From the Archives of
The Pocahontas Times
Extraordinary agitation. That is what has been demanded by the common people since time began with them. Formerly, they found it to its highest degree in the public execution of convicted prisoners, and the greater the torture the more pleasure experienced. It brings on wars. It accounts for the gory details of tragedies in the newspapers. It is the moving cause of dangerous games like football.
In recent time, this craving for thrills has been supplied in wholesale quantities by the moving pictures, the radio and the automobile. These, in addition to the morbid press, which was the main agitator a generation ago.
A modern football game or a prize fight has much the same sort of appeal that marked the gladiator period in the decline of Roman civilization.
There is nothing to do about it for it is apparent that if we did not have these comparatively harmless hazards, we would have worse. The trouble about football is that about twenty-two persons get all the exercise, and the twenty-two thousand that watch them sit on their hind-ends and get no glow from the game. Still, they are out in the open air, and that is something…
The world is savage. Life is a tragedy. And there is no whiskey…
MARATHON OF ’86
John M. Young, of Huntington, and Alex Stuart, of Marlinton, were talking about old times in the white pine woods on Anthonys Creek at O’Connel’s camp in One Mile Hollow on the North Fork.
The time was 1886. That season was an unusually open one. The logs had all been cut and put into the stream. There had been enough water with the aid of splashes to get the drive out of North Fork and into the main creek. The men were being held in camp, waiting for the spring rains, which were late in coming.
Forty or fifty young men, tough as nails, after a winter in the woods, well fed, taking a sporting interest in seeing who could do the most at the hardest kind of work were hard to hold. The majority of the men were northerners – Pennsylvania, New York, New England, and the Canadian Provinces. The foreman was Theodore Lester, and an abler woodsman never turned a better crew out.
One of the men was Frank Courtney, of Bangor, Maine. He was college bred, and had evidently been considerable of an athlete in his day. Hard liquor had gotten the best of him, and he was doing manual labor where he could be away from drink. Courtney was known in that camp as the “Sporting Editor.” He was just the man needed in the days of idleness around the camp, waiting for the spring floods.
He organized contests, such as boxing, races, etc. The weather got so warm in March that the men went swimming in the ice cold water of North Fork. It was over four miles down to the post office at Loury’s Mill at the Kirkpatrick place on Anthonys Creek. There came a little water in North Fork and the big splash dam was full. Coutney got up a purse for the winner in a swimming contest down the mountain stream from the camp to the post office on a head tide from the splash dam. One of the stunts was for those who finished the race to go through the chute of the big splash dam near the post office at the end of the course. A man would go through the raceway and into the white water below the dam like shot off a shovel. Four swimmers entered and finished the race – James Monday, Dick Shipman, Sam Powell and Jimmie Green. Monday won the race.
Then about the first of April, Courtney organized a marathon race of twenty-four miles from the Camp on North Fork to White Sulphur Springs for a purse of $25.
The entries were Garnet House, Dick Shipman, Will Johnson and Alex Stuart.
Alex was just about 21 years of age and the youngest in the race. Courtney advised young Alex, and told him the thing to be careful about was wet feet. There were numerous fordings of creeks, and some of them had to be waded. He said the others would just naturally plout through every creek in logger style, but for him to look out for foot logs. Where it was necessary to wade, just take time to pull off his shoes and stockings and carry a towel to dry his feet – even if the other runners were ahead of him. The last ford was at Alvon, and Alex was the hind man.
The others just splashed through, but Alex took his time and waded barefooted. Directly he overtook and passed the three sore footed men, and he was going strong. When he was a few miles from White Sulphur Springs, a lady stopped him to take a telegram for her son in New York. Alex did not feel he had time to spare under the circumstances, but people were truly polite in those days and he waited until the message was written. When the lady brought out the paper she also brought a stimulant that gave vigor to the young man, and he finished the race in fine shape – a mile or two ahead of the second man. The time was accurately kept – just two hours and forty-eight minutes.
Mrs. Nannie P. Slaven died at her home on Lower Camden Avenue in Marlinton, Sunday afternoon, February 22, 1930, aged seventy-one years. On Monday afternoon the funeral service was conducted from the home by her pastor… Burial was in the Ruckman graveyard near Millpoint. The pall bearers were Clyde W. Moore, Clyde Waugh, Fred Sheets, Frank Moore, J. M. Bear and Calvin W. Price. Mrs. Slaven was a daughter of the late James W. Ruckman and Esther Arbogast Ruckman… Like all good wives and mothers, her life was one of sacrifice, spent in the service of others…
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Mrs. Hester Grimes Rose died at her home on Stamping Creek, Saturday, February 15, 1930, of heart disease, aged 36 years, four months and 23 days. On July 13, 1920, she married Ernest Rose… she leaves her husband and three small children… Burial in the McNeel Cemetery.