This was originally published on Martha Sparks’ My West Virginia Mountain website and is reprinted here with her permission and our special thanks for allowing us to bring back these wonderful memories and stories.
Note: E-mail links were removed because of privacy issues and many were no longer valid.
These were in response to my question of where the Dr. Pepper was bottled.
DR Pepper was first bottled on the Holden Road and in Cherry Tree area. I am not real sure but I think Mrs. Josie Vance was the bottler. She had Red Rock Cola and Canada Dry Ginger Ale and than I think DR Pepper. There was a man by the name of Hill Rigdon that started a beverage company and I think it was Pepsi and than Nick Savis bought this out and he also had the 7 Up plant in the place Mrs. Vance started her beverage plant and this was in the 40`s and this area Mr. Savis bought the old pumping station that was up Rich Creek, I think this was the Hope Natural Gas Pumping Station, and he brought the building to Stollings where the present Pepsi Plant now stands.
When I was in Logan I was in the tire business and some of my best customers were the beverage companies. Hill Rigdon operated R C Cola and the Vances had 7up on the Holden Road.
Harold Hunnicut from Princeton came to Logan and started Pepsi Cola at Stollings and the war came along and he had trouble getting sugar so he sold it to Nick Savis. Harold and I became friends when I came to Princeton. He did a lot for Princeton and we have talked many times about him selling to Nick Savis.
Nick got his start by taking a option on the building where Franklin’s was located. He borrow the money from Ose Ritchie to do this and Ose was attempting to take a option on the building and Nick beat him to it. Ose and I have talked about this several times. His office was just across the street from me when I managed Logan Goodyear Storage.
Nick sure was a fine person and he came to Logan and was a dish washer at the New Eagle Rest. So you see he started the hard way.
In the years past I did business with all of these guys and they all have purchased many Goodyear Tires. Hill Rigdon got his start selling clothes. He sold suits for a outfit out of Cinn. and when I worked at the Post Office in Logan when I returned from the Army air Corp I have delivered many of his suits.
Martha, Dr. Pepper was bottled by the Coca Cola bottling company that used to be located in downtown Logan. I remember when they closed the bottling company there and started bringing it in from Charleston. That had to be in the early to mid 70’s.
James M Lee
When little league was twenty five years old we had a championship team that liked one game going to the world series in Williamsport. I would like to know what happened to all of these boys. I do remember some of them and would love to make contact with them if possible. Please inform me if anyone knows any of these boys. I am sure I have forgotten a few. Bob Damron Billy Riffe, Bill Wooten, David Allie, The Davis Twins Jerry Bailey, Steve Vance, I am sure I have left a few out. The officers asked for donations to put on a picnic on the Island and the price of admission was a Cinder Block for all adults, I think in those days they cost about twenty two cents each and we felt most people would bring at least a dollars worth. This was how the block were obtained to help build the field. Millard Porterfield was the manager of AEP in those days and they were taking down Substations, they cut the post at the top of the ground and gave the fencing to Little League. Joe Fish who operated a junk yard furnished pipe to weld onto the post so they could be used again. C & O Railroad furnished the ties for the fence and the telephone company furnished a truck to dig the holes. This was sure a community project. Several years later after I moved to Princeton and after a golf game one day the foursome was talking. One guy said that he had played Little League in one of the best parks in WV, I asked where, he said Logan. I told him how the field was built and was he ever surprised. His name was Jim Kelly and his father worked for the Bakery, he is now in NC.
Would love to hear from anyone that can add to this story.
Hello, I have been doing a family tree, for a long time now on the Bartram’s. My fiancee’s great grandfather is Sam Bartram. He was born 9-8-1883 in Wayne Co. s/o James Philip Sheridan Bartram & Arminta Hooser. When she died at the of age 91 she was Arminta Johnson. I really felt for this women, before she died she lost a husband and 4 boys. 2 of her son’s were murdered , one to a war, one died of a stroke.
But the one I want to know about is Sam. He was murdered Oct 30, 1927. He was shot 3 times. We just found out how he died. My Granny Dollie Dixie Nelson/Bartram just turned 83 in Dec, and she never knew the truth of her father-in-law’s death until July 1999. I found a Logan news paper article. He was known as a hell cat and always ready for a fight. A drinker and womanizer. When he died he was a miner, I don’t know where yet. Is there any way you can help me with this, or find someone who could. I really like you web site and have it marked as my favorites.
Chnea Meece aka, Yoyo
When I was in attending Logan Central, I used to walk down those old steps from Logan Central to Hall’s Drug Store. It seemed like a million miles away from my home on Lake, but I loved those “Little Willies” they served there!!
Does anyone else remember those??
Life in the 1500’s, some interesting things to ponder.
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a “wake”.
England is old and small, and they started running out of places to bury people. So, they would dig up coffins and would take their bones to a house and re-use the grave. In reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on their wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to listen for the bell. Hence on the “graveyard shift” they would know that someone was “saved by the bell” or he was a “dead ringer”.
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and were still smelling pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the b.o.
Baths equaled a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”.
Houses had thatched roofs. Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the pets…dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. So, they found if they made beds with big posts and hung a sheet over the top, it addressed that problem. Hence those beautiful big 4 poster beds with canopies. I wonder if this is where we get the saying ” Good night and don’t let the bed bugs bite…
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying “dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors which would get slippery in the winter when wet. So they spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed at the entry way, hence a “thresh hold”.
They cooked in the kitchen in a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They mostly ate vegetables and didn’t get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been in there for a month. Hence the rhyme: peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”
Sometimes they could obtain pork and would feel really special when that happened. When company came over, they would bring out some bacon and hang it to show it off. It was a sign of wealth and that a man “could really bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food. This happened most often with tomatoes, so they stopped eating tomatoes… for 400 years.
Most people didn’t have pewter plates, but had trenchers – a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Trenchers were never washed and a lot of times worms got into the wood. After eating off wormy trenchers, they would get “trench mouth.”
Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the “upper crust”.
Laura Curry sent this out on a mailing list, I thought they were so interesting I was sure you would enjoy them also.
I would like to share with all of you something I can add to my “education of the southern ways”:
A while back your list was discussing old southern sayings. Today while I was talking to my daughter I had a flashback to my beautiful late mother-in-law teaching me how to cook fried chicken. I was born in Ohio and raised in California, never was around southern people before.
I moved to Michigan to live with my mother right after my 16th birthday (my parents were divorced). I met my husband when I was 17 and we married about 1 and 1/2 years later. We lived with his parents and 4 brothers and 1 sister for the first 4 months of our marriage. I was quite a sheltered girl- had to learn to cook- my mother-in-law was patient and fun loving. My 2 unforgettable cooking experiences are as follows: She showed me how to cut up a whole fryer. Then we “wrench” it off. The pieces that still have the tiny little hairy feathers on them, well, you need to hold the pieces over the “far” and that will “syringe” them off. I thought I would laugh til I cried- She was deadly serious and I was an uncontrollable giggle-box!!!
She wanted to teach me to make biscuits from scratch- She told me,” You get the “flare” and we’ll make “beeskeets” . I looked her straight in the face and said, What is “flare”? She laughed and said, “you know, Gold Medal Flare”. She made the best scratch biscuits I ever ate. She cut them with a drinking glass. I just had to share this with you. I truly enjoyed the chat about the mountain language that was on the Logan list a while back. She also said: pos-tes for posts, vest-es for vests, and tushes for one of her teeth. I loved her and miss her terribly, She taught me a lot and I appreciate each and every day I had with her. I taught her how to eat artichokes and deep fried mushrooms. It truly was the North meets the South. I still find myself using sayings and remedies she used. I see so much of her and my husband in my girls. I want to come down and visit Logan and Mingo counties to show my daughters and my 2 grand kids their mountain roots.
