- Proctorville Ohio News 23 February 1888
Proctorville Ohio News about Matrimonial, Criminal, Personal, and Interesting Locals Generally. Extracted from the IRONTON REGISTER on 23 February 1888.
- Proctorville Ohio History Told by Captain Mace
This place, at one time, was known as Quakers Bottom. Above Thomas street to Jackson Pike was called Grant Town. The Methodist church stands on the corner of State road Seven and Thomas street in Grant Town.
Places in Lawrence County, Ohio
Villages, Townships, and Towns – How Did They Get Their Names?
PROCTORVILLE HISTORY RETOLD BY CAPT. MACE
31 May (year not clear on source) IRONTON TRIBUNE
The founding of Proctorville and its growth in the early years is described by Captain Ellis MACE, one of the Ohio river’s most well known riverboat captains. Capt. Mace is a resident of Proctorville. His history of that community was sent to the Tribune.
This place, at one time, was known as Quakers Bottom. Above Thomas street to Jackson Pike was called Grant Town. The Methodist church stands on the corner of State road Seven and Thomas street in Grant Town. Jacob PROCTOR owned some land on the river bank near a farm road where (he) built a small stone house on the river bank. At this time a road ran along the river bank. Later Mr. Proctor built a large brick house east of the store on the river road. The Proctor family lived in this house for several years. All river men knew this place as Proctor’s landing.
Charley WATERS, with his family, left Maryland and floated down the Ohio river on a flat boat. They landed at the mouth of Symmes Creek at Flemingsburg, the second town in Lawrence county and Mr. Waters established a home there. After a short time his house was destroyed by fire , Mr. Waters came up to Proctors Landing and he bought Mr. Proctor’s store and house. Mr. Proctor moved to his farm back near the Hill.
Mr. Waters took over the post office. He was replaced by John PARKER, under Groover CLEVELAND. He had got every Democrat here to vote for Cleveland, only one John Parker, and he got the post office (as by source). The brick house now called the Waters home is still in use. Proctorville was laid out in 1878 by T.J.SHIRKEY. Mr. Proctor had made a request that if the town was to be named for him, to call it Proctorville leaving off the positive and his request was granted so Proctorville was laid out and incorporated the same year, 1878. John Parker, the only Democrat inside the corporation, was elected the first mayor.
First Proctorville town officials; Mayor, John Parker; clerk, O.E. REC ; Marshal, J.H. LOYD; treasurer A. MAGEE. The six councilman–T.B. FLOWERS, Harvey PRICHARD, Madison FORGEY, J. MacSMITH, R.W. MAGEE, Doctor S.R. RICKETS.
All these men were elected and Proctorville had a government to start with made up of the best citizens.
Proctorville streets from east to wesst, Front, Susan, Elizabeth, State road 7 and Wilgus.
Cross streets-south to north, Jackson, Grant, Thomas, Ferry, Front from Jackson to Thomas, Susan from Thomas to Ferry, Elizabeth from Jackson to Ferry, State road 7 from Jackson to Pine alley, Wilgus from Jackson to Shirkey, Shirkey from State to School Alley, Jackson from Front to Wilgus, Grant from Front to School Alley, Thomas from river bank to Wilgus, Ferry from river bank to State road 7.
Alleys- Leon alley from Grant to Ferry 13 feet wide, School Alley from Jackson to Shirkey, Broad alley from Susan to State 20 feet wide, Pine alley from Front to state.
There were five good stores and a flour mill in the town. D.B. MAUCK & Co. bought everything that the farmer had to sell and they shipped the chickens and eggs to D HOPPE at Cincinnati. The BUSH brothers operated the flour mill which did a big business. They swapped flour and meal to the farmers for grain. Farmers came into Proctorville from miles around to trade.
Henry WATERS bought the Bush brothers out and he moved the mill over on Second street and Fifteenth street but Henry didn’t do any good in Huntington, so he sold the mill to KEISTERS and they ran the mill as Keister Milling Company. There was a bank started in Proctoville . D.B.Mauck had charge.
Doctor REYNOLDS told me thaat he had some money in the bank, and he asked for a loan and he said thaat Mauck had told him thaat he would loan him the amount that he had in the bank, and no more. So Doc said he checked his money out of that bank and went over to a Huntington bank and got the money that he wanted.
