Pineville - Where Wyoming Trails Cross
Number 9 - Folk Studies
COMPILED AND WRITTEN BY WORKERS OF THE WRITERS PROJECT
WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION IN WEST VIRGINIA
State Department of Education
W. W. Trent, State Superintendent of Free Schools
Wyoming County Board of Education
Wyoming County Court
Federal Works Agency:
John M. Carmody, Administrator
Work Projects Administration:
F. C. Harrington, Commissioner
Florence Kerr, Assistant Commissioner
J. N. Alderson, State Administrator
West Virginia Writers Project
312 Smallridge Building
Charleston, West Virginia
Bruce Crawford, State Supervisor, Paul H. Becker, Assistant State SupervisorG. P. Goode, County Supervisor; Research Assistants: Juanita Brooks, Minnie Canterbury, Lightburn L. Shannon and Henry Martin Houck
Pineville, Where Wyoming Trails Cross
Pineville is a city built on seven roads. Almost the geographical center of the upper Guyandot River Valley, the seat of Wyoming County provides a natural focal point for governmental and economic affairs of the Guyandot region, and roads from every section converge at Castle Rock. The town boasts three of the county's most spectacular natural attractions. Its industrial importance has increased steadily, although the claim to being Wyoming's foremost industrial city has not yet been relinquished by Mullens. It serves the larger part of the county as a trade center and rail outlet.
The story of Pineville is essentially the story of its seven roads. Its history lies along the trails that meet at Castle Rock. The trails may well be numbered in the order of their present relative importance to the life of the town, for the road that was important when Pineville was first settled is the road that is important today.
When red men traversed the Guyandot region prior to white settlement, they often came by way of Barker's Ridge Trail, which reached the Guyandot River at the present site of Elmore. From this point, the Indian route followed the Guyandot west to the site of Baileysville, passing the intersection with Rockcastle Creek at the geological formation that gave the stream its name. In 1872, the Indian Trail served as the first postal route from Spanishburg to Pineville, then called Rock View. The trail was used in 1880 when John W. Cline re-opened the closed post office at Castle Rock. Finding that the old name of Rockview had been appropriated by B.P. Cook for an office in his store farther up Rockcastle. Cline named the place Pineville because of a forest of second growth pitch pines that had sprung up in the neighborhood after the flood of 1861. The trail was made a wagon road in the pioneer period and was much used by early settlers of the Rockcastle section. When the county was organized and the location of highroads was under consideration, the settlers chose the opposite, or north, bank of the river, for the road which became State Route Number 10. Connecting industrial Mullens and Pineville and a link in the highway joining the seats of Raleigh and Logan Counties, this trail was paved with asphalt after the transfer of the county seat, to provide easy access to the Pineville courts and to enable Pineville citizens to reach the Virginian Railway at Mullens. It was the first road entering the county seat to be paved. Like all Wyoming's roads, it has a bituminous surface, with the exception of the four-mile stretch from Mullens to Still Run Branch, which is concrete.
An incident that occurred on Still Run, a stream that enters the Guyandot near Itmann on Route 10, provided the basis of one of Wyoming's traditional witch tales. In February, 1872, Phillip Lambert, known as the "Red Fox of Pinnacle Creek" because of his love of fox-hunting, was hunting a deer on Still Run with a company of his friends. Lambert knew that George Webb, a preacher and supposed witch, lived at the head of the stream. It was said that Webb had the diabolical power to cast a spell over a hunting ground by walking around it, preventing other hunters from killing game within its bounds. When Lambert, a dead shot, fired point-blank at a large buck but failed to harm it, he fell into a rage and swore Webb was responsible for his ill luck, and that he intended to "fix old George Webb and break the spell."
Using his sharp hunting knife, Lambert carved a crude outline of a human body on a beech tree and labeled it "George Webb." Not having the requisite silver bullet as recommended by all authorities on witchcraft, he chewed an ordinary one until it was very rough. He then poured a double charge of powder down the muzzle of his gun. Placing the roughened ball on double-gum patching and thrusting it home with the ramrod, he tamped it thoroughly and placed a percussion cap on the gun tube. When all was ready, he took aim at his rude picture and, quoting appropriate scripture, fired.