God Bless you all, Gloria Damron
Logan had a baseball team one time called the Logan Indians, they played at Monitor ball park, later it was a Drive Inn Theater, and I think it is now a shopping center. Max Butcher from the Man area used to pitch ball here before he went with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stan The Man Musial play here for the Williamson Team. That was some pretty good baseball in those days.
At a game one time some of us young boys were swinging on the wire that supported the pole the lights were on. We would run and attempt to swing in a complete circle. One of us ran and hit the wire pretty hard and the pole shook and a flash and the lights went out. The game that was in progress had to be called because of the lights that went out. On the way home for sure I was not about to tell my Father what had happened, I do not think anyone ever knew we boys caused the problem.
I am Richard Eugene Long, originally from Logan County, WV and now living Kenner, LA. I don’t feel that anything I say here has any particular significance other than it might stir some memories in others who take the time to read this.
My parents were living in an apartment in Peach Creek when I was born. Dad had left North Carolina to come to West Virginia to work for the C&O RR when the Atlantic Coast Line RR in his home town had gone out on strike. A man from the C&O came out to meet them when they arrived at Peach Creek and when he bent over to help with the luggage, it was obvious that he had a revolver stuck in his belt. Dad had serious misgivings about whether he had made the right decision in coming to WV. As I remember Dad telling it there was no vehicular bridge across the river at that time and so as the time for my birth approached, mother and dad walked across a swinging bridge to West Logan to get transportation to Logan General Hospital where I was born.
My first recollections of anything, we were living in a rental house in West Logan which belonged to Mason White. (Why do we remember details like that when we can’t remember what happened yesterday?). The house was on the river side of the cinder alley which ran through West Logan and the back of the house was elevated where it extended back toward the river bank. It made a cool place under the house to play in the summertime. For heat, we burned coal in a grated fireplace and stoked the fire at night. It made for some very chilly mornings before the fire could be stirred up. Some of our neighbors were the Gilleys who had no children, he was a veteran of WWI, the Murphy’s who had daughters, Mary Francis and Nancy, the Blankenships who had a son, Harry and a daughter whose name escapes me although I still have a childhood picture of her, the Clemons and the Clendenings and later the Noels whose younger son, Don presently lives only a short distance from me here in Kenner. My younger brother, Don, who died in 1995, and I spent many fun filled days playing up and down the alley as it was called in those days and may still be.
When it was time to start school, I went to the West Logan Grade School which was a relatively new red brick building at that time. It must have been well built as it still is standing although no longer used as a school. Two of the principals that I remember are Rex Plymale and F O Woernor who also taught Arithmetic Mothers of the PTA prepared the hot lunches at the school and I vividly remember that for a couple of years at least, all the children were lined up and given a tablespoon full of cod liver oil every day. Carrie Spry Browning taught English, she was tough, and we learned how to diagram sentences and we memorized the poem, September. “The goldenrod is yellow, the corn is turning brown, the trees in the apple orchard with fruit are laden down”. Mamie Mullins taught Science and we learned that “Tides are caused by the attractive forces of the sun and moon as they are exerted upon the earth”, Mrs Elkins taught History and we had a young man teacher who played either softball or baseball and had acquired the nickname of Cotton, we were supposed to call him Mr. Craddock but all the kids called him Cotton when they thought he was out of hearing range. He caught me reciting Patrick Henry’s “Give me Liberty” speech on the playground one day to some of the younger children and ever afterwards he called me preacher and I retaliated by openly calling him Cotton.
Behind the school on the alley lived Mr and Mrs. C.C. Morgan, he was a machinist at the Peach Creek shops, Wallace Sowards and I think his Aunt, The Bays with their daughter Mary Francis, they had a black Packard automobile which I much admired; across the “hard road” diagonally in front of the school lived the Krauses with their son, Roger and their daughters Joanne and Mikel and beside the school lived the Harrisons with their daughter Betty. One year there was a fire at a elementary school in Logan and some of the children were sent to West Logan. We looked on them as big city folks. I remember Marge Ramsey, Tommy Paul and David Mullins as being in that group and there probably were others including possibly Hampton Haislip. After eight grades at West Logan we went to the Junior High on the hill in Logan for the ninth grade.
It was here that I decided that I would like to be in the band. Carl McElfresh directed this band as well as the high school band and my dad played in McElfresh’s dance orchestra along with Tracy Vickers, Peanut Ellis and others. Tracy was a successful Chapmanville merchant and Ellis drove the city garbage truck. Tracy had a Bach trombone which is a fine instrument that he wanted to sell to dad for my use but being a not too smart ninth grader, I insisted that I wanted a new horn, it was several years later before I realized how superior the Bach instrument was and what a poor choice I had made. Dad like most railroad men carried a gold, 21 jewel pocket watch of which he was very proud. Tracy Vickers, on the other hand carried a cheap Two dollar pocket watch and one day dad asked him why he didn’t get him a good watch. Tracy’s reply was that when his watch quit keeping good time he simply threw it away and bought another one with less hassle and expense than it would take to repair an expensive watch. Perhaps that philosophy was behind his success.
After conquering the ninth grade, I went on to enter the old high school in the east end of Logan. The Hagans with their son Norman lived adjacent to the school. I was assigned to Mrs. Thomas’s home room along with Leland Hockett, Ralph Herbert, Sylvania Baer, Helen Honaker, Betty Dell Steele, Jeanette Blevins, Marge Ramsey, Carrie Clark, Todd Willis, Dave Mullins, Mary Louise Ghiz and many others. A few of us are still surviving. Ms. Cobb was the chemistry teacher and Ms. Cline had Journalism, Mr. Vickers was the principal. The big event of the year for the band was the annual band festival at Huntington. We always stayed at the Huntington Hotel and Ted Ghiz was usually my room mate. Finding a place to practice our marching maneuvers in preparation for the festival was always a problem. I remember one year we practiced on a field at Slabtown which was covered with slate and cinders. It was very rough and made for some sloppy maneuvers but it gave us an excuse for our ragged marching. Sometime during my high school years my parents bought a small house in Justice addition and we moved from West Logan. The C.C. Morgans who had also moved from West Logan were our next door neighbors and across the highway lived the Bells who already had two sons in the military. Also in the neighborhood were the Kuhns with their sons, Frank and Richard, and the Ball family with sons Ralph and Wetzel and a daughter whose name I do not recall. Above us toward Logan lived Mrs. Tom Dawson with her daughters Jean and Frances and two sons, Tom and Dick.
During my high school days to make a little spending money I worked at the Middleburg theater in Logan as an usher and gofer along with Ronald Noel and Alice Ferguson. We made the princely sum of twenty five cents an hour and saw many cowboy movies and serials on Saturdays. Most of our wealth was spent in the little sandwich shop adjoining the theater. Other than the movies there was not much entertainment available and I remember that we often drove to Logan on Saturday nights, parked on the street and sat in the car and watched the people go by. On Saturday nights there were always many people in town. I believe that people are still doing the same thing except today they go to the malls to do their people watching. I was a 17 year old high school senior when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. My uncle, dad’s brother was a career Navy man aboard the USS Arizona and was shortly reported as missing. It made for a sad Christmas for us as well as for many other families. No television then but I remember we listened carefully to every news report on the radio and looked forward to the latest RKO Pathe News Reels at the theater.
