One of the most difficult aspects in the completion of this work has been when I was asked: "What kind of a book is it?" I have been gathering information for this history for about fifteen years (yes, since the age of ten), and in the process I have looked at countless published and other histories. I think I can say that I would be able to describe every one, but I have never seen a work of history assembled in such a way as this. All of the information in these pages was derived in one way or another from discussions I had over the years with my grandmother, Stella Hill Collett, now deceased. This book is not a genealogy, although there is genealogy in it. It could be considered a family history, but I have tried to present the information in such a way that persons not related to the families can find something of interest. I have endeavored to present some understanding of the life styles of the people mentioned.
I feel that much can be learned from this work about how Appalachian people lived, worked, and played during the past two centuries. The book is indexed by topics as well as names and places. Persons interested in a particular topic in history, such as "education," can consult the index under the appropriate heading to find the page numbers on which information about that topic can be found. Although Faded Ages is primarily a local history, the study of historic life styles in one part of Appalachia should lend insight into customs and events in other parts of the region, as life in different parts of the area would have been similar.
To borrow a thought from another author of a local history, I feel that it is difficult for any person to comprehend the amount of work involved in a project like this, unless they have undertaken something of a similar nature. Writing this history has been an education for me, and while I have not gone to college, I feel that I can honestly state that I have learned some things in the preparation of this work that some people might acquire in collegiate education.
It would be utterly impossible to thank everyone who has helped me in one way or another with this book. I would, however, like to thank my wife, Sherry, for her encouragement and understanding. I think that anyone who knows can say that it is not easy to live with someone who is doing a project of this type Also, I would like to thank my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Armstrong, for their financial and other considerations, and Bill Rice for the transportation and technical assistance. But most of all, I feel indebted to Grandmother for her eternal interest and inspiration.
The quotes that precede most of the chapters are excerpts from things that she told me, and they are followed by a more expanded version of the stories, compiled from the exorbitant information that she inspired me to gather. I would hope that after my generation has passed there will be someone who can read this book and find some item of interest about a long forgotten ancestor or event. If not, I can feel satisfied knowing that I have enjoyed compiling it, and believing that someone mentioned from the past would certainly appreciate it.
Charles David Armstrong September 17, 1986, Addendum August 20, 1987
"(He) lived up there where Mildred lives. He had a brick house. He had all this farm up there where they'd traded with a feeler for that land where Mildred lines."
The present day location of the town of Elkins, WV, particularly South Elkins, is that area surrounded by the natural course of the Tygart Valley River on three sides, and by a manmade course on a fourth. In the old deeds, dating from the time of the pioneer settlements, this area was referred to as "Skidmore's Niche," named for the family that secured the early rights to the property. In the early part of the nineteenth century there was no town there, but the area was occupied by several farms, and there were several others in the area. Among the persons living on either side of the river in the area of Skidmore's Niche before 1850 were Jacob Ward, William Scott, John Clark, Michael Yokum, Jehu Harper, James Skidmore, and George Hill. It is with Hill that this sketch will be concerned.
George Hill was born about the year 1782. The place of his nativity has not been definitely determined. The 1850 census of Randolph County says Virginia, but the 1860 says Pennsylvania. The latter is probably correct. Also, the paternity of George Hill remains uncertain. It is possible that he was a son of the John Hill who, in the 1700's, built a stone house on Sugar Creek in what is now Barbour County, not far from where Hunter's Fork empties into Sugar Creek. This John Hill mentions a son George in his will. One source states that all of the direct descendants of this John Hill went west, and that all of the Hill family left in the area are descendants of a cousin, William Hill. Also, an old family legend states that George Hill was captured by the Indians. This is possible. McLean's diary gives evidence of Indian visitations in the Tygart Valley as late as the 1830's and the last hostile raids by them in the area were in the late 1700's. However, none of the sources are known to mention a George Hill being involved.
In the month of January, 1812, George Hill was united in marriage to Rebecca Scott, who apparently was a daughter of John Scott, an early resident of the Skidmore's Niche area. At the time of the marriage Hill was a man about 30 years of age, and Rebecca was about 20. Five years later, in September of 1817, the Overseers of the Poor bound Betsy Skidmore, a child of Sarah Skidmore, to George Hill. This type of action was common during the period, it being the counterpart of the child welfare system. There is no indication of Betsy in the family of George Hill in the 1820 census, but there is evidence of a male child born from two to eight years before Hill's marriage. This could be indicative of an earlier marriage for Hill, thus accounting for his age at the time of his marriage to Rebecca There is no proof of any earlier marriage, however. The 10 to 16 year old child in question might have been a resident farm hand. It was about the year 1820 that George and Rebecca Hill became the parents of a son, John Hill.
In the month of November, 1812, George Hill began to acquire property in the area of Skidmore's Niche, when he purchased 50 acres from Edwin Duncan. Nine years later, in June of 1821, he acquired 25 acres in the area from Thomas Phillips In July of 1822, the second child of George and Rebecca Hill was born, a son, and he was named in honor of her family, Scott Hill. Four years later George Hill acquired 40 acres in the Niche area from Benjamin Kittle. This was in May of 1826. In March of 1827 he purchased 94 more acres from Eli Butcher. In 1828 Hill and Butcher were plaintiffs in a suit in court against one Arnold Rogers, and in that year Hill and his wife became the parents of their youngest son, William L. Hill.
In 1829 George Hill was in court again, involved in a suit against one Minor Reed. In April of that year Justice of the Peace judgments were found against Hill in the amounts of $18.25 and $15.04. In September he appealed and was granted an injunction to stay the judgment in October. In August of 1830 he was appointed surveyor of the highway, in place of a neighbor, Whitman Ward, who was released. In August of 1831 Hill lost a suit against James Skidmore over debt. In March of 1832, in another action, George Hill obtained an attachment against the estate of William H. Crawford, who it was stated had "privately removed out of the county or absconds, or conceals himself." The attachment was on 2 vests, 7 bonnets, 7 small hats, 3 bushels of corn, 2 bushels of oats, 11/2 bushels of wheat and flour, and other items. On the 26th of March Crawford failed to appear in court and the sheriff, William Marteny, was ordered to sell the property mentioned and pay Hill the sum of $10.50.
On the same day as the action just described, in the same courtroom, on a motion of George Hill, it was ordered that Robert Ball, Levi Coberly, John Graham, and Henry Graham view and mark out a way for an alteration in the road from the bridge across Leading Creek near Coberly's Mill to the foot of Laurel Mountain. The following year, 1833, saw Hill involved in another action involving roads in the area. In February it was ordered that Edith Collett, George Hill, John Clark's heirs, and William Scott, through whose lands the road was to pass, appear and show cause, if any, why the road should not be built. This was referring to a proposed road from Buffalo Ford on the Tygart Valley River, the present day location of Duckview Apartments on South Henry Avenue, upstream to the ford at the upper end of the Jacob Ward place, this ford being the Scott Ford, the present day location of the Scott Ford Bridge in Riverview Addition. The actual record says downstream, but this is apparently an error. From the Scott Ford the road was to continue in a westerly direction to intersect with an existing road near William Scott's, in the area of present day Sullivan's Crossing. There being no objections from the landowners, the road was ordered to be built. Jacob Ward was appointed overseer, and John Clark, William Scott, and George Hill were ordered to assist in the opening of the road, and assist in keeping it in repair.
1833, 34, and 35 found Hill once more in court, against George Skidmore. The case was tried to determine if fraud had been committed by Hill in the sale of a mare to Skidmore. Hill lost the case. On August 25, 1834, Hill was indicted for malicious trespass. These charges were dropped in November. In 1837 John Hill was indicted and fined 1 cent for assault and battery. McLean's diary, in May of 1841, mentions John Hill On the 3rd and 4th McLean states: "Superior Court, Hinkle acquitted of house burning " On the 7th and 8th he says: "John Hill took up for house burning." In 1834, George Hill was once more in court, against one Martin Coyner. In August of the same year, in another matter, Hill put up the 40 acres he'd purchased of Benjamin Kittle in 1826 as collateral on an $83.00 debt to the Earle family.
The year of 1844, it could be said, was a turning point in the life of George Hill. In February of that year, William Scott died. He was a brother, apparently, of Rebecca Hill, George Hill's wife, and had lived with his wife, Ann, a half mile distant. Scott's estate sale took place on April 2, and John W. Hill purchased 16 geese, a number of hogs, 1 dish, and 3 bowls. Scott Hill purchased two coffee pots. In March of that year, George Hill purchased a 50 acre tract of land from Jonathan Arnold, and this was the tract upon which he built a brick or plaster house, where he lived for many years. The house was situated on the high piece of ground across from where the present day Conaway Drive meets the Georgetown Road, in back of the outbuildings of the Scott mansion in South Elkins. The location of the house affords a breathtaking view of the mountains and valleys on nearly all sides. In October of 1844 Hill lost a chancery suit against Adam Crawford, and in the same month, on the 31st day, Rebecca Hill died. She was buried on the high piece of ground immediately east of the house, on top of the hill across the road from the present day location of Conaway Tractor Sales There is a small cemetery on that spot, discovered in the 1960's by an individual doing some work for the Smith family, the present day owners of the property. He unearthed the tombstone of Rebecca Hill, a crude monument fashioned from river rock, which is probably still in the outbuildings on the property as it was never reset.
One year after the deaths of Rebecca Hill and William Scott, George Hill married Scott's widow, Ann Scott. She was a woman of about 45 years, having children ranging in age from about 10 to about 20. The former Ann Clark, she and her children moved across the valley to live in the brick house with George Hill. He was now a man of some 63 years, with three sons, ages 16 to 24. Ann brought some provisions with her, among these being meat, milk, butter, and corn. All was not well, as would soon become apparent, and trouble began over the inability of the Scott children and George Hill to live together peacefully. Depositions taken many years later blamed both sides, some saying that Hill was a mean, vindictive old man who would lock up his provisions leaving Ann to borrow food for her children as best she could. Others said that Hill was an industrious old gentleman who could not abide by the shiftlessness and laziness he saw in his stepchildren. At any rate, in April of 1847, George and Ann Hill separated, never to live together again. It was said that her son, George H. Scott, aged about 20, pulled up at the brick house in a buggy and told Hill that he'd come to get his mother. Hill shut one of the doors, but before he could shut the second, Scott got in and began throwing his mother's things out onto the lawn, thereupon taking her back to their farm at Sullivan's Crossing. The same year in May and October, judgments were recovered against Hill, one by Jonathan Arnold over payment for the 50 acre farm property. A second was recovered by Franklin Leonard, and both times Hill put up another tract, his "plum orchard," as collateral.
The enumeration of the 1850 Federal Census found George Hill still at the Niche farm, listed as being worth $2000.00. His sons Scott and John still lived in the area, but they would soon settle and begin development of Elliott's Ridge in Beverly District. In April of 1851 Hill sold the 50 acres he'd purchased from Arnold and the 25 acres he'd purchased in 1821 to his son William L. Hill. In July of that year a survey was made for George Hill for 49 acres on the hilltop just below the Scott Ford, now just northwest of Teaberry Hills. This land was subsequently granted him by the Commonwealth of Virginia. In other land transactions, in August of 1854, George Hill deeded to William L. Hill the 94 acres he'd purchased from Eli Butcher in 1821. This transaction would later prove to be of extreme importance to his descendants, as he traded this property for an 800 acre tract on Elliott's Ridge where his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would live and prosper. In another deed, in December of 1857, Hill sold his 40 acre tract from 1826 and his 49 acre survey to William L. Hill. Also about this time he told his son Scott that he could have the Elliott's Ridge property if he would clear it. Scott moved there and he and his family built a home, outbuildings, and stayed there for several generations. At the time of Scott Hill's arrival there, only seven or eight acres were partly cleared. John W. Hill, brother of Scott, also moved to the Ridge and built a home, on a neighboring section of the 800 acres.
Old George Hill's troubles were not over. Dr. Squire Bosworth, in his day book, makes a mention of the family during this period. On November 8, 1853, he states that he went to Scott Hill's to attend a child, but learned at Scott's father's that the child was dead. Hill's marital troubles continued, and the 1850's were a period of turbulent frustration for him and his family. At one point he went to the Scott place to see Ann, and George Scott met him on the porch, pushed him into the yard, took him to the fence, and threw him over. Scott was then a man of 23, while Hill was nearly 70. In October of 1855, Scott was indicted for assault and battery, and in May failed to appear in court. He pled not guilty in October of 1856, and in May of 1857 was found guilty, fined 1 cent, and ordered to pay court costs. About the same time John Hill was also indicted for assault and battery. In another incident during this period George Hill approached James D. Simon, son of Christian Simon, who lived to the north at Craven's Run. and asked him to go to Ann Hill and persuade her to come back to him. When Simon refused, Hill told him he'd give him his best cow if he could persuade her. He told Simon that he could have lived with Ann if it had not been for her children. who persuaded her to leave.
The enumeration of the 1860 census listed Hill still at the farm at the Niche, crediting him with $3000.00 in real estate and $300.00 in personal property. He was now almost 80 years old. Living next to him was his son, William L. Hill, listed with $6000.00 in real estate and $1000.00 in personal property. Two years after this, William L. Hill and his brother John would both be dead. In the latter half of July, 1862, Dr. George W. Yokum made four visits to the home of William, attending to one of his children, charging $3.00 per visit. It must be remembered that Yokum lived at Beverly, and had to journey down the valley to make these visits, for such a modest fee. He did not come in August, but made five visits in September. In that month he also made one entry in Hill's account for medicine, at 50 cent. These services were also for a child. In November of the same year, from the 3rd to the 13th, he made five visits to care for Hill, his wife, and child. He had visited six times in October to care for Hill himself, and made one entry on October first for medicine for the child. He visited seven times from November 13th to December 3rd, to care for Hill's wife and child. All these visits, from Beverly, cost $3.00, and each visit in the account included medicine also, for that fee.
In 1864, George Hill was apparently living elsewhere, for he had the Niche farm rented to Elias Riffle, with whom he'd recently become acquainted. Hill was in the area, however, for Riffle later told of one visit Hill made to the farm and met up with George H. Scott. They both visited there often. Hill told Riffle that he was going to bring his wife back if he could get her, and Scott told Hill that if he tried that he'd get badly hurt. George Scott left, and Hill told Riffle that if he did not rent his farm another year, he would bring Ann back the next day, and then began to cry. Hill slept there that night, and at the point when Riffle went to sleep, Hill was still sobbing. Three years later, Hill deeded several portions of the Elliott's Ridge property to Scott Hill, and to the heirs of John Hill. George Hill died on the 25th of February, 1867, and is probably buried on the Smith property next to his first wife, although he may have died on Elliott's Ridge and been buried there. Michael Yokum was his administrator. Yokum was a friend of Hill who lived about one mile east, where the Western Steer Steakhouse now stands. In 1868 the various descendants of George Hill were sued for various reasons, every one being involved in one way or another. It is from the depositions in these files that much of the information about Hill was obtained. From looking at the life of George Hill, it is easy to see the immense contrast of life on the same land today. A world far removed from the pre-fab houses of Riverview Addition and the dust and noise of the mills existed then. Although the persons discussed lived on the same land as is present day South Elkins, it is plain to see that at the same time they lived very, very far away.
"Unto Solomon T. Collett my adopted son begotten by Jemima Taylor who is now the wife of a certain James McGee one set of my blacksmith tools."-- Solomon T. Collett I, 1836.
In the August, 1986, C & P Telephone Directory for Elkins, West Virginia, there are 26 listings under the surname of Collett. These descend, for the most part, from an old Revolutionary War soldier, Thomas Collett, who came to Randolph County from Pendleton in the early nineteenth century. More important, however, is the fact that the Randolph County family named Collett is descended from several separate, distinct branches. One branch is descended from the Baptist Minister Thomas Collett Jr. Another is descended from his brother, a blacksmith named Solomon Collett. The descendants of
Solomon Collett are divided again, with some being descended from his several children by two marriages, and others tracing through his eldest but adopted son, Solomon T. Collett. There is no proof of a relationship by blood between the descendants of Solomon T. Collett, and the other Colletts in the county. Anyone named Collett who can trace their ancestry to either Gilman or Cheat River is probably a descendant of his.
