Saturday, January 31, 2009

Upper Clover Fork Families of the 1930’s

The high, rolling fields of upper Clover Fork seem a world away from the craggy, uneven terrain of Oil Creek. Clover Fork moves westward from the higher lands nearly to Walkersville in Lewis County toward its confluence with Oil Creek where downtown Orlando is/was located. At the eastern edge of Clover Fork's reaches, the community is pulled toward Walkersville. Walkersville's pull decreases and Orlando's increases as Clover Fork flows west.
Nina Myers' accounting of the Upper Clover Fork community in the 1930s reflects this pull to the outside world. A very few of Nina's neighbors came from the Skinner/Poseys, Riffles, Williamses and Blakes who settled the Oil Creek area in the early 1800s or the Godfreys, McCauleys, Gays, Coles and others who came shortly afterward. Many of the fine families Nina speaks of have roots in the late 1700s settlements in Doddridge, Harrison and Lewis Counties and unlike the Orlando communities farther downstream, many of Nina's Clover Fork neighbors had only been in the area for a couple generations.

by Nina Myers

Before memories start to fade, it is always a good idea to put down in writing, information that may be important to later generations about the “olden days.” Growing up on upper Clover Fork in the A. B. and Margaret Etta Holbert household, I got to meet most of our neighbors. Mr. and Mrs. Holbert were very sociable and attended the local Mt. Hope Methodist Church which served the upper Clover Fork, Abram’s Run, and Barbecue Run area. Mr. and Mrs. Holbert also were very interested in the local schools and attended mostly all of the school activities. Since Mr. Holbert was a farmer, he also interacted with the neighboring farmers on matters pertaining to common agricultural pursuits. This commonality of interests resulted in visits from the other farmers and visits to their homes as well. Consequently, there weren’t many of our neighbors I didn’t meet. This sketch will mention people I recall from the “olden days.”

Above, left: Nina (Smarr) Myers
Above, right: Margaret Etta (Cunningham) and Abia Holbert.
Below, left: a present day photo of the house and farm of Emery and Forence (Cayton) Skinner in the 1930s. It was built by one of the Carney families in the mid 1800s.

Charles Emery "Possum" and Florence (Cayton) Skinner lived at the old Carney place on upper Clover Fork. I recall when someone asked Mrs. Skinner the names of her children. She replied, “They all begin with the letter ‘L’: Lena, Lola, Lula, Lane, and Newton.” A few years after Newton was born, there were more additions to the Skinner family: Tom, Rose, Alice and little Emery. Mrs. Skinner was also asked about the birth date of one of her children, and she replied, “Apple butter time.” Florence, the daughter of Mortimore and Rosetta (Fleming) Cayton, died in 1959. Emery died in 1970. He was the son of Thomas and Ellen (Riffle) Skinner. They are both buried in the Casto Cemetery on Pigeonroost.

Rufus Elijah and Anna (Williams) Maxson lived on the Ed Cunningham farm. Elijah, a native of Doddridge County, was both a farmer and a railroader who died in 1950 in Harrison County. Anna was the daughter of Parley and Muriel Williams of Lewis County.

Lane and June (Leavitt) Skinner lived below the upper Clover Fork School house. Lane was the son of Charles Emery and Florence (Cayton) Skinner. June was the daughter of Newman and Dora (Tucker) Leavitt. Lane and June had no children. Lane died in 2000. Lane was a carpenter and a farmer.

Up the hollow, to the left of the upper Clover Fork School house, lived Odie “Rhube” Hyer and his two sisters, Ida and Emma. Odie did farm work for A. B. Holbert. He died in 1958 and is buried in Long Point Cemetery. Records show their folks, John D. and Prudie Hyre, had lived in Orlando, RFD Route 2, Braxton County.

Ed and Lettie (Gay) Cosner lived at the top of the hill on Chapman Road. Ed was a blacksmith. After their home burned, they re-modeled their barn and lived in it. Their children were Woodrow, Franklin and Pearl. Eddie was the son of Alonzo and Birdie (Singleton) Cosner. Ed died in 1973 and Lettie died in 1983. They are buried in the Jacksonville Cemetery.

