The History of Taylor County Chapter Three Hundred-Nineteen


Electric Lights Produced

The reorganized Adair, Gregg and Adair company opened the fall season in the Opera House for the week beginning August 21, 1905, and drew an audience of 3,146 theatre patrons to witness this repertoire company that was organized by these local young men two years previously.

The musical comedy capital “The Liberty Belles,” came to the Opera House August 29 1905, and did a fine business to all well pleased audience, who went away whistling the tuneful melodies they heard from the stage.

John Crawford (colored) a veteran of the civil war, came to Taylor County from Lexington VA, and settled at Pruntytown. he married Leah Ann Hall, widow of Amos Hall, a slave the property of Jefferson Keener, who prior to the war was the owner of a number of these human chattel. After the death of Hall, the widow married John Crawford, the couple purchased a farm in the vicinity of Pruntytown and lived here until the death of Crawford on September 17, 1905. Mrs. Crawford with her family came to Grafton and made her home at 315 Spruce Street. She was born a slave on the plantation of Ely marsh, a political leader of prominence of Harrison County in 1843 and was at her death the last remaining link with the days of slavery in Taylor County. Crawford was buried with military honors by the members of Reno post No. 7 G.A.R. of Grafton who journey to Pruntytown to perform military rites for this brother veteran.

The farce comedy, “Shooting the Chutes,” the play written around the popular amusement device that was a feature on all amusement parks of the large cities came to the Opera House September 16, 1905, and amused a very good and appreciative audience at this droll entertainment.

Creed O. