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My Early Days in Lost Creek

By Lud Freeman

Lost Creek
Lost Creek, Harrison County, in 1915. The railroad tracks are visible in the middle of this photograph. The J.B. Freeman Hardware Store was eventually located along these tracks. Photograph courtesy of Patty Bassel Smith.

There is a legend that once in a heavily forested portion of central West Virginia, there stood a tree on the bank of a small creek. Carved upon it were the following words and initials: "I AM LOST - K.D." Beside the tree was found a skeleton of a man! I do not know if this legend is true because the tree is no longer in existence nor are any of the people who can confirm it. However, some people believe that this is the way that the Harrison County town of Lost Creek got its name - I have heard this story all my life.

My father was Joseph Berkley Freeman, and he was born on November 12, 1890, in Smithburg, Doddridge County. He graduated from Mountain State Business College in Parkersburg where he received the best business education that was offered and became very proficient in bookkeeping, typing, and a style of shorthand called "Pittman."

Dad left the farm and obtained a job in Bluefield where he was chief clerk and private secretary to the General Superintendent of the Norfolk & Western Railroad, W.J. Jenks. While working in Bluefield, my father met Salee Ludwick, who was a milliner - a maker of ladies' hats. She was from Louisville, Kentucky, was born in 1889, and became my dad's wife in about 1915. I was their only child.

My dad's older brother Lawrence Freeman developed a plan to organize a company of three retail hardware stores called The Freeman Brothers Company. The stores were located in Lost Creek, Sutton, and Gassaway. My uncle Lawrence managed the store in Sutton, my uncle Guy managed the store in Gassaway, and my dad managed the store in Lost Creek. Around 1930, the hardware partnership was dissolved, and each of the brothers became independent business owners. They were still friendly, however, and cooperated with each other.

On May 4, 1923, I was born in a room in our home in Lost Creek. I have been told that on that day, there was a light snow that stayed on the ground for a little while - unusual for May, even in West Virginia. They named me Berkley Ludwick Freeman. My first name was taken from my father's middle name, and my middle name was my mother's maiden name. Everyone called me "Lud."

My clear memory of Lost Creek goes back some 73 years, to that time when I was about four or five years of age.

You can read the rest of this article in the Fall 2002 issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.