The History of Taylor County: Chapter 298


In the county election on November 7,1904, A.E.N. Means was elected the 18th sheriff of Taylor County. A son of Isaac and Elmira Shroyer Means and a descendant of two of the oldest families of the Knottsville district, he began his education in the rural schools of that district and for some time taught in that part of the country and worked on the father’s farm during the vacation periods. He came to Grafton to accept the position as salesman in the clothing house of L. Adelson and resigned a short time later to journey to Texas to better his fortunes and while there married. In 1883, his father purchased the old Edmund Luzadder grist mill in East Grafton and sent for his son to come and manage the business after the mill was newly equipped with modern roller process instead of the old stone burrs for processing grains into food stuffs.

Dick Means as he was known to the people of the entire county came into political prominence when he was appointed town clerk in 1900 and was elected collector of town taxes in 1901 and filled this office so satisfactorily he was re-elected the next two years and then submitted his name to the Republican nominating committee of Taylor County for this office of sheriff and was elected in the fall of 1904 for the four-year term.

At the conclusion of his term in office he established an insurance agency and real estate office and to find this combined business well paying. In 1912, he again sought the nomination for office of sheriff and was the Republican candidate on the ticket. HE was opposed by the late Lee Bennett Sr., who was chosen the candidate on the Democratic ticket and in the November election, Means was defeated for the office. HE resumed his business of real estate and insurance and was made procurator of the estate of the late Adolphus Armstrong at his death in 1907 and had charged of the vast holdings left by Mr. Armstrong, who died intestate.

 While looking after some property in his charge in the Booths Creek district on March 25,1915, he, in company with James Forcello, taking shotguns with them to hunt game, after the noon day meal he told Forcello to hitch the buggy and drive to a point where he would join him. Taking his gun he started on a hunt for rabbit and it was supposed in mounting a fence the trigger on the gun was jarred loose and exploded the entire load of shot into the body of the unfortunate man, killing him instantly.

Forello, becoming uneasy at the long wait called for Gilbert Lake and Albert Brown, two farmers living close by, and started put to find the missing man and they found his inert body by the side of the fence they notified the authorities who brought the body to Grafton. His fraternal affiliations were so numerous his funeral was one of the largest attended by members of the many societies and his friends who followed the remains to Bluemont ever witnessed in Grafton. Young polished, handsome, sociable, had he lived he might have occupied a high political career, but destiny willed it otherwise.

Samuel B. Ayer was elected clerk of the county court. J. Granville St. Clair was elected clerk of the circuit court. Dr. Thomas F. Lanham was elected a member of the house of delegates.

Mrs. Emma, wife of Fredrick Bernhold well known and prominent citizen died at her home on West Main Street November 4,1904. A native of England, born in the county of Kent, October 13, 1837, she came with her parents to the United States and settled in the city of Baltimore and resided in that city until her marriage to MR. Bernhold in 1879 and that couple came to Grafton to make their future home. Thriftly, this childless couple accumulated quite a competence of wealth and were owners of considerable real estate that paid handsome dividends in rentals in their lifetime. A consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal faith and a believer in the uplift of youth this couple made it possible to give and maintain the present Y.M.C.A. building that now houses this Christian society. She was carried to Bluemont and in that sacred place of the dead rests far from her native England. 

The town council passed an ordinance permitting the town merchants the privilege of selling fireworks for the first time since 1887. Much of the former fire hazard that was supposed to have started the big fire of July 5,1887, from the careless use of firecrackers was removed by the erection of substantial brick buildings in the burn over area and it was thought safe to permit the youth to indulge in the use of fireworks during the holiday season.

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