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West Virginia Archives & History

History Of Lorentz Community

Written For Country Life Conference, 1923
By A. J. Marple

Lorentz, circa 1905
Lorentz, circa 1905
Early History

The settlement of this community dates back to the eighteenth century. It was originally a part of Harrison County, became a part of Lewis County in 1816, and of Upshur County in 1851.

The early pioneers were the Allmans, Castos, Regers, Westfalls, Lorentzes, Clarks, and others. They were maily of Dutch descent, and were an honest, sturdy, hardy, industrious, frugal people, and have transmitted these qualities to their descendants in a marked degree.

On the twenty-fourth day of April, 1805, a patent was issued by Governor Page for 200 acres of land on a Land Office Warrant dated December 24, 1783, to William Allman, the grandfather of George W. Allman, the late J. M. Allman and the late Nathan Allman. So we can take the date of 1783 as the time of William Allman's settling on the farm on which he and his son George and grandson Jacob M. lived and died, and on which Dane and Ada Allman and Mrs. J. M. Allman now live. William Allman came from the South Branch of the Potomac, and was of Dutch descent. His numerous descendants now live in this and other communities.

The Regers were among the early settlers. About the year 1765 Jacob Reger came to America from Holland. In 1776 he made a location at what is now known as Volga in Barbour County. His wife was Barbara Crites and to them were born six sons and five daughters, and their descendants throughout this and adjoining counties are a legion.

Anthony Reger, the oldest son of Jacob Reger, settled on the farm on which Mrs. Martin Reger and Blaine Zickefoose live. A Land Warrant for 243 acres of land dated January 15, 1802, and a patent for the same was issued by John Tyler, Governor of Virginia, on the first of August, 1809 to Anthony Reger and his sons, Henry and Saul, and daughter, Rachel. Afterward Henry became the owner and still later his son Martin, and at his death, his widow and daughter, Mrs. Lura Zickefoose, inherited this farm.

John Reger, a brother of Anthony, married Elizabeth West. He was described as "standing 6 feet 2 inches in his sock feet, massive in person, huge body, a great head, stalwart arms, a big heart, brave, and of prodigious strength." Stories are told of the great physical feats he performed. He walked to Winchester and back so that "his little Bettie" might have a store gown in which to be married. Another brother was Justice of the Peace for 40 years. His sister Annie married Captain John Bozarth (commonly called Bozier), and his sister Mary married George Bozarth. John Bozarth, Sr., settled at Lorentz. His cabin was just across the railroad from the Allman house now occupied by E. O. Reeder. Here was the scene of the tragedy during the Indian foray in 1795. It was harvest time. John Bozarth, Sr., and his son George, were hauling wheat to the stable when they heard screams at the house. They ran toward the house, and George being the younger, although he weighed over 300 pounds, outran his father, and as he ran around a hog pen he came face to face with an Indian with a gun drawn ready to shoot. George fell to the ground just as the gun was fired, and the Indian, thinking that he had killed George, turned his attention to John, Sr., who ran down the bottom and jumped Finks Run. The Indian, in attempting to follow, fell in the run, gave a savage "Uh," threw his tomahawk at Bozarth and gave up the chase. George's wife, Mary (Reger), was washing clothes at the run and hearing the commotion and suspecting the cause, took to the woods and made her way safely to the fort, as did her husband, who promptly got up when the Indian chased his father. The Indians killed a crippled boy and three small children, and took Mrs. Bozarth and two boys prisoners, who were afterward released when a treaty of peace was made. One of the boys named Zed, was simple- minded, but was a strong, muscular boy. On arrival at the Indian village the Indians as usual required their prisoners to run the gauntlet to the House of Refuge. As Zed was a boy they had the Indian boys chase him, but Zed resented their beatings and turned and knocked down the first boy that struck him, greatly to the amusement of the Indians.

