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(A copyrighted publication of West Virginia Archives and History)

Volume 50 Benign Betrayal: Capitalist Intervention
in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, 1890-1910

By John Hennen

Volume 50 (1991), pp. 46-62

Prior to the late nineteenth century, social and business relationships in rural Appalachian communities were predicated on tradition-bound personal principles more than rigidly defined legal codes and formal business contracts. But by the 1890s, economic changes were transforming Appalachia from a region of stable self-sufficiency to one of dependence and poverty. Mountaineers steadily lost control over their social and economic environment, as commercial and industrial forces dominated the human and mineral resources of the region. New political, educational, legal, and religious institutions undermined traditional structure. The new institutional forms mirrored the interests of a national industrial economy, grounded in the liberal doctrines of capitalist expansionism. Traditional mountain culture was depicted in the periodicals and urban newspapers of the commercial age as primitive, barbaric, and violent. Journalists and scholars, intrigued by the discovery of "our contemporary ancestors," encouraged the civilizing intervention of industrial capitalism to salvage the undisciplined mountain inhabitants.1

The process of intervention in Pocahontas County illustrates the transformation of traditional culture in Appalachia. As the timber resources of the northeast and Great Lakes regions diminished in the 1880s, northern lumber producers turned to the southern mountains for their new supply. Timbering, the basis for an economic boom in Pocahontas between 1890 and 1910, changed dramatically as large-scale investment penetrated the county. Before the 1890s, the market for sawed lumber in the mountains was primarily local. The technology of lumbering was simple, costs were minimal, and the amount of timber cut had little environmental impact. Small-scale family operations were profitable because there was little competition from large companies and outside capital. While the timber industry was on the verge of great growth and prosperity, the boom eluded the small operators who lacked developmental capital.2

By the early 1900s, small timbering operations in Pocahontas County were supplanted by systematic, well-integrated operations in areas of the county opened up by new rail systems. Previously unexploited areas were reached by developers eager to supply the industrial northeast. Thousands of mountaineers gravitated to the timber camps to work for cash wages, signifying the first major form of non-agricultural work in the mountains. Lumbermen who had spent a generation in the Pennsylvania forests migrated to Pocahontas, and its population almost doubled in ten years. As the timber industry grew, the mountaineers became less oriented to the traditional, personalized economy and more dependent on the demands and fluctuations of the national marketplace. By the 1920s, the boom in the county was over, and the virgin timber gone, leaving a clearcut wasteland, devastated by poor logging practices, flooding, and fires.3

As timber and mineral resources in West Virginia became attractive, a vast network of political capitalists systematically assumed control over the nature of development. Industrialists such as Johnson N. Camden, Henry G. Davis, and Stephen B. Elkins joined with modernizers working on the state and local levels. They hammered out a new political culture in West Virginia based on the developmental ideology of national commercial centers such as Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York. The new system depended more on interest groups than kinship groups, and on printed communication as well as oral transmission of culture. Among the features of capitalist intervention was the regular propagandizing of potential converts to the commercial ideology, through favorable reporting and editorial philosophy in the local press.4

The developmental ethos formalized by the West Virginia power elite promoted railroad construction, mining, and timber cutting as the means to wealth and prosperity. Consequently, little known provisions adopted at the West Virginia Constitutional Convention in 1872, facilitating the granting, acquisition, and confirmation of land titles to capitalist speculators, hastened the transfer of timberlands from mountaineers to developers.5

The practices of land transfer from mountain families to the agents of modernization varied. Whether legal or extralegal, ethical or unethical, the transfers were usually voluntary but hardly carried out between equal parties in the business of land speculation. Mountaineers had little knowledge of the value of their lands' resources to industrialists, or of the potential impact of large-scale mineral extraction and clearcutting. Land had always seemed abundant, and environmental damage from traditional agricultural and logging methods, while certainly in existence, was limited and diffuse. Moreover, ownership carried the tacit assumption that title was not a deterrent to common use of wildlands, within certain culturally defined limits. Few residents resisted the land agents' offers of cash, a rare commodity in the mountains, for use or transfer of their holdings. Those who did resist usually lost the rights they claimed to limit capitalist access to their lands. The litigious "Lawyers Constitution" of 1872 worked to the advantage of speculators, designed as it was to supersede the obscure land titles, lost deeds, and poor records common to mountain counties.6