The Proctorville bank was moved over on Third avenue and Twentieth street and now this 20th street bank is one of the best in Huntington, but they loan money.
Bay Bro’s ran packet boats out of Proctorville to Ironton, Portsmouth and Gallipolis. These men owned 32 steam boats in their time. Capt. George BAY lived in Proctorville, Will Bay lived in Ironton. Proctorville had four doctors- no need of anybody being sick.
These doctors owned their own homes and Proctorville had a good brass bandled by Colie MAGEE. The last picnic was in R.W. Magee’s orchard in 1888. John LUCAS
riding R.W.Magee’s white horse was marshall of the day. My boy was just four days oldand I carried him out to the front gate to watch the parade pass by. Our schools have always been the best, and two churches that were always well filled until picture shows commenced running on Sundays.These shows are wrong and should not be allowed.
The first ferry was a push boat operated by John PARKER. He pushed the boat across the river with poles in low water. When there was too much water for poles he used oars. HANNONS owned this flat, and later bought a small steam ferry boat named “New Era”.
I have records when the BUFFINGTONS ran a steam ferry across the mouth of Guyan creek and over to the Ohio shore in 1936 before this John Parker operated a push boat. Later the Hannons got the ferry franchise for the Ohio river and they bought a small ferry boat named “New Era.” (repeat as by source). Bill SMITH bought the “New Era” and ferry franchise from the Hannons. He had the bad luck to lose the “New Era” in the ice. Then Capt. Smith bought a ferry up near Parkersburg named “Lyda Cross” and she was sunk by ice the first winter.Then he bought a small boat from the JENKINS estate.
He fitted he out for a ferry and named her “Whisper.” This name fit for her scape was only a whisper. About this time Captain Smith got the name “Ferry Boat Bill.” In 1891 Captain George Bay contracted with the HOWARDS at Jeffersonville to build a new ferry boat for Proctorville.
This new boat was delivered in 1891.Captain George Bay and George Smith went to Jeffersonville and brought her home.Then “Ferry Boat Bill” had a real ferry boat. She had all the business she could handle. Captain “Ferry boat Bill” died in 1896 and was buried in Ironton. The two boys Ed and George ran the boat for their mother. She died in 1901 and was laid beside her husband in Ironton in 1901.
Capt. Paul THOMAS had married Vergie SMITH and soon they came to Proctorville. Paul, using his wife’s stock in the ferry, joined the two boys on the ferry boat. They got along fine for several years when they disagreed. To settle the dispute the ferry boat and franchise was sold at public auction. Home HOLT and George SMITH bought all for 32 thousand dollars. Paul Thomas, at once bought half interest in the Twenty-Sixth St. ferry
and, I understand, got a bargain. Finally Ed SMITH bought the other half of the Twenty-Sixth St. ferry. I had sold my tow boat “Sea Lion” to Lew DAVIS, cashier of an Ashland bank. He bought her for Capt. TANNER. I helped my son-in-law in his gas station for a while. Then Capt. Thomas wanted me to pilot his ferry boat on 26th street for a while
I accepted and the first day I worked the collections were bad. I told Paul that we would have to run that boat, we must leave the float with one rig or one passenger, and drive her. He agreed and I did run her. Our business got better. Rigs came up from Chesapeake to cross where the boat was run. They told me that they were in a hurry and Paul’s partner Ed Amith told some of our customers that Capt. Mace would pull the cylinders out of place. He said it was foolish to run a ferry boat so hard he tried to keep the fireman from making the steam that I wanted.
But the fireman, Bert COOPER, was on my side. Paul said, “drive her, Bert make the steam” and I did drive her.
After a few years I told captain Thomas that we would have to have a larger boat. He said we had some money but not enough to build a new boat. Then I advised him to have Dow EATON call a meeting of all Big Orchard men at his home, increase the stock to thirty thousand dollars, sell ten thousand of it to Orchard menand Paul and Ed would still have control. He took my advice. They called the meeting and the next morning after the meeting Captain Thomas jumped farther to get on the ferry than I had ever seen him do before.
