Just about every summer when I was a kid, my parents would pack up the Oldsmobile and head back to West Virginia to visit their folks and families. My Dad used to stay with his in Grafton, and my mother stayed with her Dad and stepmom up in the biug house on Sterling Heights outside Fairmont. I usually stayed with my mother and sister and we'd go over and visit with Grandma and Grandpa Marshall and the Grafton clan on occasion. My mother and Grandma Marshall didnt really get on - I suspect because my mother had been married before and was about eight years older than my father. Lena was certainly a force to be reckoned with. A real pionner woman, about 4 foot 11, and with an indomitable will.
GRAFTON, WEST VIRGINIA around the turn of century (right), about the time my father's father, Charles S Marshall, built the family home at 6 High Street, on the banks of the Tygert River. Grafton is famous for being the site of the Civil War's first casualty. It's also renowned as the borthplace of Mother's Day, founded by Anne Jarvis in the Methodist Church on Main Street. My father and all of his brothers and sisters were born in the old two-storey weatherboard house on High Street. Uncle Bud and his family, and Uncle James and Aunt Libby lived one-block up the hill on Ross Street. The Tygart River ran past the front of the house on High Street, and when my grandfather was still alive he'd make sure all the trees and bushes and vines were cut down so as not to obscure his view of the river or the train that passed by a couple times each day between the house and the river.
The worst mining disaster in American History occurred in the community of Monongah, West Virginia on December 6, 1907.
BELOW: Entrance to Monongah Mine, just after the disaster, December 1907
Around 10 o'clock in the morning after a full force of 380 men and boys had begun their shift, mines number 6 and 8 of the Consolidated Coal Company shook from the impact of an underground explosion. A total of 362 men and boys lost there lives leaving 250 widows and over 1000 children without support. My grandfather, Charles (Stoneking) Marshall, was about 17 years old at the time. He got his first "real" job working in the Monongah Mine. After a week underground, he came down with had to take the day off. His first day off the job was the day of the explosion. He swore he'd never go down in the mines again, and he never did. Instead, he joined the railways, working as a fireman and then as an engineer on the Baltimore & Ohio RR for most of his life.
For more information about the Monongah Mine Disaster, go to http://einhornpress.com/Monongah.aspx
Grandpa Marshall - Charles S Marshall - was the illegitimate son of Frances Rebekah Marshall (born about 1864) and Reuben Stoneking. Reuben worked in the sawmill in Hundred (Wetzel co) but didnt play any part in the upbringing of his son. Rebekah reportedly died from a fall off the Stoneking porch Charles was three, under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Legend has it that she had taken up with a railroad man and that the fall may not have been as accidental as reported. Nevertheless, Charles spent the next 13 years of his life growing up on Marshall Mountain in the care of his maternal grandfather, George Washington Marshall, and numerous aunts and uncles...
Rekekah's father was George Washington Marshall, born In Pennsylvania on 16th October, 1816, brother of Otha Marshall, whose father was James Stoneking, married to Summer Breeze (daughter of Queen Aliquippa, the legendary Seneca tribal leader that reputedly refused to see Col George Washington when he once called on her.
Aliquoppa's grandson, George Washington Marshall, was married to Eliza Jane who was born in Ohio on 1st May 1827. Their children from oldest to youngest (up to the census of 1860 were: Sarah A., William, Mary and Jemima (who was one in 1860) Geo Washing Stoneking and his wife, Eliza Jane, are buried in the Methodist cemetary in Hundred, West Virginia. My paternal great-grandmother, Rebekah, was born after the census, along with two or three brothers. My paternal grandfather was the child of Rebekah and a unmarried man that worked in the localsawmill, Reuben Stoneking who was born around 1854. His mother was Elizabeth Stoneking from Virginia (perhaps West Virginia).
A NOTE ABOUT HUNDRED
The people of this little town in Wetzel County located on U.S. 250 in the West Virginia hills have the deepest respect for longevity. Our town was named after a couple of pioneer centenarians who settled here before 1800. Henry Church (known as "Old Hundred") was born in Suffolk England on November 30, 1750 and died September 14, 1860, being 109 Years 9 months and 14 days old at the time of his death. His wife, Hannah Keine, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1755 and died July 27, 1860 at the age of 106 years. They lived in blissful wedlock for 82 years.
Henry Church came to America as a soldier. After the Revolutionary War, he married a Quaker lady, Hannah Keine of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To this union were born eight children. The family cleared the land and built a log cabin where the Bank of Hundred was built in 1906. This was the most prominent corner then and still is today.
Henry and his wife gave the plot of ground known as the Hundred Cemetery to the community as a gift so they would be buried there. It is located behind the Hundred United Methodist Church. A new marker for their graves was purchased by Norval Throckmorton and Dr. J. S. Church in 1972 to be a lasting tribute to Henry Church and his wife, Hannah.