At one time, Isaac Reger, the youngest brother of Anthony, came to visit his sister, Mary, who married George Bozarth. In the evening about milking time a boy was sent across the run into the woods on the hillside opposite the house to bring the cows. All at once they heard the boy scream. The two bear dogs at once ran for the boy. The men grabbed their guns and upon going to the boy, found that the dogs had treed a panther that had unexpectedly appeared on top of a fallen tree, threatening to jump on the boy. The panther was shot. So you see that the early settlers were endangered not only by wild men, but by wild beasts as well. During the same Indian raid, Nicholas Ours, Sr., (whose father, Sichman Ours, a Revolutionary soldier, settled here in 1794, who was the grandfather of the late H. F. Ours, ex-sheriff of Upshur County, lived on Bill's Run. He was a lad of 10 or 12 years and was out in the woods playing with two younger children. He saw an Indian lurking in the woods not far away. Without telling the children he quietly led them to the house in a way not to let the Indian know that he had seen him. His mother, with her children fled in safety to the fort. When Henry Reger's sister, Rachel, heard that the Indians were coming she was up in the loft of the house reached by a ladder from the outside. She did not take time to come down the ladder, but jumped to the ground and "Lit running" for the fort. The fort referred to was Bushes' Fort, near Buckhannon. it is little wonder that the people feared the Indians after the killing of Fink, Bush, and others near Buckhannon on previous raids.

At the time of this Indian raid David Casto was a small boy living with his father, George Casto, in a house just below the road opposite where Mrs. J. M. Allman now lives. George Casto came from North Wales. David Casto was the father of George Casto, and the late Captain Casto, and the late Bivin Casto, and the grandfather of a host of Castos several of whom are merchants, including our merchants the Casto Brothers,

William Clark, father of Jacob Clark, who was the father of Rev. Hyre D. Clark, M. T. Clark, Mrs. A. J. Berry, and Mrs. J. T. Berry, came here from Marietta, Ohio, and settled on Bill's Run, and died there about the year 1842. His wife was a Westfall. Cornelius Westfall was the first settler on Saul's Run. He was the grandfather of George W. Allman and the late Jacob M. Allman.

Abram Allman was the first settler on one branch of Bridge Run. He was the father of Isaac M. Allman and the late Nathan Allman and several other children.

A man named Wilson settled where Armstead Queen later lived and died.

Jacob Lorentz, for whom the village was named, was born in Lancaster, Pa., in 1776, and moved to Lorentz in the year 1800, and died 66 years later. In his time he was the financial king of all of what is now Upshur and Lewis Counties. He and his sons owned all the land along the pike from the J. M. Allman farm to a point beyond the village of Horner, in Lewis County a distance of seven or eight miles. He also owned a large boundary up Bridge Run, and over on Buckhannon Run. He owned the f irst store in the county and at first carried his goods on pack horses from Richmond and Baltimore. He lived in the first painted house in Lewis and Upshur Counties. His house that was torn down a few years ago (where E. O. Reeder lives) was the best house when it was built in the two counties. The mantels were a wonder of art, and some of them are still preserved in the new house. He was Commissioner of the Circuit Court, Justice of the Peace, Postmaster (the post office was established prior to the War of 1812), and the owner of a blacksmith shop, operated by John Hacker for whom Hacker's Creek was named. Jacob Lorentz was the father of several children (his wife being Rebecca Stalnaker), and his numerous descendants re- found throughout this and other counties. His grandson, Lafayette Lorentz, is the oldest of his descendants living in this community and lives on a fine farm originally owned by Jacob Lorentz.

It might be of interest to state that Mrs. Hinzman, the wife of our present minister, is a direct descendant of the noted scout and Indian fighter, Jesse Hughes.

The first church was built on the old church lot just west of Bridge Run, on the Pike, in the year 1857. Prior to that time religious services were held at private houses. Jacob Lorentz gave the church lot. This church was burned in 1881 and rebuilt on the same site in 1884, and the present church was built on the new site in 191__? MP church at Lorentz
MP church at Lorentz
The following ministers have gone from this community; Rev. Marcellus Mick, Rev. C. L. Queen, Rev. A. J. Allman, Rev. Virgil Allman, and we might almost claim Rev. H. D. Clark, whose father and grandfather lived on Bill's Run, but who was born and raised just over the hill on Spruce.

