23 June 2023


A genealogy habit can take you on some strange adventures. I tracked down some ancestors to a town I never knew about——despite being in all the surrounding towns many times over. 

Middleway, WV, originally called Smithfield, “affectionately” nicknamed “Clip” (more on that later), is a town that time forgot.

I had an opportunity for a recent day trip to see it and….it felt like a folk horror stage set of a Harvest Home redux.

With a collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings intact, it stands empty and somewhat devoid of life. Cue the eeriest music available.

Opted to skip the walking tour because…just because. 

Why is the town of Middleway, WV nicknamed “Clip”?

It started with a mysterious stranger showing up in the thriving village in 1794. A local farmer, Adam Livingston, housed him and the stranger died while there. Freaky happenings commenced spilling over into the village.  Among other doings, people found clothing and other items cut into pieces with no other explanation than ‘the “Wizard Clip” did it.’  Hence, the town took on the new moniker of Wizard Clip, shortened to just “Clip”.  A moniker still used to present day. 

Adam Livingston had to find a way to rid his farm and the community of all the crazy going on. A “voice” directed him to find a priest in a nearby town. After some finagling, the priest managed to put an end to all of it and Adam became a convert to Catholicism. 

When Adam left the area a few years later (which seems odd timing to me), he made a deed donating his farm and some land to the church. The deed stipulates that the place will always be in the church’s hands and a priest has to be on board at all times. 

That has been the case since 1802. But…the church has talked of selling recently. A group of ardent volunteers and devotees are keeping it going---for now. If it was sold out of the Catholic Church though….😳

On my recent visit, I was told by a long-term resident that the area is filled with positive vibes (mostly) mixed in with some occasional and benign mischief doings. Let’s hope it stays that way?

(There is a ton out there about all this. If interested, here’s a good starting point: https://priestfield.org/our-story/)

Thanks for reading this far. This tale is really something. I feel derelict in my duties that I am just now learning of it to be honest. That’s another mystery on top of the mystery in my mind.