Thieves blew safe out the back of Knotts and Lauson Store on
Frozen, across the bottom, into the creek (Hur Herald Photo 2006)
By Bob Weaver 2006
Frozen, like most Calhoun communities, has faded into memory. Today the community is frozen in time, with few changes.
Postmaster William H. Hunt said in the 1930s, "Some very early pioneers came here on this creek and killed and skinned a buffalo and had to wrap up in the green skin to keep warm (from freezing to death). When the fire burned down the man had to be pulled out of the skin, nearly frozen and had to be thawed out."
Johnny Cottrell's post office at the
head of Frozen (Hur Herald Photo 2001)
Alonzo Booher, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Booher of the greater Frozen community, was Calhoun's first fatality in World War II, dying in combat somewhere in North Africa.
The Frozen post office is long gone, but a few landmarks remain, including the Knotts and Lauson store building, established in the early 1900s. The store was operated by Robert J. Knotts, Sr. and Rex Lauson (Lawson).
The most action the small community has seen was the building of the Elk and Little Kanawha narrow-gage railroad in the early 1900s. It came down Frozen past the Knotts and Lauson Store after climbing over the steep grade from Tanner Creek and the Shock, Gilmer County community.
Interstate Cooperage, a division of Standard Oil, extended their railroad into most sections of the Bear Fork country to extract timber for barrel staves, including a spur up Frozen's Spruce Run, described as a back switch. (Read "Tales of Bear Fork" under People, Humor and History)
The Frozen railroad continued down to its mouth and went up Lefthand-Nicut to the mouth of Upper Big Run, a distance of four or five miles.
Switchback and narrow gage grade near hilltop at Chapel
Church between Tanner Creek and Frozen (Hur Herald Photo 2001)
Switchback grade Claude Rogers place(Oak Log Hollow)
at foot of hill, to get speed to get over hill from
Frozen to Tanner Creek (Hur Herald Photo 2001)
The late Harlan Stump talked at length with Mary Schoolcraft Cottrell, who was 95 in 1983. She lived in the immediate vicinity since 1909, revealing that the train ran to the mouth of Frozen, twice a day.
"The main mill on Frozen was the Boggs Fork Mill, where Grey Robinson lived. Claude Rogers lives on Oak Log Holler," she said, "There was a back switch at the foot of Frozen Run Hill."
Bly Miller told Stump that Park Woodyard said the E and LK Railroad ran up Spruce Fork of Frozen to a mill near the Spurgeon Smith Farm. He said Bob Tucker lived as a lad near the Mouth of Spruce, and said that "The switch at the foot of the hill was a double switch."
"The train when loaded ran up Frozen Run to where Ezra Cottrell lived, then backed into Oak Log Holler, then went toward the hill climb," Miller said. This gave an advantage on the grade and still let the train continue in the proper direction.
Bob Tucker maintained there was a mill just above the Warren Knotts farm. "The train ran up through the John Smith farm almost to the head of Spruce," he told Stump. "There was another back switch on the ridge where the Chapel Baptist Church is now. The mill at the mouth of Frozen was the only one."
Frozen resident Robert J. Knotts, a three-time Calhoun Sheriff, who also served as assessor, was a prominent businessman and politician during his lifetime.
His Frozen store was one of several stores operated by various members of the Knott's family in Washington District during the early 1900s.
The front of Knotts and Lauson store is
"frozen in time" (Hur Herald Photo 2006)
There are at least two incidents related to Knotts' store being burglarized about 1911 and 1912.
In the fall of 1911, the store was broken into and robbed by unknown parties. "An attempt was made to find the guilty parties and rewards offered for their arrests, but they made good their escape. At the same time other stores in that section of the county were burglarized," a news account says.
Later, when Knotts was the Sheriff of Calhoun in Grantsville, one of the crooks was finally caught, according to this account:
"Wednesday evening of last week an individual giving his name to the officers as George Smith and claiming his home at Parkersburg, was arrested on the charge of frightening two little girls who were playing on the Scott hill east of town."
"He was brought to town and lodged in the county jail by Sheriff Knotts. When Mrs. Lillie Knotts took his supper to him, she at once recognized him as a suspicious character who was in the store at Frozen on the day of the robbery of Mr. Knott's store."
"She immediately notified her husband and Roy Parsons, who also saw the man in the Frozen vicinity carrying a peculiarly shaped cane, was also summoned here and identified him as the man with the cane. The cane was left in the store the night the robbery was committed."
During a later escapade, thieves set dynamite around a large safe in the Knotts and Lauson store, attempting to blow its door open.
Being amateurs in the business, they overloaded the dynamite, and blew the safe out the back of the store, across a flat bottom into the creek.
While the door did open, the contents went to the wind, scattering up and down Frozen Creek, with the thieves leaving mostly empty handed.
Sign in window of old Knotts and Lauson store
for a popular commodity (Hur Herald Photo 2006)