by David Parmer
The brothers Alva and Bill Barnett were prominent members of Orlando’s community in the first half of the 20th century. Both marketed livestock and both delivered mail. Both were also active in Orlando’s United Brethren Church. They grew up in Knawl, a community just outside the Oil Creek watershed, to the south.
Right: Alva & Bill carried mail on horseback
Knawl and the Southern Ridge
Left: map shows Knawl, southeast of Orlando, and four or five miles from Orlando, Burnsville and Bulltown. There were many small communities that are not noted on this map including Heaters, Riffle to the west, also high up on the south side of the ridge separating the Oil Creek/Cover Fork watershed from the watershed of the headwaters of the Little Kanawha River.
In the area where the little town of Knawl developed, on both slopes of the ridge families settled who would become part of the fabric of people of the Oil Creek watershed and Orlando. The first known settlers in on the south slope in the Knawls Creek area were Benjamin, Daniel and John Conrad, sons of the immigrant son Jacob Conrad, Jr. and his Dutch-heritage wife Hannah (Bogard). The Conrad brothers came with their wives from Pendleton County in the early 1800s. Their children married Skinners, Blakes and Riffles, among others, and so became part of the fabric of the Oil Creek pioneer community. Other settlers who would become part of Orlando’s community were the Irish immigrants Michael and Margaret Griffin and Patrick and Ellen Carney who settled on the north slope of the ridge just before the Civil War. Another family that would be part of Orlando came after the Civil War: Thaddeus and Laura (Bennett) Pritt came from the Walkersville area in Lewis County. James Barnett would also come from the Walkerville.
& Mary Jane Townsend
Upper Right: James and Mary Jane (Townsend) Barnett on their 50th wedding anniversary
Left: James with Allie and Lura
Charles, the oldest son, served in the First World War. He married Gae Myers of the Knawl area. Charles operated a grocery store in Weston and later was a mail carrier.
Belle, the second daughter of James and Mary Jane Barnett, never married and lived her entire life at Knawl.
The youngest Barnett child, Lura, married Arthur Williams, a railroader. Lura and Arthur lived in the Weston area. Arthur loved to fish and was mentioned as an Oil Creek fisherman.
Left: Lura (Barnett) and Arthur Williams
Alva and Gay were the parents of Herald Barnett and Denver Barnett. Alva was an early rural mail carrier out of Orlando on Route 1. At the time Alva carried the mail, the roads could only be navigated by horse. After many years riding horseback on his mail route, Alva developed a terrible case of hemorrhoids which prompted his retirement from carrying the mail. Alva and Gay moved to Weston where Alva was a cattle marketer, a salesman, and later a night dispatcher for the Weston City Police Department.
Willie Lee "Bill" Barnett was a farmer, stockman, and shipper of agricultural and poultry products. He also helped with the mail on Orlando Route 1. Bill’s contributions to Orlando were great. He helped the economy of the community by facilitating the processing and selling of farmers’ cash crops such as ducks and turkeys and skins. He also gave to the community in his exceptional leadership and guidance with the youth at the United Brethren Church. Bill married an Orlando girl, Marie Parmer, whose roots go back to Orlando pioneers. Bill and Marie were the parents of Dale Barnett and Betty (Barnett) Mick.