John Workman, building his Aunt Jenny Bowers a kitchen, was whipsawing lumber for the loft, but, to his irritation, neighbors borrowed his boards for coffin wood as fast as he sawed them. On the day Lambert went hunting on Still Run, Workman, despairing of outdistancing his borrowers, had begun to place a temporary clapboard roofing on the kitchen in order to ceil it while there was still sufficient sawed lumber to do the job. Late in the evening, as he was congratulating himself that on the morrow he could complete the job, a neighbor came to inform his aunt that George Webb, the "witch-man," had died suddenly under very peculiar circumstances, and that Mrs. Webb wanted to borrow enough lumber to make his coffin.
This was to much for Workman. Cursing the fate that constantly deprived him of his ceiling boards, and unaware of the unusual events preceding Webb's death, he asked the world at large, "Why, in the name of hell and damnation, don't they make George Webb a coffin out of chestnut boards and let him go through hell a-poppin' and a-crackin'?"
The final touch to the tale was given that evening when Aunt Jenny visited the Webb's to offer consolation. Seeing that the room was bare of anything to cook, she asked Mrs. Webb about breakfast arrangements for the wake. Mrs. Webb replied that there was nothing in the house but a "poke of coffee and a keg of honey," which George kept under the head of his bed. She explained that she disliked using those for fear it might "cause George to wander." Aunt Jenny bristled in pioneer impatience with such impracticality and opined: "I'm goin' to have some of that coffee and honey for breakfast, and if George wants to wander, just let him wander. I'm not afraid of him."
State Route 10, flanked by beautiful mountain scenery, winds in gentle curves and easy grades along the Guyandot River westward into Pineville, passing the park-like picnic grounds between the river and the road approaches the county seat, the rustic community hall, built by young men of the National Youth Administration, stands to the right of a brick high school of modern design, set amidst spacious well-kept lawns. The NYA building, a two-story structure of native logs - the larger part of the material was contributed locally - with a garage in the basement, where Department of Education trucks are repaired and mechanics trained, contrasts strongly with the sleek $160,000 high school beside it. An additional building in the rear, built as a dormitory for young women workers of the NYA training program, has been adapted to other uses, and may become quarters for military training in connection with national defense. In the rear of the high school are tennis courts.
Almost adjacent to the school property lies the famous Moxley Hole, swimmers' rendezvous for many years. Shadowed in the afternoon by the magnificent pool (known to many as "Moxley's Hole," after Granville Moxley who came to Pineville from North Carolina in the 1870's and purchased the James Gadd lands, south of Castle Rock and the Guyandot) has a border of sandy beach on one side and rock ledges, used for diving, on the other. For more than 100 years, Moxley Hole has served local people and visitors.
The highway, nearing Pineville, crosses three bridges in rapid succession; tow are relics of a slow-moving past when one-way traffic was the rule in bridge construction; the other is a wide flat span of graceful modern design. Across the new Rockcastle span, the town of Pineville spreads out along Second Avenue, its broad main street and climbs on asphalt inclines up the hill to the right. Immediately to the left, obscuring Castle Rock, the brick buildings of a gasoline station, a motor car company, and the Independent Herald, Pineville's fast-growing weekly newspaper, set the design of the future city; for a town ordinance now forbids the construction of frame buildings along main street, and Pineville will be a city of brick, stone, and metal.
After Crossing the bridge, State Route Number 10 curves to the right and passes through east Pineville on the way to Oceana. The second road into Pineville to be paved, this 14-mile asphalt strip may justly be termed Pineville's Trail Two because it serves as a major through route to Logan, Charleston, and other points north, and because it opens a large trade area for the county seat. Directly ahead of the traveler who approaches from Oceana, at the point where Route 10 intersects the principal street, rises the almost perpendicular column of Castle Rock, a gigantic mass of stone reaching 130 feet above the bed of Guyandot River. Castle Rock was once part of the dividing ridge between Guyandot River and Rockcastle Creek but was separated from it by the incessant pounding of Rockcastle on the north, which finally wore a passageway through the ridge and united with the Guyandot east of the "castle."
