Posts tagged ‘Pratt’

07/08/2011

The Trimble Family History, Part II

A history recap: The previous post ended with the death of James Trimble’s wife, Bettie Luella Huddleston. They had four children, Etta, Betty, Samuel, and Mayme. Betty died in infancy, and James was working as a mason and contractor.

Nannie's Death Certificate

James Trimble married for a second time around 1893, about 12 years after the death of his first wife. He married Nannie Belle Miller. Nannie was born on September 23, 1866 in Kanawha County, WV. In some of the census records, Nannie’s maiden name is Morris, but  her birth and death records list it as Miller, so I believe it was just recorded incorrectly in the old census records.  Her parents were Archibald Miller and Margaret Ann Wiseman.  James was about 42, and she was 27 years old when they married. They had six children:  Arch (May 7, 1894 – 1981 ), Mary (June 13, 1896 – 1974), Corrine (Cora) (Abt 1899 -?), Osman (January 30, 1901 – 1988), Margaret (May 22, 1903 – 1987), and Jeanetta (March 27, 1909 – 1987). According to the census records, they had another child that did not survive. I don’t have any more information than that they had 7 children, 6 living.

James Trimble died on August 22, 1918, at the age of 67. He died of some sort of hemmorage. The death certificate is illegiable beyond that. Nannie died on August 16, 1947 from congestive heart failure. Both are buried in the Pratt Cemetery.

Not as much is known about Nannie and James. It seems like census data was even more difficult to find on than James and his first wife. Many of the names of Nannie and the children were recorded incorrectly, so I’m not positive about the names and dates here. I do have an interesting story, though.

Another historical home in the town is connected to my house. This house, known as the Shields’ Cottage, was built in 1880 and originally owned by Mrs. Morris. It was originally located across the street from the Trimble farmlands. Well, my house is pretty small, so when James married Nannie, he decided to buy this home for his children with Luella, and move Nannie in my house. His children were not that young at the time. Henrietta was his oldest child and I do not have a birthdate for her, though it had to be prior to 1875, so she was over 18. Anyway, James purchased the house and had it moved diagonally, across the road, and onto his property for his children. The cottage is still in the town, with the original front door.

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05/21/2011

Rumor Has It

If you happen to live in a small town, then you are probably used to the camaraderie and the sense of community. Since the purchase of the house, many of our neighbors have come by to introduce themselves, and been pleasant and well, neighborly. They seem so interested in the renovation!  This was most evident last week when the house was being treated for termites. While I was waiting for them to finish, I chatted about the house with two neighbors, and gave house tours to four more! I am glad the community is so interested in the progress on the house.

Vintage Circus Poster, from google images

One of the ladies that stopped by was married to a distant descendent of the family. She told me a really interesting story about the last Trimble that lived in the house. Now, we know that he had a half-wolf/half-dog in the house, as well as a second really large dog. From his possessions and notes about the dogs, it was pretty obvious he was very proud of them. According to this source, both of these dogs were quite well-behaved, because the this man was a former animal trainer in the circus! Now, here’s the fly in this ointment. We have heard this guy was a violinist-pianist-alcoholic-mentally ill-artist-painter-writer. Was he really all these things and an animal trainer, too? I’m all for being a complex person with varied interests, but how many professions can one person have? Who was he really? It makes me wonder if he was all these things, or if he was just a mysterious figure in the community that people heard gossip about. I mean, growing up, to me he was “the guy with the wolves”.

I think part of the search for a description for him is because we purchased the house with all of this man’s earthly belongings still in it. It leaves me with a touch of sympathy and sadness, I suppose. I went through his things, I feel like I should know him on some level. On a deeper level, it makes me question all sorts of things. What does ones life amount to in the end? How would this community remember me?  Would I be that grad student-psychologist-renovator-decorator that likes loud punk rock and has an affinity for the color teal? What sort of rumors and gossip would be added to my story? I guess time will tell. As for the former owner, I may never know the truth. At least in his belongings, I found some printouts from a circus messageboard and some information on old circuses, so there is at least some evidence to support that rumor.

05/17/2011

Stories from Clifton

Before Pratt was named after a prominent coal company, It was a settlement named Clifton from 1851-1873. Clifton was not a well populated or large settlement, but was considered to be a beautiful place.

 

 At this point the river makes a short bend, very much in the shape of a horse-shoe, and a more beautiful site for a town cannot be found anywhere in West Virginia. It is a natural location for a city, for in addition to the hundred or more acres of rolling land in this smooth bend of a picturesque river, there is a large coal field all around it, embracing perhaps nearly every class of coal that is found in West Virginia, which is a great source of wealth, and will someday, during its development, afford employment to hundreds of laborers  ( Atkinson, 1876).