After graduation in May, Ronald Noel and I enrolled at the Parkersburg Business College sometimes referred to as the Beanery. On our own for the first time, we sampled Egyptian cigarettes, learned to smoke a pipe and drink sloe gin, and learned a little typing and other related if not exciting subjects. We stayed there until Christmas of that year, 1942. Home at Christmas and now 18, I knew that my draft number would soon be called and so I went to the board and told them to just go ahead and do it and end the suspense. My “Greetings from the President of the United States” ordering me to report for induction arrived just a few days later. It was dated Jan.1, 1943. The typist was a girl who had graduated a year earlier and knew me and so she typed across the top “Happy New Year”. I thought it was appropriate then when 3 years later on Feb. 14, I received my discharge and I was tempted to write across it “Happy Valentines Day” In less than two weeks, Ronald Noel, Ervin Queen, Roscoe Thornbury, myself and Tommy Domencich were shipped to Huntington for induction. Tommy had a younger sister who saw us off, she kissed each of us goodby and she was crying. I knew then that this was serious. At Huntington we were asked if we liked girls and were given a physical. I believe I was the only one of the group who passed the physical on the first go around although every one knew that I was practically blind in one eye and could hardly see out of the other one. I was classified as “Limited Service”. I weighed 124 pounds, I knew that the enemy was frightened by my entry into the fray. My “Limited Service” classification earned me the right to be a rifleman in the US Army Infantry where I served 3 years with honor if not with distinction. That ended my permanent residency in Logan County although I returned briefly after the war before enrolling at WVU where I again met up with Ted Ghiz and we unofficially opened his old fraternity house and bunked there for the rest of the summer term. As veterans we were entitled to Liquor rations and not knowing what else to do with the coupons, we purchased liquor although neither of us were very fond of it. We had a well stocked closet which we mostly left when summer ended. I suppose some fraternity guy later wondered where that liquor came from. During the summer, my dad was transferred to Columbus, Ohio and so in the fall I transferred to Ohio State, lived at home and rode the streetcar to the University. At Columbus, I again met Ralph and Wetzel Ball who with their family were now living in Columbus near the University. Wetzel introduced me to a girl from Charleston whom I later married. After graduation as an electrical engineer, we returned to Charleston where I first was employed by IBM and later by Union Carbide. Sent to Louisiana for a six month temporary assignment during the start up of a new Carbide plant, I stretched that to 17 years and retired here in 1986.
I’m proud of my Logan County roots and always enjoy my visits back. I will always cherish my early years there and the memory of the many fine people I met and know.
Richard Eugene Long
We took a very active part in this program when I lived in Logan. I was President of the league one time when we had a championship team.
We first went to Man and won, then to Ceredo Kenova and won, then we had to go to Charleston. Bill Becker had broadcast every game and knew we were running short of money. He invited me on his morning program one morning and we talked about Little League Baseball, and how much it cost to make these trips. He asked me for a estimate as to how much this trip would cost, I do not remember the figure, it was over three hundred bucks. When left the radio station and returned to the store I received a phone call from a local business man, he said he was sending his son down with a check for the amount that I needed, that was my friend GEORGE CALANDROS (hope the spelling is correct)
He used to be a engineer for Island Creek coal company and we were always friends. When they decided to put a drive way through and under Harris Funeral home they had a problem trying to make the slope so the long ambulance would not drag. They mentioned it to Lonnie one day and he took a scrap of paper out and gave them instruction on how to do it, they gave him free parking for his life. He, like me, moved to this area and became President of Kersey Manufacturing , he died in this area and Bill Becker, and Otis Ratcliff came up for his funeral, we went to the cemetery together.
There is a small town located off route 19, just above Summersville, WV. The town acquired it name in a unique way. It used to have a logging camp several years ago and the men working on the job stayed there. When they came in for breakfast in the mornings the cook would say sausage er bacon. So they named the town Erbacon.
This is the story they tell in the area.
Okey mention Ma Justice and her son Jack. She had about three different locations in Logan, moved at least a couple of times. I went to school with her son Jack and he was a very tall person with the largest feet in the school. He flew into Taplin one time on business and to see his Mother and on his way out the plane crashed at about the Earling school and he and pilot were killed. Jack was well liked in school and was a very friendly person. Mae Swain who operated a business for several years in Logan lived with Ma Justice for several years. She had a good list of people renting from her. She ran a nice place and ran a good clean operation for a rooming house.
When I was a young boy and lived up Mud Fork we boys would get together on Saturday to go to town and see the Cowboy show on Saturdays. We would ride our bikes down beside the railroad tracks, it was a lot closer this way and we could make the trip in about fifteen minutes down, a little longer back as it was up hill. We had to get off and push our bikes across two railroad bridges. We would leave our bikes at Fussy Straughn’s Pure Oil Station just across the street from the Middleburg Theater. In those days you could go to the show for a dime and a popcorn was a nickel. If you did not have the cash you could go to Tomessitti’s Hot Dog stand and buy a ticket for scrip. It would cost a little more, but the important thing was to see what was in the serial that came on weekly, like a soap opera today.
Families in Peach Creek were what I would describe as “institutions”. What I’m about to do is a test on my own memory. I think I can list most every family that lived there in the ’40s and early ’50s. Starting on Front Street right side (pass the apartment building) lived the Jim McDonald family and daughter Anna Hale. Jim worked as carpenter for Chafin-Jones-Heatherman Coal Company; then the John McDonald family. He was the town barber; the Hackworth family; the Cowards. He was a C&O conductor; the Bias family; the Thornberry family; the Childers family; the Broughton/Corn family; the Gould family and later the Jay Rowe family; the Rev. McGuire family; in the same order on left side of Front Street: Mrs. Baldwin (mother of former jailer Ed Baldwin) and the Newman family were two families I recall living in the apartments over the theater and the C&O Commissary. The Herb Ferrell family lived in the first house; the Moorland family (He was a C&O engineer), the Windy Newman family and later the Belcher family; the Watts Bias family (He was a C&O conductor), the George Hall family, parents of Bubbles and Patty; then there was the White Boarding House; the Eberly family, the Glazier family, parents of Jack, Margaret, and Donald; then in the big house on the corner lived the Clark sisters. The house on the next corner was home to Jim Keefer and later Bob Butcher; then there was the Arringtons, mother of Margaret who married famous Marshall College coach Herb Royer. (Margaret Arrington Royer was my teacher in 7th grade). The Hangers lived in the next house with their grand children Bobby and Joy. Bobby went on to become a prominent TV anchor in Cleveland, I believe. Then there was the Gooch residence. Mr. Gooch was a C&O conductor. I can still see how Mrs. Gooch drove the very old car (even at that time it was old) stiff armed to the steering wheel. The Jackson’s (he was a C&O engineer) lived in the next to last house (before Peach Creek Hollow begun) and Nig Pierces lived in the very last house with their daughter Francis.
The Back Street was home to the Gayheart family, including “Gut” a popular football player at Logan High, and across from them, living in the rear of the apartment building was the Rutherford family and next to them was the Ezra King home. Just above the Gayhearts was the home of Elvin Legg and family. This house was later the home of a writer/owner of another popular web site that many of you who read this would know. There were several houses sort of “stacked” on the hill here, but I can’t remember names of those living there. Next house on Back Street was home of the Joe Suarez family; then the W.O. Wilson family (no relation); then there was the Martin Gleason family; the McNeely family; the Davis family, including Ronnie, Connie, and Mary Elizabeth (who I believe still lives there). Next dwelling was that of the Reynolds family; then the Charlie Amos family; the Gurley White family; the Thornton family; the Charlton family, the Hall family, and finally the Comptons. Also across the street from the Gurley White family lived the Kuhn family.
