Prepared by D. W. Idleman
It has occurred to the writer that before the means of reaching facts recedes into the more distant past, that some one should make an effort to write the best history possible of Mt. Storm Community. He has committed himself to this task with the hope that some benefit at least may result therefrom.
Man is not wholly living in the present. Life is only a sort of threshold where memories of the past and anticipations of the future meet and intermingle. Human society everywhere today has grown largely out of past experiences and these experiences greatly influence present and future activities, A knowledge, therefore, of present and past history is interesting and profitable.
Local history is not only interesting to the community, but touches and influences the current of national life. It is as the mountain springs and streams are to the mighty river - the source from which the river derives its power. It is always interesting and fascinating to historians and inspiring to children. The story of every community especially during our pioneer period, is full of brave, daring, heroic deeds of the plain, modest, struggling, common people - men who made no pretense to fame but possessed high qualities of industry, frugality, and purpose.
The work of these men in building roads, removing virgin forests, heavy with the sleep of ages, establishing churches, and for the most part providing in a crude way for the manufacture of goods needed by the pioneer house-hold is evident today. The common people have achieved a great part in the upbuilding of great self governing states.
It is to the end that the work of the sturdy pioneer who blazed the way in Mt. Storm and laid the foundation for our community structure may be conserved; that their efforts "may not have been in vain;" and that we who are still here "may take increased devotion" to the great opportunity before us to make our community one of the best in the land and to maintain it as such that this history was written.
D. W. IDLEMAN.
As the Mt. Storm Community area lies within the boundaries of what was once the Fairfax Estate, it will be interesting and proper hereto relate as best we can the history of this vast territory consisting of nearly 6,000,000 acres bounded on the north by the Potomac, on the east and south by the Rappahannock, and on the west by a line connecting the head fountains of these streams.
Charles II came to the throne of England in 1660. He was a profligate, worthless character, who regarded that he owned all England and her possessions. He surrounded himself by a class of ignoble noblemen upon whom he bestowed lavish gifts, in return for these favors, these associates of the King were ready to do his dirty bidding. Among other gifts bestowed by this King upon his favorites was a tract of land known as the Northern Neck of Virginia which became the Fairfax Estate.
In 1681 King Charles II made a deed or grant for this large tract to Lord Hopton, Thomas Culpepper, and others.
In a short time after this grant was made Lord Hopton sold his interest to John Fethewey.
The proprietors were subject to all the laws of Virginia; to pay tax to and be governed by that colony. They were forbidden to engage in military affairs, but were allowed to establish schools and to enact laws of a local nature suitable to self government, but all such laws were required to be in harmony with the Virginia House of Burgesses.
After some time had elapsed this estate descended to Lord Thomas Culpepper to whom it was confirmed by King James II in 1688. Next it descended to his only daughter Catherine, who married Thomas, fifth Lord Fairfax from whom the estate descended to Thomas the sixth Lord Fairfax. We wish to say here that Virginia never recognized the Culpepper title to this land, claiming that King James II had no authority to grant land that had been granted to the Virginia Colony by the Crown at a previous date, but as no one had come to take possession there was nothing done and little said about it during the time it was in possession of Lord Culpepper. By the time Lord Thomas Fairfax, the sixth, came into possession of this estate adventurers had possession of large tracts. This led to lawsuits some of which lasted half a century, long after the litigants to the original suit were dead. Some of these claimants won confirmation of their titles by the Assembly, but the transaction usually resulted in a compromise to which both parties consented. If it was decreed that the suitor's title should stand, he was still required to pay the yearly rent to Lord Fairfax the same as those who purchased their lands of him.
There existed in most of the American colonies an aristocratic European land system. It demanded that a yearly tax be paid to rich land barons who had acquired vast areas of real estate in the colonies. This tax was not only to be paid to the original owners of these estates, but was to be perpetuated down through their descendants. In Maryland, it consisted of only an annual rent of two arrows and one-fifth of all the gold that might be found; in New York it existed under the patroon system; in New Jersey a certain tax on land was held; in Pennsylvania it was known as quiet rent; and in the Northern Neck of Virginia Lord Fairfax demanded a rent when they leased their lands, very little of it being sold outright. This rent consisted of from one to two and a half cents per acre taken in advance. This was called "Composition Money". He required an annual sum of about the same amount to be paid on a fixed date of each year. This annual tax was not the same each year. Sometimes the greed of the owner caused him to increase his rents. This was usually done after a person had taken up land without title, improved it, then when he was informed of increased taxes he usually paid it rather than give up the land he had labored to improve.
In 1745 Fairfax came to America to acquaint himself with his estate. He was so well pleased with it that he returned to England, arranged his business there, preparatory to making his home in the New World. Pursuant to this plan he came to Fairfax County, Virginia, two years later, and after a time moved to Greenway Court, Clarke County, Virginia, about twelve miles from Romney, now West Virginia.
Lawrence Washington, half brother of General George Washington, married a near relative of Lord Fairfax. This event established a close friendship between these families and on account of this, Fairfax, though a Tory, was not disturbed by the Continentals during the Revolutionary War. He employed George Washington to survey his vast estate. This opportunity was the source of Washington's wealth and developed him for future greatness. He received as his salary anywhere from fifteen to twenty-two dollars per day. The money he received from this source was invested in real estate at a very low figure. This double advantage of investing unusually large earnings in land at low prices explains in a measure how Washington's fortune grew toward the million dollar mark - considered a vast estate in his time.
Washington's work as surveyor led him across the mountains into what is now Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Grant counties now in West Virginia. His work as surveyor here in mapping out estates and placing land marks was so accurate that it remains a marvel to the present day.
When Fairfax came too Virginia he began to push the sale or rather leases of his land more vigorously than had been done by his agents. The best portions of it ware laid out in manors. These he disposed of by laying them out in small tracts which he usually leased. Very little of it was ever sold. The lease plan demanded a small payment in advance and a perpetual annual rental to continue forever. Had he succeeded in leasing all his lands in this vast estate he would have had an annual income of at least $200,000. It was stipulated in these early leases that the hunting of beaver, deer, elk, buffalo, and other game was forbidden without the consent of Fairfax or his heirs.
While the Northern Nock was in possession of Lord John Culpepper and others the country west of the Blue Ridge has not been explored and it was supposed this territory did not extend beyond that range of mountains, but in time exploring parties found their way through the gap at Harper's Ferry, discovered the Shenandoah and followed the Potomac until they reached its source in the Alleghany Mountains.
Previous to this the Governor of Virginia had granted titles for large tracts of land west of the "Ridge" but was notified by Fairfax that he claimed it. The Governor now refused to grant any more titles until the boundaries of Fairfax's estate could be determined. The Governor of Virginia and Lord Fairfax now presented the matter to King James II, for settlement, who appointed three commissioners to represent the Governor and three to represent Fairfax. These commissioners were to explore the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers and mark out the boundaries of this estate. They were authorized to employ what man they needed for an exploring party and in September, 1736, they met at Fredericksburg, Maryland, to prepare for their work of exploration. They were required to take evidence of citizens living along the stream concerning the real Potomac. By October 12 their preparations were complete and they convened at Alexandria from whence they began their journey up the river. When they had passed through the gap at Harper's Ferry they learned by inquiry and investigation that the stream coming down from the south was not the Potomac but the Shenandoah. They then proceeded to the mouth of the South Branch, where they had more difficulty in determining which stream to follow.
A careful examination of the two streams hare disclosed the fact that ths one coming from the south discharged the greater volume of water, but as the North Branch occupied the widest valley, which seemed to be the natural continuation of the one thay had followed, they decided that this was the real Potomac. From here they proceeded up the stream until they reached Stony River, a name they applied to this stream because of the prevalence of so many stones. After exploring it they proceeded up the main stream to a point near where Wilsonia is now located. Here they pitched camp and after carefully exploring the surrounding streams and rivulets to ascertain the real source of the Potomac, on December 14, 1756, marked the spot where the Fairfax Stone now stands as the first fountain of the Potomac. The report of these commissioners was submitted to the King and by him confirmed on April 11, 1745.
Commissioners were now appointed to run a line from the source of the Rappahannock to the first fountain of the Potomac. They began on September 18, and on October 17, planted the Fairfax Stone, one of the most interesting historical monuments in the United States. The report of these commissioners was ratified by the House of Burgesses and Lord Fairfax which completed the title to the Northern Neck of Virginia.
The stone that now marks the head fountain of the Potomac is not the original Fairfax stone planted by the commissioners. The original stone was destroyed in 1884 by unknown persons; supposed to be the work of some thoughtless boys. The Davis Coal and Coke Company put another stone in its place resembling the original as near by as possible.
For a long time Maryland claimed a portion of the Fairfax Estate. This claim grew out of the early history of the country when the geography of West Virginia was not well understood. From the earliest history of Virginia and Maryland the Potomac was regarded as the dividing line between these states, but in 1850 Maryland set up the claim that the stream known as the South Branch was the true boundary line between Maryland and Virginia and laid claim to all the land north of this stream and extending westward to a line drawn due north from its head fountain to the southern boundary of Pennsylvania. Had Maryland succeeded in holding and establishing her claim Virginia would have lost part of Highland County, Virginia, and West Virginia would have lost portions of Hampshire, Pendleton, Tucker, Randolph, Preston, and Grant counties, and all of Mineral county. Virginia prepared to resist the claim of Maryland and Governor Floyd appointed Charles J. Faulkner, of Martinsburg, to defend the case. He made a careful investigation of the whole matter by examining all available authorities on the subject and made his report November 6, 1852, which showed that the line established by Fairfax's surveyors was the true boundary line between the two states. But Maryland held on to her claim until in recent years when it was finally settled in favor of Virginia by the supreme Court of the United States.
The Fairfax land aristocracy received a severe blow in 1776 when Thomas Jefferson introduced a bill into the legislature of Virginia that all land must be held in fee simple. This bill passed but it did not absolutely break up the Fairfax estate, but it did put a stop to incomes on leases. The estate was not completely broken up until after the close of the Revolutionary War, when Lord Thomas Fairfax was declared a Tory and his property was confiscated and thus returned to the states.
Fairfax lived in a cabin at Greenway Court about twelve miles from Romney. His home was surrounded by many similar habitations occupied by his slaves of which he owned about two hundred. He was about ninety years old when the battle of York- town was fought. The news of the loss of this battle to the British overcame him and he took to his bed and died soon thereafter.
Climate, soil, and the physical features of a country greatly influence the occupations, habits, and lives of any people. This truth, no doubt is evident in the history of the people we are attempting to relate, in defining the extent of Mt. Storm Community it is not our purpose to draw any strait-jacket lines of division. We regard Mt. Storm where there was erected in 1924 a large, commodious community building of which we shall speak later, the center of our community which includes the territory from the crest of the Alleghanies extending on the north to the historic Potomac, and thence along that river to its head fountain at the southwestern corner of Maryland including the northwest part of Grant and the western part of Mineral counties in West Virginia. Reference will also be made from time to time to other sections of country to which our investigations may lead us as we trace the threads of history connected with our people.
The elevation of this portion of Grant and Mineral counties varies from 2500 to 5000 feet above the level of the sea, and is drained by the historic Potomac and its branches. The land was originally heavily timbered and for many years lumbering was one of the chief industries, but not much of the virgin forests remain. The chief source of wealth today consists of farms and coal. There is still some good timber, however, and a few people are engaged in the lumber business. Quite a number of estates have standing on them fine maple sugar groves from which a considerable quantity of maple sugar and molasses is made.
The writer is not familiar by experience with the earliest known primitive method of handling this product, but knows by having worked in the industry the different steps in its development since the time our first settlers came into possession of this country. The first crude method of handling the sap of the maple tree can be ascribed to our predecessors, the Indians, whose plan was to hang pouches made of the skins of wild animals under broken branches of the maple trees. The water from these pouches was gathered and poured into a wooden trough carved out at laborious cost by the use of sharp rocks and the tomahawk. The water in the trough was boiled down by putting hot rocks into it.
The white man began the maple sugar industry in a much improved way, due to the fact that he understood the use of iron and knew how to use the tools made from that metal; but his first method would be considered now a very poor one, indeed. He tapped the tree with an axe and inserted in the wound a wooden wedge and from this led the water into a wooden trough. The water was then boiled in iron kettles.
The first improvement in tapping was by the use of an auger, one inch, or above, in size. Usually two holes were bored in the tree and the water was led from these holes by wooden spouts, usually made of sumac, into a wooden trough. The next advanced step in the industry was when the cast iron sap spout and wooden bucket came into use, and large galvanized pans took the place of iron kettles. The latest equipment consists of small metal sap spouts that are driven into holes bored into the tree with only a five-sixteenth-inch bit, and on this spout the bucket is hung. These buckets do not have a bail but are provided with a cover. Evaporators, for the most part, have taken the place of the pans. The water is now gathered in large galvanized tanks and is hauled to the boiling place where it is removed by hydrostatic pressure into the evaporator with much less labor than formerly was required. The finished product is far superior to what it used to be. Evolutionary methods are more or less common to all industries, but probably in no one has it played a greater part than in the manufacture of maple sugar and maple syrup.
The land in this section is adapted to grazing, and the raising of horses, cattle, and sheep is a profitable business. The present acreage of meadow land could be greatly increased by the use of drain tile, and in this way much water-logged land could be converted into the best of meadow. Most farms have enough tilable land to grow about what crops are needed for economical stock raising. It is evident to most farmers here, that cattle and sheep can be raised on pasture and meadow lands at much lower cost than on rich farming lands in the grain belt, and it has been asserted by men of sound judgment that our hay and grass fed cattle here in the mountains of West Virginia get fatter than cornfed cattle grazed in the prairies.
Sheep winter well, for the most part, on pasture fields, and need to be fed only through storm periods, or when the ground is covered with snow with a good quality of legume hay, preferably soybeans which can be grown quite successfully in the community. It is not necessary to have them cooped up in barns or sheds, but shelter should be available during rains or stormy weather. If a good legume hay is fed when the sheep do not have access to the grass because of storms or snow thers will be but little need to feed any grain. If no lambs are allowed to come until about the middle to the last of April there will be but little need for protection other than open sheds, and lambs born at this date are usually as heavy by the middle of October as lambs much older. Of course, it should be understood, that in handling sheep in this way the proper kind for endurance must be selected. The writer is not of the opinion that fine wooled breeds could be handled in this way, but the Shropshire and the down breeds are well adapted to this method.
The mineral resources of Mt. Storm community consist of coal. Most if not all the land is underlaid with several workable seams and with the exception of a few local openings, the mines that produce most of the present output ara located along Abram's creek and the Potomac River, the courses of which streams are paralleled by the Western Maryland Railroad.
The beginning of the coal industry in this section began about the year 1880 in the Elk Garden region. This section of country had an exceedingly rich coal deposit, known locally as the 14-foot vein and in Pennsylvania as the Pittsburgh seam. The Davis people got possession of most of this coal before the Western Maryland Railroad was built. It was bought for about $50.00 per acre and in some instances for much less. The price the original owners received for these vast beds of coal was comparatively negligible as it was not more than two or three mills per ton. This rich field of coal has long since been mines out; the last work of importance ended at Wabash near Hartmonsville.
The ownership of this great bed of coal was acquired with clear foresight and consummate skill by the Davis people and almost immediately followed the building of the West Virginia central and Pittsburgh Railroad by the same people in order to transport their newly purchased product to the marts of trade The mining industry that sprung up from this purchase was one of the fertile sources that swelled the fortune of the Davis Coal and Coke Company among whose members were Thomas B. and senator K. G. Davis, and his son-in-law senator Stephen B. Elkins who was president of the company.
It might be added here, that the same company of investors, considerably less than a century ago, came into possession of numerous and large tracts of virgin timber along the headwaters of the Potomac and Stony rivers, and the prices paid for the timber would compare to the prices paid for the coal. Within the memory of many people living, the great forests, consisting of soft and hardwood trees such as poplar, bass, hemlock, and spruce so dense that their branches interlocked, maple, sugar, beech, ash, and giant oaks, have nearly all been felled and manufactured into pulp or lumber. Probably not many sections of country anywhere were more heavily timbered than the land along the head voters of the Potomac.