Solomon Collett I was probably born about the year 1790. He served in the War of 1812, being involved in activities at Norfolk and other places along the Atlantic Seaboard. On April 27, 1812, he was recommended to the Governor of Virginia as a proper person to fill the office of Captain of Cavalry, to take the place of A. C. Earle who had resigned. In June, Collett was commissioned, and on the day he took the oath his brother, Thomas Collett Jr., was recommended as 2nd Lieutenant in the same company. By trade Solomon Collett the First was a blacksmith, and in 1814, it is said, he was paid $35.50 for hinges and other irons to be used on the new courthouse in Beverly. These irons were still in use as late at 1898. The building is still standing, it being the brick structure adjacent to the old Bank building in the center of town. During this period his name appears on a couple of estate sales in the region. In September of 1815 Solomon Collett purchased one hand saw and drawing knife from the estate of John Phillips. In June of 1817 he purchased several items from the estate of Abraham Kittle, these being: one table for 65 cent , one tea server and cups for 83 cent, one canister for 27 cent, two ayle bottles for 27 cent, and one pocket book for 27 cent.
In March of 1815, Solomon Collett married Sarah Petro. He lived just north of the town of Beverly, his farm being that land just above the mouth of King's Run at present day Hazelwood. His brother, Thomas Collett Jr. lived above there, his farm being in the vicinity of the mouth of Dodson Run. These men got their lands as gifts from their father, and Solomon's deed in October of 1817 mentions the new house Solomon had built. The first child of Solomon and Sarah Collett died in infancy in that year. Also their second child was born. Her name was Phebe, and she became the wife of Jonathan Arnold. Sarah Collett died just after her birth. It was during this period that Solomon Collett became either the father, or adoptive father of Solomon T. Collett.
Jemima Taylor was born about the year 1792. About 1814, at the age of about 22, she gave birth to a male child. Just who was the father of this child is uncertain. The evidence would suggest that it was Solomon Collett, as the child's given name was apparently Solomon Taylor. On September 22, 1816, Jemima Taylor was summoned to court to show cause why her child should not be bound out by the Overseers of the Poor, and the child was in fact bound out on the 29th of October. It would seem that he was bound out to Solomon and Sarah Collett, and that this is when he became Solomon T. Collett. Considering the fact that he was born before the marriage of Solomon Collett and Sarah Petro, it is quite possible that Solomon Collett the First was the father. No proof of this has come to light, however, and for this reason it can be said that there is no proof of a blood relationship between the descendants of Solomon T. Collett, and the other Colletts in the county. Not long after these events, Jemima Taylor married James McGee, and they became the ancestors of the people by that name in the area of Huttonsville. In March of 1815, James McGee was charged in a Commonwealth Indictment with "profane swearing of five oaths." His fine was $4.15, the penalty being 83 cent per oath. It is interesting to note that the fine of only 1 cent for such an offense as assault and battery was common during this period. These were the priorities of the people of Western Virginia in the early nineteenth century.
Not long after the death of his first wife, Solomon Collett was married a second time, to Edith Davisson Wilson, the widow of Archibald Wilson of Clarksburg. They had seven children, these being: Edmund Davisson Collett, a cabinet maker who lived in Braxton County, West Virginia, and Ohio; Martha Jane Collett, the wife of Randolph Chenoweth who lived in Barbour County, West Virginia, and in Oregon; Hugh Phelps Collett, who was a carpenter and lived in Tucker County, West Virginia; John S. Collett, another carpenter. who lived at Grafton: William Blackburn Collett, who graduated from Winchester Medical College as a surgeon. He went to Brazil, caught a disease. and died at Beverly in 1860; George C. Collett, who lived in Taylor County, West Virginia; and Mary Ellen Collett, the wife of Charles Russell of Barbour County.
In 1819, Solomon Collett I was plaintiff in a lawsuit against Jonas Hinkle. The case was dismissed. Also in that year Collett was a purchaser at the estate sale of Hezekiah Rosencrance. At this sale he purchased, among other items, one axe for $1.03 and one for 93 cent; one scythe for 61 cent; one gun for $1.27; and one hand mill for $1.02. In 1820 Robert Ferguson, another blacksmith, brought charges of criminal trespass, assault, and battery against Solomon Collett. Collett pled not guilty but a twelve man jury did not agree, and he was ordered to pay Ferguson damages in the amount of $50.00. Legend states that Ferguson and Collett were rivals, and that Collett once lost a bet with him over who could work the longest in their black smith shop without food or rest. In 1833 the name of Solomon Collett appears in two estate sales. He purchased a trumpet for 6'/4 cent and 1 winder sash' from the estate of John G. Phillips. Also that year he purchased one razor from the estate of John Wilmoth for 50 cent.
One of Solomon Collett's neighbors, George McLean, who lived near the site of the present day Elkins Airport, kept a diary for several years. He was associated with Collett, and there are many entries in the diary concerning him. On April 4, 1831, McLean let Solomon Collett have a cart load of hay and two bushels of corn. On the first or second of July he got some saw timber to Solomon Collett's mill. He received a draw knife of Collett in November, and he mentions Collett's mill again in December. In January of 1832, he had five links of chain made at Solomon Collett's shop, and in the same month he let Collett have a saw handle. In July of 1833 Collett made McLean a hay fork. A large percentage of manufacturing was done locally in those days, and McLean made much of the furniture in the area. In October of 1833 he repaired Solomon Collett's clock case, and this service cost Collett $2.00. There are several other entries in the diary concerning Collett, as well as an entry for the marriage of Solomon T. Collett to Catherine Phillips in 1834. This is the only record of that marriage, it being unrecorded in the courthouse.
In 1835, Solomon Collett figures in the actions concerning roads in the area. In that year a road was proposed to lead from Beverly to Butcher's Ferry, and the landowners along the road were summoned to court to show cause why the road should not be established. Upwards of 20 men, many residents of what is now Barbour County, appeared and consented to the opening of the road. Solomon and Thomas Collett and several others appeared to make objection. Some of these men were also residents of the west side of Laurel Mountain, in present day Barbour County. Upon their objection the sheriff was ordered to "empanel 12 able and discreet freeholders of (the area)...to meet...on the ground through which the...road is proposed...taking nothing...either of meat or of drink from any person...to view the land through which the road is proposed...and say to what damage it will (be)...taking into estimation...the use of the land to be laid open (and).. .the additional fencing which will...be rendered necessary and...the inquest...to be sealed...to be returned by the sheriff." That same year Solomon T. Collett was involved, as his father had been 15 years earlier, in an assault case. This time the Commonwealth was plaintiff and the charges were trespass, assault, and battery. Solomon got off easier than his father had, being fined 1 cent upon his confession.
Solomon Collett made his will in May of 1836, and was dead a month later. He left his farm to his wife Edith during her lifetime, it to be divided among his children by her upon her death. The will also mentions an earlier purchase of two horses by her out of part of the money she obtained by the sale of certain "negroes" secured to her by her father. It also makes reference to a red and white cow that Collett purchased from Sarah Weese for Edith out of her money. In his will, Solomon Collett I refers to Solomon T. Collett as "my adopted son, begotten by Jemima Taylor, who is now the wife of a certain James McGee." He left Solomon T. Collett one set of his blacksmith tools. He also mentions his daughter Phebe from his first marriage, leaving her "my six plate stove now in my mill, one spinning wheel and tea kettle...also...$50.00." In October of 1838, Phebe Collett was plaintiff in a lawsuit against her siblings and Edith Collett. The actual files for these cases do not exist, but this was probably a suit for her share of the farm of Solomon Collett.
Edith Collett survived her husband for many years. On October 26, 1847, she presented in court a receipt for $1.75 tax and was granted a license for a "house of private entertainment at her house until the following May. Several years later, in May of 1854, her son John S. Collett was licensed to keep an ordinary (tavern) at his house, he being described as sober and of good character and not addicted to drunkenness or gaming and will probably keep a house useful and such as the law recognizes. This was one of the criterion for licensing of taverns and descriptions such as this are standard in licenses of the period.
Solomon T. Collett did not remain for the rest of his life in the area near Beverly. He, at some point, moved with his family to Leadsville District, in the area of "The Snake Den Ford" of Craven's Run. About the time of his marriage to Catherine Phillips, if not a couple of months before, Solomon Collett's eldest son, George L. Collett, was born. In 1839 their second, Moses P. Collett, was born, possibly being named after Moses Phillips. Just who Catherine Phillips Collett was, or if she was related to Moses Phillips, has not been determined. All of the known children of her and Solomon T. Collett were sons, and the third of these, John M., was born in 1841. Next came Adam in 1842, Solomon J. in 1844, Andrew S. in 1848, and Archibald H. "Arch' Collett in 1850.
The date of Solomon Collett's removal to Leadsville District Is not known. The family lived in the vicinity of Gilman, as can be determined through examination of several deeds to members of the family mentioning land on Craven's Run, Sugar Run, and Raccoon Run in the Gilman vicinity, as well as land across Cheat Mountain on Lower Cheat River, John's Run in particular. Also, several members of the family, among them Moses P., Solomon J., and Arch Collett are buried in the Gilman Cemetery.
The third Solomon Collett, Solomon J. Collett, was married on the 20th of January, 1867, to Mary Elizabeth, a daughter of John W. and Sarah Griffith Hill. members of the Hill family that moved from what is now South Elkins to a settlement on Elliott's Ridge in the 1850's. The marriage took place at the home of Sarah Hill on the ridge. Solomon J. Collett, like his parents, had almost all sons. The first, John C. Collett, was born in May of 1867. He later moved with his mother to Elliott's Ridge. The second son of Solomon J. Collett was William P. Will Collett, born in 1870. Charles H. Charlie" Collett was born about 1874. He was the third son. Then came a daughter, Minnie, born in 1878. Next came Henry Lee Collett, in 1880; Bernard C. Collett, in 1882, and then another daughter, Olive, born in 1883. Both of the daughters of Solomon J. Collett were dead before 1900. l he youngest child of Solomon J. and Mary Collett was David 'Burl" Collett, born in 1886.
Solomon J. Collett remained in the vicinity of Gilman. He was a violinist, and at one point this is listed in a record as his occupation. He was also a farmer, as well as a salesman for the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Christena Weese Hill, wife of George W. Hill of Elliott's Ridge, was one who bought a machine from Collett. Both of his parents, Solomon T. and Catherine Collett, died in April of 1885. In September of that year, Solomon J. was indicted in the Randolph County Circuit Court. He must have been upset with the Baptists for some reason, for the charge in the indictment was that in August he did at and near the Baptist Church, New Interest District, unlawfully interrupt, molest, and disturb an assembly of the people met for the worship of God. Deputy George Leonard delivered a summons in December and the charges were dropped the following January. Solomon J. Collett died on the 15th of March, 1889, and is buried in the Gilman Cemetery.
At the October, 1890, term of the Circuit Court, Charlie and Will Collett were fined $2.50 each for assault and battery. Charlie had assaulted one Gideon Rucker, and Will was fined for the same offense on one John Wolf. These indictments had been handed down in May. Two years later, at the May 1892 court, a felony forgery indictment was handed down against John Collett. It was said that he had forged the signature of M. L. Nestor on an order for an overcoat, a suit of clothes and a pair of shoes. He was found not guilty. In other action, in January of 1906, Burl Collett was indicted for felony theft, accused of stealing 91/2 pounds of ginseng valued at $25.00, from one Ida Arbogast. The authorities looked for Burl for the next five years, he being in the vicinity of Wheeling, West Virginia, employed in a glass blowing factory. At the time, three of his brothers, Will, Charlie, and Bernard, were also residents of that area. Charlie had married Clara Wilhelm of Wheeling, and lived in a house that no longer exists, the site being the interstate at the east end of the Wheeling Tunnel. They had a daughter. While in the Wheeling area, Bernard married Bertha White of West Liberty, and had two sons, both of whom died in childhood. Will Collett married her sister Nina, and had two sons. Will Collett was killed in a railroad accident December 18, 1908, at Millvale, Pennsylvania. His widow kept a lodging house on Lind Street in Wheeling, and she took up with Bernard Collett. Burl Collett returned to Randolph County in early 1911, and the summons for theft was executed but the case was never tried, he having tuberculosis, and being too sick to attend court. He died soon after.
After the death of her husband, Mary E. Collett returned to Elliott's Ridge, living for awhile with her brother Caleb Hill, and then buying a farm of her own. Her house stood on the road from Chenoweth Creek to the Ridge, a little north west of the present day home of Reverend Lowther. The place later became the John Collett homeplace. Mary E. Collett died on March 4, 1933, the same day Governor Kump was inaugurated. She was taken to the cemetery at Gilman and buried next to Solomon J. Collett.
"(They) lived about two miles up from Beverly on Dodson Creek. Grandma's people come from Germany. I've heard Mom talk about a Jacob Weese, but I don't know who he was."
The United States of America, indeed since the day the first white man set foot in the new world, has been a Mecca for immigrants from all walks of life, all nations, of all colors, creeds and nationalities, from nearly every corner of the world. In the mid 1700's the territory comprising what is now West Virginia saw an influx of a hardy group of German pioneers, coming by the thousands to the port of Philadelphia, many remaining, but others striking west into the Virginia frontier to carve out an existence among the panther, the wolf, and the Indian. The Randolph County family by the name of Weese are descendants of such people, many still remaining in the comparatively tame and comfortable life that is the modern Mountain State.
The Weese family were residents of what is now Hardy and Pendleton Counties on the South Branch as early as 1756, when the names of Adam, Joseph, and George Weese appear in the records of that area, recorded in Augusta County, Virginia. On March 21, 1765, it was ordered that Nicholas Harpole, Paul Shaver, and Jacob Weese view a road on North Mill Creek in present day Grant County from Upper Tract to the county line below Jacob Peterson. The names of Adam and John Weese appear in the records of the area in 1767, and on March 1, 1773, a land grant was made by the Crown of England to Jacob, Adam, and John Weese, for a tract on the South Branch of the Potomac. The Jacob Weese who was the recipient of this grant was the same Jacob who went from that area to North Carolina for a time, and subsequently became the ancestor of the Weese family in Randolph County, West Virginia.
In August of 1792, Jacob Weese purchased of William Briggs 135 acres on King's Run in Randolph County for 90 pounds, the unit of money in use in the area at that time. In 1795 when St. Leger Stout was ordered to the stocks in Beverly for five minutes on a charge of contempt of court, Briggs, Weese, and two others were fined $2.00 each for their refusal to assist Sheriff Uriah Gandy in Stout's arrest. Two years later Weese sold the remainder of his Potomac River property to Henry Rohrbough and Peter Kurkendall. Jacob Weese and his wife Catherine were the parents of several children, and he died on June 11, 1826. He is buried in the Arnold Hill Cemetery. One of his sons, Jacob Weese Jr., remained in the King's Run area and married Sarah, a daughter of Catherine Isner. Catherine was a daughter of Michael Isner, and later became the wife of John Phillips. Jacob Weese Jr. also had several children, and he died in 1832. Twenty four persons attended the sale of his estate, and at the time of his death he was the owner of 25 sheep, 10 pigs, 18 geese, 9 horses, 37 head of cattle, and 3 beehives.
Absalom Weese, a son of Jacob Weese Jr., was born on the 15th of May, in 1801. On October 9, 1823, he was married to Eunice Marstiller, a daughter of Nicholas Marstiller, who was also German, and served in the American Revolution. Eunice Marstiller Weese was born on the 16th of September, in 1806. About the year 1825, the eldest child of Absalom and Eunice was born, a girl, and she was named Mary Ellen. She died about 1851. Dr. Squire Bosworth's day book mentions several visits attending to her during the spring of that year.
In 1826, Absalom Weese was a purchaser at the estate sale of his grandfather, Jacob Weese Sr. At this sale Absalom purchased one tub and keg for 29 cent and one hackle for $1.52. Among other items sold at his sale were livestock, 14 crocks, the usual furniture and household items, soap fat, wool, eggs, butter, and bacon. Also, these old time West Virginians were not without their strong drinks, and at the sale of Jacob Weese Sr.'s estate one of the items sold was: "one bottle with whiskey " The price was 62 cent. There are other references to alcoholic beverages during the period in other sources, among these being French, peach, and apple brandy; cider wine, and West India Rum. Also in 1862, Absalom Weese became the father of a son, George M. Weese. Two years later, Eunice gave birth again, to William Weese, and in the same year Absalom Weese was deeded property on King's Run by his parents.
