiah L Hawkings and Samuel S. Lackney were elected
Philippi was, for all intents and purposes, deserted during the Civil War. The people who lived in the
county avoided the town, preferring to stay in their homes. Most of those who lived in the town at the
outbreak of the War moved out.
From: The Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley