What’s in a Name?
The early maps of Braxton County simply called it the “First Left Hand Fork of Oil Creek.” That name is quite a mouthful. A tastier morsel however would be “Dumpling Run,” which is what this short two mile creek came to be known, both locally and officially. This writer asked 88-year-old Mrs. Helen (Hawkins) Losh of Narrows, Virginia, who was born and reared on Dumpling Run, how this name came to be. Although Mrs. Losh was not absolutely sure, she believes the name was derived from the delicious dumplings which were served up during the early part of the last century by her grandmother, the matriarch of Dumpling Run, Mrs. Martha Mick, wife of C. C. Mick. This theory is a deliciously evocative explanation and is deserving of more seasoning which will be revealed later in this article.
The Jane Lew Lumber Company
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad maintained a siding at the planing mill and finished lumber was shipped out from this point. Logs for processing were also received by rail at this siding. The planing mill was chronically in financial distress as the timber resources around Burnsville became thinner after forty years of harvesting the local virgin timber tracts. Additionally, Mills closer to the remaining hardwoods in the Webster and Braxton highlands did not incur the cost of transportation for raw materials as did the Dumpling Run plant.
The Jane Lew Lumber Company became insolvent and in 1910 was bought for $15,000 by John I. Bender, G. B. Fisher, George Marple, C. W. Marple and A. W. Berry who formed a new corporation called the Central Lumber Company. This new corporation under the management of J. A. DuBois, operated the mill until 1918 when it burned. After the fire, the plant did not re-open and the site was sold to J. L. Coberly.
This writer knew her as Ruby Gibson. Ruby lived near the mouth of Dumpling Run in a house no longer there, on the upper side of the road. She lived with her son “Pete” Gibson (whose true first name was “Leonce”) and her daughter Edna Martin. Edna’s father was Loyd Martin, Ruby’s first husband, whom she married in 1917. A portly woman, usually dressed in a loose-fitting dress, Ruby could be seen walking to Burnsville to buy food or for some other business. Frequently, drivers would stop and give her a ride. In the late 1940’s when I first came to know her, few people owned automobiles, and many people, especially women, did not drive. Ruby’s maiden name was Dalton and she was originally from Lewis County. She had, in her time, three husbands. In 1931, Ruby married H. M. Gibson. This marriage was short-lived and in 1938 she married Okey Wine, but for some reason, she continued to be referred to as “Ruby Gibson.” In 1956, Ruby married Reverend Emery Keller, a widower, who was the retired minister of the Orlando United Brethren Church.
Left: Three of Genevieve and Manderville's children, Sterling, Eugene and Bill
Tom and Gay Zinn were natives of Lewis County but were long time operators of a livery stable in Burnsville. Their Dumpling Run farm, purchased from Lucie Berry, was part of the Robinette tract which originally consisted of 366 acres which George H. Robinette bought from Patrick Foley and others in 1881. Patrick Foley was also an original owner of the larger Donohoe and Conley tract, a part of which was sold in the early 1880’s to C. C. Mick, which had been partitioned among the original owners. Foley’s portion of the partitioned lands stretched all of the way to Hyer’s Run. Robinette fortunately owned the mineral rights to his 366 acre tract when the oil and gas boom occurred in the Oil Creek valley in the late 1890’s and the royalties he received from the West Virginia and Pittsburgh Gas Company allowed him to retire to Baltimore where he died in 1914. Reserving the mineral rights, Robinette sold the surface rights of his acreage to H. J. Lloyd, a hardware man from Burnsville, who later sold part of the land (95 acres) to Lucie Berry. Gay Zinn also bought 9 additional acres from Lucie Berry. Even though the Zinn home was not even close to the Dumpling Run road, Helen (Hawkins) Losh advised the writer that she can remember the aroma of the salt-rising bread frequently made by Gay Zinn which she could smell as she walked up the road to her own home.
The name Zinn is a revered name in the sports annals of Burnsville High School. Tommy Zinn, the only child of Tom and Gay Zinn, was an all-sports star for Burnsville High School during the mid 1930’s. Tommy received accolades galore during his football days as well as a football scholarship to the University of Kentucky after his graduation from high school in 1936. During his college days, Tommy participated in the ROTC program and became an officer in the glider Infantry during World War II. Sadly, he was killed during a combat patrol in Belgium during Operation Market Garden in early 1945.