In l831. Absalom and Eunice Weese became the parents of another daughter, Sarah. That year Weese was a purchaser at the estate sale of John Chenoweth. He purchased one pot for $14.25. Jacob Weese Jr. the father of Absalom, died the following year, and from his estate Absalom is shown to have purchased three blue chairs for $3.07; one foot adze for 90 cent; and one brown cow for $14.25. The following year Absalom purchased one work bench for $2.26 out of the estate of John G. Phillips. Also in 1833 Elam Weese, another son, was born. In 1834 came another, named Elias. In 1836, in December, Absalom Weese is mentioned in the diary of George McLean. The entry reads: "Let Absalorn Weese have six lights of sash." In May of 1838, Absalom Weese became a father yet again, of another daughter, Margaret Weese.
The 1840's saw the Weeses become the parents of four more children. These were Lydia in 1841, Hoy in 1843, Cecelia in 1845, and their youngest, Christena Margaret Bosworth Weese was born in 1849, named after a daughter of Dr. Squire Bosworth. The custom of naming a child after a member of Bosworth's family or after Bosworth himself was not uncommon in the area at that time, as he was a prominent physician who delivered a number of the babies in the region. His day book mentions several visits to Absalom Weese and family during the period for various reasons. In 1840, Samuel Morrison deeded 100 acres of land to Absalom Weese. 1841 found Weese in debt to one John Propst, and he signed over a portion of his land in trust to James D. Wright until 1843. By then the debt had been paid and Absalom Weese regained possession of the tract. In July of 1844, the Southgate family deeded to Weese 253 acres on the west side of Elliott's Ridge. In 1847, Absalom deeded the south side of the farm he lived on to his son George Weese, who recently had been married.
About the year 1858, Absalom Weese entered into a contract with his son Elias in which Absalom was to convey a tract of land on Dodson Run to him. Elias was to reside on the land with his father, they sharing equally in the chore of making improvements. Elias was bound to care for his parents when they no longer could care for themselves, and he was also to pay several judgments against Absalom, amounting to $143.50. Also, at some point, Absalom became indebted to Elias in the amount of $137.50. Elias Weese sued his father in November of 1868, saying that Absalom was about to convey certain lands to two of his other sons, George and William, in an effort to cheat Elias out of his monies. This suit was apparently settled out of court on April 22, 1870.
When the Civil War fell upon the country like a thundering scourge, no one was left unaffected. But in contrast to the obvious changes brought about in the form of battle deaths, the Emancipation Proclamation, etc., there were subtle effects for thousands of people. Some of these were positive. The family of Absalom Weese might be a good example. Before the war's end, two of his daughters were married. They had married men they would never have met had the men not been stationed in the area because of the fighting One of these was William H. Bonham. He was a native of the Charleston area who had entered the service at Aultz, Virginia, in July of 1861, being mustered in at Charleston in Company A, 8th Regiment, Virginia Volunteer Infantry This unit later became part of the West Virginia Cavalry. In the summer of 1862, he was stationed at Cologne, in Mason County, Virginia ( West Virginia). In August he was detached for recruiting service. The following summer he was on daily duty as provost guard. In February of 1864 he re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer at Martinsburg. The following month he married Cecelia, daughter of Absalom Weese. That summer he was a Captain, a duty clerk at headquarters. Another daughter of Absalom Weese, it is said, married a soldier, this one being Harry W. Martin. Both of these women lived out their lives with these men.
Margaret A. "Maggie" Weese, another daughter, was courted by a Union Captain during a war. Family legend states that his name was "Captain Ott" or Captain Otto. The army service records at the National Archives in Washington D.C., shed a good deal of light on just who this individual might have been. It seems that one William Otto was enrolled on April 5, 1861, in Company A of the 2nd Virginia Infantry. In August of the same year, his record states, he was an orderly sergeant at Beverly, Virginia (West Virginia), and was at that time commissioned a Captain. He was still at Beverly in September of 1862. Weese family legend states that this "Captain Otto" was infatuated with Maggie Weese, and wanted to marry her. But she, for some reason, was convinced that she was dying (which she did on the 20th of June, in 1864) and she refused "Captain Otto's" advances. The war record of William Otto would seem to fit into this tale, for on the 12th of March, in 1862, from the summit of Cheat Mountain, he wrote to Lt. Col. Robert Moran, commander of the regiment:
In consequence of my present position having become unpleasant beyond my powers of endurance, l hereby tender my immediate and unconditional resignation of the commission I now hold as Captain...and ask that you accept the same.
Brigadier General Milroy recommended acceptance of the resignation and Otto was given an honorable discharge.
Family legend also states that Elias Weese was captured by Union troops and taken to Camp Chase at Columbus, Ohio, as a prisoner. There is another story of Absalom Weese once having Union soldiers in one part of the house and Confederates in another, the family shuffling back and forth to keep them separated. Also, it is said that several doctors and their families took refuge in the Weese home during a battle, and stories have been handed down about the disposition of the soldiers, they going door to door demanding food, women for their dances, or anything else they felt they needed.
The Weese family survived the war intact, and in the 1870 Federal Census Absalom Weese's occupation is listed as a wheelwright. His son Elias, the former war prisoner, was assaulted by Charles Hill of Elliott's Ridge in 1873. For this offense, Hill was fined $1.00. In 1876, the Reverend Simeon Davis married his second wife, Hannah Shifflett, at the home of Absalom Weese. Absalom Weese died in February of 1880. His widow went to Elliott's Ridge and lived with her daughter and son-in-law, Christena and George W. Hill. In May of 1886, Eunice Weese brought a lawsuit against her two sons, George and William Weese. In her complaint she contended that she had been denied her dower interest in several tracts of land conveyed by Absalom Weese in her lifetime. These tracts were about 21/2 miles from Beverly on Dodson Run, and one, conveyed by Absalom to George Weese, was the one on which Absalom had resided. She contended that she had asked her sons for her dower, but they refused her request. This suit, like an earlier one in the family, appears to have been settled out of court. It is not known if Eunice Weese lived the rest of her life with the Hills. She, like her husband and several of her children, is buried in the small Weese cemetery just east of the present day location of Daniels Body Shop on Dodson Run Road.
"We all went to the Paul Louk house. They'd boarded it up. We went in. We hear a an awful moanin'. We all hustled out of there. Belle couldn't keep the covers on her at night. Something would pull them off. Went to reckon it was Paul's ghost."
There she sat. With a distant gaze in her eyes. Sitting in the flickering light of a crackling fire, spinning a yarn about a haunted house. Telling a tale about an age-old murder, a witness, the murder of the witness, and the rancorous ghost of this unfortunate attestor, roaming the headwaters of Files Creek's left fork, striking terror into the hearts of all those whom it encountered. A story that many still remember, but few will relate. The story of Paul Louk, who once lived on Elliott's Ridge near the present day pond, a short distance from the current home of Sam Everhart.
Louk was born about 1860, never married, and lived alone. He has been described by some as being insane. This would appear to be believable, as his mother and his two brothers were afflicted in such a way. He would eventually die a bizarre death, one that would be remembered by residents of the area for the next century. Other than his birth, the earliest information about Paul Louk is from 1885, when he was indicted and fined $1.00 for the assault and battery of William Mollihan, after Mollihan had assaulted Louk's brother-in-law, Leonard Weese. Mollihan was a son of Ann Hill Mollihan, a member of the Hill family that lived a short distance to the west, on the old John W. Hill farm. In 1886, Paul Louk deeded his land to his brother George, in exchange for an agreement that George would provide care and maintenance for Paul, a practice that was common in those days, although it usually involved elderly parents deeding the family farm to one or more of their adult children. Two years later, George was admitted to the State Hospital at Weston, their records stating that his insanity had appeared in September of that year, and involved a "rush of blood to the head, emotional disturbances and head ache not easily accounted for. Evinced on various subjects being robbed and getting married " He'd be discharged in September of 1890, but would spend 17 years of his life in that place Also, in 1888, Paul Louk's mother died of colic, probably at the family farm on Elliott's Ridge. Her husband, John Louk, had been dead since 1874.
The troubles that eventually led to the death of Paul Louk began on the 4th of January, 1890, in the area that is now Glady, West Virginia. John C. Louk, another brother of Paul, was living in that area. He was there as early as 1884, when an election was held at the store of Park Collett in Dry Fork district, and John C. Louk was indicted for being drunk near the polls and assaulting John McAbee. He was found not guilty. January of 1890 found Paul Louk apparently visiting his brother, for on the 4th near John Louk's house on Glady Fork, Paul Louk, Webster Louk, a son of John and nephew of Paul, and Claude Glaspell were coon hunting, traveling a path up Shaver's Mountain. Webster Louk, who was carrying a gun, walking behind the others, fell. The gun discharged, wounding Claude Glasspell. This had been the third accident of that type in the area in six months, and John Louk himself was at the time confined to his house with a similar wound. Glasspell, aged 19, claimed on his deathbed that Paul Louk had killed him. He died a few hours after he was wounded. Webster Louk, aged only 13, had been friends with Glasspell, and later stated that there never had been any ill will of any kind between them.
Glasspell was a member of a family that lived up Files Creek, and had moved to the area from Marion County, West Virginia. His father was James Glasspell, but he was more closely affiliated with one Silas Glasspell, who on the 14th of January, 1890, swore out a warrant for Webster Louk charging murder before Justice of the Peace Adam Rowan. Webster was arrested by Constable G. W. Stalnaker, and was incarcerated in the jail of Randolph County at Beverly to await trial. Exactly what happened next is not certain, but a preliminary hearing was held, at which it is said that Paul Louk testified that "I heard the lever of the gun click, then a shot." It must be remembered that it is a matter of record that Webster Louk, holding the gun, was behind the others when it discharged, so all Paul could have testified to was what he'd heard. Also, it should be noted that had Webster fallen causing the gun to fire, the sound would have been quite different from the way Paul described it. It is known that Webster Louk was bound over to the May term of court, and returned to jail. His attorney filed a writ of habeus corpus on the grounds that the evidence was not sufficient to hold him. He was granted bail. It was at this time that a Clarksburg newspaper carried brief coverage of the incident, in its January 18th issue.
Four months later, the May term of court convened. On the third, fourteen persons were summoned to testify, and on the fifth, twenty two more were called. Paul Louk was among these twenty two. He never appeared. Here again, the ensuing events are not clear. Paul Louk was found hanged in the yard of his house on Elliott's Ridge. He was hanging in a small tree, with his feet touching the ground. Some say that he committed suicide. Others state that some of his relatives, wanting him out of the way, came in the night and killed him either by hanging or in some other way, putting the body in the tree to give the appearance of suicide. On the 10th of May he was indicted for failure to appear on the 5th. In July an inquest was held, at which several members of his family testified, and several residents of Elliott's Ridge served on the jury. The tree where the body was found became a focal point of fascination for the youngsters of Elliott's Ridge. Its bark was covered with initials. School classes made pilgrimages to the site. Within a few years the house was empty and boarded up, reputed to be haunted. There were also stories of Paul Louk's ghost appearing in other places, particularly among his family.
The trial of Webster Louk continued. On October 15, 1890, a jury found him guilty of a lesser charge, voluntary man slaughter. His attorney moved that the verdict be set aside, and the motion was granted. He was also granted a new trial. In October of the following year all of the charges against Webster Louk were dropped. It is said that Webster Louk died young. His acquittal was the end of a two year struggle involving nearly every member of his family, as well as many residents of the Shavers Mountain Elliott's Ridge area. The true fate of Paul Louk will probably never be known, but the macabre memory of him and his bizarre demise continues to haunt the recollections of many old timers in the area.
"We thought an awful lot of (Wilford). He should never have been hung for that. It hurt us awful. I never go through Moundsville without I think of Wilford."
The West Virginia industrial boom of the early twentieth century was a turbulent period, and Randolph County was by no means spared the multitude of problems associated with it. Troubles in the form of accidents, fires, fighting, alcoholism, divorce, prostitution, labor abuse and death were widespread during the period. In the one year span from July of 1901 to July of 1902, three police chiefs were murdered in one of the darkest chapters in the County's history. One of these sorrowful cases was the killing of Page Marstiller, Chief of Police of the City of Elkins. He was murdered by a drunken lumberman named Wilford Davis, at the jail in South Elkins. These two men had met before, on opposite sides of the law, but this final encounter would eventually spell the end of them both.
Simeon Davis, the father of Wilford Davis, was a Methodist Minister. He was born in Pendleton County about 1830, the son of Jesse Davis, and the brother of Reverend Daniel H. Davis, another Methodist Minister. Simeon Davis married first at Beverly to Mary Roy. His second marriage was on January 4th, 1876, to Hannah Shifflett. This took place at the home of Absalom Weese on Dodson Run. Simeon and Hannah Davis soon were the parents of a son, Cowen Davis. The Reverend had charge of a circuit at Beverly and Huttonsville about this period, and preached a flamboyant sermon that instilled great excitement in many of those who heard him. He preached at the church on Elliott's Ridge, and later moved to the Roane Jackson County area of the state. During this period he became the father of two more sons: Wilford, born in November of 1880, and Simeon, nicknamed "Tim," born in Roane County in 1883. About the following year, Reverend Davis died in Jackson County, although he was a resident of Roane County at the time of his death. His widow, with her three boys, returned to Randolph County and in 1895 she became the wife of Henry Harper Weese of Elliott's Ridge. By that time she had been back in the county about five years.
At some point after her return, due to her dire financial situation, Wilford Davis, a child, was living in the town of Beverly with an individual known as "Old Man" Lough. Lough lived on the main road through town at the southern end. He has been described as a contemptible old cuss, who would put Wilford to work around the place for no more pay than a few scraps from the table. He'd take Wilford to the town square and coerce him to fight with other children. It was apparently at this point that Wilford Davis began to acquire the reputation he carried the rest of his life, that of a "tough character." Old Man Lough had a high porch on his house, with a rose bush down below. At some point, tired of the abuses of the old man, Wilford threw Lough off the porch, into the rosebush. This took place about 1895.
A short distance out of town to the north, at present day Hazlewood, lived Page Marstiller, then one of the local constables. He was aged about 40, and lived more specifically on King's Run, with his wife, the former Sarah Catherine Collett, and their nine children. Sarah was a daughter of George Collett, and a granddaughter of Solomon T. Collett of Gilman. When Wilford Davis threw Lough off the porch, Constable Page Marstiller was summoned, and Wilford was sent to the West Virginia Reform School at Pruntytown. This was the beginning of the enmity between the two men. The exact date of these events is not known, but Wilford Davis was in the reform school on the 30th of May, 1896, when the news magazine of that institution covered a baseball game in which he played and won second place for catching two fly balls. In August of that year he was promoted from grade B to grade A, and on Christmas he had the recitation for that grade. In February and March of 1897 he won a good deal of praise for recitation, and on April 5th he was on the sick list. On the 24th he pitched a winning game for the Shamrocks team, and on the 26th took the active pledge in the Christian Endeavor Society. Academically he was average, scoring 15th out of 31 in the reading exam, having an overall grade of 6 out of a possible 9. He was still an inmate on August 1, 1897.
Sometime after his release, he returned to Elliott's Ridge and boarded with the family of George W. Hill, working as a farm hand. He proved to be a reliable worker, willing to follow any order, and was well liked by the members of the Hill family. They had been acquainted with Wilford Davis' parents, in fact, his father had preached the very sermon that inspired unbelieving George Hill into the Christian community. At some point Wilford was arrested and fined $2.00. In April of 1902 he was working in the area of Davis, in Tucker County, cutting timber for the Beaver Creek Lumber Company, in an area known as McCauley Mountain. It was stated, in local news coverage at the time of Marstiller's death, that as soon as Davis learned of Marstiller's appointment as Chief of Police for Elkins, he started for town to make trouble for the officer. This would appear to be the truth, as Marstiller was elected on the third of April, and Davis arrived in Elkins on the tenth. On the night of his arrival he slept at the Tremont Hotel on Davis Avenue, which was located at the present day address of Trickett Hardware. The following morning he arose at 6:00 a.m. and proceeded to "paint the town a bright vermillion."
He and one Sandy Fisher went to a saloon to get a drink before breakfast, and there they met Dave Brubaker, invited him for a drink, and the three exchanged conversation, which included news of Brubaker's son who had been killed on Laurel Mountain by a log rolling over him. Later, Brubaker told Cowen Davis that his brother was in town and inquiring for him. Cowen found Wilford at King's Saloon one of a cluster of saloons at the south end of Davis Avenue bridge. Wilford was standing by the stove talking. At some point Wilford had been to Dann's Hardware Store on Third Street, and purchased a .32 caliber Harrington and Richardson pistol for $5.00, as well as a box of cartridges. When old Mr. Dann offered to wrap them he replied, "I don't want you to wrap them up. I will take them with me. l want to use it here." He also went about town saying that if any officer tried to arrest him, he'd kill him.