The developmental ideology formulated by national powerbrokers such as Camden, Davis, and Elkins relied on regional and local elites for transmission to mountain communities. Each area contained a small ruling class whose economic power, political influence, and respectability derived from longstanding residence and prominence in the community. Often trained in medicine, business, or law, these men used their prestige to set the stage for commercial development. Many resident lawyers were retained by mining and lumber corporations as intermediaries in the acquisition of land and resources. Furthermore, local newspaper editors, encouraged by investment opportunities, railroad passes, and access to the corridors of power, often served as willing accomplices in the propagation of the liturgy of development. Blending international and national commentary, local lore, and the glorification of industrial capitalism, modernizing editors were a crucial element in the new economic patterns emerging in the mountains. Forging a link between traditional culture and the impersonal forces of the national economy, they helped manufacture local consent to the selling of the mountains, delivering the region's economy and future to absentee control.7

Those who questioned the prudence of rapid capitalist intervention did so at the risk of being cast as obstacles to progress. "The people," wrote James Murray Mason in the 1884 report of the West Virginia Tax Commission, "have been educated to believe that our immediate development must be obtained at any cost and regardless of sacrifices; the public mind has been saturated with an idea that progress means one railroad where there is no railroad, and two railroads where there is only one." The report continued, "the question is whether this vast wealth shall belong to persons who live here and are permanently identified with the future of West Virginia, . . . or pass into the hands of people who care nothing for our state except to pocket the treasures which lie buried in our hills."8

The career of Colonel John T. McGraw of Grafton illustrates the ideology and process of development which engulfed the state in the 1880s and 1890s. A lawyer, land speculator, developer, and activist in Democratic party politics, McGraw embodied the modernizing spirit which engineered the transformation of the Appalachian Mountains.

One of McGraw's most ambitious plans for the accumulation of personal wealth and the modernization of West Virginia was his design to develop the town of Marlinton and surrounding territory in Pocahontas County. As early as 1882, McGraw and his partners Jacob W. Marshall and Dr. Mat Wallace began acquiring tracts of land in Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties, on the assumption that the timber and mineral potential in the region would attract railroad development. McGraw was encouraged when he learned of the plans of railroad tycoon Johnson N. Camden to extend his West Virginia and Pittsburgh line to join with the Chesapeake and Ohio at Marlin's Bottom, in Pocahontas, and gain access to the resources of the Greenbrier Valley. McGraw purchased farmland in Marlin's Bottom and embarked on a strategy of development which envisioned the area as an industrial and commercial center. In September 1891, McGraw and other investors incorporated the Pocahontas Land Development Company to promote the enterprise. Among the incorporators were some of West Virginia's most powerful businessmen/politicians, including Camden, Davis, Aretus B. Fleming, and William A. Ohley.9 In order to generate local interest in his plans for Marlinton, McGraw laid out lots in Marlin's Bottom available at auction for local small investors. Thus, local entrepreneurs had a direct stake, albeit limited, in the success of McGraw's scheme. Furthermore, by land grants and a guarantee to construct a new court house, the Pocahontas Land Development Company induced Pocahontas voters to approve the relocation of the county seat from Huntersville to the new town of Marlinton. The location was described by the company as, "a rich, beautiful and fertile country, among a prosperous, progressive and generous people . . . a place which, in the near future, must develop into that which nature intended it to be, one of the Best Towns in West Virginia." Prudent men were advised to invest their money "in [their] own state and community and thus benefit by the rapid development and marvelous growth, which thoughtful capitalists and their railroad enterprises are bringing to the interior of West Virginia."10

