10 Years Ago
Week of September 20, 2012
Students Number 51 Board Told
The Pendleton County Board of Education met in regular session on Sept. 4.
The board was presented with the names of students who are home-schooled. The number of students so educated is 51. That is a typical number, a school official told the “Times.” The number of home-schooled students tends to be between 45 and 55 each year.
THE PENDLETON PAST
by Harold D. Garber
I haven’t really settled into a chronological presentation of Civil War events on the South Branch 150 years ago, but I must mention that the events of almost this exact date, Sept. 17, 1862, were awesome. This marks the Battle of Antietam, or Sharpsburg, and the bloodiest single day of the war. Several Hardy County soldiers fell there, including Captain Daniel C. M. Schell who fought under the Union standard. If the knowledge of war and its carnage had never truly been realized before, it came home to all participants who survived that day.
You might expect that it would follow that I would provide details of some of these Hardy County soldiers in this notable conflict. Currently, I am reviewing some original sources about their participation. However, as I reviewed timely sources, I discovered that one of our notable Southern soldiers, Harry Gilmor, not a local man but famous for his activities in Hardy County and for being captured here, just outside Moorefield, missed out on the Battle of Sharpsburg.
This was surprising to me since Gilmor was from the Baltimore area, and the battle was certainly fought in territory he frequented. Where was he?—in Baltimore’s Western Police Station-house, a prisoner of Union forces. He was to spend five months in Union custody. He states: “I was detained for five months, in direct violation of the cartel between the two governments, which, if regarded, would have released me in 10 days.”
When discussing the mountain folk and their courtships, one has to go back to the beginning. In the past, courtships and marriages in Appalachia were quite different than today.
In olden Appalachian times, the woman’s role was to take care of the home, raise the children and provide for her husband. During this time, the man was undoubtedly the head of the household, with the wife doing exactly as she was told to do.
30 Years Ago
Week of September 16, 1992
Suggestions to Help Teach Someone to Read
Those of us who can read take our skill for granted. For us, reading is as easy as talking or breathing. Many of us can vaguely remember that learning to read was no easy chore.
But chances are, we’ve forgotten all the little struggles we had to wage to get where we could actually hear those little printed words in our heads! This forgetfulness makes it difficult for parents to sympathize with young readers, or for adults who can read to sympathize much with those who can’t. Luckily, there are people who study reading, so even as adults we can begin to understand the mysterious process of learning to read.
Here are some simple facts about reading. Keep them in mind. They may help you help somebody you care about learn to read:
- 5,000 words account for 90 percent of the words we read
- 94 percent of all words appear less than 10 times per million words
- people who know sounds and letters tend to do better when they start learning to read
- but—just teaching the alphabet doesn’t give students a noticeable advantage in learning to read
- many children get over 1,000 hours of contact with reading and writing before they enter school, and
- students without such experience do better with their reading if they use “invented” spelling (rather than correct spelling) when they begin to write.
Other facts let us know that a good start in reading is very important. For example, a research project found that 40 percent of poor readers in the fourth grade would rather clean their rooms than read. These children will overcome their bad start in reading only with the help of someone who cares.
The message is simple: Learning to read takes a lot of low-pressure experience with the written word. This includes being read to by someone else and talking about sounds, letters, words and writing with someone who likes to read.
It also includes things like telling stories and having someone else write them down. And, of course, it also includes plenty of reading. Naturally, the best reading materials are those that seem to interest the beginning reader.
40 Years Ago
Week of September 16, 1982
OUR FIRST SETTLERS
The Toughest Men Ever
By Harold Lambert
Charles Ryan Associates
From information that has come down, the original settlers in the mountains of Western Virginia, now West Virginia, were probably the toughest and most lawless men ever to occupy the North American continent.
And those of us who look back fondly upon a family tree that pre-dates the American Revolution had better not look too closely, lest we blush.
The leather-clad fellow with the long knife and the longer rifle was usually utterly without any law — or even religion. He was an adventurer par excellence, and a prime survivor. He was a poor workman and a bad farmer, we are told. The skilled agriculturists were to come later, mostly from across the mountains in Pennsylvania or Virginia. The original settlers wanted no part in farming, preferring long hunts into the wilderness in quest of furs which could be sold for cash money at the English trading posts.
He was never satisfied, and constantly sought better land and better living conditions. He kept his family in a house that was made of logs and without windows or partitions. He was the worst kind of a family man and usually was the offspring of families which had occupied the lands east of the mountains for several generations. His forefathers had thought little of education, and he shared the opinion. Nothing that he could not eat, drink or sell was worth bothering with…
He was poor and he reveled in his poverty. Few of the original settlers here had ever been inside a church. His pleasures came from competitive sports such as horse racing, turkey shoots and wrestling matches. He was superstitious, a trait that is still with mountain people. He believed in witchcraft, demons and wizards.