These are some of the stories from the town, uncovered in the book History of Kanawha by Geo W. Atkinson (1876):

  •  Clifton was one the home of a Native American community, or a large group of settlers. Out of the 3 settlers that dug cellars for their homes, all 3 found human skeletons. It appears from the quantity of remains found that a square of ground about 10 acres of the town facing the river was a cemetary for the community. Remains were found when digging every cellar, well, and posthole. Also uncovered were earthenware pottery, bone necklaces, carved shells, bone fishhooks, and an image carved into stone.
  •  One of the more prominent settlers, Mr. Marshall Hansford, found in a posthole sheets of rolled copper, and while digging his cellar, found the skeleton of a large-sized man, and a great variety of bones of birds, bears, and other wild animals. To determine the age of the remains, Mr. Hanford offered that just before the remains were discovered, they were covered with sycamores that were fully five hundred years old.
  • Paint Creek, near Clifton was the site of a stone with a carved fish. Someone tried to carry off the stone to use in the construction of a hearth, and broke it, though part of the fish was still visible in 1876.
  • In 1776 or 1777, a man named Robert Hughes was captured by Native Americans, presumably the Shawnee,  in the Clifton area. At the time, only two families were settled in Clifton, and it was considered unsafe to venture too far from the town, as Native American were often seen in the surrounding areas. Apparently, Hughes did not heed these warnings, as he maintained a fish trap at the mouth of Paint Creek, near Clifton, that he checked every morning. He was captured by 5 Native Americans one morning as he went to check the trap. The Native Americans took him about 30 miles up the creek, to their settlement. They stayed within the creek bed, as to avoid leaving any signs or clues for others to follow. Villagers looked for Hughes, but had to abandon the search because of the lack of a trail. Interestingly enough, Hughes returned about two years later. He reported that he had went to the head of Paint Creek, and eventually ended up on the Little Miami river. During his time with the Native Americans, he had learned to speak Shawnee fluently and became familiar with most of their customs. He enjoyed telling the story of his capture to anyone that would listen, and was said to be quite entertaining. He claimed that he was forced to run the gauntlet on two occasions, and that her was saved from being burnt at the stake by the daughter of a chief. He was reportedly a good hunter, and after living with the Native Americans for a year,  was frequently sent off alone to hunt. It was on one of these trips that he escaped to Point Pleasant, and eventually back to his home. Another man was taken along with Hughes, but there is no record of what happened to him.

    Examples of Native American Pottery found in the area

 

05/07/2011

A House History

Do you remember when I met the town historian of that fateful Saturday, and found a wealth of history about my house? Well one of the most interesting documents was the house history compiled by the architects that helped to make Pratt’s historical District. Because my house is “pivotal” to the historic designation, they wrote up everything they could gather about it, along with the other “pivotal” historic houses in the district.  Here is a copy of the document from the archive, entitled The Trimble Farm.

For many years the tract of land between Pratt and Paint Creek belonged to the Trimble family. Much of the area was put into farm land and beside it lay the old road to Hansford just north of the acreage and parallel to the C&O Railway. This county road crossed the Old Iron Paint Creek Bridge (now gone) and the vestiges of the wagon tracks can still be located on the Hansford side of the creek.

The early dwelling of the Trimble family was located on the east side of Paint Creek and was called “The Carrol House”. The grandparents of (today’s family) Osman Stockton Trimble and Jeanetta (White) Trimble bought the two-story frame house from Van B. Hanna and his wife Lucy. Later the house, unoccupied, burned and no sign of it remains today.

So the Trimble family originally lived in another house. I have never seen the wagon tracks that they mention in this document, but I’m not really certain where the old bridge was located, either. I’ll have to track that down and see if they are still there! I am skeptical about that, though.

Up in the village, however, near where Ferry Street became the original country road, James Trimble built a frame dwelling where many later generations grew up. The house still stands where it was built and it has kept its original design. It is an “L” shape with the lower end of the “L” facing the road. This gable end is covered with fish scale shingles at the top, and below contains a beautiful, small three-window bay that is capped with a decorative metal roof. Each side of this facade is flanked by matching ends of porches — the west side a very small porch and the east a part of the major porch that extends along the inner side of the “L”. The white-painted house (now with a composition roof) is in good condition and at present time is a rental property.

Behind the dwelling the land slopes down into a beautiful park-like area shaded by huge elm trees and extending several acres to the west. The remains of the Paint Creek railroad spur curls around the property and has become an access road to the lower end of the village. When Mr. Trimble sold the land for this railroad spur, he required the Company to build a wooden fence between the right-of-way and his home in order to protect his family and small children.

An old picture of the Trestle

Unfortunately, this land had been changed considerably since this document was written. I believe most of this railroad spur was demolished when another house was put behind my house. I have not seen any remains of it. Also, there is no longer a wooden fence around the property.

This tract of land from Ferry Street to Paint Creek, properly called the “Trimble Addition”, has been divided into lots and now is filled with neat, modern homes. No vestige of the old frame home on the Creek remains, but according to one source, some of the bricks from the place were used in the construction of part of the houses that were built in the addition  by members of the family. The remaining members still living in the village are Osman Trimble, Margaret Trimble Jarrett, and Jeanetta Trimble Montgomery

Obviously, there is a lot of information about the house in this document, gathered from descendents of the original builder of the home. Unfortunately, they have all passed away in the 20 years or so since this document was written.

