10 Years Ago
Week of January 16, 2014
The original “Poor Farm” was at Fort Seybert. Once it was sold, it was moved to Upper Tract around the turn of the 20th century. About 1934, a larger building was built. James Russell Helmick, better known as Jim, and his family moved to this farm when he was about three years old. Thirteen children were born to Luther and Lena Pennington Helmick, and they all lived at the poor farm. Jim had sat down with William D. Rexrode in 2007 and shared his story of life there.
“It was a place to live and something to eat. Life itself was nothing. You just grew up. There wasn’t really anything to do until you were old enough to work. From the time I was three until about six, I just grew up. You had no amusement, nothing to play with, no radio. You lived with the old people. Life was boring, that’s what it was. I hear people complain about poverty. They can’t tell me a thing about poverty. I know all about it. The only thing we got was what we ate and the clothes we wore.
We slept on chaff ticks, or straw ticks as they were sometimes called. You fill them up with straw and that’s what you slept on. They had bedsteads that you put them on. The straw would finally go to pieces and you had to refill them every so often.
We had to take the cows to pasture every morning and go get them of an evening. The pasture was about a half-a-mile down the highway. We had 10 or 15 cows. After we got old enough to work we had to learn to milk a cow. They grew all the food we ate. They had a garden, and they had fruits and butchered hogs and beef.
We didn’t even know what Christmas was. The only thing you knew about Christmas was what you heard somebody talk about. They might have given you an apple or an orange. No Christmas tree or anything. Christmas was just another day in the year. We never got to go anywhere, just stayed there at the poor farm except for going to school. In 1936, after the general elections, several of us children were moved to a children’s home at Elkins. I went to a three-room school house in a barracks of the old CCC camp there. That’s where I graduated from the eighth grade. I got the Golden Horseshoe from WestVirginia. The prize was a trip to Charleston. They gave us the reward in the state capitol.
My dad passed away at the poor farm. I think that was about 1938. He had cancer underneath his eyes. I was at Elkins and didn’t find out about it until six months later. My mother was there until the place closed down. I think it was about 1970 when they closed it down.”
Getting a first-hand conversation from someone who had lived at the poor farm makes one realize that times were very difficult for those who lived there. Jim’s humble beginnings formed his very humble spirit.
20 Years Ago
Week of January 16, 2004
Is State Leader
In Well Being
Pendleton County ranks third best in the State of West Virginia in providing for the well being of children, according to data recently compiled in 2003 West Virginia KIDS COUNT Data Book.
In the eastern panhandle, Pendleton County is the leader in providing for the overall well-being of young children.
Week of January 23, 2004
Ancestors Lived in
When looking back in the sands of time, one will note that Pendleton County is famous in the historical sense. The seventeenth President of the United States, President Andrew Johnson, was a direct descendant of the Pendleton pioneers, Johnsons and Hinkles. Andrew Johnson, the President’s grandfather, was captain of the North Fork Company of militia in 1778. His grandmother, Hannah Hinkle, who was born April 9, 1750, was the daughter of John Justus Hinkle, Sr. (1706-1778), who had settled a little above Harper’s Mill. The President’s father, Jacob Johnson, was born before his parents moved from Pendleton County, and he died when Andrew was four years old. President Johnson was born December 29, 1808, in Raleigh, N.C., where his father worked as a handyman in a tavern. At various other times of his life, he had been the city constable, a sexton and a porter at the bank. President Johnson was a tailor by profession and never attended school. His wife taught him how to write and solve simple arithmetic problems. He was honest, brave and intelligent, but had neither tact nor humor.
30 Years Ago
Week of January 20, 1994
Apple Holes, Dryhouses Once Widely Used
In visiting old house sites of long ago, a number did not have a root cellar in which to keep vegetables for winter use. How did they preserve their vegetables and fruits for winter time? Often in their garden they dug trenches in which to bury their cabbage, hanovers, turnips, celery, beets, etc. For apples and potatoes they dug holes at a dry location to avoid surface water. These were often referred to as apple holes. After digging these grave like holes, they lined the holes with straw, more apples or potatoes, finally covering them with straw or leaves, then a plank over the top.
One often reads where writers tell how much canning their mother and grandmothers did. This writer has yet to see a writer tell of a dryhouse. A dryhouse is a small building built without windows, only a door. The interior walls have shelves in which to place apples and peaches prepared for drying called snits. Sunshine is one of the better ways of drying, but in damp, rainy weather even snap beans can be dried in the dryhouse. A wood burning stove in the center of the building fired properly does a good job.
The dryhouse is a more sanitary way than drying things above the cook stove with so many flies around, especially before folks had screen doors and screen windows.
After the snits, beans, etc., were dried sufficiently enough, they were put in cloth or better paper bags and tied to keep worms out and hung up to the joist or rafters in a building in order to keep out rats and mice.