I cannot be sure of all names being spelled correctly; and perhaps I transposed or don’t remember some families, but all the names mentioned did live on Front and Back Streets of Peach Creek at one time or the other during the l940s and 1950.
You asked about a place on Dingess St. and it brought to mind a true story that happened one time. A Italian fellow by the name of Angelo ran a place on Dingess St. As most Italians in those days he spoke broken English. The city police in those days had a telephone number of 1100 and you had to go through a operator to get any number that you might be calling. On time Angelo had a problem in his place and he needed the police, he picked up the phone and said, “operation, operation, givame one same alike double nothing.” Not sure if he was connected to the police or not. True story off of Dingess Street it is told.
There are facilities in and around Peach Creek that I would call “landmarks” and common only to this area, meaning they could not be found anywhere else in Logan County.
The YMCA building was the first major structure one saw after crossing the bridge from West Logan into Peach Creek. It stood proudly for many years, often being flooded on the lower level and the parking lot when the Guyandotte overfilled it’s banks, which was often, before the Justice Dam was built near Gilbert. I think it was five floors containing rooms almost always filled with C&O employees. The main level consist of a barber shop with Mr. Charlie Dacus as barber, a big recreation room where one could always find off duty railroaders playing dominos or checkers or just relaxing and reading the morning paper I’d sold them. (This was before television). Additionally, there was a cafeteria style restaurant where delicious food was always available ’round the clock’. It wasn’t too unusual to see entire families “eating out” there on Sunday afternoon. As a kid delivering the morning newspaper, I always look forward to delivering to my customers in the “Y” because I would get warm on a very cold morning!
The caboose side track was a short spur where the cabooses used by out-of-town crews were parked. The interior of a caboose consist of a few bunks, a coal stove, a ladder that led to the upper level where the crew sat, and other items such as fusses and flags. Sometimes some of the crew members would live on these cabooses, sleeping, eating, and relaxing while waiting for their return trip. Every train entering the yard with empty coal cars had a red caboose on the rear end of the train and they would be parked on the spur track sometimes for several days. Cabooses have been extinct for many years, but they were indeed landmarks in the peak years of railroading.
Did you ever wonder how a huge railroad steam engine was turned around to face another direction. The same principal as your dinning room lazy susan with railroad tracks running across it would best describe the “turn-table” used to move the engines into the round house for maintenance or repairs, or to simply turn them around. The engines would be moved onto the table, a powerful motor would turn the table toward a bay of the round house, the engine would be moved into the round house, or sometimes, they would simply be turned so they would be facing forward instead of backwards for their next destination. The round-house was a huge building shaped like a half circle (thus the name “round-house”), where perhaps a dozen engines of various lengths could be parked at the same time for repairs or maintenance. Now the steam engines are gone and so is the “round-house”. Now the YMCA is gone, the caboose spur track is gone because the cabooses are gone too. No need to have the round-house or turn-table either, because the steam engine is no more.
This guy taught me the tire business and I later replaced him in his job. He was single and never married and did not go to church anywhere, yet he was a very good man. Each year at Christmas Time he would find a couple of families that need help or Santa to come see them. He would write me a check for $500 and wanted me to make a good Christmas for them. I always brought the things that I want to eat at the A&P Store as Mr. Carter knew what I was doing and he would help me with the items I purchased . I would gather all of this stuff together along with some gifts for the kids and deliver it to the families he picked out. I would then deliver this to the families not telling them who it came from. I am sure the good Lord Blessed Bill for this and it sure made me feel great doing this for them. One time I had to go to Delbarton to make the delivery so you never knew just where you had to go to make a Christmas for someone that really need it.
There are communities within the community of Peach Creek. Going north between Peach Creek and Crooked Creek is an area about 1/2 mile long called Griffithsville. The road ran along the C&O tracks and homes were located on the hill above the road and both sides of the road about 1/4 mile from the Peach Creek post office. I think every family living in those houses had at least one member that worked for the railroad. One house, however, was the home of one of the bootleggers mentioned in a previous article. Folks living along that stretch of road got used to sleeping with all the noise associated with the railroad yards. Peach Creek “town” consist of Back Street and Front Street. Back Street started at the post office or the home of Logan High School football player of the late ’40s and ’50, Chester “Gut” Gayheart and extended to the Compton residence. Front Street begin between the stores of O. J. Adkins and Watson Staton (and Charlie Staton earlier) and extended to just beyond the Methodist church at the bridge that crossed the creek. I think the Pierces live, (or was it the Jacksons?) R in the very last house on Front Street. From that point it was Peach Creek “holler”. (It should be stated here that it was a misconception that Peach Creek people were better then Peach Creek holler people!) For many years the wood four room-two story school building was a landmark of Peach Creek. It was the very first structure one would see after crossing the old wood bridge one crossed to enter Peach Creek Hollow. Hundreds of kids completed the 6th grade in the old building and then were promoted to the 7th grade and walked to West Logan grade school for the 7th and 8th grades before riding a bus to Logan Jr. High for the 9th grade. Actually, most of the population that made up Peach Creek probably lived in the coal camp that made up most of the community. Chafin-Jones-Heatherman Coal Company was without question the largest employer in the Peach Creek area in the peak days of coal mining. The company later became Jewell Ridge Coal Company. For many years William H. Cooke was the general manager and Troy Wilson was the superintendent of the coal company. (They were both killed in accidents within 6 months of each other. Wilson was killed in a slate fall and Cooke crashed his airplane into a hillside opposite the Taplin airport). I recall that on several occasions, loaded coal cars broke loose at the coal tipple and run out of control down the tracks until derailing just above the “Cut”, spilling tons of coal in the yards and porches of coal camp houses along the tracks. There was a time when the coal company community was thought of as being a “model coal camp”. Mr. Cooke was proud of the coal camp and made sure the houses were well maintained, painted regularly, and fenced. But time marches on. The landmark school has been gone for years (even the West Logan grade school has been closed for many years), the model coal camp has deteriorated to the point that those of us who lived and grew up there wouldn’t recognize it today. The railroad that went up the hollow to the coal tipple has long been gone. R.J. Blankenship’s company store and the mine office above it are long gone. The old boarding house where the Robinson’s live has been gone for years. The coal seams have been depleted and almost all signs of a first class mining operation are gone. The generation that do live in the area now probably know nothing of “the way it was” in those days. Those who live in Peach Creek area today know only of Peach Creek the way it is today. They will never know of the great neighborhood that it was once. And that is so sad. Is it really progress??
When I managed Logan Goodyear Storage , Carson Browning the owner had made a two room apartment upstairs for a Hungarian man to live in, he had no one in the world. Well during the war he rang the bell across the street everyday at noon. This was done to remind people to pray for the service men. Well after the war he rang the bell everyday as he had for years. Judge Chambers lived up Cole Street and one day he was going by when Jasper rang the bell, he said Jasper why do you still ring the bell everyday, Jasper spoke in broken English and he said Judge you runim court and I ringim bell. He died in the Mercy Hospital and gave me his wallet and said that was his go home money. He was buried at McConnell I had a witness and we had trouble counting the money, it had been in the wallet for so long it was stuck together.