The Davis brothers left King's Saloon together, Cowen trying to take Wilford to his home. When they reached the railroad, Wilford, heavily intoxicated, lay down on the tracks for a period of time, and then went back into town, going from one saloon to another, all the while Cowen was trying to take him home. He was in King's Saloon again, and when he came out Cowen made another attempt to convince him to come to his house. Wilford got angry, threw back his coat, pulled out the pistol, and fired twice into the air, more in a mischievous effort to make noise than to harm his brother.
Mayor Woodford had been informed of Davis' actions, and deputized a man named Fitzgerald to help arrest him. Woodford saw Chief Marstiller on the streets shortly afterward, and upon informing him of the trouble, warned him to take no chances in the arrest, and ordered him to first get Fitzgerald before making any attempt to take Davis into custody. But Marstiller was a zealous officer, and he hurried to South Elkins to make the arrest. Around 11:15 a.m. he found Wilford and Cowen Davis standing on the porch of Griffith's Saloon talking to Brubaker and Mart Mayo. This was at the south end of the bridge on the west side of the street, the present day location of Allegheny Apartments. Marstiller walked up, and, wearing his police badge, said to Wilford Davis, "I will have to arrest you. I am told you have a gun."
"I ain't got none," came the reply. "I have no gun."
"(I'll still) have to arrest you," Marstiller stated.
To this Cowen Davis replied, "No, I will take him home."
"No, the lockup is the best place for him," said the officer.
At that point Cowen Davis said, "(Then) I will go with you. I will help take him." Wilford Davis was searched and Marstiller motioned for another man, a Mr. Helmick, to come along, and the four started south up Davis Avenue, toward the South Elkins Jail. The jail was left over from the days when Elkins and South Elkins were two separate towns. It stood on the east side of Davis Avenue near 11th Street, where Tri County Electric is now located. About a year previous to Davis' arrest, the State Legislature had consolidated the towns of Elkins and South Elkins, but the jail of the latter place was still in use. At the door to the lockup, Wilford said to Marstiller, "Now Page, if you don't want any further trouble, let me go right here."
"I'll show you if you don't go!" replied the chief, reaching into his pockets, some say to get "the nippers" (handcuffs), or for a gun. At the same time Wilford, who had been searched, somehow produced the .32 and shot Marstiller point blank in the head, just above the left ear. Some felt that Cowen Davis had handed his brother the gun and he was arrested, taken to jail in Beverly, but released due to lack of evidence. After the shooting Wilford ran on up the street in a southerly direction, and encountered Mrs. Fred Backstrom, who was crossing the street to get water, and told her, "If you don't get back in the house I'll shoot you!" He continued to the Coal and Iron Railroad tracks at the present day location of Southern States and Hogan's Transfer, and fled to the east out the line.
J. H. Hallman had witnessed the shooting, and ran to the jail. Three or four people were already there. Marstiller was lying on his face, bleeding profusely. Someone wanted to turn him over and Hallman said, "No! He may be shot in the head, and he may strangle to death!" Doctor W. W. Golden was sent for, and found Marstiller in shock. He was taken to his home on High Street, one block behind the courthouse, and died at 5:00 p.m., An immense crowd packed the Presbyterian Church the following Sunday for the services. These were conducted at 1:00 p.m. by the Reverends Thomas, Barron, and Resseger. The Randolph Lodge #55 of Beverly and the Elkins Lodge # 108, A.F.& A.M., attended in a body, a special train arriving at 11:30 a.m. to bring the Beverly Lodge. The remains were conveyed to the Hart Graveyard at Hazlewood, and fully 500 people attended the burial. At the time of his death, Marstiller was one month away from his 48th birthday.
Immediately upon hearing of the shooting, Mayor Woodford sent a posse after Davis. They followed his tracks in the snow out the railroad to where they crossed the county road, at which point Davis had left the railroad at the first camps and waded the creek. Justice E. E. Taylor was the first to see him, sitting under a sycamore tree. When Davis saw the posse he bolted, but upon hearing some thirty shots stopped, looking into the business end of Nelson Wilson's rifle and Constable Ryan's pistol. Ryan disarmed Davis, and he was taken back to town surrounded. He was taken before Justice Taylor at 1:50 p.m. When asked about the shooting Davis stated that he'd been too drunk to know what he was doing. This point became a central issue in his trial. Meanwhile, outside, a mob had gathered, and open threats of lynching were heard. When informed of this, Davis waived hearing, and was hurried to the Belington train, by which he was taken to the jail at Philippi for safekeeping. He was convicted the following May, and in the temporary courthouse in the Opera House Building, now the Wilt Building, Judge Holt pronounced sentence. He was to hang by the neck until dead. The case was appealed and several stays of execution were granted. Finally Governor White denied further clemency, and Wilford Davis' final destiny was to die at the West Virginia State Penitentiary at Moundsville on the 5th of June, 1903.
During the trial Davis' brother Cowen was a busy man. In February of 1903 he got drunk and went to McCauley's stable on Railroad Avenue in Elkins, where he proceeded to start a fight with a stable hand. He was forcibly ejected. The next morning he procured a revolver, and returned to the stable. The stable hand saw him coming, and telephoned Page Marstiller's successor, Chief of Police John Nallen. It was necessary to club him senseless before he surrendered. He said he'd kill Chi, Nallen for this, as well as Page Marstiller's son if Wilford hanged. He was put in the Beverly jail. In March of 1903 he was still there, and a fire broke out in which seven buildings burned. Cowen Davis escaped, stole some whiskey, and fled.
While in prison Wilford Davis wrote letters to people back in Randolph County. Among these were the George Hill' family of Elliott's Ridge, and Cowen Davis. He told Cowen to profit by his example and lead a life of moderation. On the day of hi execution he spent the morning reading the Bible in his cell. Soon after noon he was given a bath, dressed in black, and put in the death chamber. He had supper at 4:00 p.m., and afterward sang the hymn, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul." The march t( the gallows began at 5:33 p. m., and he tossed the song book on the table. He walked up the steps bravely, taking his position on the scaffold. The chaplain told Wilford Davis that he needed his Savior at that point more than ever before and his reply was, "Yes, He is here -- bless the Lord." The trap fell at 5:36 p.m., and Davis was pronounced dead 14 minutes later. He was not yet 23 years old. It was reported in the papers that his execution was witnessed by the largest crowd ever to have witnessed an execution at that facility at that time. One person from Elkins, J. H. Wilson, was there.
Wilford's brother Cowen Davis stayed in the Randolph County area. His brother Simeon T. married at Bemis in 1910. and became guardian of Cowen's three children, Cecil, Willis, and Ethel, when Cowen died in 1913. Page Marstiller's son Stewart eventually became Sheriff of Randolph County and his widow, Sarah Collett Marstiller, lived in Elkins the rest of her life. There are still descendants of Page Marstiller living in Elkins today.
"Boys, that was a rough place! They was fighting in the streets. Luther kept a gun behind the bar (of his saloon). I was never so glad to get out of anywhere in my life!"
The Coal and Iron Railroad, with principal offices at Elkins, was incorporated on December 11, 1899, with the Davis Elkins families and their associates as the principal stockholders. The aim was to construct a railroad from Clarksburg to the Forks of Greenbrier, in Pocahontas County. This line was more particularly the line linking Elkins with the Glady Bemis area, and with Durbin. The following year construction was in full boom, but typical of railroad construction and lumbering in the area at the time, it was not without its problems. As was usual during the period, inexpensive sources of labor were being used, brought in from other areas. These people, partly due to their circumstances, had many difficulties among themselves and with the native population. many finally giving their very lives in the industrial boom of Randolph County.
In June of 1900, at the time of the Federal Census enumeration, there was a large camp of Italians somewhere in the vicinity of the present day Bowden four-lane, near Poe Run and Isner Creek. Further out, there were several large camps of black laborers, there being more of these people than Italians. The majority of the Italians had immigrated to the United States within five years previous. Well over half were married, but their wives were not with them. Among the blacks, the overwhelming majority were from Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky, they being brought in regularly by the traincar load. In theirs, as in the Italian camp, there were few women. These Italians and blacks numbered in the hundreds, and were culturally quite different from the native population of the county. Considering that these people lived in temporary camps, were paid poorly, worked long hours, had no women, and had backgrounds very different from the locals, it is obvious why there was bound to be problems.
These camps were rough places, populated largely by rough people, many having criminal records in the areas from whence they came. In 1900, 1901, and 1902, Randolph County, West Virginia, saw no less than a whopping 21 murders, and many of these were related to the construction and other industries along the Coal and Iron. Among these were: the killing of Charlie Fawcett by a foreman on the line in 1900; the killing of Sarah Barker on Glady Fork in 1901; the death of Robert Tumie at the hands of a black gambler on the C & I just a week later; the deaths of Robert Lilly and William Brooks at Elkins; the killing of James Tyler, a black railroader form Morgan Park, Chicago, and others. All these but Fawcett were in 1901. In October of that year, there was a shootout in Feight's Saloon at Glady. This establishment was apparently owned by John E. Feight, who two years later transferred his liquor license to Bruce Pritt and G.W. Stalnaker. In the gunplay referred to, one black died on the scene, one died the next day, and two others were hospitalized.
Inasmuch as many of the developers of the Coal and Iron Railroad were from other areas, as were many of the laborers, there also were local people involved. In July of 1901, Luther Hill, a native Randolph Countian, was hauling coal for the steam shovel that was building the tunnel at Adams Camp, near present day Stewart's Park. His brother Oliver was clerking in Charlie Flint's saloon at that camp, and their cousin David Hill was a stable boss. Luther Hill, at some point during the period, also hauled groceries into Glady by way of the road over Cheat Mountain from Beverly, then known as the Beverly and Circleville road. It was on this road that another black railroad worker, John Green, came to his end. In April of 1902, Luther Hill was deputized to bring Green across the mountain to jail. It has been said that he was wanted for murder. Possibly he was involved in the shootings at Feight's Saloon in Glady the previous October. At any rate, Hill's orders were to bring him back "dead or alive." They crossed the summit of the mountain and were just starting down the Beverly side, when Green broke and ran. He'd made repeated attempts to get Hill. Hill shot him to death on the spot. He was buried where he fell, by Oliver Daniels. The burial was ordered by Dr. G. W. Yokum. Green had been a resident of the camp of Walton, Purcell, Moorman and Company, contractors on the C & I. He had only been a resident of the state a "short time" according to the return of his death at the court house. Another record of his death is in existence, in the Leonard Funeral Home register. Both give his age as 22, and his birthplace as Virginia. There was, however, a black man named John Green listed in the Randolph County jail in the 1900 Census, but this one would have been 32 at the time of the shooting, and was from North Carolina. Whether or not they are the same man is not known. Luther Hill left the Glady Bemis area for awhile, he and one Peter McNeal applying in January of 1903 for a liquor license at Womelsdorf, later Coalton.
In May of 1903, a post office was established called Fishinghawk, with Robert McDonald as postmaster The name of this place is now Bemis. In March of the following year Aries Hill, brother of Luther, applied for a liquor license in Elkins, but citizens were objecting to the licenses in Elkins at the time, and it was denied. Three months later he purchased lot 5 on Randolph Avenue in Glady. In August a post office was established at Montese, north of Fishinghawk, and in September Aries Hill was granted a license by the County to sell liquor in a building owned by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company, also at Fishinghawk. By this time the industrial development of the area was in full boom. The town of Glady was a bustling lumber town complete with sawmills, stores, saloons, restaurants, hotels, barbershops, a slaughterhouse, and people. It had a population of almost 400 at the time of its incorporation on January 28, 1907, and this figure did not include the areas between there and Fishinghawk, the name of which was changed to Bemis on August 15, 1906. Glady had bowling alleys, pool tables, and a town policeman. By October of 1904 the C & I was in full operation, there being 16 stations between Elkins and Wildell. These were Canfield, Tunnel, McCauley, Meadows, Faulkner, Bowden, Harper, Woodrow, Montese, Fishinghawk, Carl, River Siding, Morribell, Glady, Gaber, and Oxley, in that order. Between Wildell and Durbin there were seven more: Gertrude, Kelley, Cove, Burner, Braucher, Fill Run, and West Durbin. All these made a total of 26 stations on the C & I. Among the lumber companies operating in the G lady-Bemis area were Bemis & Sons, Coketon Lumber Company, Wheeler Lumber Company, Lewis Brothers Lumber Company, Morribel Lumber Company, T. L. Hackney, Tyson & McClure, Glady Manufacturing Company, Glady Fork Lumber company, and the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company. There were restaurants and saloons at Montese, and phone service for the area was provided by the Woodford Telephone Company at Elkins.
Inasmuch as black and immigrant laborers in the area had their share of problems, the problems were not exclusively among them, as can be seen from what happened in Oliver Hill's saloon at Glady on the 9th day of January, 1906. Leslie Phares was a bartender in Hill's saloon, and it has been said that he and Coleman Alkire were friends. On the day in question, Alkire was in Hill's, and had made a watch trade with Charlie Flint, a butcher, who had just come in after completing his rounds taking orders for beef. Flint purchased a watch from Alkire for $4.00, and borrowed money from Hill to pay him. A group of men gathered at the bar and began drinking beer and whiskey, when Alkire stepped up to the bar and asked for drinks. He specifically asked for a sealed liquor called Cedar Springs Whiskey, and when Phares set the bottle on the bar, Alkire picked it up and walked out with it. Phares, a large man of between 170 and 180 pounds, climbed across the bar, followed Alkire outside, and came back with the whiskey. Alkire, the smaller of the two, weighing only about 130 pounds, followed Phares in and an altercation ensued, culminating in Phares taking hold of Alkire in an effort to remove him from the saloon. Alkire produced a pistol and Phares was shot point blank in the stomach, the bullets tearing his intestines some 22 times. Several men scrambled for the door, but the big man continued in the struggle undaunted, wrestling the pistol from Alkire and beating him unconscious, only then turning to announce, "I'm shot!"
Phares and Alkire were both carried to the Glady station, and when the train came through from Durbin they were both loaded, bound for Elkins. A doctor got on at Bemis, and at Glady a man named Mr. Bowden, possibly Harry L. Bowden, for whom the town was named, telephoned Dr. H. W. Daniels at Bowden, informing him of the train's approach and of what had happened. This call was made about noon. The train pulled into Bowden and Dr. Daniels got on, finding Phares in a very serious condition, but suffering little due to a shot of morphine administered by the doctor already on board. Phares was taken to Keyser and surgery was performed lasting about two hours, but he died at 8:15 the following morning. Alkire was tried in the Circuit Court of Randolph County, and central to his defense was the fact that Phares was so much larger then he, Alkire claiming he'd killed Phares in self defense. He was found guilty of second degree murder, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The Hill brothers continued in the restaurant and entertainment business, and later in the year Oliver Hill was licensed to keep two bowling alleys in the A. G. Hill Building in Glady. In December Luther Hill was licensed to keep a restaurant in the same building, and in 1908 he was licensed to sell liquor there. The building was apparently a restaurant saloon combination. Other enterprises made use of the building during the period, among these being William Sponaugle's saloon, a restaurant belonging to James S. King, and in April of 1908 The Elkins Brewing Company, manufacturers of "Elkins Lager," "Elkinsbrau," and "Elkins Porter," applied for permission to establish a wholesale distributorship in the A. G. Hill Building.
In June of 1908 Luther Hill was indicted for "playing an unlawful game with playing cards" in the restaurant of John Holsberg in Glady. Meanwhile, Oliver Hill was at Elkins, and in April of 1908 he had a saloon in the Paul Brown Building on Davis Avenue. In June a black man named Rowland broke into the place and robbed the slot machine, and upon this, Hill was indicted for "(exhibiting) a 'gum vending machine' more commonly known as a slot machine." In February he was in court again, on charges of selling liquor to one who was already intoxicated, a charge commonly brought against saloon keepers during the period. Oliver Hill had been warned by the family of this individual not to sell him any liquor. Hill did, the family sued, and won damages in the amount of $1,000.00. Luther Hill remained for a time on the C & I, he being listed in the Census of 1910 as a restaurant keeper at Wildell.