At the writer’s great-grandfather’s, John G. (Squire) Dahmer’s, there was a frame weather boarded dryhouse. The exterior which was preserved with a metal roof can still be seen today.
40 Years Ago
Week of January 19, 1984
Dixie Gas Operations
Mrs. Nancy Scott was named manager of Dixie Gas and Oil Corporation’s Franklin territory effective January 1.
Mrs. Scott was employed by Dixie Gas and Oil Corporation in 1970 as a secretary and has been employed in that capacity since that time. She had assisted the late Mr. Robert Gonshor in the management of the Franklin operations.
Albert Hammer of Franklin has been promoted to assistant manager in charge of operations in the Franklin area to assist Mrs. Scott in her managerial duties.
Hammer was employed by Dixie Gas and Oil Corporation in 1977.
50 Years Ago
Week of January 24, 1974
Is Baseball Great
Orville Harper, a 1966 graduate of Glenville State College, has been named to the All-Time WVIAC Baseball Squad. Harper was twice selected All-Conference Third Baseman at Glenville in 1965 and 1966. The All-Time Squad is composed of selected players who played within the years 1925-1965.
Perhaps the most prominent of the names on the All-Time Squad is that of Gene Freese and Joe Niekro. Both Freese and Niekro played major league ball.
The players will be honored at the Charleston Civic Center on March 2. All have been invited to attend a dinner and receive their All-Time awards.
In Pendleton County
(Editor’s Note—Following is the second in a series of articles on the recently completed report on the survey of the Pendleton County school system made by the State Department of Education.)
Our young people are leaving Pendleton County.
In the past 10 years the county population has dropped 13 percent. The category of residents 55 years old and older is the only group which shows a population increase. When one considers that West Virginia as a whole lost 6 percent of its people the past 10 years, we see that Pendleton County substantially exceeds that loss. It may be surprising to realize that in the year 1900 there were several thousand more residents of the county than there are now.
Pendleton is one of the least populated counties in West Virginia. This county has 10 persons living per square mile as compared with a state average of 72 persons. This presents some unique problems for our school system. Over 82 percent of our students must be bused to school each day. This is accomplished with a fleet of 34 buses (13 of which are 10 years old or older) traveling 1,386 miles a day. The bus drivers drive an average of 43.3 miles daily and receive an annual salary of $1800 to $3500. Happily, over 96 percent of our 1600 students are found attending school each day.
These are some of the opening statements in a booklet entitled “Survey Report: Pendleton County Schools.”
The importance of population trends is vital in future school planning. The number and locations of schools and to consolidate or not to consolidate are serious questions.
60 Years Ago
Week of January 23, 1964
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.
As North Prospers
A Union general, in a letter written 100 years ago this week, commented on the great, prosperity being enjoyed by the Northern states. And on the same day, an office worker in Richmond wrote of famine, high prices and shortages in the South.
Such was the effect of the Civil War on the economies of North and South as the great conflict neared the end of its third year. The Confederacy had been reduced to near destitution; the Union was enjoying unparalleled prosperity.
The difference had come about largely because the war was being fought in Southern states and along Southern coasts.
In the South, huge armies had moved and fought across thousands of miles, consuming food and forage, destroying mills and crops and capturing large stores of commodities. Along the Southern coasts, lines of Federal boats cruised in blockade, keeping off merchant ships from foreign nations. Although many Southern vessels successfully ran the blockade, commerce for the South was severely restricted at a time when her need was greatest.
But in the North, there had been no fighting, no blockage, and no restrictions on commerce. Although Southern ships sank or captured many Federal ships, trade between Europe and the United States showed no decline.
The wartime economy boomed in th North, and unemployment vanished. Factories produced needed machines and tools, and this helped the war effort, but the prosperity did not stop there. Ships from all over the world sailed into Northern ports carrying fine silks, satins, and jewelry. The opera had seldom seen such splendor in attire as during the latter part of the Civil War in the North.
But prices rose, too, and robbed many—especially laborers—of their properity. A 10-hour day by an unskilled laborer brought $1.25 in pay, but bread was going at 10 cents a loaf, milk at 10 cents a quart, and meat at 25 to 35 cents a pound.
But at least Northerners could have bread and meat, while Southerners often could not. In Richmond in early January, the commissary reported the entire stock of breadstuffs in the city was gone. Along the Rapidan in Virginia, Gen. Robert E. Lee cut the rations of his troops. The currency was rapidly becoming worthless, and there were few civilian men around to collect salaries.
Blockade runners brought in stories of goods from abroad but frequently sold them at prices that made them rich and helped only the richest in the South.
Confederate War Clerk John B. Jones noted in Richmond shops many slaughtered deer selling at $3 per pound. Other game was being sold to make up for the shortage of food. But even the prices of game was outlandish since the ammunition needed to shoot the game was hard to come by.
Next week: Winter quarters.