(07/04/2018)
By Bill Umstead 1969

Research by Norma Knotts Shaffer - MOMENTS IN TIME

The year was 1908. It was the Fourth of July and Grantsville was having a big celebration - circus, games, public speaking, and people came from far and near.

This was before the automobile had made an appearance in this section and the only way to travel was to walk, ride horseback, hack, buggy or a road wagon.

I lived at Mt. Zion, and Father hitched the horses to the wagon and we took off for the county seat town. This distance is only six miles but it took the best of two hours to travel the road down Phillips Run.

The only houses along the road that I recall from Mt. Zion to Grantsville were the house where John Poling owns now, the Barr house at the foot of the hill, the Gerome Frame house, the Oscar Hathaway house, and the David Barnes house. A Mr. Cunningham, Dowd Stump and Jeff Kelley also lived along the way. Jeff, at that time, lived down by the road.

The Mr. Cunningham of whom I speak was the father of Ford and Warren. The road followed the creek in many places, leaving the creek just below where Bessie Sturm now lives, meandering around above the McCartney home and coming off at Dowd Stump's home.

There was no bridge across the Little Kanawha river at Grantsville, so we had to ford the stream at the mouth of Phillips Run. The bottom land where the football field is, was a cornfield, and the only house that I can recall along there any place was an old log house. A road leading up the river to Russett formed an intersection along there some place, and most of the hillside was in woods. Of course I do not remember everything as I was only a small boy.

After having spent most of the day taking in the celebration, we started for home along in mid afternoon. As we traveled up Phillips Run, a storm approached. We did not stop at any house. When we were some distance from the nearest house, the storm struck, first a very high wind, then rain and hail.

The only protection we had was to get out and under the wagon. After the storm, as we continued on up the creek, we could see leaves, twigs and even small parts of brush strewn all over the road, having been torn off the trees by the hail stones.

Gardens were very nearly destroyed, and there was a lot of damage to crops.

A Later Fourth

Many people will recall Wheeler Chenoweth, who was a school teacher, and I believe, county superintendent of schools. I know he was a candidate for this office several times, running on the Republican ticket.

Wheeler lived at Arnoldsburg at the time of this incident of which I write. This was some years later than 1908, and automobiles had made an appearance in Calhoun county.

The late Doctor Riddle lived at Mt. Zion. He had a Ford. I had driven the car many times when Wheeler was with us. Mr. Chenoweth's wife, Node, was a sister of Dr. Riddle's wife. Wheeler purchased a Ford car and he asked me to come over to Arnoldsburg and help him learn to drive.

It so happened that Grantsville was having another Fourth of July celebration.

There were still no hard roads in that section and probably none in the county, but during the summer months we could drive most all the main highways, even though the mud holes were frequent, and often deep.

Mr. Chenoweth was a very dressy man and on this occasion wore a light palm beach suit with a large panama straw hat, as we took off for Grantsville for the Fourth of July celebration. As we returned that evening, we took the road leading down Road Run and up Sycamore, coming into the present hard road at the Watt Everson place.

As we approached the steep bank opposite the old Proudfoot home, Wheeler driving, we ran into a ditch. He said I had better take the wheel and he would get out and push.

I took over and Mr. Chenoweth got behind the car. When I pushed the clutch in and gave the car the gas, the wheels spun and the mud caught Wheeler from his shoes to the top of his head.

He let out a yell and I stopped, looked around, and there he was, standing there with that white suit and white hat, covered with mud. Node, his wife, was screaming with laughter.

Displaying the Flag

While writing this article about the Fourth of July celebrations held in Grantsville years ago, I wondered why we do not celebrate today as we did years ago. I recall when flags were displayed on most all homes, and even on horses in early days, and later cars would be covered with flags.

Maybe if we displayed the flag more we might prove to the brave men and women who followed it at Valley Forge, France, the South Pacific, and all parts of the world, did not do so in vain.


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