The History of Taylor County Chapter One Hundred-Thirty-Two


Grafton Park Becomes Popular

Stephen Ryan, the No. 1 bad boy of the early years gave the town authorities constant worry to such an extent it caused his banishment from the town in the 80s. Nothing was heard of him until word reached Grafton in 1884 of his death at Meriden, Mississippi. Doubtless pursing the same tactics as was his habit while in Grafton, he engaged in an altercation with a hot headed Southerner who shot him twice, killing him instantly. The police and other town authorities who had great trouble in handling this young man whose magnificent physique and great strength proved more than two men could handle, probably were thankful that he would never return and give them further trouble.

General Manager William M. Clements of the Baltimore and Ohio resigned his position to accept the presidency of the Grafton and Greenbrier railroad Monday June 30, 1884, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of President B. F. Martin, whose law business required his constant attention V. P. Hall was elected vice-president; J. W. Talbot treasurer; G. W. Glasscock, secretary and auditor, and George M. Whitescraver was re-elected general manager.

David Mandelbaum who for some few years conducted the Boss Clothing store in the business room of the Arlington Hotel died at his home on Boyd street, the first person of the Jewish faith to die in Grafton. His remains were taken to Cleveland, Ohio, for interment. In July, the room was altered to suit the business of F. Freidman who came to Grafton to establish the Globe Clothing house which continued in the clothing and men’s furnishing business for 44 years. F. Freidman in his long residence in Grafton, was held in the highest esteem by the entire population and his high business ability won him a place among the merchants of the town that he enjoyed through his career as a merchant and resident.

General Nathan Goff of Clarksburg, one of the really great political figures of West Virginia who served his country in the Civil war with distinction; was captured by the Confederates at Moorefield; confined in the ill-famed Libby Prison at Richmond until selected as a hostage for Major Armsey who was condemned to be executed by the union army, was the Memorial day speaker in 1884.

At the close of hostilities, he took up his law studies in the University of New York graduation wit the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He was appointed United States district attorney by President Grant in 1869 and became a National figure when he was made Secretary of the Navy in the cabinet of President Hayes in 1876. He was forced to accept the nomination as the Republican candidate for governor in 1876 but was defeated in the November election by Hon. Henry Mason Matthews. He was elected to congress in 1882 and a candidate for governor in 1883 and conceded the election by a plurality of 110 but his opponent. Hon A. B. Fleming, was declared elected by the legislature, whose Democratic members openly boasted they had gotten even with the Republicans for counting out Tilden for the presidency.

He was the orator at the 16th observance of Memorial day at the National Cemetery over in West Grafton. His experience as a soldier and confinement in the unsanitary and loathsome Confederate prison and his long experience in the service of the Federal government, afforded him the opportunity of making one of the most interesting speeches to the great throng ever assembled in the National Cemetery.

Many faces of former residents who grew up in Grafton came to renew old acquaintances and mingle with the crowd on this day that first saw these services originate, and too, the completion of the Grafton and Greenbrier railroad a few months before. Brought many people from the interior who perhaps had never set foot in Grafton, but were lured here by the novelty of a train ride and curious to see how Memorial day was observed. The following years on that day this short line of railroad was taxed to its utmost to carry the people on this and other eventful days to Grafton.

Grafton park, first known to the young men and women as Valley Grove, under whose lofty and beautiful trees many picnics and old time dances were held in this beauty spot of nature that could only be reached by row boats before the Grafton and Greenbrier railroad penetrated the heart of this beautiful woodland. But with its accessibility made easy, it became the favorite picnic grounds and a retreat from the heat dust and grime of Grafton during the summer months.

The members of the Lutheran church were the first body to hold a picnic on the parks grounds after the railroad was induced to offer picnic parties a ten cent fare to and from the Park. The members of the above church were first to avail themselves of this offer on Thursday, May 22, 1884.

From then on, the park became a favorite playground for the people of Grafton and the surrounding town on account of its fine bathing beach and delightful shade.

The bicycle craze struck Grafton in 1884 and the old high wheel type pedaled about the streets by Henry Grant, Eugene Graham and others caused the olders to shake their heads and declare the machines the implements of Satan.

They said:

“God created the horse for man to draw him about from place and useless and incapable of the work of a horse in gainful pursuits was clearly a thing of evil.”

Burr Robbins’ new Consolidated Railroad Shows and Grand Aggregation of Arenic Worders came to Grafton Tuesday, June 15, 1884, fro two performances. While this circus was not as large as many here before it was a very clean show and gave a fine street parade to the delight of the olders and youngsters alike.

The first fatality to occur on the Grafton and Greenbrier resulted in the death of young George Price, a brakeman who was caught between two freight cars while in the act of making up his train on Tuesday, June 24, 1884. Before Driver Harry Sayre could pull the cars apart, the young man was caught between the old style bumpers, was squeezed to death.

William E. Coplin took over the hack line that was established by George Bernard, an old stage driver on the Northwestern Turnpike at the close of the Civil war, between Grafton and Pruntytown. Bernard in his time carried many notables on his back to the seat of the courts at Pruntytown in the quarter of a century he operated the back line.

The first funeral service conducted by an Episcopalian clergyman was that of Charles W. Startzman of Grafton, a member of Grafton Lodge No. 450, Knight of Honor, probably the first member of the fraternal insurance society to die in Grafton. Reverend J. A. Brittingham who ministered to the Clarksburg and Grafton congregations read the funeral service over the remains of this 31-year-old member of the Episcopalian faith.


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