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West Virginia Archives & History

History Of Frametown and Vicinity

by Mrs. Link James and T. P. Rollyson

Frametown is a village of approximately one hundred fifty inhabitants, situated on Elk River, nine miles from Gassaway, and sixteen miles from Sutton, the county seat of Braxton County.

In speaking of Frametown Community, we include a much larger territory, and the history of this community does not differ in many respects from the history of other communities in Braxton County.

It would be hard to find a village, or community center more favorably located than Frametown for it has good railway facilities and is surrounded by some picturesque scenery then it has the distinction of being one of the villages located on the placid waters of Elk River which is one of the most beautiful streams in West Virginia, and which in days gone by afforded means of transportation for the virgin forest of this section was carried to market on this stream.

In this community, you will find a number of comfortable school buildings and churches. Frametown has a two room school building which the good folks are trying to have replaced by a district high school, and also boasts of two churches - the Methodist Episcopal and the Mount Hope Baptist - both of which have services of some nature every Sunday, and both have "evergreen" Sunday Schools.

This is a farming section and the community has some good farms which are owned and cultivated by industrious farmers and in addition to farming many of our farmers are interested in stock raising and are stocking their farms with purebred stock.

Frametown community has produced some prominent citizens having furnished both state and county officials together with a number who are making good at their chosen professions such as ministers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers. Frametown community has sent forth a number of applicants who have made first grade certificates many of which were No. One teachers.

This immediate vicinity has had but few notable events from a historical standpoint, yet the little local incidents such as fires, floods, etc. are more or less interesting to our home folks. We might add that one of the most impressive events in this section was the calling of young men to arms to fight for world freedom. The thought of their leaving friends and loved ones at home, with no assurance of their ever returning, to cross the mighty deep with all its dangers both seen and unseen, then to face the enemy on the battlefield (which many of them did) was indeed a sad event to us. However, we were fortunate in the return of our boys, yet a few made the supreme sacrifice. Among those that went from this section and returned we will mention the names of two young men who went to France and entered that famous artillery school at Saumur, completed their course, and received commissions. They are Lieutenant Charles Earle Rollyson and Lieutenant Aaron H. Gumm. Lieutenant Rollyson is now Superintendent of the Ephraim Creek Coal Company of Thayer, Fayette County, West Virginia, and Lieutenant Gumm is Assessor of Braxton County.

We have tried to be brief in giving our present day history, and we will now ask that you let your mind drift back a century or two and draw a mental picture of Frametown community at that time contrasting it with the present. Think of the entire section as a vast wilderness infested with wild animals such as panther, bear, wild cat, etc., and not a single human being within its domain except the American Indian, then draw your own conclusions as to the dangers that lurked in every nook and corner, and imagine the courage that was required by our forefathers to win this community for civilization. We will now try to relate a little early history of this community.

About the beginning of the nineteenth century, we find a class of sturdy pioneers wending their way from Augusta County westward in search of suitable land on which to build homes for themselves and their families. They were a liberty loving people not seeking office or fame, but were following the retreat of the Indian and assisting in the extermination of the panther and bear. The course of civilization has ever been westward, and to the pioneers who braved all dangers of the forest to build homes for themselves and their families and to build churches and schools in the wilderness, we owe a debt of gratitude and at the mound of clay that contains the dust of our fathers, we should erect a beautiful monument, for theirs is the glory to the end of time.

Among the earliest settlers in this vicinity we find the following familiar names:- James, Given, Hamric, Frame, and Rollyson.

Joseph James, Sr. came from Nicholas County about 1820 and settled on the head waters of Big Run, two miles north of Frametown. He lived to a ripe old age and reared a large family most of whom lived all their life in this section.

Michael Rollyson cane from Monroe County in the early part of the nineteenth century and settled on the head waters of Steer Creek. He was Captain of the Home Guards under the reorganized government of West Virginia having been commissioned Dec. 1, 1863 and served until August 5, 1864. His son, Samuel A. Rollyson, was commissioned First Lieutenant of Company "F" 10th W. Va. Infantry, on the 29th of May, 1862.

Cyrus Hamric settled on Big Run, and James Given, Sr. settled on the waters of Mill Creek. All of these pioneers reared large families many of whom became prominent citizens.