It would be difficult to name all the school teachers that have come from this community: Thirty or more have taught school. Among the early teachers were Henry Reger, Philip Krise and Malissa Humphreys, afterwards the wife of John H. Hodges and the mother of the late Thomas E. Hodges. President of the West Virginia University.

They were most excellent teachers and were thorough in their work, and their pupils were all well grounded in the essential branches of spelling, writing, reading, and arithmetic. Thoroughness was stressed in those days. A number of persons have graduated from College, Normal, and High schools.

Quite a number of people have gone out from this community and made good in a business way. Thomas and Geo. C. Allman, the Crites boys, the Berry boys, and others could be named.

The first roads were mere trails. The first wagon road disregarded grades, and ran below the pike just in front of the Present church. In 1824 the Virginia Legislature authorized the building of a state road and it ran just above the pike through A. J. Berry's lot and through the church lot, signs of which are yet visible. About the year 1843 or 1844 the present pike was built, known as the Staunton and Parkersburg turnpike, which is now being rebuilt and hard surfaced. Harrison H. Fury, the father of Mrs. G. W. Allman and Mrs. Scott Reger helped build this pike. The mattock, shovel, and sledge were the only equipment. A rod of road was laid out for each man to build. There was no loafing on the job. They did not work by the hour but by the day and wages were $10.00 per month. George Allman, Jacob Lorentz and Marshall Lorentz donated money to help build this pike.

In the early days of this settlement live stock was driven on foot over the mountains and marketed in Richmond and Baltimore. At one time Jacob Lorentz took a drove of 937 hogs to Richmond.

The abundant mast, such as chestnuts and acorns, made the raising of hogs profitable in those days.

Lorentz can boast of having the first store, the first Post Office the first blacksmith shop, the first tannery, the first painted frame house, the first brick house, and the first road wagon in Upshur County.

Present Activities

Lorentz community has not only had an interesting past but it has an interesting present and bids fair to have a bright future. Every effort is being made to make it the "community beautiful". There are no old "tumbledowns" in the community. The people work together and cooperate in community affairs, and a spirit of unity prevails.

There were fifty-seven first premiums won at the county fair in 1922 by people of the community and in 1923 two $300 scholarships were won by Four-H club members of the community.

The Lorentz Sunbeam Four-H Club has a membership of seventeen. During the past year they held twelve regular meetings and six special meetings, and had twelve literary programs. The club gave $50.00 to help build the Upshur County cottage at the West Virginia Four-H Camp, and has won second premium on club exhibit at the county fair for the past two years. Individual members of the club won five first premiums, five second premiums, and two third premiums at the county fair. Three entries were made at the state fair and two first premiums were won.

The community has the largest farmers' club in Upshur County with nearly every farmer and all the merchants as members. A meeting is held every month and special programs are arranged. A total of $627.00 was paid toward the county Four-H cottage at Jackson's Mill by the farmers', farm women's, and Four-H clubs. The community also put up more than one-third of the budget for the county Sunday School program.

The farm women's club sent two delegates to Farmers' week at Morgantown, furnished paper and paint for one room at the parsonage, served a community dinner for the men who cleaned up the cemetery, and raised $207.00 of the amount given on the county Four-H cottage. A meeting is held each month and a report sent to each of the three county papers. The club has a flower fund which is set apart to purchase flowers for those who are ill and in case of funerals. The lessons put out by the Extension Division of the College of Agriculture on Foods, Clothing, Sewing, Insects and Pests, Home Grounds, and Government were studied.

The Community provides for recreation in various ways. It has an organized Base Ball Club, and all players have uniforms. Fourteen games were played last season and only two were lost. Horse shoe pitching is a favorite sport among the farmers. A community hall provides for all indoor gatherings and many outside speakers and talent are brought in. Last year a special lecture course was arranged for, and the "Go-Getter" Four-H club of Buckhannon High School were brought in to present a play entitled "Kindling the Hearth Fires".

The health of the community is well guarded. Of the seventy- three homes in the community all are screened but three, and all the stores are screened. All public buildings, such as community hall, church, and schools, are regularly cleaned and well ventilated. Nineteen homes have water in the house. There has not been a case of typhoid fever in the last six years. The schools served hot lunches. More than half the children have been vaccinated for small pox.