Whiskey was so inexpensive (no taxes, no restraints) that many of our early settlers were actually alcoholics. Imitating the Indians, they decorated their clothing with beads and fringes. And worst of all, they would fight “at the drop of a hat.” They were not ordinary fighters, either, but would fight their best friends when under the influence of the raw whiskey of the time — and thought nothing of destroying the eyes or chewing off the ears of opponents.
But historians agree that he was the only kind of a human which could have endured the privations and dangers of that day and time. Although he was practically a savage, he fought the Indians to a standstill and paved the way for the more genteel people who would follow him and build up the nation. Immediately after the American Revolution a different type of people came here. They were folks from the East who sought larger farms. They were the French and Indian veterans who were granted 160 acres of river bottom land for their efforts if they survived. Also, hundreds of Hessians who had been brought here from Germany to fight for the English crown decided it was better to stay than return to a government that would rent them out as soldiers. They walked out of prisons where they were kept, and nobody even looked in their directions. Their bloodlines are here today.
But you have to hand it to the original settler. He kept out the Spanish, the French and finally caused the English to give up their ambitions in the western lands of the Ohio watershed. No other breed of man could have brought about the happenings that allowed us to have our country as it is today.
60 Years Ago
Week of September 20, 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.
Antietam Battle Is Bloodiest Day of War
For the 85,000 Federals and 40,000 Confederates who fought in the Civil War, Antietam was the bloodiest battle of them all.
Never before or after in the Civil War was there such slaughter as that Wednesday, September 17, 100 years ago this week, as occurred around Sharpsburg, Md., (the battle is also called Sharpsburg), just north of the Potomac River near where the Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia state lines join. The battle, between Federal Gen. George B. McClellan’s huge Army of the Potomac and Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ended with more than 3,500 men lying dead on the field and another 17,000 wounded—and perhaps 2,000 of the wounded later died.
Since it stopped Lee’s Maryland invasion, it was a victory for McClellan, but in a sense it was a defeat for both.
Hard-fighting Federal Gen. Joe Hooker started it off at the crack of dawn when his I Corps, 10,000 strong, swept down the Hagerstown Turnpike along Antietam Creek and ran up against Stonewall Jackson on Lee’s left. Hooker’s men charged through a cornfield, and the Rebels mowed down Federals and cornstalks alike. The Southerners then counter-charged, and they were mowed down atop the fallen Federals. The Northerners charged again with similar result, and for two hours the bodies piled up in the cornfield. But the carnage was just beginning.
Nearby, more Federals poured into the East Wood, and whole companies of them dissolved under a rain of artillery shells and minie-balls. Several Confederate brigades lost half their number within minutes. When it was over, many of the bodies lay in rows where they had fallen in formation.
White-haired E. V. Sumner then fed another Federal corps into the cornfield, and the men went forward in waves, scores more dropping into the carnage. But they succeeded momentarily and swept through the Confederate line, only to be counter-attacked on the other side, and the slaughter became worse than ever. Some estimate as many as 1,000 men fell in the next few minutes, and the Federals turned and fled.
Closer to Sharpsburg, Gen. W. H. French of Sumner’s corps struck Gen. G. H. Hill’s Confederates in an eroded, sunken road — since called “Bloody Lane.” For more than an hour the Federals charged the road, losing a third of their men before over-running it. In the road lay piles of Confederate dead.
South of Sharpsburg, on the Federal left, Fed. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, after sulking away the morning, launched an attack on an arching bridge across Antietam Creek. It took three murderous charges into the face of Confederate rifles and cannon before two regiments of New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians swarmed across the bridge—since called “Burnside’s Bridge”—driving the Confederates back. The Yankees fanned out on the side and charged across fields and hillsides all the way into the village of Sharpsburg before they were checked.
Still farther south that afternoon, another Burnside forded the creek and drove the Confederate line in, until the Federals ran smack into Gen. A. P. Hill’s Confederates, freshly arrived from Harper’s Ferry. The Federal line gave way then, and Lee’s army had been saved.
That night, the wounded moaned from nearby homes, field hospitals and the public buildings, schools, factories and houses of surrounding towns, and still there wasn’t room for all. Among those who nursed the Federal wounded was Clara Barton, who later became founder of the American Red Cross.
In their misery, the two armies just lay there exhausted that night and all next day. At dusk next evening, Lee finally got his army moving and stole back across the Potomac into Virginia to recuperate.
Next week: The Emancipation Proclamation.