August 11, 1932
I Sundayed over at Mingo, at the home of Samuel Wood.
There was a lot of talk about, and I have several good pieces in my system to write when I can get around to it.
Naturally, at Mingo, sometime in the conversation the reference is made to the English colony of forty years ago in that community. I wanted to know if ever any one had taken pains to prepare and preserve a list of the names of those sojourners. I was delighted to hear that Mr. Wood had done that very thing, and that he would give me a copy. I was surprised the number was so large. Mr. Wood was able to make up the record from the ledger accounts of his store.
Here is his interesting article:
The community of “Mingo Flats” was mildly excited when two young Englishmen bought the farm and home of Mr. Amos Hevener in 1883 and started housekeeping.
R. B. Cholmondeley and C. H. R. Bruce, with their cook, W. P. Loyd, were the first of quite a little colony which collected there. Other young men came and lived with Cholmondeley and Bruce. Quite a good many later bought farms, making homes for themselves, bringing wives and servants from the home country.
These people lived, labored, traded and played here, introducing their ways and customs as well as joining in our business and social life. Their upright honesty and unfailing courtesy were an influence for good upon the young people of that day. They were always ready with help for the needy, and sympathy for the suffering.
The English brought with them their natural love for sports. They introduced the hammerless gun and fly rod to this section of the country, and some of them were wonderfully proficient with them. But of more interest were the group sports. Soccer football took well and became one of the weekly events through the fall and winter months, and many match games of great interest were played. Football was started as early as 1892 and is still the delight of the boys and men of Randolph and Pocahontas counties.
Most of the other sports dwindled away with the wane of the colony but have left their mark for good rather than for bad. About 1892, a race track was built for both horse and foot races, semi-annual meets were regularly held, the keen, clean competition drew crowds and taught its lesson. No gate money was charged, no purse offered; hurdle race, half mile, mile or two mile races were ridden, the prize being perhaps a cup (five cent tin cup) with as much zeal as the Derby. It was the same with the foot races; no purse was offered, but the competition was as keen as though hundreds of dollars were at stake. Even a long distance race of 22 miles was run on the same plan of no purse.
Possibly the events of most interest were the steeple-chases ridden over about a five mile course. Thousands of people would gather to witness these events, though there was but the one for the afternoon, and would go home feeling that they had been well paid for their trip.
Polo was also tried, but the hunter type of horse did not prove very satisfactory, and the game did not last but a few seasons. Paper chases, both horseback and on foot, and the cross country drag chase afforded a lot of sport in which the ladies of the colony proved their ability to handle the horse, and to stick to the pig skin.
As more ladies arrived, and bachelor quarters were turned into homes, tennis courts and golf links were built. These afforded opportunity for many social gatherings with clean, health-giving sport through the summer months.
Hockey was also listed among the sports from 1901 until the colony became too small to afford enough players.
They came – they went – but their influence to play the game clean, for the love of the game, is still with us, and may it ever remain…
March 13, 1930
W. H. Taft
William Howard Taft, ex-President of the United States and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court died at his home in Washington, March 8, 1930. On Monday his body was buried in the National Cemetery at Arlington. The passing of this good man is regretted by everyone.
I notice with pleasure the success of your hunting club’s effort to exterminate small game killing vermin. It is surprising how many were killed in the short time of one week. What would have happened had the time been for one month? Those hunters who were interested were only getting started when time was up.
Speaking of vermin, I think the dirty salamander, commonly called “water dog,” has everything else beat a mile for destructiveness. I would not repeat the following story if I were not able to prove it by a citizen of your town, whose testimony would be accepted without question in the courts of heaven.
A few years ago, my son and I, having an hour to spare, took pitchforks and waded down Cheat River for a half mile and speared 15 or 20 of the nasty things. We had a grain bag and when we speared one, we would put it in the sack and kick it off with a foot. When we quit fishing, we carried the sack to the bank and emptied it on the sod. Pierced through with a fork, many of the dog fish were sick. When we emptied the sack, there came out with the dog fish something like a gallon of minnows that had been disgorged by them. We took an axe and cut the heads off the filthy things.
We came up to our home, and a bunch of men had dropped in. We told them about the hunt, and they went with us to verify our story. We opened up a large one and took out 35 minnows from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long. Most of them were so far digested we could not determine the species, but we did recognize 8 or 9 small brook trout. You may believe it or not, but if you doubt, ask Add.
Perhaps you wonder how they can catch so many, being so awkward. It is easy when I explain. We have a kind of fish called “stone toters.” Along late in June or early in July, stone toters carry to one place, a pile of pebbles – in size from small marbles to hen eggs – from a half to a bushel. They always work in pairs, a male and a female. When the pile is completed they there deposit their spawn on the lee side of the pile. The small minnows of all kind gather around the pile to feed on the spawn and sport in the lee of the pebble pile. The water dog creeps up to the pile, opens his mouth and the minnows, in sporting around, just drop in and are swallowed. I have watched them closely, and I know this to be true…
Someday I will tell you a real snake story. – H. F. C.