He hurried to the pilot house and said “Mace, we are going to build that new ferry boat.” I smiled. He got Charley THACKER and they went out on Greasy Ridge to get a man to saw the lumber. Paul hired a man to draw the plan for the hull, and offered 25 dollars for a name. My name was “Aloya,” meaning good luck. A clerk from the tobacco market sent in “Oweva.” He got the prize. The engines of the “Carrie Brown” were used on the “Oweva.” This gave her power. Her business ran 250 to 300 dollars every day. Her expense was 45 dollars. She was forced out of business by the bridge that carried autos for 10 cents. All Huntington ferries had to quit. Her engines are in River Museum at Marietta, Ohio.
Chesapeake, Ironton’s Neighbor December 19, 1949
(Sunday morning’s Huntington Herald Advertiser featured a comprehensive history of Chesapeake, O., from settlement to present day. Along with this interesting article, written by Mrs. D. D. HUTCHISON, were pictures of Symmes Creek bridge, the old City of Huntington Ferry, Nazarene church, Schneider funeral home, Gillen Motor Sales and one of the community’s first mayors, Tom SMITH. In concluding the story, Mrs. Hutchison thanks Mrs. Margaret KOUNS and Mrs. W. T. MOORE for information and material which went into the article.)
The settlement of the Chesapeake community dates back a number of years into the early history of Lawrence county. Early records disclose that George W. KOUNS, an immigrant from Pennsylvania, was one of the original settlers in that area and it was a consolidation of many of those scattered settlements that marked the founding of Chesapeake.
This first small village was named Kounston and while this name was later dropped the memory of the pioneer still lives in Kouns Chapel. The names of William GILLEN, Isaac FRAMPTON and Martin FRAMPTON are recorded as three of the earliest settlers in that neighborhood. Other families that moved to the community in the early years were the BROWNS, CROWS, JOHNSONS, KIMBALLS, JONES, SUITERS, DILLONS, BRAMMERS, BANKS, EGERTONS and EARLES.
The Frampton, Suiters, Browns, Dillon and Banks homes stand today as landmarks in the community and remind residents of the faith and perseverance of the old families.
The First Methodist church, built on Mitchell Hill, was destroyed by fire in the early years and it is on this site that the old Mitchell home now stands. The church known as Kouns Chapel was erected in the year 1893 on land owned by the late Andrew KOUNS and this building survived both the 1913 flood and the devastating inundation of 1937.
Education was never neglected and in 1816 the first school built to accommodate 20 pupils, was erected about a mile from the mouth of Symmes Creek. The crude log structure had a clapboard roof, dirt floor and no windows. A Mrs. WHITEHEAD was the first teacher in the village. Consolidation of the Chesapeake special school district with a number of other districts to the Chesapeake Union schools occurred many years later in 1924. The high school building, a modern structure located near the eastern end of the village, served as one of the county’s first-grade high schools. This, while the grade schools of Chesapeake and East Chesapeake continued in their former locations. The high school building erected in 1924 housed 12 classrooms, two offices, a library, clinic and combination gymnasium-auditorium. This year, 1949, a ten room addition was built on to house grade pupils, first to sixth class. The expansion was necessitated by the closing of two smaller schools in Chesapeake, and while the crowded situation was eased somewhat plans are now underway for the construction of another new high school on the site of the present athletic field.
The J. H. FRAMPTON store, the blacksmith and wagon shop of W. F. BOOTHE and the Symmes Creek flour mill of P. C. BRAMMER became important local industries in the early days of Rockwood, as the settlement east of the mouth of Symmes Creek, was known for many years. The “Rockwood Crescent” an early newspaper made its’ appearance on the scene and was published for a time.
In 1870 W. G. FRAMPTON began operation of a ferry boat between Maple Grove and the Clayton CRAWFORD home, with the permission of the Lawrence county court. It was in 1875 that the business location was moved to the mouth of Symmes Creek and between that time and 1897 the business changed hands several times. Captain B. T. FLESHER was its last and it was he who operated the “City of Huntington” until 1928. Heirs carried on the business from that time until 1936 when the boat was sunk by ice.