Dear old Potomac, rippling stream,
Life giving waters, clear and clean;
Not seeking rest along your way,
All unwearied day by day.
By exiled men your shores wore sought
To win true freedom while they wrought
To build new homes upon your shores
All planned and led by Baltimores.
They chose St. Mary's as the site
Where freedom's hopes might win her fight;
Where puritan and Cavalier
Might live agreed and without fear.
Brave stream, your name was here revered
By men whom labor had not feared,
To sow the seed by human toil
And reap a harvest from the soil.
Your name was made more famous yet
By creed of faith which did not let
Religious freedom wans, in fact,
Revoking Toleration Act.
At your head fount was placed a stone
A noted mark that stands alone
To mark not only meets and bounds,
But spread a fame your shores around.
Plantations grew along your way
The pride of planters in that day;
Their crops were gathered at your side
To load on ships that cross the tide.
When those ships at last returned
They brought the news from England's strand
To welcome shores where on that day
Stood eager crowds upon the land.
These crowds in anxious mood appeared
To hear the news beyond the main,
And meet their loved one whom they feared
They never might behold again.
Along this stream lived Rumsey, James,
Whose luster shines among great names,
Since he it was by test laid claim to steam
And first applied it on the stream.
The date was sixteen eighty-four.
Ahead a score of years or more
of Fulton's claim on Hudson's tide,
Where eager-viewed Clermont did ride.
Dear Old Potomac, rippling stream,
Though scenes have changed along your way,
You have outlived the older dreams
To see the dawn of greater day.
Before the white man here appeared
You flowed through forest, shade and glen,
But now you pass by homes endeared
By farms, towns, cities of great men.
Upon your banks the people planned
The nation's capitol should stand
And many folks are now agreed
It fully meets the Nation's need.
From here just down the placid stream,
Revered Mt. Vernon may be seen;
Mere mem'ries cluster thick and fast
Mem'ries that will forever last.
These memories to you shall be
A heritage to hold in fee.
No other stream within our land
Can share scenes such as you command.
A sage and poet once has said,
"Let the past dead bury its dead."
But traditions here remain too dear
To ever fade, we need not fear.
Potomac, did you not love best
The common Wealth above the rest.
since more valleys here you drain
Which prove the thought that we maintain.
Because you fringe our mountain homes
is reason why where'er we roam
Our minds revert to scenes most dear
Of homes beside thy waters clear.
Ne'er-failing, constant, rippling stream
A lesson here through ages gleams
Which fastens deep upon the heart
And from our lives will ne'er depart.
From early dawn in distant past,
You've smoothed your bad till now at last
you move more gently in your flow
With music soft, more swift, more low,
So let it be as life preceeds
That daily action meet our needs
T grow more gentle with the years
A fate to meet undimmed by tears.
It has been said by tourists that probably no state in the Union affords more picturesque, attractive, or beautiful scenery than West Virginia and because of this the little Mountain state has been styled the Switzerland of America. Probably this scenery is no where more attractive than from the crest of the Allegenies in Grant County as viewed from Pigeon's Roost. Looking toward the cast from this point, the observer beholds the Alleghany Ridges at his feet, rugged and robed in blue rising and rolling, range beyond range, peak above peak till in the blue and hazy distance the Blue Ridge forms the rim of his vision on the eastern horizon, one of the great lateral upheavals to come into view is New Creek, Mountain and Walker's Ridge, broken by Greenland Gap, whose oblique, perpendicular, and sometimes projecting walls rise to a height of nearly one thousand feet above a small stream at their base.
As the visitor turns from this scene and casts his eye upon the crest where he is standing and gives fancy time to call up that strange and wonderful panorama of the distant ages, he sees masses of white pebbles, rocks with deep basins apparently worn by the action of water, and broad heavy rocks that appear to have been lifted upon other rocks that support their elevated positions very near the center of gravitation. The famous Balance Rock is a good example. It weighs many tons and is so well poised that it can be rocked to and fro by a single person. Another interesting rock here is the Camel's Head. It has a rather blocky base with the upper portion at one time terminating in a long neck and head turned at attention as though gazing at some distant object. A portion of the neck and head in recent years has been broken off by some heedless men. Shame on people so thoughtless as to have no admiration for the beauties of Nature!
The appearance of masses of white pebbles and the rocks described indicate that the summit of the mountain here was once the border of an inland sea, where the waves and tides were ceaselessly at work ages ago, and as the mind lingers in the ages it is impressed by the countless years these rocks have withstood the radiant rays of a summer's sun. have been exposed to wild nocturnal storms, and clothed in the pure drapery of winter's snow.
In 1738 that portion of Orange county west of the Blue Ridge was divided into Frederick and Augusta counties. Augusta then included almost all of what is now West Virginia and extended on the western boundary to the Mississippi River. From its territory all of the counties of West Virginia have been formed except Berkeley, Jefferson, and part of Morgan. There is no county in West Virginia that retains the name Augusta but it still exists in Virginia as a portion of the original county, and its county seat is Staunton. the same as it was at first. West Augusta county, sometimes called West Augusta District was formed in 1776 from territory in West Virginia. Its boundary was never definitely laid out, but included what is now Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel; parts of Randolph, Tucker, Taylor, Preston, Marion, Monongalia, Harrison, Doddridge, and Tyier; all of Washington and Green counties in Pennsylvania, and parts of Allegheny and Beaver counties in the same state. Hampshire County was formed in 1754 from Augusta County. Hardy County was formed in 1785 from Hampshire, and Mineral County was also formed from Hampshire in 1866, and in the same year Grant County was formed from Hardy County.
The oldest titles we have been able to find to real estate in this part of Grant County date from 1773, and from our investigations it seems that this date or just a little earlier marks the beginning of the first settlers in this region. It will be interesting to note here how land titles were secured at that time. Pioneers pushing into the wilderness would mark out their claims. This gave them a "Tomahawk Title" which though not good in law, was the first step to secure a lawful one. Under this title a person simply marked the boundaries of a tract of land usually near a spring and then took other necessary steps to secure a title. The raising of some corn and the rearing of a cabin were the next steps to be taken. The raising of a crop of corn entitled the claimant to 400 acres, and if he built a cabin on the land he desired to hold, it entitled him to a much larger acreage.
Commissioners were appointed to visit these settlements to see if the settler had complied with the law; if so he was given a warrant which was returned to the governor, and in case no opposition was set up to the ownership of the land he soon received a deed signed by the Governor of the Commonwealth. As the reading of one of these old deeds will doubtless be interesting a copy of one is included herein spelled as the original which reads as follows:
"Edmund Randolph - Efquire, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, To all To Whom thefe presents fhal come Greeting: Know ye, that by virtue and in consideration of a warrant from the late Lord proprietors office, Number one hundred and one.
Ifued the sixth day of June One thousand Seven hundred and Seventy five - There is granted by the faid common Wealth unto Thomas Logsden, Sen. a certain Tract or Parcel of Land, containing one hundred and twenty five acres."
The bearings were given here in considerable detail and the deed closed with the appurtenances: "To Have and To Hold the faid tract or parcel of land with its Appurtenances, to the Faid Thomas Logsden, Sen. and his Heirs forever, in Witness whereof, the faid Edmund Randolph Efq. Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, hath hereunto fet his Hand and caufed the leffer seal of the faid Commonwealth to be affixed at Richmond on the fifth day of February in the year of our Lord one Thousand seven Hundred and seventy six and of the Commonwealth the eleventh.
As lands were taken up in some instances several years before lawful titles were given, it is probable that "Slab Cabin" built on a tract now owned by Hanlin Brothers was erected as early as 1765 or a little later.
There was another adjoining tract of land here deeded in the same way in 1773, or two years earlier than the first grant to Thomas Logsdon. Logsden erected a cabin on this tract of 157 acres along the McCulloh Trail which passed through it near the West Virginia Highway. This humble abode where Mr. Logsden lived for a time received the name "Slab Cabin". In all probability this name was given it to distinguish it from other pioneer residences along the "Trail". There was considerable travel on this path which we shall speak of later, under the head of Trails and Roads. From Thomas Logsden this land descended to David Gilmore, next to Martin Hanlin, grandfather of the Hanlin Brothers who now live upon it.
The farm near Stony River bridge, familiarly known for a long time as the Alkire place and now owned by Paul Williams of Romney, West Virginia, is another of the oldest surveys in the community along the Mcculloh Trail. We are informed that this tract of land was first taken up by a Mr. Scott who came from Eastern Virginia. Samuel Hanlin who came from Hagerstown, Maryland, was, we are informed, the first man to settle on this land. He was the grandfather of the late John Tyler Cosner and great grandfather of the Hanlin Brothers. He married Kate Brandstetter and they, the early ancestors of the Hanlin and Cosner families, lie buried in the Geisert cemetery on the east slope of the Alleghenies.
John Aronhalt, grandfather of Marefield Aronhalt of Gormania, West Virginia, was the second man to live on the Scott lands. The business contract between Mr. Aronhalt and Mr. Scott was very simple. The tenant was not to receive any cash for his work, but was to have the use of all the land he cleared during his life time.
We will here relate a few stories of the pioneer life of the early settlers west of Stony River. The forest was full of wild animal life which made hunting not only interesting but profitable. The major part of the meat a family needed could be provided from the forest.
While Martin Hanlin occupied the "Slab cabin" estate he went one evening to watch a deer-lick. He climbed up into the branches of a large tree to watch the coming of deer. He soon heard a noise which sounded to him like a squirrel leaping to the ground. on looking out into the wide spreading branches of the tree in which he had taken his position he saw a large panther quietly resting upon a limb evidently there for the same purpose as the hunter, who, instead of firing at the panther, bided his time till by chance a large buck weighing nearly 400 pounds came to the lick. Mr. Hanlin being of a calm self-possessed temperament still reserved his fire, in the hope of securing both animals as trophies of his evening's hunt. Very soon the panther with his characteristic triumphant leap landed upon the deer, breaking his back and rendering him helpless. The hunter still maintained his self-control and reserved his fire until the beast of prey had torn the entrails from his victim and sucked the blood from his stomach. Mr. Hanlin then took deliberate aim and fired, and both animals soon lay dead beneath the tree.
On another occasion he went out one evening to go to a neighbor's house who lived on the south side or near the Morgantown road. He had not gone far until a panther obstructed his path. An unerring shot from his rifle left the animal dead in the path. Moving along the path a little farther this brave Nimrod, by his unerring aim, disposed of another wild beast of the cat-like tribe. Now resting rather secure with the thought that all danger of his journey had been overcome, hs proceeded further on his way until another of these savage beasts disputed his path. The hunter took aim and fired the third time, but unfortunately the shot did not prove so deadly this time, and left the panther wounded and infuriated. This brave hunter being as cautious as brave, was not willing to venture a second shot, but evaded a conflict and reached the hill top on the south side of the road and having a strong voice he called loudly for a neighbor's dogs more than a mile away. Two faithful curs, trained in the craft of the huntsman of that time, were on hand in a few minutes and proved to be companions in the chase. This trio now went in search of the wounded animal. The dogs soon compelled the panther to climb into a tree and the hunter being soon on hand disposed of the third savage beast all within a few hours time.
Here is another event which shows how the forests of that time were infested with these dangerous beasts. As John Aronhalt was on his way to a tub mill on Difficult, where H. C. Reall now lives, riding a mare with a colt following, a panther came in between the rider and colt and killed it. Mr. Aronhalt being unarmed was unable to make any defense.
Near the scene of the foregoing related events but some years later, about the year 1850 or a little before that time, when Isaac Foley lived on the Martin Hanlin land, Thomas Castell of McHenry, Maryland, came to his place one evening and asked for quarters in order to hunt for a few days. He went out late in the evening and came back soon after dark and reported that he had killed six deer in a thorn thicket near the house. The next day he went out and came back in the evening reporting that he had killed eleven more deer making in all seventeen in two days. Mr. Castell gave his guest the front quarters of the deer and he kept what was termed in hunter's language the saddles which his son hauled over into Maryland.
The aged gentlemen who furnished us the facts of this event did not tell just how the board bill was settled, but as Mr. Foley was known to be a generous host we are inclined to believe the matter was amicably adjusted.
General Joseph Neville, of the South Branch, was one among the first men to secure titles to land about Mt. Storm. His will, a copy of which is given later in this history, shows that he held a half interest in a tract of more than 700 acres lying on both sides of Stony River.
His son, Major Joseph Neville, held large possessions of real estate in this region extending from Schell eastward beyond Mt. Storm, in all more than 2000 acres, which included in its boundary what is now the following tracts: The Arnold Brother land near Schell, the Washington farm, the Foley land now held by T. W. S. Foley and L. E. Idleman, part of the Grove estate, about 340 acres now owned by J. H. Schaeffer, David Aronhalt, and Parker Brothers. This was all in one body, and in addition to this he owned the farm now owned by T. P. Duling. Slave labor was employed on the Washington farm. The remains of slave cabins can be still seen on the premises, and colored people lie buried there.
Not any of the Neville family or their descendants are now in possession of this once large estate, the last ownership passing from that family about sixteen years ago, when Robert L. Neville, grandson of Major Joseph Neville, sold his farm to J. K. Schaeffer and David Aronhalt.
The first man to live on Parker Brothers' farm was a Bowman to whom we have already referred. D. F. Cosner informs us that his grandparents reported that Indians ware known to have visited the place while Mr. Bowman lived there; that they proposed to conduct him to a coal mine on Mill Run, but he, Mr. Bowman, fearing they desired to decoy him into a trap refused to go.
The next family to occupy these premises were Harveys, some of whom lie buried there.
Following the Harveys, but possibly not of immediate succession, was Francis D. Idleman grandfather of the writer. The next man to live here, so far as we have been able to find out, was Jacob Shillingburg, who will be referred to later on as the head of a family who have played an important part in the affairs of our community, as also the Idleman family and others will be discussed.
The history of the Neville family has been more carefully preserved than many others. They successfully trace their lineage to the Earl of Warrick. This distinction, doubtless, is the reason why their history has been so carefully handed down, yet it does not unduly influence the democratic spirit of the family.
The first person whom we shall mention in this family is General Joseph Neville, great grandfather of Robert L. Neville, of Deer Park, Maryland, and W. R. Neville of Westernport, Maryland. He was born in Farquiers, Virginia, in 1740 and died at Moorefield, West Virginia, March 4, 1819. He served, as a member of the House of Burgesses from Hampshire County in 1773 and again in 1776. (Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography by L. G. Tyler, Vol. I, page 297). He was also a member of ths Conventions of December 1, 1775, and May 6, 1776, the last of which declared for independence. (Colonial Virginia Register, pages 193, 186, 199, and 206). He served gallantly through the Revolutionary War and was commissioned Brigadier General; was county surveyor of Hampshire County in 1784 and was one of the surveyors who helped to complete the Mason and Dixon line, (Holmes History of the United States), was often an associate of General George Washington in surveying lands in Hampshire County, and was a Justice of the peace of Hardy County, and had arraigned before his court at Moorefield the first murder case to occur in this part of what was then Hampshire County. This murder case will be described in more detail later on in this narrative.
Major General Joseph Neville, son of General Joseph Neville, lived on his estate at Mount Storm. When the War of 1812 broke out he was commissioned a Major General. When the call came for service he proceeded to Albany, New York, from whence he wrote his wife that his military outfit cost him three hundred dollars ($300.00).
It appears from the record of the Cosner family that Major Neville's brother, Captain Jethro Neville, served also in the War of 1812, and that David Cosner, father of the late John Tyler Cosner, served under his leadership.
Major Joseph Neville was born and reared near Moorefield, West Virginia, but spent a portion of his life on his estate at Mount Storm. We do not know how many children he had, but are familiar with the history of his sons , Mortimore D. and Wade Hampden. Mortimore D. was a surveyor, well versed in land matters as was his grandfather and father and son R. L. Neville who is now a surveyor.
