News from the Pocahontas County Historical Society.
Although this has not been a big traveling season in West Virginia, the Pocahontas County Historical Society Museum has been open since Memorial Day and, with the Labor Day Weekend now over, we are now approaching a reduced schedule for fall. Over the summer, the following people have hosted visitors:
Khristian Smith, Zachary Grimes, Bill McNeel, Denise McNeel, Ashley Fleming, Michelle Evans, Tim Holmes, Bob Lister and JoAnn Lister. We hope to be open on weekends and on other days by special request in September, so additional volunteers would be welcome. We will again participate in the Smithsonian Museum Day, which coincides with the Roadkill Cook-Off on September 29. Free admission tickets are available online.
The Historical Society, which opened the museum 49 years ago, has been very active this year with meetings and programs in Huntersville and Green Bank, as well as at the Museum. Our August meeting featured Buckeye and Mill Point and our September meeting will bring in a visitor from Greenbrier County to talk about Fort McCoy and the Williamsburg Historical group. We are now making plans to celebrate our half-century of operation which will coincide next year, of course, with the Sesquicentennial of the State of West Virginia.
Activities have included preservation displays, sales of history books at all county fairs, the transfer of the Old Jail to Huntersville Traditions Day, erecting a new sign at the Confederate Cemetery on the museum grounds, courtesy of Geoff Hamill, administering the history contest, organizing the pioneer work and music and preparing and entering a float in the Pioneer Days parade. We also have a field trip in the works for October.
Dues are $10 a year and can be sent to PCHS at 810 Second Avenue, Marlinton, WV 24954; these include free entry to the museum for a year and also help us to pay the bills to maintain and keep the museum open. The purchase of books through the Historical Society and The Pocahontas Times also helps us to fund the operation of the Museum.
We would like to stress that, though the Museum will be closed mid-week, we are more than willing to open it for visitors, if we are available. Schools and organizations that wish to bring a group can contact us ahead of time. We have a FaceBook page —Pocahontas County Historical Museum—and a web page pocahontashistorical. org
The McClintic Library has a history room which, amid many other documents and books, houses the digitized version of The Pocahontas Times and is open year-round.
So, if you and your family have not been to the museum recently, stop by to visit.
The Pocahontas County Historical Society Museum opened for its 49th season with volunteer workers for the Memorial Day weekend. Khristian Smith is again our host for the summer. Once again, we will be open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum will be operated by volunteers on Sundays and Mondays. We will be charging the same admission fees as last year, which includes a family rate of $10 for two adults and all accompanying children. We hope that local people will avail themselves of this to bring their children to see the many, many items, all from Pocahontas County, that tell the story of their heritage.
The Historical Society met on April 30, but postponed our next meeting since it would have fallen on Memorial Day and, therefore, coincided with our preparations of the museum for opening.
The June Historical Society meeting will be Monday, June 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Huntersville School. Currently, the Historical Society owns the Huntersville Jail and a vote will be taken at that meeting to transfer ownership of the Jail to the Huntersville Historical Traditions group, who wish to maintain and care for it. The Jail will be open prior to the meeting at 6:30 p.m. for tours. Also at that meeting we will discuss plans for the Society's participation in Pioneer Days and members are invited to bring with them memorabilia (pictures and/or items) which reflect the history of their families or the county's history. Everyone is welcome.
Last year we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of PCHS in 1961. The society went on to spend 1962 converting the Hunter House into a museum and acquiring objects to exhibit, which would reflect the history of this area's past. They were working under a deadline: to open the museum as a grand celebration for the State of West Virginia's 100th anniversary, June 20, 1963. We are now looking forward to celebrating the State's Sesquicentennial next year, and have a similar goal: to make the museum ready for its next 50 years of telling the story of the people of Pocahontas County. Please join us and spread the news about our collection, as well as coming to visit us again-or for the first time.
The Museum is having a super Summer
What a great 50th birthday celebration for the Historical Society. We are grateful to Pioneer Days for honoring us this year.ﾠ It was great to see more than 280 people exploring the museum that weekend. We hope you will all come back for a more thorough tour, when it is less crowded. Numbers were up for the spelling bees and the Pocahontas ﾠﾠCounty ﾠhistoryﾠ contests, and 40 youngsters enthusiastically participated ﾠin the hunt ﾠaround the museum to find the objects that were featured on the badge. Having the Pioneer Village at the museum was a lovely step back into the past and to see artist Ron Radcliff at work on a painting of the house was a rare treat. The completed painting is displayed in the dining room below Mrs. Hunter's depiction of her home.
The museum is looking very nice.