5. Homer and Ollie Vankirk
Homer and Ollie Vankirk were tenant farmers on the Harry Crutchfield property on Dumpling Run in the mid 1930’s. The Vankirks had two daughters, Rissie and Jean, the latter of whom was known as “Sweetpea.” Helen (Hawkins) Losh passed the Vankirk homestead each day as she walked to and from her own home which was a short distance above the Vankirk home. Helen remembers the Vankirks as a pleasant hard-working family and sadly remembers the terrible flood of 1937 which took the life of Ollie. To this day, Helen is amazed that “Sweetpea,” survived the deluge of water which came crashing down Dumpling Run. After the wall of water had passed, Helen’s sister Georgia was the first to reach “Sweetpea” who had been stranded by the water. Helen recalls that Ollie had been lost to the water as she was trying to save her cow, after having first saved her chickens.
6. Ma Jane Harris
Helen (Hawkins) Losh remembers that it was customary and a sign of respect in the days of her youth to refer to neighbors as “Aunt” or “Uncle,” or in the case of Mariah Jane (Fox) Harris, as “Ma Jane.” Ma Jane was a widow when Helen was young, her husband Albert Jenkins Harris having died in 1930. Ma Jane had several older children but only Evelyn, Hadden, and Mart were at home when Helen was a teenager. Helen recalls that Evelyn, who was afflicted by a “drawn head,” was an excellent accordion player and that her brother Martin played a very nice fiddle. Louise (Crutchfield) Knight, daughter of Tom and Mary (Harris) Crutchfield, however, recalls that her cousin Martin could play the fiddle “a little” but his sister Evelyn could not only play the accordion but was also an excellent fiddle player. Regarding Martin’s fiddle playing, Louise observed that Martin was a “little slow with the bow and couldn’t keep time.” Ma Jane’s older children included Mary, who married widower Tom Crutchfield in 1920; Genevieve who married Manderville Godfrey; Haddon who remained single; Thurmond who lived a little farther up Dumpling Run; and Isma who died young.
Ma Jane, who was the daughter of Jacob Fox and Elizabeth (Wade) Fox, died in 1940 and was buried at Olive Chapel above Burnsville.
7. Dee and Audrey (Crutchfield) McPherson
First, about the house: the “stone house” on Dumpling Run was a novelty and drew a lot of attention from area residents who mostly knew only frame houses. This writer recalls that as a youth he made a trip to Dumpling Run on foot with another barefooted boy to “get a look at the stone house.” The square, two story stone house with a hipped roof was built on a knoll. Dave Kuhl tells us "The stone house of Dumpling Run was built by Lewis and Cornelia (Kuhl) Brooks around 1905-1910 from stone quarried on the site. Cornelia's father Christian Kuhl (1839-1918) died there. It is believed that Cornelia's nephew, Mirth Kuhl, was born in the house around 1905. The stone walls of the house were sturdy and would have been cool in the summer. The house was later owned by Sam and Violet Cogar."
Like many other houses in Burnsville, the stone house stood in the way of Interstate 79 and had to be torn down. The stone was sold by John McPherson, son of Dee and Audrey, supposedly to be used for rebuilding the home, but at last report the stone lies in a field somewhere between Weston and Buckhannon.
8. “Spot” Riffle
The Spot Riffle home on Dumpling Run was just past the home of Homer and Ollie Vankirk. According to Helen (Hawkins) Losh, the house lay below the road and as a walker came to the house all that could be seen was the roof. Louise (Crutchfield) Knight remembered “Spot” Riffle well and revealed the fact that “Spot” was a female. When the writer asked why Mrs. Riffle was called “Spot,” Louise replied, “Why, she had a spot on her cheek!” Spot’s daughter, Mamie, married Thomas L. Posey of Orlando and her daughter Ida married Ernest Huffman. Martha (Huffman) Godfrey of Burnsville states that “Spot” Riffle was her grandmother and the “spot” on her cheek was actually a mole. “Spot’s,” actual name was Nora Bragg. She was the wife of Asa Riffle.
It is not clear why Allen Granberry Harris, son of Ma Jane and Albert Harris, came to be known as “Thurman” but he went by this name rather than his given name. Thurman lived just further up Dumpling Run than his mother. Thurman was married to Margaret “Maggie” Riffle, daughter of Asa and Nora Riffle. Sometime during the late 1920’s, Thurman and his family moved to the Sutton area. After Thurman’s death at age 40 in 1928 as the result of appendicitis, his widow married David O. Greathouse of Burnsville. Maggie died in 1937 of tuberculosis and was buried in the Quickle Cemetery..
“They would just glide across the dance floor; they were such graceful dancers,” Helen (Hawkins) Losh said of her parents, Oscar and Bernice Mick Hawkins. Indeed, this description of Oscar and Bernice Hawkins as graceful dancers was common knowledge to music aficionados of the Oil Creek area. Square dances were common occurrences at the Hawkins homestead on Dumpling Run during the early decades of the 20th century. Not only was Oscar a dancer to be imitated, he also had a reputation as a caller of dances.
