You Can Go Home Again

Author, Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again,” . . . and for many of us that’s true. Like Dehue, most of the once bustling mining towns in Logan County have fallen by the wayside. However, once a year on the second Saturday of August we gather at the Dehue-Chambers Grade School to remember the Dehue of our past

The Dehue Grade School in 1956.

After more than fifty years the old Dehue Grade School was abandoned. Faculty and students had barely moved into the new masonry Dehue-Chamber School on February 16, 1972 when a dam let go on Buffalo Creek snuffing out the lives of 125 souls. The old school had 16 rooms, but only the bottom eight rooms were used as the upstairs had been condemned in 1969.

The Dehue-Chambers Grade School

The Dehue-Chambers School was closed this year due to low enrollment. However, the Logan County Board of Education has agreed to allow us to use the school for our annual reunions indefinitely.

The first reunion was put together in a hurried fashion in August of 1986 by Donna Porter Burress and Kay Griffith Nisbet. Their favorite topic for many years was “I wonder whatever happened to . . . so and so?” They hoped others would feel as nostalgic about growing up in Dehue as they did, and to their delight the first year 150 people attended the event at Chief Logan State Park. Three years later donations allowed the reunion to be moved to the school.

Donna Porter Burress and Kay Griffith Nisbet – 1995 Dehue Reunion

In a sense, the Dehue Reunion permits us to go home once a year. Each August we come from many different states to share hugs, and faded photos of our past. To the people of Dehue . . . it is a home coming we look forward to each year. Dolores Riggs Davis


Zane Moore, Basil Frye, and Billy Fleming

Sisters Three – 1995 reunion
Irene Ison, Kathleen Triplett, Lorene Barker

Anna Easterling Russ, Sylvia Wells White, Lillian Porter Smith – 1996 reunion


Lois Taylor and Anita Ruiz

The Civic Club Room was located upstairs over the company store. All important functions were held there such as graduation banquets, scouting events, and dances.

DEHUE COMPANY STOREThe side door of the company store led to the second floor Civic Club Room

SCOUTS – 1956Assistant Explorer advisors, Tom Curry and Tony Nieves look at scout manual held by Explorer advisor, John Coleman. Tom Curry died at age 44 on December 30, 1979

John Coleman
died – March 12, 2000

John Coleman was born in Gary, West Virginia, in 1913. He was the son of Nick and Julie Coleman from Hungary. His father Americanized their name from Galic to Coleman. At age sixteen John went to work at the Dehue Mine, and worked there until his retirement. Most of those years were spent working in the machine shop. He married Mildred Wooley from Conway, Arkansas on August 1, 1936. They moved to McConnell in 1972, and both missed the closeness of the Dehue community. They especially missed sitting on their front porch and talking with neighbors. Mildred passed away March 14, 1980. She taught at the Dehue Grade School for thirty-eight years. They had no children of their own, but gave much of their time to the young people of our community.


Scout troop 17 from Dehue board a Greyhound bus in Huntington, West Virginia ,for Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmeron, New Mexico on July 1962. Bottom row: Bill Blevins, Reese Varney, Marvin Peyton, John Masolge 2nd row: Scout Master, John Coleman, Kenneth Adkins, John Perovich, Randy Harvey 3rd row: Tommy Hopeck, Joe Ojeda, Gary Caldwell Top: Doug McElwain

John and Mildred Coleman – 1930’s


May 1956 – Dehue postmistress, Anna Ruiz sells US savings stamps to Fran Ross who’s hobby is collecting silver dollars. He traded ten of them for savings stamps. His sister, Mary Louis bought a dollars worth of stamps. They are the children of store manager, Bob Ross.

Anna Polo was born in Nova Scotia in 1910. Jack Ruiz came to America from Spain when he was fourteen years old. They married in 1928. Anna started working at the Dehue post office in October of 1949, and retired at age seventy-three. Jack died in 1971 and Anna in 1989.


Many things made Dehue such a great place to live in . . . the nice houses, well-kept yards and gardens, the schools and churches (segregated at the time), the theater, the fountain, the store, and the many services provided by Youngstown Mine Corporation. . . . But what made Dehue really so great was the people who lived there. For many, it was home and few had a desire to move away. From Mr. Agee and Virgil Curry (long time mine superintendent), to Frank Estep and Lin Saunders, the people of Dehue were terrific to know, to work with, and to have as neighbors.

Virgil Curry

Ross Prude fixed our cars, Reverend Dean saved our souls, and “Uncle Bill” Griffith could always be counted on for a cheerful “hello son.” I loved the smell of Mr. Mulkey’s pipe, and Mr. Polo could always be depended on to give us a ride to and from Logan. George Lewis kept the baseball scores, Earl Beverage, Gideon Dean, and John Coleman worked long hours with the scouts. “Bus” Perry worked hard to develop and maintain an athletic program at school. Virgil Neace and Willis Hatfield kept our water pure, and Con Carter and E.B. Weatherford kept the carpenter force busy. Mrs. Bailey, her sons and daughters ran the clubhouse efficiently.