"(They) lived up there in the house where they went to housekeepin'...a two story house with a balcony. If we walked to one end we could see clear into Pettit's place at Beverly."
The area known as Elliott's Ridge, or colloquially as "Ellis Ridge," is that area in Beverly District of Randolph County, West Virginia, that is the headwaters of the Left Fork of Files Creek, Dodson and King's Runs, and the Right Fork of Chenoweth Creek. The area is now sparsely populated, dotted with a few farms and hunting lodges, hardly reminiscent of the viable community that once existed there, complete with homes, a store, school church building, and families Many were born, raised, and died there, and others lived there at different times in their lives, and still remember many of the events and people of that area at the turn of the century.
From the intersection of Chenoweth Creek Road with the present day Beverly four lane, if one drives up Chenoweth Creek in an easterly direction at just past one mile there is a road that turns right and is marked "Elliott's Ridge Road." This is part of an old route from the Tygart Valley to the Ridge, and it leads back to the four lane in just a short distance. Eight tenths of a mile past this intersection is another right turn, also marked "Elliott's Ridge Road," a dirt road up the mountain. This is the road up Elliott's Ridge. It is a steep grade, and up it one and four tenths miles is the site of the John Collett homeplace. This is the property that Mary E. Collett purchased form Marshall Chenoweth in 1895 and moved to from the area of Gilman. Her son, John Collett, and his family, also lived there. The old house stood on the right side by the road until the early 1980's.
Two tenths of a mile past the site of the Collett place, is the driveway to the home of Rev. Robert Lowther, of the Hart Chapel Church and Academy. To the right, just past that, can be seen the old house that was once occupied by the family of Hoy Weese. This section of the road commands a spectacular view of the mountains and valleys to the west, a view that would have changed little since the turn of the century, if one could ignore the communities and highway that have come into the valley relatively recently. Hoy Weese was raised on his father's farm on Dodson Run, and his wife Harriet "Nettie" Weese was the actual owner of the property on the ridge. She had been married and divorced before her marriage to Weese, and her former husband, Zachariah Taylor, went west. She was a daughter of George Flint, who was the first postmaster at Glady. She married Hoy Weese in 1880, and in 1885 they lived on Glady Fork where Weese owned no property, but had one cow, three calves, four sheep, three beds, and was seven or eight miles from the nearest school. This came up in a suit in court over custody of Clinton Taylor, a child of Harriet Weese by her first marriage. In 1887 she purchased the Elliott's Ridge place from Marshall Chenoweth, getting 20 acres for $50.00. In 1893 she purchased 11 1/2 more for $100.00. Hoy and Nettie Weese had several children of their own, among these being Asa, Elam B., Cynthia, and Louida. Aries Hill later occupied the Hoy Weese place and Weese returned to Glady Fork.
Two tenths of a mile past the Lowther driveway is an intersection, the other road being a hard right turn that leads down the mountain to King's Run Road. In the old days this intersection was the site of a watering trough. Keeping to the left past this intersection, another two tenths of a mile, there is a building covered with metal, on the right side of the road. This is the site of the George Hill homeplace. Here used to sit a two story house with a balcony all across the front of the second story. The property is part of a 243 acre tract that was deeded to Scott Hill by his father, an older George Hill, in the 1850's. Scott, in turn, later divided this tract into three 81 acre sections, giving one each to his three sons, George, John, and Hiram. This took place on the second of April, 1883. George Hill raised his family on the west end, starting in a small log house that with the help of his sons later became the two story house just described. The house burned to the ground sometime after the Hills left the ridge, while it was occupied by John and Cora Hill Ray. Some claim that someone was making moonshine in the house and the still exploded.
Two tenths of a mile past the site of the George Hill home a driveway goes off the road to the left, downhill. This used to be the road through the community, the new one continuing straight on the same level as the site of the George Hill place. At the bottom of the driveway just described is the site of the old John Hill homeplace, he being another son of Scott Hill, and he living on the middle 81 acres of the 243. This middle portion was the one Scott Hill settled in the 1850's, having grown up on the site of present day South Elkins. Scott's father traded a tract on that site for 800 acres on Elliott's Ridge in August of 1854. Scott Hill was told by his father that if he went to Elliott's Ridge and made a home, he could have the property. At the time of his settlement there were only seven or eight acres partially cleared, but within ten years there were forty or fifty cleared, and Scott Hill had built two dwellings, a barn, and several outbuildings. He with his sons cleared and developed the property, and he lived there until his death in 1888. His wife was Maryum Griffith. Besides his three sons, George, John and Hiram, Scott Hill had a daughter, Mary, who later became Mrs. George Chenoweth.
One half mile past the George Hill homeplace site is the Hill Family Cemetery, in the field to the left, across from the large buildings of Merritt Mosaic. There are as many as 26 graves here, and probably more. Among the persons known to be buried there are Marie Minear; Nancy Workman, a child; Hiram Hill, his wife Elizabeth, and their son Bill Hill; Dennis Everhart; Guy T. Hill; Minnie Mullenax Ray; Cora Hill Ray; John J. Ray; Lij Taylor; Ernest Hill; Elizabeth Kittle Hill, wife of John; John Hill; Gladys M. Hill, infant of John; William B. Hill; Scott Hill and wife Maryum Hill; Ralph M. Hill; Ada Mae Hill; George W. Hill; Christena W. Hill; Sarah Griffith Hill; Burl Collett; and two infants of John Collett. The cemetery is well mowed and in a good state of preservation.
Just past the cemetery, and down over the hill to the right, sits an empty house, which is the last of the old ones remaining. It is the former home of Caleb "Cape" Hill. This is on the tract that was deeded by George Hill of the site of South Elkins to the family of his son John W. Hill, brother of Scott Hill. It is another part of the 800 acre ridge property. John W. Hill married Sarah Griffith, a sister of Maryum Griffith, who married Scott Hill. It is said that when she and her sister first came to Elliott's Ridge that it was winter and they came by horse drawn sleigh. John W. Hill died about 1860 and Sarah raised her family on the property that the Cape Hill house sits on. She and John W. Hill were the parents of seven children. They were: Claudies Hill, who married in Barbour County; Ann R. Hill, who married first in 1863 to a silversmith named John Mollihan. She presents another example of one who found a spouse due to the Civil War. Her second husband was Jake Suiter; Mary Elizabeth Hill, who married Solomon J. Collett; Charles Hill, who married Lydia Caldwell; James David "Dave" Hill, married Rufina Leary McQuain; Helen Hill, wife of William P. Isner; and Caleb Hill. James David "Dave" Hill also lived on the John W. Hill tract, further out past the Cape Hill house. Dave Hill assaulted Squire Hornick in 1880, and was fined $1.00. Dave Hill was a Republican.
Past the Cape Hill house, and nine tenths of a mile form the George Hill homeplace, a driveway goes off to the left, leading to the present day home of Sam Everhart. This is the site of the old Hiram Hill homeplace. It was on another of the three 81 acre tracts George Hill deeded to his sons. Columbus Hill built at least part of Hiram Hill's house. Everhart tore it down several years ago. Bill Hill, son of Hiram Hill, was crippled in a hunting accident as a child. He kept a small store in the Hiram Hill house, being listed as a grocery merchant in the 1910 Census of the area. On the third of December, 1879, Seymour Stalnaker fell from Hiram Hill's roof, and died ten days later. He was buried down in the valley in the Mount Vernon Cemetery. Hiram Hill died on the 24th of April, 1928. His wife had died five years earlier. Seven days after the death of his father, Bill Hill deeded the family farm to John and Cora Ray, in exchange for their caring for him and the farm. Seventeen days later John and Cora Ray renounced the deed, leaving the farm, and "leaving invalid Bill Hill to care for himself." Four days later Bill Hill deeded the farm to Joe and Ida Ross, under the same conditions. Twenty seven days after the last described transaction, Bill Hill died.
Just past the Sam Everhart driveway, and one and two tenths miles past the site of the George Hill homeplace, once sat the old Ellis Ridge School. This was a one room structure that sat on the right hand side of the road, at the point where the road curves right along Hill Run. This run was named for the Hill family and is the headwaters of the Left Fork of Files Creek The school mentioned was not the first one. There had been an older one across the road. In February of 1896, the Elkins Inter-Mountain, under the heading "Cheat Mountain," stated that there was a very interesting "literary" being conducted at Elliott's Ridge. It also stated that the school at Elliott's Ridge that was being conducted by Oscar Armstrong had closed. These old one room schoolhouses sometimes doubled as churches, and the same paper for March 29, 1896, stated that Ezra Hart preached at Elliott's Ridge. In April there was another "literary" being conducted at the Elliott's Ridge School. The school was moved to the location on the other side of the road (the right side) in 1903. In that year the county was advertising for bids on the construction of a new school.
Oscar Armstrong, mentioned above, was a son of William D. Armstrong and a brother of Ida Armstrong Mollihan, wife of William Mollihan, who was a son of Ann Hill Mollihan of Elliott's Ridge. Oscar and Ida's half brother, Thomas J. Armstrong, was on the coroner's jury that investigated the death of Paul Louk. Thomas J. had a sawmill on Files Creek, four miles east of Beverly. In April of 1899, the belt on this machine broke and Armstrong was injured by flying metal.
In an old school picture of the Elliott's Ridge School, there are nineteen pupils shown, ranging in age from about six to about sixteen, or grades one through nine. A large percentage of persons living on Elliott's Ridge at the time were related to each other, and the overwhelming majority of the pupils in the picture represented three families: Stalnaker, Hill, and Weese. Georgia, Wayne and Forest Stalnaker were children of George Stalnaker. Mae and Jessie Hill were daughters of Dave Hill. Ernest and Cora Hill were John Hill's children. Cleo Hill was the daughter of Cape Hill, and Stella Hill was a daughter of George W. Hill. Icie, Pearl, Bernard and Tom Weese were children of Lee Weese, and Bessie Weese was a daughter of Mart Weese. Hattie Flint's mother was a Weese. Clyde and Clarence Collett were John Collett's children. Also pictured in the class were Clyde Evans,-son of Enoch Evans of Kelley Mountain, and George Leary, who is said to have been a son of Allen Leary.
Across the road to the east from the school site, and back in the woods, once stood the home of Paul Louk, the murder victim. On south of there on the east side of the road is the site of the old George Stalnaker homeplace. He was a son of the Seymour Stalnaker who died from a fall from the roof of Hiram Hill. The root cellar is still visible in the side of the hill. On top of the hill behind the site of the George Stalnaker home is a lone tombstone, it telling of the tragic deaths of two of George Stalnaker's children. In April of 1896, Stalnaker was at Saint George, in Tucker County, as a foreman on the river for Dewing & Sons lumber camp. Later that month he was at work for the same outfit at Rowlesburg, but came back to Elliott's Ridge with "the fever."
On the left side of the road, at about one and six tenths miles past the site of George Hill's family home, is where once was the home of the Leonard Weese family. Weese was a brother-in-law of Paul Louk, he being married to Louk's sister, Nellie. It is in this area that the ghost of Paul Louk is reputed to roam. Also in this area, but across the road, the homes of French Kittle and Levi McQuain once stood. McQuain was married to Mary, a daughter of Hiram Hill. On the left side of the road in this area, if one is facing south, is a large pond. A little below it is an old chimney, the remains of the cabin of Pete Weese. Below there the remains of a road can be seen to the left, if one looks closely, and it leads up the hill to the east, to the Weese Cemetery. This burial ground is all but forgotten now, but in it are the graves of Leonard Weese and his wife; Charlie Weese and wife Amelia; Howard F. Weese; Eddie Blanche Teter, daughter of Leonard Weese; Emma E.Weese, wife of Mart Weese; another Howard Weese, who died aged 2 days; Richard Lee Weese, died also in infancy; Hoy Weese, his wife Nettie Weese, and their son Asa Weese.
One and three tenths miles past the pond is an intersection. This is the road from the compressor station on Files Creek, across Cheat Mountain to Bemis. It was once known as the Beverly and Circleville Road, being a main highway across the mountain. McHenry Howard, of Garrett County, Maryland, made several fishing expeditions into Randolph County in the 1870's, and described the building of this road in his diaries.
June 18, 1875. We reached Beverly about 4 p.m....Here we were told of a new road, part cut and part just blazed, to the Sinks of Gandy, and this we decided to take...Leaving Beverly at 5 p.m., we pushed on 6 miles to Billy Pritt's, some distance up the side of Cheat Mountain.
June 19, 1875. Cheat Mountain is rather ugly to cross, but we descended the eastern side in good condition. Here we met a party of 4 or 5 horsemen returning from blazing the new road and as they agreed that we could not ford Cheat River, we engaged one of them to ride back and put us over.
The area of the intersection just described is the area where, in 1913, Charlie Collett found the skeleton of an elk in a cave or sink hole on the Pritt farm. The skeleton and horns were well preserved, and the horns were said to have measured eight feet from tip to tip. Also in this area an interesting thing happened in March of 1903. Floyd A. Daniels, a mail carrier, was making his daily trip over Elliott's Ridge. In the area between the present day pond and the intersection of the road from the compressor station, lived a widow Louk. Near her house Daniels saw what he believed to be a small fawn fleeing from a barking dog. He ran to the house, borrowed a shotgun, and shot it. It turned out to be a 23 l/2 pound wildcat. He brought the "catamount" to Elkins and sold it to Emory Powers who was to have it mounted.
A little below the Elliott's Ridge Cheat Mountain road intersection once stood another one room schoolhouse, the Elkhorn School. Also near the intersection is the Pritt Cemetery, containing the graves of the Pritt Family of the area, those being relatives of Johnson Pritt. He was a son of Edward Pritt, who owned a large tract of land in the area of over 1,200 acres, covering that part of Cheat Mountain from the Left Fork of Files Creek, over the mountain to Fishinghawk Creek, and also extending north to Chenoweth Creek. On September 16, 1879, a post office called Files Creek was opened in the area, with Johnson Pritt as postmaster. It was discontinued on October 31, 1881. Pritt was also surveyor of the highway on the Beverly and Circleville Road on June 30, 1883, when he was excused by the county for some illness. He was replaced by Leonard Weese. Weese was allowed $75.00 out of the county levy for work on the road in March of 1886.
"I didn't think when they joined it that it was a very good lodge. Someone come here from another town and made it out to be a good lodge. When he quit he burnt his robes up."
The reconstructed America in the decades following the War Between the States, remained in many respects and in many areas a battleground, plagued by the existence of various groups and organizations, carrying out all sorts of vigilante depredations. These activities, particularly in the south, remained like a sore on the face of the reconstructed nation. The state of West Virginia can mournfully remember its own share of these troubles, in various forms, whether organized groups or spontaneous upheavals. The Ku Klux Klan was formed in 1865, dedicated to opposing various political principles, the reconstructive government, carpetbagging, and the blacks. The original Klan disbanded officially in 1869, although some local chapters remained into the 1870's.
In the late 1870's and early 1880's West Virginia, the central counties in particular, was infested by a violent group of radical vigilantes known as the Regents Committee, they being credited with all sorts of horrible actions. They were colloquially known as the "Red Men," because they, similar to the Klan, wore red robes from their heads to their knees. A sophisticated organization, they had written constitutions and bylaws, signs and signals by which undisguised members could recognize each other in public, they voted on punishments of those who fell into their disfavor, and their name struck fear into the hearts of those living in the areas of their misguided rule. They burned homes, destroyed saloons, subjected men and women alike to merciless whippings, robbed, threatened and committed other acts against anyone whom they disapproved of for any reason. The area of Laurel Mountain, where the counties of Barbour, Tucker, and Randolph come together, was once a haven for such a band, it finally being broken up by the Circuit Court of Barbour County, with the help of the State's Attorney General.
The problems for the Randolph County area did not stop there, however. In September of 1893, the Buckhannon Busy Bee reported that a group of armed men approached the residence of James Kirtner, near Elkins, fired several volleys into the air, removed the occupants, and burned the place to the ground. Also from 1901 to 1909, four and possibly five persons were lynched in Randolph County, and in 1918 a local attorney was tarred and feathered. It must be remembered that at the time of these problems the Red Men and the Ku Klux Klan were both defunct, and none of these problems in particular can be attributed to them.