By chance, do you remember this place, it used to be on Dingess Street and was a very rough place. When John F. Kennedy was running for President I came driving down the street one day and saw Bobby Kennedy sitting at the bar on a stool. That evening a meeting was held in a hotel room at the Aracoma with him, if I remember, this was a couple of days before the election, and this was when the Logan County Executive Comm. changed and supported John F. Kennedy. It was because A. T. Massey in Richmond told Raymond Chafin to change from Hubert Humphries. Raymond at that time worked for Omar Mining and Massey owned the company. Of course you could never have got Raymond to admit to this. This was the way that it happened and a few of the guys that was in the meeting with Bobby are still around. To start the change I think Bobby called Sam Giaconna in Chicago and he started the change. Not sure about this but, after I read his book it sure sounds like this was the way it happened. Sam was the underworld figure that ruled Chicago at the time and supported the Kennedy’s.
Life in Peach Creek
As mentioned before, many high school age boys worked ’round the clock’ at the C&O Yard office simply because crews were coming and going ’round the clock’. Personnel working out of the yard office were in a support role of the operation crews. There were scores of trains every 24 hours bringing empty coal cars into the yard and scores of crews taking the empty cars from the “empty yard” to the scores of active mines served by the railroad. After delivering the empty cars to the mines, these same crews would usually return to the yard with loaded cars where yard crews shifted the loaded coal cars onto various outbound tracks making up “trains” of perhaps 100 to 150 cars going to the same destination in this country, or to a seaport on the east coast. Since there was ’round the clock’ activity, those “business places” that made up the front were usually open many hours every day. I recall when Fred Jeffrey, who, I believe was a “call boy” this particular night, was crossing the tracks to get a snack at one of the restaurants. He was struck by a “cut” of cars being shifted and suffered severe injuries that required a very long stay in the C&O Hospital in Huntington and crippled him for the rest of his life. Many careers started and ended by working at the Yard Office. The Clark family, Bill, Calvin, and Guy, Tim Totten, late Joe Suarez, Ralph Winters, Mike Kraus, Jack, John, and Jim Fortune, Tom Brady, and so many others served the C&O faithfully during those years. Many of the other employees found employment elsewhere. It’s hard to believe that all the functions performed by these guys is now done in Jacksonville, Florida, if indeed they are still being performed. The facilities have deteriorated – just like the “front”- and many have fallen to the ground. The “Y” is gone. The ’round the clock’ activity at the Yard Office and the “front” is no more. But, as has been said, “you can’t stop progress”.
As mentioned in our last article, many of the guys in our age group worked for the C&O. Some of the job titles were dispatcher, yard clerk, yard master, car distributor, and others. The first job that new hires were given included calling the operation employees (engineer, fireman, brakemen, conductor) to work by phone, or, if they did not have a phone – and many did not – it was necessary to ride a bike, or walk, up to two miles to wake them and tell them of the time to report for work. The guys filling this position were called CALL BOYS. (Not to be confused with call girls). Girls were not hired to fill any of these slots in those days. In later years in conversation with acquaintances I’ve told them I was once a call boy and one can’t believe the response, especially if it was someone in church or someone at the place I worked. Some of these operation employees lived “up the tracks” in houses owned by the company, located between the tracks and the river going toward Slab Town. One family had these big German Shepherd dogs and I’ve had some close calls with them as I rode the bike “up the track” to call someone for work. I’ll never forget names of most of the families living there: the Esteps, Elkins, Sheltons, Doty, Kincaids, Blankenships, and the Grahams, among others. Many locals as well as most all of the long distance employees made their homes in the YMCA located between the old West Logan bridge and the viaduct under the tracks. So it was always easier to call them for work when chances are many could be called on the one trip to the”Y”. After getting some seniority, I bid for an opening at the Man Train Station, working with Sysco Adkins. I would ride a bus to Man about 6 AM and then catch one of the many railroad steam engines bringing the loaded coal cars to the yard in the evening. When they stopped to await their turn into the yard, I’d get off the engine and get on the caboose of the train ahead of us. It was always a fun thing to ride the steam engines and cabooses into the yard every day…even if I was a “big boy”. I would check in at the Yard Office each evening and usually chatted with my friends working there, including Jack Glazier. Jack and I grew up in Peach Creek and he was a couple years older then me. Jack was about to be drafted (the Korean thing, you know) and he kept wanting me to join the Navy with him. Finally, I said I’d join the Air Force with him (thinking I would fail the physical because of a bad ear) and he took me up on it. We were sent to Texas for basic training along with about 35 other guys from Logan area (including the now Rev. Doug Young pastor of a Baptist church in Logan area). We had talked about staying together while in the Air Force; but we were separated at the base in Texas. Jack went to Korea and I ended up in Newfoundland and Labrador and I have not seen or heard from Jack to this day. I’ve heard he did return safely and enrolled in Rochester University in New York and later taught there, My time is up, I thank you for yours.
Several years ago while I still had the ability to get around without help, and the inclination to sometime treat myself to a few drinks of the alcohol variety, we had some friends over and decided to go out and eat. We jointly decided on a local restaurant and my wife (who did not drink) drove us there. Upon entering we were escorted to a table and seated. We made normal conversation, but were interrupted by a loud thump. To everyone’s surprise, a man sitting directly behind me suddenly fell over backwards and began making choking noises. The restaurant got really quiet as the choking continued. I jumped up and turned him over, checked his mouth for anything that would make his choking continue, and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. After about five minutes he regained consciousness and finally was able to rejoin his friends at his table. Everyone was really happy that someone knew what to do. After things settled down and the conversation continued, my wife said to me “I’ll bet he has a hangover tomorrow!” “Why”, I asked, “Was he drinking?” “No” she said, “but you sure were!” I hope he had a happy thanksgiving….
Elvin Ward, Sr.
Logan Goodyear Storage
At one time I was the manager of the above business. We sold tires, batteries, operated a recap shop, sold commercial oil, had several mail routes and parked cars as this was also a parking building. I had a black man that worked for me by the name of Andy Barber who was a number one employee. He came to work at six a.m.to open the building. Dave Sayer operated Sayer Bros. and had a brother that worked for him on the road selling out of a car. He parked his car with us and had a private place on second floor. He came in late several nights and would take the car upstairs himself to park. One morning his car was in the way of some mine inspectors cars which was unusual for it to be parked where it was. Andy went over to move it and when he opened the car the fellow fell out onto the floor dead. Needless to say Andy almost turned white from the scare of the man falling out of the car. He took his car to second floor and had a heart attack and died in the car. Needless to say we had quite a bit of official company that day, investigating the deaths.
Hello…..again! Someone said “front” as mentioned in my story last week should be further explained. Anyone having lived in Crooked Creek, Peach Creek, or West Logan in that era would understand the “front” consist of several side-by-side buildings facing the C&O yard and housing restaurants, beer joints, pool hall, and sometimes a grocery store. It also served as a train station in that the passenger train (two per day) received and discharged passengers there. The bootleggers occupied basements on the opposite side of these buildings on the road that lead into Peach Creek and Crooked Creek. Staton’s Market and O. J. Adkins’ stores were on each corner of the main street through Peach Creek. The theatre, which was run by the Whitt family, and the C&O Commissary were on the ground floor of an apartment/rooming house occupied mostly by railroaders who live there on week days, but rode the passenger train to their homes in Lincoln or Cabell counties on week ends. The “front” seemed to be the hub of activity, probably because of the passenger trains stopping, people waiting to board, or people waiting for someone, and the post office was just across the street. Needless to say, the buildings described above housed activities that attracted many people. Many of the guys I grew up with (including me) worked for the C&O during high school, most often at night, weekends, or summers. Most often we worked in or out-of the Yard Office. Duties varied, but one, that of a Yard Clerk, necessitated walking down through the yard between the many tracks (toward Henlawson) and recording the numbers of all the loaded coal cars intended for a certain destination. There was always lumps of coal that had spilled from the cars as they were shifted about for different destinations. It was very easy to turn an ankle while walking between the cars at 2 o’clock in the morning. (It seemed I always got scheduled for the hoot-owl shift). It was to put it mildly rather creepy between all those loaded coal cars. It wasn’t unusual for empty box cars with open doors to be included in the trains. The box cars often were the way out of town for railroad bums. Some of the most frightening times of my life were when one of them would hear me going by and stick their head out the opened door and say, “…got a light?..”. I’ll try to have more about life in Peach Creek at a later time.