The phenomenon of the "castle" interested early visitors to the region, even as it does the tourist of today. The Breckenridge-Madison Expedition reported reaching the mouth of Rockcastle Creek in the spring 0f 1780, indicating that the creek either was then known as Rockcastle or that the members of the expedition, after viewing the unusual "castle" formation, named it so. In any case, the roaming Indian scouts, David Hughes, Milam, the Huffs, and others who visited the region knew the "Castle." In 1842 the first settlement in its shadow was made by Thomas M. Cook, who built a small cabin where the Wyoming Courthouse now stands, within a stone's throw of the Rock. Joel Rose, whose wife, Jennie, was sister to Rebecca Sizemore Cook, Thomas' wife, came at the same time. A third settler, Daniel Perdew, arrived in 1845. The three families occupied the site of present Pineville, and the little community was known by one or other of their names or simply as "Castle Rock Settlement."
Halfway to the top of the stone mass, a terrace offers an observation platform. Above the stone terrace is a softer shale formation, the wearing away of which has permitted the terrace to form. The cap of the "Castle" above the shale is top-heavy, and the small cap can be teetered by placing a two-by-four beam in one of the cracks near the terrace and exerting a few pounds of pressure. Until 1910, two flights of ladders permitted the visitor to ascend to the top of the Rock, but after Virgil Senter fell to his death while making the climb, and a few weeks later Nellie Swope fell forty feet, but escaped serious injury, the ladders were removed. Ascent of the Rock is still possible, and the occasional venturesome soul who makes to reports that the top seems to lean heavily toward the southeast. The north side is well timbered.
The Oceana-Pineville section of Route 10 was unsurfaced until recent years, but today its smooth asphalt provides a scenic way for the tourist, as well as a commercial route for lumber, coal, and agricultural products. When a special election in 1905, becoming effective in 1907, removed the seat of government from Oceana to the more progressive Pineville, there was little communication between the two towns. Now, the route is well traveled, and east Pineville, through which the road from the northwest enters, is one of the fastest-growing sections of the town.
The old high school, now the Pineville Graded School, a ten-room structure built in 1909 to replace the two-room school in use from 1900, presents its white facade along the Oceana Trail. Over a small white shack east of the highway, a weathered sign proclaims a wholesale dealer in hides, furs, herbs, all the products of the pioneer period. The gasoline pumps of a concrete filling station on the west side indicate the increasing vehicular traffic.
A grocery store and blacksmith shop, a frame grist mill, a garage, a general store, and the Pineville skating rink, a frame building located at Bearhole Bridge, are new business establishments of east Pineville. A restaurant and the Baptist Church, now under construction, will add to the facilities of this rapidly expanding section. Immediately before the curve of highway that leads into Pineville proper, the imposing residence of R.D. Bailey, showplace among Pineville's homes, and the post office face each other on opposite sides of the road.
The first settlement in east Pineville was made in 1863, when Hiram Clay married Elizabeth Mullens and came here to clear a farm a build a grist mill. Later, in 1877, Clay built a second mill, a sash and whipsaw mill.
In 1872, Clay gave a log rolling to which Granville Moxley, prominent dog fancier, was invited. During the day, one of Moxley's hounds bit Clay's infant son, inflicting a frightful wound. Clay immediately sought his rifle and killed the dog. Moxley considered this an unjustifiable action and brought suit, thereby furnishing the town of Pineville and the county of Wyoming with one of their most oft-quoted anecdotes.
Colonel James M. French represented Moxley; Colonel James H. McGinniss defended Clay. Colonel French argued brilliantly, quoting Byron's famous poem to his dog that ends:
"To mark a friend's remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one - and here he lies."
A dog, urged Colonel French, was man's best friend; the biting of the child was a regrettable act but not inconsistent with the training men give their dogs.
Colonel James "Fud" McGinniss, unable to find a suitable quotation from the Bible or Shakespeare to answer Byron and French, resorted to an impromptu bit of verse on his own. Said he:
"Granville Moxley had a hound,
But now he's lost and can't be found;
Somewhere in the desert wild
He rests beneath his funeral pyre.
Let the ravens soaring high
Toll his honored yelping cry;
But let the roaming foxes' smile
As they pass the brute that bit the child.
Let him rest in deep disgrace,
Leave not a stone to mark the place;
Show the plaintiff in this suir,
You favor not his vicious brute.
Now, gentlemen, I have said to you
What I think you ought to do;
Go to your room, return and say,
"We find no guilt in Hiram Clay."