The one room school serving Dumpling Run was located between the Oscar Hawkins farm and the Tom Crutchfield farm and had been a part of the Crutchfield farm. Many well known teachers served this school. Eulah, Freeda, and Cleva Mick, daughters of Dumpling Run residents Albert Mick and Ida (Hawkins) Mick, taught the Dumpling Run students. Other teachers who served the school were Mary McNemar, Ernestine Hyre, Beulah McPherson, Dudley Goodrich, Billy Cunningham, James Mick, and A. W. McNemar. The school year 1941-1942 was the last year for the Dumpling Run School and thereafter the students were transported to Burnsville.
Helen (Hawkins) Losh still recalls with great trepidation the 8th grade examination which was required for all students to go on to high school. The small booklet with thin pages was packed with math problems which somehow had eluded her during her years at the Dumpling Run School. This writer has a copy of the 8th grade examination given in 1931. One math problem from that examination inquires: “A coal bin is 12 ft. long, 8 ft. wide, and 6 ft. deep. How many tons of coal will it hold, coal having a legal weight of 80 pounds to the bushel (1 ¼ feet)?” Helen recalls that she had little problem with the other sections of the test, but she still gets a headache thinking about the math portion even seventy five years later.
Left: Click on the page of the test to enlarge it.
On a hill on the western side of Dumpling Run lived the Huffman family. The Huffman family moved to Dumpling Run around 1934 from Hyre’s Run. Martha (Huffman) Godfrey recalls that her father, Ernest, did some farm work for Francis Flinn, and that part of his pay was apples from the Flinn orchard. Martha remembers the apples as some of the largest she has ever seen. Martha’s mother, the former Ida Riffle, was the daughter of Doris “Spot” Riffle who lived farther down Dumpling Run. Martha’s brother, Russell, was the janitor of the Dumpling Run School and carried water to the school from the Oscar Hawkins place. He also gathered the kindling for the stove which burned coal. One incident in her brother’s work at the school is still vivid to his sister even today. On a trip to get water at the Oscar Hawkins place, he encountered a cantankerous dog which sampled a piece of his leg. When the Huffman family moved off Dumpling Run in 1942 to Shock Hollow near Bower, the Dumpling Run School closed because without the five school age Huffman children there weren’t enough students to keep the school open. .
In 1995, Miss Laura Belle Crutchfield, the late revered English teacher at Burnsville High School, wrote in the Heritage of Braxton County, a sweet and fetching story about the elopement of her grandmother, Laura Belle Berry, daughter of Sheriff David Berry, and George Thomas Crutchfield. In 1887, the two nineteen year olds decided to run off and marry without parental consent and had gotten as far as Wirt County before the swain and his sweetheart were apprehended by her father, the sheriff of Braxton County. However, the young lady obviously held some sway over her father because he consented to their match and set them up on a farm on Dumpling Run. Tom and Laura Belle lived happily on Dumpling Run and became parents of eight children: Frank, Charles, Harry, Ray, Audrey, Fred, Edith, and Earl. They lost a son in 1906, when 13 year old Earl was struck and killed by lightning while he sheltered under a tree on the hill across from the Dumpling Run School.
Albert Mick, the son of C. C. and Martha Lawman Mick, was born, reared and remained a longtime resident of Dumpling Run. Later in life he moved to Parkersburg. Albert’s wife, Ida, was the sister of Oscar Hawkins. Albert and Ida were the parents of four daughters, Eulah, Freeda, Cleva, and Faye. The first three of the Mick daughters were life-long teachers who got their start in the teaching profession in schools like Dumpling Run, Posey Run and Orlando. Eulah ended her teaching career in Canada, Freeda in Parkersburg and Cleva in Florida. Faye married Glen Godfrey and raised her family on Dumpling Run.
Near the head of Dumpling Run, on its western bank, was the farm of Francis and Ertha Flinn. The Flinns had no children, nor did they seek luxury in their homestead. Helen Hawkins Losh recalls that the Flinn house was built over their barn so that the roof over their heads was also the roof over the heads of their farm animals. According to Martha (Huffman) Godfrey, her father, Ernest Huffman, a near neighbor, did some farm work for the Flinns during harvest period. Helen Hawkins Losh also recalls that the first Murphy bed she ever saw was in the Flinn home. Helen remembers that Mr. Flinn was a good fiddle player. We do know that Mr. Flinn was born in Gilmer County and his wife, the former Ertha Spaur, was a Wimer on her mother's side and born in Lewis County. They were married in Jane Lew in 1923.