Thanks, Martha, for allowing me to replay my youthful days!
My Mother in Law, no one had a better one than I , she sure was a sweet lady. She went back to Italy to see her Mother before she died. She was to get to Winston-Salem to go with a niece. It was my job to get her toWinston. I asked her if she would fly out of the Airport at Taplin, ok she said. On Sunday morning I took her up there and thinking she would have a problem attempting to cross the swinging bridge, you know they can be a problem. I decided that I would drive her through the shoals in the car. We went through the river and got in the four place airplane and flew to Winston-Salem. She went to Italy and back and later was asked what was a exciting thing about her trip. Now this was the first time she was ever on a airplane much less one this small, she said, when my Son in Law took me through the river.
Hello! Having been born and living our early life in Logan County, we’re always interested in the “going ons” in and around Logan even though we’ve been gone almost 34 years. We lived at Peach Creek and Crooked Creek as we grew up and remember so well the “front” at Peach Creek when the State Police would “raid” two or three times on a Saturday night to pickup the drunks, gamblers, or bootleggers. They were often led by a trooper that lived in Peach Creek, just a couple of houses below the church, who often parked his cruiser during the week on a side street to make his own visit to the bootlegger! Oh, those arrested on a Saturday night were almost always released so they could work on Monday since they really harmed no one except them selves. There were a steady stream of “Mike” steam engines bringing empty railroad cars into Peach Creek around the clock so the local C&O crews could ultimately take them to the scores of coal mines in the county (yes, scores of mines, all working in those days) to be filled with coal and brought back to the yard for delivery to destinations within the U.S. and to shipping docks in Virginia for overseas destinations. Now there is no “action” at the “front” on Saturday nights. The buildings are gone, the theater is gone, Staton’s store and O.J.’s store is gone, the bootlegger has long been dead and it’s so depressing these days. The C&O yard is quite and the Mike steam engines are no more; and even the diesel engines are about gone. I guess it’s called progress. Oh, I almost forgot. My childhood sweet heart, Barbara Conley, has been my wife xx years and we’re living now in retirement in Ocala, Florida.
I found myself rambling and probably didn’t use proper English (as taught by Carrie Spry Browning at West Logan School) but for a few minutes I saw myself in the evening, meeting the passenger train at the “front” and selling the Herald Dispatch or Charleston Gazette to a lot of the people boarding the train!
He was big and rawboned. In the tintype taken of him in the 1870’s or the 1880’s, you can see that he was a typecast Appalachian. His forehead was high and strong, his hands were gnarled, and his eyes were steady and level. His whiskers were white and trailed to the front of his shirt. He was also the first. William Anderson Dingess was born on Oct. 30, 1806 and lived long enough to see most of the history of early Logan County. In 1824, as a man of 17, he made the long journey to Richmond to represent Logan in the General Assembly of Virginia. The county formed that year, and he may have named it. He lived in the county his whole life, and when he died in the 1890’s, he left scores of descendants who had married into the other families of the county in those early days. His family itself is the oldest that has lived here since Logan’s beginning. It was written that William Dingess, “was said to be almost a giant in strength, but so peaceable that no one could induce him to fight.” William Anderson lived a long and useful life, and bore the proud distinction of being the first white child born in Logan County. William Anderson Dingess died on Dec. 13, 1893. He was just past his 87th birthday.
When I returned from the Army Air Corp after the war I went to work at the Post Office in Logan. I delivered the parcel post and drove a 1929 Model Chevrolet. I was on Cassick Street one day making a delivery to a girl I had gone to school with, she asked me who was helping me, I told her no one, she said, “there goes your truck down the hill.” If you have ever been on Cassick St. you know it is pretty steep. Well the truck went down the hill backwards and jumped the curb and landed on top of a house that was over the hill down from the curb. I took a lot of ribbing from the guys at the post office about this and they were making the remark this was one way to get a new truck. Well I got another truck and it was a 1932 Model A Ford, you still bent the rods to get brakes adjusted.
I welcome any email from Logan County with any news.
Ginsenging in Logan County
Ginseng is a aromatic herb with a thick, forked root. In the early history of Logan, especially when it was known as Lawnsville and Aracoma, ginseng was the basis of quite an important industry.
“There were a lot of people who would bring in a lot of ginseng when working in the hills,” a lady remembers. “There was an old man at our house one time who told us that he had kidney trouble-very bad kidney trouble-and he said that he chewed this ginseng and swallowed that juice, and that it cured him. Whether it did any good or not, I don’t know, but he said it did.”
The name ginseng comes from the Chinese words jen shen, meaning “the image of man”. It has a long background because of its supposed medical value. Horace Kephart writes in his book “Our Southern Highlanders”, that though corn was the staple crop in Appalachia, some ginseng was grown alongside it. “An interesting crop in our neighborhood was ginseng,” he wrote, ” of which there are several patches in cultivation. The curious plant is native throughtout the Appalachians, but has been exterminated in all but the wildest regions, on account of the high price that it dried root brings…” Kephart writes that its use went way back in the history of the mountains and was first written about in Col. William Byrd’s “History of the Dividing Line,” between Virginia and North Carolina. He quotes Byrd as writing;
” Though practice will soon make man of tolerable vigour an able footman, yet, as a help to bear fatigue, I used to chew a root of ginseng as I walk’t along. This kept up my spirits and made me trip away as nimbly in my half Jack-Boots as younger men cou’d in their shoes. This plant is in high esteem in China, where it sells for its weight in silver….Its vertues are, that it gives uncommon warmth and vigor to the blood and frisks the spirits beyond any other cordial. It chears the heart, even of a man that has a bad wife, and it makes him look down with great composure on the crosses of the world. It promotes insensible perspiration, dissolves all phlegmatick and viccous humours that are apt to obstruct the narrow channels of the nerves. It helps memory and would quicken even helevetian dullness. ‘Tis friendly to the lungs and much more than scolding itself. It comforts the stomach and strengthens the bowels, preventing all colicks and fluxes. In one it will make a man live a great while, and very well while he does live. And what is more, it will make old age amiable, by renderin it lively, cheerful and good-humour’d”
If taking Byrd at his word, it’s no wonder that the plant sold so well, which helps explain why Anthony Lawson agreed to come to the wild region to market it. For the record, Kephart mentions that one ginseng merchant told him that two acres of the plant will bring an income of $2,500 to $5,000 a year, if 100,000 plants are found on an acre. At the time, Astynax McDonald once said that he gathered over 28,000 pounds of green ginseng in 1860, while working as a clarifier for James A. Neighbert.
“Ginseng was call sang by the gatherers and sold for eight cents a pound,” Mrs. Helen Harvey wrote, “James Nighbert, F. M. White and Bill Buskirk developed quite a profitable business by buying the roots from gatherers, curing and selling it. If a digger did not have the opportunity to transport his ginseng to the merchant at once, he buried it in dirt in order that it might be delivered in the same condition as when dug.”