The village of Frametown was settled by James Frame, Sr. in the year, 1798. Mr. Frame came from Augusta County together with another man whose name we never learned, built a cabin in the bottom just east of the property now owned by J. Pat Rollyson. They cleared one acre of land and remained here about a year. One morning these two men heard a turkey gobbling, so they went out to kill the turkey, but failing to find it, they separated and continued their hunt, and this nameless man saw a bear and fired two shots at it, then he lost his sense of direction and reached the head waters of Steer Creek, and thinking that it emptied into Elk River, he followed it to its mouth, thence down the Little Kanawha River to Parkersburg from which point he went down the Ohio River to Point Pleasant and from there back to Virginia. Mr. Frame thinking this man had killed the turkey with the first shot and that an Indian had killed him with the second, became alarmed and went back to Augusta County, and there he met the owner of the land and traded him a black mare and flint lock rifle for his claim thereby obtaining all the land on the north side of Elk River between the end of the Frametown bridge and to Elk and Little Kanawha Ry. Station near the present residence of Robert Cox. This was in the counties of Randolph and Kanawha, for the county line was near the E. & L. K. Station. Mr. Frame now moved his family here and proceeded to build a water mill, and traces of the old dam may be seen today. The original name of this place was Frame's Mill, but later the name was changed to Frametown in honor of its founder. Three of Mr. Frame's grandchildren are living in Frametown at present. They are John H. and James A. Frame, sons of William Frame, and Mrs. Emma Rollyson, daughter of Dr. Thomas K. Frame.

We might add that James Frame, Sr. was born in Scotland and served under General Andrew Jackson at the battle of New Orleans, in 1815.

The folks that founded homes in the wilderness did not intend to rear their children in ignorance, therefore, they began to build rude school buildings. This work was always done by voluntary labor, and the settlers would first meet and select a site which was usually in some old field that was no longer used for agricultural purposes, this giving rise to the name - "Old Field Schools" -. After having selected the site, they would go to the woods (which were near by at that time) and cut the logs from which the building was constructed. When all the material was on the ground, there was a public gathering, in a sense it was a country life conference, the only difference being that they were there to do things and not to talk about doing them. The house was built and covered, then a chimney was built which was of such gigantic proportions that it was a much mooted question which the chimney was built for the house, or the house for the chimney. Benches (for that was the name by which they were known) were made of logs split into two equal parts and the flat sides were shaved smooth, then holes were bored in each end and legs were driven into them, and as they had no backs you can imagine how tiresome it would be to sit on a seat of this nature while solving a long problem in "Partial Payments". Contrast this with the modern school building of today. The patrons hired their own teachers and paid their salary out of their own private funds, for there was no such thing as a free school in those days. The subjects taught were "Readin", "Ritin", and "Rithmetic", and the texts used were McGuffey's Reader, Webster's Spelling Book, Ray's Arithmetic, and New Testament. The theory of discipline was embodied in that well know principle of "No lickin, no larin", and many were the times that the beech rod was brought into play. Not-with-standing this many of the "Split Bench" graduates became men of prominence, filling positions of trust and honor.

One of the first school buildings erected in this section was near the present residence of Thomas Wilson and was used for both school and church The first school was taught by "Uncle" Andy Wilson. The first building erected for free school purposes was on Big Run and is known today as the Big Run school. It is the oldest free school in Birch district being known as sub-district No. 1. The first building was burned but another was erected upon the old site, and is standing today. The first free school that was taught in the old building was by Joseph Pierson; however, Mr, Pierson taught but two months and the school was finished by Van B. Frame.

As stated above, school buildings were used for church purposes, and as the early settlors were a God-fearing and church going people these buildins were crowded to overflowing on Sunday. The ministers of that day usually had a large "circuit" and services were held about once a month. In many sections services were held at the home of some settler. Once a year, they held what was commonly known as a "Revival" or "Protracted" meeting, and folks would come for miles and miles, some on foot, some on horseback, others in sleds or sleighs. They invariably had a great revival for the people very often were in possession of the ''Old Time Religion'', the kind that causes folks to shout. Instrumental music was strictly forbidden for they were firm in their belief that this was accomplished in the Book of Amos, but every one present took part in the singing, and many of our fathers and mothers were sweet singers. Their spirits are now enjoying the glories of the Father, for they were faithful to the end.

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