Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dad Kept His Promise to Mom

by Barbara (Riffle) Haddix

My grandparents were Eli and Esta (Blake) Riffle. My father, John Rodney Riffle, was raised on Clover Fork. My mother was from the Flemington-Simpson area, east of Clarksburg. My brothers and sisters and I moved to Clover Fork with dad after mom died in 1955. I was 6 years old at that time. There was 5 of us kids. Dad had promised Mom that he would keep us kids together before she died, and he kept his promise, though I sometimes wonder how a single man did this.

Three Homes On Clover Fork
We lived on Clover Fork on the Braxton County side (across the creek from Lewis County). My earliest memory of Clover Fork was living across the railroad track up by the one room school. We had to carry water from a nearby spring. We had a neighbor from on up the dirt road who went to town, Orlando, in a wagon drawn by horses. His last name was Ables. had a son and daughter, named Henry and Lucy.

right: another of Barbara's neighbors, Hayward Skinner's father Gideon Skinner, with his mule and buggy in downtown Orlando in the 1950s.

I also remember one day we saw a fox coming down the hill towards us and It was foaming at the mouth and dad told us to get into the house because the fox was rabid. That was the first time that I had ever heard of rabies.

We didn't have a TV set. We would go to Hayward Skinner’s house and watch the Twilight Zone. It would be dark when we walked home and I would be scared to death at every noise that I heard.

Note: John Rodney Riffle and Hayward Skinner were 3rd cousins.

I don't remember when, but we moved up the road that Aunt Phebe & Uncle Short lived on Red Lick, I think, was the name of that road.
Note: George Lester "Short" Riffle and John Rodney Riffle were first cousins. See comment 1 for more about Short and Phebe (Posey) Riffle.
Left: Map of the Oil Creek Watershed shows the creeks Barbara mentions: Clover Fork, Red Lick and Posey Run. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Later we moved down towards Orlando, still on Clover Fork. We lived close to Grandma Riffle and Uncle Bill’s house. Our house only had 2 rooms and dad built 2 more rooms onto it. It did not have running water or electric. We had a well out in the yard that we got our water from. Dad tried to run an electric line from grandma's house but we had dim lights. I can remember doing my homework by lantern light. Dad was a great vegetable gardener. We always had nice big gardens. We canned our veggies outside in a large tub with a fire under it In the summer we worked in the garden.

Sorghum Molasses
We had to blade cane stocks -take the blades off of cane stocks. I hated doing that because I always got stung by worms. Dad and his brother Bill would make molasses syrup. A mule would pull something around in circles, and we had to feed the cane stocks into the machine and juice from the cane stocks would come out. They would boil that down and after a long time they had molasses. They sold a lot of the syrup.

left: pressing sorghum cane. The setup in this photo, taken at the Museum of Appalchia in Kentucky, looks very much like John and Bill Riffle's.

Church & School
We children attended a Methodist church located beside of the one room school. A neighbor, Hattie Alkire, would come walking up the railroad tracks and holler at us across the creek and say, "Is anyone going to Sunday School over there?" we walk ed up the railroad tracks to go to church. Not too many people attended the church.

Right: Hattie Alkire, many years before the author knew her.

I attended grade school in a one room school on Clover Fork. I remember Mrs. Moneypenny, the school teacher at Clover Fork. My sister Mary also remembers her. Everyone liked her. She would take kids home to stay all night with her if they did good on the weekly spelling tests. We attended middle school and high school at Burnsville . We rode the bus to Brown’s store every evening (at Orlando.) I graduated from Weston, Lewis Co. High. in 1967.

Posey Run
We lived in a house at the start of Posey Run for a short time. I remember dad spending time at Fred Riffle’s. I remember also living in another house on up Posey Run. We would walk out of Posey Run with the Godfrey kids to catch the school bus to go to Burnsville School.

. . . . .
comment 1
George "Short" Riffle and Phoebe Posey were married in 1942. While Short was serving in World War II, Phoebe came to Orlando and picked up her mail. Among the mail Phebe received that day was a letter from her new husband. Phebe started reading the letter as she walked up the railroad tracks to her home on Clover Fork. Engrossed in the letter she was reading, Phebe did not hear the train coming behind her. The train struck Phebe. It took her arm and nearly killed her.

comment 2
John Rodney was wholly a child of pioneer stock and of the Oil Creek watershed. Both his parents' heritages go back exclusively through Central West Virginia pioneer lines, as many as five and six generations, and also through the pioneers of the Oil Creek watershed, three to five generations.

John Rodney's dad Eli was decended through the Tygart Valley pioneer Riffles; his grandfathers were Isaac Riffle son of Jacob and Dorothy (Wash) Riffle and Isaac's nephew Jefferson Conrad Riffle.
The parents of John Rodney's mom Esta were William Luther and Rebecca (Posey) Blake. Her forebears were Andrew and Margaret (Williams) Blake, Edward and Catherine (Scott) Posey and also the Riffle family through Isaac and Elizabeth (Wash) Riffle.

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