The jury returned a verdict in favor of Clay.
Where Trail Two enters the main business district, the magnificent Wyoming County Courthouse and the equally fine jail occupy the hillside eminence in the right angle formed by street and road. With hedgebordered lawn sloping to the street, the $200,000 native-stone courthouse, fronted with tall Doric columns, rises three stories above the ground. The modern jail, one of West Virginia's best, also of native stone, cost $150,000, including equipment. The public square surrounding the two huge buildings includes eleven of the town lots as originally surveyed. They were purchased for $41,000 and were walled, terraced, and beautified with county and WPA funds. Unveiled August 17, 1924, before 5,000 spectators, the white-marble statue directly in front of the tall courthouse columns represents a son of Pineville and one of Wyoming County's heroes, Reverend W.H.H. Cook, soldier, statesman, and minister, whose father's cabin stood near the site of the monument.
An uncle of Cook, Nathan Perdew, achieved local immortality in many incidents still related about his actions and speech. On one occasion, it is said, "Uncle" Nathan had started to Hi Clay's mill - his own was out of order and no millwright had arrived to repair it - when the wild mule he was riding ran away with him, throwing him violently into a fence. Reporting the incident, Uncle Nathan said: "Jest as I got to Hi's corner fence, my mule got scairt and started to run away with me, an' the faster he went, the furder he got. I picked me a place to fall, but I missed it at least twenty feet, an' by gemini christ, boys, when I struck, I tho't to my soul he had killed me."
Reverend Cook (he was known as "Little Harry" during the Civil War" said he once asked Uncle Nathan if he had ever seen an unfriendly ghost - Perdew was rumored to be in touch with dark and mysterious powers - and if so, what had he done? Uncle replied: "When I meet one, I always throw three rocks at it in the name of the Three Highest, and then, if it don't run, I run."
A third incident relates to Castle Rock. Perdew and a few friends had been visiting his brother Daniel. During the evening, they imbibed freely of "mountain dew" and, by the time they were ready to go home, had reached a state of alcoholic philosophy. As they passed the "Castle," Perdew enjoined his companions: "By gemini christ, boys, when I die, I want you to bury me on that rock for that's as near to haven as I will ever be." Later, when Perdew had joined the Friendship Baptist Church and was being immersed by Reverend M.H. Lester, someone remarked that "Brother Perdew has evidently decided to go to heaven by way of the Jordan instead of by way of Castle Rock."
A tale is also told of Daniel, Nathan's son. Around 1900, Dan suddenly felt called to the ministry and requested a council to ordain him. When Elder John W. Simpson and his son, also a preacher, arrived to examine Dan, the room was so filled with pumpkins that several minutes were spent in clearing enough space for the conference of the three men. Having shoved a sufficient number aside, under the bed, behind the stove, and anywhere space could be found, Dan offered himself for the test. Both Elder Simpson and his son questioned Dan in regard to the actuality of war in heaven, and Dan was adamant in asserting there must have been one, for the "Good Book says so." At last, unable to secure the proper answer, Elder Simpson decided: "Uncle Dan'l, if you believe there was a real bona fide war fought in heaven, we cannot ordain you." Whereupon, Dan, looking at his pumpkins lying around the room, replied good-humoredly, "Brethern, if you won't let me preach the Gospel this winter, I'll spend the winter eatin' pumpkin pie."
As late as 1908, six hours were required to drive from Oceana to Pineville; the road followed Rockcastle Creek, first in the stream bed and then out, up a hill, down a hill, among rocks and chug holes and through deep mud. Near Pineville, the road became a lane through a pine grove with tall shading evergreen on either side. Much of the same natural beauty still lies along Route 10 at this point.
The only covered bridge built in the county was built across Laurel Fork on this route. Its floor was made of puncheons covered with clapboards. The Oceana-Pineville way was used by most of the people who settled the northeast and northwest sections of Wyoming County. In later days, the immigrants would stop in Pineville to purchase supplies before continuing north.
The third trail of economic and historical significance to Pineville, the road from Baileysville may be called the Wyoming scenic route. Approaching Pineville from the west, this newly surfaced highway passes through West Virginia's most majestic mountain country. At times, the road climbs around precipitous hills 300 yards above the Guyandot River, a tumbling, bubbling effervescence that has cut an enormous gorge through the sandstone ridges. Again, the trail parallels the river within a few yards. Swimming is possible along most of the stream, and camping grounds are everywhere.
