Lincoln J. Carter’s famous railroad attraction “The Fast Mail” came to the Opera House February 17,1903. This production from the pen of Mr. Carter was his first and doubtless his greatest success in stamping as a genius in stage effects and scenery after a long period he sent the “Fast Mail” back to the local theatre and the thrills that the audience experienced at the steamboat in mid river that exploded, a small station on Chicago and Alton railroad with the speeding mail train taking up the United States mail and passing a lumbering freight train. The fight in a water front dive on Chicago and the American end of the Suspension Bridge at Niagara Flynn a tough falls in the struggle with Walter West caused the audience to hold their breath.
Onn Friday, February 20,1903, Mayor Kendall and the council of the town of Fetterman surrendered the books, papers, tax receipts and monies and all other property held by the town of Grafton and at this surrender historic old Fetterman became an integral part of the municipality of Grafton, and thereafter constituting the first ward of the town.
Historic old Fetterman that began its existence 104 years ago with the coming of the Northeastern Turnpike when a little village began to for, about the historic old covered bridge erected as a toll post in charge and operated by John Wolverton Blue for collecting tolls from the traffic crossing the famous old pathway above the waters of Tygart Valley River. The little village known as Valley Bridge through which passed a great tide of emigration on its way to the outposts of civilization to found a new empire, great caravans of wagons piled high with goods on their way to settlements, herds of cattle, sheep, swine on the way to the markets, was built on the lands of Samuel Keener prior to 1794 and James Nuzum is credited as having been the first purchaser of a home site and erected the first store in the village, old toll house. The tavern and slave pens of Keener was located above the old rover ford west of the present Hazel-Atlas Glass plant at the time slavery was practiced in this section of Virginia. In 1850 Colonel James K. Smith destined to become one of the most prominent figured in business and political circles in Taylor County laid aside his law practice to engage in the mercantile business and came to Valley Bridge and erected the first store in the village. The small frame building he opened for the convenience of people of the little village is still standing on its foundation. In 1852 the little village awaked to life and activity with the coming of the great Baltimore and Ohio railroad that established its first terminal in the territory west of the Alleghenies and the little village rapidly filled with people who came seeking employment on the railroad. In 1856 the people asked for a town charter which was granted by the Virginia Legislature and the name Valley Bridge was changed to Fetterman in honor of Mrs. Sarah B., widow of Wilford B. Fetterman, the greatest property owner in all Taylor County in his lifetime. The town was the scene of the gathering of armed men who rendezvoused to hold this section of Virginia loyal to the customs and traditions of the South and in the town occurred the first clash of the great Civil War in which clash the first man was slain in defense of the Federal Union. Great sawmills lined the banks of the Tygart Valley River at the time Grafton was the largest lumber market in West Virginia and for many years the whine of saw eating through logs to produce building timbers, a tannery, stogie, and tobacco factories, brick plants and grist mills, afforded the citizens of Fetterman a very good living. Many of the descendants pf the first settlers who were the families Baker, Brown, Collier, Corbin, Evans, Gerkins, Glenn, Keener, Louden, McConkey, Nuzum, Reed, Ringler, Sargent, Smith, Steel and Woolard are still residents of what was once Fetterman.
The town council at the request of Dr. A.R. Warden, health officer, engaged George Batten to guard the premises on Luzadder street in which a case of smallpox had developed. The home was placed under strict quarantine and every possible means taken to prevent the spread of the loathsome disease, disinfectants were ordered places about the home and no persons allowed to enter or leave the premises.
Charles H. Hoyt’s famous comedy “A Bunch Of Keys” came to the Opera House February 25,1903; like all the productions of this famous playwright the Bunch of Keys was written for a vehicle to appeal to the sense of humor. The action of the play was laid in ornate lobby of a great city hotel and the collapsible stairway which precipitated the hurrying guests and the busy bellboys from the upper floor to the lobby in a fast slide brought shouts of laughter from the audience the musical and vaudeville numbers were tuneful and met with flavor from the house patrons.
The citizens of the newly created first ward (Fetterman) petitioned the town council to extend the waterlines, sewerage and brick surfacing on Main Street Methodist Church if the bond issue to be voted on by the citizens was ratified at the coming town election. The mayor and town council assured the petitioners that their ward would share in improvements if the bond issue carried.