The History of Taylor County: Chapter 296


GHS Class of 1904

In front of her husband’s store in the stirring campaign of 1876 Mrs. Compton saw and heard the great orator Eben Ingersoll and the silver tongued Stewart L. Woodford lift their voiced in the interests of Hayes and Wheeler for the presidency of the nation and those old prominent political leader the patriarchal  war Governor Francis H. Pierpont and General Nathan Goff, Attorney Blackwell B. Dovener, Editor Archibald Sambell and others voice an earnest plea for the success of the Republican candidates and the party platform. She saw the men employed in the transportation department of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad walk out from their jobs in the great strike of July 1877 and the lawless element destroy railroad property which was only curbed by the Government sending Fourth United States Artillery to Grafton. She witnessed the wild demonstration of the citizens at the announcement of the relocation of the seat of the courts from Pruntytown to Grafton on the memorable Tuesday, October 8,1878, and looked on the face of the first woman slain by an unknown assassin on Christmas night, 1878. 

In the memorable campaign if 1884 she saw and heard that great American statesman James G. Blaine stand on the porch of her husband’s old store building speak to the people of Grafton in the interests of his own candidacy for President of the United States and brought her favorite rocking chair from her home for the great man to rest in while others spoke in his behalf and this old chair was perhaps the most treasured bit of furniture in her household during her lifetime. She trembled for the safety to the rest of town when great conflagration of July 5, 1887, swept the business section of Latrobe street from its path and the rest of town saved by the most heroic effort of the desperate citizens. Then watched the greatest volume of water pour down through the Tygart Walley watershed and submerge the properties adjacent to Maple avenue and race to Fetterman and life the historic old covered bridge from its piers and fling it a mass of broken timbers onto the madly racing waters and carry the old structure that figured so largely in the history of the county from the sight of the people forever.

She saw men erect a fine steel bridge over the waters of the Tygart Valley river in 1890 and eliminate the danger to men and beast crossing the old river ford that took many lives in the past and doubtless was one of the pedestrians to cross the new structure opened to passage for those afoot on Washington’s birthday 1890. She heard with pity of the horrible accident to happen to Reverend Father Robert Kelleher on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bridge on August 1,1893, while on his way to administer the last rites of his church to a dying parishioner over in West Grafton a rite he was never destined to perform and on that same night watched the destruction of the Masonic Temple by fire across the street from her home and which caused the citizens to gravely consider the question of some form of protection against this most dangerous of all the elements they petitioned the town council to call an election for a bond issue for the splendid system of waterworks, sewerage and street improvements and when the bond issue was ratified saw man in 1895 sinking trenches for and removing the old cobble stone surface on Main street laid in 1874 and re-laid with a fine smooth brick surface beneath which was buried the water mains, the artificial gas lines and storm and sanitary sewers that at the completion of these improvements meant much to the safety and health of the people. Saw the old iron lamp posts that lined the length of Main street replaced with tall poles atop of which was placed the new electric lights far more powerful and more brilliant than any yet devised and with the discovery of natural gas for heating and lighting in this vicinity saw men tear up the streets and lay pipe it into the homes and shops of the people. Saw young men come forward eager for the great adventure in the Spanish-American war when the news was carried by the telegraph wires that the Spaniards had deliberately destroyed the Battleship Maine in the harbor of Havana on the night of February 15, 1898 which plunged the United States into war with Spain and for the first time sent an American army to battle in a foreign land. Then this kindly woman who saw so much of the history of Grafton happen in the early years.

 The graduating class of Grafton High School in 1904 was composed of ten members who were: J. Guy Allender, Rex Augir, Lillian Blaney, Robert Chenoweth, Ertha Lee Core, Ray Hall, Rosaline Kennedy, Ernest Koelz, G. Thomas Vance, and Blanche Watkins.

Guy Allender prominent attorney of Grafton entered West Virginia University and enrolled in the law school of that institution graduating in the class of 1910 with the degree of Bachelor of Laws and was admitted to practice at Taylor County bar in that same year and became assistant to Prosecuting Attorney Gene W. Ford serving in this capacity for six years. In 1916 he opened an office for the practice of his profession in the Merchants and Mechanic Bank Building and has since practiced civil and commercial law and is regarded as well versed and very successful in this branch of the law.

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