Charleston couple shares in the history of area on Rt. 119 campaign


TAYLOR COUNTY—Taylor County welcomed two travelers to experience some of the area’s most historic places, along Rt. 119.

For the past couple of days, Chris and Jennifer Morris have been traveling up Route 119, to document some areas of interest, as part of a special campaign.

“We are on the Travel 119 Campaign, which is 119 things to do on Rt. 119,” shared C. Morris, of the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). “This is a campaign through various CVBs from Pikeville, Kentucky, through the highlands of Indiana County, Pennsylvania.”

The couple will be traveling the 585-mile stretch of highway that runs through Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, over a three-day span, with their Airstream trailer in tow to learn about some fun and exciting places to visit along the route.

Saturday afternoon, the Morris’s made a stop in Webster, to take a tour of one of Taylor County’s hidden treasures, the Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum.

While there, museum curator Olive Ricketts led the two on a quick tour through the home, telling interesting stories, as well as some of the history of Anna Jarvis and the founding of Mother’s Day.

“Everything here has been donated in memory of loved ones, mainly mothers,” Ricketts told of the house.

She revealed that Jarvis was a member of the underground railroad and would house slaves on their way to freedom in the basement, which could be accessed through a trap door in the kitchen.

“We also have two children of the Jarvis family located in the basement. They had a plague here in Taylor County in 1856, and three children were lost. For some reason, Alonzo and Annie E. were placed in the basement,” Ricketts explained.

She said guests of the house have shared that they could feel the presence of the children, and that Alonzo often talks to little children that visit the house, including her own grandson.

“They play pranks on us all of the time,” Ricketts shared. “They will move items from one room to the next, and they move items around on the mantle in the parlor.”

Throughout the home are showcased pieces of the past, including items belonging to the family.

“This is the piano of Anna’s mother. It is an 1860 Steinway and Sons. It is one of six pianos that still exists from that time and it still plays,” Ricketts told the guests. “It is valued at $1 Million.”

In each room of the historic house, she told the guests about some of the items present, along with some of the history surrounding the home.

Following the tour, C. Morris revealed that his stop in Webster had marked itself as his favorite part of the trip.

“I had no idea this was here. It is a hidden little gem. There are so many historic elements to it; the stories and the ghosts,” he expressed. “The house is very well kept, and it is a very sound structure still.”

J. Morris said her favorite stop ranked so highly because of a nostalgia factor.

“My family is from Buckhannon, so I really enjoyed our stop there,” she explained. “Just to see how much they have put into their downtown and recreated their history, it was a fun and nostalgic experience.”

After leaving the Anna Jarvis House, the couple made a stop at the historic International Mother’s Day Shrine.

Before entering the shrine, the Morris’s were treated to a brief history of the historic Willard Hotel, the B&O Station and the Manos Theater.

Once inside the Mother’s Day Shrine, the guests were treated to even more history about Jarvis and her famous Mother’s Day, from Larry Richman.

Richman was delighted to lead them on a tour of the historic church, giving a history lesson along the way.

After touring the first floor of the church, the duo was escorted upstairs into the beautiful sanctuary, where Richman gave a talk on the breathtaking stained-glass windows, as well as the bold murals adoring the building interior walls.

Following that discussion, he played a couple pieces on the Shrine’s pipe organ for his guests, including “Simple Gifts” and “The Water is Wide.”

Both Chris and Jennifer expressed their delight to have had the opportunity to visit two of the area’s landmarks, sharing that they wished they had more time to take in even more of the county’s offerings.

“This is the first time we have done this, but so far it has been successful. Every time you stop somewhere you find something you had no clue was right under your nose,” J. Morris shared.

After they have finished their trip, the Charleston couple will head back to the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, armed with pictures and stories of each place they visited.

You can follow their journey at Travel119.com or on Instagram @Travel119_USA.

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