Counselors in training from Camp Twin Creeks scraped and painted the riverside porch and offered to do further maintenance jobs. ﾠA new sign for the Confederate Cemetery is to be the first assignment using new equipment at Pocahontas Woods.
Using a $3,000 grant from the Snowshoe Foundation and a $1,000 donation from Bob Jacobson, the repairs of the upstairs water damage has been completed and the restroom retiled. Ceiling water damage in the shop has been repaired and replastered, the front porch roof has been repaired, the threshold to the cabin has been replaced, and the cubicle for the ice box completely redone-the collapsed floor rebuilt and the walls rebuilt and painted. Home Sweet Home Builders' meticulous work extended to bringing in flooring and installing it.ﾠ So, we are ready, if someone can locate an early 20th century icebox to fill that space.ﾠ Another member offered last year to pay for the installation of a rail for the front steps and that project is also complete and already in use. ﾠOf course, such a large 1904 house has many more maintenance needs, but the progress is visble and much appreciated.
The museum now has its own Facebook page, PocahontasCounty Historical Museum (the first two words are joined together), so stop by to see our Pioneer Days pictures, keep up with our news and find out about our opening hours, entrance fees, etc. Please "like" us and spread the word. We also have a link there to the Historical Society's webpage, pocahontashistorical.org
If you are not a member of the PCHS, you can find an application on our web page. We need the funds that memberships generate to pay our bills and keep the museum open. Our founding fathers and mothers left us this extraordinary legacy of a magnificent building, grounds and museum collection, the envy of visitors from other counties and states; ﾠwon't you help us to preserve and pass this legacy on to future generations of Pocahontas countians; some things are priceless.
The August meeting of the Historical Society will be at Sharp's Country Store on US Rt. 219 at Slaty Fork on Monday, August 22, at 7 p.m. Can't wait for Tom Shipley's guided tour!
The museum will continue to be open daily until Labor Day and then open on weekends in the fall.
Come and see our improvements.
Did I mention that this would be a wonderful location for a wedding?
We have two new books in the Museum Shop.
The Pocahontas County Genealogy Group has produced its sixth volume, which covers Little Levels, in its cemetery inventories series, "In Loving Memory." The group has set as its goal to list the more than 310 known cemeteries in Pocahontas County. The new book lists the details of more than 1,300 people buried in the Little Levels area and, the members have indexed the entries and added pictures and local history articles. The Museum has the other five books in the series for sale, as well. These are vital and easy to use tools for researching your family history, and sales of the books will enable the genealogy group to produce more books, and that's an endeavor we can all support.
The second book added to our shop was produced by Paul A. Cunningham to commemorate the events of the first year of the Civil War, as we mark its 150th anniversary. Titled "Voices from Rich Mountain," this hardback book consists of a collection of first person accounts of some of the first battles in the northwestern part of Virginia. The first and longest of these is "On to Grafton" by Pocahontas native William T. Price. This was a section of his diary written in May 1861 when he served as chaplain to Company E, 31st Virginia Volunteers, of which most of the soldiers were natives of Highland County. Rev. Price, who later became the first minister of the Marlinton Presbyterian Church, was at the time serving two churches in Highland County. When he took up his charge in Marlinton he purchased The Pocahontas Times, and toward the end of his life he and his wife lived several years with their daughter, Anna, in the house which now serves as the county museum. In the 1890s Rev. Price wrote a series of articles called "Sketches of Pocahontas County," which were printed in the newspaper and in 1901 were printed in book form as the Price History of Pocahontas County.
The Price family included many avid writers and historians and one of the reasons that the Museum was able to amass such a big collection so quickly was that so many items were donated by that family. These range from the much loved Swiss music box and the collection of Native American artifacts to William Price's wheelchair. Dr. Norman Price passed on his camera, bicycle, skis and items from his personal collection. Three of the doctors represented in the medical room include Drs. Norman, James and Susan Price. We also have items that Anna Price Hunter donated, including, among other things, a 1904 washing machine, a baby carriage and a cradle which was used by her relatives from the Poage, Barlow and Warwick families who, as early settlers, preceded the arrival of the Price name in the county. On display also is Rev. Price's Confederate uniform (worn for reunions) and photographs taken by Dr. Norman at Civil War reunions, including the 50 year Peace Reunion in Gettysburg and other newsworthy events in the county.
The 2011 Pioneer Days badge, which honors the Pocahontas County Historical Society Museum's 50th anniversary, is in full color and was designed by Historical Society vice president B.J. Gudmundsson.
