Burnsville High School, 1924. Virginia is 6th from the left, center row.
Glenville Normal School and State Teachers CollegeAfter graduating from high school, Virginia enrolled at Glenville State Teachers College. Her older sister, Ione, who graduated from Salt Lick District High School in 1922, was a senior in the college when Virginia enrolled. Virginia received a Normal Certificate from Glenville in 1927 and began her teaching career. She received her A. B. Degree in Elementary Education from Glenville State College in 1948. Later, Virginia received a Masters Degree from the University of South Florida.
Left: Virginia and Ione from their Normal School days at Glenville.
Marriage and Time Off for Children
After a more than ten year hiatus from teaching and with the children growing older, Virginia returned to the class room, due in large part to World War II and the drafting of male teachers to fill the ranks of the military services. During the 1941-1942 school year, Delis “Fisher” Blake, son of Lee and Civilla Riffle Blake of Clover Fork, was teaching at the Walnut Grove School on Oil Creek when Uncle Sam sent him an RSVP letter. Delis, not waiting on some Induction Center Private First Class to decide how he would serve his country, instead joined the United States Navy and entered the Officers Training School. As Delis was packing his bags, the Lewis County Superintendent Marion G. Rogers asked Virginia if she would be interested in the Walnut Grove School position. Virginia said “Yes.”
Left: Virginia and Glenn in the 1960s.
From Clover Fork to Grass Lick
Virginia and Glenn's move to Grass Lick set off a chain reaction. John Gibson and his family had been renting the Dolan place, so the Gibson family had to move. They moved to the Jeddy Groves farm on Oil Creek above Rag Run. Jeddy’s widow, Esta Groves, moved to Charleston with family. Glenn and Virginia and their family moved onto the Dolan farm. Dwight Skinner moved into the house that Glenn and Virginia had vacated on Clover Fork. The house that Dwight Skinner vacated was moved into by Mrs. Oley McCoy and her sons. Blanche Bleigh, who had been boarding with Glenn and Virginia, began boarding with Pres and Jessie Bragg. Clarence Posey and family who had been living in a home on the Pres and Jessie Bragg farm moved to the Mike Moran farm at the mouth of Three Lick. And finally the Sol Brown family moved into the house vacated by Clarence Posey. It was a busy summer of 1942.
The Dolan Farm
Tessie (Morton) McGinnis was another of Virginia’s Locust Grove School students. Tessie remembers Virginia as one of her best teachers and enjoyed going to school to her. Coincidentally, Tessie’s mother was the second wife of Virginia's father-in-law Gid Skinner. Tessie has happy memories of the Locust Grove School and her teacher Virginia Skinner. She feels she was well-prepared by her teacher for her high school education at Burnsville High School from which she graduated in 1952. Tessie in the past few years re-visited her former home on Clover Fork. During her visit, she was surprised that the Clover Fork was asphalt paved (although still one-lane). Tessie recalled that when she lived on Clover Fork many years ago the road was unpaved and when it rained the road was so muddy that students had to walk the railroad track or get lost in the mud.
I know Mom was teaching at Walnut Grove by the fall of 1950. That is where I started to school in 1950 with her as my teacher. Her story had her moving to teach there in 1955. She became the Principle in 1954. The reason I remember that was that was the only year I had a different teacher (Mrs. Ernestine Tulley). That was 4th grade in 1954. Mr Reed was the “Big Room” teacher and Principle before that.
Comment on Virginia's heritage
Virginia (McCoy) Skinner’s paternal grandparents were William McCutcheon (“W.M.”) McCoy and Sabina (Cogar) McCoy. W.M. McCoy was a merchant and postmaster in Cogar, was a former deputy sheriff of Braxton County, teacher, and Superintendent of Schools of Braxton County. He died in 1935. His wife, the daughter of John M. Cogar and Mariah (Haymond) Cogar, preceded him in death many years previous.
Comment on the town of Gem
The old town of “Cogar,” sometimes spelled “Coger,” is located two miles east of Burnsville. The town was renamed “Gem” by the United States Post Office in a naming contest in which Virginia (McCoy) Skinner’s grandfather, W. M. McCoy, submitted the winning name. The name “Gem” was derived from the initials of the name of W. M.’s son, Guy Everett McCoy.
When Virginia McCoy’s father, Nola Hugh McCoy, was killed in the Gassaway rail yard accident in 1912, he was laid to rest in the Town Hill Cemetery in Sutton where his mother, Sabina (Coger) McCoy, had been laid to rest two years earlier. Virginia’s grandfather, William M. McCoy, former superintendent of schools of Braxton County, was also buried there in 1935. Virginia’s older sister, Ione (McCoy) McLaughlin and her husband James Orville McLaughlin, are also buried there.
Comment on Married Female Teachers
Before and particularly during the Depression there was significant discrimination against married female teachers. After her marriage to Glenn Skinner, Virginia McCoy Skinner left the teaching profession for several years. Not only was the rearing of children involved but the Lewis County School Board, as did the Braxton County Board of Education and other counties, had adopted a policy not to hire married female teachers. Some female teachers, to skirt this policy, married in secret and kept their marriages “secret.” Some counties, such as Upshur County, also barred female teachers from the classroom if they were pregnant or had young children. The West Virginia State Board of Education also weighed in on the issue in 1942 by issuing a policy barring female teachers from the classroom if they were past four months of pregnancy or had children younger than seven weeks old. Some, but not all West Virginia counties enforced this policy well into the 1960’s. However, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended the practice of discriminating against female teachers who married or who became pregnant.