The Klan was, however, reformed in December of 1915 in Georgia. During the next several years they gained power and influence and by 1924 had an estimated membership) of 3,000,000 nationally. By that time hundreds of local chapters had materialized, on being in Elkins, West Virginia. Elkins Local #46. Charlie Collett was a member of this group, he and some of his friends joining when the lodge came to the area and started the local order. Several legends about the Elkins chapter exist, and one can sometimes hear them being recounted by certain old timers gathered in groups up town. It is said that Elkins Local #46 was involved in various vigilante activities such as the tarring and feathering of two sisters and an old Italian, and the burning of a cross on the lawn of the Presbyterian Manse Much of the evidence found in the local papers does not coincide with these types of legends.
Elkins Local #46 was formed as early as the first half of 1922, although the exact date is not clear. They made a contribution to a fund toward the purchase of an artificial limb for one individual. They made a show of another donation, when they walked into the auditorium of the First Methodist Church on Kerens Avenue robed in full costume, and bearing an illuminated cross of red. They handed Reverend A. D. Craig an envelope containing money, a letter, and an American flag. Reverend F. H. Barron of the Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church was also in the Methodist Auditorium, and they handed him an envelope containing a donation to a campaign being conducted by Davis and Elkins College, and a letter. Visitations of churches by these groups at the time were common. In May of 1923. such a visitation was made to the Methodist Church at Norton, and in July of that year the Belington chapter visited the Methodist Church at Junior. Both times the members were fully robed, and both times donations were made. Besides the Belington and Elkins chapters, one existed at Pickens.
On June 13, 1923, the local chapter took a large advertisement in the Elkins Inter-Mountain, giving a full rundown of their beliefs. They fully admitted their racist tendencies, stating.
The KKK holds that it is obligatory upon...all...colored races in America to recognize that they are living in the land by courtesy of the white race...(and)...it opposes...the efforts of certain organizations...which are...preaching and teaching social equality.
In the same advertisement they stated that their members were sworn to uphold the government of the United States above all others, and exalted it "above any other government, civil, political, or ecclesiastical." Three days later Reverend P.H. Cook of the Christian Church published his impressions of the order, condemning them for the statement that the government of the United States should be held in higher esteem than the ecclesiastical. The Klan published an answer to him on the 18th, and Cook countered with another statement on the 20th.
On the night of the 3rd of July the Klan held an initiation ceremony on the hill behind the present day Colonial Court Service station. At about 9:00 p.m. a skyrocket was released, with a three by five foot American flag trailing beneath it. It floated on a parachute out over the courthouse, and back into the Wees addition. As it floated three large bombs were detonated and a salute was fired. A large burning cross could be seen on the hill from many parts of town and on three other hills similar crosses were ablaze. A smaller cross could be seen moving toward the big one, followed by about 60 men in civilian clothes, these being initiated into the order.
Elkins Local #46 held what was probably its biggest display on Independence Day in 1924. On June 12, 1924, the Exalted Cyclops of the Elkins Klan wrote to O. S. Sayre, Mayor of Elkins, to request permission for a parade in Elkins on July 4th, and to request permission to appear in full costume. In that year the Klan was receiving a great deal of negative national press. Given this fact, it is interesting to note that the Mayor of the City of Elkins responded to this request as follows:
I am in receipt of your letter...I understand that the KKK is a Christian organization, always endeavoring to enlighten, uplift, and be of service to humanity, and feeling that it is your intention to put on a...peaceful demonstration...I grant permission for you to parade upon the streets of the City of Elkins in full regalia.
In further preparation for the celebration an individual appeared before the City Council on July 3rd, and asked permission to use small red lights in the KKK parade on the 4th, stating that the lights were very small and non-explosive. Permission was granted. Also on the 3rd, the lodge published two notices in the Inter-Mountain, announcing all of the festivities and informing visiting Klansmen as to the whereabouts of the headquarters for the day, and advising them to be at the fairgrounds in South Elkins at 7:45 p.m. on the Fourth, in preparation for the parade.
The celebration held in Elkins on that Fourth of July might have been described by some as spectacular. Others probably called it malevolent. Big is an accurate description. It was estimated that as many as 2,000 visiting Klansmen and their families spent the day in town, as well as other out of town visitors. Many of the regular passenger trains carried extra coaches to accommodate the influx of visitors. The newspapers stated that the Klan had held one of the largest of their celebrations ever seen in the state. It was on a level with the massive demonstration in Charleston on May 30th of the same year, in which thousands witnessed a Klan wedding, the bride and groom being married in the full regalia of the order, at Kanawha City Ball Park.
The Elkins celebration began at 10:00 a.m. at Harper's Flying Field, with an aerial salute over the town. At 1:00 p.m. there was a band concert, followed by an hour and a half of speeches. Following this was an exhibition of aerial stunts by Doyle's Flying Circus, ending at 6:00 p.m. At 7:45 the members assembled at the fairgrounds, and a parade was held following the approximate route of the present day Forest Festival parades. More than 500 members participated, including women, and one of Doyle's airplanes carried a flaming cross above the route. At the courthouse, the marchers entered cars and were taken back to Harper's Field, where an induction ceremony was held and several hundred entered the order. This was followed by a massive fireworks display.
Elkins Local #46 continued to make news in the ensuing months. On August 18th an individual was being buried at Maplewood Cemetery, when 29 hooded figures appeared from the nearby woods and, bearing a floral cross of red, proceeded to the grave, waiting for the minister officiating to conclude the ceremony. At this point the Exalted Cyclops gave a signal and the group gave the organization's burial prayer. At the conclusion of the ritual they marched back into the woods. The papers stated that this was the first time such a display had been offered in the vicinity by the order.
The Ku Klux Klan eventually disbanded in the area, as well as the nation, to reform later as the group that every now and then makes news today. Negative press from other areas cost the Elkins Local several members, even though it is claimed that the Elkins Lodge as a unit never participated in the hateful type of vigilance activities that the order was accused of in other areas. Today in the area there are few demonstrations by the order, the last being the ceremonies conducted on Hall Road in northeastern Upshur County in August of 1980.
(What follows is a transcript of several tape recorded and other interviews with Stella Collett made at various times. Every effort has been made to quote her exactly as she spoke, although in some instances it was necessary to slightly alter the content to make the transcript easier to read and understand. The beliefs, opinions, and editorial comments are strictly her own, and I can assume no responsibility for any statements that someone else doesn't happen to agree with. I have made an effort to check her accuracy on historical matters, and found her to be accurate about 95% of the time. All entries in italics within the body of the transcript are my own (C David Armstrong) comments, either to lend an insight into the mood of the interview or to offer more information.)
"My great grandfather, George Hill, lived up there where Mildred lives (Mildred Scott Smith S. Elkins). He had a brick or plaster house. The only plaster house in the country at the time. And the Indians was all around here (Elkins) you know, and they captured him, and took him with them, and was a gonna kill him. But he could play the violin. And he made a violin while he was captured there, and he played it, and they liked it, so they decided they'd keep him. They'd go a huntin' but there would always be an Indian go with him, to be sure he'd come back. So they'd go that way for awhile, and finally they got so they thought he was gonna stay, and they'd let him go by himself. So he'd go for a little while, and come back. Next day he'd go a little longer, and then come back. And he kept going that way till he got enough time that he could get away from them, and he came home.
"My grandfather was Scott Hill. He married Maryum Griffith, my grandmother. They lived just a little piece from where I grew up, on Ellis Ridge (Elliott's Ridge). They died before I was born. He had three sons, George, who was my Dad, and Uncle John Hill, and Uncle Hiram Hill. And they had a daughter Mary, who married George Chenoweth. He (Scott Hill) had all this farm up there (Elliott's Ridge) where they'd traded with a feller for that land where Mildred lives. Then he give Uncle John his farm, eighty some acres, and Dad his farm, eighty some acres, and Uncle Hiram his farm, eighty some acres. "And Scott Hill had a brother John Hill. He was my husband's (C. H. Collett's) grandfather. He (Hill) married Sarah Griffith, who was a sister of Maryum Griffith that was my grandmother.
These ladies were daughters of Caleb Griffith, who married Mary Beasly. Griffith hailed from Augusta County, Virginia, and was one of at least 16 children. His father, Able Griffith, died in 1812, in Augusta County. -C. D. A. )
"This John Hill's children were Claudies, Ann, Mary Elizabeth, Charles, Cape (Caleb), Dave (David), John and Helen Hill. Ann Hill's first husband was John Mollihan. Her second husband was Jake Suiter. Mary Elizabeth Hill married Solomon Collett, and they were Charlie's (her husband's) parents. Charles Hill married Liddie Caldwell. Cape Hill married Rufina Leary. John Hill died young, and Aunt Heel married William Isner.
"My father was George Washington Hill. And Mom's full name was Christena Margaret Bosworth Weese. Her father was Absalom Weese, my grandfather. He was a farmer and he lived about two miles up from Beverly on Dodson Creek (Dodson Run). His children was Uncle George Weese, Uncle Bill Weese, Uncle Elam Weese, and Elias and Hoy. That's the boys. And there was Mary Ellen, and Maggie, and Liddie (Lydia), and Aunt Celie ( Cecelia), and one little girl that had never been named. They called her Sissie. She died when she was just little. And there was Mom (Christena M.B. Weese). And Sarah. I've heard Mom talk about a Jacob Weese, but I don't know who he was.
"I was at Absalom Weese's house once, after he was dead. One of the grandchildren was living there. Uncle George Weese got his farm from Absalom, and Uncle Bill got his farm from Absalom. Park got his farm from Absalom. The Weese Cemetery is on Absalom's farm. Grandma Weese's people (Eunice Marstiller Weese's) came from Germany Mom had a little bit of a trunk about that long (14 inches) and about that deep ( 7 inches). It was solid wood. Her people brought it from Germany. She had a Bible that I guess was from there. It was before they put the 'S' in the alphabet. It was written in English but 'F' stood for 'S '. I had an awful time readin' that thing Grandma. Weese died when Effie (her sister) Was just little. Effie can just remember her dying.
"Uncle George Weese married a girl named Lucinda. But I don't know what her last name was. Their children was Park, Drape, and Luther. I think there was only three boys. And there was Maggie McQuain (married William J McQuain) and Georgianna, and Ida and Elnory. I believe that's all the girls. Uncle Bill Weese married Ann Stalnaker. Their children was Dutt, Matt and Morgan. Uncle Elam Weese married a girl whose first name was Nancy. I don't remember what her last name was. She wasn't from around here. Uncle Elam went to Kansas City and lived and died there. He only come back to visit. They had George. I don't know if they had any more children or not.
"Uncle Elias Weese married Helen Griffith. She was always jolly and full of life. She was a sister of my Grandmother Hill and Charlie's (her husband's) Grandmother Hill. They had Bruce and Orville and Bernard and Dora. Uncle Elias didn't own anyplace. He lived around. One time he lived in the valley between Elkins and Beverly. During the Civil War he was working on his farm up on the hill from Beverly. They (soldiers) saw him and thought he was a spy that carried information back and forth, and they arrested him. They took him to Camp Chase until after the war. While he was there he caught a disease and almost died.
"Aunt Liddie Weese married Harry Martin, and they lived in Chicago. He worked in a factory. He made good money. He gave all the family watches as gifts. He was a soldier stationed here in the Civil War. I don't know what side he was on. While he was here he got acquainted with Aunt Liddie Weese and she married him. She had a boy, Clifford Martin, was about five years old when Harry got back from the war. They had three boys, Clifford, Cale, and Elwood. They didn't have any girls.
"Uncle Hoy Weese married Nettie Flint. They lived just up the road from us (George Hill's, Elliott's Ridge). They had Acie, and Elam, two boys, and two girls, Cynthia and Louida, Lodie they called her. Aunt Sarah Weese married Washington Stalnaker. Then he died of cancer. He had what they called a rose cancer on his face and it finally killed him. She had one son by him, Harry Stalnaker. And a daughter Edith.
"Aunt Celie Weese married Bill Bonham. He was a soldier in the Civil War too. Aunt Celie met him while he was here. After they got married they lived around here for awhile, and then moved to Charleston (111 Randolph Street). They had Caleb and some other boys. Their girls was Lou and Stella and Lena. They was in nursin' school. They wanted me to come down there and go to school with them, but Mom wouldn't let me. If I had I probably never would have married.
"Mom remembered a big battle (Civil War) at Beverly. They could hear the guns and cannons. The soldiers would get use of someone's house and have dances and they would ask the girls to come. You almost had to go 'cause if they got insulted it was hard to tell what they might do. You had to keep them in a good humor. She said (her mother) one time they had the Rebels in one room of their house and the Union in the kitchen he family kept them apart. They was through there and come in and demanded something to eat. The people in Beverly had left their homes when they had that battle. The doctors and their wives come out there (to Absalom Weese's) to stay. Dr. Bosworth and Dr. Tolbert.
"Captain Ott wanted to marry Maggie (Weese). She said that she didn't think she was gonna live. She must've been warned of her death or something because she told them all the day and time, six o'clock, that she was gonna die. She died and then he (Ott) went back to his home and died. Mary Ellen Weese sewed for people. She was working at Beverly I think for one of the doctors. She knew she was dying and wanted to go home to die. They wanted her to stay. She said what day and time she would die, and when that day and time came, she died.
(I can't say if she was confusing the two sisters or not. She seldom confused things she said, even into her nineties. the concept of being warned of one's death was a common belief to these old time West Virginians. The Parkersburg Daily State Journal, on April 8, 1897, carried the story of one of their citizens, John Flesher, stating that he had been warned of his death, and went around to relatives saying his goodbyes the day before he died. C.D.A.)
"Mom once told me about a feller that lived in Beverly. He was an infidel. He didn't believe in a Heaven or a Hell or a God. He'd never allow a Bible in his house, and he didn't let his kids or his wife have any. So one day he came down sick, and he went into a sort of a trance, like he was dead. But he wasn't. When he come out of it he said to his wife: "I just saw where I'm a going, and it's an awful place. I don't want any of you to come there. Go buy a Bible and read it to the kids. God had showed him where he was going. He'd seen Hell. The first thing his wife did was go out and buy a Bible. I don't know what his name was. Mom told me about him. So you must always be good. Never use rough language. That's one of the ten commandments. And if you break one, you're as guilty as all of them.
"Dad didn't believe in religion when him and Mom was first married. He believed in God, but he didn't believe there was real change that people could feel when they found religion. He said if he ever found it he wanted it to knock him down so he'd know he'd found it. Preacher Davis (Simeon Davis) was a preachin' at the school house once, and Dad got up shakin' hands and he'd put his hands on people's hips and pick them up just as easy as I would a baby. When he got to Marsh Chenoweth, Marsh braced himself and Dad couldn't lift him. But he tried again and he put Marsh's head clear up through the hole that the bell rope hung in. Then he (Hill) fell on the floor. Everyone figured he was dead. It was cold that night and Seymour Stalnaker's house was the closest, so they took him there and put him to bed. Mom said, "Asleep in Jesus, how sweet!" Later that night it warmed up and there was stars out. Dad got up and went out and looked up and said, "Oh, what a beautiful night." This happened right after Mom and Dad was married, before any of us kids was born. After that Dad was religious and went to church. Mom had kidney trouble and couldn't go (to church) regular. I always liked church. I never missed. I taught Sunday school for the kids when I was grown. They had a Sunday school every Sunday and preachin' was two Sundays a month. On preachin' days preachin' would be in the morning and Sunday school in the afternoon. So we went twice.
"Dad and Mom (George W. and Christena Weese Hill) lived up there in the house where they went to housekeepin on Ellis Ridge (Elliott's Ridge). Dad always kept the house with a good coat of paint. Him and Mom built that house when they started out it was log. But later it was a two story house with a balcony and if we would walk to one end of the balcony we could see clear into Pettit's place there at Beverly. Grandpa Hill lived where John Hill's house was (John, son of Scott), in a log house with three rooms. But they was big rooms. After Willie (Hill) and Cecil (Hill) got older, Columbus (her brother) built John Hill's house. I never saw any of my grandparents except Grandma Hill (Maryum Hill). l was about 12 or 13 when she died. Dad never talked about his family. My father's sister married George Chenoweth. Her name was Mary. They (Chenoweths) lived there at Elkins. She died when Charlie (Collett) was living. George (Chenoweth) was a carpenter. He fell and got hurt pretty bad. He wasn't able to work. He had hurt his face or jaw in some way so one time when he came out home to visit he couldn't hardly eat. Their ( George and Mary Chenoweth) children was Wade, the oldest, and Howard, another boy. There was Mattie. She married a Parrish and died here in Elkins last year. And Mamie, Jessie, Irene, May, and Nell. "Dad and Mom's house was where I was born and where all my brothers and sisters were born. There was six of us kids. Columbus Everett (born December 21, 1869), and Aries Granville (born September 12, 1872), Luther Morgan (born October 11, 1877), Oliver Lazarus (born January 11, 1880), Effie May (born November 23, 1886) and me (Stella Wilmoth Hill, born November 3, 1891). I was brought to the world by Doctor Albert Bosworth, and he brought Richard (her oldest son Richard Collett) to the world. I had to learn to walk twice, cause I got scarlet fever when I was small.
