10 Years Ago
Week of September 6, 2012
Published reports say that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin favors the reintroduction of elk into West Virginia.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources records indicate that the last free-roaming, native West Virginia elk were seen near Webster Springs in 1875 and on the headwaters of the Cheat River.
Kentucky has successfully reintroduced the elk, which have reportedly been migrating into southern West Virginia “along the Tug Fork.”
40 Years Ago
Week of September 2, 1982
Brandywine Brass Band To Be Revived
For County Festival
One forgotten treasure of Pendleton County is the brass band whose music enlivened lawn parties and other functions in the county for 25 years.
In 1904 “Professor” Williams of Brandywine organized a group of his neighbors into the Brandywine Cornet Band. Williams’ group played at lawn parties and reunions on South Fork, and also played at Confederate reunions in the county. They were transported by a road wagon and team of mules.
Band members put in many hours of practice and took their music seriously, but that didn’t stop them from occasionally having some fun at rehearsals. Bass drummer Herman Trumbo recalls that at one practice, he speeded up the tempo of a march “just for meanness.” Others dropped out, but trumpeter Jake Hahn carried on — at a tempo all his own. (There’s a story that Mr. Hahn’s trumpet was buried with him when he died).
The band had its headquarters in the two-room Brandywine School that stood across Hawse Run from where the South Fork Volunteer Fire Department stands today. The school was destroyed by fire, and the band had to find new practice space. The group held lawn parties and other functions to raise money to erect a new band hall.
The new hall had space for practice as well as space for a general store. On May 17, 1929, the band hall was destroyed by a fire which started in the store part of the building. This time, all the instruments were destroyed, and so the band came to an end.
50 Years Ago
Week of September 7, 1972
562 Spelunkers Attend Labor Day Reunion Here
Thorn Spring Park and the American Legion grounds at the Old McCoy Mill were literally covered with tents during the past weekend when spelunkers from more than 25 states assembled here for their annual “Old Timers Reunion.”
A total of 562 cave enthusiasts registered for the 23rd annual reunion at temporary headquarters set up in the American Legion Home. It probably was the largest assemblage of cavers ever to attend one of their informal Labor Day weeked funfests.
60 Years Ago
Week of September 6, 1962
100 YEARS AGO
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.
Lee Invades Maryland
As Rebels Win in West
Never had the Confederacy been in its heyday as it was 100 years ago this week—and never would it be again.
As the North rocked from the catastrophe of Second Bull Run, the South piled even more woes upon its enemy.
In Washington, thousands were fleeing in panic; the defeated army of Gen. John Pope filled the city with its injured; President Lincoln ordered government clerks to do military training to defend the capital, and the treasury was barricaded and important papers bundled for flight north.
While all this was going on, Gen. Robert E. Lee—the man most responsible for the Southern successes—renewed his offensive and ordered an invasion of Maryland. Tattered but spirited Confederate soldiers—many of them without shoes—waded across the Potomac 40 miles above Washington singing and laughing, with a brass band playing the moving strains of “Maryland, My Maryland.”
If this weren’t enough, word came in from the west that Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg was moving out of Chattanooga to invade Kentucky. And Confederate Gen. Kirby Smith, who already had invaded Kentucky, smashed a force of Federals at a little town called Richmond, Ky., then moved over and occupied Frankfort, Kentucky’s capitol.
Lee’s decision to invade was an either/or proposition; he had to move ahead or back. He was not strong enough to take Washington, so he bypassed it, hoping to draw some of the federal army with him, then turn on it and defeat it. Accordingly, the Southern army moved into Maryland on September 6, and that night encamped near the town of Frederick.
But troubles were brewing for Lee, too. As he moved through the Maryland countryside, Gen. George B. McClellan, now replaced in command around Washington, quickly and effectively regrouped Pope’s defeated army. Soon, it, too, began moving across the Potomac into Maryland, taking its place between Lee and Washington, and the two old foes of the Peninsula campaign—McClellan and Lee—were face to face again.
Maryland citizens, most of them favoring the Union, cheered McClellan’s troops but visited the Confederate camps, too, “oohing” and “aahing” at the famous Lee and Stonewall Jackson. It was at this time at Frederick that the story of Barbara Frietchie was born, later to be immortalized in Whittier’s poem (“‘Shoot if you must, this old gray head, but spare your country’s flag,’ she said”).
In the West, too, Southern troops were on the march. In the midst of Washington’s panic, word came in of Kirby Smith’s victory at Richmond, Ky., over a hastily collected army of 7,000 raw Federal recruits under Maj. Gen. William Nelson. The battle, on August 30, had been a rout of the Federals, and two days later Smith’s men were marching through Lexington, Ky. On September 3, his cavalry occupied Frankfort, while the state officials, including Governor James S. Robinson, fled toward Louisville with their archives.
In Cincinnati, now threatened by Smith, martial law was proclaimed, and even Louisville was near panic.
