The History of Taylor County Chapter 2

Town Win Jail Battle

John Robinson’s circus came to Grafton for two performances Thursday, June 5,1902, and pitched their tents on the old Fair Grounds over in West Grafton. This 73-year-old amusement enterprise that made its annual visit to Grafton almost from the very beginning of the town and always found a generous welcome at the hands of its citizens as well as those folks from the countryside who laid aside the reaping hook and other farm tools to visit the circus. The shoe this year was augmented by the gorgeous spectacle of Biblical times and widely heralded with all the pimp and glory as Solomon. His Temple and the Queen of Sheba in which innumerable people were active participants. All costumes, trappings and scenery necessary to the tableaus, “The Judgement of Solomon,” “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba,” “The City of David,” “The Palace and Temple the Walls and Towers of Jerusalem,” “Solomon’s 700 Wives,”  “The Sacred Ark of the Covenant,” “The Great Ivory Throne,” “The Procession of War Chariots,” slaves bearing incense and lovely dancing girls all of which was enacted on a very large stage set up within the tented walls. Carl Hagenback’s wonderful collection of animals from all parts of the known world were shown to the lovers of animal life. In the arena, more than 100 performers displayed their skills in equestrian, acrobatic, aerial and balancing feats. The old timers, however, missed the graceful Bob Stickney and his clever family, the colored wonder Nonparell Lewis and the humorously and witty clown old John Lowlow who as far back as memory went laughed at the antics and sayings of this man who seemed inseparable from the old John Robinson show.

 The Alexander Courtney lands containing approximately 284 acres sloping from the old Fair Ground to the top of the hill was offered for sale by Hyson Courtney, the son of this old settler who came to this section of the Virginia years prior to the formation of Taylor County and occupied the land as tillers of the soil and marketing the products of their toil at Pruntytown and later at Grafton when the settlement began to take form around the railroad junction. The patriarchal Alexander Courtney and his son, Hyson were among the most familiar husbandry men during market day in Grafton. Then death claims those familiar figured for his own and the places that once knew them, know them no more.

 Job Jaco, one of the oldest settlers and son of Harrison Jaco who came to Grafton at the time the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was building toward Fetterman in 1852, died at his home, July 23, 1902. A stone cutter by trade, he, during his lifetime laid the foundation stones of many of the earlier building in the town.

 The bricklayers, carpenters and stone cutters petitioned the town council to fix nine hours as the working day for the members of their crafts when employed on town work.

 The thrilling melodrama “Under Two Flags” whose action takes place in the French Legionnaire post in the great Sahara desert and the story woven about Cigarett, who is an angel of mercy to the outcasts of many nations who join the Legion, came to the Opera House September 2, 1902, and gave a most pleasing performance.

 The county court ruled against the town of Grafton using the jail for confining their prisoners but Judge John H. Holt handed down an opinion saying the town of Grafton had the right to use the jail for this purpose. The matter in regard to the use of the jail by the town. Judge Holt based his opinion on the fact that the taxpayers of Grafton paid the largest proportion of the county taxes and were entitled to the use of the county public buildings.

 Virginia Courtney Rogers, daughter of Alexander Courtney, born in 1840, a member of one of the oldest families of that portion of Harrison County that is now Taylor County, died at her home in Rowlesburg August 4, 1902. She married Thomas Rogers, a descendent of one of the first families to settle on the waters of Wickwire in Fetterman district in 1853. The couple lived and raised their family in the above district until just a short time before her passing and moved to Preston County where Mr. Rogers was interested in several industries that required his attention, but the moved proved fatal for the aged woman, whose remains were brought back to the home occupied for many years and interred in the family plot in the Ammon churchyard.


More In Community