HALF-RUNNER BEAN NOT A TALL TAIL - Intercepted Letter

(09/24/2001)

Bob,

I share with you this e-mail I got on which I based my comments on National Public Radio. Maybe you can take it and find out more about the half-runner bean in Calhoun County. At least we need to put a historical sign at Sand Ridge if it's true. Or maybe you guys in Calhoun need to organize a Half-Runner Bean Festival. If you do, I'll be there for sure!

dpeyton

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Dear Mr. Peyton,

With interest, I read your Tuesday story this morning. The reason that Hardman Supply Company had an integral part in the history of the early white half runner bean.

I am the grandson of O. R. Hardman the founder of Hardman Supply Co. We have been in business since 1907 in Spencer. My father, Charles, tells the story of Mrs. Euna Poling Hall of Sand Ridge, Calhoun County, WV, and the half-runner bean seed. For years she would buy her garden seeds in our store with the exception of beans. She would brag about the seed that had been brought over from Germany by her ancestors. She bragged about it so much that my Granddad asked her to bring in a sample.

In 1933 she did. He sent it to the J. Chas. McCullogh Seed Company in Cincinnati, our supplier of garden seeds. From the sample, they developed the Early White Half Runner Bean. Years later, West Virginia University further developed the State Half Runner and the Mountaineer Half Runner.

Through the 30's and into the 40's sales grew to the point that it was far and away the best seller we had. Following the war as the young families migrated north, they could not find this same bean. So we would have parents come and buy seed in one and two pound quantities to mail to their children in northern Ohio. Soon we were mailing thousands of packages of West Virginia's favorite seed so those gardens provided the same delicious staple we've become accustom to.

Tom Hardman