Historic Hunters-ville Traditions board members, l to r: Jean McClure, Tim Wade and Dondi Stemple, serve a piece of birthday cake to Delegate Bill Hamilton during the HHT picnic and pie auction last Saturday. At right, a closeup of one of the cakes McClure baked for the celebration. L.D. Bennett photos
Laura Dean Bennett
Pocahontas County got a jump start on celebrating our state’s birthday, holding its West Virginia Day picnic last Saturday evening, the night before the big day.
“Since West Virginia Day fell on a Sunday this year, we thought maybe folks would rather come out on Saturday evening instead of Sunday,” Huntersville Historical Traditions President Tim Wade, explained.
This year marked the 158th anniversary of West Virginia becoming the 35th state in the United States.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the majority of West Virginians opposed Virginia’s secession from the Union.
In April 1863, a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln granted West Virginia admission into the Union, as of June 20, 1863.
Cities, towns and communities all over the state celebrated West Virginia’s statehood last week, as did Huntersville – Pocahontas County’s first settlement and home to the county’s first courthouse.
Huntersville Historical Traditions – a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of and education about Huntersville’s historical sites and the county’s history – has, for many years, celebrated West Virginia Day with a community picnic.
The group decided it might be nice to have a special celebration this year, since the pandemic cancelled last year’s event.
The old Huntersville schoolhouse was open for tours, and the lawn was prepared for company.
A large tent stood over a stage and picnic tables beckoned guests to relax and enjoy the evening’s program.
Joy Mullins, dressed in a pioneer-era dress and bonnet, served delicious picnic fare to guests and, later, gave tours of the Huntersville School, where she had once been a student.
On behalf of HHT’s Board of Directors – Mary Jo Fisher, Linda Adams, Joy Mullins, Dondi Stemple and Laura Dean Bennett – Wade, wearing his ubiquitous “dress overalls,” gave a few brief remarks.
After welcoming one and all, thanking Sen. Bill Hamilton for traveling to be with the Pocahontas County crowd and wishing West Virginia a happy birthday, Wade turned things over to Dondi Stemple, who reprised her role as one of the “schoolmarms” of Huntersville School.
Stemple handed out a West Virginia History fact sheet to all of her “pupils” and proceeded to ask history questions of the amused guests, whose eyes widened somewhat as she smacked a ruler in her hand and threatened to discipline those who were “talking in class.”
Hands went up after each question and HHT personalized pencils were awarded to each student who had a correct answer.
In all, 16 West Virginia history buffs who had answered their questions correctly were entered in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate, good for gas or merchandise at Huntersville’s 39 Stop gas station and convenience store.
Sara Wagner Casto was the lucky winner of the drawing.
Local band Mud Hole Control accompanied guests as they sang Happy Birthday to West Virginia and then followed up with every West Virginia crowd’s favorite, “Country Roads.”
Mud Hole Control kept control of the good mood all evening, as toes tapped and hands clapped to their special brand of bluegrass music.
Huntersville Historical Traditions is known for its annual pie auction, held to raise funds for the continuation of its work in preserving the historical sites in Huntersville.
The pies were baked specially for the event by some of the county’s most talented bakers and were bid on by some of HHT’s most dedicated dessert lovers and generous supporters.
Apple Pie, baked by Mary Dilley was bought by Dave Buzzard.
Banana Split Pie, baked by Alaina Watson, was bought by John Wayne.
Pecan Pie, baked by Tim Duff, was bought by Pendleton County Bank.
Fresh Strawberry Pie, baked by Mary Dilley, was bought by Tim Wade
Homemade Minced Meat Pie, baked by Jean McClure, was bought by Sam Mitchell.
Pecan Pie, baked by Tim Duff, was bought by Sen. Bill Hamilton.
Peanut Butter Pie, baked by Joy Mullins, was bought by Dave Buzzard.
Coconut Cream Pie, baked by Vicky Smith, was bought by Ike Morris.
A second Coconut Cream Pie, baked by Vicky Smith, was bought by Dave Buzzard.
Pistachio Cake, baked by Margaret Burr, was bought by Dave Buzzard.
Blueberry Cobbler, baked by Margaret Burr, was bought by Dave Buzzard.
Maple Crème Pie, baked by Rachel Taylor, was bought by Sen. Bill Hamilton.
Strawberry/Rhubarb Pie made by Connie Rose, was bought by Adam Taylor.
After the pie auction, everyone was in the mood for dessert, so the two beautifully decorated and irresistible West Virginia birthday cakes were brought out.
The cakes were made by Jean McClure. McClure is known for her artistic cake-baking talents.
Adam and Rachel Taylor’s son, Bryce, invited everyone to come forward for a piece of cake and Sen. Hamilton gratefully accepted the first piece.
Huntersville Historical Traditions, all-volunteer, 501c3 organization, is preparing for “big doin’s” during Pocahontas County’s Bicentennial.
Bicentennial celebrations will begin October 1 during Huntersville Traditions Days, when the two day event will host a Pioneer Village and Civil War camp with 18th and 19th century re-enactors and demonstrators at the annual festival.
Anyone interested in becoming a Friend of Huntersville is encouraged to get in touch with Tim Wade at 304-799-6468.
“You don’t have to come to meetings. We’d just appreciate your time, your energy, maybe some financial support – if you’re able – and definitely your moral support,” Wade said.