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"A Good People Doing a Good Thing"

Pinch Reunion Reaches 100

By George Daugherty

Good food makes a good reunion. Here, attendees at the Pinch Reunion in Pinch, Kanawha County, prepare to "dig in" at the 1988 gathering. The 100th Pinch Reunion is planned this summer. Photograph courtesy of Charleston Newspapers. Pinch Reunion

Summer in West Virginia is not complete without its reunions. There are literally hundreds of them across the state during this season, but none is more unique - or older - than the Pinch Reunion. Celebrating its 100th anniversary this August, it is held at Pinch, a quiet community located up the Elk River about 10 miles above Charleston.

While most summer reunions draw together particular family, school, military, or church groups, the Pinch Reunion is a community gathering open to everyone. It features the necessary elements of food, fellowship, and fun important to most successful reunions, but the Pinch Reunion boasts other unusual features, as well, which have made it a magnet for West Virginia political figures, writers, musicians, and community and religious leaders for the past 100 years.

Shortly after the beginning of the 20th century, William W. Wertz, then a young man of 22, and a group of former school classmates decided that they wanted to establish one weekend each year when they could meet and renew old friendships. They hoped that this yearly reunion would raise the religious, educational, and civic standards of the community. The first gathering took place in 1902. In 1905, the Pinch Reunion Association purchased a wooded cove near Pinch called Rockwood Glen to hold their reunions. In 1912, Burton Pierson was given $300 to construct a large pavilion on the site to serve as a permanent home for many of the reunion activities. Mr. Pierson supplied all of the labor and materials. The "Wigwam," as it is known, still stands; its ample stage area and bench seating remain the hub of activity at each reunion.

Over the past century, the Pinch Reunion has seen the advent of the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, woman suffrage, television, penicillin, the hard road, man walking on the moon, and the computer age. It has survived World War I, World War II, the Great Depression, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Desert Storm. It has honored veterans repeatedly, as recently as last year.

Among the more unique reunion features has been the inclusion of debates held each year on topics of current interest. Some of these have included "That the Pen is Mightier Than the Sword," "That the Right of Suffrage Should Be Extended to Women," "That the Horse is More Useful Than the Automobile," and "That the Hard Road is More Important Than the Railroad."

You can read the rest of this article in the Summer 2001 issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.