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100 Years Ago

Thursday, February 1, 1917

A bill aimed to stop the importation of intoxicating liquor into the State was introduced in the West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates. The bill would make it a misdemeanor for any person to bring into the State more than one quart of intoxicating liquor during a period of thirty days.
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High School girls of Wheeling are to be taught housekeeping through actual experience. The city board of education has purchased a house which will be used as a laboratory for the home economics classes. Meals will be served by the girls, beds made and the house taken care of as though it were a real home.


We hardly know what is our duty in the premises in putting the quietus on the reports of a mammoth cave in the Big Spring neighborhood. We were following the rule of the tribe that has lasted unbroken through two generations. It was not for us to change it. It was approved and supported by ancient wisdom. But time covers and uncovers. Some of our most substantial citizens are not satisfied with the course we took in denying that there was a big cave with the entrance in Pocahontas county. Ever since we can remember the subject has been tabooed. The terrors of his underground world have been such that men’s lips have been sealed and it has been considered bad luck even to mention it. That cavern so impressed itself upon the imagination of man that its secret has been kept automatically from the world at large.

There is no man living at this time perhaps who joined in the partial exploring of the cave some sixty years ago. We know one man who has been as far as the lobby or rotunda of the cave and who immediately came away from that place with enough terror in him to last him a lifetime. If it is as it was in 1890 when we taught school in that neighborhood, the explorer will find that it is not only impossible to get any of these hardy mountaineers to go with him under the earth, but that they will not even talk to him about it. It lays such a horror on all who have ever been in the cave that they refuse to discuss it. This dread of the big cave is bred in the bone. It is bad luck to talk about it.

Tradition says that on 4th of July, some sixty years ago, a band of men took candles and went in to the cave and spent the day there and barely made their way out. They speedily became lost and one man tired out and overcome was left sitting on the ground of the cave, bemoaning his fate on account of his wife and children. He spent two days in the cave and came out with a tale to curdle the blood and to addle the brain.

The entrance is small and is near the famous Split Rock through which Elk river has cut its way. The way is difficult at first as there is only room to crawl, but after a time this tunnel leads into a big round room. The roof of this room is so high that no one can throw a stone far enough to strike it and in extent the best description is that there is room enough in it to herd a thousand cattle, say two acres floor space. From this room a number of passages lead in different directions, and the general direction is northwest, which coincides with the dip of the strata. It is in this room that fear grips the man. If it was in truth the realm of departed spirits, a more deadly qualm could not come over him. Cold sweat, abject fear, consternation, panic and a mortal trepidation seize upon him and he beats a hasty retreat to the light.

So far as we know there has been no one with the courage to go on into the dreadful depths of the cavern except the party referred to above. They are said to have found a river as large as the Greenbrier flowing in one large passage and it is not hard to walk along the shingle of this stream. The general direction of its flow was northwest, and its fall was very considerable so that the explorers found themselves getting deep into the earth after going some distance.

The farther they went, the worse they were affected by the unexplainable terror of the cavern and it was this feeling that caused one of the party to give up and the rest to retreat precipitately and leave him.

When he got out two days afterwards it was as though he arose from the dead and from that day to this, the big cavern is a subject that men do not talk about. What men may dare they dare, but any shape but that.

We do not give any names in account. That is not necessary for many men know of the thing after a fashion, and if any skeptic desires to go to the bottomless pit before he dies, we will take him to the entrance that leads to the abyss, and hold his jewels and other possessions and convey his last words to his people.

The best that we can learn about the extent of the cavern it is so large that a county could get lost in it. And, beside it, the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky would look like a hall bedroom.

Our advice to all and sundry is to leave it alone for this is one place that hell comes close to the top of the ground.


C. C. Burner, one of the oldest citizens of this community, died on January 27, 1917… A large congregation gathered at the church. Interment at the Bartow graveyard. He is survived by his widow, two sons and two daughters.

Sunday evening our town was shocked by the sudden death of C. P. Wimer, which occurred about nine o’clock. He was about 40 years old, and leaves a widow and five small children.

On Thursday last, we were surprised when Wilkie Collins came in from Cumberland with a young lady along with him. The next day the bride and groom went to housekeeping in Durbin.

We are pleased to read J. D. Wilmoth’s letters in the paper. We had a card from J. D. and wife, saying that they were having the time of their lives. We wish them all the happiness they can find.


The Arbovale Telephone Company had a meeting at Arbovale last Saturday and they had a blow out, but no one was hurt. When the switch board is moved to Greenbank, and Gov. Hatfield or someone for the Dunmore correspondent moves the State Capital here, the goose will soar higher than ever.

The next improvement here will be a nice dormitory to accommodate all who may wish to board near the school building. The town people will, at the proper time, get ready for boarders who wish to attend school.

Morgan Curry moved to the Dave Smith farm below Dunmore last week; Greenbank’s loss will be Dunmore’s gain.


Miss Mary Lillian Ruckman passed quietly away at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Renick Ruckman, January 22, 1917, on the 30th anniversary of her birth. After services conducted at the home by Rev. J. C. Johnson, she was laid to rest in the Ruckman graveyard.

Thus ended a long but losing battle with the enemy of so many thousands of the human race, the “white plague.” For five years she fought bravely and patiently for strength and health, one year being spent at a sanatorium in New York and one year at Terra Alta. At times she hoped for an extension of years but at last realized that the struggle was hopeless. About six months ago she came home to spend the last days under the parental roof-tree. From that time forth it was a patient, submissive waiting for the final summons…


Mrs. Susan V. Smith, wife of A. J. Smith, died January 25, 1917, aged 73 years and four months, after a very long and serious illness which she endured with christian patience.

She was a daughter of John Kellison, whose home was in the lower end of Pocahontas county, and she was married to A. M. Smith April 20, 1864. She was the mother of eight children, seven of whom are still living to mourn her death…

Miss Mabel E. Gay, of Clarksburg, delivered the following eulogy which was highly appreciated by the large crowd of persons present at the home:

It should not be with a feeling of sorrow that we are gathered here today and I want to say a few words in appreciation of what Mrs. Smith has done for our own particular family. Whatever I may say of truth concerning Mrs. Smith’s kindness to our family, I am sure will be true in the case of others gathered here.

I am the youngest of six children, and Mrs. Smith was present at the birth of five of us. Hers was the willing hand that cared for us when our own mother was not able. The night was never too stormy, or the duties of her own household too urgent to keep her from the bedside of those who were sick or in need…
No greater tribute can be paid to the memory of a good woman than that portrayed in the words of the wise man who said: “Her children shall rise up and call her blessed…”

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