Dehue Community Church

Dehue was a melting pot for the English, Spanish, Italians, Hungarians, Russians, Polish. Negroes, Kentuckians, Ohioans, Virginians, Democrats, Republicans, teachers, miners, clerks, engineers, accountants, housewives, Protestants, Catholics . . . you name it we had it. . . . And we got along with one another. Labor and management had very few disputes, and the kids “up the hollow” got along with the kids “below the store.” In fact, we got along so well many of us married someone who lived in the community.

Vlade and Anna Gostovich with children Mike, George, Mary and Sophia

Dehue produced some star athletes. Millard “Big Sandy” Howell pitched for the Cleveland Indians. Johnny Pozega was the first football player from Logan High School to make the All-State team. Harry Bushkar starred in many sports, and was a referee for college basketball.


Like most coal mining towns, many who lived at Dehue were best known by their nicknames. Some of the names were, “Duke” Lewis, “Gink” Lewis, “Polebean” Mills, “Hack” Watson, “Peanut” Riggs (my uncle), “Jarbug” Riggs (my dad), “Peanut” Adkins, “Greasy” Griffith, “Lige” Chambers, “Babe” Pozega, “Babe” Ross, “Bootsie” McKenzie, “Tubby” Browning, “Crutch” Adkins, “Skeeter” Adkins, “Polo,” “Gid” Dean, “Luke” Rutherford, “Fats” Browning, “Punk” Davis, “Red” Thomas, “Red” Childers, “Bus” Perry, “Buck” Smallwood, “Buck” Farmer, “Rabbit” Abbott, “Tut” Fleming, “Shotgun” Fleming, “Duckie” Hughes, “Mator” Guffey, “Hobo” Guffey, “Duck” Davis (my husband), “Two Gun” Porter, “Boo Boo” Ruiz, “Gi Gi” Carrere, “Ba Ba” Carrere, and “Gabby” Moore.

When I was a baby my grandparents came to Dehue to visit their sons, Emmett and Virgil Riggs. They stopped to ask directions from a gentleman, and he scratched his head while he pondered their question. Then he said, “I don’t know any Emmett or Virgil . . . but “Jarbug” and “Peanut” Riggs live up the holler above the lamphouse.” . . . At times when someone at the Dehue Reunion asks who my dad was, I have to tell them his nickname for a light to come on in their mind.

Emmett Riggs – age 17

Dad got his nickname from a young lady at the Ashland City Park in Kentucky. “You buzz around like a “jarfly,” she told him. . . . Much to dad’s embarrassment, she made up a little song to go with the nickname. “I don’t care if I do . . . I do die, as long as I get my “Jarfly” . . . “Jarfly.” One of his buddies carried the story back to Dehue, and the name stuck. For the rest of his life he was called either “Jarfly” or “Jarbug.” One lady called him “Insect.” Dad looked at her strangely as he corrected her, and she said, “Well . . . I knew it was some kind of bug.

Agnes Biggs Canellas and Gabriel Canellas

The Canellas children are: Gabriel, Jr., Bernard, Frances, Joyce, and John. Gabriel was a native of Mallorca Island, Spain.

Gabriel Canellas died March 30, 1959 at age 49, and Agnes died in 1995. Some memories of Agnes when they lived at Dehue are: . . . Gabriel, rolling dried Morning Glory leaves to smoke during the Depression . . . and of converting their chicken-house into a bathhouse. (Believe me . . . that was a big deal to get a bathhouse or bathroom back in those days. We didn’t have indoor plumbing until I graduated from high school in 1955. My children cannot imagine such a thing. Dolores Riggs Davis)

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2 Responses to You Can Go Home Again

  1. Vladimir Grecic, retired professor, University of Belgrade says:

    Dear Ms. Gostovich,
    I take this opportunity to write to you because I am engaged on preparing biographies concerning the Serbian Diaspora for Serbian Encyclopedya and I do not have all necessary data, like for example date of birth. The publisher is Serbian Academy of Science and Arts, Belgrade and Matica srpska, Novi Sad. As a matter of fact, your name is on the list diaspora personalities for 4th volume – G. I would be very grateful if you could answer to this mail message and inform me about date of birth and other data. There are data on different web portals, but it is much beter if you select what you want to be published.
    Best regards, Vladimir Grecic

  2. Rosanne Gostovich Royer says:

    I am very moved and impressed by this story about Dehue posted by Dolores Riggs Davis. Ms Davis, will you kindly inform me whether there are any descendants of Anna and Vlade Gostovich shown in one of the pictures who still live in the area or with whom you have contact? I have just visited the Serbian village in Croatia from which my father originates. Several of us are planning a reunion there next year. Please contact me by email or call 503-646-3717 Portland Oregon.