Monitor, WV

Monitor, WV (Post Office, Wilkinson, WV)

Monitor, WV Collage

Monitor, WV Collage

Roscoe Thornbury Letter

Roscoe Thornbury Letter

The Monitor Coal and Coke company was opened by 1906 according to the displayed letter for Roscoe Thornbury. Company offices were at Monitor # 1 in a large stone building beside the railroad track.   The other two Monitor company mines were number two (2) and number three (3). Company houses were scattered through these three coal camps. The large stone building at Monitor # 1 also housed the Wilkinson post office. That building is still standing.

Monitor # 1

Monitor # 1

This building later became DeHaven Moving and Storage. A red brick building next door housed the coal company office.  This building  later become the post office which later became a private residence owned by Ellwood Carver.  The most recent Wilkinson post office was located at Monitor # 3. Monitor # 2 was referred to as the Yuma camp and was where the first school was located.

1926 Yuma School

1926 Yuma School

According to Goldie Nagy that two room school was destroyed in the 1937 flood.  My mother, Virginia Taylor, grew up at Monitor # 3.

Virginia Taylor, Teacher

Virginia Taylor -Teacher at the old Yuma School 1930s

After taking normal teaching classes at Logan High School, she began teaching at Switzer Grade School before teaching at her home school at Yuma about 1932.

There was a swinging bridge crossing the creek between Monitor # 3 and Monitor # 2 (Yuma Camp).  A later three- room school which some of us remember stood at the base of the hill below the Yuma cemetery.

Monitor # 3 from Cooks Hill

Monitor # 3 from Cooks Hill

Monitor # 3 was the larger of the three residential camps and was where the company officials lived on Cooks Hill overlooking the coal camp.


1923 Monitor Ball Park

1923 Monitor Ball Park – Virginia Taylor and friend

At the upper end of the camp was a large ball field the community enjoyed for many outdoor activities. That site later became the Monitor Drive In Theater.

Arthur Downing, listed as naturalized citizen from England in the 1920 census, was also listed as Superintendent of mines. His brother, Thomas F Downing, was listed as General Manager.  In the 1940 census C A Cooke was listed as Superintendent. He lived in the big white house above the number one mine on Cooks Hill.  Eddie Atkins delivered newspaper to Mr. Cooke for a couple of years and Eddie’s family, residents of Cherry Tree, purchased groceries at the company store. This would have been about 1939. Rossmore Coal Co, the Micco Company, the Monaville Coal Co., the Crystal Block and several mines at Omar were opened by different rich investors from the north. Later some of the little mines were sold to the bigger companies like Omar Mining and Island Creek. Monitor Coal & Coke remained under the Monitor Coal & Coke  name until they closed shortly after World War II.

Alonzo Clyde Taylor WWI

Alonzo Clyde Taylor WWI

Alonzo Clyde Taylor, after returning form service during WW 1 in France, went to work for the Monitor Coal & Coke Company and lived near his parents Scott and Alice Taylor who lived at # 303. Arthur Downing requested that Clyde man a machine gun for the Coal Association during the mine uprising. Clyde refused saying that he had already seen too blood shed over seas.

Some insight from Ron Curry regarding the Wilkinson post office:

Now, about Monitor # 3 coal camp and environs!  Robert, if you have a copy of Carla’s book, “Monitor Road”, go to page 144 and you will see what I am going to tell you about who was postmaster before my mother, as well as when they started as postmaster.  Carla did the research, and I am presuming that her research is correct regarding the date on which the previous postmaster, before my mother, became postmaster.  I know for a fact that the person who Carla references was postmaster before my mother.  The official postmaster before my mother at Wilkinson, WV was Thomas F. Downing, who Carla references in several places in her book.  Thomas F. Downing was the head man and the Superintendent of Monitor Coal and Coke Co. at Wilkinson.  He was also one of the principal owners of Monitor Coal and Coke Co.  Downing was from Shamokin, PA, which is about 30 miles NE of the capital of Harrisburg.  And old Thomas F. Downing was a very astute guy too.  Early on in the life of Monitor Coal and Coke Co., and this is my supposition here, when Wilkinson got an established post office, Thomas F. downing got himself appointed as the “official” postmaster, and according to Carla in her book, the date of that appointment was February 18, 1915.  My mother’s appointment was May 24, 1950, and she actually took over the responsibilities as postmaster on July 1, 1950.  She served as postmaster until July 1, 1958, just about a month after you and I graduated from LHS, when she went back to school to finish her teaching degree.  Now, when I say that old Downing was astute, here is why.  He was the “official” postmaster from that time in 1915 until July 1, 1950.  And the rest of this is my supposition, Robert, but Downing paid a whole series line of people to actually do the work of postmaster, probably as his approved assistants by the post office department.  I have no idea whether Downing paid those assistants himself, or if they might have actually been employees of the Monitor Coal and Coke Co.  Either way, astute old Downing had all those who worked as postmaster at Wilkinson, from his appointment in 1915 to July 1, 1950, work out a 35 year pension for Downing himself, from the post office department.  He is the one who told my mother that he was from Shamokin and that after he got all of Monitor Coal and Coke shut down, that he was going back to Shamokin, PA.  He had lived in Logan County for all those years, but he went “home” after he had made his fortune and all that, including his retirement from the Post Office Department.  So, the Mr. Penn you mentioned as postmaster was one of those people working out a retirement for Downing.  And incidentally I remember when the old company store there was open.  After they closed the actual company store, they moved the post office into the red brick building which had been the general offices of Monitor Coal and Coke Co.  That red brick building was adjacent to the old company store on the downstream (toward Logan) side of the company store.  The post office was in that red brick building when my mother became the postmaster, and she got permission, after a year or so, to move the post office up to a building my family built out behind our house at Monitor # 3 and adjacent to old U.S. 119 which ran up through there then.  There was a young woman, Doris White, from White’s Addition, who was actually doing the work of postmaster for Downing when my mother took over those duties.  Doris White trained my mother to do the job for 2 or 3 weeks at the time.