We present here General Joseph Neville's will as spelled in the original and witnessed by one of our first settlers, David Cosner:
Will of General Jossph Neville
"I, Jos. Neville of the County of Hardy and state of Virginia, being possessed with a few slaves and as I abhor Slavery in best form and as the laws of the state does not admit of their being set free but such embarrassing conditions that those emancipated are in a worse condition than those under kind and humain Masters - I therefore thinks it my duty towards God and those unhappy people to make this my last Will and Testament in order to dispose of the few I own to those of my children and Grand children whom I think will use them with the greatest kindness and humanity in manner following:
First - I give to my daughtar Amealy Stelle two Slaves namely Adam and Phillis with the two I formerly gave her in lieu of all other part of my Estate - To my son Jethro I give two Namely Violet and Emanuel - To My grandaughter Mary Neville, I give one negro Gairl of the Name of Jane, her and her increase, if any to the said Mary Neville and the heirs of her body, if no such heirs to descend to her sisters or their representatives - To my Granddaughter Nancy Parsons, I give one Negro Garil named Violet on the same conditions as the one given to my Grandaughter Mary Neville above - To my daughter-in-law Elizabeth Neville, wife of George Neville, I give one Negro Garil named Venus she and her increase if any, to the sole use and disposal of her the said Elizabeth - To my Grand son Presley Neville, son of George, I give one negro boy, named Thomas to serve the said Presley no longer than until the said Thomas arrives at the age of Thirty-one when he is to be free. To my Grandson Jos. Nesbit Neville, I give one boy named James, to be on the same condition as the one given my grandson, Presley - To my son John I give one Negro man named Peter - in regard to my lands I dispose of them in the following manner - The two tracts whereon I now live I give to my two sons Jethro and George Neville, jointly, - To my son Joseph, I give Two hundred Acres known by the name of the Wykoff's place to him and his wife's life time, after which to descend to his son Melton Neville, Alis Lewis - and as Mr. Mr. James Machir and myself has two Tracts of Land containing seven hundred odd acres, lying on both sides of Stony river now in law and as I have never made a conveyance of the one-half to Mr. Machir should we recover or hold the said Two Tracts of land, I give the half thereof to the said James Machir or his heirs, the balance of the said land together with the lands I own in Randolph County, to be sold together, with my personal property and after my Debts is paid to be equally divided among my children except my daughter Amealy to whom I have given four valuable slaves in lieu of all other part of my Estate else paying regards to the division thereof to what I already have already advance to my Children accounts whereof I have lodged with one of my Executors. It is my will that my Grandson Melton Neville shall receive the one half of the amount coming to my son Joseph as he has no other child. Further as I have sold Two Tracts of land lying in the County of Randolph should those persons pay up the amount of the purchase money that my Executors make a conveyance thereof agreeable to contract it is also desire that all contracts entered by me in my life time should be punctual fulfilled by my Executors of whom I appoint my friends Mr. Edward Williams, Mr. Samuel McMechen, and my son Jethro Neville, my Executors.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord one Thousand and Eight Hundred and seventeen.
Jos. Neville (L.S.)
"Signed, sealed and acknowledged to be his last will and Testament by him made renouncing all former wills in presence of us September the 4th, 1817.
General Joseph Neville as Justice of the Peace, already referred to, had arraigned before his court at Moorefield, the first murder case to occur in this part of Hardy County. A man by the name of Shrout who lived near the Geisert place on the Morgantown road about one mile east of the "Mountain" was charged with the crime of killing his wife, which deed he committed by ramming a broom stick down her throat. A man by the name of Bowman, who then lived on the Parker Brothers farm near Mount Storm on the Morgantown road acted as constable.
Shrout was executed at Moorefield according to the method of executing a criminal at that time, which provided that the accused should sit upon his coffin, borne by about six men to the place of execution, usually a tree with an appropriate limb. The prisoner was allowed to carry a small stick to drop as a signal, when he felt that he was ready to take the step into that bourn from whence no traveler e'er returns to tell of tiding on yonder shore.
It is said that Shrout, instead of dropping the stick, threw it defiantly into the air.
This method of executing a criminal in Hardy County was an advanced step, compared to the method at an earlier date, when this part of the country belonged to Hampshire County. The crime of murder, according to old laws in that county, was unclergiable, i. e., the accused was not permitted to have the benefit of the clergy to console him in the last hours of his life. The idea of the law seemed to be to cut short the prisoner's life "in the blossom of his sin", and by this master stroke, put him out of commission for all time. in 1789 a law was enacted in Hampshire County making such crimes as murder, hog stealing, and feloniously stealing from a meeting house, and some others unclergiable, and the victim of these crimes was frequently burned with a hot iron before hanging.
Wade Hampden Neville was the first postmaster at Mount Storm when the office was first established in about the year 1852 at the residence on David Aronhalt's place one-fourth mile south of the present post office.
He and his son W. R. Neville were rural mail contractors for a number of years on the route that led from Mount Storm to Claysville on the New creek Drive.
Some years later the family moved to Gormania where Randolph, as his friends knew him became the popular and accommodating postmaster at Gormania for a number of years.
Thomas Jefferson Grove lives in Petersburg, the county seat of Grant County, but he and his brother, Dr. John B., who is a prominent physician living in tho same place, own a large farm lying on both sides of the Northwestern Turnpike at Mt. Storm. This estate descended from their grandfather, Dr. T. J. Grove, and father, Dr. John B., both of whom on account of their medical skill were in former days frequently called upon to visit patients in the Mt. Storm region though they lived many miles away.
Thomas J. Jr., with his large inheritance of real estate both at Mt. Storm and Petersburg has seen fit to remain a stockman and farmer, being for years one of the largest stock dealers in Grant County, having on hand at one time three or four hundred sheep and six or seven hundred cattle, many of which are purebred Angus. His business methods of sincerity and integrity have built up for him a large circle of friends, who in response to his candidacy as a democrat candidate to the legislature in 1924 made him victor over the republican candidate in a county that is overwhelmingly republican.
"Jeff", as his friends know him, has been a potent factor in community service at Mt. Storm.
The first record we have been able to find of the Kitzmiller family is in the person of John Kitzmiller, grandfather of G. S. Kitzmiller and great grandfather of David Aronhalt and J. H. Endler. Mr. Kitzmiller came from Pennsylvania, carried a Miss Bowman and lived for a while near where W. W. Kitzmiller now lives and also lived for a time just west of Stoney River on the Morgantown Road. We have not been able to ascertain which place he lived first but think he moved directly from Pennsylvania to the latter. He was by trade a blacksmith and possessed the genius common to it, "Which from the birth of time throughout all ages and nations has been held in repute by the people". It has been said of him that he could make as delicate an instrument as a Jew's harp, and he made the first lock for the Hardy County jail, and also the nails for its construction.
He had eight children whose memories are still cherished by many of our oldest people. They were Gasper, Lloyd, John, Jacob, Hamilton, Lewis, Elizabeth, and Susan.
John resided near Stony River and was the grandfather of M. M. Entler (deceased) and of James H. Sutler who now lives near the old home place, and also of Mrs. Charles H. Head.
Elizabeth married William Shillingburg. Susan married Greenberry Reed who was the father of Walter Reed and John K. Reed who lived near Greenland, and Edward Reed of Medley, all well known for a time in Grant County.
Hamilton who lived about three miles east of Mount Storm was born in 1815 and was married in 1835 to Mary A. Shillingburg Shields. To them were born thirteen children who in the order of their ages were: Elmira, Lloyd, Lydia, Joseph, Cathern, Harriet, Eunice, Hider, Isaac Gibson, Harness, Anna, Liza, and Malcom M.
Lewis who lived near his brother Hamilton was born in 1812. He married Leurenor Paugh in 1851. They had eleven children as follows: Emanuel, John Hopewell, Virginia, Alexander, Eunice, Harriett, George S., James, Susan, Elizabeth, and Wellington W.
Gasper married Millie Ward, a sister of the wife of Joseph Dixon, who was the patriarch of all the Dixons in the Elk Garden region. Mr. Kitzmiller had six sons who were; Hence, John, Lloyd, Isaac, Nathaniel, and Luke. Nathaniel and Luke were life long residents of our community. Nathaniel has one son Edward G. and a daughter Virginia B., wife of A. P. Roderick, who are still living here and Luke has two sons, George A. and Edward and one daughter, Clara, all of whom reside near the home of their nativity.
Jacob was born in 1805 and like all the Kitzmillers was a stockman and farmer. He lived along Abram's Creek about one mile north from where the creek crosses the Northwestern Turnpike.
He married Jane Dixon, daughter of the patriarch already referred to. They had eight children, one daughter died in early youth, and a son Jethro died in his young manhood. The other children were: Hannah, Elizabeth, Susan, Ellen K., John S., Gabriel S., and Estella, widow of Joseph Shillingburg. Gabriel and Estella are the only children left.
During the Civil War an attempted robbery was committed at this home when four straggling Confederate soldiers appeared at the residence and with fire arms drawn in the face of Mr. Kitzmiller demanded his money, but the demand was refused. If you were to search the pages of history you might find a parallel to the exploits of the hero of this story, but nowhere could you find a better example of dogged determination to stand for loyalty and devotion to a fixed principle than was shown by Jacob Kitzmiller in resisting the attempt to secure his money. He was aroused by a knock at his door. When he appeared to answer the call he came into the presence of four masked men, one of whom cocked a pistol in his face demanding his money, on refusal to give it up he was taken from the house to the yard at which time Susan, a daughter, took her father's money from the clock hid it in her clothes and retired to the yard where she hid it. The robbers now looped a rope around the neck of their victim and lsd him to an apple tree where they threw the rope over an arching limb and lifted their captive from ground twice to fall in the noose. At this juncture Mr. Kitzmiller agreed to give them some gold if they would set him free; but this made the robbers only more determined to secure the whole amount of cash he had in his possession; so they lifted him by the rope from the earth and let him hang until he was unconscious. When they dropped him to the ground no apparent sign of life remained, but soon the unconscious man revived.
Just one hour had passed since this awful tragedy started. Imagine the suspense of the wife and her household of children as they timed by the clock this awful scene! But apparently the worst was to come. Being foiled in their attempt here they bound their prisoner and led him over the hill into a deep ravine where ths family could not witness what was supposed would be an execution. Here they bound him to a locust tree, but before securing him they asked Mr. Kitzmiller if he preferred his face or back to the tree. He replied that he preferred to face the enemy; so they bound him securely to the tree and instead of shooting as might have been expected they went off leaving him to his fate. Now as luck would have it, one of the party through mistake or otherwise left a pen knife sticking in the tree. Mr. Kitzmiller some way got the knife and finally succeeded in cutting the rope and returned to the house several hours later.
Fortunately he was not disturbed during the remainder of the war. He lived to be 69 years old when he died in 1872.
We think from point of steadfastness and integrity of purpose the subject of this sketch is entitled to stand side by side with the great Roman soldier Regulus who as a Carthagenian captive refused to surrender Roman honor to save him from a cruel death.
There are names like Regulus and Bludso whose valor was
And how Horatius held the bridge and swam the foaming tide.
Their bravery has been heralded in story and song,
But here's a deed just as bold has slumbered so long!
Not all brave deeds does history's pages relate;
Many battles are lost with vanquished left to their fate.
And the world knows little of the time or the place
But these lost contests are shared by the whole human race.
Gabriel Sangster Kitzmiller, son of Jacob Kitzmiller, has spent all his life of about seventy years on his father's estate as a successful farmer and stockman. He was about the first man in this section to become the owner of a herd of purebred Aberdeen- Angus cattle, and for many years has maintained it at a high standard of quality, probably no man in the eastern part of the United states has maintained a superior herd.
Mr. Kitzmiller has been a liberal giver to all worthy causes, and no appeal to him for charity is in vain, but he is not interested about the world knowing anything about donations he has made in behalf of the needy. He is a bachelor and lives with his sisters, Mrs. Estella Shillingburg and Miss Joan Kitzmiller. His home is noted for hospitality of high order.
Lloyd Kitzmiller, the oldest child of Hamilton Kitzmiller, was a soldier in the Civil War. He was married twice, the first time to a Miss Kuhn, to which union was born three children who were Myra, now the wife of James Baker, George E., and Elizabeth, who married Elijah Hanlin. Mr. Kitzmiller was married a second time to Mary Hanlin, To them v/ere born six sons who were Thomas M., David J., Otis, Allen, William, and Walter F., all of whom are living as are the children of the first marriage. Those people have taken an active interest in club work and have borne their share in the erection of the Community Building at Mount Storm.
Jacob Cosner paternal grandfather of the late John Tyler Cosner was the first man to live on the Geisert place which is located about one mile east of the top of the Alleghanies on the Moorefield road. We are not sure as to the date when he moved here, but most probably about 1800. He moved on a large tract of land consisting of 19,000 acres which was afterward sold to the Myerstown Colony. He had three sons, David, John, and Christian who moved into the Bismark region.
David was born in 1794, was a soldier in ths War of 1812, served under Captain Jethro Neville and enlisted at Norfolk, Virginia, came home from there honorably discharged and received a grant of land in Illinois. He sold this land to Wheeler Davis who was the first man to engage in the merchandise business at Greenland, where Scherr is located now. This was before the Moorefield road was made when the Morgantown road was still in use.
David married Katie Hanlin, daughter of Samuel Hanlin, in 1818 and moved to Grassy Ridge, which received its name from the grass which grow spontaneously about the place. Here in a wilderness thickly infested with deer, black boar, and howling wolves, for the most part at least, he reared a family of sixteen children as follows: Samuel, Eliza, Jesse, Andrew, Jonathan, Christena, Joseph, Margaret, Christian, Jacob, Adam, Catherine, David, John Tyler, Archibald, and Wesley.
Mrs. Cosner, mother of all those children, found time to hunt, and on more than one occasion came in from a hunting trip with a fine trophy of the forest sometimes a five prong buck.
Her grandson, the Rev. W.H. Cosner, who lives at Wilson, West Virginia, is in possession of the rifle she used so skillfully in providing wild meat for her family when the supply ran low.
Mr. Cosner kept quite a number of hogs on the grass for the most part in the summer season and in the fall would remove them to the beech mast where they usually got as fat as they could be made on corn. There was no lack of meat in those days.
John Cosner was born in about the year 1799 and married Eva Hanlin, sister to David Cosner's wife. Their children as we remember them, were Margaret, Benjamin, Eva, Rebecca, Katie, Solomon, Hiram, and John.
John Cosner, father of the above children, was familiar with pioneer life, understood forest life, had experienced the characteristic leap of the panther and the fierceness of bear in defeat.
We are not very familiar with Christian Cosner's life but remember he was the first owner of a saw mill built on the head waters of Abram's Creek near where Bismarck is now located. He was a joint stock holder with the state of Virginia in the Moorefield and Allegheny Turnpike. His son, Adam Cosner, inherited the old homestead and later his son M. F. Cosner who now owns it. The saw mill is still on the premises and is yet turned by a water wheel. The old up and down saw, however, has long since been replaced by a circular one.
M. F. Cosner has been a Justice of the Peace and was for many years post master at Bismarck, and a man whose advice has been much sought for by the people of his neighborhood.
There is no snobbery connected with genius; it does not search for trodden paths; or the associations of the great; nor the high circles of society, but pursues its own course, blazes out its own pathway and serenely marches to its own destiny. The life of M. F. Cosner is proof of this principle He has been the author of his own achievements, pursuant to this plan in early life he became a skilled watch repairer, was Justice of the Peace, postmaster, architect, and builder of his own home and water power saw mill, and last but not least under pressure of racking pain has gone to the blacksmith shop, forged out a pair of forceps and with his own hand lifted an aching tooth from his own jawbone. This modest gentleman, possessed with more than average talents, cared nothing for fame, but was satisfied to remain on his own estate, an honest upright citizen.
We are reminded here, as we are in other natural talented characters of our community, that exemplify the lines from Gray's Elegy in a Country Church Yard:
"Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air."
The subject of this sketch was born Nov. 29, 1845, near Mount Storm, Hardy County, Virginia, now Grant County, West Virginia. His father's name was Samuel Cosner and his mother, Mary Anne, was a daughter of Frances D. Idleman. As there were no public schools in Virginia until long after this time, William had poor opportunities for his early education. His parents taught him to read and write,. He then was privileged to attend two pay schools. Each of these schools lasted for about three months and were called Quarter Schools. After he had finished the second quarter the death of his father occurred and William was obliged to remain at home and work to support his mother and sisters, but during this time his spare moments were spent in study and writing poetry.