Flood waters washed away the old wooden bridge over Symmes Creek and in 1875 a one lane metal span was built across the water. Under direction of the State Highway Department a new steel truss was begun in 1932 and this bridge, standing today, was dedicated a year later and opened to traffic.
Large tracts of land up Symmes Creek were early purchased by the Central Land Company of West Virginia and it was to this that the name of Chesapeake was given. It was at first suggested that this settlement, laid off between Rockwood and Kounston, be named Lawrence City, since no village bore the county name.
These three villages grew and it was near the end of the 19th century that businessmen suggested that a town be laid off below the mouth of Symmes Creek. This was incorporated and Tom SMITH, the first mayor, suggested that it be called Chesapeake. As frequently happens the old villages were absorbed and all were incorporated in the name of Chesapeake in 1907. Sworn in with the first mayor was the first council, consisting of six men, Powhatan HENSON, F. C. FRAMPTON, J. P. WICKLINE, Hugh MITCHELL, W. F. BOOTHE and P. C. Brammer. They served in their offices for three months until the first election in 1908. H. K. MITCHELL was the first clerk and Kimball GUILEN was the first treasurer.
Chesapeake at the present time has six Protestant churches and one Catholic church under construction. The latter was begun when on March 12, 1949, the Parish of St. Ann was canonically established by His Excellency, John King Mussio, bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville. The completion of this two story church and annex will fulfill the dream of many Catholic families in the community who heretofore have been forced to travel to Huntington or Ironton to attend mass and other services.
In 1871 the first post office was established and was located near Symmes Creek bridge where the home of the late J. J. PAUL stands. The office was later moved to King and Gribb’s General Merchandise Store, one of the first general stores in that community. The late John WILLIS was postmaster.
The town’s first physician, Dr. Thomas RAMSEY, stayed only a few years and he was followed by J. C. MORRISON, who settled here in 1896. Dr. Morrison died in 1924 after 28 years active labor among the people. His wife and family surviving, still reside in the family home. Another doctor, E. M. MARTINDILL, moved there in 1914 from Crown City and practiced 15 years before ill health forced his retirement. Dr. W. K. MACKEY practiced in these same offices for 23 years until three years ago when he moved to Huntington. At this time Drs. L. S. DILLON and Edgar WILSON are the only physicians practicing. Dr. Ed WARNER, the only dentist, has been established at Chesapeake for some years.
Chesapeake’s first and only drug store was owned by Edgar WILKS, Fred WINTERS and Dr. D. W. HYLE of Huntington. The business is a present operated by C. W. BLOSS.
The Chesapeake Civic Club in the spring of 1938 established the Community Club House. At that time the group was headed by Mrs. Hugh RARDIN. The log structure was erected on ground leased from the Huntington Elks Lodge and most of the important social events are held here. Officers of the club responsible for the building of the house were: Mrs. Hugh RARDIN, Iven GOODALL, Mrs. Jennie RUSSELL, Mrs. Fred WINTERS, P. F. COMSTOCK, Dr. E. M. MARTINDILL, Jake RARDIN and C. Fred EDWARDS.
A telephone exchange was established in the year 1915 by Richard CASSIDY. It was located in the Cassidy home on Third Avenue, near the drug store. Streets were improved as the community grew. In 1917, the stretch between Chesapeake and Proctorville was paved and Second avenue was paved in 1925 with land owners assessed for the cost.
The state highway was improved in 1936 from the Baptist church in the east to the Kouns Chapel in the west end of the village, city water was first piped from Huntington in 1928 and a sewage disposal system was established in 1935. The late Mrs. E. E. MYERS, known as the “Mother of the Woman’s Clubs” organized the first such club in 1913 and this was federated 1917.
The American Home Club and the Junior Woman’s Club were later organized and today civic clubs are active with many members belonging to the Lions, Junior Order of Mechanics, American Legion, V.F.W., and two active Parent Teachers associations.
Gas was supplied residents by Bob FAULKNER of Proctorville, first agent of the United Fuel Gas Company in 1914. It was not until 1931 however that electricity was available for the homes of the community. At that time A. C. SINGER established the Chesapeake Electric Company which rapidly expanded until 1936, when it was sold to the Ohio Power and Electric Company, its present operators.
