"Once a Wayne countian, always a Wayne countian."
That remark was made to the writer a few years ago by the late P. H. Napier, beloved and well known jurist, who spent his life here. Judge Napier added: "And it doesn't matter how far they get from home, they still cherish their life and experience in Wayne county as choicest memory treasures."
The truth of this statement is well substantiated in a recent interview with the Honorable Carmi A. Thompson, nationally known Republican leader and former treasurer of the the United States who was born and reared on Paddle Creek, in Wayne County.
Richard M. Archer, of the Wheeling (W. Va.) Telegraph carries a column known as "Arrows In Friendly Flight." It is in this column that Mr. Thompson's interesting interview recalling boyhood days in this country is published.
Mr. Thompson was Republican nominee for governor in Ohio two years ago and assistant Secretary of the Interior during Taft's administration. He is a big business man and powerful politician. He is chairman of the Committee on Arrangements at the Republican national convention which is in session this week in Cleveland, Ohio, which city is the home of Mr. Thompson.
Wayne County News has secured special permission from Mr. Archer by wire to publish the interview which is copyrighted:
Writing to the Arrow man Mr. Thompson says:
"On account of the fact that my time is so completely occupied in caring for the Republican national convention, which is to meet here in June--you probably know that I am chairman of the local committee--I cannot write you a better story of my boyhood life in West Virginia, but I have jotted down some facts for you, and if they are worth anything, if you will weave them into a story that will interest your readers, I will appreciate it."
The Arrows column is proud of giving Mr. Thompson's story just as he has written it.
Doubtless your readers will not be interested in my genealogy, but suffice it to say that I am an offspring of the old mountain families whose names are so familiar in the history of the mountain sections of West Virginia. My forefathers were of the Ferguson, Polley, Pack, Kirby, Robinson, and Thompson families. I was born on a little creek in the upper part of Wayne County, now locally known as Paddle Creek, where I spent the first few years of my life.
My father had drifted away from West Virginia some years earlier and had become a coal miner, having worked throughout Kentucky, Ohio, and most everywhere else that coal was mined fifty years ago (1870's). But when the time came for him to choose a life partner, he sought a playmate of his childhood and went back to Wayne county to marry my mother. He undertook to farm in the primitive way that farming was done in those days, and it was while conducting this experiment that I was born. It did not last long, however, and when I was about four years old, he went back to Ohio, taking myself and my mother with him.
But our association with West Virginia was always very close. All my relatives lived in and about Wayne county, so that, perhaps, a third of my time was spent there during my childhood days.
When I was close to sixteen years of age, I graduated from the Ironton high school at Ironton, Ohio, and being too young to get a certificate to teach school in the state of Ohio, I returned to my native state where I had no trouble in passing the examinations and was granted a certificate and was hired to teach what was known as the Hurricane school, located not more than three miles from the place of my birth. The little school house was nestled down by the side of Hurricane creek in the hills, and there I began my career, such as it has been. I opened my school about two weeks before I was sixteen years of age. It was a four months school and while I was teaching I believe I was earning my money; but in after years I have doubted very much whether I accomplished anything more than drawing my pay and interesting the whole community in the simpler form of athletics.
Within the past week one of my relatives wrote me from that vicinity, asking whether or not I was as good a jumper as I used to be. Jumping was one of the favorite amusements of the time, and I am pleased to say that I became a champion among them. I was just at the age when I could fully enjoy my friends and relatives, their habits of life and their amusements. It was a log rolling on Saturday, and apple peeling or paring another evening, a jumping match or the most popular of all amusements, perhaps a shooting match.
I could not jump ten feet now on a running and broad jump. My shooting eye is still fairly good, but I wish I could draw a bead like I did in those far-a-way days.
I might refer to dances, o'possum hunts, etc., but neither time nor space would permit me to go into these pleasant recollections.
Permit me to say in conclusion, that I am proud of my West Virginia ancestry. The entire stock came from the best blood of the Revolution. Wayne county is populated by pure-blooded Americans. They are men of sterling worth and splendid character. Honor and honesty are each a part of their way of being.
Since the days when I was a child, railroads have passed through the county, and mineral and timber have been developed, and, in general, Wayne county is rapidly taking its place as one of the prosperous, progressive counties of the state.
A new spur track has been completed by the N & W at the R. Booton gasoline station just South of town. Mr. Booton plans to install tanks, buy in car-load lots and [sell] gasoline to both wholesale and retail trade. The Steffy Oil Company has also installed a wholesale gasoline station at Wayne on the brick-yard spur track and will be in the position to supply the wholesale trade in the county within a few days, according to announcement from the management.
Continued rains during the week have further handicapped Wayne county farmers, practically all of whom are already several weeks behind with their crops because of wet weather. Cherry picking is the order of the day on local farms this week. There is an unusually big crop of cherries. Prospects for a [big] black-berry crop are good as vines everywhere have been heavy with bloom.
Sam Ferguson returned home this week from Richmond where he completed his medical course this [term]. Blvard Prichard has returned from the University of Virginia at Charlottsville, Virginia; Earl Burgess and Earl Mosser are at home from Columbia University, New York City.
[A large crowd] is expected to be in Wayne. . .June 16th to witness the naturalization ceremony of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. A large delegation will be here from Huntington according to announcement made Wednesday. Three crosses will be burned and a large class of candidates will be naturalized. The ceremony will probably be held in the bottom just South of town, near the railway station, and the general public is invited to witness the affair from this hill-top. It is understood that all members of the local Klan [will be] present, since this is said to be the biggest out-door meeting of the Klan that has ever been held in this county.
Transcription by June White
Wayne County News