Saturday, March 24, 2007

O.M. Stutler Came To Work

Ovie Merlin Stutler moved from southern Harrison County in the 1870s.1 By 1880 he was boarding with Andrew Jackson and Ora (Riffle) Heater in Orlando. O. M. worked as a lumberman. The censuses for the 1880s and further forward reveal a steady smattering of young men boarders with names unfamiliar to the Oil Creek watershed as many, just like O. M., came to the area seeking employment in lumbering, road and railroad construction, gas and oil well drilling. (See the notes on Orlando Migrations at the end of this entry.)

O.M. had a son with Ora's younger sister Ennie when Ennie was 16 and O.M. was 20. They named the boy Oras Lenord. For a while Ennie and their son Oras lived with her folks, John Scott and Marianne (Skinner) Riffle. On December 20, 1900, when Oras was four years old, Ovie and Ennie married. They set up housekeeping on Oil Creek and had five more children that lived to adulthood, Mary, "Jack," Frank, Ebe and "Mutt." They also lost one or two children who died very early.
Left: Ovie Merlin: "a man out standing in his field".
Right, above: Ora and Andrew Heater.

Right, below, Ovie and Ennie and, we think, son Frank at an unidentified location.

By all indications this was not a particularly happy or successful household. O.M. and Ennie never had any noticeable financial success. Judging from their sons' behavior, O.M. was physically abusive and alcohol probably played a significant role in that.

Piecing together information from land records with the bits that we children overheard, an unflattering family portrait emerges. For example, Ennie wanted to move to town, to Weston. She sold her land2 for a small fraction of its value to the area's land mongers, the Camdens. Their son Oras with his young family lived on that property, too, and had paid a lot of the debt on it. The land records show a few months after his mother sold the property Oras repurchased it for several times its sale price.

But the kids grew up. The oldest, Oras Lenord, b. 2 Aug 1896 stayed in Orlando. As a young man Oras was a hell raiser. However, he went to work for Hope Gas Company and worked for that company his whole life. (See the Nov '06 entry
Orlando Man Drills Large Well for more on Oras' work.) He married a local girl, 2nd cousin Edith Della Skinner. Oras went to France to fight in World War I shortly before the war ended. Like most Orlando folks at that time, he and Edith also maintained a small farm that mostly just supplied the family’s food: hogs, chickens, milk cow(s) corn and other feed and a vegetable garden. They raised five healthy, successful kids.

The second child, John Scott "Jack" b. 13 May 1905 moved to Detroit and worked at the racetrack. He married a couple times in Detroit, but had no children.

Mary Ethel b. 13 Nov. 1901 married Leo Moran of Weston and they lived in Fairmont, WV.

Ebert b. 16 Apr 1909 married Ruth Henlein and they had two daughters, Betty and Carolyn.

Frank b. 5 Apr 1911 married Evelyn Gay, daughter of Noah M. and Rose (Atkinson) Gay and they had a boy, Frank and a daughter, Joyce. Young Frank was killed in an auto accident.

O.M.’s namesake, Ovie Merlin, Jr., b. 18 Dec. 1913, nicknamed "Mutt", married a Maryland girl, Anita Boswell and they had a son, Jerry. Then Mutt fought in World War II. It took its toll on him. His wife knew he came back a different man than he was when he left. Still, he was a good man and they settled in White Sulfur Springs.

Right: with all their children, Ovie and Ennie are in the center. back row, l to r, Jack and Theresa, Leo and Mary, Oras and Edith. Front row: Anita and Mutt, Frank and Evelyn, Ebe and Ruth.

Stutler Ancestors
Ovie Merlin's Stutler line can be traced to Switzerland by DNA testing. The Stutlers' immigrant ancestor was probably the father of Revolutionary War Veteran and pioneer John Stutler.
John Stutler married young Sarah Hughes in 1784 at the frontier fort at West Milford in Harrison County. This was when the pioneers were fighting the Indians and clearing virgin forests. Sarah was a cousin of Jessie Hughes, the Indian fighter. Through Sarah O.M.'s ancestors knew George Washington who, as a very young man, surveyed the Hughes lands on the Great Cacapon River in the WV eastern panhandle.

The sketch was made by Diss Debar under the direction of a man who who knew Thomas Hughes. We have no likenesses of O.M.'s 3g-grandfather Hugh Hughes, 1715-1763, but Thomas was his brother. Also, Thomas was the father of Jesse Hughes, Indian fighter who lived for a time at the source of the Little Kanawha River.

Through Ovie's great grandmother Abigail Jackson one branch of his family can be traced back to Boston's earliest settlers, the Winthrops, and another branch goes back to Britain's Plantagenet rulers and the royal families of Europe.
1. In the early years of the community that would become Orlando the small population was pretty stable. For the most part, new blood came into the community in three waves. The first settlers are discussed in the Nov. '06 entry First Settlers. They married among themselves and they married kids who lived "just over the hill" from the Oil Creek watershed, on Fleshers Run, Sand Fork, and Riffle Run and such.

2. The Irish Catholics are discussed in a note at the end of the March '07 entry, Margurite Sweeney's Immigrant Great-Grandma. While none settled in the Oil Creek watershed, a few Irish Catholic immigrants were among the early, the pre-Civil War, settlers nearby, including the Griffins on Flesher's Run, just over the hill from Clover Fork. The wave of Irish Catholics into the Orlando area came with the children of early settlers in the northern part of the state, Clarksburg and Weston areas.

3. A third large influx came into the Oil Creek watershed with the railroad construction, lumbering, then the search for natural gas and oil. These were workers who came into the area for the purpose of working. They married into the community of original settlers and settled in. William Beckner was one of these. He married Josie Riffle. Virgina McCoy came to Orlando to teach school and married Glenn Skinner, grandson of Skinners, Blakes, Bennetts and Conrads. Ovie Merlin Stutler who married Ennie Riffle was another of those who came to Orlando to work and married into the community and stayed.

1. This information has been pieced together from the 1890 census, marriage and death certificates.

2. All property was held solely by Ennie; O.M.'s name doesn't appear on any purchase or sales documents.

1 comment:

  1. ebert stutler is my grandfather my mother is carolyn stutler who married billy m seay they had 3 children billy m seay jr lisa l seay (mallory) and joseph e seay me :) the grandchildren of billy m seay sr and carolyn stutler are hunter m seay and jessica mallory