Backstory and Context
The Buffingtons were one of the first families to settle in the Guyandotte and Huntington area. In 1772, a large chunk of land along the Ohio River was granted to John Savage for his service in the French and Indian War. Savage never settled on the land, and instead sold it to William Buffington of Hampshire County. Buffington in turn deeded the property to some of his sons. One son, Thomas Buffington, had settled in the area by the 1780s. In 1803, Thomas began operating a ferry to transport people and goods across the Ohio River. In 1810, the Virginia state legislature incorporated twenty acres of Thomas’ land as the town of Guyandotte. The land was divided into lots and sold for development, with the money being given to Thomas.
Sources differ as to when the Buffington-McGinnis House was built, with some claiming it to be as early as 1785, and others dating closer to around 1816. The house was designed in the Federal style, common from the 1780s to the 1820s, so either date is plausible. What is known is that the house on Main Street was built by Henry W. and Charles Lewis, but eventually became the home of Thomas and his wife Ann Buffington. The simple two-story brick structure had fourteen rooms and originally featured a veranda on the second story, as evidenced by the second story front door. Reportedly Union troops occupied the house during the Civil War and used it as their local headquarters. By the 1860s, the McGinnis family had acquired the house; from there it passed between several families over the years. The home remains a private residence to this day.
The Buffington family and their descendants were extremely influential in the history of Guyandotte and subsequently Huntington. Thomas Buffington established and ran the first ferry in the local community in the early 1800s. In 1856, the family established the Buffington Mill, which was the largest industry in Guyandotte and reportedly the biggest flour mill along the Ohio River until it was destroyed by Union troops in 1861. Thomas’ grandson, Peter Cline Buffington, became the first mayor of Huntington in 1872. Peter’s son, Edward Stanard Buffington, also served as mayor in 1879, while his other son, Peter Cline Buffington II, served as Cabell County Sheriff and as a member of the state House of Delegates. A daughter, Juliette Buffington Enslow, was a popular socialite who became the victim of a sensational murder at the Enslow Mansion in 1936.
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Highsmith, Carol M, photographer. Buffington McGinnis House Huntington, West Virginia. Huntington United States West Virginia, 2015. -05-08. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2015631886/.
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Miller, Doris C. A Centennial History of Huntington, West Virginia 1871-1971. Huntington, WV: Franklin Printing Company, 1971.
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