He had a deeply religious nature and though quite young was a worker in the first Sunday School organized at Mount Storm. After a time he left Mount Storm with his mother and sisters and located in Canaan Valley where ha organized a Sunday School in a log school house where he was never absent from service save once. While residing in Canaan he rode on horse back to Moorefield a distance of fifty miles to unite with the Presbyterian Church of which his mother was an ardent member. When asked by the pastor, Rev. Geo. W. White his grounds of hope he replied by handing him a poem, written by himself, beginning,- "Jesus is my full salvation". This so pleased Dr. White that he carried it before the next session of the Presbytery, where it was unanimously decided to offer to educate him for the ministry. Dr. White was immediately sent to Canaan Valley to make the arrangements. William gladly accepted the offer and pursuant to the plan moved his family back to a home among relatives at Mount Storm. He then attended school two years at Moorefield. This course of study prepared him to enter Washington and Lee University where he remained three years. During that time he and a classmate, by invitation, called upon Robert E. Lee. It was a short time before his death and he was quite feeble. At the close of their visit General Lee asked them to kneel beside him while he prayed God to bless them. William was so impressed by the gracious and dignified bearing of the General that he exclaimed to his schoolmate that he was the most perfect gentleman he had ever met.
After leaving the University William entered the University of Hampden Sidney, Virginia, where he completed his course and was ordained. He had gained a year's time on the scheduled course and graduated with the highest honors of a class of twenty-six students.
At the request of his neighbors and friends at home he was installed by Dr. White as a Home Missionary in the Allegheny Field, of which he was the founder. He labored industriously here over a large field for about two years, when death's messenger called him home.
Two of his poems are printed here which we believe will be of interest to the reader:
We love to meet together within our peaceful Grange
There with fraternal feelings kind greetings to exchange,
We love our noble order, and for it we will pray
That God will smile upon it, nor turn his face away.
We love the work of patrons, the tilling of the soil,
O, happy is the farmer, who does not fear to toil;
While flocks and herds are feeding he ploughs and plants his fields
And hopes and waits till autumn its golden store shall yield.
We love the happy springtime which brings the wild sweet
When birds are singing sweetly through all the morning hours,
We love the rosy summer, and autumn's golden store
Nor fear the storms of winter that play around our door.
We love the fertile meadows, they seem so fresh and fair,
The sunny fields and pastures, how beautiful they are!
And round ths farmer's dwelling the sweetest flowers bloom
There happy hearts are betting - we love the farmer's home.
Since God made all around us so beautiful appear
We'll love Him and we'll praise Him, His goodness crowns the year.
O! may He bless each patron with happiness and peace,
And bring us all to praise Him when all life's toils shall cease.
Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He will sustain thee.
Cast thy burden on the Lord,
Child of sorrow, do not fear;
If thou wilt believe His word
Bright thy morn shall soon appear,
Art thou sinful? Why despair?
Pardon, peace will Christ afford,
Come to Him by faith and prayer,
Cast thy burden on the Lord.
Has some one left thee here
Mourning o'er a grave so low?
Thou shall find a comforter
If thou wilt to Jesus go.
Have thy friends forsaken thee?
Still rely upon His word
He can all thy sorrows see,
Cast thy burden on the Lord.
Art thou tempted? Jesus knows
All the dangers of the way:
Though the hosts of hell oppose
He will keep thee day by day.
Art thou weak? On Him rely
Strength to thee will he afford
Thou shall find Him ever nigh;
Cast thy burden on the Lord.
Art thou tossed with doubts? His love
Knows no change -He died for thee-
Trust in Him and soon above
Thou His smiling face shall see
Come to Him with all thy grief;
Ever be His name adored!
Here the soul can find relief
Cast thy burden on the Lord.
Another, among the first families to find a home in this region, trace their German ancestry to Conrad Eidelman, who spelled his name as written here. Mr. Eidelman came to Virginia as an indented servant in about the year 1782. He was a weaver by trade and had bound himself after his arrival in America to . work for a time to pay the expenses of his voyage. The vessel in which he sailed was wrecked and he was for nine months rocked in the cradle of the deep. He settled at Fort Seybert, Pendleton County, and was on one occasion chased into the fort by savage Indians. Contrary to advice, he ventured from the fort to reap in a field, and as he was returning in the dusk of the evening he was fired upon just as he dismounted from his horse. He had prevented the savages from seeing him on his return till he reached the fort by lying flat on the animal's back, in this way eluding the vision of his enemy, and thus escaped into the fort.
Conrad Idleman married a Miss Rush and to them were born nine children: Francis D., Jacob, John, Lewis, Mary Elizabeth, Margaret, and Nancy Katherine.
Elizabeth married a Mr. Harness and Mary married Jacob Powell. We recall three children of this union who were Conrad, John, and Susan. Conrad was the father of Joseph G. Powell and Mrs. L. E. Idleman of Mount Storm. Susan became the wife of Henry Font some of whose descendants still live in Grant County and elsewhere.
Francis D. was born in Germany in 1778 and was about five years old when he with his father had the experience of being wrecked upon the deep. He married Judeth Rohrbaugh in 1808. They had nine children: John Oliver, Elizabeth, Francis Daniel, Conrad, Mary Ann, Eunice, Jacob R., Lewis Scott, and Catherine Jane. He lived for a while near Authur, Grant County, and about the year 1855 came to "The Mountain" and located on the Morgantown road on what is now the Parker Brothers' farm. He later moved to the premises a portion of which is now in possession of his grandson James Edward Idleman.
It was in this home that the gospel was first preached by a Presbyterian minister by the name of Scott whose Christian name we have not been able to find out.
The introduction of the gospel was not the only new thing for which this place was noted; the proprietor was the owner of the first wagon to be brought into the community. David Cosner introduced the second and Solomon Reall was owner of a third.
This type of wagon is now regarded unique and is similar to all heavy road wagons in use at that time. They had low front wheels and very high hind wheels. The bed was not straight but curved downward like a drooping rope, with front gate sloping forward and rear gate sloping aft. These wagons presented the appearance of a free easy forward movement, and no doubt the designer's purpose in building them in this way was to defeat in a measure the laws of gravitation. They were drawn usually by four, six, and even eight horses and played a great part in conveying emigrants to lands west of the Alleghenies.
These wagons can now be seen in museums. The writer saw one in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh not long since, and to say the least it had a fascinating attraction for him not only because he was familiar with the one like it that his grandfather owned, but because his life was once saved due to the curved shape of the bed; when overturned he was thrown beneath it with his neck directly under the arch.
John O. Idleman was born in 1809. He married Elizabeth A. Cosner. To this union was born....... children, four of whom grew to manhood as follows: Jacob F., Zachariah T., Felix V., and John Johnson, the youngest and last survivor, who resides near Scherr on the old home place. He (John O.) was tax collector for Union Township when that system was in operation in Virginia.
Jacob R. Idleman (1824-1911) was a devoted member of the M. E. Church, but all his brothers and sisters save one were members of the Presbyterian faith. He was Justice of the Peace when by virtue of that office he was a member of the county Court of Grant County. We have only a faint recollection of this, but after we grew to manhood we had the truth of it verified by Job. W. Schell of Medley, who served with him in the same capacity. He married Sophia Catherine Thomas in 1858. Nine children were born to this union. They were Samuel Scott Conrad, Mary Virginia, Charity Victoria, James Junkins, Edward Porter, Sarah Margaret, David Lesley, Frank Obediah, and John William.
Samuel S. C. from early life was studious. He made good use of the public schools and the summer Normal schools of his time, and had finished practically all the studies required for graduation at the state Normal course. He entered the Baltimore Conference of the M. E. church and preached about three years at Old Town, Maryland. He was contemplating a collegiate course of study to better prepare him for his work when death called him. He was regarded at the time by his conference associates and his parishioners as a brilliant young man rapidly rising in pulpit attainments.
Edward P., now retired, was a minister for years in the West Virginia Conference of the M. E. Church, as is the youngest brother John W. at the present time.
Mary Virginia died at about three years of age and Sarah Margaret, who never married, died in 1911, and David W. and Frank O. own large estates.
Charity Victoria was a successful school teacher in the rural schools of Grant county for a number of years. She became the wife of Robert L. Neville, now of Deer Park, Maryland. Six children were born to this union, as follows: Mabel Mildred, Ethel Louella, lrving Lee, Paul Leon, Blair Idleman, and Karl. Mabel married Frank Christopher and they live in Morgantown, Ethel married Ernest Hilleary who died several years ago and she with her two sons live with her parents and teaches school, lrving L. saw service in France in the World War, later married Edna Harvey and is now cashier of the Bayard National Bank, Bayard, West Virginia. Paul lives in Clarksburg, Blair in Morgantown, and Karl remains at home.
James J. who remains a bachelor has been a school teacher by profession.
Daniel F. Idleman married Eve Cosner and to them were born seven children. They were Martha M., Mary Jane, Simon P., Joseph G., Barbary Ellen, Simeon and Lydia. The wife was left a widow when comparatively young, she left her home near Cosner's Gap, now Grant County, and moved to Unionville, Missouri, where most of her children grew up and married. Martha M. married John Foley. Mary Jane became the wife of John Berkhiser, who became wealthy in lands and cattle. Lydia, the only one of our western cousins whom we have had the pleasure to meet, married Marion Fife, who was a well to do farmer at Unionville, Missouri. Simon P., who lives on the old homestead was the only member of the household to remain a resident of West Virginia. He married Sarah Lyon and to them were born the following children; Meribah, wife of Rev. J. H. Cassady of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Ollie F., a teacher in Grant County; Wyllie, wife of Columbus Poling of Philippi, West Virginia; Rev. Russell T.; Myrtle, wife of Rev. Clarence Hesse; Rettie who remains at home; and Raymond, deceased.
Lewis Scott Idleman was born in 1826 and died in 1893. He was a farmer and fond of the rod and gun; was an excellent marksman and skilled in the craft of the huntsman. On more than one occasion he killed as many as two large deer in a single day. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and his children either belong to or are adherents of that organization. There were five children in the family who were as follows: John William Alexander, Joseph Ellsworth, Harriett J., James Edward, and Laura Elizabeth.
John Wm. A. was elected County Commissioner in 1904, reelected to the same office in 1910 but died before his term expired.
Joseph Ellsworth, Harriett J., James Edward, and Laura E. all live on the estate where they were reared.
Frank O. Idleman purchased his home in recent years of John P. Arnold who is living a retired life in Keyser, West Virginia. Mr. Idleman married Cynthia Mackley in 1911. To them were born three children - two daughters and one son. They are Bernice, Audra, and Lawrence. He owns a very desirable estate here of 570 acres, well located on the new highway, is a breeder of purebred Aberdeen- Angus cattle and is in general a good farmer who is following modern methods with success.
According to the family history of the Schaeffers they are of German descent. They came to America before the American Revolution and settled in Lebannon County, Pennsylvania, from which place Adam Schaeffer, great grandfather of J. H. Schaeffer and Mrs. J. O. Lantz, moved to Washington County, Maryland, where he married Miss Catherine Wotring and they immediately went with his father-in-law to a German settlement near Brookside, Preston County, West Virginia.
Adam Schaeffer's wife when but a young girl molded bullets for the Revolutionary army on the day the battle of Brandywine was fought, and while her mother and oldest sister raked and set up buckwheat in the absence of the husband and father who was in the army.
At their home near Brookside a son, Jacob, was born in 1803, who moved to North Branch, Virginia, now Gormania, West Virginia, in 1840. He built the first house in this place where he conducted a mercantile business and when the name was changed to Schaeffersville where a new post office was established he became the first postmaster.
Jacob Schaeffer had ten sons and three daughters. Jacob Rhodes Schaeffer, eldest son, was the first man to engage in the tannery business in this place. He owned and operated a tannery here from 1853 to 1858. Of the other members of this large family we mention only two daughters, Harriett Elizabeth Priscilla and Martha Catherine and a son Danial Wesley, whose history is connected with our community. Harriett Elizabeth Priscilla, who is now Mrs. J. W. Ruckman still resides in the place of her birth and Martha Catherine became the wife of Alexander Kitzmiller, a successful farmer who lived near Bayard, West Virginia, where his widow still survives. Daniel Lesley Schaeffer married Sarah A Shillingburg. They had six children all of whom survive as follows: John R., Jacob Howard, Mary S., Alice V., George P., and Fannie V. Mr. Schaeffer took an interest in the public welfare, was for a time Justice of the Peace, and both he and his wife were members of the M. E. Church, as are all the children.
John R. Schaeffer was born near Mount Storm in 1858, and was a studious boy in the common schools and summer Normals of his time. He began teaching in Grant County at twenty years of age but soon left his native state and entered school at Bloomfield, Iowa, where he received the Master of Didactic degree. While at college he learned free-hand and perspective drawing and crayon portraiture; received the distinction of excelling in the best hand crayon in college. In 1882 he took four first premiums at one of the state fairs in Iowa, namely, best crayon, best pen drawing, best map drawing, and best pen flourishing. He returned to his native state and was principal of the Gormania school for a number of years and has been connected with the business interests of the town until the present time devoting much of his time to portraiture and printing. Mr. Schaeffer is author of the historic EI Cid pictorial work entitled, "From Baltimore to Charleston" issued in 1906. It is a splendid work of portraiture giving the history of towns and. historic scenes along the Western Maryland Railway. He was married in 1894 to Susie C. Miller. To this union were born seven children: Alonzo Victor lives in Garret County, Maryland, and by his marriage to Floe Rider has three children named Lillian, Ora May, and John William Newton, the second son died in infancy. Edna B. is the wife of C. R. Haines of Gormania, and their children are Winifred Wilson R., and Virginia Gertrude Dare. Miss Gustava M. lives in Washington, D. C. and is a graduate nurse of George Washington University of that city in 1924. Charles Wesley and Ola Theressa Petit live in Gormania.
Paul E., after thoroughly finishing the eighth grade course in the public schools of Gormania under the tutelage of the writer entered St. John's Academy at Petersburg where he remained one year, and next entered Potomac State school at Keyser. He graduated from the high school course in 1925 and is now in the college department. If this young man remains at the post of duty as faithfully in the future as he has in the past we predict for him a successful career.
J. H. Schaeffer, present merchant and postmaster at Mount Storm since 1902, purchased the lot on which was situated the store and dwelling of the writer. He had associated with him as partner for a time C. E. Markwood, but soon became the sole owner of the business. On the site of the old dwelling he has erected a new and modern one and has made other substantial improvements on the lot.
The residence, belonging to J. H.Schaeffer, occupies the corner lot where the first store house and dwelling combined was built at Mount Storm soon after the Civil War. Mr. Schaeffer came into possession of this lot in 1902 and in place of what was at first a dual purpose building, but later used as a dwelling entirely, has built the present structure. About the same time he added about 112 acres of land to his first purchase. He has made a success in the merchandise business as he started from rather small savings.
He married Mary Martin, and to them were born five children: Homer, Harry V., Effie, Thomas E., and Minnie V. .Homer lives at Petersburg and Harry V. is married and lives near his father for whom he works in the merchandise business. Thomas E. and his wife who was Jessie Thompson, live with his father and aids in the general business. Effie is the wife of Rev. Charles Thompson, and Fannie married a Mr. Steyer. They live near place of same name in Maryland.
Mr. Schaeffer and his family have all belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church and still with one exception all remain loyal members to the church of their first choice.
The first knowledge we have of the Shillingburg family was three brothers, Hugh, William, and Jacob. William and Jacob are most intimately connected with our local history. William was born in 1799. He married Elizabeth Kitzmiller, daughter of John Kitzmiller already referred to. Eight children were born to this union. They were Hannah 1821, Rebecca 1823, Isabella 1825, Anne Amelia 1826, Lydia 1828, Elizabeth 1830, Lewis Dryden in 1832, and Striet C. in 1840. Mr. Shillingburg lived for a time on the Maslin property and later moved to where his grandson, James G., now lives. Lewis Dryden inherited his father's estate. He married Lydia. Mumau. They had four children, all of whom are now living. They are Edward S., Frances, James G. , and Bertha.
