John L. Mahan

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
July 11, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 509-510

JOHN L. MAHAN. An early settler of Hancock County.
and for many years prominently associated with the river
traffic on the Ohio, the late John L. Mahan was also a
pioneer in commercial fruit growing in that district, and
part of his extensive property is still devoted to that

He owned about 600 acres in his farm, what is now
Arroyo Station, and during his lifetime he planted about
100 acres of that to a commercial orchard. His old home
was on the river bank, close to the station, which is four
miles north of New Cumberland. The old Mahan residence
stood near the Ohio River. Part of the property is now
occupied by his son-in-law, W. C. Aikin, whose residence
is a quarter of a mile away, on slightly higher ground and
commanding a fine view of the river. The background of
the home are the hills that rise to an elevation of from
200 to 300 feet. Arroyo is the center of the finest fruit
section in the Upper Ohio Valley, and hardly surpassed by
the fruit country of the Eastern Panhandle. Near Arroyo
are probably a dozen men who make apple growing their
leading industry. The higher ridges of land in this sec-
tion are especially fitted for the production of most ex-
cellent fruit.

John L. Mahan settled here in 1840. In early years he
operated a saw and grist mill, and he also built barges and
was part owner of the Cumberland Tow Boat Company.
He did a large timber and barge business. He was an
early convert to apple growing on a commercial scale, and
the efforts he put forth in this line of development have been
continued on his old farm ever since. He died in 1901, at
the age of eighty-seven, having lived retired for some

John L. Mahan married Barbara Brennaman, daughter
of Herman Brennaman. She died at the age of sixty-eight.
Of their ten children the survivors are a son, J. P. Mahan,
an insurance man of Pittsburgh. Another son, S. H.
Mahan, at Rochester, Pennsylvania. A daughter, Mrs. Car-
rie N. Porter, widow of the late Capt. James Porter, a
prominent character of the Upper Ohio Valley, whose his-
tory is given elsewhere. Another daughter is Mrs. George
W. dark, widow of an old steamboat captain on the lower
river. Her home is at Louisville.

Mary Mahan, another daughter of the late John L.
Mahan, died August 29, 1919, wife of W. C. Aikin, who
survives her. They were married in 1889. They lived at
the old Mahan residence until 1910. She and her sister,
Mrs. Porter, had purchased what remained of the old Mahan
estate, and Mrs. Aikin remodeled the house erected by her
brother, S. H. Mahan, on part of the old tract. Mrs. Aikin
was an active member of the local Methodist Protestant

W. C. Aikin was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania,
and at the age of fifteen came to Wellsburg, West Vir-
ginia. For three years he was employed in a drug store,
and he then became an office employe of a steamboat com-
pany, and was in the river traffic for about fourteen years,
part of the time as captain. He was on steamboats all
along the Ohio and Mississippi and their tributaries, and
once or twice went up the Missouri to Fort Benton, Mon-
tana. After leaving the river he was a bookkeeper in a
brick yard at New Cumberland, and for seventeen years
devoted his time to fruit growing and stock raising on the
Mahan farm. He developed a fine dairy herd of Guernsey
cattle. The manager of the orchard is William McDonald,
who lives with Mr. Aikin. Mr. Aikin has a life interest in
the farm and receives half of the profits. He has been an
active citizen in this community, and for twenty years has
been on the school board and has kept in close touch with
school developments in the district.