Along the trail, the Baileys and Shannons established their plantations before 1820. Peter Huff, Thomas Caine, and other exploring scouts traversed the section on the south side of the river, where one branch of the Mingo-Shawnee Indian trail ran. A connecting link with the Bailey road, first to be built in southern West Virginia, this route was followed by many early-comers to the Guyandot Valley. After 1892 Trail Three was connected by ferry with the roads from Welch and Davy and since then has borne a large portion of the county's trade traffic.
The first county court in 1850 authorized this highway as one of the first to be constructed in the new county. Matthew Ramey at that time was operating a carding machine on his farm about three miles below Pineville, and the chief purpose of the road was to enable settlers to use Ramey's mill.
At Bartley stands one of the oldest log houses in the county, still in use and in fair condition. The million-dollar coal town of Wyoming, six miles from Pineville, was built in 1934 by the Red Jacket Coal Company; it has 48 miners' homes. Partly mechanized, the six-entry mine is equipped with a $175,000 tipple capable of sorting five grades of coal. The Virginian Railway built a bridge and track extension at a cost of $200,000 to serve the mine, which shipped 377,107 tons of coal in 1939.
In June, 1940, the Marianna Smokeless Coal Company, subsidiary of Pond Creek Pocahontas Coal, secured a 6,000-acre grant of coal lands on the south side of the Guyandot River near Wyoming and began operating two tipples, one opposite the mouth of Turkey Creek, and second near Bear Branch. The camp on the George P. Cook farm near by was recently completed. The two mines employ a total of 600 men, and the annual production, it is estimated, will exceed 750,000 tons, valued at more than $1,000,000. Power for the mines is furnished by the Appalachian Electric Power Company, which also provides Pineville with electricity.
One mile from the county seat, the road passes along Sulkey Narrows, a series of towering cliffs, one above the other, reaching 800 feet above the river. From a rock quarry drilled into this mall of sandstone came the stone used in building the courthouse, jail, and public square. Wyoming sandstone is a durable attractive material for building, and, while this resource has not yet been tapped commercially, it will doubtlessly furnish Pineville with a future great industry.
Sulkey Narrows was named for "Sulkey" John Mullens, who built his cabin across the river at this point. An oft-repeated story concerning Mullens might well be entitled "He Had a Way With Women."
While living on the Guyandot, Sulkey courted Abigail Rose Farley. This would have occasioned no comment except that Abbie Rose was the wife of Jack Farley, a local mill owner, and Mullens was living with Jenny Baker, presumable his wife. But marriage did not deter Sulkey. He courted and won the affections of Mrs. Farley, who left her husband and went to live with Mullens and Jenny. In patriarchall fashion, Sulkey kept his harem.
Farley resented the loss of his wife, but after several futile attempts to ambush old Sulkey, he divorced Abbie. Abbie, however, soon tired of Mullens and returned to Jack, who welcomed her with preacher and license. Once more they were man and wife, but not for long. Sulkey reverted to his extra-legal love, and in a short time Abbie was again in the Mullens home on Guyandot. To guard against further backsliding, Mullens took Abbie, Jenny, and all his worldly goods and left the county. His nickname alone remained, to designate one of the most picturesque features of Wyoming County.
Jack Farley of this romance and his brother Jim are the subjects of another anecdotee. Jim, although simple-minded, sometimes achieved starting wit. On one occasion, he took a bag of corn to his brother's mill to have it ground. Others were ahead of him, and the mill was grinding more slowly than usual that day. At last, becoming impatient, Jim said:
"Jackie, me cud et meal faster'n yo' mill c'n grin' it."
"Jep, Jimmie," replied Jack, "but, by Gog, how long you keep it it."
"Cud keep it up 'til starve to deaf," nodded Jim safely.