The badge features items in the Museum's collection as well as the Pocahontas County History Book, produced by the society in 1981. Other items featured include a Civil War sword and sash, the McNeel Bible, a doll from the Fanny Overholt collection, photographs taken by Cal Gay and a blue nineteenth century cream pitcher donated by Mrs. G .F. Crummett. Children under 12 are invited during Pioneer Days to locate these items in the museum.
Entrance fees to the museum will be waived on Friday and Saturday of Pioneer Days; visitors may, instead, donate the amount of their choosing.
The Frank and Anna Hunter House has opened its doors for its 49th season as the County Museum, which means, of course, that the Pocahontas County Historical Society is 50-years-old. Pioneer Days is recognizing this golden anniversary by honoring the society (which introduced Pioneer Days), on its badge and with its Parade Marshals.
B.J. Gudmundsson designed the badge which shows items from various collections in the museum and the 1981 History Book, compiled by the members, in a single year. Invited to be marshals are the four current members who attended the organizational meeting in November 1961: Jane Price Sharp, Carolyn Burns, Bob Jacobson and Bill McNeel. The Pioneer Village will be located at the Museum this year, as well as the usual Friday Pocahontas County history and spelling bee contests for both children and adults. Children under 12 are also challenged to locate in the museum the items pictured on the badge. If anyone has Pioneer Days clothing, tucked away in drawers or closets, which you are willing to loan for the Pioneer Days celebration, please contact the Museum or Denise McNeel at 304-799-4369.
The museum's hours will continue to be 11-5 Monday thru Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. This season's host will be recent PCHS graduate Khristian Smith. While volunteers will also be docents. If this is something you would like to do, let us know. Admission fees are $4 for adults and $2 for children, with a family admission (two adults and all accompanying children) for $10. Membership in the society is $10 a year; any donations toward the upkeep of this 107-year-old home and its grounds will always be gratefully received. The membership newsletter will be mailed out to current members before the end of June. We acknowledge with gratitude a grant of $3,000 from the Snowshoe Foundation and a donation of $1,000 from Bob Jacobson, which will be used this summer to continue much needed repairs to the house.
In a later article I plan to list items whose donors we know. Perhaps you would like to see items used by your ancestors, relatives or by a former teacher, doctor or merchant. We also have local history and genealogy books on sale. Come and revisit us this special anniversary year.
And, by the way, we are still looking for an ice box to fit in the cubicle on the porch.
Historical Society plans for future projects
The September meeting of the Historical Society was very productive with 14 officers and directors in attendance.
The purpose of the meeting was to brainstorm in order to rejuvenate the organization. To put things in perspective, the officers talked about the origins of the society and even read the minutes of the very first meetings of the society as it set itself up 49 years ago. They also spoke of the societyﾒs many past projects and the current society responsibilities.
Then the participants split into three groups to discuss things that members felt were needed, and also things that they would like to see the society tackle in the future. This task was tackled with enthusiasm.ﾠ The three lists were read aloud and President Matt Tate agreed to tabulate these excellent ideas for consideration at the October meeting.
They included (in no particular order):
ﾕ2011 is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War-this should be commemorated, possibly starting with listing local combatants.
ﾕSupport of Pioneer Days returning to its roots, with more historical emphasis
ﾕNeed for secure archives (+ archivist)
Maintain the Museum building and make people comfortable with loaning/donating items
Need a membership secretary to remind people to pay dues
Need programs-events, activities, speakers
50th anniversary of Historical Society approaching-celebrate
ﾕ150th anniversary of statehood of West Virginia-celebrate
ﾕMcClintic Library's Heritage Room needs to be open on Saturdays
ﾕHistorical Society needs to produce more books to sell (photographs, update of County History....)
ﾕChange displays at museum for current celebrations, reunions etc.
ﾕDo living history presentations inﾠ various parts of the county
ﾕOn Cass Train days, the museum should be open earlier
ﾕNeed a building committee to oversee the restoration, repair and maintenance of the Museum and ﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠother properties
ﾕWork with Snowshoe and the CVB to develop motor coach traffic to the museum
ﾕEncourage more volunteers
ﾕPublicity, publicity, publicity
ﾕEncourage school groups and other groups to visit the museum and take an interest in local history
ﾕNewsletter and historical articles more often
The group decided to hold its next meeting at the museum (people should dress warmly) at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 25, to look over the museum building and displays, and to discuss these ideas and any others that the members would like to present.ﾠ Everyone is welcome; we will need many people to get started on this ambitious list, but having seen how quickly the new society homed in on an agenda and got to work, we have an excellent model. Please look at the above list and think which idea appeals to you.