Henry Ulysses Grant Ptomey obviously was named after the Union general and President of a similar name but for some reason, perhaps by mistake, his first name is indicated as “Henry” instead of “Hiram” on his death certificate. This citizen of Dumpling Run went by the name of “Grant” during his lifetime which obviously was easier to say than his full given name. The son of William W. Ptomey and Ellen Beeson Ptomey, Grant was born in Barbour County and came to Braxton County at an early age with his family. The Ptomeys arrived in the Burnsville area about the same time as Captain John Burns who established the first band saw mill in the State of West Virginia at Burnsville. It didn’t take Grant long to make the acquaintance of Brenice Mick, daughter of C. C. and Martha (Lawman) Mick of Dumpling Run, and soon afterward they were married. C. C. Mick liked to keep his family close and in 1909, he conveyed to his daughter Brenice Ptomey 107 acres adjoining his own farm. Grant and Brenice lived on their Dumpling Run farm the remainder of their lives and are buried in the C. C. Mick Cemetery on Dumpling Run.
16. C. C. and Martha (Lawman) Mick
“Though age has palsied the hands and dimmed the eyes of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Clinton Mick…;” William M. Kidd in 1934 thus commenced a dedicatory biography and celebrated the lives of the wizened patriarch and matriarch of Dumpling Run. Later published in the June 1985 issue of the Braxton Historical Journal, this article chronicled the tale of one of the earliest settlers on Dumpling Run. Married in Upshur County in 1865, C. C. Mick and his wife Martha came to the wilds of northwestern Braxton County around 1880 and settled at the headwaters of what was then known as the First Left Fork of Oil Creek on land purchased from Michael and Mary Donohoe and Tom and Ellen Conley who owned a much larger tract stretching from Posey Run to Buffalo Shoal Run and into Gilmer County. This unsettled remote area was covered with a virgin forest. To earn his living as a farmer, this forest first had to be cleared and a home had to be built. The Micks had first acquired a small one acre parcel from Donohoe and Conley and it was on this tract that they built their log home. Four years later in 1884, C. C. Mick bought a 114 acre tract from Donohoe and Conley and in 1887 bought a 217 acre tract from A. W. Brown. Through frugality and shrewd dealing, C. C. Mick became a large landowner, owning several hundred acres on Dumpling Run.
The daughter of James Pumphrey married a guy by the name of Robinette who just happens to be an ancestor of Mr. Joe Biden.
In the story above it is stated that the Jane Lew Lumber Company planing mill was located “between the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and Oil Creek.” It is important to note that in the days of the Jane Lew Lumber Company operations the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was located on the eastern side of Oil Creek, probably 300 feet from the waters of Oil Creek. The present day railroad tracks are in the location of the former Coal and Coke Railroad. Since the planing mill consisted of a log yard, a railroad siding, the planing mill itself, a finished lumber yard, a barn and an office, a substantial amount of space was required. The mill property consisted of 1.85 acres and all of the acreage was used.
I am the daughter of Tom Crutchfield and Mary (Harris) Crutchfield and was born and raised on Dumpling Run. I very much enjoyed the story about Dumpling Run and thought I would pass along some of my memories.
~ In his December 28, 1922 Buzzardtown News column Uncle Zeke poked a little fun at Dumpling Run resident Ernest Huffman. He wrote, “O.P. McCord will have to go ‘way back and sit down when it comes to big hogs. Ernest Huffman of near Burnsville has the county skinned two blocks. He recently killed a “hawg” which took him and another fellow all one afternoon to kill and dress. We didn’t hear the exact weight of the pig but we were told it would weigh near fifty pounds. From it they rendered one pound of lard and made a teacupful of sausage.”
By: Valarie at allrecipes.com "THIS IS NOT AN EASY BREAD TO MAKE! It is tricky, but worth the effort for one who loves that very different, pungent smell of salt-rising bread. The cornmeal used for the starter must contain the inner germ of the corn and a constant warm temperature must be maintained."
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
6 cups all-purpose flour
1. To Make Starter: Heat the milk, and stir in 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the cornmeal and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Place this in a jar in an electric skillet or crock pot with hot water in it. Maintain the temperature around 105 to 115 degrees F (40 to 47 degrees C) for 7-12 hours or until it shows fermentation. You can hear the gas escaping when it has fermented sufficiently. The bubble foam, which forms over the starter, can take as long as 24 hours. Do not go on with the bread-making until the starter responds. As the starter ferments, the unusual salt-rising smell appears.