Independence day, 1884,was generally observed by the people of the town. The protestant Sunday schools took the morning train for the Grafton Park. The Hibernian society and St. Augustine parochial school observed the day at Britt’s grove on Maple avenue and were addressed by Michael Donohue, Joseph Marum, John J. Gilligan and Father Robert Kelleher. For the first time the colored folks held the observance of the day in the old fair grounds. Reverend J. H. Watson, pastor of Warren Methodist church, was the orator of the day.
The county court, established Knottsville district, heretofore a part of Fetterman district and appointed William H. Thomas as magistrate to preside in the newly created district. Absalom Knotts Moses Kineaid and J. Clark Lewellyn were elected to serve on the board of education in the new district.
The Republican county convention nominated Robert C. Cather for sheriff. Joseph Marum for prosecuting attorney, John S. S. Herr for clerk for the circuit court, Charles H. Rector for clerk of the county court; Reverend David Powell for the house of delegates; Joseph M. Allen assessor; Hayward Fleming for county surveyor and William Watkins (Grafton) and William K. Hall for county commissioners.
The Democratic county convention nominated Hugh Evans sheriff; Adolphus Armstrong for clerk of the circuit court; John H. Davis for clerk of the county court; John T. McGraw for prosecuting attorney; James Davidson for assessor; Isaac Wilson for county surveyor, and James Burnside for county commissioner.
The political campaign of 1884 was one of the most colorful and exciting to happen since 1860 Hon. James G. Blaine, in his day the most prominent statesman in the United States was chosen as the candidate on the Republican ticket for president and General John A. Logan, prominent soldier and statesman, for vice-president. The Democratic party nominated Grover Cleveland of New York for president and Hon. Thomas A. Hendricks, prominent statesman from Indiana for vice-president. The campaign got underway in Grafton in early September wit ha rally by the Democratic local leaders with Hon. William L. Wilson and John J. Davis as speakers to open the campaign.
The Republican local mangers had a very large-painted net banner raised aloft over Main street from the Wehn and McCormick buildings. The Democratic managers not to be outdone had young George L. Blaney, Grafton’s talented artist, paint a similar sign that was raised aloft over the street from Beverlin’s furniture house to the Arlington Hotel (Blen Avon) Mr. Blaney’s work on this banner was equal if not superior to one the Republicans had made in New York city, in portraying the likeness of the Democratic candites. His work was outstanding and the color work harmoniously blended.
Friday September 12, General J. H. Warwick, eminent statesman of New York, opened the campaign for the Republican at historic old Compton Corner, whose eloquence held the close attention of his audience for two house. Eloquent able and effective rightly expresses the speech of this gifted statesman.
Saturday evening, September 13, Daniel B. Lucas, one of West Virginia’s most gifted orators and prominent politicians, together with Colonel John T. McGraw, candidate for prosecuting attorney, staged a rally for the Democratic party at the junction of Main and Latrobe streets. The speech of Lucas was a brilliant effort from the Democratic view and the oratorical efforts of the brilliant Colonel McGraw were well known to the people of Grafton.
Among those who stood in the throng on that chilly Saturday evening was James Manning, one of the most respected citizens of the town and who for many years was in charge of the way-train between Grafton and Wheeling. He attended the open air meeting to hear Colonel McGraw speak on the issues in the campaign. Contracting a severe cold that rapidly developed into congestion of the lungs that delved all efforts to bring relief he passed away Saturday, September 13, and like many of those fine ole pioneer settlers the earth in the old Catholic Cemetery hid all that was mortal of him on Monday, September 15.
The managers of the local Republican organization provided uniforms for the town lads consisting of a red jacket on which was emblazoned the names of Blaine and Logan in whites, and an oilcloth campaign cap of red and blue dotted with white stars. Harry C. Compton was chosen captain of Boys’ Blaine and Logan club and with some 150 torches provided, the lads made a handsome appearance in the night parades in that stirring campaign. With the Blaine and Logan Drum corps at the head and with torches aflame and banners and transparencies lighted they were a proud lot of lads that stepped to the martial music.
Edward Henderson a descendent of that old pioneer, Robert Henderson, who settled in the western portion of Monongalia county about 1804. Robert Henderson came from Ireland as did his wife, Margaret Gibson. Edward Henderson was on of the grandest men who ever lived and yet, fate cooed him to die by fall from a frightened horse on September 15, 1884.
The colored folks celebrated Emancipation Day, Monday September 22, 1884. Excursion trains brought many colored folks Clarksburg, Fairmont, Hardman and Philippi to hear Hon. John W. Mason, Frank Woods, Joseph Marum, W. H. McDaniel, Reverend J. H. Watson address the throng on the life and greatness of Abraham Lincoln. The Grafton Cornet band was engaged to furnish music for the occasion Attorney Joseph Marum was the principal speaker on the 22nd anniversary of this greatest event in the loves of the colored boys.
George W. Merchant, for many years a prominent employee of the Baltimore and Ohio, on a visit to relative in Marshall county died Tuesday, September 23, aged 80 years. An outstanding member of Grafton Lodge No. 21 Independent Order of Odd Felloes, his remains were brought to Grafton and interred in Bluemont Cemetery with the ritualistic rites of the order. Resolutions of respect was adopted the lodge room draped in black and the members requested to wear the usual badge of mourning for a period of 30 days.