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St. Clara

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This is West Virginia at its loveliest—and loneliest. Located at the extreme southern tip of Doddridge County, this remote and now all but vanished settlement was founded in the midnineteenth century as part of a conscious effort to attract immigrants to western Virginia. Joseph H. Diss Debar, native of Alsace and agent for a large landholder, greeted immigrants arriving in New York with offers of free or cheap land, and he induced more than fifty German and Austrian families to accept the offer. He built a house, named the colony after his wife, Clara, and became postmaster. After West Virginia entered the Union, Debar, who designed the state seal, was appointed the state's first and only commissioner of immigration. A number of weathered farm structures scattered in overgrown fields throughout the loosely defined settlement attest to its agricultural beginnings, while pumps and storage tanks here and there attest to the role that oil still plays in the economy.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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