Although we bade farewell to our museum hostesses on September 18, society members have beenﾠ very busy.ﾠ They have already put in more than 40 additional volunteer hours keeping the museum open and helping visitors with family history, as well as selling books at festivals and showing the old jail at Huntersville to the public. We have discovered that the museum has become a ﾓdestination,ﾔespecially as news of our holdings have been publicized on the internet.
Out of state visitors come hundreds of miles to see the Martha Davis Bible, the Gatewood Plantation records, our Civil War information and artifacts, our photos, records and displays on the logging history, and our collection of early tools and household equipment; many of the visitors have family roots in the county and are eager to learn more about the area where their ancestors first settled.ﾠ Although the ﾓseasonﾔ is over, people are still traveling and if we stop by the museum, visitors stop by, too. ﾠ
St Johnﾒs Episcopal Church ﾠloaned us their one-piece picnic tables this summer, which, set-up on the front porch, not only can be used for picnics, but serve nicely as places to do research or organize and set up displays, while enjoying the breeze from the river. When the parishioners came for a picnic last Saturday, we picked up 12 additional visitors, who happened by the museum. So, we have had over 900 visitors this summer; we have invited the schools to bring groups and will open up the museum on request, if we are available. Call 304-799-4369, if you would like to visit before the weather gets too cold.
Summer's over, but there's still time to visit the museum
I guess the summer is over when the students return to school and college. Zachary Grimes, our faithful Sunday volunteer, has returned for his junior year to Shepherd University, and Brittany McMann, our hostess, has returned for her senior year to Roanoke College.
The museum has been open every day this summer since May 29 with a good number of visitors.
Assuming the duties of hostess for the last week of August and for Saturdays throughout September is Adrienne Juergens, a graduate of Pocahontas County High School and West Virginia Wesleyan College, who will work in the county for AmeriCorps this year.
In addition to weekends in September, the museum will be open on Labor Day. The Sunday schedule will beﾠ 1-5 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon-5 with the exception of September 25, which is not only the day of the Roadkill Cookoff, but also Smithsonian Museum Day, so it will be open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and will honor the Smithsonian admission cards. ﾠ
Depending on the fall colors, ﾠindividual and group requests, ﾠand tourist traffic, volunteers will open the museum in October; we hope also to have visits from local school classes that month.
The Historical Society also owns and operates the old county jail at Huntersville; it will be open for viewing the first weekend in October during Traditions Day. Volunteers will have history and genealogy books for sale at Huntersville and also in Marlinton during the Autumn Harvest Festival; they are, of course, also available at the museum and Pocahontas Times office andﾠ are a major source of funding for the operation of the museum.ﾠ
Funding for the Heritage Room at the McClintic Library was given by PCHS members, Jane Price Sharp and her sister, the late Florence Price McNeel; it houses the societyﾒs genealogical records plus many other materials on local history and genealogy. Unlike the museum, it is open year round and is available whenever the library is open.ﾠ
If you are planning a family or class reunion or a wedding and are interested in using the museum grounds this fall or next year, contact curator Bill McNeel, for more information.
Juergens is pictured inﾠthe museum'sﾠpopular vintage music machine department. She is reading a letter from J.B. McNeill to Samuel Kee (owner of the cabin which now stands beside the museum). In the letter McNeill announces that Kee is the holder of ﾠthe lucky number in the drawing made in January 1887 at the gala opening of his Buckeye store. His prize stands on the showcase to the left, a Melodia with four cobs, produced in the U.S.A. ﾠJuergens will happily turn the crank for you to hear a hymn, song ﾠor a waltz, as enchanting music is formed by air passing through the holes in the paper scrolls. The instrument was the gift of the late Glenna Hayes, who also donated the Kee cabin, her mother's birthplace, to the museum in the 1960s.ﾠﾠThe transportation ofﾠthe cabinﾠby Burns Motor Freight from Kee Flats is a whole other story. (There are picturesﾠof the move inside ﾠthe cabin; this was quite a feat of ingenuity and manpower).
To make the second floor, which displays household and medical equipment, tools and special exhibits, available to people who cannot handle the stairs, Norman Alderman has recently filmedﾠits contents and we plan to show this DVD in the archive room downstairs.
The continued operation of the museum and its upkeep depend on the generosity of the people of the county; it is not self-supporting. Fortunately, we were able to do much-needed repairs on the outside of the buildingﾠtwo years ago; however, we were unable to complete repairs on the inside when our funds ran out. Your memberships and gifts will help make this incredible facility available to the next generation of Pocahontas residents, visitors to the county, historians and researchers.
