Burch Chevrolet was owned by Arlan Gail and Catherine
Kelley Burch, a longtime Chevy car dealership in Grantsville,
started about 1954, gasoline was 29 cents a gallon.
The Burch's lived in a stately house (built by the Kelly family) across on the road from the business, on a beautiful wooded knob.
By Patricia Burch Barnes
When I look at the house I grew up in now, I am saddened by the general deterioration of the house and property. I am the last surviving member of my immediate family, my brother and only sibling having died in 2013.
I miss my family but have many good memories of that house. I can look back into the past and see a very
young me waking up in an upstairs bedroom on a beautiful summer morning, going to the window (no screen-lace curtains fluttering in the breeze) and looking out at the green grass, my grandmother's magnificent round flowerbeds, the blue sky. I could not wait to
get out there!
I can see myself swinging in the porch swing. I can see myself on a Christmas Eve looking out a dining room window beside my mother who was sewing on her treadle sewing machine(unbeknownst to me, making doll clothes for me) with snow pouring down outside and everything looking magical.
I can see me being led into my dying grandmother's bedroom to say good-by to her. I can see me standing up beside my Dad in a living room rocking chair - him rocking wildly me laughing and yelling, "Gon't Daddy, Gon't!" I do know how to say don't now.
I remember early Christmas' that were magical. My Dad would take me with him to find our Christmas tree - not a commercial tree but one on a hillside within walking distance of our house. We probably had a few Charlie Brown trees but they were beautiful to me. I remember waking up before my parents and crawling head first down the top stairs until I could see the tree which was at the foot of the stairs in the room we called the hall, holding my breath, to see if Santa had come. He always did.
The house was built in 1921 by my grandfather Jefferson Lee Kelley. At the time of my birth (1943), the people living in the house were my dad, Arlan Gale Burch, my mother, Catherine Kelley Burch, my maternal grandmother, Lundy Lane Hodges Kelley and me.
When I was little we had no running water - we had an outhouse several yards from the house and a water well by the back door. I can remember my mother pulling the old wringer washer out into the middle of the kitchen floor to wash our clothes. And of course they were hung outside to dry. I don't remember exactly when we got running water, but it was probably in the late '40s or early '50s.
I was an "only" child until the birth of my brother in 1950. It was a little lonely because there were not many kids in my neighborhood .My playmates were mainly my cousins, the Harris kids who lived behind Gibson's store (run by my aunt and uncle Ethel and W.B. Gibson.) If I wanted somebody to play with I would stand on the rock toward the Harris house and give a "Tarzan" call. It usually worked. Occasionally my Starcher cousins from Sistersville would come to Grantsville to visit their grandmother and grandfather Nannie and Harry Smith, who were my aunt and uncle - Nannie being my mother's sister.
The highlight of my summer was when the circus came to town. It would set up down in the field now occupied by Hardman's Supply and Smith's Body Shop. Our house was on the hill that overlooked the field and Route 16.
I watched(sometimes joined by the Harris kids) the animal trailers rolling into the field, the elephants being led to Phillip's Run Creek for water, the huge tent going up. It was so exciting! And that evening my family would attend the Big Show under the Big Top.
I remember one incident in particular. After the show an elephant stampeded through the circus grounds. My dad picked me up and went in the lion's trailer. My mother went another direction. Thank goodness the lion was inside a cage in the trailer. The circus came to
town several years in a row.(I don't remember how many but missed it when it didn't
Prior to the circus years my dad planted potatoes in that field for the war effort. He tried several times to join the military but was always turned down because of a botched abdominal surgery.
After the circus years, I played softball in that field with the Harris kids and sometimes Mike Bell who lived a short distance up Phillip's Run. We also played in the Phillip's Run creek in the summer. The first time I saw a salamander. it scared me a lot. I thought it was a snake!
I think it was the year 1954 when the Herb Smith family built a house and a body shop in about the middle of "the field." Around that same time my father built the building housing Burch Chevrolet dealership. He started out with a used car lot on the other side of Route 16. Prior to those building projects, the Hiram Kelley(my mother's brother) family built a house on the southern end of the field.
I believe it was in that same year that the 160 acre Kelley farm was divided up among my mother and her seven siblings. My mother retained the Kelley house and some property surrounding it. My Dad bought property on which Burch Chevrolet was built from my mother's sister Nannie Smith.
My parents always raised a big garden which was on a flat area above our house. My job usually was to pick beans. My mother always canned and froze a lot of the produce. It was also my job in the evenings after school to burn trash on the spot where the old outhouse used to be.
These are some of my memories growing up in the Kelley-Burch house,
overlooking Rt. 16 and the hills beyond. I feel I inherited my love of nature and hiking from my mother, who died in May of 1983, and my love of music and singing from my Dad, who died in August of 1986. The last resident to live in "this ole house" was my brother Arlan Gale Burch, Jr. (better known as "Butch" or "Boofer"by his close friends.} He died in February of 2013 from esophageal cancer. My brother and I were
very close and I miss him very much.