Edward S. was born in 1862. He married Alice Blackburn and they had six children as follows: Grover C., Olin L., Ledah, Russell, Bertha, and Thomas Beall. Grover C. lives at McKees Rock, Pennsylvania, where he is a head carpenter. Olin L. fell in battle in France during the World War, Ledah married Elmer Hanlin, Russell married Mabel Fisher, and Thomas B. remains at home.
James G. Shillingburg was born in 1865. He married Millie Sollars to which union were born five children as follows: King, Tony W., Samuel May, and Rhea. King married Margaret Kitzmiller and lives near Hartmonsville, Tony W. was killed in battle during the World War, Samuel and the two sisters remain at home.
Jacob Shillingburg was born in 1807. He married Polly Sollars, daughter of Thomas Sollars, who kept a hotel near Gormania when business was active on the Northwestern Turnpike. They had six children whom we knew as John William, Jane, Sarah A., Joseph Andrew, and Mary Ellen. Andrew died at fifteen years of age and Mary Ellen at twelve years. Jacob Shillingburg and his family remained most of their lives in the vicinity of Mount Storm until the present town of Gormania sprang up, where John William and Joseph made their future home as among the first inhabitants of the town which began to build up in the early eighties under the name of Elkins.
John William was born in 1830. He married Sarah Mumau. Their children were Mary L., Susan, Rebecca C., Ellen, Thomas E., Jackson, Benjamin F., Sarah Virginia, and Martha J.
Thomas E. was the efficient bookkeeper for the J. G. Hoffman and Sons Company many years. He served as county commissioner, member of the board of education, and for a time was politically influential in the Republican party.
Jackson married Bertha Wildesen. Three interesting daughters of this union survive; all are married and live in West Virginia. Mrs. Shillingburg, after the death of her first husband, married Benjamin F. White. They have one son, Murray, who is in college pursuing his studies with a devotion that bids for success.
Ellen, who was the wife of William A. Duling, together with some of her children, and Mrs. Martha J. who is the wife of E. B. Crim are still living in Gormania.
We are convinced, that our neighborhood history would be incomplete without mention of the Foley family. Isaac Foley head of all the Foley family here was born about the year 1805. He married Margaret Frasure and moved with his family from New Creek to the place where the Hanlin Brothers now live. The lands were then owned by Martin Hanlin, grandfather of the present owners. He had a large family of boys and girls, three of whom are living, namely: Joseph F., Thomas Winfield Scott, and Virginia Bell. In the early fifties Mr. Foley moved to the Maslin farm where Walter F. Kitzmiller now lives where he remained until his death in 1877.
Joseph Foley was a cattle dealer and had a wide acquaintance with business men of his time. He had ready wit and humor, sarcasm, and biting invective equal to any occasion, whether along the highway or in the circles of intelligent society or on the streets of an eastern city he commanded the attention of the people he was among. It has been said that there was but one Sam Jones. It might be as truthfully said that there is but one Joe Foley as his friends know him. He lives near Arthur, West Virginia.
T. W. S. Foley lives near Mount Storm. He has always taken an active interest in public matters and is president of the board of education and Superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday School. From his first marriage to Mary T. High six children were born. They were Bertha, Homer S., Michael K., Myrtle, Victor H., and Wm. Lyne. From his second marriage to Ema Albright one son, V. J. Don, was born.
Rev. Wm. L. Foley, from humble circumstances in life, by his own perseverance and by the aid of friends, made his way through college and fitted himself for the Presbyterian ministry and is now serving his church acceptably at Maxton, North Carolina.
V. J. Don is the only member of this family of children living in our community, who mainly by his own efforts fitted himself for the profession of teaching.
James Lee, grandfather of Nicholas Lee's children, is the first man of the Lee family here of whom we have record. He lived on Difficult Creek where he was the second owner of a saw mill and a tub mill, the first owner being a Mr. Bovman.
Mr. Lee did a public service here in grinding grain for the neighbors and furnishing lumber for their houses, not much being used for barns and outbuildings in those days. in fact not much was used for dwellings, the greater portion used was for doors, window frames, and flooring, sleepers, joists, and rafters were usually hewed.
The tub mill like all tub mills at that time consisted of two large circular stones, smoothly carved out and arranged one above another. The nether stone was pierced by a shaft to which at its opposite end was attached a water wheel. This wheel was placed in the stream like a wheel lying fiat on the ground and was revolved by the current. The well preserved stones may yet be seen at the old mill site and should be preserved as they are distinct marks along the pathway of civilization.
Nicholas Lee, son of James Lee, was born in 1825. He acquired an estate along the Northwestern Turnpike near that of his father. He married Eliza Capper, to which union were born the following children all of whom are living: Mary, Paulina, James W., John M., and Branson. None of the children have wandered far from the parental home, and the old home is occupied by the eldest son, James W. and his family.
Nicholas Lee was thoroughly familiar with traffic on the Northwestern Turnpike, and the memory of those times was endearing to him. When the national traffic on that road was broken up by the building of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Mr. Lee felt as did many others of his time, that their trade was ruined. He loved to think of the good old days when life and business were teeming on the old Northwestern.
The Clarks and Hendricksons were the first settlers near Bayard, West Virginia.
Thomas Clark, Sr., grandfather of Solomon Clark who lives in Bayard, came from Burlington, West Virginia, to this region soon after the Morgantown road was opened up in the early years of the nineteenth century. His family and household goods were brought in a wagon made almost entirely of wood, even the wheels were made from slabs and nails. While a resident of Burlington Mr. Clark was drafted for services in the War of 1812, but the war closed and he was thus freed from military service, much to his liking as he was a member of the Brethren Church whose creed at that time was opposed to militarism. He was thus left free to pursue the industrial pursuits of peace in which he displayed real worth as a citizen by being the founder of what was at one time considered to be an independent and prosperous home on lands adjoining the town of Bayard. This estate is now owned by P. A. Dixon.
Thomas Clark had eight children as follows: Daniel Thomas, Jr., Hendricks, Felix, Sarah, Mary Esther, Hannah, and John.
It is Thomas Clark, Jr., and his descendants who are most intimately connected with our story. He inherited the old homestead and in early life married Miss Martha. Lyon, daughter of Michael Lyon, who lived on what in recent years has been known as the Naedele estate, near Bayard. To this union were born nine children. They were Stingley, Michael, Solomon, Neri, Nancy, Hannah, Paulina E., George, and Louisa. Those living at present are Solomon and Pauline E., both of Bayard, and Meri of Hartmonsville. Solomon Clark is one of the old residents of Bayard having lived there from its inception in the early eighties. He has been closely connected with its history as mayor and for a long time was justice of the peace of Union district and has manifested a keen interest generally in public matters and has a shrewd perception in political affairs. He has an apiary and has made a success in the bee business. He married Nancy Elizabeth a daughter of Lewis Kitzmiller. They had two sons, Lewis T. and Grant U., both residents of their native town.
Pauline. S. became the wife of George B. Junkins of Hartmonsville, where for many years they were active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
David V. Junkins, a. brother of George B. married Miss Nancy Clark, and another daughter, Hannah, married Wm. H. Roderick.
Another of the pioneer residents in the vicinity of Bayard was Spencer Hendrickson. We are not informed as to how many children he had but knew two of his sons, Daniel and Zachariah. Daniel did not remain a resident of Grant County, but Zachariah lived in the county of his nativity until the time of his death. He married a daughter of Isaac Hays and became the owner of the Hays estate which is now the inheritance of a son Daniel P., who for more than forty years was the efficient clerk of the county and circuit courts of Grant County.
Michael Lyon married Miss Louisa Stingley to which union were born Thomas D., Wm. S., Polly, Martha, Charity, Anne, Nancy, and Louisa.
Some of my readers will know more of this family than the writer. Thomas D. was a minister of the Brethren Church and preached for a time to his people in the vicinity of Bismarck. Miss Nancy married John K. Reid who was for a long time a prominent citizen of Union District, Grant County. Miss Louisa married Jacob Powell, who with his family lived near Mount Storm for many years. He had a family of boys and girls only one of whom, Hiram E., remained in Grant County as a resident until the time of his death. He, Hiram E., was for a long time a resident of Maysville where he was prominent in local affairs. His sister, Rachel Anne, the only child of Jacob Powell living, is the wife of W. R. Seville, of Westernport, Maryland. As Mr. and Mrs. Seville were both at one time citizens of our locality, we think it but fair that something further be related of these people. After leaving Gormania they soon located at Westernport, Maryland, where they now reside. For a number of years he has been employed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company as car inspector and is an elder in the Presbyterian church.
The heads of this family were blest with two children, Horace Milton and Myra, both of whom are making good in life. Horace graduated from the Westernport High School in 1905, enlisted in the navy in 1908 and after a number of promotions was transferred to the United States Steamship Nicholson as a first class gunner's mate. This ship had the honor of helping to capture the first German Submarine. While in service Mr. Neville has won several medals for marksmanship with small and large guns.
The daughter, Myra, is teaching in the Hammond Street Grammar School, Westernport, Maryland.
Emile G. Vossler came from Iowa to Grant County in 1881, and bought the dwelling and store property of Joseph Shillingburg, located on the corner lot, where J. H. Schaeffer's residence now stands. Shortly following this transaction he purchased the farm of 113 acres now owned by Parker Brothers. In 1887 he rented his store property to A. S. Veach for a period of four years at the expiration of which time he again assumed the business, until 1897 when the whole estate was purchased by the writer. Mr. Vossler then moved to Maysville, West Virginia, where he hoped the association of relatives would be congenial in his declining years.
Mrs. Vossler died in 1888. The husband married a second time to Miss Fannie Naedele who lives in Keyser, West Virginia.
Six children, three boys and three girls, were born to the first marriage, all of whom became imbued with a sort of dynamic force to succeed. Edward W. E., the oldest son, connected himself with Ott Brothers and Company, wholesale hardware merchants in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1894. The firm is now Ott Heiskell Hardware Company and Mr. Vossler is its vice-president. He married Jane Wilkinson in 1905. She died in 1907 leaving a son one year old. The father remains a widower living at 27 Hamilton Avenue, Wheeling, Vest Virginia.
Henry A. Vossler, who is about one year younger than his senior brother, also began his business career in Wheeling as clerk for Ott Brothers and Company. He remained here for some years and then entered the real estate business at Gary, Indiana, which he followed for ten years. He is now in the same business at Los Angeles, California.
Emily Vossler, next in point of age, qualified herself for teaching by attending school at Buckhannon, West Virginia, and later graduated at the South Western State Normal School of Pennsylvania. She taught school until her marriage to Charles Wetzel of Monessen, Pennsylvania, at which place she died in 1912.
Eleanor Vossler is a graduate of South Western State formal School of Pennsylvania and of the University of Oregon (A. B. -Degree 1918). She has also studied at the University of Chicago and at Columbia University, New York. She has specialized in teaching English in high school. She is not married.
Frank A. L. Vossler, youngest son and first member of the family to be born at Mount Storm, West Virginia, is a graduate of the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, and is now an instructor there with rank of Commander in the United States Navy. He married Carol Forole at Denver in 1911. He has one son seven years old.
Anna M. Vossler, the youngest child, was born at Mount Storm, West Virginia, and resides in Wheeling with her brother Edward. She is not married.
In concluding the history of the Vossler family we wish to add that all this family of children received their first educational training at the public rural school house about one mile from Mount Storm on the Moorefield and AIIeghany Turnpike.
The first schools taught here in Virginia were known as private or select schools. A teacher would appear in a neighborhood and ascertain how many pupils he could enlist and how much money could be raised for his salary which we have been told was about $10.00 per month and board. The teacher would board at different homes among his patrons. It was called "boarding-round." He was required to teach the "Three R's", reading, arithmetic, and writing and was supposed to have skill in making the quill. Arithmetic was to extend to the Double Rule of Three or vulgar fractions as they were sometimes called.
The school house was built by the community, or those interested in the school. The earliest ones were built of round logs and covered with clapboards which were held in place by a rib-pole, nails being too expensive. At the back end of the building was a wide chimney used as a fire place, and often nothing for a floor but the bare ground. For benches slabs were split from timber and pins inserted in holes for legs, and for windows greased paper was used. We have been informed where at least three of these school houses were located, one is what was then known as the Murphy settlement, one near the residence of Francis D. Idleman, and another about a mile south of Bismarck on the Smith property.
We remember a number of citizens long since passed away whose only educational training was received in these schools and we are still impressed with the degree of intelligence they acquired. They were spirited citizens well versed in matters pertaining to church and state and devoted to domestic life. Those early humble institutions at learning represent beacon lights in our early history but they have long since given away to our modern school building which is a product of our free school system which came into existence soon after the Civil War.
The first doctors of which we have any record of are Mrs. John Greene and James H. Lemon. Dr. Greene was born in 1797 and lived near what is now Sulphur, Mineral County, and from his diary we observe he made frequent visits in the vicinity of Mount Storm. His fee for going that far was about three dollars. He was also Justice of the Peace and his docket dating as far back as 1850, shows the costs in some cases to be as low as thirty cents. His diary reports that the winters of 1813-14 and 1855-6 were winters of unusual severity. It states there was no break in the weather from January (1856) till April 14.
Dr. James H. Lemon was born about the year 1826 near Scherr, Grant County. In the memory of the writer his field of endeavor extended from central Grant County to the Potomac River. His fee for medical services was about the same as that of Dr. Greene and in cases the visit might be prolonged for a day or so to act as nurse the charges were the same. Dr. Lemon possessed sterling integrity. He like all the family of which he was a member, had a remarkable memory.
Drs. W. G. Drinkwater and J. O. Lantz, the latter already referred to, have each practiced medicine in our community for more than three decades.
Dr. Drinkwater, a Canadian by birth, located at Gormania soon after the place started up and since that time has administered medical aid to the people in the vicinity of Mount Storm and Bismarck. The doctor is a member of the Presbyterian Church to which he gives liberal support in every way.
Dr. J. M. Scott of Modley, Grant County, has a splendid record of medical service with us. He had the welfare of his patients at heart and nothing gave him more delight than to learn that his services had been helpful to them. His death at the early age of about fifty years was much regretted. He was noted for his hospitality about his home.
The same progress that has marked the building of school houses is evident in the construction of homes from the log cabin of our first settlers to the modern dwellings of the present time.
The beautiful residence of Dr. and Mrs. J. O. Lantz occupies the site of what was once known as the Mt. Alto summer resort, famous in the days of Dugral C. Tabb. It is situated on a beautiful eminence and is surrounded by about ten acres of attractive real estate.
The Doctor and his estimable wife, who was the daughter of James Schaeffer, each came from Aurora, Preston County, to Hartmonsville where he has faithfully served the people in his chosen profession for about three decades.
These people have always constituted a strong factor in the community where they have lived. They are always ready to champion the cause that has for its purpose the uplift of their neighoorhood. Mrs. Lantz fills a large place in Sunday School work in her home church.
The substantial residence of Mrs. Larana C. Duling and her sons Earl A. and Wesley and her three daughters, May, Bernie A., and Carrie is beautifully located about two hundred yards from the Lantz home.
Mrs. Duling is the widow of Howard J. Duling who died about twenty years ago, leaving a considerable estate to his widow and large family of eleven children, who besides those already named are Henry L., Delphia, Margaret, Lulu F., Blanche, and Katherine.
Henry L. married Ida Schevinebact, and is a miller at Gormania, West Virginia. Delphia is the wife of L. C. Cross, merchant at Belington, West Virginia. Margaret married W. W. Rogers who is a lawyer at Princeton, West Virginia. Lulu F. married N. L. Rogers who is now an undertaker at Keyser, West Virginia. Earl A. married Mabel McNeil but his wife having died, he now lives at the old parental home. Blanche married John W. Cross who is a merchant at Philippi, West Virginia.
The Duling family take an active interest in community activities and are always found ready to do their part.