The Chesapeake Ford Agency, Gillen Motor Sales dates back to 1920. Hugh GILLEN, the present owner and his father and brother, the late Hunter and Garland GILLEN, are well established, having sold Ford cars from the same corner on Third avenue for thirty years. Russell A. (Red) EARLES, owner and operator of the Earles Motor Sales, who for many years had the Dodge and Plymouth agency, began business in 1938.
The late J. E. SCHNEIDER, a merchant from Getaway, O., began in 1897 to sell coffins along with his general merchandise. Becoming interested in the undertaking profession he abandoned general merchandising and obtained a license as mortician. Joined by his son, Jake SCHNEIDER, in 1929, he established the first funeral home in Lawrence county, at Chesapeake. Another son joined the business in 1939. J. R. SCHNEIDER died in 1940 and in 1942 a gas explosion destroyed the building housing the business. The business was moved to the home of Mr. And Mrs. Jake Schneider and it is here that the business is carried on today. The original home was enlarged and today offers facilities comparable to any in the tri-state.
Sponsored by the Chesapeake Woman’s Club, with Mrs. Frank SMITH as president, the Chesapeake Library was opened in 1933 located in the Lower school building. People interested in a new and finer library met this year with Miss Marion JAMES, Lawrence county librarian and discussed plans for the construction of a new building. The structure is to be erected in the old Elementary school lot by William SCHNEIDER, with the rental to be paid by the various civic organizations.
Chesapeake has grown through the years from a scattered settlement into a modern town. Residents may buy in self-service markets, fountains and lunch rooms. Several electrical appliance stores have been established as have a hardware store, laundry and ice delivery service. A barber shop, shoe repair shop, antique store, radio repair shop, beauty shop, cleaning and pressing shops and welding shop serve the people.
There is no shortage of gasoline stations and four are situated on the four corners of the approach to the Chesapeake-Huntington bridge. Buses, operated by the Ohio Valley Bus Lines, run through Chesapeake to South Point, O. and Proctorville and residents may travel to Huntington within a matter of minutes.
Hundreds of new homes have been erected in the thriving community in the past few years and present a marked contrast to the early settlement which consisted of twelve homes. The present population is approximately 4,000 but with the facilities available and the opportunities offered residents of the community are confident that their town can look forward to expansion and prosperity.
• Pleasant Ridge Bridge in Chesapeake
• Rockwood Gossip – 1908
•Rockwood News – 1880
•Captain Simeon Sumpter, of Chesapeake, Ohio, Union veteran of the Civil War and widely known river man, answered the last call early Wednesday evening at his home on the Ohio side, death following a stroke which the aged man suffered Sunday last.
George Wilson Story, part One
Submitted by Betty Webb
The Ironton Tribune
7 Aug. 1938
Editor’s Note: This is the first of three articles on Theodore [George] Wilson, colored, whose life became so much a part of this section of the country that it is aptly included in the History of Lawrence County which Mr. R.C. Hall has been preparing for The Tribune. The second article will appear next Sunday.
George Wilson was a native of Virginia, having been born in the year 1827. He was born in slavery and was owned for a time by a man named Bailey who lived in the eastern part of the state. But when he was about eight years of age, he was sold to Mr. Fredrick Beuhring, who lived in Cabell County in what is now West Virginia. That of course was long before the division of the “Old Dominion” and Virginia extended to the Ohio and Big Sandy rivers.
It was then quite customary, at least in certain localities, for the slaves to take the name of their master and so Mr. Wilson became commonly known as George Beuhring. He went by this name until after the Civil War or at least until he secured his freedom just previous to that war.
It appears that slavery did not press as heavily upon its subjects in Virginia as it did in the far south. Particularly was this true of western Virginia which later became West Virginia. And it appears that Mr. Wilson led as happy a life as could be expected for one not entirely a free man. But no matter how paternalistic and philanthropic servitude may be it is still servitude and few people who have ever experienced it that did not embrace the first opportunity to free themselves. So it was with Mr. Wilson. Meanwhile, however he had taken on the responsibilities of a wife and family and naturally he was as anxious – even more anxious perhaps – to provide for their future freedom and happiness than he was for his own. George Wilson married Dorcas Franklin, who had been in the western part of Virginia, i.e., what is now West Virginia, and like her husband was a slave. The following children were born to this union: Selena, Louisa, Albert, Arthur, Benjamin, Georgia, Theodore, Marcellus, Jonathan, Julias, Charlotte, and Nancy. Of these, five boys and three girls experienced slavery.
