The History of Taylor County Chapter One Hundred-Eighty-Seven


Diphtheria Rages Here

Andrew Jackson Nuzum, prominent merchant, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Nuzum, among the first settlers at Valley Bridge as Fetterman was first called, was born April 12, 1843, and began his career in the store of Colonel James K. Smith as a lad at the age of 15 and at the outbreak of the Civil war he enlisted in Company B, 17th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry organized by Captain Todd of Grafton, and was made first lieutenant of this second company formed for service in the federal Union. 

  This company was ordered to Washington to guard the National Capitol during the period of the war.  He was honorably discharged at the close of the war in 1865 and returned to Grafton and entered the business firm of Henry G. Davis and company that operated a store on the site now occupied by the Opera House and remained in the employ of Davis concern for one year and then was given charge of the Davis store at Piedmont.

  When his brother-in-law, A.D. Casteel purchased the Davis interested at Grafton he returned from Piedmont to manage the business.  In 1875, he formed a partnership with George Brinkman and purchased the general stock of Holmes and Adams and moved into the Evans building that stood on the site now occupied by the First National bank.  In 1876, George Brinkman erected the three-story brick business building on the Alfred Thomas property on the south side of Main street and at the completion of the building the firm of brinkman and Nuzum moved into the new store rooms and at the time carried probably the largest and most select stock of merchandise in Grafton. 

  In 1885, he served as a member of the Grafton Independent Board of Education and was commissioned postmaster at Grafton May 16, 1886, the first Democratic postmaster to hold office in Grafton for 24 years.  At the expiration of his term, he took charge of the Hon. Henry G. Davis’ interests in the development of the resources in Central West Virginia in the 90s and was stationed at Coketon in Tucker county as manager and bookkeeper in charge of the Davis Coal and Coke Company.  He contracted a serious case of pneumonia that ended fatally Monday October 17, 1892 and climaxed an eventful career.  His remains were brought to Grafton and interred in Bluemont in the ritualistic rites of the Masonic fraternity, of which he was affiliated many years.

  Diphtheria in its most malignant form raged among the children of Grafton in 1892 and before the dread scourge could be checked took the lives of two children of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Cassel, two of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Vucinovitch, one each from Mr. and Mrs. Albert C. Holy, George Creel, J.H. Warder, Reverend I.A. Barnes, Mrs. Delia Ryan and Grover, the seven – year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar M. Doll, the first child named for President Grover Cleveland born in Grafton after Cleveland was elected in 1884. 

  George Henderson, a dissolute character and always a source of trouble to the town authorities on the evening of October 19, 1892, tried to forcibly enter the home of Amaziah Harden on Barrett street, South Grafton.  He paid no heed to the warning to leave and had battered down a door to gain entrance when Harden in defense of his home shot Henderson dead.  A coroner’s jury absolved Harden of all blame in this killing. 

  William D. Swain, one of the largest landlords of Grafton who came to Grafton in the 60s and operated a restaurant on Railroad street known as Mechanics Hall, who by thrift and energy accumulated some of the best property between Latrobe and Railroad street and was among the first to erect a family home far out on West Main street in the 70s and who served as president of the old Grafton Gas Company in the days when this industry was next to the Baltimore and Ohio railroad , the most important in the town died at his West Main street home October 13, 1892, and was interred in Bluemont.

  Ogarita, an Indian actress of remarkable talent who impersonated a male charcter so perfect through the drama entitled “Weptonomah, the Indian Mail Carrier” her sex was doubted by an audience that filled the Opera House October26, 1892.  The performance and beautiful scenery and stage settings were a big feature in this drama of Indian life.

  Of the many thousands that have attended the memorial Day exercises held in the National Cemetery looked at the small head stone above the grave of a child, George Gibson, a soldier of the Civil war, died October 5, 1868, all have doubtless wondered who this soldier was, and why his child, the only one, so far as known, was interred among the soldiers dead in the National Cemetery, and, too, among the very first to be buried after the United States government established this city of the dead in 1868.

  Alfred Kelsey proved himself an amusing and entertaining comedian as Rube Hollow in a screaming farce comedy entitled “Widow Murphy’s Goat” on the evening of December 18, 1892 supported by Miss Lillie LaRose and an excellent cast and Jerry-the-Goat please a fine audience between the holidays.  All though the four acts ludicrous situation happened that were vastly amusing and sent the audience home in a happy mood. 

  Isaac Gooding, a veteran of the Civil war and resident of west Grafton, entertained the members of Reno Post Mo.7 G.A.R., with many stereopticon views of scenes taken during the dark days of the 60s.  This kind of entertainment while of interest to those who took part in that struggle to preserve the Union held no attraction for the younger generation and only a few interested persons attended what proved of historic information during the greatest crisis to face the United States.

  Patrick Caveney, one of the pioneer settlers of Grafton who came with the first construction train of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad in 1852 and for 41 years was a resident of West Boyd street and for the same length was employed in the welding department of the railroad died at his home January 1, 1893, and was interred in the old Catholic cemetery alongside the Northwestern Turnpike. 

  Grafton music lovers were given the opportunity of hearing one of the finest musical treats on the engagement of the famous McGibeny Family of ten finished musicians on January 4, 1893.  The selections for brass, wind and string instruments were artistically rendered and the voices showed careful training.  The readings given by Miss Allie and Master Leo were encored to such as extent both were compelled to respond with additional numbers.  It is perhaps safe to say that this family gave the most entertaining treat that appealed to the popular fancy of an audience made up of all classes heretofore heard on the local stage.  Enough popular numbers were introduced along with the classics that pleased the audience. 

  Mrs. Clara Ross Kennedy, widow of Dr. Thomas Kennedy who came to Grafton with her husband in 1856 and resided in the old plastered home erected by Ambrose Sniveley at the north west corner of Main and Luzadder street until 1869 when they took up their residence on the old Kennedy place on upper Maple Ave. West Grafton.  After the death of her husband in 1881, her son, Robert W. Kennedy, erected the home at the corner of Beech and Graham streets, West Grafton, and in this home,  she dies February 28, 1893. 

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