December 14, 1864
Not long since we published a paragraph from a Providence, Rhode island, paper, noticing in that city the effort of the Rev. F. J. Cather in behalf of the West Va. Orphan and Refugee Association – an organization that has its headquarters in and around Flemington, in Taylor county. Mr. Cather was east at the date of the notice quoted by us, soliciting pecuniary aid for the Association, and also informing the prosperous, secure and happy people of the North as to the difference between their condition and that of hundreds of his friends and acquaintances in West Va. – Situated as Mr. Cather and his co-laborers of the Association are, at the junction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad with the North Western Virginia road, and their homes begin as it were the first point to which refugees from the outpost counties of W.Va. and those beyond in the old State naturally make their way, it is not strange that an association of the benevolent nature named should have occurred to them, nor that they should now, in this winter weather, be putting forth renewed efforts for its existence and extension. All persons who have had occasion to be much in the vicinity of Grafton know what numbers of poor, miserable and forsaken refugees flock in there on their way from extreme frontier, where they have been overrun by friend and foe, and deprived of every available means of livelihood. They are often taken sick at that point, and still oftener are moneyless and almost clothe-less. They have to be taken care of by somebody. Those to whose houses they come first cannot turn them away without relief, and yet the agricultural people of the country surrounding Grafton are very poorly able to look after the necessities of those who come there in large number from places far away. To do therefore what they are doing, viz: -- to organize and association for the relief of refugees, is not only a necessity on their part, but an absolute, imperative charity upon the citizens of the State everywhere.
Several prominent citizens of the interior seem to be devoting themselves to the work of the association. We notice in a letter before us the names of such men as Wm. W. Shields, of Flemington, who is the president of the organization, and the names of Messrs. J. W. O’Dell, of Clarksburg; Rev. J. J. Allen, of Flemington; Dr. Thomas Kennedy, of Grafton; H.L. Hoff, of Philippi; Hon. D. D. T. Farnsworth, of Buckhannon; all of whom are Vice Presidents of the association. We should also notice that H.P. Davidson is Secretary; J. H’ Cather, Treasurer; Rev. F. J. Cather, General Agent of the Association.
Contributions for the benefit of the Refugees’ Fund may be sent to any of these gentlemen, but it is desired that as far as possible all sums be mailed either to H. P. Davison, at Flemington, or to J. W. Odell, at Clarksburg. We need not say to our own people here, nor yet to the people of all the near-by counties, that it is their duty to do something for the Refugee Association. To be sure we, of this city, see a great many of the class intended to be benefitted by the Association, and are daily called upon to minister to their necessity, as we are to all other classes of destitute poor. But while the world goes as well with us as it does, and especially while we can contrast our homes yet stand well with us as it goes, and especially while we can contract our homes yet standing and filled with “enough and to spare,” with the burned and wasted homesteads of refugees who have stood between us and the desolating hand of war, we ought to feel that we are called to go more than a step beyond our own immediate limits with our charities.
The letter before us, to which we have already referred, closes with the following appeal to the people of the State and to the benevolent everywhere:
“The object of this Association is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and instruct those who at present have no other means of moral or intellectual instruction, particularly the indigent families of union soldiers and refugees in and from that section of the State that has been so overrun and devastated by the armies, raiders and predatory bands.
Let organizations be formed in every county and village of the State, where such do not already exist, through which collections and contributions may be made for this object. Let us of the more western counties be forward in assisting those whom a plundering and relentless foe have striped, not only of the comforts, but of the necessaries of life. Many of these are the wives and children of the brave defenders of our homes and liberties. Shall we be so ungrateful as to neglect these families that are now suffering for want of food, clothing and shelter, in consequence of the devastations of their enemies and the absence of their fathers, husbands and brothers in the armies of their country. Then up, O liberty-loving and justice-doing people of West Virginia, and let us do our duty to ourselves and to our country’s defenders.
Let organizations be formed also in overrun and devastated districts to collect and forward to the president of this association exact information of the extent of destitution, and the kind of relief most needed, and to receive and distribute where most need such supplies as may be furnished.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: December 1864