The Baldwin Branch Road, State Route 12, that connects Welch, county seat of McDowell, with Pineville, can be ranked fourth of Pineville's trails because of its historical background and growing importance as a commercial route. In addition, it pierces a recreational area of great potential valve. The ruins of an Indian fort on the east side of the rivulet near the head of Indian Creek suggest who the first trail blazers were. Beside this old trail, a sparkling artesian well of green sulfer water gushes forth in beautiful extravagance. It may well be the site of a health resort some day. The present highway, for engineering reasons, follows the east bank of the stream. A lookout tower, on the highest mountain in the Indian Ridge region, less than a mile from Wolf Pen Gap through which the Welch-Pineville trail runs, furnishes an excellent panoramic view of both McDowell and Wyoming forest lands.
On the graded but unsurfaced State Route 12, bus service was first introduced in 1923 by J.E. Craft. At that time, a two-trip daily schedule was observed; the fare for a single passenger for a one-way trip was two dollars. Although only two trips are made daily today, the price has dropped to 90 cents.
Route 12 is a development of the old Indian trace on Indian Ridge used by the first men who came to Wyoming County. The present route branches from the Indian trail near the county line and provides a less circuitous path from Browns Creek to Pineville than the old road,constructed by James Bailey and his slaves in 1813. The Bailey road ran down Indian Creek to Baileysville, and vehicular traffic was forced to use the roundabout way of the Guyandot Indian trail up-stream to Castle Rock. The Welch-Pineville road bears a heavy volume of small-unit trade traffic, and for Wyoming County's seat, is the shortest pathway to the shipping facilities of the Norfolk and Western Railway.
Trail Four united with Trail Five before crossing the Virginian Railway tracks and the Guyandot River, to join Route 10 about one mile east of Pineville.
Trail Five, no longer an important travel-way, once provided Pineville's major means of contact with the outside world. The construction of the Norfolk and Western to Keystone in McDowell County in 1877 gave Wyoming County a closer trade outlet than was furnished by the Chesapeake and Ohio depot in Beckley. As a result, Captain M.A. Miller, agent for the Flat Top Land Association, in 1888 secured the construction of a wagon road from Pineville up Pinnacle Creek, Little White Oak, out Green Ridge, and down Burke Creek to Keystone. Almost immediately, a daily mail was established over this route. Until 1890, when the N & W rails reached Davy, Keystone served as railroad loading point for all Wyoming produce, chiefly herbs such as ginseng, yellow root, and golden seal; and mail was sent by horseback from that point to Pineville, and thence to Oceana and Baileysville. The fact that the road to the Keystone depot of the N & W began at Pineville gave the Castle Rock settlement its first industrial importance.
The mail route along the Keystone-Pineville trail, especially in mid winter, was a road of adventure. The mail carriers, "Star Carriers" they were called, were expected to keep their schedules in spite of sub-zero weather and snow drifts often ten feet deep along the road in the mountains. They seldom failed to arrive on the hour. In 1900, when the county's thermometer had just been hung out in Oceana, a carrier returning from the county seat stopped to warm himself before the glowing Burnside of the Pineville post office. As he soaked up the heat through sweater and overcoat, preparatory to donning his oil slicker for the perilous cross-mountain journey to the Elkhorn Valley, he told the townsmen it was 22 degrees below zero in the old county seat.
Between the point where Routes 12 and 8 join the Mullens-Pineville road, there occurred in 1876, on the site of the old Pineville tennis court, one of the picturesque affairs that flavor Pineville and county history.
The Centennial of American Independence was an election campaign year. Naturally, the old Union soldiers and Republicans joined in the celebration with the rest of the community, including the handful of Confederate veterans. For a gala picnic, they had chosen the beech grove at the mouth of Bearhole Fork, and, for public speaking, the pine grove near Castle Rock had been pruned for the occasion. Captain Drury Halsey, a Baptist minister, organized a parade from the Bearhole grounds to the grove. The first 60 of the men were mounted on horses, with Captain Halsey and Honorable Booker Short leading the way on fine stallions, followed by Richard Mitchell, bearing a fluttering Old Glory, and Mastin G. Clay, whose "fine home" was the first plank house east of Elkins Gap. Circling the Reverend Halsey's big log residence, the parade advanced to Castle Rock, where at eleven o'clock a large crowd prepared to hear Judge David E. Johnston deliver the main address of the day.
