The History of Taylor County: Chapter 290

The Woman’s Club entertained the members and their guests in a lavish manner with a beautiful dance in Brinkman Hall and banquet at the Blen-Avon Hotel on December 29,1903. The success of this brilliant affair was due to the patronesses, Mrs. Charles R. Durbin, Mrs. J.E. R.  Ellis, Mrs. H.W. Chadduck and Mrs. A.S. Warder, who welcomed the members and guests spent  a most enjoyable evening at this end of the year social club function. 

Vincent’s superb orchestra furnished the dance and promenade music at this colorful and delightful affair. 

During the year 1903, Grafton lodge No. 308, B.P.O. Elks mourned the loss of Claude E. Payne, Frederick H. Gerkins, Andrew A. Carney, Stephen W. Joyce, and Roscoe S. Shurtleff, Andrew A. Carney, the father of the Grafton organization and one of the charter members of the society, lived for a time on Wilford street and was an employee of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Grafton and Wheeling in the passenger train service.

Stephen W. Joyce, one of the best known citizens of Grafton, began his career in the mechanical department of the Baltimore and Ohio in the Grafton shops, some years later he was transferred to the Parkersburg shops and returned to Grafton to engage in the manufacture of building brick, selling the brick plant to take the agency for the Reyman Brewing company of Wheeling in Grafton, and while conducting this business he passed away. 

Frederick H. Gerkin, son of Henry Gerkin was employed in his father’s tailoring shop, a handsome young man and an excellent craftsman,, his passing was a source of regret to the members of the fraternity and to his many friends in the town. 

William J. Williams, one of the most prominent and oldest settlers of South Grafton, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. J.C. Morgan, January 5,1904. He began his career as a locomotive driver in the freight transportation department of the Grafton-Piedmont division in the early 50s and at the outbreak of the Civil War left his position to enlist on the side of the Union and served throughout the period of the war. At the close of hostilities he resumed his occupation as engine driver with the Baltimore and Ohio.

For a half century, he drove many types of locomotives in all weathers across the Alleghenies beginning with the old ten wheel Camel type and the first of the Mogul type placed in service in 1873 and perhaps made his last run on the 1200 class before his retirement from the service.

During the big railroad strike of 1877, he refused to take any part in the walkout among the Grafton employees and remained quietly at his home in South Grafton until the trouble was settled. He was the first man called to move a freight train out of Grafton to Piedmont, his fireman on that occasion was William England and his conductor was George Haislip. His train was guarded by ten regular soldiers of the United States army who were detached from Captain French’s force then stationed at Grafton during the period of the strike sent here by the War department at the order of President Hayes to guard the railroad property. Each man of the crew making this first trip was paid a bonus of $50 beside their regular pay for this first trip to begin resumption of traffic on the lines out of Grafton.

When the air brake system was introduced on the Baltimore and Ohio trains, he was selected to instruct his fellow engine drivers in the use of this new device that saved the lives of many of the train crews and did away with the use of the old time hand brake that was the cause of untold mortality among the men in the early years. A large framed portly man, possessed with a large sense of humor, he was known to his friends and neighbors as “Buck” William and this cognomen bestowed on him clung through life and it is doubtful if many of his friends and acquaintances knew him by his Christian name of William.

He was one of the organizers and active members of the Brotherhood Locomotive Engineer organized in Grafton in 1865. He was also a member of the Masonic and Odds Fellows fraternities. He never aspired to political office but in the town election of 1901, his daughter, Mrs. Lydia J. Limbers, was elected to the office of town assessor and as she was declared by the town council ineligible to hold office. This, political office ever held by him.

After his retirement from service of the Baltimore and Ohio, he lived quietly with his daughters in South Grafton and passed away at the age of 73 years and was carried atop the hill by the members of the societies to which he belonged and interred on the family plot in Bluemont cemetery.


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