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Rosbys Rock

No More, No Less

Text and photographs by Carl E. Feather

Rosby's Rock with painted sign "Track closed Christmas Eve 1852"
Local resident Bob Sullivan and daughter Sarah stand on top of Rosbys Rock in Marshall County. While the huge rock stands as a significant historical landmark, its questionable spelling has fueled controversy for generations. Photograph by Carl E. Feather.


Dorothy Dakan Sedosky is passionate about the spelling of her childhood hometown’s name. Dorothy says it should be Roseby’s Rock, not Rosbys, the official name determined by the U.S. Geographic Board in 1933 and supported by several reference books.

“I don’t agree with them. I don’t agree with them at all,” Dorothy says emphatically. She stands by the Roseby’s spelling, which is supported by Baltimore & Ohio Railroad historical records and is how mail was addressed to the town for years.

“I use that spelling. I use it all the time,” she adds.

Dorothy also refutes Rosbby’s, which is what stonecutters inscribed on the town’s namesake 900-cubic-yard block of sandstone back when the village was established. That inscription, says Dorothy, is wrong, as well. It was wrong the day the “well-oiled” stonecutters turned the “E” into a “B,” and it’s been wrong ever since.

“It was definitely a mistake,” Dorothy says, as we sit in the living room of her family home in the Marshall County town. “I don’t know why you have to preserve a mistake for posterity.” She also rejects Rosby’s Rock, Rosbbys Rock, Roseby Rock, and Rosebyrock, all of which have appeared at one time or another.

Dorothy is on a mission to set the record straight. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the town in 2002, Dorothy donated $118 for paint and supplies and arranged to have four inmates from the Northern Regional Jail and Correctional Facility at Moundsville paint the inscription and rock so it would read “ROSEBY’S ROCK.” But someone came along and painted in the loops on the first “B,” once again making it “ROSBBY’S ROCK.”

“It’s just a shame,” Dorothy says. “They really don’t know the history of it.”

The town, best reached from Moundsville via County Road 54 and by following the signs, is located up a hollow along Big Grave Creek. The Rosbys Rock community of today, however, bears little resemblance to the prosperous railroading and farming hamlet in which Dorothy was reared. Very few of the “old-timers” who made their livings off the land or the railroad are alive. The new crop of residents are retirees, factory workers, or coal miners who drive to Moundsville or beyond for their livelihoods. Dorothy says most of them are unaware of the history of their community. Her neighbor, Robert M. Sullivan, is the exception.

Bob, who moved to Rosbys Rock on October 22, 1973, lives in a farmhouse on the bottoms to the east of Rosbys Rock and about a dozen yards south of the old railroad grade.

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