GOV. CECIL UNDERWOOD GOES A COURT'IN - Gets Shotgun Directions In Calhoun's Backwoods

By Bob Weaver

Former governor and now deceased Cecil Underwood enjoyed recalling his courting days in the 1940s, coming to Calhoun to see his future wife Hovah Hall, a Calhoun native, a graduate of Calhoun County High School, to become a teacher.

His favorite recollection was getting trapped late at night between the Creston and Annamoriah ferries, and getting directed to Grantsville through the backwoods of Joker and Hur, was told to me by the governor.

Cecil said he started his journey by crossing the Elizabeth ferry, embarking on his trip up Route 5 to Grantsville to see Hovah.

Getting the ferry master to take him across the Little Kanawha River at Creston, he continued his trip to yet another ferry at Annamoriah.

It was here he had a problem. The ferry man wouldn't come out to take him across the river, too late for ferry service.

"I went back up the hill to find a beer parlor still open (downtown Annamoriah), and some of the customers told me I could get to Grantsville by cutting up a side road to Hur. It was getting really late, but it sounded good to me," he said.

Cecil said he went up the unimproved road which required driving through the creek bed in lots of places, but then to find himself lost in the darkness of a winding country road with confusing intersections and no road signs.

There were no dusk-to-dawn lights or houses lit by light bulbs, a time just before the coming of rural electrification in the 1950s. "It was dark, really dark," he said.

"I realized I was driving aimlessly and decided I had to stop and ask for directions," Cecil said. Cecil had arrived at the 4-way intersection at the Village of Hur.

"I finally saw a faintly lit house (gas lit) on a hillside above the road," stopping and going to knock on the door.

After several knocks and no answer, Cecil started walking back to his car when the owner came to the door with a shotgun pointing directly toward him, yelling "Who are you?"

Cecil said he stumbled with his words, trying to explain he was lost and was trying to find his way to Grantsville to see his girlfriend.

"I asked him where I was?" said Cecil. The man replied "You're in Hur."

"Hur, what?"

"You're in Hur, that's the name of the place."

Cecil said the man (Russel Slder) got a little more friendly and began to point in the direction of Mt. Zion and Grantsville.

"When I arrived at Hovah's house, I was told that I should never come calling at this time of night," Cecil said.

West Virginia's two-time governor went on to marry the girl of his affections in 1948, spending his long life with the gracious lady.

About those bothersome ferries.

When Underwood became the youngest governor elected in West Virginia in the 1956, he was instrumental in building bridges - including three bridges across the Little Kanawha River.

You guessed it, Elizabeth, Creston and Annamoriah.

Hovah Hall Underwood passed away in September, 2004 at age 85 and Gov. Underwood has since passed.