“In times of scarcity,” Kephart noted, “many of our people took to the woods and gathered commoner medicinal roots, such as bloodroot and wild ginger, but made only a pittance at it, as synthetic drugs have mostly taken the place of herbal samples in modern medicines.”
Aunt Jennie Wilson also can remember the people of the county gathering and using those herbal remedies. “I’ve seen them dig maypole and yellow root; and there was another root that had a white flower on top of it they called bloodroot,” she added
To trade the ginseng in at markets in large cities, the men of the Guyan Valley would take push boats down the Guyandot. When they returned from many of these trips, the brought with them tools that they would need for other jobs. They brought supplies like cant hooks, ropes, axes, trace chains and horse collars–all of which were used for the most important work in early Logan County. That was timbering. The roots take eight years to mature. They weigh from one and one-half to four ounces each, when fresh, and one-third of this dried. Two acres produce 25,000 roots a year, by progression. The dried root, at that time, brought five dollars a pound….Another man, who was in the business extensively, tried exporting it himself, but only got $6.50 a pound….On receiving the roots, the merchants had them washed and clarified, or steamed over boiling water for about five hours. Next the roots were dried, either in the sunshine or in a drying house heated by a furnace or burnside stove.James Neigbert, one of the more extensive buyers of ginseng, had a factory for its preparation across the Guyandot Rover from dead man’s curve (in the city). By the process of clarifaction, ginseng lost about two-thirds of its weight. It was then tightly packed in barrels and shipped to an exporting and importing firm in Philadelphia by the name of H. Cowan and Sons, who paid about $3 a pound for the prepared roots.
The 7th annual Dehue Reunion I attended on the first of August at Dehue Grade School brought back a flood of memories of living there. I was excited by a flyer asking for help preserving our history. A recent donation to West Virginia University of Dehue photographs has inspired them to organize an exhibition of our once “model” coal mining community. Dehue was a “microcosm community” in its heyday, rich with ethnic, blacks, and people from neighboring states seeking better lifestyles. Certainly, it was my little world, and now regarded as an ideal miniature world.
After renewing old acquaintances and enjoying down home cookin’ I drove the short distance to the entrance of Dehue. When I saw the bridge was out, I was stunned for a moment. Then I saw the detour sign, and took the rough temporary crossing. As I drove through the decaying streets of the almost ghost town sadness overwhelmed me. I stopped at the only landmark left to take pictures of the tipple soon scheduled to be torn down. Four teenagers were walking down the street, and I asked if they lived there. Two boys said they did. “This used to be a beautiful place,” I said. They looked at me doubtfully, and I realized they would never remember Dehue as I do.
When my father, Emmett Riggs came from Lawrence County, Kentucky, looking for a job in 1933, the Great Depression still gripped our nation. For 26 days he marched his five-foot, seven-inch, 135 pound frame into the Dehue mine office asking for any type of work, and his persistence paid off. The mine foreman who gave him a job said, “He was plain tired of lookin’ at him.” Dad worked ten-hour shifts, one day a week for twenty-three cents an hour. He drew scrip to pay for his food and board and didn’t see a paycheck for a year. For awhile he stayed with his brother, Virgil, and later at the Club House operated by the Bailey family. He dated Gladys Brickey, who later became my mother, for seven long years, and said the “Hoover Days” prevented them from getting married sooner.
I was born in the front room of house number 58 at Dehue, and silently slipped into the world on November 9, 1936. Mother thought something was surely wrong with me. Dr. Fred Brammer laughed, picked me up by the heels and whacked me on the butt. I wailed, assuring Mom I was okay. At that time, we shared a double house with the George Hatton family. Helen Hatton Pence, only a girl then, told me at the reunion, she stayed with my mother to help out during my birth. Mother named me Dolores after a child she baby-sat years before, and June after our neighbor, June Hatfield Rutherford, the granddaughter of “Devil Anse” of the infamous feud. When I was three, in November 1939, Dad moved us to Wyoming County and later to McDowell County, always seeking better job opportunities.
On Easter weekend of 1943, my handsome twenty-year old cousin, Johnny Riggs on leave and on his way home stopped by our house in McDowell County. He persuaded my folks to let me go with him to Dehue where I got acquainted with Uncle Virgil, Aunt Dorsa, and my ten-year old cousin, Fannie Kae. Johnny was striking in his Marine uniform, and I loved him as only a seven-year old could.
The next day Kae took me for a walk down her street. We followed the sidewalk down the tree lined “bosses row,” past freshly painted two-story fenced in houses, as she pointed out places of interest. (Bruce Jolly who lived in one of those houses told me at the reunion, “We thought we were rich back then.” I laughed and told him we thought they were rich too. During his college years, he was one of the painters who kept our houses sparkling.) A narrow paved road and railroad tracks separated another row of smaller houses, but our view was partly blocked by coal cars left on the tracks. Virgil Curry, the superintendent of the mines lived in a huge house next door to the sprawling two-story Dehue Grade School I would one day attend. Just past the school the biggest place of all loomed out at me from its cement pedestal. There you could buy groceries, furniture, clothing, lunch, gas up your car, get your mail, see the latest movie, and get a hair cut. (According to Delbert Pence the structure dates back to 1917 and the stone used for the foundation was cut out of the mountainside. He plans to erect a wall around the house he’s building with some of that stone.)
On the bottom level of that pedestal, “The Fountain” which was a drugstore, soda fountain, and a snack bar welcomed us. We ordered mouth-watering chili dogs and cherry cokes, and sat in one of the many booths giggling as we read graffiti scratched on our table top. (Years later the man who would become my husband, scratched a heart encircling, Donald Davis loves Dolores Riggs, on one of those tables.
After eating, we ran up cement steps onto the upper level of the huge porch and ran past the post office where Mrs. Ruiz was postmaster for years. We read coming attractions at the movie theater next door where I would later watch newsreels, cartoons, serials, double feature movies, and see live stage shows where wanabee-cowboys, such as Sunset Carson, Gabby Hayes, Lash LaRue, and Smiley Burnett, would delight us by bringing their horses on stage. Many times after the show, Emery Ramey, one of the few people to own a car, packed as many of us kids as he could in his car and drove us home.
We peeped through the huge plate glass windows of the company store. The payroll office, where Charles McGlothen was a familiar figure, was just inside the store. Miners drew scrip there, which was deducted from their pay, to buy things in the over-priced company store. Scrip could be exchanged for cash, but only netted 60 cents to the dollar. Like the old song said, “You owed your soul to the company store.”
From high up on our pedestal Kae pointed out the tipple, the doctor’s office, the water treatment plant where Willis Hatfield worked, and the Dehue Community Church. I spun around looking at the green lush West Virginia mountains that surrounded us. I was viewing the place of my birth for the first time, and I was impressed.
Kae took me to Sunday School where Virgil Neece handed out chocolate bunnies, and the following day Johnny and I left for home. We walked across the Dehue bridge to catch a bus, or so Aunt Dorsa thought. Johnny said he’d teach me the art of thumbing, but swore me to secrecy. Dressed in a pretty dress, with a broad smile on my face, I leaned out just like he did, stuck out my thumb, and to my amazement, a truck screeched to a halt to give us a ride. When we finally arrived at our designated meeting place my parents weren’t there, and Johnny missed the last bus back to his base. However, he hitched a ride and made it back on time. It’s great seeing his still handsome face at every Dehue reunion.