04/19/2011

A Brief History of Pratt, WV 1781-1913

So, I bought an old house, in an old town. I could just study the history of the house, but then the story would have no context. I would not understand about the climate, the feeling of  the town when the house was built. Knowledge about the era, about the Zeitgeist, leads to a better understanding of the people who lived there.

Inside the old church. Too bad this one was torn down.

 The town of Pratt was established in 1905. It had a few names before it accepted “Pratt” as the name. The area was settled as early as 1781, and early settlers trickled in until about 1850. Two prominent families in the area settled here, the Hansford family and the Morris family. Dickinson Morris built his own home, “Harmony Hill”, and laid out the town in 1851, naming it Clifton. Prior to the establishment of Clifton, a church was formed. The Old Kanawha Baptist Church was established in 1796 by James Johnstone.  The church is still around today, though only on the same lot, not in the same building. In the winter of 1861-62, Clifton served as the headquarters of the 37th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. The Marshall Hansford House was the headquarters of Union Colonel Siber.

After the Civil War, The town expanded, and adopted a new name “Dego”, used from 1873-1899. Obviously, when my

Mining Tents at Pratt, from the state archives

 house was built, the town was “Dego”. The Town Hall was established in 1875. In the 1880s,  coal companies became prominent in much of upper  Kanawha Valley, and Dego was no exception. In 1889 the Charles Pratt Coal Company made Dego the home of their headquarters. This was kind of a big deal, as The Charles Pratt Coal Company owned an extensive amount of mines in Paint Creek, an area adjacent to Dego. the town was renamed “Pratt”, after the coal company,  when it was incorporated in 1905. Many of the structures built by the coal company, including the clubhouse for miners and the company houses still stand in the town today.

Mother Jones, from the state archives

In 1912-13, Pratt gained notoriety as the place where “Mother” Jones was imprisoned during the “Mine Wars”. The Mine Wars were a series of confrontations between striking miners and the coal companies. After the Mine Wars were over, it was estimated that they cost nearly a million dollars and caused the violent deaths of 50 people, not including the miners that dies of malnutrition and starvation while on strike. Pratt served as the headquarters for the coal company guards, or “thugs”, and eventually became the headquarters of the WV National Guard when 3 separate times martial law was instituted during the mine wars. Martial law was necessary in Pratt and the surrounding areas because of the “state of lawlessness and insurrection” in the town. Because it was the headquarters to these factions, Pratt also served as the site for the “bullpens” where many striking miners were detained by  “military tribunals”. Mother Mary Jones was a union organizer that was imprisoned in Pratt in Mrs. Carney’s Boarding House. She managed to smuggle a message to Indiana Senator John W. Kern, He read her message on the floor of the senate. Mother Jones was put on trial in the I.O.O.F. Building, but was released by Governor Henry D. Hatfield was able to instigate a settlement between the coal operators and miners.

The mine wars were probably Pratt’s most notable event in history. I will have to do a lot more research to find out what occurred between the end of the mine wars and now. Maybe I should contact my local historian again?

The Train Station that use to stand in the town.

  

03/28/2011

Spontaneous Discoveries, and Old Photos

A few days ago,  I was reminded that best adventures are unplanned. I fully intended to walk around Pratt, and take pictures of some of the remaining historical details for the blog. I started as planned, but was quickly sidetracked by a moving sale. While there, I met one of the town historians and keeper of the keys to the town archive. I had gone to the Old Town Hall and asked before, but it was during a sale, and I’m not sure the women working at the time knew what I was asking about. This lovely lady from the yard sale, showed me the archives, which were awesome, and let me photograph many of the old pictures, articles, and paperwork. I came away with a wealth of knowledge, and I’m sure there will be many blog posts stemming from this encounter in the future. I definitely appreciate her help and storytelling abilities.

It is because of this that I ended up with old-home-owner gold. A very old picture of the house, lots of information about the family that built it and lived there, and an interesting,  albeit grainy,  picture of the original builder!

The Trimble House - Home of one of the earlier families that settled the town.

Look how small the maples are! To me, it looks like there have not been  many changes to the house over the years.  The bay is original, although the angle of the photograph makes the roofline look smaller. The bay window  does not have the original windows, unlike the rest of the house. these are more decorative, and may be stained glass, I can’t tell. Unfortunately, now they are old aluminum windows. Though with the current road configurations, the bay window is towards the side of the house, but the Old County Road use to connect with Trimble Lane, making this the original front of the house. However, this picture is useful in that it tells me that their used to be gingerbread on the columns, which still remain on the house, and that their were no railings. It also shows some of the elaborate woodwork that used to be on the house. Look at the moldings under the bay window!

From Left: Ott Garnette, Ed Johnson, Dillard Jarrett, Joe Bott, James Trimble, and Tom Burke. This old photograph was taken in front of Holt's Store in 1910.

 

Captions and photographs can be found in Pratt’s Bicentennial Book, published in 1976. More information on the Trimble family can be found in this post.