Thursday, July 11, 1968

Pioneer Days Horse Show

The first Pioneer Days Horse Show will feature 16 classes for horses and ponies, with ribbons, trophies and about $300 in prize money. Bert Cence, a qualified judge, of Kingwood, will make the decisions. Mrs. Charlene Mc- Neel is in charge of the show, which will be held 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday on Lower Third Avenue. She urges all 4-H members to come out and exhibit in their special classes. Horsemen throughout the state have been invited to what is planned to be an annual show.

Pioneer Religion

Religious life was an important part of Pioneer living so it is fitting that the final day (Sunday) of Pioneer Days should begin and end with religious services. Meet at 8 a.m. at the High School for an inspirational devotional at the Elk Overlook from 8:30 to 9. Then in the evening from 7:30 to 8:30 on the Museum grounds, there will be an old fashioned Camp Meeting and Hymn Sing, such as gave our forefathers strength to overcome the great handicaps in developing this mountain area…

Barrett Represents US

Miss Brenda Barrett, of Tacoma Park, Maryland, has been selected to represent the United States as a member of the secretarial staff for the 5th session of World Meteorological Organization’s Commission for Maritime Meteorology to be held at Kingstown, Rhode Island, from August 15 through August 31.

This Conference is held by the Department of State. The working languages of the session will be English, French, Russian and Spanish, but all nations of the world will be represented. Five other secretaries were selected for this honor. They were chosen on the basis of their secretarial skill and scientific knowledge.

Brenda is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Barrett, of Marlinton.

WEDDING

Miss Kay Francis Landis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Damon Landis, of Marlinton, became the bride of Phillip W. Cain, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Cain, also of Marlinton, on Friday, June 21, 1968.

The double ring vows were read by the Rev. Sherman Markley at the Minnehaha Springs Methodist church at 7 p.m…

BIRTHS

Born to Mr. and Mrs. Fredric Smith, of Marlinton, a son, named Mark Allen.

Born to Mr. and Mrs. Lacy Brown, a son, named Douglas Wayne.

Born to Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Cleek, of Babcock State Park, Clifftop, a son, named William Todd.

DEATHS

Mrs. Minnie Susan Kesler, 68, of Cass. Burial in Wanless Cemetery.

Mrs. Norma Sue Queen, 20, of Stony Bottom. Burial in Wanless Cemetery.

Mrs. Anna Lee Smith Ervine, 56, of Burlington, Iowa, formerly of Marlinton. Born at Clover Lick, a daughter of the late John Francis and Mary Hoover Smith. Burial in the Stony Bottom Cemetery.

Mrs. Zadie F. Kinnison Bruffey, 70, of Hillsboro, a daughter of the late John W. and Alice Kinnison. Burial in Bruffeys Creek Cemetery.

Mrs. Ona Bird Vogel, 78, of New Philadelphia, Ohio. Born in Marlinton, a daughter of the late Uriah and Susan Hudson Bird. Burial in New Philadelphia.

Maxine Fisher, 41, of Cass; bookkeeper for Mower Lumber Company for 25 years. Born in Elkins, a daughter of Rocky and Lula Teter Fisher, of Cass.

Pioneering in Old Pokey
Wagon Trains
By Billy Hill (pen name)

In this fast moving jet age, the race to reach the moon, cars built to do 120 miles per hour on highways with 50 and 60 mile limits, we seldom, if ever, think of the modes of travel and transportation of yesteryear. Few people now living were a part of the scene when the horse and wagons slogging through axle deep mud at the rate of 5 or 6 miles in a long day were a way of life and the only means of transportation in isolated areas such as the Little Levels around 1900 and before.
The story of the horse and wagon, of wagon trains, is the story of our civilization. Writers have glamorized the wagon trains of the “Old West,” The Oregon Trail, The Chisolm Trail, with an aura of romance which it is doubtful they ever enjoyed.