Dad rented House number 75 in Dehue in the fall of 1946 for twelve dollars a month, and I entered the fourth grade. With us came my two-year-old brother. This time we shared a double house with the Malcolm Floyd family. The Andy Wagners who shared a house with the George Grovers lived next door. The houses were still four-rooms-and-a-path except for the “bosses row”. Those houses had three bedrooms, a bath, and full basement with coal furnaces that pushed steam heat through radiators. Our source of heat was open fireplaces and potbelly stoves. No wonder we thought they were rich.
In the summer my days were filled with childish games we made up. We played hopscotch with a favorite rock or piece of smooth glass, and used discarded electric cords to jump rope. A favorite pastime was stomping evaporated milk cans on our feet (they were the sturdiest) so we could clomp around and make noise on the paved street. “Red Rover . . . Red Rover,” echoed through the night as we called out “Please send Billy over.” We played hide-and-seek and go-sheepie-go under bright street lights, until we heard the flap of screen doors as our mothers called us in for baths in round number nine tubs.
My world was small inside the bubble where I lived, and I thought nothing would ever change. The heavens were full of twinkling stars which have now disappeared behind polluted skies. The big hill we rode our sleds down on cold wintery days is somehow much smaller than I remember. Waiting for the Christmas season used to take forever, now it seems to come twice a year. The vine-covered brick lamp house was torn down long ago. The huge fan that pulled air into the mines is gone, and there is not a trace of the great pedestal that held the company store, post office, movie theater, barber shop and fountain. The old Dehue grade school is only a faded photo in my album. The fenced-in triangle where a life-sized nativity scene was erected each Christmas is also no more. The entrance to the mines has been sealed up and hides the hundred or so steps leading down into the mines. Dehue lies in ruins, and except for a few holdouts, the people who once lived and worked there have scattered to the four corners. . . . But our spirit lingers on through the reunion we have each year.
Although, I’ve long since grown up and have a family of my own, I still cling to those childhood fantasies of a town that used to seem like paradise. I’m sure some will say I saw everything through rose-colored glasses. Perhaps I did.
I smile each reunion when I see the “sisters three,” Kathleen Triplett, Lorene Barker, and Irene Ison. It took courage for Beatrice Wells to come this year without her husband, Otis, who passed away shortly after our reunion last year. Each year it seems we are a few less. It had been twenty-eight years since I last saw Carl Grover, and although he’d hardly changed, I couldn’t put a name with his face. Seeing Marty Ojeda brought back memories of those long ago warm summer nights, hearing him sing a soft melody when he strolled past our house on his way home. Then there was Marion McKenzie. We graduated in 1951 from Mrs. Opal McDade’s eighth grade class and hadn’t seen each other since. Earl Hager, the principal of the grade school, didn’t seem to have aged a bit. I asked if he remembered playing volleyball with us during lunch hour, and he said, “Yes.” However, just like always, he thought I was my cousin Kae. Some things never change.
Written by: Dolores Riggs Davis, this article appeared in The Logan Banner 15 September 1992.
Pictures and article used with permission of Dolores Riggs Davis
Uncle Dyke Garrett
Before the civil war he was just like any other men in Logan County, a tall, slender, gangling farm boy who loved music, hunting and woodlore. He stood six-feet-two, his name was Dyke Garrett. When the war came he joined the Logan Wildcats, and like the other members of that remarkable group of men, he enjoyed meeting with them every year until the end of his life.
When he came home he married Sally Smith, the daughter of William and Mary Ann Smith. One day when he heard Alexander Lunsford preaching, he made the decision to be baptized and soon began preaching himself.
He was tireless. He traveled up and down every road in the county preaching, baptizing, marrying couples and preaching funerals. By the end of his life, one magazine editor called him “The Good Shepherd of the Hills”.
Uncle Dyke was very proud of two incidents in his long life. One was the baptism of Green McNeely. The other the baptism of William Anderson Hatfield.The first of those acts gave him a lot of help with his ministry because McNeely also became a preacher and the two traveled together throughtout the county until the end of Garrett’s life. The second is probably his most well known act. Hatfield, whose family was involved in the sad and bitter feud that tore through Logan and Mingo counties in the 1880s, was baptized in Island Creek.
Garrett, who always called his friend Anderson instead of more popular nickname, Devil Anse, remembered that baptism with more happiness than any other act. After it was over, he rode to Scott McDonald’s house on Crooked Creek for a meal. After grace he turned to Scott’s daughter Molly, smiled and said “well Molly, I baptised the Devil today.”
It was not always easy to ride horseback in the county during the winters of those years. Yet he kept his faith by visiting his people and praying with them until almost the end of his life. His wife remembered that many times she’d have to take an iron poker and knock his boots loose from the stirrups of his saddle. His feet frozen to them while riding the circuit.
He also kept his physical strength into his old age. A.J. Coffey wrote “a full volume could be written about this great soul and even then we would have to declare that the half has never yet been told”. Uncle Dyke died at 3a.m. on May 28th, 1938, at the age of 96.
Christmas at Pioneer Hotel.
Christmas was in the air at Sunbeam Elementary School in 1937! Now they didn’t call it by that name then, it was simply called Sunbeam Grade School… Times were tough during those days but the depression wasn’t called that either, it was referred to as “Hoover’s Days” Whatever it was called, there was hardly enough money coming into the miner’s homes to buy food. That meant that only a few kids would get anything special to celebrate that joyous occasion.
The days in school were spent doing what schools have done since the first one was built. We learned what ever we could about Christmas,because we held our childish expectations of toys which parents could ill afford. My teacher found a little poem which she had us read in class. I was really able to get into the poem because the punch line was that “Santa brought me a baby brother without a hair on his head! I was from a large family and could relate to that.
A few days before the holidays were to start my class (first grade)were bussed to the Pioneer Hotel where we were treated with candy, fruit and milk. I was asked to recite the little poem the teacher had taught me. They stood me up on a table and I gave them my version of it. I really enjoyed the applause, but the best was yet to come!
Santa Claus suddenly burst from a side room pulling a sleigh full of toys for us. Santa personally gave me a toy gun and holster set, and I was in heaven. Since that time when I go past the old school site at Melville, I am instantly transported back to the first grade when life was simpler, but sometimes harder than life today…
Elvin Ward, Sr.
Charles Noel Simpson, Sr. was the store manager at Macbeth for many years. He was a generous man and was well liked by everyone. He was the type of man who would ask a child to perform a little task so that he, the child, could be properly rewarded with a candy bar,a bottle of soft drink, or some other item of the child’s choice.
The Simson’s lived in the house provided by the coal company. Mr. and Mrs. Simpson had two children,both were boys. Charles, the oldest was known as “CN”, and Robert was referred to as “Bobby”. Both were active boys, but CN was my age so I knew him really well.
On December 7,1941 war was declared and the call went out immediately for rationing and recycling of war materials which would be in high demand. All over the nation people started to search out all manner of scrap metals. Macbeth Boy Scouts were very faithful in performing their duties for the good of the country,which leads to the crux of my story. Now CN was out one day gathering scrap iron,using the company truck with an adult driver furnished by the Company. They were near Orville in the creek bed when CN was standing on the right ‘running board’ which was very short with an open space between the cab and the dual rear wheels. Suddenly the truck lurched and CN slipped and fell. The rear wheels ran over him and he died instantly. All of his friends attended his funeral. Dehue School closed in order to permit everyone to pay their last respects at the cemetery at McConnell. I still remember after almost six decades.
Elvin E. Ward
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