A family of musicians, the Ray and Nora (Blake) Hall family, lived below Emery Skinner’s farm, in a home owned by Erma Cosner. Ray was the son of Strange and Hestaline (Riffle) Hall and Nora was the daughter of John Jackson "Jack" and Ella Blake. The entire family played music. Among the children, Edna and Lawrence, known as “Bud,” played the banjo, Delis played the harmonica, and Mary played the guitar. My foster mother, Mrs. Holbert sent me to the Hall house each Saturday morning to take banjo lessons from Edna. Unfortunately, I only learned which end of the banjo to hold.

The John Murriner family lived just over the hill from the Mount Hope Methodist Church on Barbeque Run. At age 49, John was married to Isa McCartney who was 32. They had two children: Edward, who became an official with the State Forestry Division in Charleston and James who was a minister in Kentucky. When John Murriner was a young boy and going to school at the upper Clover Fork School, his family lived in a small house on the Traylor place. John's parents were Newton and Molly (Rohrbaugh) Murriner.

Left: John Murriner.
Right: Perry Vawter and his nephew Paul Vawter.

Perry Vawter also lived at the top of Barbeque Run. A life-long bachelor, he died in 1958. He resided at the I.O.O.F. Home in Elkins at the time of his death. He is buried in the Casto Cemetery on Pigeonroost. His nephew, Paul, who was the son of George and Belle Vawter, lived further down the hill on Barbeque.

Reid Hopkins lived with his uncle, Charlie Craig, and grandmother, Susan Swecker, in the first house on Abrams Run as you go down the hill from Clover Fork. He was married to the former Mae Myers who was a graduate of Burnsville High School with the class of 1924. She died in 1982 and Reid died the following year. Reid’s and Mae’s daughter, Mardelle Foreman is a good friend. Her children, Joyce, Bobby and Billy, were students of Barbara Parmer at Bruceton Grade School in Bruceton Mills in the late 1960’s. Barbara is an Orlando native and wife of David Parmer, a writer for the Orlando web page.

Left, above: Reid Hopkins and his daughter Mardell (Hopkins) Foreman.
Left, below: Lucille Traylor
Right, Below: Madeline Traylor with her husband Vorris Scott

Vaiden Traylor, his wife Burla (Daugherty) Traylor and daughters Madeline and Lucille lived on Clover Fork on the Traylor farm. Burla died in 1953 and Vaiden passed away in 1969. Lucille, now deceased, was a teacher at the upper Clover Fork School and later in Harrison County. Madeline is married to Vorris Scott and still lives on the Traylor farm, a short distance below the Holbert farm on Clover Fork.

I have fond memories of my neighbors on Clover Fork when I was a young girl. They were honorable, friendly and decent people. It was my privilege to have known them. I hope mere mention of their names in this reminiscence may strike a happy chord of nostalgia in their descendants or relatives. Of course, the people of Clover Fork I hold most dear is my foster family, the A. B. Holbert family and their extended family. Stories about them, Willy and Mary Cunningham and their son Charley McIntosh, Ed Cunningham, and A. B. and Margaret Etta Holbert, have previously been published on this web page. I am pleased to have the opportunity to praise the good folk of Clover Fork.

. . . . .

Clover Fork Neighbors
Edna Hall, who was the daughter of Roy and Nora (Blake) Hall, and gave banjo lessons to Nina (Smarr) Myers when Nina was a young girl, married Ottis L. Scott, and lived near the foot of Arnold Hill in the Oil Creek watershed. Edna and her husband, O. L., provided care for Harry Myers during his latter years, and in exchange for their agreement to give him care during his old age and care for his cats, Harry gave Edna and O. L. his small farm at the foot of Arnold Hill. Edna’s brother Delis lived across the road in a small house, as did her sister Mary. Edna died in 1995 and her husband died a few months afterward. They both were buried at Long Point Cemetery.

. . . . .

Comment by Charles Bennett

Emery “Possum” Skinner
lived about one and a half miles above my home on Clover Fork. He worked for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and also did a little farming. I would frequently see Emery and his collie dog when he walked past our home on his way to Brown’s Store in Orlando with a basket of eggs to sell.

Emery was a good friend of Vaiden Traylor who lived on upper Clover Fork. They were both Democrats and Emery took Vaiden to the polls on Election Day. Emery "Possum" was also a friend to his neighbor "Bunk" Blake. Uncle Zeke reported in 1936 that Bunk Blake was making sugar scoops made out of tin cans and “Possum” Skinner was one of his "sales agents."

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