Plans for the anticipated boom in Marlinton were enthusiastically endorsed by a progression of editors of the town's newspaper, the Pocahontas Times, which also relocated from Huntersvilie with the transfer of the county seat. Editor John E. Campbell reported early in 1891 that "Pocahontas County will undergo the greatest development and prosperity of any County in the State in the next five years. She will have a railroad, and the industries that will spring up from it will furnish employment to thousands of families. She has iron and coal and untold millions of feet of lumber, which speaks for itself." Campbell described the Pocahontas Land Development Company as

. . . composed of men of wealth and influence prone . . . to make Marlinton a city, and we have every reason to believe they will, knowing as we do the vast surroundings of timber, coal, iron ore, limestone, building stone, fire clay, and in fact everything that is calculated to furnish for ages to come, industrial manufacturing plants of almost every description. . . . Ex-Senator Camden says that Marlinton will become at no distant day the largest manufacturing city in the interior of the State.11

The gentlemen of the Marlinton company, said Campbell, "are among the leading citizens of West Virginia and have the energy and means to develop the great resources of our county and thus bring prosperity and happiness to our people." Any who discouraged the plans of the capitalists, Campbell implied, were disloyal to their community and inhibitors of progress. The Times predicted that when Pocahontas established railroad connections with the commercial centers of the industrial northeast, "it will become one of the greatest iron and lumber producing regions on earth, which ages of the most active industry cannot exhaust."12

A lengthy editorial comment by Campbell in January 1892, written in typically florid prose, encompassed not only the developmental ideal of industrial capitalism, but foreshadowed the cultural conflict between the disciplined regimentation of the commercial world and traditional mountain society:

Confining ourselves to our own mountain county, we can see that the first bright rays of our prosperity are falling upon us. In the North, East, South, and West, capital has turned its lynx eyes this way . . . let us prophecy that when the new shall become old, the iron horse shall be waking from their long sleep their echoes with his piercing neigh. A new city has been laid off in the heart of our county. Men of money are visiting us from all quarters and are going to the great financial centers and telling their friends of our iron, our coal, and our timber.
Let us lay aside our petty prejudices and the lethargy of our long isolation, look at the dawning sun of permanent development, now, for the first time in all our history shedding his fructifying rays upon us and "get a hustle on with us." With the right kind of work performed in the proper spirit, we can make our loved county of Pocahontas equal to any in our state. . . . Let us waste none of the golden days of '92. Let us begin to hasten our prosperity now.13

Marlinton did not become the commercial center envisioned by McGraw and other developers. In fact, the timber boom came after McGraw had divested himself of much of his property in Pocahontas and surrounding counties. The economic slowdown leading to the financial panic of 1893 inhibited railroad construction nationwide. Careful surveys revealed engineering obstacles which Camden had overlooked earlier, and he suspended his construction plans. Land speculation became perilous, and McGraw's financial resources, always tenuous, were strained. He transferred much of his land in Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and Webster counties to syndicates content to wait out the financial crisis in return for the rich tracts of spruce, white pine, and white oak. He also acted as an agent, purchasing land for other investors. McGraw's clients included H. H. Craig of the Rochester Lumber Company and New York capitalists Cornelius Vanderbilt, H. McKay Twombly, and W. Seward Webb, for whom McGraw engineered the purchase of three hundred thousand acres of West Virginia coal and timber lands in 1897.14

Because of the potential represented by timber resources, the railroad finally arrived in Marlinton in October 1900. The Chesapeake and Ohio began construction of the Greenbrier Railroad branch from Ronceverte to Marlinton in 1899, reaching the forks of the Greenbrier River where the lumber town of Durbin had been established, and short-term prosperity based on timbering came to Pocahontas County. The West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company built a large sawmill at Leatherbark Creek, and tanning, lumbering, and pulpwood production formed the basis for capitalist transformation of the traditional culture of the region.15

The economic and social impact of West Virginia Pulp and Paper, indeed of the timber industry in Pocahontas generally, are directly linked to the life and career of a prototypical liberal modernizer, Andrew Gatewood Pinkerton Price, 1871-1930. A gifted lawyer, respected citizen, and editor of the Pocahontas Times, Andrew Price bridged the gap between the rural, tradition-bound mountaineers and the captains of industry who came to dominate this development. Price, and hundreds of other local elites of similar background and accomplishments, expedited the transfer of Appalachia's wealth from the region, putting it at the disposal of the national economy. In so doing, local modernizers helped establish patterns of dependency which survive in West Virginia, and institutionalized the structure of economic and social inequality which impoverished the state's people.