A joyful Confederate war clerk in Richmond could truthfully enter in his diary that week: “Lord, what a scare they are having in the North.”
100 Spelunkers Here
Labor Day Meet
More than 100 spelunkers from Washington, D. C., and a half-dozen states attended the 13th annual “Old Timers” Reunion in Franklin over the Labor Day weekend.
Headquarters for the cave enthusiasts’ outing was the American Legion Home two miles south of Franklin. Many of the “cavers” camped on the Legion grounds and at Thorn Spring Park while others had rooming accommodations in Franklin.
Would Help Pendleton
In looking about for ways to improve the economy of Pendleton County we are impressed with the possibilities in one of the programs of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. We have reference to the department’s program of developing Farmers’ Markets.
This program was begun about 10 years ago when the late J. B. McLaughlin, who was then West Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture, recognized the need for marketing facilities which would help West Virginia’s small farmer and truck patch grower sell his produce and get a fair rate of return for it. In attempting to provide that help, Commissioner McLaughlin initiated the Farm Marketing Service which has proved eminently successful and results in hundreds of thousands of dollars of extra income to West Virginians each year.
70 Years Ago
Week of September 4, 1952
SEVEN TO LEAVE
Seven Pendleton county men received orders to report for induction on September 10, it has been announced.
They are Dewey Homer Pitsenbarger, Doe Hill, and Harry Wesley Pennington, Ruddle, both volunteers; Ward Sites, Mouth of Seneca; Roland Rexrode and Waldo Eugene Kline, both of Franklin; Joseph Fred Greenawalt, Petersburg; and Dorman Russell Nesselrodte of Fort Seybert.
NEARLY 200 EXHIBIT IN 3 COUNTY “FAIRS”
One hundred and ninety-eight Four-H club members exhibited 323 projects at three community exhibits last week in the county. The community exhibits were held at Circleville, Upper Tract and Franklin.
There were 103 blue ribbon projects exhibited, 85 red ribbon projects exhibited, two white ribbon projects exhibited, and 135 projects are to be checked on the farms at a later date.
The town council passed a vagrancy ordinance at the regular meeting of that body held in the court house Monday night. Besides loafers, the ordinance affects “panhandlers” and others, and is effective immediately.
The council employed Ernest Propst as a part-time police officer. Propst, who teaches school, is a former prison guard. He will go on duty Saturdays at noon and remain on duty through Saturday night.
NORTH FORK HAS
RIVERTON—Seneca Caverns, an unusual limestone fairyland, winds through a small mountaintop east of this North Fork Valley town.
The cave, just off U. S. 33 and close to Spruce Knob, was described in some detail by Bishop Francis Ashbury in his journal—the date was June 21, 1781. This has given the mountaintop labyrinth a clear title as one of the earliest explored caverns in West Virginia.
The trip through Seneca offers many unusual cavern experiences—chief among those is the fact that, since the entrance and exits are on opposite sides of the slope, no time is lost on a return trip. In a little over 40 minutes, the busy traveler can tour the entire cavern.
The first room in the cave, called the Great Ballroom, is richly decorated with growing stalactites and stalagmites and is topped with a great dome. Legend has it that this was once a favorite meeting place of the Seneca Indians and the wedding place of the beautiful princess, Snow Bird. Nearby, a growing stalactite has formed an outline bust of the princess that is life size.
Snow Bird was the famous princess who required suitors to follow her in a treacherous climb to the summit of towering Seneca Rocks in a test of courage to win her hand. Like all other formations in the cave, this was created by the continuous dripping of water and the small deposit of mineral left by each drop.
Another formation of rock on the floor looks much like the King Tut Mummy. Still another, when the light is shown on it, could only be called the Statue of Liberty.
Suddenly all the lights are turned off, and then a blue one, high on the wall is switched on. This light is in the back of a natural balcony or high stage, and into this blue, and seemingly faraway, twilight sails the perfect outline of an old line clipper ship.
At another place, a passage leads to the right and will hold only two people at a time. Once inside, a huge inverted well can be seen with a bottom that is almost 40 feet above the floor.
Among the many other sights is the miniature natural bridge, a hanging rock that is viewed first from its own level, then again from many feet directly below it. Another spot is called the fruit chimney because formations there resemble a stack of bananas, a cantaloupe, and bunches of grapes.
The Devil’s Kitchen, with simulated, but very realistic, fire is impressive with its naturally formed fireplace. The ceiling rises 65 feet above the kitchen floor and this is some 165 feet under the ground.
Just beyond, a spotlight falls on another growing stalagmite and a perfect outline of the American Eagle is cast on the opposite wall.
The Seneca Council Room is one of the most impressive sights in the cave. First viewed from a distance by the traveler, suddenly one is carried back to the time of the Senecas—for there, circling a simulated council fire, can be seen a group of Indians stretched out and arranged in perfect order around the fire. Of course the traveler can hurriedly pull himself back 200 years when he examines the “Indians” closely and realizes that he has been fooled again by growing stalagmites!