Mr. Beuhring must have been a farsighted businessman, and perhaps a more humane one too than the average slaveholder of his day. He probably realized it was better for himself and his slaves to permit them a certain amount of freedom of action. It not only contributed to their contentment but to his financial gain as well. So he permitted Mr. Wilson to have some time to work for himself and even permitted him to receive pay for his labor for others. In this way Mr. Wilson was able to lay aside a little cash for the comfort of his family and in preparation for the day of freedom which he doubtless saw ahead.
The farsightedness of Mr. Beuhring was further shown by a proposition he made to Mr. Wilson just before the outbreak of the Civil War. That was the chance he gave to the latter to secure his freedom by purchase. In other words, he offered Mr. Wilson the opportunity to ” buy himself ” as was the expression descriptive of an agreement between master and slave by which the latter was to receive his or her freedom upon the performance of a certain amount of work or the paying of a certain amount of money to be earned by working for the owner some one else. In this case, Mr. Beuhring agreed to manumit, i.e., make out papers of freedom for Mr. Wilson upon the latter’s payment of six hundred dollars. Or rather Mr. Wilson was to pay three hundred dollars in cash and the rest when and if he became financially able to do so. However, he gave his note for the deferred payment and set about to earn the money necessary to meet it. He earned a large part of the amount he paid by working on the construction of the old suspension bridge over the Guyandotte River at Guyandotte, West Virginia.
The Civil War came on, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and all the slaves were freed by these acts the constitutional amendments following in their wake. Naturally the things freed Mr. Wilson of his legal obligation to complete his payment for his freedom. But George Wilson was a man of his word. He believed that a contract was a contract and morally binding on those who made it and so he insisted on paying the rest of the amount – every cent he had agreed to pay. Such was the high standard of Christian character, morality and honesty set by George Wilson and carefully followed by his descendants.
After securing his freedom, he came to Lawrence County, Ohio, crossing the Ohio River at what is now Tenth Street, Huntington, West Virginia. and going to Fayette Township, then to Union, and finally settling near Rome in Rome Township. After coming to Rome Township Mr. Wilson rented seven acres of land from Mr. L.D. Morrison and established his house near the settlement known as Rome. He was a hard working and accommodating man and soon, found plenty of work to do. He began to garden his small tract of land and particularly raise melons, but during the winter and his spare time he added to his small income by handling coal for various persons in the community. By this time all his children had succeeded in getting out of Dixie, as the country south of the Ohio River was generally known to such folks, and their father was anxious that they gain an education. In fact he himself lamented the fact that he had had no such opportunity and determined to remedy that defect. He did learn to read and spell but writing proved to be to much for one of his years and disposition. But he wanted so much to learn to sign his name that he even began to go to school with his children. However he could stand it but a few days and relinquished the matter of education to his children.
After some time at Rome George Wilson bought the seven acres of Mr. Morrison and then added to it by purchasing two and twenty – two hundredths of an acres from what was known as the T. A. Walton tract. He also bought fourteen acres from the Kimble tract, as it was then known. This gave him a nice tract of land for the purposes of small farming and market gardening. Mr. George Wilson was not only a man of thrift and industry but religious as well, and many evidences of his fine Christian character were recognized by his white neighbors. As he was of the Methodist persuasion and had no church of his own in the neighborhood, he was taken under the watch care of the old Rome Methodist Episcopal Church of which he became a faithful attendant. We have heard older folks tell many times how he used to sit in the rear of the church and listening attentively to the services and on Communion Day, after the regular members had taken the Sacrament, the minister would extend the invitation to others and he would reverently advance to the altar for the Sacrament. After the Ebenezer church was established at Huntington, West Virginia he moved his membership there. His wife passed away in 1868, after which he married Mrs. Laura Wyatt. They had two children, Elmer and Ellsworth.