On November 14, 1892, control of the Pocahontas Times passed from John E. Campbell to the Reverend William Price and two of his sons, James and Andrew. The elder Price, one of the county's most respected citizens, was a Presbyterian clergyman for sixty-three years. His wife Anna Randolph Price, of the Virginia Randolphs, was a poet of genteel background who, according to a son, never successfully adapted to the mountain life or culture. The Price family had been established in the Pocahontas area for several generations.16

Andrew Price earned a law degree from West Virginia University and began practicing in Pocahontas in 1892, the same year he became part-owner and editor of the Pocahontas Times. He served as editor until 1900, relinquishing his duties to his younger brother Calvin, when his prospering law practice demanded his complete attention. Price retained his partnership in the paper until 1906, and was a contributing editor until his death at age fifty-nine. He married Grace Clark in 1897, and the marriage produced two daughters.17

In 1900, Price was elected the first mayor of Marlinton. He was the attorney for the Bank of Marlinton, as well as for several timber companies, railroads, and the Pocahontas Tanning Company. Described in a 1930 memorial as a Calvinist, Price was a deacon in the Marlinton Presbyterian Church, displaying a firm belief in the teachings of the Bible, but with an aversion to the "spectacular." He was an accomplished poet and geologist, and a "clever writer" whose columns were often carried by newspapers around the state. A lifelong Democrat, Price was nominated for the United States House of Representatives in 1908, and appointed postmaster at Marlinton by Woodrow Wilson in 1913, serving until 1922. He was a founder of the West Virginia Fish and Game Protective Association, and at various times served as president of the Pocahontas Bar Association and the Board of Education of the Edray District. He was an organizer of the West Virginia Historical Society and its president until shortly before his death. Price was known as the "Sage of Pocahontas," and was described at his death as the leading citizen of the county. An appreciation written by fellow lawyer T. S. McNeel declared,

His wide field of activity gained for him an intimate contact with persons in every walk of life. . . . The learned and the unlearned, the adult and the youth, the aristocrat and the masses, all alike found in him a charming companion because of the human touch of the man. The lowly enjoyed easy approach into his presence.18

Even with the reverential tone of McNeel's eulogy, it is not idle speculation to assume that Price, with his long family association in the county, apparently respectful manner, Calvinist discipline, and literary, legal, and scientific accomplishments, would be a man of influence among all classes of Pocahontas County. As such, he was apparently a valuable agent for the intervention of industrial capitalism. Price's editorial statements and professional alliances reveal a man convinced of the moral imperative and guaranteed prosperity of industrial expansion into the woods of Pocahontas. While at times he wrote nostalgically of traditional culture, he affirmed it must accommodate the tide of progress.

Price, a partner in the firm of Price, Osenton, and McPeak, corresponded with an extensive network of political and industrial elites, statewide and nationally. He represented many corporations in land title and right-of-way condemnation proceedings, and as bank attorney protected its interests in land deals and foreclosures. His position as counsel for West Virginia Pulp and Paper illuminates his dual roles as protector of the company's interest and propagandist in the Pocahontas Times. In a 1911 letter to J. S. Alexander of the National Bank of Commerce in New York, Price defines his relationship with the company:

Dear Sir:
Your letter to the Bank of Marlinton in regard to the financial standing of the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company . . . has been handed to me as attorney for the bank to answer. I am also local attorney for the concern that you inquire about, but do not know very much of their business holdings outside of this county and adjoining counties. This company holds here about 140,000 acres of good land valuable for timber and coal. I think this land is worth something like three million dollars. The company has in addition valuable railroad and mill property, and is now building an important railroad under the name of the Greenbrier, Cheat, and Elk Railway connecting the C&O, B&O, and Western Maryland railways, and is developing a county rich in coal and timber, of which the company owns a large part of it.
The men who manage the company, the Messrs. Luke, Mr. Cass, and Mr. Slaymaker, are men of the highest type of business integrity, and are conservative and safe men. It is one of the strong companies of America.19

Price had been defending the prerogative of West Virginia Pulp and Paper for years. While fighting litigation over alleged pollution of the Potomac River below its pulp mill at Luke, Maryland, West Virginia Pulp sought to purchase one hundred and fifty thousand acres of farmland in Caldwell, West Virginia, for a pulp mill. Town officials of Hinton, located downstream from the proposed mill on the Greenbrier River, objected, eventually compelling the company to build at Covington, Virginia. As the controversy over the company's plans for Caldwell ensued, editor Price was quick to defend West Virginia Pulp and reassure the citizens of Pocahontas and Greenbrier counties that their lands and waters would remain pristine. He claimed the proposed mill and rail connection "will place every citizen within ten miles of a railroad, [and] put hundreds of thousands of dollars into the county." The Times also cited "expert testimony" from the Maryland pollution trial confirming the environmental sensitivity of the company. "The wood used is spruce," according to the Times, "[and] there is no unhealth in water impregnated with the tannic acid of sprucewood. We do not apprehend any serious trouble for the people living below Caldwell."20

Price elaborated on the environmental defense in a subsequent editorial, "We have very little law on the subject of pollution of streams in this State, our laws being sufficiently strict to prevent any unnecessary pollution of streams, but not interfering with an industry such as the pulp mill." Quoting a "prominent West Virginian, who loves the shaded woods and a clear stream," Price remarked,

He said it is a sacrifice we must make to progress. We cannot afford to keep back the development of our country for the sake of a stream of water, and the day is coming when we will have to go back in the woods to find pure streams. You cannot change a forest to farmland without polluting to a considerable extent the streams which drain it. It is the price we have to pay for the benefits of civilization.21

Price equated the discharge from pulp mills with the natural process of drainage from spruce forests into the streams of Pocahontas County. The tannic acid produced the "inky blackness" common to local streams which natives could attest were well-stocked with healthy fish. Chastising the obstructionists to progress in Hinton, Price lamented, "it is extremely unfortunate that West Virginians could not have understood the [limited] extent of the pollution by such a mill before they drove the industry out of the state."22

Price's defense of the environmental responsibility of industry extended to other companies which retained him as well. Ironically, his strongly-worded communique to a West Virginia legislator lauded a company which he implied was a greater steward of the land in Pocahontas than West Virginia Pulp. In defense of Pocahontas Tanning, Price wrote to the Honorable Jake Fisher:

Of all the industries known to this state, tanneries are least hurtful to fish, and as compared to coal and iron mines and pulp mills, the tannery sewage is inocuous. I can see no reason therefore why tanneries should be singled out as the horrible example. . . . The two large tanneries on Greenbrier River do not hurt the fish any. . . .23

As legal representative for several timber and railway companies doing business in the county, Price often participated in the transfer of land titles and condemnation proceedings to the benefit of his clients. He once advised Gilfillan, Neill, & Company to move against the minor heirs of James Kinsport to acquire lands of the Kinsport estate "before there is a chance of them giving you trouble." In another case, he advised his law partners that land deeded from Henry Yeager to "a married woman" was not valid under West Virginia law because it had not been acknowledged before a "proper officer." Price concluded that the firm had "a good suit" and that the timber on the land was "very well worth fighting for."24

Price also felt obliged to convince Pocahontas Times readers that land was more valuable to the community when it rested with timber companies than in the hands of private citizens. Tax payments on the land, even if unproductive, he explained, benefited the community and relieved the previous owners of hidden burdens:

The Greenbrier River Lumber Company's tax ticket in Pocahontas for the year 1898 amounts to $1539.36. This is tax on timberland which is unremunerative. It is a great help to the county treasury. Formerly this tax was divided among smaller landowners who did not realize how much their wild land was costing them. This is still true of the greater part of the county.25

Regardless of the efforts of Price and other local elites, some citizens resisted the encroachment of industrial capitalism. Resistance to development could take the form of a landowner refusing to acknowledge the right-of-way prerogative of railroads, for compensation, through private land. County courts often convened special hearings for right-of-way disputes, where the mechanism was in place to protect the interests of big capital. County judges and court officers were by 1900 usually professionals or businessmen whose economic well-being was linked to development. If persuasion "proved ineffective, resistance could be overcome by the alliance between capitalists and local promoters. Courts simply condemned land and required that it be sold to the railroad."26

Price advised his readers on the wisdom of settling condemnation proceedings out-of-court, warning them against being greedy and of hidden costs in a lost condemnation judgement. "Some of the prices asked by landowners are too high," he wrote in 1899. "The rule is when a private contract can not be agreed upon for the condemnation proceedings to be initiated. If the landowner recovers less than the amount proffered by the company, he pays the costs, and vice versa."27

To illustrate, Price wrote to S. E. Slaymaker of West Virginia Pulp in New York to apprise him of the progress of condemnation proceedings on 178 acres in Pocahontas County. Obtaining "no satisfaction whatever" in convincing the owners to accept the company's offer of right-of-way compensation, Price informed Slaymaker of a hearing to be held by C. S. Dice, the new judge of the Pocahontas-Greenbrier district. Price advised Slaymaker to send a cash draft of the company's offer to be available at the hearing. He reported shortly thereafter that Judge Dice "seems to be in a good humor with everybody" and that Slaymaker was "now free to enter on the lands." Price later informed a Charleston client that Judge Dice would be hearing the client's land cases in "the Greenbrier Valley." Price contrived to get his client and Dice together before the hearing, arranging "a trip for you and Charley Dice to the Green Fields of Elk River, in the trout country. . . . You would [sic] better go."28

In addition to his interest in fostering industry in Pocahontas County, Price and other modernizers were obliged to cultivate a moral framework compatible with the new age. The social stresses which accompanied rapid population increases and new economic relationships mandated greater regimentation and social control than did traditional mountain culture. The personalized relationships of preindustrial economies were not well-suited to the competitive demands of the commercial marketplace. To guarantee the benefits of economic modernization, local elites set out to reshape the provincialism of traditional society. Since mountaineers had gained a reputation for violence and traditional ways, boosters had to prove that local citizens were peaceful and willing to welcome industrialization.29

Price used the forum of the Pocahontas Times to promote a modern, functional moral code for his neighbors, in the style of the "unspectacular" Calvinist eulogized by T. S. McNeel. While Price extolled the resourcefulness and honesty of a people who had "prospered . . . in a quiet way" before capital came to the county, he admonished his readers to seek the self-discipline necessary to profit from new opportunities. For example, Price equated education with success and good moral fiber.

Non-attendance at school, and consequent ignorance thereof, is truly a menace to the peace and prosperity of our country.
The boy [who] is permitted by his father and mother to exchange the restraining and refining influences of the school room for the more fascinating associations of the street corner, where he can enjoy to his heart's contend [sic] the deadly cigarette, and a thousand other evils whose certain tendency is to the destruction of body, mind, and soul; or, if not so bad as this, he may be placed in some position which he is at best poorly qualified to fill, and from which he can never rise to prominence or usefulness in the world.
Some there are who go through life in a dilatory manner, never prompt in the performance of any duty, never punctual in attendance upon any important public gathering.30

Like many other modernizers, Price contributed to the negative mountaineer image by focusing on the damage to order and efficiency caused by whiskey consumption and latent violent tendencies. Whether drinking and violence were actually increasing is debatable, and in any case they could arguably be attributed to the social instability of emerging industrialization.