The homes are well kept and many improvements have been made during the past year. Twenty-two houses have been repainted; four porches have been built; three houses plumbed for gas; water has been put in two houses and a bath installed in one of them; thirty- one floors were finished; fifty-four rugs bought; three sets dining chairs, four dining tables, two buffets, one china closet, ten victrolas, thirteen rocking chairs, one book case, nine library and parlor sets, two library tables, three pianos, three davenports, three library lamps, four beds, three carpet sweepers, one sewing machine, four kitchen stoves, one refrigerator, two kitchen cabinets, two washing machines, and six porch swings are among the new equipment and furnishings added to the homes. The furniture in five homes was revarnished. Many other improvements were made around the homes including three garages, six hog houses, two sheep barns, one calf shed, twenty-five gates, nine lawns and six gardens fenced with wire, two lawns planned under supervision of the Landscape Gardener of the Extension Division, College of Agriculture, West Virginia University, and more than a thousand rods of wire fence were built.

The schools have been improved by adding books to the libraries, oiling the floors, and serving hot lunches. One school had instruction in physical training. The teachers are of high quality, one having an A. B. degree, one a Standard formal certificate, and two have first grade certificates.

The church has been repainted, and furniture revarnished, also new carpet has been purchased for the church. Plans are being worked out by the landscape gardener of the extension division for beautifying the church grounds. A tent was purchased for use in the cemetery. The Sunday School has an enrollment of eighty-four and has four organized and registered classes, also a teachers' training class. All special days such as Christmas, Easter, Children's Day, etc., are observed by holding appropriate exercises.

Mining operations at Lorentz, circa 1900-10
Mining operations at Lorentz, circa 1900-10
The farmers are generally industrious and thrifty and have well equipped farms. Silos are common and there are a number of excellent barns. The farm machinery is generally well housed and taken care of. All farms produce butter, eggs, fruits, and vegetables needed for home consumption and many have some for market. Feeds, fertilizer, lime, seeds, etc., are purchased cooperatively through the farmers' club. Tile purchases amount to about a carload per month, aggregating several thousand dollars per year.
The farmers have pooled their wool for two years and are grading up their flocks so as to make the production of wool a profitable enterprise. The community has four general stores and one hardware store, all of which handle goods at a fair profit and are well patronized by the public. The Casto Brothers run a delivery truck for the accommodation of their customers.

The traveling facilities throughout the community are excellent. A hard surfaced road through the community is just being completed (1924) and all other roads are well graded and drained. There is excellent taxi service available. The average distance to the railroad station is less than one mile.

The farms of the community are being improved each year by tile drainage, manure fertilizer, lime, and cover crops. Special attention is given to seed selection by many of the farmers. Spraying is practiced in the control of insects and diseases, and a number of farmers market apples, plums, berries, and other fruit.

There are four dairy hards in the community with a total of about eighty-five cows. Two of the herds are mostly purebred animals, Jerseys and Holsteins, respectively, and all use purebred sires. The two purebred herds are members of the Central West Virginia Cow Testing Association. Last year (1923) one of these herds made the highest herd average as well as the highest individual average for the production of butter fat of any herd in the association. The other herd made the highest individual production of milk and the second highest individual production of butter fat for any member of the association. Both herds were shown at the county fair and won most of the prizes in their respective classes, one herd winning the sweepstakes for the dairy breeds.

Poultry raising is of considerable importance in the community. A number of flocks are purebred. Culling is generally practiced. Young chicks are generally hatched early, and all farmers feed milk, meat scraps, scratch feed, etc., to their poultry.

Beef cattle are of prime importance in the livestock field. Purebred sires are used practically all together. Considerable attention is given to breeding, feeding, and management in this connection.

Sufficient hogs are kept for local needs and some are produced for market. Nearly every farmer has a flock of sheep ranging from ten to forty head. Good rams are used. Most flocks are treated for internal parasites. Docking is generally practiced. Two farmers have excellent purebred flocks which are among the best to be found in the country.

Generally the community is forward-looking and progressive. Community spirit is good and all the people work together to make the community better in every way.

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