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

Revival of Racing

John Haslup, one of the most prominent men of Grafton who came to town in 1857 to replace Edward Osborne as master founder for the Baltimore and Ohio when the North West Virginia railroad was absorbed by the latter railroad in the above years died.  Whether he ever read those trite maxinme of Nicholas Longworth : I have always had these two things before me “Do what you undertake thoroughly.  Be faithful in all accepted trusts,” is not known.  Perhaps he never read them and perchance never heard of them, but he truly lived them all his life.

  In 1864 he purchased the Nicholas Gray property at he northwest corner of Main and Haslup streets for the family home.  For 37 years, he was superintendent of the Baltimore and Ohio’s casting shops at Grafton and under him these old shops turned out some of the most skilled artisans who found high places in the great industrial plants in the great cities.  He was held in the highest esteem and had the respect of not only those under him but the entire citizenry of Grafton.  He stood high as a member in the masonic fraternity and filled many offices in Grafton Lodge No. 15.  A.F. and A.M., and probably was one of the men to become affiliated with this society when the lodge was moved from Fetterman to Grafton on September 29, 1857, and during his lifetime was seldom absent from his pew in the Presbyterian church during services.  He died at his east Main street home July 18, 1894 and was buried in Bluemont cemetery with the rites of the Masonic fraternity of which he was for long a most active member. 

  John N. Tregellas, Dr. Abraham S. Warder, Charles R. Durbin and Charles B. Kefauver and possibly some other lovers of horses tried to revive racing on the old Taylor fairgrounds over in West Grafton and succeeded in securing a number of entries for speed tests on Memorial Day, 1894.  But despite the inducements held out by the promoters who had two bands to enliven the occasion and some other amusement attractions, although a number of people passed through the gates to witness  this attempted revival of the “Sport of Kings,” which had been dead for a considerable number of years, that old time spirit of the 70s when a shouting, frizzled throng cheered the winner of a race that pushed his nose first under the wire in the old days was absent.  It is the doubtful if the men who were back of this movement realized a profit from their venture and may have had to gone into their own pockets to supply the premium money for the speed tests.  Sporadic efforts were made by the late Hiram Gaines and some few others later to arouse interest in this sport but without avail.

  Hon. Samuel H. Gramm, prominent lumber manufacturer of Grafton, was nominated for the state senate in the senatorial convention at Morgantown, June 3, 1894.  He came to Grafton in 1873 to accept the position as superintendent of the Paradee-Cook saw mills at Fetterman at the time Grafton was the largest lumber market in West Virginia. He erected his family home at Fetterman and soon became the most prominent citizen in what is now the First Ward of the town of Grafton.  He was elected on the Republican ticket to represent Taylor County in the House of Delegates in 1890-93.  A veteran of the Civil war and commander of Reno post No.7, Grand Army.  He was the representative of the state of West Virginia at the national League of Republican Clubs in the convention at Nashville, Tennessee, in 1892 and at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1893.  Elected to the state senate of west Virginia in 1894 to represent the Eleventh Senatorial district, then composed of Monongalia, Preston and Taylor counties, in all measures before that   body he used sound judgement in all matters of importance to the interests of the industrial, financial and educational interests of his district and the state.

  Hon F. Bruce Blue, prominent business man of Grafton was nominated for the House of Delegates from Taylor County by the republicans un convention June 10, 1894.  He was the son of Stephen and Ann Burdett Blue, both descendants of Remembrance Blue and Frederick Burdett, two of the most prominent pioneer families of Taylor county.  The father, Stephen Blue, was associated with John W. Blue in the construction of the historic old Northwestern Turnpike across Western Virginia in 1833-35 and he at the termination of his contract when the pike was completed to Pruntytown took the contract to construct a section of the Beverly and Fairmont Turnpike and died before completing his contract, leaving the widow and family of seven children.  F. Bruce Blue was compelled to make his own way at a very early age after completing his studies in the old subscription schools of Pruntytown and in the High school conducted by Professor J.B. Solomon.  At the outbreak of the Civil war yet not of military age, but at the age of 16 he enlisted in Company F., Seventeenth West Virginia cavalry, and served for the balance of the war and received his honorable discharge at Wheeling July 4, 1865.  He returned to Webster and learned the marble cutting trade under J.M. Adams and in 1875 came to Grafton and established a marble shop on West Main street on the site now covered by the Whitescarver Building.  Later he formed a partnership with S.J. Willhide, operating the marble business under the firm name of Willhide and Blue.  He sole of his interest in the business to Mr. Willhide in 1880 and leased the old vacant Baltimore and Ohio freight station st the foot of St. John street to establish a feed, hay, grain, coal and fertilizer business.  In 1890 he established the first commercial laundry in Grafton when he had the old frame building razed at the corner of Boyd and Lafayette streets and erected the three-story building on the site and equipped it with machinery for laundering, cleaning and pressing.  Offered a tempting price for this industry by Charles H. Straub, he sold and was again interested in the coal business.  In 1883 he was elected a member of the House of Delegates from Taylor county and served most creditably.  He was commissioned postmaster at Grafton June 30, 1902 and served until March 22, 1907.

  DeMolay Commandery of knights Tempars, that colorful fraternal society allied with the masonic body was organized in Grafton July 16, 1894.

  The charter members who gathered to affect the society were:

  Sirs Vernon Beall, A.J. Bonafield, J.W. Bradshaw, George Brinkman, George W. Creel, George B. Dunlap, Frederick C. Dudley, Samuel H. Gramm, Robert L. Heflin, John S.S. Herr;

  Albert C. Holy, J.M. Goodwin, R.W. Kennedy, G.W. Leonard, W.H. Lippencott, Stephen W. Poe, Ernest E. Price, David K. Reed, G.H. Robinett, Edmund C. Shaffer;

  W.L. Shuck, C.A. Sinsel, Oliver P. Stroh, Simeon M. Taylor, T.T. Wallis, W.A. Willhide, and U.B. Williams.

  Sir George W. Creel was installed as eminent commander, Sir Uriah B. Williams as generalissimo and Sir Robert Kennedy as captain general to start the new society functioning which was granted a charter from the Grand Commandery May 8, 1895 and was given the designation of DeMolay Commandery No.11 of Grafton, west Virginia. 

  Of those charter members who met 45 years ago to organize this society only W. Henry Lippencott, a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Uriah B. Williams of Wheeling, survive.  Many have joined this organization with the passing of the years and carried on the work and some like the founders have gone the way of all flesh and have had the Prelate say the last word at the graveside before the face of a brother Sir Knight was hid from the sight of his brother Knights forever. 


More In Community