Nevertheless, Price cautioned repeatedly that "disregard for law and order [is] a real menace; at present there is an era of lawlessness which we must consider seriously. The root of it is the illegal sale of whiskey." Concealed weapons, another social menace feared by Price, should be controlled by the vigilance of the people: "When you take a revolver away from a hasty youth it is like clipping the claws of a tiger. . . . The condition is such that every endeavor must be fostered and endorsed by every good citizen."31

Price's admonition on rowdiness may simply have been the moralizing of a Calvinist reformer. But it may also reflect his reaction to widening class divisions in Pocahontas County, just as in other developing areas, a crisis which escalated after the timber boom. His warnings were identical to those of modernizers in other mountain regions where rapid structural changes were taking place. He occasionally reprinted comments by other editors on the moral crises, including an 1892 testimonial to Baldwin agency detectives by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

The Organization of West Virginia Railway and Mine Police, under the management of our intrepid townsman, W. G. Baldwin, and his able assistants . . . will soon cause the toughs of the Tug and other points of the Ohio extension to amend their ways or move on to Moundsville. The better class of people in these regions fully appreciate the great work they are doing and lend their aid and influence in every instance.32

Andrew Price played an important role in Pocahontas County by establishing a foundation for the region's chronic dependence on a national economy that relied on the resources of local economies, but treated the economic health of its constituent parts as secondary and peripheral. Industrial society realigned social relationships and class orientation in the mountains, resulting in the potential social upheaval decried by Price. The traditional agricultural social order, based on the kinship and geographic ties of independent farmers, had included a flexible and tangible hierarchy based on wealth and status. The industrial order, however, mandated rigidly defined class roles: absentee owners determined patterns of development and received the profits; local elites depended on the absentees for their own prosperity; and most mountaineers increasingly became wage earners in the timber and mineral industries.33

As a prominent representative of the local elite, with the ability to communicate easily with the mountaineers, Andrew Price helped set the stage for the patterns of exploitation typical in the Appalachian Mountains. He parlayed legal acumen, family heritage, social graces, literary skills, self-discipline, and a firm belief in the moral rectitude of free-market liberalism to promote the capitalist penetration of Pocahontas County. While local elites such as Price consolidated their control of the legal, social, and economic framework of mountain communities, they handed over the wealth of their region to men with no cultural obligation to preserve or renew the sources of that wealth. As absentee capitalists sought to expand their corporate empires, the exploitation of rural areas became a "prerequisite of industrial growth, resulting in unequal economic development between commercial centers and peripheral areas."34 Sadly, the Sage of Pocahontas, together with other industrial agents, arranged the benign betrayal of the land of his fathers.


1. Altina Waller, Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900 (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1988), 8; see "Economic Modernization and the Americanization of Appalachia," Chapter 7 in Henry D. Shapiro, Appalachia on Our Mind: The Southern Mountains and Mountaineers in the American Consciousness, 1870-1920 (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1978), especially 157-62.

2. Ronald D Eller, Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South, 1880-1930 (Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1982), 86; Waller, Feud, 151.

3. Eller, Miners, 86, 92; Norman R. Price, interviewed by O. D. Lambert and Charles Shetler, March 12, 1956 (Marlinton), 1, Price Family Papers, West Virginia and Regional History Collection, West Virginia Univ., hereafter referred to as Price Papers. Between 1900 and 1910, the county's population increased from 8,572 to 14,740. In the Greenbank District, which included Durbin and Cass, the population increased from 2,496 to 6,128. Thirteenth Census of the United States, Abstract of the Census, West Virginia Supplement (Washington: GPO, 1913), 577; Pocahontas County Historical Society, Inc., History of Pocahontas County (Marlinton: the Society, 1981), 182.

4. John A. Williams, "The New Dominion and the Old: Ante-bellum and Statehood Politics as the Background of West Virginia's `Bourbon Democracy'," West Virginia History 33(July 1972): 322-23.