"Dad kept all kinds of animals up there. He was a farmer. We had sheep, and pigs, and horses, and geese, and cows, and chickens. I rode horseback when I was around the farm, but I rode a buggy when I went to town. Mom and Dad dealt at Bosworth's Store there in Beverly for awhile, but after I was bigger we dealt at Channel's Store. That was on the same street where the restaurant is (Route 219-250). When people would come to see us at Dad's house they'd sometimes stay 'till 11 or 12 o'clock. If it was snowing they'd come on horse drawn sleighs. Uncle Hiram's boy Bill was shot by his uncle when he was a kid and was paralyzed from the waist down. They'd tie his chair to the sleigh and bring him to the house. They thought he was a turkey was why he got shot. Uncle Hiram married Lizzie Pritt. Uncle John Hill was our closest neighbor. He married Elizabeth Kittle. Other neighbors we had were the John Colletts, the Hiram Hills, the Cape Hills (Caleb Hill), the Dave Hills, the Hoy Weeses, the Len Weeses (Leonard Weese), the George Stalnakers, and the French Kittles. Levi McQuain lived not far from the school. Columbus (Hill) built his house. He was a carpenter. Perry Arbogast lived there on Dad's place and worked around the farm. Henry Doerr lived over the hill from John Ameter. Judy and Leehew (Elihu) Schoonover lived on Chenoweth Creek just a little piece from Dad's. Judy used to stay with Mom some, before her (Judy's) marriage when Columbus and Aries was little. Some of them (residents of upper Chenoweth Creek) was a rough bunch. You could hear them swearin' if the wind was right.
"Burl Collett played music . We had an organ, and an accordian, and a fiddle there at home. He would come there and play them all. He worked in a glass blowing factory at Wheeling, and they claim it gave him TB. I wasn't very old when he died. Ed and Mayberry Strawder played guitar and banjo. Mayberry was called May. And Orville Kerr played the Banjo.
"There at home we had a dog named Butch. I guess it was because we talked to him all the time, but it seemed like he knowed everything you said to him. One time when I was about 14 or 15 Mom and I was pickin' strawberries, and Butch seen us pickin' 'em and he got to rootin' down and pickin' off strawberries and eatin' 'em. Mom told him to get out of there and go on and catch a pheasant! So he left, and after a while he come back with a pheasant! I remember one time when I was a girl they was having a protracted meeting at the school (a religious meeting) and Dad and Effie went, but Mom and I stayed home. I had a cold. It was February, but it come an awful thunderstorm with fierce winds and rain. Butch was afraid of it and he'd run and hide under the bed.
"I wasn't six years old yet when I went to school with Effie (her older sister). I wasn't in school yet but I went that day with her. We all went over to the Paul Louk house. They'd boarded up the house with planks, and there was just enough room to climb over the top, so we went in. Then we heard this noise and I can't tell you what it was like. Sort of a moanin'. So we all hustled out of there. Belle (the teacher) grabbed me up and was a carryin' me. We all thought Bern did it. He told us he had to go up to Uncle Cape's ( Caleb Hill) and water the horses. Cape was at Elkins or Beverly one. When we were in the classroom we heard the noise again, and Bern was with us, so it wasn't him.
"Paul Louk was a gentle feller, and he'd lived alone. He was supposed to be a witness to a trial (Some people) had got mixed up and they'd killed someone. Some Louk. Paul knowed who done it. That's the reason they got rid of him. When he was found he was hung on a tree in front of his house, but his feet wasn't clear off the ground. He was kindly knelt there on his knees. And it was just a little tree he was hung on. We used to go down there and see it. It had initials all over it. They thought the Louk house was haunted. Belle Morrison ( the teacher) boarded with the Len Weeses and she said she couldn't keep the covers on her at night. Something would pull them off. Went to reckon it was Paul's ghost. Paul Louk was Nellie's (Weese, wife of Leonard Weese) brother.
"Lee Weese was a son of Len Weese. He married Anna Kerr. Len's didn't like her and when Lee would go to Len's and come back he'd be mean to her. When his daughters Icie and Pearl got bigger they decided to get him so they knocked him down! Len had another boy Charlie that was Jim Weese's daddy. Jim married Effie (her). French Kittle lived up on the hill away from the road. His farm was rocky and he bought down in the valley. His wife got the flu and it went into newmonie fever (Pneumonia), and she died. Their daughter Grace was just a baby. French was crippled and had cut his leg at the knee with a corn cutter. He had to walk on crutches. The Len Weeses took Grace and wanted to keep her. They had her call her daddy hippie" after his affliction. French got her back. Mart Weese ( another son of Leonard) married his first wife in Kansas. That was Bessie's ( who later married Bernard Collett) mother. Charlie ( Weese) was a full brother of Bessie. When Bessie's mother died her grandmother come from Kansas and took Charlie ( Weese) and the other kids to Kansas.
(Mart Weese's first wife, Emma Hullsopple Weese, was born In 1866 in Kansas. Their oldest child, Charles E. Weese, was also born there. The grandmother referred to above as coming from Kansas and taking the children was apparently Barbara Hullsopple, a German born resident of Scranton, Osage County, Kansas, in 1900. Mart Weese s children by both of his wives apparently were, roughly in order of birth: Charles, Albert, Berland, Ida, Jonna (male), and Bessie by his first wife, and Wade, Lester, Isaac "Glen," Virgie, Grace, and Peach The children of Leonard and Nellie (Louk) Weese were: Charles W., Squire Martin "Mart;" Flora "Annie," wife of French Kittle; Grace M., wife of James Herbert; Bernard "Lee" Weese; Francis "Dev" or "Devie," Alice Belle, wife of Charles Flint; Edda "Blanch," wife of Noah "Wilbert" Teter; Peter "Pete," a resident of Harrison County in 1920; and one other child who was dead before 1900. Leonard Weese was a son of Jesse Weese. Jesse Weese was a brother of Absalom Weese.-C.D.A.)
"Columbus married Corie Daniels. Her father was Elam Daniels. He had several children. They was Eli, Isbern, Lizzie, Ida, Maude, Dollie, and one other girl. Eli lived on the head of Chenoweth Creek. He had two girls, Ethel and Nellie. Ethel married a Chenoweth and Nellie married a Rucker. Dollie married Joe Hinchman and lived in that little stone house on Davis Avenue (Elkins) on the right across from the bridge. Maude married a Shreve and another sister married a Hyre. Isbern Daniels wasn't a very nice man. They claimed something was the matter with his mind. He never married. He bought a little house right above Weese schoolhouse and lived there by himself. He shot Columbus. Up at Elam's. Elam and Corie saw it. Columbus was getting on his horse to go back to work. Isbern raised the upstairs window of Elam's house and shot Columbus in the arm. l was about three or four when that happened. He had trouble with his arm, and couldn't use it a long time. The bones kept working out of it. There wasn't any trial. Isbern tried to hang his self a couple of times. He lived several years.
(The shooting of Columbus Hill was reported in the Randolph Enterprise on March 9, 1898. On the 18th of April, Isbern Daniels committed suicide by hanging in the Randolph County Jail, the event being reported in the Enterprise for the 20th. Getting shot seemed to run in the Hill family. In 1902, John Feight had a saloon in Beverly, and Aries Hill was a clerk there. The Inter-Mountain for September 11, 1902, reported that Aries Hill, at that saloon, shot himself in the finger while looking at a revolver. Three years later, in April of 1905, Aries Hill was granted a license to sell liquor in the McLaughlin Building owned by Dr. Yokum, in Beverly. C.D.A. )
"Preacher Davis used to preach at the Ridge. He was a Methodist preacher. My family was Methodist, and Aunt Fine Hill (Rufina Leary Hill) was a Baptist. Preacher Davis (Simeon Davis) and his wife had three boys. No girls. There was Cowen, the oldest, Wilford second, and Tim. They was good religious people. When Wilford was just a chunk of a boy he'd stayed up there in Beverly with old man Lough, working with no pay. His ( Wilford's) father and mother died, so he'd (Lough) tell Wilford, "You see that boy there a comin'? If you lick him we'll give you a dime." So he (Davis) said he was hungry and he did (fight). Old man Lough lived in that house there in the turn of the road as you go up the valley on the left after you pass the bank (in Beverly). A wood house. He was awful mean (Lough). They wouldn't give Wilford only scraps off the table to eat for his work. So the lot was high !n the back and the house had a high porch on it, and there was a rose bush there, and Wilford threw old man Lough in it (the bush). So he (Lough) reported him. That Marstiller (Page C.) was a constable. He was a little bit relation to Mom's mother. So Marstiller come up there and had Wilford sent to the orphan's home. And they treated them awful bad there. After he got out he stayed there with us at home so much. He was awful good to work and help Dad. He'd do any kind of work. We thought an awful lot of him because his father and mother was both good religious people. He used to nickname me 'Peggy Seven Fidget' because I was always so quick around. He called Effie 'Polly Peach Bloom.' Cowen used to board there, and so did Orville Kerr. They worked for a bunch of people peeling bark. One time Orville Kerr was there playing the banjo and they wanted Cowen to sing. He (Cowen) said, 'I can't sing. I lost my voice crying for bread.'
(The Elkins Inter-Mountain for August 27, 1896, states that Hiram Hill was hauling tan bark to Beverly. On May 2, 1901, under "Elliott's Ridge," it says that bark peeling had commenced on Alba Weese's land. This is probably the particular bark peeling referred to above. The later article also states: "Our people are all nearly out of feed" -C.D.A.)
"Wilford come down here to Elkins and Marstiller was still a constable. Marstiller seen him, and he (Davis) had a gun on him. Wilford went outside the corporation and Marstiller followed him and tried to arrest him. So Wilford shot him. He should never have been hung for that! He was outside the corporation! We got letters from him from prison and we got the paper where told that he was hung and about the verse that he read (23rd Psalm). It hurt us awful. I can never go through Moundsville without I think of Wilford.
(At this point in the story her eyes got watery and she looked down at the ground. I ended the conversation. Although Stella Collett was not a fragile woman, and could usually talk about violence and death as easily as about church and school, l could see that the pain of what she felt was a horrible injustice was still very intense to her even 82 years after the fact.-C.D.A.)
"The school I went to was a one room school, with one teacher (at a time), who taught grades one through nine. We learned reading, spelling, geography, arithmetic, history, bookkeeping, and English No foreign languages. The school building was a church on Sundays. Belle Morrison, Pearl Suiter, Leona Hart, Bertha Stalnaker, and Levi Weese was some of my teachers. I only went to the ninth grade. When I first started school we had slates, and then we had paper. The biggest boys kindled the fire and swept the building. Cecil Hill was one. We went to school from nine to four. It was about a mile from home and we would walk it every day. Lunch was from 12 to 12:30 and sometimes it was longer. We had a short break at three o'clock. People come around and took that school picture. We got one for fifty cents. Everybody got one. Some of the people in it was Icie and Pearl Weese, Lee's girls. His other children was Tom and Bern. George Leary was Allen Leary's boy. Allen was a brother of Aunt Fine Hill, Dave Hill's wife. I think her father was Josh Leary? The Leary's lived on Files Creek. Georgia Stalnaker was George Stalnaker's girl, a sister to Wayne and Forest. George's wife was Celie Triplett. There was Seymour and Bruce(other sons of George and Arcilla Triplett Stalnaker) Georgie married Charlie Harper. He was a school teacher from Dry Fork. Mae Hill was Dave Hill's girl. She had a sister Jessie, and a brother Bernard, and one little girl died. Cleo Hill was Cape Hill's only daughter, his only child. His wife didn't get pregnant. Hattie Flint was Charlie and Blanche's girl. Clyde Evans was Enoch Evans' boy. They lived on Chenoweth Creek. Enoch married a sister of Cebie Kelley.
"One time there was a dance at Uncle Hiram's house in honor of Bill Hill. It was in the big room there where Bill stayed. These two boys from Bemis came there and I danced with them. They were both nice looking boys. I don't remember what their names was 'cause I only saw them the once. Bill played the music for the dance. He'd sell tobacco and candy there at Uncle Hiram's. Everyone had a good time. Then Tom went to dances ( Thomas Jefferson Collett). Dollie was at a few, but not many (Dollie Schoonover, who later married T. J. Collett). If the girls paid any attention to Tom, Dollie said they was trying to take him away. Not many paid attention to him.
(Even without modern transportation, television, stereo, etc., these folks were always entertained. There was music, dancing, church activities, "literaries," and other types of entertainment. Columbus Hill had moved into the valley in March of 1896, and in September the Inter-Mountain correspondent at Pleasant View reported that the young people had "enjoyed an apple cutting at Columbus Hill's.-C.D.A.)
"I'll tell you how I learned to stop bleeding by reading the Bible. Allen Leary could stop it. His daughter took the nose bleeds and got white and weak. He'd been a stopping it with that Bible verse. He come over to our place and says, 'If I tell you what verse to use, will you try to do it?'
"'I don't know,' I said. But he told me the verse and I tried it, and it stopped. Luther (Hill) could draw fire. Bill Hill could too. One time I burnt my wrist and I called Bill and said, 'Bill, I burnt my wrist awful bad.' I asked him if he'd draw the fire. He said he'd never done it over the phone, but he'd try. So in a little bit it started hurtin' real bad then quit. One time Effie took a nose bleed. I went in and got the Bible and read the verse and used her name and it stopped.
(Here she makes reference to a form of faith healing. It seems no matter what the ailment, there was someone who had a mystical cure. These old people swear by this kind of thing, citing specific examples of if s effectiveness that they have witnessed. -- C.D.A.)
"When I was 11 or 12 they were building the C & I (Railroad) into Glady, and Luther (Hill-her brother) was in the saloons (at Glady). While he lived there he drove a team hauling groceries into Glady by the wagon before there was a railroad. Boys, that was a rough place! I was over there once when I was a girl. They had fighting out in the streets and one come through (the door) and Corie slammed the door on him to keep him out. Dad come after me in a couple of weeks. I was never so glad to get out of anywhere in my life. Luther had a saloon there. He'd keep a gun behind the bar because they'd come back there to get him. So they was building the C & I and they had the niggers in there. They worked cheap.
(Stella Collett was no more a racist than Martin Luther King. She used that word because it was the term popular in the culture in which she was raised. In fact she once told about her mother asking a black man to sit down to dinner with the family at the dining room table, he refusing politely, saying that it was the way he was raised to eat in the kitchen.--C.D.A.)
"They'd deputized Luther to bring in some nigger across from Glady. Now he was a real bad nigger, and they told Luther to bring him to Elkins dead or alive. He'd murdered someone. They said if he tried to get away, or to harm Luther in any way, to shoot him. On the way over he tried several times to get Luther. Kept trying to grab Luther's horse, and to grab Luther. So once he tried to run off. Luther told him to stop, but he just kept going, so Luther shot him and killed him. But he brought him in. Luther felt just awful about it, that he had to shoot somebody that way. But he had no choice. And it took him a long time to get over it. They hadn't got far from Glady before Luther shot him. That happened in the summer or fall. It was pretty weather. Luther wasn't married then but Columbus and Aries both were. He (the prisoner) was buried on Ellis Ridge or up where he was shot.
"Oll (pronounced All, nickname for Oliver Hill) had several jobs. He drove a team and hauled logs when he was 14 years old. He was a bartender for King Brothers and the Red Men. He went into carpentry on the other side of Charleston for awhile (Charlestown). Him and Luther were carpenters. Oll worked at the Red Man's after he couldn't do carpentry work. Aries (Hill, pronounced Air-e-us) married Flawie Ameter. Her father was John Ameter. John Ameter married Mrs. Hostettler. She already had several children. There was Clara, Alfred, Albert, and Bertha (Hostettler). Clara used to work at the Inter-Mountain. I knowed her. She was down here at Elkins when Flawie died. Hillis (John Hillis Hill) was there. She gave Hillis the (Ameter) farm. The house burnt up. It was empty and I guess there must have been someone in there camping or something and it burnt up. Alfred and Albert lived in Elkins and worked in the machine shops. I didn't know Bertha. She married I think a Zickefoose and lived up the valley. Uncle John Hill had a boy named Willie. That feller on television puts me in mind of Willie, always cutting up and acting the fool. (She was referring, by coincidence, to comedian Benny Hill.).
