Monday, January 26, 2009

A Clover Fork School Report

by David Parmer

In the latter years of the 1800s, education was still a rather novel undertaking in central West Virginia. There were no mandatory school laws at the time and many families frankly did not see the need for much in the way of formal education. Around the end of the 1800s, Lewis County undertook an extensive school building program in rural areas in order to provide basic education to rural students.

The Upper Clover Fork School
One of the schools built by Lewis County in the latter years of the 1800’s was the school on upper Clover Fork, about eight miles east of Orlando, near the mouth of Chapman Run. An earlier school serving this same area burned, and an interim school was held in the house of Langdon Traylor which was under construction. The date of construction of the school building which was to be the last of the schools on upper Clover Fork is unknown. We do know however that the land for the school was acquired from Willy Cunningham in 1899. The school building was of frame construction and was twenty feet wide by twenty nine feet long, according to Joe Wine.

Robert T. Crawford
In the school year 1913-1914, the Clover Fork School was headed by Robert T. Crawford as teacher and principal. Crawford was a native of Collins Settlement District. His ancestral family pioneered Cap Run, a tributary of the West Fork River, just north of Walkersville at Emmert. He received his teaching certificate in 1913 by examination when he was seventeen years of age and a student at Abram’s Run School. The Clover Fork School was his first teaching assignment.

Crawford, who later was superintendent of schools for Lewis County and Dean at Glenville State College, was a firm believer in keeping the community aware of the conduct of the school under his charge. In 1913, Crawford sent a report of his school on Clover Fork to the Weston Independent newspaper which was published on November 25, 1913. He reported,

“The following is a report of the Clover Fork School for the month ending November 7th. Number of pupils enrolled: boys 11, girls, 10, total 21. Average daily attendance: boys 10, girls, 9, total 19. Per cent of daily attendance: boys, 98, girls, 92; average, 95. The following students were neither absent nor tardy: Archie and Eddie Cosner, Patrick Carney, Thomas and Eugene Kelley, Fred Holbert, John Murriner, Okey Carter, Charles McIntosh, Margaret Carney, Mary Holbert and Lorena Kelley. Both patrons and students seem to be interested in the welfare of the school.”

Some of the Upper Clover Fork students who were neither absent or tardy from school in October, 1913: Patrick Carney, Fred Holbert, John Murriner, Charles McIntosh, Margaret Carney, Mary Holbert. (ed. note: Mr. Crawford listed all the boys, and then the girls.)
The Students
Archie and Eddie Cosner were sons of Alonzo and Birdie (Singleton) Cosner. Archie married Virginia Wade of Burnsville and worked for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Baltimore. Archie owned a fifty acre farm in Dundalk, Maryland. I visited the Cosner family in Dundalk in 1951 and rode on Archie’s tractor as he plowed the black soil of the Dundalk farm. Archie died in 1997.

Patrick and Margaret Carney, brother and sister, were the children of James and Catherine (Kate) Moran Carney. Patrick was a long-time resident of Clarksburg and worked for the Feeney Roofing Company of Clarksburg. This roofing company was owned by Jimmie Feeney, an Orlando native. Patrick died in 1985. Margaret Carney married John Dolan, Jr. of Clarksburg late in life. She was a resident of Weston at her death in 1995.

Fred Holbert and his sister Mary were the children of Abia and Margaret Etta Holbert who owned a nice farm on Clover Fork near Mount Hope Church. Mary’s first year in school was the first year that Mr. Crawford taught school. Fred was one of the earliest Orlando natives to graduate from a four year college. He received a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in 1928. Mary married Russell Ellyson, a teacher and native of Gilmer County. Mary was attended Glenville State College. She wrote and published several books and she and her husband traveled the western hemisphere before settling at Morgantown.

Upper Clover Fork School in 1914-1915, the year after Mr. Crawford's report
Front Row: Della Holbert, front row on left. Girls in striped dresses, second row Lena Skinner, front row on left Lula Skinner, front row to Lula’s left is Lola Skinner. Girl in checked dress in second row is Mary Holbert. Boy in suspenders in second row is Charley McIntosh. To his right is Robert Holbert. Boy in third row on right is Fred Holbert. In back row on left is John Murriner. All others are unknown.

Thomas Kelley, his brother Eugene, and their sister Lorena were the children of James P. and Agnes Kelley of Clover Fork.

John Murriner was the son of Newton and Mary (Rohrbaugh) Murriner. This farming family lived on upper Clover Fork.

Charles McIntosh was the son of George and Mary (Lyons) McIntosh. Charles lost his mother when he was young and was placed in an orphanage in Charleston, along with his younger brother. When he was six years of age, he was placed in the custody of William J. Cunningham and Mary Weaver Cunningham, a childless couple of upper Clover Fork, who raised him as a son until his adulthood. Charles later resided in Walkersville and was a teacher in Lewis County at the time of his death in 1958. In his early teaching career, Charles returned to the upper Clover Fork School as its teacher and gained admiration during a Lewis County 4-H gathering with the imaginative symbol for his school: a flag emblazoned with a clover leaf mounted on a pitch fork. Charles married his teacher’s, Robert T. Crawford’s, sister Lena Crawford.

The Pocket Watch
When Robert T. Crawford successfully passed his teaching examination and became a full-fledged teacher, his father, Robert Willey Crawford, gave his seventeen year old son a new pocket watch. The pocket watch was dutifully carried throughout Robert’s teaching career. The watch was then given to Robert’s daughter, Mary Crawford Clawsey. The cherished watch however fell victim to a house burglary a few years later and the sentimental keepsake was lost forever.

Closure came to the Clover Fork School at an unknown date in the early 1950’s. The students of the school area were transported to the lower Clover Fork School , known as Locust Grove, which still had a few years left before consolidation also took that school from the community at the end of the school year in 1961. In 1964, the Lewis County Board of Education sold the old Clover Fork School at auction to Joe Wine, a Burnsville native, for the sum of six dollars and fifty cents. Joe was married to the former Ava Craig, a native of the upper Clover Fork area. Joe and Ava lived on Chapman Run in the early years of their marriage and then moved to Ohio for employment. After Joe’s successful bid for the old school building, Joe moved the school building three-tenths of a mile up Chapman Run near the site of their former home which had burned while they lived in Ohio. Joe and Ava added rooms onto the school building and reside there today.
. . . . .
Comment by John Carney
I note the mention of the Kelly children who went to school at the upper Clover Fork School. The Carney family is related to them through their mother Agnes Kelly. The Kelly family left Clover Fork before 1920 and joined the migration to the Detroit area and all contact with them was lost. For years, I searched for the Kelly family in connection with my genealogical research to no avail. I assumed that I would never be successful in locating the family. A few years ago, I received a note from a lady in San Diego, California who had noticed my genealogical posting on the internet about the Kelly family. She sent me an obituary of a Father Kelly, a Catholic priest, and an obituary of his sister. The obituaries mentioned the deaths of each and that the bodies were sent to Detroit for burial. I contacted the funeral home in California mentioned in the obituaries, appropriately named the “Good Body Mortuary,” and was referred to the O’Brien Funeral Home in Detroit. The funeral director at the Detroit funeral home remembered the Kelly family well and gave me telephone numbers of members of the Kelly family. I am pleased to report that the Kelly family I had been searching for was found.

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