The George Wilson Story, part Two
Submitted by Martha J. (Kounse) Martin
The Ironton Tribune
July 28, 1938
Editor’s Note: This is the first of three articles on Theodore [George] Wilson, colored, whose life became so much a part of this section of the country that it is aptly included in the History of Lawrence County which Mr. R.C. Hall has been preparing for The Tribune. The second article will appear next Sunday.
After this narrative, Mr. SLOAN said to him, “I have a log house down on the creek (Indian Guyan), move there and clear up some ground and I will do what I can for you!” Father, with a glad heart, rode back to the cabin where he had left us. On reaching the cabin on the DILLON farm, the Ku Klux had been there again, and left word for him to move out. Mr. DILLON placed a guard over the house. Mother prepared supper, father took the old George horse, a quilt and an arm load of horse weeds and went up to a cliff near by and slept there all night.
The next morning, he loaded us all in the one horse wagon and drove to Mr. SLOAN’S farm. On reaching the place, we moved into the little cabin, with its dirt floor. Making a long story short, we began life.
The Ku Klux Klan tried to run us off from there, but Mr. SLOAN gave them to understand they had to let us alone. After four years on the farm of Mr. SLOAN, we moved to Rome. Father rented seven acres of land from L.D. MORRISON.”
We have quoted the above several paragraphs from some notes we asked Mr. WILSON to prepare on his experiences. As they may tell so vividly of that portion of his life and show so well his ability, even after all these years, to relate the events in which he participated.
After his father got settled at Rome, he looked about for means to educate his children. In this he was assisted by the farseeing and philanthropic citizens of Quaker Bottom who made arrangements to provide a school for colored as well as white students. And it was not long before The Board of Education of Rome Township and also that of Union Township was offering schooling facilities for the colored folks. The WILSON children attended some in both townships and had to trudge a long distance through the snow
and cold of winter to avail themselves of this opportunity. But Mr. WILSON says that they liked it and the result, in his case speaks for itself. For by the year 1876, he was able to secure his teacher’s certificate.
Thus, at the age of nineteen years, Theodore WILSON, entered the
profession of teaching. He secured a school in Huntington, WV, which was just then beginning to show signs of the great city into which it was destined to so quickly develop. And one of those first signs was the progressive attitude taken by its leading business and professional men on the question of education. Moreover, their wisdom was further shown by their sponsorship of schools for the colored citizens such as that to which Mr. WILSON was called. It is interesting to note that this, his first school, was located within four city blocks of his birthplace, namely at the corner of Third Avenue and Twelfth Street, Huntington, WV. His immediate and continued success as a teacher is indicated by the fact that he taught in Huntington for thirteen years.
Naturally his success was due in part to the support given him by the
leading white citizens of the city, and no one could show greater gratitude for this support than Mr. WILSON himself. Of his own accord he has listed for us the names of the following gentlemen who he says were his “ardent supporters” during the thirteen years of his work there: Gen. J.H. OLEY; Col. D.W. EMMONS; Foster STEWARD; D.I. SMITH; George F. MILLER; J. Hooe RUSSELL; Sam GIDEORN; B.T. DAVIS; Dr. BUFFINGTON; W.H. HOLESWADE; Taylor WELLINGTON; B.H. TRACKSTON; W.O. JAMES; J.M. JASPER; Wm. MORGAN and Thomas WELKINS.
Meanwhile, young WILSON had been severely and dangerously injured in playing what was even then perhaps considered as “the great American game”, baseball. Somehow, during a hard game, he had the misfortune to turn one limb in such a way that the hip was dislocated. Such an injury is perhaps always serious, but in those days of comparatively limited surgical skill, it presented a permanent cripple, so far as that one limb was concerned. But even this did not prevent him from continuing his education and his work. After three years of hobbling about on a crutch, he was able to dispense with this assistance and to walk unaided although with a limp, as the accident left him with that limb slightly shorter that the other.
After teaching in Huntington, Mr. WILSON returned to Ohio and was employed to teach at what is known locally as Red Hill. That is the community just over the hill, on the Jackson Road, about a mile north of Proctorville. A half century and more ago, it was essentially a colored community and the Proctorville Board of Education maintained a special school there for the colored folks of that district. The well known colored Baptist church known as Mount Pisgah still stands in that community, but the school, was generally known as the Red Hill School. After a successful tenure as teacher at this school, Mr. WILSON returned to the West Virginia schools
and secured a position as teacher at Guyandotte.