If you have ideas for future activities of the Historical Society, please pass them on to the directors and officers, whose names were printed in this paper last month.ﾠThey will meet September 23 at 5 p.m. at the Marlinton Presbyterian Church, for a brainstorming session. ﾠAdditional interested people are welcome to join us and should bring a sandwich.
Stop by and visit the museum before the season ends. We have several new exhibitsﾠas well asﾠbooks and advice to help with research of family and local history. Incidentally, we are still looking for an ice box to fill the aperture on the back porch, if anyone has one to donate.
Annual Meeting of the Pocahontas County Historical Society held
Members gathered on the front porch of the museum, Monday, July 19, for a program of five-minute presentations on various aspects of recent society activities, ﾠthe history of the organizationﾠ and the Museum.
Bill McNeel told of the formation of the historical society and the early decision to acquire a building, to fill and open a museum before West Virginiaﾒs centennial birthday, June 20, 1963. From the old minutes it was obvious that this idea had widespread and enthusiastic support from people throughout the county. To raise funds to buy and renovate the building, shares of stock were sold. McNeel also spoke about the grand opening by Pearl S. Buck and Governor Wallace Barron.
Brittany McMann, the 2010 museum hostess, took up the story to describe the building, and its use as a home by Anna and Frank Hunter. She also talked about ﾠthe two adjoining cemeteries and the log cabin, which formerly belonged to the Kee family and was moved to its present site. The porch which can be seen from the road was, in fact, the back porch and there is a special protrusion, which once contained the icebox, so that the iceman could deliver the ice and Mrs. Hunter could access it directly from the kitchen. If anyone has an icebox to donate or loan, PCHS would love to restore this authentic detail.
Denise McNeel substituted for Zach Grimes, who had prepared a presentation on the Price Family upon whose land the Hunters built their home. She spoke of James Atlee Price, inventor, postmaster and sawmill operator and his family who are buried next to the house. Price land extended from Price Hill to Campbelltown on the West side of the river.
William T. Price was born in Marlinton and wrote ﾠHistorical Sketches of Pocahontas County in 1901. This book is still in print and still a great resource for local historians and genealogists. William T. Price was a Confederate chaplain during the Civil War, and was invited by the members of the Marlinton Presbyterian Church to be their first minister. The Price family owned The Pocahontas Times and the whole family contributed to its pages. Three children, James, Norman and Susan, trained in Baltimore to be doctors, Andrew studied law and was a founder of the West Virginia Historical Society, Calvin achieved fame as a country editor, while Anna, the owner of the house, attended art school in Philadelphia and was a businesswoman. William T. and his wife, Anna Randolph Price, also lived there with their daughter in their later years. The house is full of relics of this astonishing family.
Matt Tate spoke about progress at the McNeel Mill in Mill Point, its new roof and his opening of the mill to the public, with the mill wheel running. He is working on rebuilding the mill race.
Bob and Joanne Lister spoke of their progress in digitizing the societyﾒs collection of photo prints (Roger Orndorff has made considerable progress with the societyﾒs collection of negatives). The group isﾠ hoping to put some 200 of these into a pictorial history book.
B J Gudmundsson then spoke about her role as Recordsﾠ Preservation Officer for the county and the progress so far made in scanning county and society documents. She also spoke about the historical society website and the domain name she has chosen.
Denise McNeel spoke about the museumﾒs display on the Gatewood Plantation Records from Bath County. These came to the society when Pauline Galfordﾠ found the ledger while razing Gatewood House at Linwood.
Five years ago, descendants of former slave Cora Hurt Williams Gilmore had a family reunion in the county and not only examined our record of their grandmotherﾒs birth, but shared their own genealogical research, as well as ﾠphotocopies of the family Bible and pictures of Ms. Gilmore. Zach Grimes, while reading literature held in the museum about the historical study for the Bath County Pump Storage Project, found an article noting that ﾠa former slave named Cora had delivered more than 100 babies in this area. Slave records purchased by H. L. Sheets has additional information.
The group moved indoors for the business meeting. Inspired by the story of the creation of the museum, there was animated discussion of future projects.
The following officers were elected: President-Matt Tate, Vice Presidents-B.J. Gudmundsson and Gail Hyer, Secretary-Denise McNeel, Treasurer-William P. McNeel. ﾠIt was also decided to revive the traditional structure of the society by appointing directors from all the communities in the county. A meeting of directors will take place in September to brainstorm about future activities.
So far this year we have had close to 500 visitors from 20 states, Israel, Denmark and Canada. The treasurer sent out a newsletter to current members. He is receiving dues of $5 regular, $10 sustaining and memorial gifts. New Members should contact him at the Old Times Office, 810 Second Avenue, Marlinton 24954, and he will be happy to send you the latest newsletter