We are concerned, in this article, with the wagon trains right here in our own Pocahontas County.

About 1900 the C&O Railroad was pushing its two “steel snakes” up the crook-ed old Greenbrier from Whitcomb to Winterburn, a distance of some 97 mile. The scars of battle were still most vivid on the Droop Mountain battlefield, where the cannon balls of only thirty five years before had left gaunt tree snags as grim reminders of this country’s most destructive conflict. Local nimrods were chopping Minie balls from the downed tree trunks and remolding them into rifle balls. I still have one of these Minie balls, also two still wrapped in the original brown paper, never fired. The scream of panthers was a common sound in the night on Viney Mountain and surrounding hills.

Going back still further, the Droop Mountain battlefield was the site of a large concentration of Indians, who, as the story goes, burned off what is now the Little Levels area to attract game. On one occasion, my brother and I picked up more than a gallon of arrowheads in a few hours on what is now the Droop Mountain State Park, and there was a cave nearby that had evidently been used as a factory by the Indians to make arrowheads, spearheads and Tommy hawks; there were large quantities of flint chips, imperfect arrowheads, etc. Also chunks of flint stones. This was told to me by the Cutlip family who lived nearby.

Pardon, the digression, I got “carried away” by the Indians.

At his time, around 1900, there were three merchants in Hillsboro – Sidney J. Payne, the largest, Ed Holt and Edmond Beard. Nick Brown ran Mill Point’s only store. Most of these merchants owned their own freighting outfits, but had to hire additional wagons from the farmers of the area. All “store boughten” goods had to be hauled by wagon from the nearest railhead, which was Ronceverte, roughly, and I do mean roughly, 40 miles to the south. The bulk of the hauling was done in the summer and fall when the road had a good bottom, but seasonal goods made it necessary to do much of it in the spring. Many farmers in the area made the trip to bring back needed material and goods for their own and their neighbor’s use. Now in the dead of winter or late spring, there was a planned trip – planned for the benefit of all. While the outfits made the down trip either singly or twos and threes, they made it a point to return as a caravan or wagon train. All outfits consisted of at least four horses, some had six. The four horse teams invariably bogged down in the more than ankle deep mud holes, and it took from six to eight horses to pull them out… unless “Uncle John Henry” was in the train with his six big oxen which could pull anything loose at both ends. Going down empty, except for wool, furs, chestnuts, ginseng, beeswax, etc., in season, and occasionally a load of eggs. Eggs were 10 cents a dozen and a large fat hen was a quarter if you could find a buyer.

Usually the other teamsters would pass Old Uncle John and yell “get horses,” but often times he would have to pull the same guys out on the return trip. Uncle John Henry (never heard any other name for him) was an ex-slave, who made his home with Wash Hill. He was at least seven feet tall and no shoes were made to fit him. Either Mr. Curry or Henry Adkison, the two shoemakers there, would make his shoes, which he seldom wore. He would wrap his feet in so many rags and gunny sacks that every time he made a track it looked like a bale of hay had upset. There was a story going the rounds about the time that a teamster came up to one of the mud holes and saw a man’s head sticking out. He stopped his team and asked the guy “Is that the depth of the mud?” The man answered, “Yep,” so the wagoner drove into the edge and went down. He struggled upon the wagon seat and said, “Thought you said….”

“No,” the other said. “I’m on horseback.”

Some told that he was on top of a load of hay.

From time to time you hear older people comment about the seasons, such as “By Grannies, you young whippersnappers don’t know what winter is, why, I mind….”

Well, I mind, when these wagon trains would make the trip in dead of winter with bobsleds instead of wagons. They would put wagon bodies with high sideboards on and take off on the trip that often took more than a week to make. I only remember one instance when a freak thaw stranded them. Winter would come on about December 1st, and you wouldn’t see bare ground until March. If the snow did melt before then, people were concerned.

They would say, “A green winter, a fat graveyard.”

Next week – Ice Break-up and Log Drives