Skip Navigation

New Books Available

By John Lilly

Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, Jefferson County, opened its doors to 42 students in 1871. Today it is a thriving, modern institution offering more than 60 undergraduate programs and five graduate programs. A new book from Arcadia Publishing, part of Arcadia’s The Campus History Series, illustrates the development of the university through more than 200 vintage photographs. Shepherd University, by author Dorothy E. Hively, includes an author’s introduction, followed by 127 pages of illustrations and informative captions.

Also from Arcadia, in their Images of America series, comes Italians in West Virginia, by authors Victor A. Basile and Judy Prozzillo Byers. Early immigrants to the farms and industrial centers of West Virginia, Italians have remained a strong and influential ethnic community in the state. This book focuses primarily on the vibrant Italian community in north-central West Virginia, particularly in the Clarksburg area. Like most Arcadia books, Italians in West Virginia offers an author’s introduction followed by 127 pages of vintage photographs and captions.

Both books are available at local book stores as well as from the publisher at; phone (843)853-2070. The cost is $21.99 each, plus shipping.

Working Class Radicals: The Socialist Party in West Virginia, 1898-1920, by Frederick A. Barkey, is an important new work from West Virginia University Press. Boasting several thousand dues-paying members in 1914, West Virginia’s Socialist party was once a prominent feature of the state’s political and economic landscape. Author Frederick A. Barkey examines the rise of the party through factions of the organized labor movement and immigrant groups, followed by its rather sudden decline. Based on oral accounts, demographic studies, and his own expertise, Barkey, a retired Marshall University professor and founder of the West Virginia Labor History Association, presents a thorough review of this little-known chapter of West Virginia’s labor history and its political implications.

This 271-page paperbound book includes an introduction by Dr. Ken Fones-Wolf, a bibliography, index, and two appendices. Working Class Radicals sells for $24.99 and is available on-line at; phone 1-800-621-2736.

The Ultimate Book of West Virginia Lists, by Rick Steelhammer, is a trivia hunter’s dream come true. Did you ever wonder what the top 10 oil-producing counties might be? How about the weight of the state’s largest rutabaga? Would you like to see a list of all the buildings, roads, dams, and public facilities named after Robert C. Byrd? (It’s impressive!)

     Author Rick Steelhammer, a columnist for The Charleston Gazette for more than 30 years and a humor columnist for The Sunday Gazette-Mail, has assembled a mind-numbing collection of obscure and interesting facts about our state and organized them into exactly what the title suggests: The Ultimate Book of West Virginia Lists. This 126-page paperbound book would make an excellent addition to any coffee table, bathroom, or waiting room in the state. Published by Quarrier Press, it sells for $8.95 (with tax and shipping the total is $13.99) on-line at; phone 1-888-982-7472.

Evolution of the West Virginia State Police Uniform Since 1919, by Merle T. Cole and Donald R. Davis, is another book that lives up to its name. Authors Cole and Davis, both retired federal workers, offer a brief history of the West Virginia State Police, followed by the legal requirements for uniforms and insignia. The remaining 23 pages of this self-published, 33-page, large-format edition are devoted to illustrations showing various badges, stripes, insignia, and uniforms worn by the State Police over the years. [See “Second to None: Eighty Years of the West Virginia State Police,” by Ben Crookshanks; Spring 1999.] For copies of this booklet, write to Merle T. Cole, 1005 C&O Dam Road, Daniels, WV 25832.

With Halloween around the corner, several books of ghost stories, mysteries, and the macabre have crossed our desk here at the GOLDENSEAL office.

23 Shots is a fictionalized account of a true-to-life shootout at Boggs, Webster County, in 1894. The gunfight took place in a post office and involved five men and a dozen or more bystanders. Author Mack Samples, 2003 Vandalia Award recipient and frequent GOLDENSEAL contributor, has researched this notorious incident and created a fact-based story of moonshine, murder, and mayhem set at a time when West Virginia closely resembled the Wild West.

The 112-page paperbound edition is available from Quarrier Press for $9.95, plus tax and shipping, on-line at; phone 1-888-982-7472.