"I was married at my Dad's house on the 26th of April, 1914. I met Charlie (Collett-her husband) at church after he come back from working in Wheeling. Charlie's mother was Mary Elizabeth Hill, a daughter of John Hill, who was a brother of my grandfather Scott Hill. Her sister Ann had two children by her first husband John Mollihan. She married Jake Suiter after he died and had Lowley, Pearl, Florence, Gertrude, and Maynard. Charlie's uncle Charles Hill married Liddie Caldwell. They had Clyde, Russel, Ann, and Ethel. His uncle Cape Hill married Luceba Kelley. They had Cleo. His uncle Dave Hill married Rufina Leary and had Bernard, Jessie, May, and one child that died young. Me and Charlie was about fourth cousins. (They were second cousins.).
"Charlie's father was Solomon Collett. He (Solomon) was a sewing machine salesman and a good violinist. And he was a farmer. Mom bought a sewing machine from him. Kenneth has it (Kenneth Collett). Charlie's brothers was John Collett, Will Collett, Bern Collett, Burl Collett, and Lee Collett. He had two sisters that died small. Their family lived out there on Leading Creek somewhere. We never knew just when Charlie was born. The courthouse was burnt up there at Beverly and his birth certificate was in there. His mother wasn't just right for awhile so we never asked her.
(Collett was born about 1875. Although the birth record books for that period survived the fire, the birth certificates apparently were lost. In 1890 a vote was taken on the issue of moving the County Seat from Beverly to the new town of Elkins. Elkins lost. A new courthouse was completed at Beverly in April of 1897. The new building burned to the ground on May 29, 1897 It has been said that some of the interests wanting the courthouse at Elkins hired an individual to burn down the building. No proof of this rumor exists. --C.D.A.)
"When Charlie and I was first married we lived out there at Shoemaker Crossing (Isner Creek, east of Elkins). Our neighbors there were the Clay Isners, the Asher Kelleys, Asher's father and mother, and Howard Lee and his wife. We didn't own any land out at the crossing or on Ellis Ridge. We bought after we came to Elkins. Wingfield Kelley had a farm out there ( Crossing). So did Clay Isner. When Asher Kelley's son Roy grew up he went into the monument business. He went to work for that monument place out on Leading Creek. He was working there when I bought Junior's tombstone (her son). Now Roy lives out at the homeplace. He got it when his daddy died. He had some sisters but was the only boy. Preacher Potts lived at the crossing. The church was Methodist. It used to be a school, too. The year I was married Charlie helped on Dad's farm. They raised some nice big potatoes.
"Out at the crossing Crawford and Youthers had a lumber camp. Near where we lived. Charlie and Bern worked on the docks (Bernard Collett). Charlie was a foreman. When the men cut the logs they'd bring them down the mountain on trucks (motorized). Then they'd load them on train cars. Crawford lived up at Elkins but was up at the camp every day. Youthers lived up at the camp. One time me and Charlie went down there and Youthers had the prettiest goat skins. Charlie and I and Bernard and Bessie lived in the same house, but we each had separate apartments. So Youthers had a phone put out on a tree. When Charlie and I moved in he asked us if he could put it in our house and come in to use it. We said he could so I had a phone there and could talk to Mom out on the Ridge.
"One time when we lived out there (Shoemaker Crossing) Russel Collett (son of Bernard and Bessie) was up at my house. He was just a baby, and a skinny little thing. His aunt Dev Weese (Francis Devie, daughter of Leonard Weese and great aunt of Russel Collett) had made a batch of blackberry wine. She said it might give him an appetite. She put some of it in a bottle and gave it to Bessie. It did help Russel, but it doesn't take much to make a little kid like that drunk. One day he got too much. The bottle was up on Bessie's shelf. Russel was there in the kitchen and Bernard came in for a minute. Russel asked him to hand him the bottle. Bern had to get back to work so he handed the bottle to Russel and walked out. Well, Russel drank the whole bottle. He come over to me and said, 'Say, I'm drunk!' He always called me Say. He tried to walk but he staggered. So he went to bed and fell asleep and slept it off. When the lumber ran out they broke up the camp and we moved. That was when Richard (her son) was about two (about 1917).
(George H. Crawford was never married and was from northern Pennsylvania. Walter S. Youthers was a former County Treasurer for Cambria County, Pennsylvania, his home being at Driftwood in that state. The two became acquainted at Emporium, Pennsylvania, and went into business together there in the spring of 1902. Within seven years they came to Randolph County, West Virginia, and commenced logging the area of Isner Creek and Cheat Mountain, east of Elkins. Crawford was also involved in lumbering operations at Mabie. Crawford and Youthers had at least two trains. One, that they purchased from the Mabie Lumber Company in March of 1912, cost 875 dollars. It was #455, a 36 inch, 9 l/2 gauge Lima built Shay locomotive. The Mabie Company had purchased this engine from Robins Lumber Company of Richwood. Crawford and Youthers also bought five log cars from the Mabie Company, at a cost of thirty dollars each. Another train owned by Crawford was purchased from Koontz, Phillips, and Stam. It was also a Lima built Shay, weighing 15 tons. This apparently was #398, originally owned by W. Whitmer and Sons. Operations on Isner Creek were broken up by October of 1919, and Crawford and Youthers equipment was at the Humphrey Manufacturing Plant in Elkins. George H. Crawford died a lonely death of malaria in a hospital in Baltimore. He had family surviving up north, but had not gotten along well with them. His death resulted in a heated court battle over a brief will he scribbled before he left for Maryland, leaving everything he owned to a girlfriend in Elkins.--C.D.A.)
"Charlie's job at Crawford's finished, and work was scarce. Charlie Wilhelm was boss of the saw mill up Chenoweth Creek and they wanted Charlie (Collett) to fire the saw mill. I cooked at the boarding house. That was when Harold wasn't quite a year old. We went there in June and left in the fall (1917) They had about 13 men. The mill was where Alby Helmick and them lived. The boarding house where I cooked was right beside her house. The saw mill was right across the creek. They had a little grocery store there.
"While I was there I got the measles off Billy Workman. Neither Richard nor Harold took them off me. Boy was I sick with them. But I was only in bed two days. The Workmans cooked there before I left. They lived right across the road from camp. We had a cow, and I churned and made our own butter. Mrs. Workman sent Billy up for my butter mold. They made more than they could use. When Billy came to the door I seen he had an awful cold. I said, 'Billy, you've got an awful cold. You'd better doctor.' He said, 'I got it at my Grandpa's.' His grandpa was at Belington. Mrs. Workman says, 'Was Billy in the house where your children was? He got big measles.' I says, 'No, he wasn't in the house, just at the door.' For a week I felt awful. She come back up and said she was glad the children didn't get the measles. Next day Charlie made me some hot tea and it brought them out. My face felt funny. He got up and turned the light up (she said up, not on) and saw I had the measles.
"When we left there we moved into that house down there by Jessie's (Lavalette Avenue, Elkins). The house where they have the beauty shop. Jake Isner was a miner at Norton and he owned the house. We paid $18.00 a month rent. That was in 1917. We lived there where the beauty shop is. There was a box factory over on Livingston Avenue. A lot of people worked there. An awful lot of women worked there. I seen them go past my place in the mornings with overalls on. It got afire, an awful big fire. They had horses in the factory where they used, but they got them out. I sat in my upstairs window and watched it.
"In 1918 I had typhoid fever. I was in the hospital from July first till the twentieth of September. I was very bad. They didn't know if I would pull through. The soldiers was returning home and Levi Hill come to the hospital to see me. All my hair fell ou'. It was long then and little short hair come in. Harold was just beginning to walk. Before I was strong we moved into a house on Taylor Avenue. Before Junior was born we moved into that house down there (1640 South Davis Avenue). We bought it from Elizabeth Tiffany. Her daddy built the house. Her maiden name was Hanger.
"Harold had a high chair that adjusted to different heights and had wheels at the lowest level. Then we got him a kiddy car. Richard would pedal and Harold would ride. I kept boarders there to help make ends meet. I boarded three of the Phillips boys, Hoaton, Chester, and Roy. They all played music. Arie O'Dell boarded with me and he played the jews harp. So they'd come in from work and start playing. They'd have a real lively time. The Phillips boys' father was June Phillips. He was a police here in town. John Kyle boarded with me, and his brother Will Kyle. When Will got married he brought his wife there to live and I didn't charge him for her, just for himself. Old Man Nestor from Parsons boarded with me, and Old Man Brady. He worked in the machine shop at the railroad. Hugh Nestor boarded with me, when he was working. He worked in the summer and went to school in the winter. We pastured out cows on that land Blaine Taylor owned, there above the house. He rented pasture (that land is now fully developed). In the summertime he lived in that house that Condry lived in (end of Taylor Avenue). In the winter he'd go to Florida. He wasn't a real rich man, but he was well to do. He had plenty to live on.
"One time Charlie was in a lodge called the Juniors (Junior Order U.A.M.). He'd go to Wheeling with them and see his daughter (first marriage). She was with her grandmother. He'd lived there and worked for the phone company splicing cable. He got married and had one girl (daughter). Uncle Charlie Hill lived up there, and so did Tom Griffith. Charlie (Hill) worked on the railroad. A train run over him on a Sunday morning. He had to take some papers to turn in and had several tracks to cross. He got on the wrong one and the train killed him. Liddie Caldwell ( married Charlie Hill) was a schoolteacher in Wheeling. Her brothers were Bill and Jim. Tom Griffith died in Wheeling. Bern (Collett) brought Nina (widow of Will Collett) to Elkins but not to the Ridge. After he took her back she had Bliss (Robert Bliss Collett).
"And Charlie was in the Ku Klux Klan one time. So was all the big (important) people in Elkins. I think someone come here from another town and made it out to be a good lodge. I didn't think when they joined it that it was a very good lodge. The lodge sold the robes. It was an awful lookin' thing. It had the hat fixed up with heavy pasteboard in it to make it stiff (indicating over her head). It was made of heavy white cotton. He'd put them on at the house, but didn't wear them out (when he went out). He took them to the meetings in a bag. I think they burnt a cross once, up on a hill somewhere. They'd have their crosses all lit up so you could see them. They said where, but I didn't pay any attention. They met about once a month, and Charlie never talked about it. He didn't stay in it very long. It just broke up. I think they (members) found out that other places they (the lodge) wasn't acting very good, so they stopped (quit the lodge). Charlie only went to two or three meetings. When he quit he burnt his robes up. They didn't do mean things around here. he never said much about it.
"Howard Collett was born in the Jake Koontz house (corner South Davis and Blaine Avenues) . His parents ( Thomas J. and Dollie Collett) lived there when Junior died (1923). They moved around a lot. They lived on Ward Avenue and on Davis Avenue in the Bob Hanger house. Bob sold it to Virgil Hanger. Dad had about five different strokes when Richard and Harold was small. Mom lived with us for 17 years after Dad died. She fell down the steps and broke both her wrists. She walked off the stairway in the night and landed on the platform. Doctor Harper set her arms and I took care of her at home. Dad and Mom are both buried in the cemetery up there on Ellis Ridge. So are Grandma and Grandpa Hill. I started cooking at First Ward School in l946. Charlie and l started Neighbors Grocery in l948 and had it 11 years. (The store was located at 1922 16th Street)."
(In October and November of 1937 the American Legion of Elkins made arrangements with Amateur S Service Productions of Akron, Ohio, to make a motion picture of Elkins. In the First Ward School segment of "See Yourself In The Movies," Charlie Collett can be seen walking down the steps of the school alone In 1933, one William Slaymaker made a community drama film, "The Villain Foiled," in Beverly. John Hillis Hill, a cousin of Stella Hill Collett, acted in this film. --C.D.A.)
(Clarence Collett was born April 5, 1896, son of John C. and Carrie Collett. He grew up at the John Collet homeplace on Elliott's Ridge. He lived in the Elliott's Ridge area his entire early life, up until his service in World War 1. He now lives in Mr. Ranier, MD, and Florida.--C.D.A.)
"Len Weese lived across the creek (Hill Run) from the road on the left. His house burned down. I went there the day it burned and ate sauerkraut out of a barrel that had burned off. I helped carry him to his grave. One of the hardest things I ever did. We went almost in a straight line from his house to the grave. His house was this side of the divide. We carried him to the grave by hand. Most of Mart Weese's children went west with their grandmother.
"My grandfather Perry Sponaugle lived near the Elkhorn School on the left fork (of Files Creek), about a mile or two up from the compressor station (present day compressor station).
"Bill Hill kept groceries. Candy and tobacco in back of the house. He was shot as a child. His father, Hiram Hill, and George Stalnaker's father went hunting on a foggy, damp day. They told the boys not to go into the woods, but as boys will be boys, they went. Bill and George got up into the grape vines, eating grapes and gobbling like turkeys. Hiram and Stalnaker shot both of them. Bill was shot in the spine below the belt. George was shot in the arm.
"From the lone grave of Stalnaker's child you go a little to the left and down to where the Paul Louk house was. It was an old log house at the bottom. Paul was hanged a little to the right of it. There used to be remains of an old log school house. My father went there. It had greased paper windows. They cut wood to keep warm. The students cut it. Grandmother Collett (Mary Hill Collett) and her children went to the Ridge after Grandfather died. They lived on the Cape Hill place.
"I never did know the name of the negro that Luther Hill shot. But he is buried up there on the mountain (Cheat) on the road to Bemis. He shot him less than a mile from the top on the Beverly side. I used to pick blackberries near the spot. I think they put up a stone. I was just a kid when it happened. I don't know of any other shooting up there. I'd have heard about it. I was about 10 years old. Grandfather (Sponaugle) lived on that road. When they built the railroad from Elkins to Durbin (the C & I) they built a tunnel between Glady and Bemis. They took all the ties and rails and all the machinery, even the steam shovel, over Cheat Mountain from Beverly by wagon. Four mules to a wagon. I remember seeing those wagons pass grandfather's place on the return trip. A lot at once. So many it took a half hour for them to pass.
"I went to the same school that Aunt Stella did. That was the second school. The first one was moved across the creek on top of a hill, about three or four hundred yards away. They moved it in 1903. The older one was not far from the Paul Louk house, but it was quite a ways from the log school that Dad went to.
I worked in the lumber camps and farmed before the war (WWI). Mostly for Arthur and Cleve Louk cutting timber this side of Cheat Mountain. One winter I worked up at the John Rose place.
"Charlie Flint lived on Files Creek up from Beverly and later on Ellis Ridge, at the Hoy Weese place. Lee Weese lived in various places, the last place up on the mountain near Grandfather's (Sponaugle). His ( Weese's) wife lived near the Isaac Walton League (present day league).
"Levi McQuain lived where French Kittle lived last. Past the small house of Pete Weese. (Below the pond). Turn right. When he (McQuain) moved to the Mount Vernon area he sold that place to French Kittle. He (Kittle) was married to Len Weese's daughter. When their youngest child was born, French's wife died. Len Weese raised her. Grace is her name. She is living (July 26, 1984). Before that, French Kittle lived on down the same road to the right, a little off the road.
"A Leary family lived on the George Hill place awhile, way back on the ridge from his house. Their boys was Todd Leary, the oldest, Denver and George.
"Wash Pritt lived beyond the French Kittle place on the other side of the ridge across the top.
"The old log house near the Pritt Cemetery is where Cleve Louk and his mother lived. When I worked for them, I stayed there one winter. I had a feather cover that was down filled and looked like a big pillow. When I'd turn over the down would separate and I'd just have the ticking over me. I got pretty chilly.
"Charlie Weese lived on Files Creek. Turn left on the Bemis Road. Fred Leonard and his brother had a store.
"My Collett family (Clarence is a son of John Collett) is related in some way to Dick Phillips, a red headed guy who lived around Beverly and then I think came to Elkins. Him and Cape Hill were an age. Dick was married, and he was a farmer and horse trader. He had a daughter that married and lived around Leadsville about 1919.