Preserving Pocahontas

Masonic Funeral Procession – date unknown

This rare photograph takes us to an unknown hillside in Pocahontas County where a group of Masons are processing to perform the burial ritual for a deceased brother. If you look closely you may be able to see their white gloves and aprons. Pocahontas Co. Historical Society Collection, ID: PHS003095

The picture brings to mind the beautiful poem written by West Virginia poet Muriel Miller Dressler and published by Morris Harvey College in 1973.

I am Appalachia. In my veins
Runs fierce mountain pride; the hill-fed streams Of passion; and, stranger, you don’t know me!
You’ve analyzed my every move – you still Go away shaking your head. I remain
Enigmatic. How can you find rapport with me – You, who never stood in the bowels of hell,
Never felt a mountain shake and open its jaws To partake of human sacrifice?
You, who never stood on a high mountain, Watching the sun unwind its spiral rays;
Who never searched the glens for wild flowers, Never picked mayapples or black walnuts; never ran
Wildly through the woods in pure delight, Nor dangled your feet in a lazy creek?
You, who never danced to wild sweet notes, Outpouring of nimble-fingered fiddlers;
Who never just “sat a spell,” on a porch, Chewing and whittling; or hearing in pastime
The deep-throated bay of chasing hounds And hunters shouting with joy, “he’s treed!”
You, who never once carried a coffin To a family plot high up on a ridge
Because mountain folk know it’s best to lie Where breezes from the hills whisper, “you’re home”;
You, who never saw from the valley that graves on a hill Bring easement of pain to those below?
I tell you, stranger, hill folk know What life is all about; they don’t need pills
To tranquilize the sorrow and joy of living. I am Appalachia; and, stranger,
Though you’ve studied me, you still don’t know.

Access the “Preserving Pocahontas” Digital Library at or If you have historical records or photographs to be scanned for the county Historical Archive contact Preservation Officer B. J. Gudmundsson at 304-799-3989 or email Prints of photographs are available.

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