The Pocahontas Times
Mr. Andrew Price, Editor
The present month of September is one of the hottest on record, and from everywhere come reports of suffering caused by the heat. It is about five degrees warmer than the normal temperature of this time of year.
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To show what was the condition of affairs during the war, when everything was subject to raids from the soldiers of both sides, Mrs. William Gibson, on Elk, tells of her trouble to keep a certain jar of sugar which she valued very highly. On leaving for a visit to her old home near this place, she buried the sugar in a small field. On her return she found that, while she was away, her husband had plowed the field and sowed it in oats. After locating the place with some trouble, the sugar was found undamaged.
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George Gardner, from Locust Creek, who has been before the people so much the past summer for his eccentricities, and who was finally assigned a place in the asylum at Weston, was seen at the Williams River lumber camps last week, only partially dressed, he having evidently escaped from the asylum. His actions were as crazy as ever, and he left the camp for Pocahontas, saying he would get his pistol and pay up the justice and jailer here for what they had done for him in committing him. He is about twenty years of age, and his mind runs on going armed and shooting.
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The large barn belonging to Mr. J. S. Smith, near Mill Point, was burned last Saturday night, together with four horses, farming implements, feed, et cetera. The loss will amount to about $2,000. How the fire originated will perhaps always remain a mystery, and while the time of the discovery of the fire, about 4 a.m., would indicate incendiariam, the general opinion, so far as we have heard it expressed seems to be that some one had been smoking and the fire had been smoldering for hours. When the family discovered the fire, the roof was falling in. The loss falls heavily on Mr. Smith who is one of our most thrifty citizens. Many who do not know him have noticed his place near the turnpike about two miles north of Mill Point as it has the appearance of a model farm. The farm showed signs of good management, and the barn was in keeping with the rest of the property. We hope for the looks of the country as well as for the good of the loser that he will be able to replace the burned structure with one equally as good.
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I have just read in your paper an article on the merits of Bath County and Pocahontas roads that brings up some reminiscences to my mind that I feel like setting before your readers.
It was in the spring of 1848 that I started from the Warm Springs to explore the almost unknown county of Pocahontas, and naturally took the Warm Springs and Huntersville turnpike. As I was traveling by Foot and Walker’s line, I found the road fairly good until I got to Jackson’s River, and as there was a house on the other side, I had only to use my lungs to get a means of crossing. I felt happy and went on, but in about five miles, or maybe six, I came to another stream just about as large and no house in sight. I sat down like the philosopher to wait until the water would all run by, and I suppose I should have been sitting there yet had not a man come along on the other side who came over and carried me across, and I went on my way rejoicing until I got to Pocahontas county, and I liked the place so well that I stayed there nearly fifteen years, and if the Yankees had not driven me out, I expect that I would have been there until this time.
But on the subject of exorbitant tolls, I have a tale to unfold.
I had been traveling over various roads in Bath County, about two years ago, with my wife, and had found that toll-gates were an institution in Bath County, and when I started for Marlinton I did not expect to find an exception. So after traveling some distance we came to a toll-gate, or rather a pole across the road, and a boy came running down and hollered, “TOLL, mister!” I asked how much. He ran back and hollered, “Maw, Maw!” An elderly lady came to the door, and the boy asked how much he was to charge me. She said, “Law, child, I don’t know. Call your pa.”
Woman and boy united in calling a man who was hoeing potatoes about a hundred yards away, and put the momentous question to him, and his answer was that he did not know, ask him how much he paid at the last place. As this was the first toll-gate on that particular road, the suggestion did not help matters much. Then the boy thought to ask me if I was coming back that way. I told him not if I could help it, but as I wanted to go on, I would give him a quarter for free passage, which he agreed to.
I did have to come back that very way, and the woman charged me 30 cents, on the principle, as I suppose, of being sure that she got enough.
Now, as “Josh Billings” says, “This is no joke, but facts.” If you don’t believe me, I can prove it by my wife, and she won’t lie, if I do…
Toll-gates are bad things, but bad roads are a great deal worse.
Always your humble correspondent,
James E. A. Grass