5. Ibid., 321.

6. Ibid.; Eller, Miners, 56.

7. Eller, Miners, 58, 63.

8. West Virginia Tax Commission, Second Report, State Development (Wheeling: West Virginia Tax Commission, 1884), 3.

9. William Patrick Turner, "John T. McGraw: A Study in Democratic Politics in the Age of Enterprise," West Virginia History 45(1984): 9; Pocahontas County Historical Society, History, 169, 172; Pocahontas Land Development Company, "Marlinton, Pocahontas County, West Virginia: The Future Manufacturing and Industrial Center of the Virginias" (Fairmont: Smith & McKinley, Printers, 1891), 4.

10. Pocahontas Land Development Company, "Manufacturing and Industrial Center," 4-5.

11. Pocahontas Times, 5 Feb 1891 and 17 Dec 1891.

12. Ibid., 8 Oct 1891.

13. Ibid., 21 Jan 1892.

14. William Patrick Turner, "From Bourbon to Liberal: The Life and Times of John T. McGraw, 1856-1920," (Ph.D. Diss., West Virginia Univ., 1960), 97-107.

15. Ibid., 106.

16. Norman Price interview, 9, Price Papers; Pocahontas County Historical Society, History, 401.

17. Deposition to the County Court, Pocahontas County, 26 May 1910, Price Papers; Pocahontas County Historical Society, History, 404; Gibbs Kinderman, "The Pocahontas Times," Goldenseal 16(Summer 1990): 9-17. Price left an estate of approximately $20,000 in personal and real property, the latter appraised at about $5,000 and totaling some 1000 acres in 22 parcels, the largest of which was an 102-acre tract on Buffalo Mountain. Appraisement of the estate of Andrew Price, Pocahontas County Will Book, vol. 9 (1929-1934), 169.

18. Pocahontas County Historical Society, History, 404; Price Papers; Pocahontas Times, 17 Apr 1930.

19. Price to J. S. Alexander, 7 Apr 1911, Price Papers. A partial listing of Price's clients includes W. O. Slaven, John T. McGraw, Harpers Ferry Timber Co., Durbin Land Co., Gilfillan-Neill & Co., Pocahontas Tanning Co., E. V. Dunlevie Co., West Virginia Pulp and Paper, West Virginia Spruce Lumber Co., Hosterman Lumber Co., Bank of Marlinton, Clear Creek Lumber Co., Maryland Lumber Co., Brushy Run Timber Co., Dunmore Land & Timber Co., White Oak Coal Co., and Greenbrier, Cheat, & Elk Railway Co.

20. Pocahontas Times, 30 Mar 1899.

21. Ibid., 27 Apr 1899.

22. Ibid., 8 Nov 1900.

23. Price to Jake Fisher, 18 Feb 1907, Price Papers. Emphasis added by author.

24. Price to Gilfillan-Neill & Co., 26 July 1907; and to Osenton & McPeak, 14 May 1907, Price Papers. The law firm had offices in Marlinton and Fayetteville.

25. Pocahontas Times, 27 Apr 1899.

26. Waller, Feud, 165-66.

27. Pocahontas Times, 30 Mar 1899.

28. Price to Osenton, 15 Apr 1911; to S. E. Slaymaker, 14 Apr 1911; to W. G. Matthews, 15 Apr 1911; and to Abercrombie & Fitch in New York, 25 Apr 1911, all in Price Papers. Price ordered new hip-waders for the fishing trip. He included a check for $5.50 with his request for "easy wading shoes such as you have been sending to others in this town." Price listed his weight as 220 lbs., wearing a "broad 9 shoe."

29. Waller, Feud, 165.

30. Pocahontas Times, 17 Nov 1892. This is the first issue edited by Price.

31. Ibid.; Waller, Feud, 204.

32. Pocahontas Times, 22 Dec 1892.

33. Waller, Feud, 204; John Gaventa, Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1980), 55-58.

34. Eller, Miners, 42.

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