Yes, that number, 321, was assigned and put on that house by Monitor Coal and Coke Co.  The metal numbers 321 were just to the right of the front door as you approached it from the dirt street which ran up through the middle of the camp.  Every one of those old houses at Monitor # 3 had their own number in that location on the right side of the front door of the house as you looked at it from the dirt road street.  Of course, down at Monitor # 1, where the company store was located probably had the houses number in the 100’s, and I am guessing that over in Yuma Camp, that was monitor # 2, and therefore all the houses were numbered in the 200’s.  I am just guessing that since I don’t remember actually observing those other camp house numbers, but I know definitely how they were numbered at Monitor # 3.  I delivered The Logan Banner there from 1951 to 1956 and distinctively remember all those numbers on the sides of the houses.  The numbering began down at the lower end of the camp, with the first house next to route 119 being # 301.  The lower house on the back side of the dirt street next to the railroad was house # 302.  Where your mother lived in the second house next to the “hard road” or route 119 was house # 303.  All the odd numbered houses were next to the hard road, and all of the even numbered houses were on the back side next to the railroad.  Our house was the eleventh house up from the beginning house, # 301, and was therefore numbered “321.”

—Ron Curry

Scott Taylor Family of Monitor # 3

Scott Taylor Family

The Scott Taylor arrived at Monitor from Kentucky about 1912.  Scott Taylor had done some mining as well as farming in Carter County, Kentucky.  With four sons almost grown and three young daughters, Scott Taylor came to Logan County seeking more financial security for his family of 11. He would remain at house number 303 at Monitor # 3 for more than twenty years.

Love Letters to a Coal Miner’s Daughter

(Letters from Johnny Jones to Elizabeth Taylor -youngest child in center of group picture)


List of Neighbors at Monitor # 3

Monitor # 3 1930

Front Row Back  Row
301  Waugh, Sam  (still there 1940) 302  Jones, John, later Hatfield, Dewey  ( Monitor # 1 in 1930 but later lived in 301,304,303 )
303  Taylor, Scott (Hatfield Dewey 1940) 304  White, James  (still there 1940)
305  Minick, James 306  Staggs, Dan (still there 1940)
307 308
309 310
311 312
313( Later Moss Burgess) 314
315 316
317  Taylor, Jesse ? 318
319 320
321  (Salino Murder 1918)( Curry Family 1947) 322 Nagy, Dan( arr abt 1931, there 1940)
323 324
325 326
327 328
329 (Rosemary Vidovich 1950s) 330
331 332
333 324
335 336
337 338
339 Church-  Probably built 1950s
341 342
343 344
345 346 Morris, Albert (still there in 1940)
347 348
349 350
351 352
353( Jones, Nathan ? Upper End camp) 354

1920 Census Monitor Number #3

Monitor Photo Gallery

You may also enjoy the Genealogy of Robert McCormack page.

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4 Responses to Monitor, WV

  1. Sonja caynor says:

    I so enjoyed this trip back thru history tho my family was from robinette. All of is special to me

  2. I lived at #3 Monitor 1951-1955. My Dad Lewis Dillo was a Coal miner. I Delivered Charleston Gazette #1#2#3 monitor. Worked at the drive in theater as food preparer daytime and chief curb boy nightly. My sister Ellen Gibson still lives thre in the old home place.
    I become a pastor of several church of God congregations in southern WV. I owned a small restaurant in Huntington and a Mobile catering service that fed the persons that built the interstate from Huntington through Charleston and the construction workers at Amos Power Plant and the workers at the Hecks warehouses. We moved to the area in 1977 and made food products (DILLOS SANDWICHES) for the vending industry and government offices as well as Mount olive state prison. we pastored in the Charleston area until retirement in 2004 . We are presently Charleston area representative for Ministry to Israel in Saint Albans WV.
    Bishop James H. (Jim) Dillo

  3. Beverly Griffin says:

    We use to live in Monitor next to the hard road our last name was Montgomery my daddy and his family preached at the little white church that was there and we attended Yuma school it was a gray colored school my father was president of the pta Eddie Alva Montgomery I think it was 1958 my teacher there was Miss Tony.We moved away when I was about in third or fourth grade parents were looking for work. Eddie ran for State Representative but lost.

  4. Carla Haslam Herkner says:

    Robert, this is a tremendous effort and gives us such a detailed look into Monitor’s early history. My family and I appreciate all of your work and will always be grateful to be able to see these pictures. Best Regards, Carla Haslam Herkner