Legends of the Mountain State and Legends of the Mountain State Volumes 2, 3, and 4, are edited collections of ghostly tales from West Virginia. Each of the four books is a collection of 13 horror stories set in the Mountain State, each written by a recognized – in many cases award-winning - author. Michael Knost is the editor of all four editions; famed McDowell County native Homer Hickam wrote the foreword to Volume 3.

Volumes 1, 3 and 4 sell for $18.95 - Volume 2 sells for $14.95 - plus tax and shipping. All four volumes are available from the West Virginia Book Company, on-line at; phone 1-888-982-7472.

GEM Publications of Beaver, Raleigh County, continues to issue fine historical books from the New River region and the southern coalfields, including a generous supply of West Virginia horror and ghost tales.

Coal Mining Mayhem and Murder: The Incredible New River Coal Field 1900-1912, by George and Melody Bragg (2010), is a collection of news stories and photographs from the Fayette Journal and the Fayette Tribune newspapers during the early years of the 20th century. Many of these stories involve mine mishaps, violent crimes, and human tragedy. This 102-page book sells for $20.

Window to the Past (2011) is an anthology of five books published by George and Melody Bragg over the past 20 years, all concentrated on the history and legends, life and lore in the New River Valley. Thurmond: Dodge City of the East; Ghost Towns of the New River Gorge; Legends and Life on the New River; Mine Disasters of Southern West Virginia, and Window to the Past combine in this 276-page, large-format book. It sells for $25.

West Virginia Unsolved Murders, also by George and Melody Bragg (2012), is another anthology, this one combining the texts of three previous unsolved murder books, available now under one cover. This 208-page book sells for $20.

All three volumes are large-format paperbound editions, containing excellent and generous illustrations, many of them by famed Glen Jean photographer W.O. Trevey. [See “The Reliable Bill Trevey: Glen Jean’s Photographer,” by Melody Bragg; Winter 1988.] To order or for additional information, visit or phone (304)256-8400.

Several new biographies have arrived recently, chronicling the lives and times of both prominent and everyday West Virginians.

James Clark McGrew: West Virginia Statesman and Servant, by Susan M. Hardesty, tells the life story of staunch Unionist and West Virginia founding father James Clark McGrew of Kingwood, Preston County. A representative at the fateful legislative session in Richmond on April 17, 1861, McGrew sided with the minority in an 88-55 vote for secession. Following that vote, McGrew traveled back to Preston County and began work on establishing the new state of West Virginia. James Clark McGrew is a 117-page paperbound volume and sells for $17.50, available on-line from McLain Printing Company at; phone 1-888-654-7179.

Mountain Midwife: Life and Times of Isabella Brown Neal, by Vickie Osborne Brown, and Stories of a West Virginia Doctor’s Son, by Greenbrier Almond, MD, are personal accounts of rural medical care during an earlier time. Mountain Midwife, published in 2010 by Mountain Memories Books of Charleston, tells the story of an intrepid and outspoken woman who traveled the back roads of Clay County, delivering babies and dispensing wisdom. The author estimates that Isabella delivered more than 3,000 babies in her 40-year career. This 150-page paperbound edition sells for $12.95.

Doctor Harold Almond wrote two volumes of his own memories as a country doctor in Upshur County during the 1950’s. This new edition is written by his son, Greenbrier Almond, himself a psychiatrist and author. His perspective as the son of a country doctor is unique and illuminating. It is a 115-page paperbound volume and sells for $15.

Both books are available from the West Virginia Book Company on-line at; phone 1-888-982-7472.

Uncle Zeke: The Bard of Buzzard Town, by David Parmer, is an entertaining account of the life and work of columnist and commentator Patrick Newton Blake, whose four decades of newsy and humorous columns appeared in the Weston Independent and the Braxton Democrat newspapers. He wrote under the pen name “Uncle Zeke,” from the mythical community of “Buzzard Town.” Author David Parmer introduces us to this clever author and his amusing and insightful work. This 182-page hardbound edition sells for $25 and is available from the author at P.O. Box 39, Hinton, WV 25951; e-mail