Johnston, who had been in Pickett's disastrous charge at Gettysburg, spoke from the seat of a small buggy, and even in 1876 he could not disguise his loyalty to the "Lost Cause." His speech was laden with the sorrow he felt at the fate of the Confederacy. To the Union Soldiers and Republicans of his audience, this was more than could be allowed even such a distinguished man as Johnston. Seeking to reply in kind, they Thomas J. Laxton, who had served in both armies, to the buggy. Laxton spoke well, answering Johnston's charges to the satisfaction of the crowd, until Johnston, who was master of the entire bag of oratorical tricks, decided to silence his opponent.
"At the breaking out of the war," he said, "my friend Mr. Laxton ran away from western Virginia and went down into North Carolina to join the Rebel Army, and as he went he sang that old song that thrills every Southern heart." At this point, the Judge, who had a commendable singin voice, broke into the strains of "Dixie." As he sang, he shuffled a "double-quick" in the bed of the buggy. Suddenly, dramatically, he stopped singing and dancing.
"My friend Laxton," he continued in a soberer tone,remained down there until the war was virtually over, and then he started back to West Virginia to join the Union Army." He paused, "And as he came," his voice raised, "he came all bowed down, singing that old song that penitent sinners had so often sung before: 'Show pity, Lord, O Lord forgive, and let a repenting Rebel live." A yell of applause greeted his musical paraphrase. They say it took five men to hold old Lane S. Cook, Union veteran, from starting the war over again.
Trail Six and Seven
The trail up Bearhole Fork to Newfound and thence to Raleigh County and Beckley was more traveled in the nineteenth century than at present. In 1881, the fifth postal route established in Wyoming County was along Bearhole Branch, with post offices opened at Newfound (David Goode, postmaster), Saulsville (Wyley Sizemore, postmaster), and Cedarsburg (John Cook, postmaster). James Sauls, for whom Saulsville was named, was first to make the two trips weekly. Peter Snuffer and James R. Cook carried the mail on this route in later years.
Ned Sizemore was the first settler of this region; he came to Bearhole about 1840. In 1858, Adam Short had a cabin at the mouth of the creek. In the same year, David Goode lived there on the Short farm, and Tobias Sizemore chose a location on the stream. The first Pineville school, a log hut that burned in 1873, raised its educational banner on Trail Six.
Bearhole Trail followed the traces left by the bears that hibernated in the caves of the region. A grove of hemlocks with their boles stripped clear of bark ten feet from the ground indicated the presence of bears to the early settlers, who knew the animals obtained the resin they used for winter food in this manner. Bearhole was one of the first sections around Pineville to feel the pioneer's axe and hoe. Bearhole today is sparsely settled and devoted to farming. The traffic to Beckley has been detoured over better roads by Mullens and Tams Mountain. Bearhole Trail now serves only the local farms.
Trail Seven, an unimproved road to Windom on Skin Fork, serves as outlet to the railroad for a farming section similar to Bearhole.
Commercial and Industrial Pineville
The last of Wyoming County's three larger towns to begin its growth, Pineville is largely a product of the twentieth century.
The first livery stable in the town was not built until 1907, when the automobile already was beginning to replace the buggy on metropolitan streets. In 1913, W.H. Byrd found it profitable to open a second stable to compete with the establishment of the Holland brothers. Horses rented for a dollar a day, and hack hire was 50 cents a passenger. Although the completion of the Virginian Railway in 1909 ended the lucrative trips by buggy to Welch and the Norfolk and Western Railway depot, the stables found sufficient business to remain in operation until 1925.
W.H. Byrd, the last livery-stable owner, was the first man to bring an automobile to Wyoming County. His 1914 Ford touring car was operated by Brooks Lambert of Welch as a taxi and made regular trips to both Welch and Mullens for the convenience of train passengers who were visiting Pineville for court sessions.
The Virginian Railway added greatly to the industrial importance of Pineville. Following the old Indian trail down the south side of the Guyandot River from Elmore, and extending to Gilbert in Mingo County, the railroad gives Pineville and vicinity a ready outlet to national markets.
Prior to the arrival of John W. Cline, Levi Lusk, and Richard Mitchell in the 'eighties, Pineville was an undeveloped rural community. Each of the three men opened a dry-goods store, and Cline, who established the post office at Pineville, built Pineville's first hotel. In 1883, Godfrey Darbyshire of Shelbyville, Kentucky, upon learning that the Norfolk and Western Railway was penetrating the Tug River Valley, saw a chance to make a fortune if the railroad's route should pass through Pineville. On the assumption that would, he came to Castle Rock community and purchased the lands of Halsey and Moxley for $1,200. In 1884, he brought in a steam mill and sawed the lumber for a mushroom village which he named Darbytown. Boom days followed, until it became apparent that the railroad would not reach Pineville, whereupon Darbyshire sold his holdings to the Flat Top Land Association for $12,000.
