MYSTERY SOLVED: LOCATION LOWTHER, CALHOUN COUNTY - Site Of Fling Family Dying From Gas-Oil Explosion

By Bob Weaver

The mystery of a place name in Calhoun - Lowther - has been solved after many years.

Lowther Oil Company discovered oil and gas on Yellow Creek in 1901, part of the great boom that came to that area.

Over many years we have had the Lowther place-name alluded to in old news stories, it never becoming a post office.

Lowther was located on Spring Fork Road, a connecting road between Yellow Creek and Norman Ridge that currently has little human habitation.

At the mouth of Spring Fork Road (Yellow Creek) was the Ayers Post Office and nearby on Yellow Creek, another post office known as Rhoda.

An Associated Press news story in 1904 tells a tragic tale of six members of the Fling family at Lowther tragically burning to death.

Melissa Badgett Cunningham, who resides on Yellow Creek, says word of mouth recollections from family members recalled the fire and deaths.

Cunningham said information was likely handed down through the Thomas Henderson and Bertha Metz Richards line. Life long residents of the community, the story was recalled to their children, one of which was Arizona Richards Sims, mother to Jim Sims and Bonnie Buck.

Henry and W. H. Fling were buried in Hunt Cemetery in 1905 near Big Root, likely connected to the original family.


Calhoun County, W. Va., (Associated Press) H. S. Fling, his wife and four children were burned to death in a fire which destroyed their home at 4 o'clock in the morning near Lowther, in Calhoun County, W. Va., and two other persons sleeping in the house were so severely burned that they are not expected to live

The locality is far from telegraph and telephone communications. The names of the injured are not known, but it is said here that one of the two are expected to die from their injuries is Robert Alexander, Jr., of Parkersburg.

With the house of the Fling's, a derrick and boiler house at an oil well belonging to Johnson, Upham and Ralston, of Parkersburg, were destroyed and the supposition is that the fire was caused by an explosion of gas from the oil well.

Escaping gas from the well probably crept along the ground until it reached the house, where a light was burning. Not a sign of the house was left standing, and the family were all killed almost instantly.