Henry Church came into the spotlight when the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was completedin 1852. The railway station that at one time was a busy place, no longer stands. In 1858 the company officials sent an observation train over the railroad to Wheeling. They wanted to take Henry Church and his wife to Wheeling but he said "No, I never did make a show of myself and I never will". From then on, the train conductors would point out the couple sometimes sitting on their porch and other times working in the fields, calling attention to their being the oldest couple in the State. Cassie Church Hixenbaugh tells when her great grandfather, Henry Church, was 100 years old, he jumped over a rail fence four feel high.
The Hundred Post Office was established in 1886 in the Keller and Hamilton Store. At that time the word "Old" was dropped and the town was called Hundred. W. E. Hamilton was the first postmaster. We now have a new Post Office.
The first store was built in 1886 and owner by D. Franklin and Sons. T. Benson Hamilton built the first house about this time. The first gas well was drilled in 1886 and is still producing. Hundred has always been an oil and gas field. It was once the home of the Pittsburgh & West Virginia Gas Station, Manufacturer's Light & Heat Company, Null & Morehead Gas Station, Round Botton Gasoline Plant and Carnegie Gas Station. We now have Columbia Gas of WV and Carnegie Gas Station.
Hundred has a population of about 475. The town was incorporated in 1894. The first Mayor was A. F. Gilmore. The first Recorder was F. M. Keller. 1983 town officials are: Mayor, Francis Saterfield; Recorder; Judy McNeely; First Councilwoman, Ruth Hixen- baugh Jones; Doris Hostutler, Charles Phillips; James McGlumphy; and Sam Stewart; Chief of Police; Ralph Berry, Policeman, Richard Himelrick; and Water Supervisor Richard Snider.
The Bank of Hundred was established in 1903 in a rented room belonging to J. B. White. We now have a new bank on Wetzel Street. Hundred has a nice Community Park. We have an all day celebration every July 4th. We have one of the few covered bridges. It is 101 years old. Hundred has two churches, the Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church. We also have a new grade school, called Long Drain.
Also in Hundred are: Hunt Funeral Home, American Legion Earl Kiger Post No. 120, V.K. Market, Bell's Market, Home Hardware, B& B Hardware & Gun Shop, Hundred Insurance Office, Miss Blue Restaurant & Motel, Hundred Drug Store, John's Western Auto Store, S & S Coffee Shop, Handy Farm Supply, Hundred Laundry, Dairy Dream, Sue's Craft Shop, Old Commercial Hotel (the oldest one in town), Mountain State Telephone Company, City Hall, an Emergency Unit, a Volunteer Fire Department and McNeely's Machine Shop, plus four beauty shops, two barber shops and two service stations.
At this time the oldest living descendant of Henry Church is Lee Church, who is the great-great grandson of Henry Church. The farm he now lives on is part of the original Henry Church farm. Lee will be 95 years old on July 23, 1993. _________________________
After leaving the mines Grandpa Marshall married a McKinney girl, but she died soon afterwards of influenza and pneumonia, which my grandfather always blamed on the fact that she'd dried the washing by hanging it round the kitchen. Grandpa never allowed clothes to be dried inside the house after that, and his second wife, Lena, never did. How she managed to keep her family clothed in clean clothes through the rather brutal West Virginia winters remains a mystery to me.
Check out the amazing selection of photographs of Grafton from years gone by at http://www.steveshaluta.com/Grafton/
FAIRMONT, WEST VIRGINIA, (population 19,163) is located at the junction of the Monongahela, Tygart, and West Fork Rivers in Marion County.
Fairmont was founded on Boaz Fleming’s farm in 1819 as Middletown, Virginia. The city grew slowly throughout the 19th century. Chartered in 1899, the city of Fairmont soon developed into a thriving governmental and commercial center with major industries related to coal mining and glass-making (Owens Illinois).
The B & 0 Railroad spurred further development, and the Fairmont area became the largest regional coal producer in northern West Virginia.
Fairmont became an urban metropolis in the early 20th century, with electric streetcar lines bringing residents downtown to shop at its numerous department stores. The town continued to thrive until the 1960s, when a poor coal economy and urban renewal brought about its slow decline.
My mother, Florence, was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, but spent most of her early life in or near Fairmont. She trained at the State Normal School (ABOVE), where she later worked as a Phys Ed teacher with a speciality in basketball. She married my father in San Antonio, Texas after he graduated from Flying School in 1939.
Her father, Robert Lindsay Robey, was a well-known Appalachian photographer - formerly a telegraph operator who used to broadcast the Pittsburg Pirate baseball games via telegraph key.
She had one sister, Helen, who remained in Fairmont well into the 1970s. After the death of Helen's husband, Phil Moroose, Helen went to live with her daughter, Linda Lou, in Oklahoma.
The Fairmont Theatre was in full swing up at the end of Main Street the first time I went to the movies there. This was one of my first movie theatres. Not the first, but among the first three or four I went to. I still remember seeing Abbott and Costello in Jack in the Beanstalk at this theatre in the early 1950s.
The first film I ever saw was Peter Pan at the Roxy Theatre in NYC. My Dad took me and we stood in line for hours, waiting to get in.
One of the features of the old West Virginia landscape was the painted Mail Pouch Barns. You can still find them if you get off the interstate.