Meanwhile, this progressive and able young man had found knowledge and skill both by study and formal school as well as by experience. Oberlin College at Oberlin, OH, then offered the best and most available means for a young colored person to secure a college education. Accordingly, Mr. WILSON finally succeeded in being able to attend that great institution.
That was in the year 1884. After studying for a time at Oberlin, Mr. WILSON returned home and again took up his work.
Another one of the leading colored schools of Cabell County, WV, at that time was located at Barboursville and Mr. WILSON taught there for a while and the secured a position at Wayne County Court House, as the county seat of Wayne County was then called. After that, he taught in KY, both at Louisa and Blaine. Thus it will be seen that he had a wide and varied experience as a school teacher in three states.
But teaching has been, and was a boisterously poorly paid profession. That is, teachers themselves were poorly paid so far as actual money was concerned although the satisfaction coming to a really interested teacher is something not to be measured in dollars and cents. However, Mr. WILSON wished to establish his permanent home in his boyhood neighborhood and returned to the old homestead to look for a place of his own. He had the opportunity to buy a small tract of land and although he lacked the necessary cash, his reputation for honesty, industry and thrift was such that he had no difficulty in securing the financial backing of Mr. O.A. ASH, who still is a neighbor to him and the late C.H. HALL, of Huntington, this writer’s uncle, that he was able to purchase the farm on which he
still lives. The century naturally was a success and now for many years the Theodore WILSON home has been one of the landmarks, so to speak, of the Rome community in Quaker Bottom, OH.
Mr. WILSON’S first wife didn’t not survive long after their marriage and his life was further saddened by the passing of their son, Kelso Lee WILSON, who was born on 21 September 1882 and passed away in the year 1890.
On 16 July 1897, Mr. WILSON was united in marriage with Miss Emma LAYNE. They had one son, H.C. WILSON, who was born on 15 March 1897. He was but slightly younger that this writer. We were boys together in the same community. We, for a short time, attended the same school, and as our gathers were at times associated with each other in farming ventures, we boys played together. He was a likable boy and grew up to be a bright young man, full of promise and of course dearly beloved by his parents.
But he was stricken ill in the year 1917, and passed away while just on the verge of manhood.
We have just referred to Mr. WILSON’S association with our father in farming and so perhaps should explain, that by that time, which was about thirty-five years ago, Theodore WILSON had become one of the leading gardeners of Quaker Bottom and frequently, in addition to farming, or gardening, his own land, he rented land of neighboring farmers and marketed their produce for them. Thus, for a number of seasons he marketed the strawberry crop produced on our home farm and preformed other services for our family. He had the reputation of being able to handle such crops with the least loss and to sell them for the best prices of any of the hucksters of the community. And our folks found this to be so true that they secured his services, year after year.
No doubt, many people who frequented the Huntington market and groceries in days gone by will remember Mr. WILSON distinctly. He kept a spic and span delivery service, on the side of which was painted in bright letters “Lizzie B”, which was the name of the spirited horse which drew the conveyance. In those days it was necessary for a Quaker Bottom gardener to start with his produce for the market the night before the day of the sale. That is, and was necessary, if he expected to sell his produce for the best prices.
In addition to the many other services Mr. WILSON has rendered, the community in which he lives, he acted for many years as caretaker of Rome Chapel and as Sexton of the Proctorville-Rome Cemetery.
In Christian work, Mr. WILSON has long been a member of the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church in Huntington, WV, having joined under the pastorate of Rev. S.M. JEFFERSON.
He is also a charter member of the A.F. & A.M. Lodge of Masons of Huntington, WV. A charter member of his lodge of Odd Fellows and a member of the Order of Galliean Fishermen.
And now, after some 80 years of life well spent, Mr. WILSON, in a recent communication to the writer, expressed his contentment and peace of mind by simply saying that he is “waiting the call.” However, his many friends on this side cannot help hoping devotedly that “the call” will be long deferred.