10 Years Ago
Week of June 27, 2012
June is a growing month with the bearing of good things, such as barbecues, vacation days and lettuce from the garden. The fragrance of fresh-cut hay flavors the meadows as multitudes of baby creatures are nestled there. The important thing about making hay is to keep it from getting wet.
Tractors are busy mowing it down, tedding it, then raking it before baling it into square or huge round bales. This is a far cry from what used to be done. Hay was once cut with a scythe, or horse drawn mower, then piled into windrows, which was a pile of long rows of hay for drying, or raked by a horse drawn hay rake and piled into a wagon by pitchforks. The hay was then tossed up in the hay loft by use of a pitchfork and hard labor until the mow was full of dry fragrant hay. The excess had to be put in a haystack which is rarely seen today. Meadows at one time were full of these haystacks which consisted of a stack pole and piled hay around it. It would usually be about 12 feet in height and 14 feet around at the bottom.
Although this was a hot grueling job, it was necessary to feed the livestock during the winter months. Livestock were not the only animals that enjoyed the hay. These were good places to play hide-and-go-seek or a secret place to get away from the world.
Residents to Leave Young Wildlife Alone
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) advises people to leave all young wildlife alone.
“The spring season is the time of year when the woods and fields of West Virginia are full of new life,” said Gene Thorn, wildlife biologist at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in Upshur County. “People have a great opportunity to view and enjoy young wildlife during this season, but it is especially important for the public to understand the need to avoid touching or disturbing these wild animals.”
20 Years Ago
Week of June 27, 2002
On the Thorn,
After 55 Years, An Old Turtle Comes Home
Let’s see, what’s known in lore and in science about common, old, garden variety box turtles?
One thing about them is their longevity—they can live to be upwards of 100 years old.
Another thing that is known from fables is that turtles may be slow, but they’re determined.
For example, remember the story of the tortoise and the hare?
Well, add another element to the “mythology” of turtles–Harlan L. Mitchell, a farmer on the upper end of Thorn Creek, found one the other day that ought to be named “Lassie,” as in “Lassie Come Home.”
That old box turtle came “home,” so to speak, after 55 years.
As a youngster, Mitchell would take out his pocket knife and pass the time by carving his initials, “HLM,” on the shells of turtles he came across.
Sometimes he’d also carve the date on one’s shell.
Last Wednesday evening, Joe Frank Propst was mowing hay on Mitchell’s farm near the low water bridge on Thorn Creek Road.
He saw a turtle and, so as not to run over it, stopped his tractor to move the slow-moving tortoise out of the way.
Propst’s wife, Brenda, gathered up the turtle for their children to play with, and Mitchell thought to ask if there were any carvings or markings on its shell.
“Yes, there is,” she answered. “It looks like it’s maybe your initials. It says, HLM.”
With a chuckle, Mitchell recalled thinking. “Uh-oh, that’s me, all right.”
On closer inspection, Mitchell and Propst saw that, next to the initials, was the date—July 6, 1947!
“What I wonder,” Mitchell said, “is how old he [the turtle] was then, back when I carved that?”
Asked how many turtles there may be around the Thorn Creek (and who knows where else) countryside bearing his youthful “signature,” Mitchell replied, “Quite a few.”
30 Years Ago
Week of June 25, 1992
In colonial times, men would shave their heads bald and wear wigs which were often painfully tight, smelly and expensive. Wigs were high fashion and a status symbol. Better wigs were made from human hair and were very expensive. The cheaper wigs were made from goat or horse hair. So persons wearing tall, full wigs were likely to be wealthy and influential. Thus, they were known as the “big wigs.”
40 Years Ago
Week of June 24, 1982
Fort Upper Tract
Artifacts Are Given
To Historical Society
The family of the late Dr. Charles P. Harper of Huntington recently presented a collection of artifacts uncovered at the site of Fort Upper Tract to the Pendleton County Historical Society.
Included in the collection are a knife, parts of a crock pot, cut nails, parts of a saddle, a tiver and various other items.
The items were found June 19, 1970, when the late Mr. Harper and his son, Charles Harper, Jr., the late O. R. Mallow and Johnny Arvin Dahmer met at Upper Tract to try to determine the exact site of the fort.
Charles Harper, Jr., had a metal detector and after some searching, the items included in the collection were located and dug up. Using the location of items found, the group was able to determine the site of Fort Upper Tract.
The Pendleton County Historical Society placed a marker at the site of the fort, and the marker was dedicated during the Treasure Mountain Festival in 1971 at a program conducted at the Upper Tract Fire House with the late Judge Harlan M. Calhoun, judge of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, serving as master of ceremonies. A history of Fort Upper Tract, which was erected in 1758, was given by Bill Woods, a descendant of William Woods who was one of the inhabitants of the fort.
The collection of items found at the fort are presently on display in the Pendleton County Library in Franklin where they will be kept until the Historical Society completes plans for a permanent exhibit location.
