Backstory and Context
The original Prickett’s Fort was built in 1774 by Captain Jacob Prickett. It was not a military fort, but rather a place for civilian refuge to shelter local settlers from possible attacks from surround Native Americans. When the threat of a Native American attack would occur, families in the surrounding homes in the area would all gather at the fort for protection. They would stay at the fort for as long as the threat existed, which could be as short as a few days or as long as weeks. Referred to as “forting up,” life in the fort during threats of attack was cramped and primitive. The Prickett family continued to live on the original Prickett homestead from the 1770s until the 1960s.
1n 1974, a replica fort was built as close as to the original Prickett’s Fort as possible. The reconstructed fort open to the public today represents the original fort as it would have been found during a period of quiet on the frontier. Therefore, little militia activity is represented at Prickett’s Fort State Park unless visitors come during special events. The Prickett’s Fort Memorial Foundation, under contract with the State of West Virginia, runs the visitor center, the historical interpretation program, and special events on site.
Located near the fort is the Job Prickett House, a 19th-century brick residence, along with the Prickett family cemetery. The historic cemetery is the final resting place of fort builder Jacob Prickett and of Colonel Zackquill Morgan, the founder of Morgantown. The Job Prickett House has on display many of the Prickett family's original furnishings, tools and handmade objects which have been carefully preserved.
The fort site and the Job Prickett house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Prickett’s Fort State Park operates today as a living history experience that will take modern visitors back in time and show them what it was like to live on the western Virginia frontier. The fort is open to public tours from mid-April through October.