In 1892, the Association laid out a second town site where Pineville is now located and named it "Castle Rock." Lots were sold, residences raised, and business establishments located. At this time, mail routes were established to Keystone, Oceana, Beckley, and Baileysville. In 1906, Pineville was finally connected by post with Mullens. James Gore, I.J. Cook, M.P. McGraw, and Walter Lusk operated stores at intervals in Pineville's early townhood days. When the community became county seat, a frame courthouse was immediately built, and a jail of pressed concrete brick erected. In 1916, the make-shift courthouse, and, in 1925, the jail, by then outdated, were replaced with modern stone structures.
The Citizens Bank of Pineville first opened its doors in 1907, and a short while afterward, the First National and Wyoming County banks were started. Largely dependent upon the patronage of local people who had sold the coal and mineral rights to their land, the banks were never financially strong; in the depressed year of 1916, the Citizens shut down, and the other two closed their doors in 1929-33. The only industry of the community during the period (1907-33), carried on by the lumber concerns of C. Crane & Company, W.M. Ritter Lumber Company, Wittenberg Brothers, and a few smaller mills, could not provide the income needed for a sound financial structure. There were only two hotels in the small town, The Weaver and Pineville Hotels. Transient trade was small.
In 1940, commercial organizations are finding Pineville a profitable location. A local lumber dealer competes with outside supply houses for the trade of homebuilders. Two motor car companies have agencies in the town. Four retail stores, besides the east Pineville grocery, serve Pineville and the surrounding neighborhood: a department store, a furniture establishment, a chain grocery store, and a locally-owned general store that sells virtually everything needed by the community. Pineville also boasts a jewelry store, a drug store, housed in a modernistic one-story brick building, and an insurance company office. Three service stations provide for the needs of a growing number of local motorists, and, besides the repair shops in east Pineville, there is a fully equipped garage between the Rockcastle and Guyandot bridges.
Personal service establishments and those devoted to amusement form the majority of Pineville's other business and professional agencies. THe population is served by two beauty shops, two barber shops, three restaurants, one hotel, and two funeral homes; and by six lawyers, two doctors (one operates a small private hospital), and one dentist. In the amusement field, there are three pool rooms, a theater, and a skating rink. The State liquor store meets another demand. Many of these agencies are housed in modern fireproof buildings, either tin or brick, in compliance with the new town ordinance prohibiting frame structures. The Post Office building, which houses a law office and a beauty shop, is a tin structure, while the Liquor Commission's store is in a concrete building. Some of the remaining frame buildings have been condemned and are awaiting demolition. New fireproof structures will arise on the sites as soon as the old frames fall. Pineville citizens, led by the Independent Herald, are insisting that the town lift its face as well as its hopes for the future.
Pineville had a log church as early as 1874, before the town as such was laid out. The Regular Baptist Church, organized in 1869 and 1870, had constructed the first house of worship, but it was used by the devotees of other faiths as well. Drury Halsey and John S. Mullens held services in the building before 1900.
The second church, built in 1907, was Methodist Episcopal; the 1915 M.E. South, frame building, was replaced by the present structure in 1934; Sunday School rooms and a parsonage were added later. A new church, now under construction in east Pineville at a cost of $12,000, will serve Pineville's large congregation of Baptists.
Pineville has rapidly expanded since the completion of a well-surfaced highway from Mullens to Logan which made the town accessable from the east and west, and since the building of the Gilbert Extension of the Virginian Railway brought heavy-guage shipping facilities within economical reach of the hitherto undeveloped coal lands near by. The town has become the shipping point for lumber and coal industries and the trading center for a large portion of the county's farmers, and it retains its function as the center of government. Rapid construction of new homes - one company alone has erected 70 new buildings - indicates that the population growth - 462 in 1930 to 1,001 on September 1, 1940 - is continuing, and it supports the hope of the Pineville residents that their city some day will be as prominent economically as it now is in local politics.