50 Years Ago
Week of June 22, 1972
Harrisonburg-Franklin Mail Route
To Be Cancelled July 1
purpose is to
A further reduction in postal service for the Franklin area will be placed into effect July 1. On that date the Harrisonburg-Franklin mail route will be discontinued.
After July 1, mail coming to the Franklin area from Harrisonburg will be sent to Winchester, then to Petersburg and then to Franklin. Outgoing southbound mail, which now is being carried on the Harrisonburg route, will be sent to Petersburg, then routed to its destination.
White Pine Cones
Worth $4.00 Bushel
A very good opportunity exists this summer for woodland owners to earn money selling white pine cones. The entire northeastern states area is out of white pine seed for their nurseries. This should be a heavy seed year for white pine.
The Department of Natural Resources will buy the cones for $4.00 a bushel for its nurseries. The cones must be ripe, green and unopened. It is not unusual for some large trees to produce as much as 25 bushels per tree. This could amount to as much as $100 per tree. Persons planning to cut white pine should cut them around mid-August when white pine seed becomes ripe. The cones are then easily gathered from tops of harvested trees.
A Revolutionary soldier by the name of James Dyer is buried near Fort Seybert. This James was captured by the Indians after the surrender of the fort and was a captive of the Indians for about two years.
The history of Pendleton County by Morton gives us much light on this matter. His father Rodger left him 620 acres by will dated February 24, 1757. Mr. O. F. Morton gives the sale in 1807 of the personal property of James Dyer netted $1975.00. The inventory included 8 horses, 65 cattle, 52 hogs and 23 sheep. There were 15 books, a Bible going at $9.00 and a copy of Johnson’s Dictionary at $3.33. The furnishings of the house amounted to $189.09, including a clock selling at $60.00 and a desk at $25.00. We here have a glimpse of a man who read books, who was considered rich, and whose log house was perhaps the best furnished dwelling in the county at that time.
60 Years Ago
Week of June 21, 1962
100 YEARS AGO
Jackson Disappears, Joins Lee at Richmond
By LON K. SAVAGE
Editor’s Note—The following is one of a series of articles on the Civil War. Each weekly installment covers events which occurred exactly 100 years ago.
“Where is Jackson?”
That was the question being asked in Washington and in federal army camps around Virginia 100 years ago this week.
The answer was of tremendous importance to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, who had been dismayed at “Stonewall” Jackson’s repeated successes in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley against an assortment of federal generals. Was Jackson now marching on Washington? Was he preparing an invasion of Maryland? Was he moving south to join Robert E. Lee’s Confederates in the defense of Richmond?
The question was vital, too, to Gen. George B. McClellan, whose gigantic federal army now was in sight of Richmond’s church spires, ready to smash into the Confederacy’s capitol city with the arrival of re-enforcements. The re-enforcements were not forthcoming, however, because Lincoln was keeping his available troops near Washington to ward off any Jackson offensive. So telegrams went back and forth among the federals—all asking the same questions.
Then McClellan sent off news to Lincoln: 10,000 Confederates had left Richmond to join Jackson, indeed, did have an offensive in mind.
But McClellan had been fooled. For while this new development was being discussed, Jackson was at the head of his army in a swift march from the Shenandoah Valley to Richmond to join Lee. Lee, in a rush, had sent the re-enforcements to Jackson to mislead McClellan; the re-enforcements had joined Jackson, had turned around and now were marching back with him to Richmond.
It was a daring, do-or-die decision by General Lee to prevent the arrival of re-enforcements for McClellan, then to attack McClellan with full force—and with the aid of Jackson and his army. And it worked, for partly because of the ruse, Lincoln refused one of McClellan’s pleas for re-enforcements on the grounds that he had to keep troops in the north to fend off Jackson’s new offensive—whatever it might be.
Jackson began his forced march on June 18, and not even his own men knew where they were going. Downward across central Virginia they came, until they reached the little town of Frederickshall, some 50 miles northwest of Richmond. There, because it was Sunday, the highly-religious Jackson stopped the movement and spent the Sabbath resting and in religious observance. Next morning, immediately after midnight, Jackson mounted a horse and, with a courier, rode on to Richmond in advance of his army.
He arrived that afternoon, June 22, and while Richmond citizens talked of his exploits in the Valley, he rode unrecognized to Lee’s headquarters just outside the city. There he met with Lee and other Confederate generals to plan the attack on McClellan.
Lee explained his plan: he would attack McClellan’s Fifth Corps under the able Gen. Fitz-John Porter, who was separated from the main federal army by the Chickahominy River. After destroying Porter, Lee would turn on McClellan’s main army and destroy it or drive it from Virginia. Jackson was to lead the attack early in the morning of June 26.
Next week: The Seven Days Battles Begin.
The Gum family furnished more Confederate soldiers than any other family in Highland County, but the county was strongly Confederate in the War Between the States, and in Pendleton the Propst family was in the lead.