The home of D. W. Idleman is a ten room modern dwelling with gas and bath. The farm on which this dwelling is located consists of 938 acres, about 800 acres of which is in pasture and meadow. The farm has always borne the reputation of being a valuable estate. The owner is beginning to farm under improved methods.
J. G. Hanlin acquired the ownership of a valuable estate in this community. He married Susan Roderick, daughter of J. H. Roderick. To this union were born three children as follows: Alice, Blake and Cora Susan. Alice married Earl Kitzmiller, and Blake and Cora live with their parents.
Mr. Hanlin owns a large farm here of about 800 acres and is a breeder of purebred Aberdeen-Angus cattle and purebred Shropshire sheep. He secured five first prizes at the Potomac Fair in Mineral County in 1924; two on two-year-old heifers, one on calf, and two on Shropshire ewe lambs. At the Petersburg Fair in Grant County of the same year he secured two Sweepstake prizes on two-year-old, heifer and calf and carried off a Sweepstake prize for the best beef herd. He also won three first prizes, one on two-year-old heifer, one on heifer calf, and one on bull calf.
Mr. Hanlin has built up a good business on principles of integrity, his word being as good as a bond. He and his family are members of the Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Hanlin's farm together with that of the writer and G. S. Kitzmiller's all adjoining, constitutes a trio of large grazing estates in the western part of Mineral County not easily excelled according to the opinion of David Ruckman a stock buyer of Philippi, West Virginia.
Wm. T. Jones who is a railroad conductor on the Elk Garden branch, occupies a new handsome residence.
Mr. Jones married Elizabeth Bishoff and to them were born the following children: Viva M., Alfred H., Franklin C., and Wm. Bishoff. Viva M. married H. B. Foote and lives at Saratoga Springs, New York; Alfred H. lives at Bower, West Virginia; and Frank C. and Bishoff live at their new home where they are making attractive improvements on what remains of an undeveloped tract of about 200 acres. From the appearance of their new home these people are real home builders.
It has been truthfully said that greatness is the result of accomplishing great things from small means. This truth has been manifested in the life of David Aronhalt.
He was born about sixty years ago, and in his early life married Mary Ellen Schaeffer. His married life began in poverty but his rugged qualities of industry, pluck, and good judgment has brought him success. He is now a prosperous farmer, a useful citizen, a, member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and one of its strong supporters. His achievement is another example of how a man can build a successful business on industry, courage, and. integrity. When we look about us and see the young men of today afraid of heavy tasks, lacking self denial, spending all the money they make for pleasure, and dissatisfied any where, we conclude the world is in aching need of such characters as David Aronhalt. A citizenship like this would do more to right her ills in one year than our law making body at Washington can do in a decade. His dwelling as you can see is on the leeward side of a dense grove, sheltered from fierce storms. In like manner may his nobler spirit life and that of his family be shielded from pestilence that walketh in darkness and destruction that wasteth at noonday.
More than one reference has already been made to the estate of the Parker Brothers. It occupies the central part of our community reaching up to the village of Mount Storm and is in close proximity to the McCulloh Trail and the Morgantown road passed through it. Along this road and on this farm the Mount Storm Post Office was first established and where most probably the first settler, a Mr. Bowman, made his home. This estate consisting of about 700 acres, mostly meadow and grazing land belongs to John P. and his brother George O. Parker who came here from Romney, Hampshire County, in 1911. George O. married Miss Lessie Arnold who at that time was a school teacher and a resident of the same county as himself. John P. is a bachelor of mood too genial that perverse fate should deny him a mate. The Parkers are prosperous business people and are leaders in social, church, and club activities. They support the Presbyterian Church.
It is deeds and not words that count most in this life. We believe that it is possible to know much of the character of people by a study of their building construction and general work about the home. We believe this principle holds good in the person of Hiram B. Cottrill, who came from Thomas, Tucker County, to Grant County about twelve years ago and has been and is still engaged in the lumber industry, having several mills in operation at one time, and is Vice President of the Keystone Lumber Company. He has recently built the modern residence shown here. This beautiful home is situated on a bluff along the Northwestern road just west of Stony River, a branch of the Potomac, where it is greeted by the first rays of the morning sun, shining sometimes above the mist settled in the valley below and where the low rippling varying noise of the stream, as it rises and falls in its strong bed, makes sweet music.
We see here a beautiful picture that illustrates the life of the owner of this home. He has dynamic force which was vigorously applied to the rather uninviting bluff, converting it into an attractive site for a habitation. Then he is always found standing above the mists of society where so many become bewildered and lost. He and his sister, Mrs. Emma Lynch and her son Homer who live here with Mr. Cottrill, are all spirited community people who have done much in the interest of community activities at Mount Storm.
Mention of the estate of the Hanlin Brothers has already been made in our earlier history. In place of the "Slab Cabin" as the first building erected on it, we now see a beautiful residence.
This original tract of land with later additions making in all a large acreage of timber, grazing and meadow lands is now the property of Obed A. and Wilson W. Hanlin. It was the property of their father, Job M. Hanlin who was a prosperous stockman and farmer who died in 1894 when the home came into possession of his widow Ellen K. who was a daughter of Jacob Kitzmiller and granddaughter of Joseph Dixon of the Elk Garden section. The present owners inherited the business talents of their parents as can readily be seen from the way they operate their affairs. This home is located near the new highway about half way between Mount Storm and Gormania, somewhat isolated from view by a virgin tract of timber and is surrounded on nearly all sides by sleeping forests, which seem to the writer to pronounce a benediction of peace and contentment and probably has influenced the lives in the home as these people share well in these virtues.
Obed A. married Verna Steyer. To them were born three children: Helen B., Richard M., and Obed Wallace. Wilson W. is a bachelor. This family are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and are interested in all good causes.
The large Highland Croft estate lying in Grant and Mineral counties is the property of David A. and J. Sloan Arnold, Keyser, West Virginia. This farm has been the home of purebred Aberdeen- Angus cattle for many years, the owners being along the first people in this section to take up the breeding of those cattle. Mr. Roderick has living with him a son, William, and daughter, Emma, who have been his helpers on this estate for many years. Upon this farm and including three others, namely, J. G. Hanlin's, G. S. Kitzmiller's and that of the writer, all adjoining is usually grazed more than two hundred head of purebred Aberdeen- Angus cattle that are not easily excelled anywhere in the United States.
The Mount Storm Community Club under the direction of A. G. Middleton, then county agent, began with about eleven members and several meetings were held before recruits enough were added to go ahead with the organization.
The club soon outgrew the school house and a demand arose for a larger building in which to hold club meetings. This started talk of a community building which took substance about four years ago by the offer of lots on which to build. Parker Brothers, H. B. Cottrill, and T. J. Grove all offered to donate lots. It was finally decided that the location now occupied by the community building would be most desirable. This belonged to Dr. J. B. Grove but he agreed to donate a half acre.
After considerable discussion as to what kind of building to erect, it was decided to erect a community building, and the excavation was completed by volunteer labor; then followed a lull for the reason some thought we were going beyond the means. Finally in the summer of 1924 work was resumed and the building completed. The building is 35 by 70 feet with a basement under the whole structure.
The association is incorporated and is the first of its kind in the state to exist under a recent act of the legislature empowering cooperative associations to incorporate. No other community house is held by such a corporation, although there are several such corporations in the state. The board of directors of this corporation is the building committee, not the incorporators.
A. G. Middleton was born in 1890 at Steelton, Pennsylvania. His father was a physician, but the son took a fancy to farm life. He graduated from Pennsylvania State College with the degree of B. S. and came to Grant County to assure the duties of county agent in 1919. Middleton was the directing manager in the erection of the Community Building at Mount Storm and is probably more responsible for the achievement than any other single person, and the building in a great measure stands as a monument to his memory. It was stated on good authority that he refused a more lucrative salary somewhere preferring to remain in Grant County until the building was completed.
The first large religious gathering to meet in the community building met in July of 1925. It consisted of about one-half dozen Sunday Schools that assembled for joint entertainment. Each Sunday School was allotted its period of time to deliver its separately prepared program. We give here an address of welcome on the occasion by local talent, a member of the Rehobeth Sunday School.
We are glad to greet so many of our fellow citizens on this occasion to extend greeting to the different Sunday School organizations represented here. It occurs to me that this day's gathering here is one of unusual significance for our community.
Historians in writing the history of a people readily perceive how that it is divided into epochs that a certain unusual event or events mark line of division. I am convinced that we are witnessing a new epoch in our community history today, and that today's events will contribute much to mark the beginning of our greater life. I, therefore, take great pleasure as president of this club and in behalf of the Rehobeth Sunday School, of which I am a member, to extend to the different Sunday School units represented here a greeting in the spirit of fraternal brotherhood.
In looking over this audience of unusual proportions I am reminded of lines from Whittier:
"I hear again the voice that bids
The dreamer leaves his dreams midway
For larger hopes and larger fears
Life greatens in these later years
The Century's Aloe flowers today."
You know the Century Plant grows for many years before it blooms. Hence the appropriate appellation it has received. When the blooming season of the plant has arrived and its long hidden beauty bursts forth into fragrant bloom, it marks an interesting period in the history of the plant. So when the great Quaker poet had realized that life had widened in his later years he uses the Century Plant as a beautiful illustration of its progress.
Now some of us here have had our dreams and have left them midway for larger hopes and we must not forget our larger fears. I believe those larger hopes are in evidence today. They have taken concrete form in the erection of this large commodious community building which helps to make this unusual gathering possible. I am glad to rejoice with you in these larger hopes, but let us not forget to use them to subordinate our greater fears and dangers.
Let us try to understand them. Are they new? Are they novel? They may have elements of modernism in them. But in a general way they are history repeated. The history of our earlier life demonstrates this fact. Beginning with the general opening of farms and organizations in all parts of our neighborhood, it was the custom for each lady in a country neighborhood, beside casual calls to make a regular round of all day visits to all her neighbors, taking her needle work with her. The matter was discussed very much as the fashionable call is now discussed, "I haven't been to see you to stay all day for a coon's age." "I was at your house last now it is your turn." Men too had their social gatherings, as they met at log rollings, house raisings, and husking bees. When the community began to grow more prosperous and homes began to approach on every side, some families ahead of others began to accumulate new things, such as a buggy, an organ, a piano, or a two story house, considered luxuries in those days. These innovations together with probably more educational advantages in some homes than others, produced jealousies and neighborly visits and social gatherings ceased. It is evident that the introduction of these new things produced this result.
Society is again in a similar dilemma and it seems but natural for every forward movement to be accompanied by a certain amount of discord. Dr. Wm. R. White, first State Superintendent of Free Schools, in West Virginia, was also at one time Presiding Elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church. While presiding at one of his conferences he asked the brethren how their mid-week prayer meeting and experience meetings were progressing. They replied just fine, all was harmony and that there was no discord. The venerable Doctor not being satisfied with the result of his inquiry replied by sounding a note of warning. "Gentlemen", he said ''all forward movements are more or less accompaniee by a certain amount of friction. I fear, brethren, you are laying down on the job".
The invention of so many labor saving devices and especially the automobile disturbed society in a similar manner as inventions did in the past, and. we witness the logic of Dr. White's theory in our own experience in our advanced step taken in the erection of this community building. This forward movement has in a small way disturbed our domestic tranquillity and it is now our task to combat these disturbances.
For example we have a few people here who are opposing our work, who, though after having the experience of centuries of history in religious toleration, have deserted the old paths and old land marks and have dropped their Sunday School work, the great cause which we here today with pride celebrate, and are trying to establish an exclusive church organization, if is not our purpose to hurl harsh epithets at these people, but they remind us of the dog that swam a stream with a bone in his mouth. He dropped the real bone for its shadow and he was left hungry; or they are mistaking the cackle of their "burg" for what should be the clarion call to organized service.
You can wreck any good cause by undue emphasis, and that is what these exclusive over-enthusiastic people are doing. It is for this reason, and it is evident that their work results in disorganization, that we call attention to the matter. We stand for normal development, as our circle will show from the soil up to the topmost round of God's spiritual kingdom with symmetrical development in every part. Attraction and beauty is found here and no where else.
There is a great fundamental law of life laid down and emphasized by the Founder of Christianity and that law admits of no division of opinion. On one occasion the Pharisees were heckling him about religion and one of their number asked him what the great law was anyway. He saw the great chance and into the triviality of their questioning projected some great words which the world- has never forget: Thou shall love the lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself, and Mark's Gospel adds, "No man after that durst ask him any questions". Upon this broad foundation all workers in Christian service can build their structure and organization can be effective.
Not many great things are put across aside from organization. It has been the method of great things done in a great way from Moses down. When he was leading the Children of Israel into the Promised land, Jethro, his father-in-law, observed, that Moses' time was taken up too much in detail and he suggested to him to appoint from his best men one to rule over ten, another to rule over one hundred, and another to rule over one thousand. The method has worked well from that time down, and is now the method in the army, in the church, in the lodge, in the club, and in what they term big business. It has never been improved upon, perhaps never will be. This great meeting here today seems to be in harmony with that method. Someone in my neighborhood has been in command probably of ten, from some other point someone has commanded a hundred, and from appearances here today someone has placed their hand in a manner to move a thousand.
Next let us consider what our greater dangers are. I am convinced as before stated that an increase of wealth and pleasurable equipment has disturbed our equilibrium and that disturbance is proportional to the lack of utility of our newly acquired material. For example the invention of the reaper, the steam engine, the telegraph, and like things did not disturb harmony in society for the reason they combined utility with a certain amount of pleasure and their effect was to strengthen rather than weaken society. But so many of our modern inventions as the automobile and the many labor saving devices have freed men from the arduous toil of life, the only school best fitted to prepare men for its rough paths, and as a result men are living a life of pleasure, losing devotion for the home, and looking for the best at the least cost.
As a result of all this we have aristocracy and slavery.
Almost an army of needless over-paid officers at public expense who are threatening the life of the country. This condition of our country is not disputed by any good thinker, many of whom begin to ask the question, - Can civilization long remain? But my belief is that a better civilization will arise out of our present chaotic condition.
History teaches us that weakness in the Articles of Confederation brought about a remedy. John Burrows said that in a community where all were thieves society would improve for the reason that corruption would be so detestable as to cause opposition to such a system. There may be some truth in the statement. It is in a degree at least in harmony with the Prodigal's return, so I believe there is hope that we may return from our prodigal wanderings; short, it may be on high achievements but long in experience.
With this hope as an anchor and with a steadfast faith in our destiny and with a tenacity and courage that marks us worthy as soldiers in the fray, let us set ourselves to the task of developing in our larger organized community a citizenship that will stand as a bulwark against our downward course to chaos and ruin.
We still have the law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, the greatest code to be found in literature. This may be of help as a guide. There are some things we will not need. We will not need proof that man by evolutionary methods arose from the lower forms of life; need not bother to try to account for religious truths by the law of mysticism; no new invention can solve the problem; but there is a vital need which came as a manifestation of power some centuries following the advent of the Mosaic Law. This vital force cannot be understood by scientists. It has been likened to the wind therefore not able to tell from whence it cometh or whither it goeth. It is Grace and Truth from our Lord Jesus Christ.
As ways of travel greatly influence life in any community we will here endeavor to give the history of the early trails and roads over which our first settlers reached this community and lands farther west along and beyond the Ohio River in the prairies.
This trail, later known as The Pack Road, which led across the mountains from Moorefield by way of Mt. Storm and Gormania to settlements on Cheat and Buckhannon rivers, was the first crude way of travel for emigrants crossing the Alleghenies and returning and is related to national history. This path at first was doubtless marked out by buffaloes, pursued by Indians and later was used by the Indians in conducting raids in Hampshire County from 1754 to 1765. Form information we have gathered from historical records and from fact and tradition handed down from our oldest people, we are confident that Killbuck, the famous Shawnee chief, who led in the massacre at Fort Seybert in 1758, was familiar with this trail.
|George Washington returned by way of this trail from a western trip in 1784; crossed the Potomac about half way between Bayard and Gormania at the old town of Barrett, and came on by way of Mt. Storm to portions of Hampshire County east of the Alleghenies. He thus traversed a portion of the future route of the greater Virginia highway known when incorporated in 1827 as the North Western Turnpike.|
Postal service was rendered along this trail, sometimes a hollow tree was used as a place to deposit letters, which were picked up by travelers and carried to friends or to a post office. There was a hollow tree near the Mt. Storm M. E. church on the farm now owned by David Aronhalt used for that purpose.
