“My father’s sister, Josie Beckner, or "Jose", as my father called her, lived with her husband, Bill Beckner, in a farm house near the mouth of Road Run. They were always welcoming and friendly, and Aunt Jose made biscuits every day.” Hot biscuits with country butter and jelly always finds a warm reception from a young boy, and Ed was no exception.
The first bit of excitement on a visit to the Beckner home on Oil Creek was the thrill of traveling up and over Ryan’s Hill on Goosepen. The days of modern brakes were still well into the future and war-time shortages of auto parts made the Goosepen Hill into quite an adventure in an aging Ford. To get to the bottom of the hill and the gentler terrain of Three Lick always seemed quite an accomplishment and was the signal that the Beckner home was not far away. And there might also be a visit with Aunt Della Wymer’s family on Three Lick and with cousins Sonny and Sue. To Eddie Riffle, these visits during his youth were memorable.
Left: a view from Goosepen Road, photographed by Debbie Malek. Goosepen Road crosses the divide between the Oil Creek section of the Little Kanawha watershed on the south and east and the West Fork River watershed on the north.
“There was no electricity or natural gas in Uncle Bill and Aunt Josie’s home. There was a fireplace in one room and a wood-burning stove in the kitchen. In the evening after the sun went down, everyone sat around an oil lamp in the dining/sitting room and talked until it was time for bed. When bed-time came, I went upstairs which was very dark to go to bed. One morning, Aunt Josie surprised me by frying a duck egg to go with hot biscuits for my breakfast.” Since there was no running water in the home, Ed recalls that drinking water was cranked from an open well in the back yard. “Aunt Josie was a good cook and before every meal, Uncle Bill returned thanks.”
Upper left: John Fountain Posey, the first owner of the Beckner home on Clover Fork at Road Run, is on the left and Josie's grandfather Stewart L. is on the Right in this detail from a photo of the funeral of Beham Henline in 1912.
Left: Louie Mae Beckner, in Oil Creek.
Right: The Beckners: Rosemary, Marvin, Bill, Ruby and Josephine holding child. Lambert and Louie May are in front of Ruby.
Bill and Josie Beckner lived in the Posey house at the mouth of Road Run until around the end of World War II when they moved to a house on Flint Bluff in Orlando. After Bill and Josie moved out of the Road Run home, Josie’s father, Charles Riffle, moved into this house and lived there a while before finally moving to the Three Lick farm owned by his son, Brownie Riffle, where he died in 1949.
The Bill Beckner home on Flint Knob was a big change from the home on Road Run. Not quite urban, living in Orlando was quite a bit different from the Road Run farm since it had electricity. However, that the Beckners were still in the country was evidenced by an outhouse and lack of running water. The home of the late Ollie Blake, this large two story house had front and back inside staircases with nice banisters, large rooms and high ceilings, according to Millie McNemar. She was a playmate of the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Byrne, both of whom taught school in the Orlando area, and were previous tenants of the house. Millie recalls the beautiful views that were available from the porch.
Right: Flint Knob and downtown Orlando from the Orlando Cemetery. Click to enlarge the photo and note the arrow is pointing to the Beckner household. Upwards, to the left is the Orlando School and further upwards to the left is the U.B. Church.
Ed Riffle continued to enjoy and look forward to his visits with Uncle Bill and Aunt Josie who now had a panoramic view of the town of Orlando. Ed’s last visit to the Flint Bluff home was in 1972, just prior to the deaths of Bill and Josie. Not long after his visit, he was at a church camp in Ohio when he received word of his Uncle Bill’s death and drove from Ohio and back on the same day for the funeral in the brick church. (When the Methodist Church and the United Brethren denomination merged into the United Methodist Church, Orlando's two congregations were merged into one congregation, and that congregation took over the vacant brick building that had housed St. Michael's Roman Catholic congregtion.)