We have proof from ancestors that Indians traversed this trail after white men settled along it. A number of Indians including women with their papooses on their backs came to Parker Brothers' farm when it was occupied by the Bowmans and proposed to show Mr. Bowman a seam of coal not far away but thinking they meant to decoy him into a trap he refused to go.
The following incident of an Indian raid over the "Trail" was told by our grandparents. Two white children by the name of Whetzel were taken captive by Indians at Moorefield and taken to an Indian encampment near Wheeling. The children were captured as they were driving the cows home in the evening. After a time they both escaped captivity and succeeded on their return in reaching the place where the "Trail" crosses the Potomac near Gormania. Here the boy died from hunger and exhaustion, but the sister, Hannah by name, succeeded in reaching what is now Arthur, Grant County, where she found a decrepit old horse left along the path to die; from her dress she constructed a bridle, put it on the faithful creature, mounted upon his back and reached her home. What a cup of mingled joy and sorrow her presence must have presented to her people - one child safe at home! The other had perished on his return! But this is one among many similar stories of pioneer life that has occurred among American colonies, but, because it occurred within our own borders we are made to realize in a deeper sense the tragedy.
Some of our people still living, discovered years ago four or five Indian graves near Mt. Storm, on the farm now owned by T. J. Grove, on the hill just above where Mrs. Ettie Idleman now lives. Excavations were made under the direction of Joseph Foley which resulted in finding bows, arrows, tomahawks, and wedged-shaped rock which were used to remove the skin from wild animals.
About two hundred yards northwest from where these graves were found John Brown is supposed to have engaged in conversation with M. D. Seville in the spring of 1859. According to Mr. Neville's account of the incident, while working in his sugar orchard, he was approached by a man of rather striking appearance dresssd in a hunting shirt and armed with a rifle. The stranger after making some inquiries, but leaving something mysterious as to his identity passed on. Mr. Neville, who was a painstaking man by way of investigating asserts that the stranger's description proved to be that of John Brown, who was executed for treason at Harper's Ferry, December 2 of the same year.
We have thus far attempted to give our readers a picture of pioneer life here before the wagon road and the period when the wagon was first introduced. Now we will speak of the first road to cross the mountains over which these vehicles played such an important part in the development of our country.
After exerting considerable effort we failed to find out much about the early history of this road; but like the Northwestern Turnpike and the Moorefield and Allegheny Turnpike and other roads of any great length of that period, it was in all probability a state enterprise as it was of both state and national significance. From information given by our forefathers and from other sources we reach the conclusion that it was opened up about the beginning of the nineteenth century. It started at Winchester, Virginia, came by way of Moorefield and Mt. Storm and crossed the North Branch nearly one mile above the present town of Gormania, through the western end of Maryland, and on through Preston County to Morgantown from whence it derived its name. It was a way for emigrants to cross the mountains from eastern Virginia to her western border and further on to Ohio. Travel on this road was immense as is evidenced by deep gullies that can be seen along the way to this day. Nature, with her steady process of more than a century's time has only partially healed over the gullies and scars in the route, leaving a long winding groove across the mountains still visible to the observer and historian, who in their musings may be led to ask where are the resultant forces of that once steady stream of life today? Who would not dare to say but that the moving tide of life on this road of more than a century ago has not contributed as much as one stone at least in the monumental structure of both state and nation?
The next great thoroughfare already referred to to pierce our community was the Northwestern Turnpike. It was built as a rival of the National Road wrhich was opened from Cumberland to Wheeling in 1818 and was the main thoroughfare east and west through northern Virginia. The chief engineer of this road was Claudius Crozet, a French officer of artillery under Napoleon Bonaparte in the Russian campaign, and later a professor of engineering in the U. S. Military Academy. He was assisted by Charles B. Shaw.
This road extended from Winchester to Parkersburg, a distance of 193 miles and cost $400,000 - just a little more than $2,000 per mile. It never competed with its northern rival, but served the interests of Virginia well, and was a national highway of much importance until its horseless rival reached Cumberland in 1845, Grafton in 1852, and Parkersburg in 1857.
It was a time of great industrial awakening in northern Virginia when the construction of this road began. It was the first great thoroughfare in this part of Virginia over which people might cross the mountains from her eastern border to what is now West Virginia, and to the rich prairies west of the Ohio River. Travel on this road was immense; as many as a dozen stage coaches usually driven by four horses were seen going back and forth every twenty- four hours, passing any hour, day or night. They made the distance from Romney to Clarksburg the first day and reached Parkersburg the second day. This quick movement was made possible by exchanging horses about every fifteen miles. The fresh teams were always on hand groomed and ready, so that little time was lost in making the exchange. Profanity was forbidden by the driver. The first stage line from Romney to Parkersburg was owned by Nathaniel Kuykenaall and Jesse Hildebrand. The fare from Baltimore to the Ohio River was fourteen dollars and did not exceed ten dollars from here to Parkersburg.
United States mail was carried over the route and post offices were established. In the early history of the road postmasters received but five dollars per year for their services. Envelopes had not yet come into use. Letters were written on foolscap paper, folded with ends tucked under and then three red wafers were used to seal it. These wafers were about the size of a dime. Registered letters required three black wafers. It cost twenty-five cents to send a letter to Ohio and fifty cents to send one to Illinois. It might be interesting for the reader to contrast the amount of postage it required and the salary of the postmaster of nearly a century ago with present conditions.
Freight of almost every character moved over the road in the old emigrant wagon, drawn by four and as many as eight horses. These teams were more frequent than the stage coaches, and during the fall season, especially, great droves of cattle, sheep, and hogs were driven from Indiana and Ohio to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Even geese, turkeys, and men and women in chains were driven over the road.
Hotels were not more than from three to six miles apart and besides these every farm house along the way was open to public entertainment. There were hotels at the following places along the road where it passed through this section: The first at North Branch or Schaeffersville, another less than a mile coming east was known as the Sollars Place, and another at Stony River, next the Stone House near Abram's Creek and another at Cob Tavern about a half mile from the top of the Alleghenies in Mineral County.
Farmers along the road found a ready market for their produce.. Oats especially was in demand. Honey was plentiful for that time, and people seemed abundantly satisfied with their prosperity, but suddenly a great change took place. The great highway ceased to be longer of national importance. By 1857 it was paralleled by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the business and the great tide of life on the Northwestern was now diverted along the line of the steam engine and the iron rail, and as the road ceased to be a through line for traffic it passed from state control, just what year we do not know, but soon after 1850. Since that time it has served well the purposes of local communities. Before we speak of the new Northwestern Turnpike we will here introduce a poem which is a true picture of life on the old road in the early days of its history:
THE NORTHWESTERN TURNPIKE
Would you sing the praise of the new highways
Where new thoughts wake within you?
I sing, if you like, of the old turnpike
Where old, old thoughts continue;
The memories pressed to its dusty breast
The Sod of the years is keeping;
And they who sung when the pike was young
By its old roadside are sleeping.
Along its ways in the early days
The stage coach used to rattle,
And the song of birds was hushed by herds
Of hogs and sheep and cattle;
No railroad then for the sons of men
For horseman or pedestrian;
But one way laid to the marts of trade
And that was the old Northwestern.
And by its groves in curious droves,
Whether skies were fair or murky,
There often came with loud acclaim
The chickens, geese, and turkeys;
With many a quack and straggling track
They marched with lofty bearing;
Whenever they please they took to the trees
And the drovers took to swearing!
And then, alas that it came to pass!
How many a human chattel
Both woman and man chained hand to hand,
Passed down that pike like cattle!
''Twere better at least to bird or beast
Than share the same environs;
For hogs and sheep - they do not weep-
And they were not in irons.
But the hour did strike! And the old turnpike
Wiped out that stain forever:
For over it first the war cloud burst
That caused those bonds to sever;
And here on the day that the blue and gray
Unfurled their flags above her,
Was the first man slain to break that chain
Uncover, friends, uncover!
And the drums still beat to the marching feet,
And still the death shot rattled;
And the pike of peace for a time at least
Was a pike where strong men battled!
And there on its brow that is tranquil now,
How the great guns used to hover!
They were crouching low to await the foe
Uncover, friends, uncover!
But the war's shrill blast is long since past,
All sections are uniting;
And the peaceful pike for auto and bike
Still stretches most inviting!
So sing the praise of the great highways
Where distant scenes may win you
I sing, if you like, of the old turnpike
In our own loved West Virginia!
Charles P. Guard, Grafton, W. Va.
(We are indebted to Division Engineer for following facts on new highway.)
We learn from our investigation of the history of this road that originally it was called the Northwest Virginia Pike to distinguish it from other roads in the Old Dominion, and that through lapse of time common usage has shortened the name to Northwestern Turnpike and by this name it will always be known, although on the State Route System, it is carried as Route No. 1. The entire length of this section is known as Federal Aid Project 122 and for convenience in accounting, is further sub-divided as Section "A" in Mineral County and Section "B-C" in Grant County. Section "A", consisting of eight miles, was let to contract with J. J. Battershall and Son, Virgilina, Virginia, at a contract price of $79,031.50. Section "B-C" consisting of 12.3 miles was let to H. W. Kaylor of Hagerstown, Maryland, at a contract price of $139,094.40, making the average cost per mile of both sections approximately $10,700.
Fred Von Roy was Chief of Survey Party which made the preliminary and location surveys on this road. W. K. Kauff had charge of the drafting room at the Keyser office, in which the plans were made. J. R. McDermott, as Resident Engineer for Mineral and Hampshire counties, was the engineer in charge of the work. Harry Strawn was inspector on the Mineral County end and Messrs. Furguson and Fitzer were the inspectors on B-C Grant County sections respectively. The entire work was planned and carried out under the jurisdiction of the Keyser office, which is headquarters for Division No. 5 including the counties of Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire, Hardy, Grant, Pendleton, Mineral, Randolph, and Tucker.
It is interesting to note that after nearly a century since the road was laid out under the direction of M. Crozet, and immediately subsequent to which time, an immense wagon traffic passed over this road to the middle and far west, that with the advent of the motor driven vehicle, the highway is again beginning to be of paramount importance. When the road was first built when the stage coach and covered wagon was about the only method of travel over land routes it was owned by the state and had a national significance and now it is again under state management and will be used as a state and national highway.
The first record we have of the gospel being preached in this locality was by a Presbyterian minister by the name of Scott at the residence of Francis B. Idleman. We have not been able to find out his Christian name or whether he had a successor, but there is reason to believe that for a time other ministers of that church occasionally preached there.
The next place where the gospel was preached was on the Maslin farm near where Walter Kitzmiller now lives on the Morgantown road. The next place of worship was in a building constructed for the double purpose of church and school house, located in front of the Methodist Church. The Methodist Episcopal ministers occupied it mainly for a number of years till late in the seventies when the Presbyterians and Southern Methodists also occupied it. This was a free church, that is it was open to all denominations, and from its inception it was under the control of three trustees, but we only remember two of them. They were Jacob Shillingburg and Jacob R. Idleman. This building was used for both church and school purposes until about the year l885, when it was destroyed by fire. The Board of Education then erected a school house about a quarter of a mile east of this place on the Moorefield and Allegheny Turnpike. This building belonged exclusively to the board, but church services were conducted in it till 1896 in which year both the present Methodist and Presbyterian churches were erected near the site of the building destroyed by fire.
The Methodist Church was built under the energetic leadership of J. H. Koch who was the Methodist Episcopal minister at that time. This church for many years was the stronger church but has weakened in recent years on account of a portion of its members connecting themselves with the Pentecostal movement.
This church has always been the leading church in the Bismarck region, though ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church preached there for a period of years within the seventies of the last century. Among the Methodist ministers who preached there were Wm. Junkins, local minister, B. N. Wooden, I. H. Offner, W. W. Vanarsdale, and others. During this time preaching was conducted in a small school house located on the site where the present Little Creek school house now stands.
The Allegheny Church, a Brethren church, was the first to be built near the summit of the Alleghenies, near the present home of Lloyd Kitzmiller. It was erected in about the year 1880 and is still standing, though no longer used by the denomination that built it, but has been occupied in recent years by the Presbyterians. When the Brethren ceased to use the old church they began the erection of a new one, near the residence of the late John Tyler Cosner. Locust Grove is the name of this church.
The ministry of this church for the most part has been supplied by local talent and by ministers from nearby Brethren localities, Eglon, Beaver Run, and Brick Church communities. Among the local ministers were Thos. D. Lyon, Wm. George, Raphael Baker, W. F. Nine, John Tyler Cosner, D. F. Cosner, Zina Cosner, Earl Cosner, Wm. H. Cosner, and Newton D. Cosner who is now through his own efforts nearing the top round of his college course at Huntington, Pennsylvania. Among ministers from other communities were Sanib Fyke, Jonas Fyke, Wm. MichaeI, D. B. Arnold, and Geo. S. Arnold.
This church was built in about the year 1882. It was to be occupied by several denominations, in fact none were to be excluded. D. C. Tabb, a layman of the Presbyterian Church, who lived where Dr. J. O. Lantz now lives, and was proprietor of what was then the Mt. Alto property, was the man who was mainly responsible for the erection of the building. Except on special occasions it is now occupied by the Presbyterians.
Blake Chapel, or what is now better known as the Hartmonsville Church was built in 1874. The lot on which the church stands was given and deeded to the Methodist Episcopal Church by Mrs. Nancy Blake, Mrs. Mollie Hank, and Miss Myra Van Diver. It was dedicated by Bishop A. R. Ames and Rev. G. W. Cooper, and was named after Mrs. Blake's husband, Rev. S. N. Blake.
Rev. Wm. Junkins, a local minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a man much trusted and beloved in his time, was a strong factor in the erection of this church.
As the Revolutionary period marks about the beginning of our first settlers in this section we have no record of any one here performing military service before the War of 1812.
David Cosner, Major General Joseph Neville, and Thomas Sollars, names already referred to, performed service in that war. Solomon Reall was a veteran of both the Mexican and Civil wars. He enlisted in 1845 in Company G. 13th Cavalry, helped to capture Santa Anna and his money; re-enlisted in the Civil War in 1862 Company B. 3rd Regiment, West Virginia Cavalry and was honorably discharged at Parkersburg June 12, 1865. Mr. Reall was the father of twenty-three children among whom were H. C. and John M. life-long residents of the land wherein they were born.
Lloyd Kitzmiller, Geo. Lemon, Miles Buckbee, Andrew Shillingburg, Isaac Shillingburg, and Samuel Cosner were enlisted in the Federal service. John L. Harvey, Clinton Cunningham, and Isaac Oates were enlisted on the side of the Confederacy. John L. Harvey and Isaac Gates were with McNeill's Rangers at Cumberland, Maryland, and assisted in the capture of Crooks and Kelley.
Tony W. Shillingburg, Olin Shillingburg, Grant Kuhn, Frank Kitzmiller, Clarence Blackburn, Harold Hubbs, Leland B. Hubbs, Wesley A. Duling, Perry Cosner, I. L. Neville, Clarence Kitzmiller, and Vernon Roderick were all in training, and I. L. Neville, Grant Kuhn, Harold Hubbs, Leland B. Hubbs, Tony W. Shillingburg and Olin Shillingburg saw service overseas.
Both the Shillingburgs who were cousins and lived about a rifle shot apart fell in battle. Frank Kitzmiller and Clarence Blackburn died while in training.
In August 1862 the 4th Ohio Regiment consisting of 1000 men camped at Abrams Creek about three miles east of Mt. Storm on the Northwestern Turnpike. From here they proceeded to North Branch where they were joined by the 8th Ohio Regiment from Oakland and under Colonel Cantwell proceeded to fortify a lofty eminence just west of the present town of Gormania. The fortification received the name of Fort PendIeton. The purpose of this military movement was to hold advantages gained in West Virginia by Gen. McClellan in the early history of the war.
Present appearances of this site indicate that the Federal troops occupied a strong position here. On the side of the hill can still be seen deep trenches worming their way from the river at the bridge to the summit, where an impregnable fortress seems to have been built. The hillside between the Northwestern road and the fort was cleared of timber, which in the decades that have passed has been replaced by a forest of second growth. This grove from its lofty eminence seems to pronounce a peaceful benediction on the quiet town below.
No battle was ever fought here. Probably the strength of the position discouraged an attack. From this fact the youth might learn a useful lesson in life. If one fortifieth himself against evil of every kind he may avoid many conflicts with the tempter.
While the war was in progress a small company of Union soldiers under Colonel Stevenson threw up a bulwark of logs just in front of the Mount Storm Post Office but no battle occurred. Judge John W.Mason, well known in northern West Virginia participated in the work.
Myersdale or Myerstown, as it was usually called, was a German colony formed in Philadelphia in about the year 1835 and located near Scherr in Grant County soon after. Mr. Myers after whom the colony was named, was the leading man.
They acquired title to 19,000 acres of land, a large portion of which spread over the top of the Alleghenies in what is now the Bismarck region. Each settler was permitted to own a lot of one acre in the village where he erected his residence for his dwelling place, and in addition to this was permitted to own 160 acres of land somewhere in the reservation. The colony employed a minister, a shoemaker, and several other tradesmen. Mr. Ernest Muntzing was employed as minister. He later became clerk of the County and Circuit courts of Grant County. The colony did not prosper, and the organization broke up, but some of its members afterward became residents on the large reservation holding their former claim and in some cases acquiring additional territory.
We regard that our history would be incomplete if we failed to give at least a brief account of about three nearby towns each of which has had a more or less vital connection with our people in the past; and now that these points are in connection, or in close proximity to us by one of the best thoroughfares in the United States, they are brought in a still more direct relationship, as is evident from their people's participation in entertainments and gatherings at the Community Building. The towns referred to are Elk Garden, Bayard, and Gormania.
Elk Garden is situated in the western part of Mineral County about five miles northwest from where the Northwestern Turnpike crosses the summit of the Alleghenies, and about three miles from the present town of Blaine.
The chief interest of this section until about the year 1880 was agriculture, the section being especially well adapted to meadow and grazing. Its history until about the above date is connected probably more closely with the Dixon family than any other people. Joseph Dixon, the patriarch of the Dixons, and most probably one of the oldest men to have ever lived in what was then Hampshire County, was one of the pioneers of this region. As he was intimately connected with many of our people and the early history of Elk Garden we submit here a brief history of his life.
His age was not definitely known, but from incidents he related of his boyhood and other facts he must have been at least 108 years old. Mr. Dixon thought himself to be 111 years old. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, about 1769. From there his parents emigrated to Ohio and settled near the present site of Wheeling, on the Ohio River, in what is now Belmont County.
Mr. Dixon often related when quite a boy how the family had to flee to Fort Wheeling for safety from the Indians. He remembered well Joseph Whetzel, the famous Indian fighter whose operations were in that section. Once when the settlers were fleeing from the approach of savages, and on their way to the fort, Mr. Dixon remembered seeing a hoe cake taken from the ashes. Fort Wheeling was subsequently destroyed from which historical date Mr. Dixon's age is partially computed.
The Indian depredations drove the family back to their old home where they remained for several years. Still being possessed with the pioneer spirit, they again started for what was then called the Far West, but halted in the vicinity of Deer Park, Maryland, for a time. Here Mr. Dixon married a Miss Ward. After several children were born he moved into the Elk Garden region - a wilderness at that time of the Alleghenies in Hampshire County, Virginia, where he spent the remainder of his long life.
Old man Joe Dixon's name and face were as familiar to the old mountaineers as the rocky peaks, for the memory of his generation could reach no farther back. He was an eccentric man and was noted for his ready wit, as well as excellent traits of character. His sayings, mottos, etc. have been proverbial and many quote his odd speeches. The old man was full of anecdotes and would entertain one for hours, giving his quaint account of life incidents of farmer days.
He was remarkably healthy and vigorous retaining his mental faculties up till within a short time of his death. Long after he had passed the century mark he would ride horseback to Keyser in company with a son so enfeebled with age that it required the assistance of the father to help the son mount his horse. After rendering aid to his more unfortunate son the old patriarch sprang upon his own steed with the ready ease of one to the manner born. He had a full set of teeth at the time of his death, and at which time he had living children, grand children, and great grand children numbering over three hundred. For the historical benefit of the children of Richard V., Obed A., and J. G. Hanlin, and those of my own, all of whom are, or have been connected with our community life will say they all belong to this lineage one generation removed from the last above named.
Joseph Dixon, together with his sons, James, John, Richard, Thomas, and Ned, for a long time owned probably most of the valuable real estate in the Elk Garden region until about 1880 when the great mineral wealth in coal passed into the hands of the Davis people and with the coming of the West Virginia Central and Pittsburgh Railroad, a prosperous mining town sprang up and the life of the community was changed.
Since the depletion of the big vein of coal, smaller seams have been opened up which still give industrial life to the community.
We are not of the opinion that it will soon occur again, when such great wealth in coal will be purchased for such a nominal sum as was purchased in the Elk Garden region.
Bayard is a small town of about 2000 inhabitants situated along the Western Maryland Railroad two miles south of Gormania and about the same distance from the new highway, and by means of good road is in easy communication with our part of the country. The town was named after Thomas F. Bayard, who was Secretary of State during President Cleveland's first term of office. During its early history, which began about forty years ago, lumbering and tanning were the chief industries. Vast forests of virgin timber along Buffalo Creek and surrounding country were felled and transported to the town where it was manufactured into lumber by the Buffalo Lumber Company who operated a large plant there for many years. After the lumber interests began to wane, and the tannery plant owned by the Middlesex Leather Company ceased to do business, Bayard became a dull town for several years. Eventually new life sprang up when the Emons Coal Company began to install a rather extensive mining plant on Buffalo. This mining plant with one or two others of lesser magnitude constitutes the principal industries of the town at present
Bayard has three religious denominations represented by as many different churches as follows: the Methodist Episcopal Church, the United Brethren Church, and the Presbyterian Church. It also has one well equipped high school and one National bank. It is believed and has been really demonstrated that fine deposits of fire clay exist here, and may be developed into a profitable industry in the future.
Gormania has had a more vital connection with our community than either Bayard or Elk Garden. It is situated about seven miles from Mount Storm at the junction of the Northwestern Turnpike with the Western Maryland Railroad on the quiet rippling waters of the historic Potomac. On its west side rises to the height of several hundred feet, Fort Pendleton. This hill from which a splendid view of the town and surrounding country can be had is still wormed by old trenches dug out when the place was fortified in Civil War times. One of these trenches led down to the river at the bridge, the purpose of which no doubt was to supply water to the fort in case it was besieged.. The hillside down to the Northwestern Road was cleared of timber when the hill was fortified in order that hostile guns from the fort might deal their deadly work of destruction to the enemy if they attempted to pass the fort by way of this road. Instead of hostile guns pointing down from the hill, it has since been replaced by a forest of second growth which seems to pronounce a benediction of peace and contentment upon the inhabitants of the place.
The town which now has a population of about 400 inhabitants began its history when the country was opened up by the completion of the Northwestern Turnpike a few years prior to 1840. It was within this year that Jacob Schaeffer, grandfather of J. R.Schaeffer, established himself here as the first settler in the place. He erected a log building which served as a dwelling and a store house combined. The place then received the name of Schaeffersville and Mr. Schaeffer became the first post master of the place. He had a tannery here also, and was toll collector for the Northwestern Turnpike.
The present town as we see it today began its growth when the West Virginia Central and Pittsburgh railroad. reached the place in about the year 1881 when it received the name of Elkins in honor of Stephen B. Elkins, senator from West Virginia, and one of the stockholders in the road. The town since has received the name of Gormania, while the post office on the West Virginia side of the river and the railroad station on the Maryland side is called Gorman.
The J. G. Hoffman and Sons Company own a large tannery here which for years has been the chief industry in the place, but has not been in operation for about two years. It is hoped that it will soon start up again. There are several general stores, one meat market, one National Bank, one hotel, one grist mill, and three churches in the place. The churches are represented by the Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, and the Catholic.
Among the men other than J. G. Hoffman and Sons Company who have figured in the business of the town since the railroad entered the site are Joseph Shillingburg, first general merchant, and for many years proprietor of the Virginia House; D. A. Perin; J. H. Beckman; L. L. McCrum; T. E. Shillingburg; Jackson Shillingburg; A. F. Schwartz, present Tannery Superintendent; J. R. Schaeffer, school teacher, artist, and property owner; M. Aronhalt; B. F. White; E. M. Mickey, Depot agent and tannery clerk; H. L. Duling, miller; Oates and Company; Dr. W. G. Drinkwater; L. D. Fowler; T. O. Winters; John Kaylor; Anthony Corinchan and daughter Mary, a skilled milliner; Godfrey Dilgard, once tannery superintendent; and others.
Gormania has been the shipping point for our people ever since the advent of the railroad into the place and in turn it has been a market for the people's products. The J. G. Hoffman and Sons Company has bought large quantities of tanbark of our people in Grant County as far south as Greenland. Now that this place and Mount Storm are connected by one of the best thoroughfares in the United States the relationship will be even greater than before.
We have a friend in Pittsburgh who recently visited this section of country, and while here visited Mount Storm, but did not seem to be impressed with the place as one of importance. From his standpoint of reasoning he may have abundant reason for reaching such a conclusion, but some of us who have been born and reared here like to think of it other than as a business place in the marts of trade.
Tekoa, in the day of the prophet Amos, was an insignificant town, but like all small t owns of that time helped to feed the world with its surrounding flocks and waving fields of grain; but it also helped to feed the world with the substance of a greater life. It is the cradle of prophecy. From here came Amos the shepherd prophet, who was to warn the wicked Uzziah, King of Judah, and Jeroboam, King of Israel.
Only about five miles from Tekoa is another small village, insignificant so far as wealth and population is concerned, but it is the birth-chamber of Christianity. What is the reason for Tekoa's leadership in prophecy and Bethlehem's supremacy? The answer to this question indicates that the city born sons and daughters start on the race of life at a considerable disadvantage. It is generally true that lives are made or broken in childhood, and that the period of adolescence is the supremely critical period. Therefore the environments of the child should be natural and normal to insure maturity with poise and power. This development seems to reach its highest degree of perfection in the small town or country where youth has time and room to think, dream, and play. Time and room and air to grow, to work with hands, to walk, to behold visions of greatness - to build those more stately mansions of the soul. Bethlehem of which Michael said:
O little town of Bethlehem!
How still we see thee lie,
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark street shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight."
Now the small town prophets were numerous. It would be a futile if not a ridiculous task to name them. The ancients with their greatness inevitably came from them.
Roosevelt was born in Twentieth Street on Long Island, but it is not probable that the world would have ever known much of him if he had not been made over on a cattle ranch in Montana. His life furnishes an excellent example how the city needs the country and. the country needs the city.
Why was Abraham Lincoln born in a cabin instead of a mansion in one of our great cities. The answer to this question probably lies in the fact that the environments of a great city was not adapted to the training of the man who was born to break the shackles of millions of slaves. It was not by accident that he was born in a Kentucky cabin; he never would have received the right kind of schooling in a city to best fit him for his great task. It was experience all the way up from obscurity that developed behind those shaggy eye brows that great mind and heart that saw visions and duties no other man could comprehend.
The cabin in which he was born is now inclosed in a granite structure. The granite structure would have but little meaning without the cabin. The tourist and the sight seer as they visit this shrine will not fail to look carefully into every detail of this cabin, but many overlook many parts of the great edifice. It is the cabin and not the shrine that most attracts. It is a similar story "From Manger to Throne".
Now we do not claim that our community has been the birth place of any great prophets or national heroes, but might it not surprise us to know how silent forces that may have been exerted here at sometime, have a vital connection with larger things. I believe much in the philosophy of Emerson that "All are needed by each one, nothing is fair or good alone." Man is scarcely a microscopic animal and the earth is but a tiny pebble in comparison to the universe, yet we are a small part of the great cosmos.
Consistent with the theory of the importance of small places, our organization at Mount Storm purposes to build up all the way from the soil to the topmost round of typical citizenship a strong community. We are convinced that the task is not an easy one. It will be necessary to break up some fallow ground. Our resources may not be equal to that of other communities, but we mean to use what we have. There is no finer adventure in life than to begin its struggles with small equipment. By using what we have we believe after while we will be able to get what we want.
It will not be our chief aim to seek notoriety or to search for the highest seats on the right hand in the heavenly kingdom. Characteristics of good citizenship will be our slogan. Therefore it will not be so important where we are as what we are. However, we shall try to keep our doors of opportunity open to let him, who may, emerge upon the stage of wider activity, and we shall greet such success with hearty cheers if it comes to our doors.
In this sketch of the Mount Storm Community we have endeavored to give the reader a brief account of our earliest settlements and the part they played in community and national life, to paint a picture of natural scenery as viewed from the summit of the Alleghenies; to speak of the great wealth of this section in what was natural resources; to trace the improvement of roads from the McCulloh Trail to the modern West Virginia Highway; and to show steps of progress from the cabin home of the pioneer to the modern dwelling of the present day.
When we consider the handicaps and obstacles that beset our forefathers in subduing a wilderness and converting it into suitable places for abodes we reach the conclusion that we have descended from a worthy ancestry. They were a self-reliant people. Every household depended for the most part upon its own efforts to manufacture the goods necessary for its own consumption. The shoes and boots were made from leather tanned at local tanneries. Some of the hardware supplies were manufactured at a foundry near Falls in Grant County where charcoal was used in smelting ore mined from New Creek Mountain.
Every farmer kept a small flock of sheep and usually raised some flax. Out of this material, sometimes aided by a local factory and by the use of the spinning wheel and hand loon, was woven the goods that clothed the family. The writer, not as old as many other people living at present, has a vivid recollection of working in flax and remembers distinctly the hum of the spinning wheel. Every farmer raised what grain and produce he needed to feed the family. Less than a century ago the store bill of a family would now be considered a negligible sum. I have heard an old settler say that the average store bill for a family in a year in his boyhood days was about fifteen dollars. What supplies that could not be manufactured and produced in the home were at first brought over the trail on pack horses.
Besides braving the community struggles of pioneer life our forefathers have performed equally well a national service. This at first thought may seem to be overdrawn but it is true. Every man who establishes a home, even if he contributes nothing more than this is a nation builder. The home is the fundamental unit in any civilization or national greatness. Besides this national service our community has been connected with every war that has been waged for human freedom from the Revolution down and has exercised due diligence in voting for Federal officers to administer Federal laws. Our citizens too, have been active in discussing rational problems and thus keeping alive the national spirit.
It occurs to some of us that our attention now should be directed to the problems of our time. It is a condition verified in history that every generation is confronted with new difficulties to solve. We hope to meet these new problems with courage and fortitude. Our facilities for service may not be equal to that of other communities. We need not be discouraged on account of this. Our highest duty will consist in using material at our command. To accomplish great things by the use of small means is the best of an adventure. By making use of opportunities at our command we hope to get what we want. The curriculum laid down by our organization will be our plan and we hope to put life and vigor into the whole circle.
We are sometimes conscious that in the past we have, in a measure been cheated out of our natural inheritance. It was necessary first for the homemaker to build up a civilization before the natural wealth of our community here in coal and timber could be developed. This being done this wealth in a greater degree should have been the common heritage of our people. But as we have already set forth, this great natural wealth went into the hands of syndicates for a nominal sum and lost to the people. We hope to benefit by this and other mistakes made in the past.
We have possibilities for agriculture in soil and climate and with our new improved highways marketing conditions will be greatly improved; better cooperation can be had; along with these improvements we hope to see our citizenship, the flower of every community, develop into an ideal one, so that the visitor and tourist come among us from near and far over our great highway may sense a spirit of loyalty and devotion among to those things which make an ideal community.
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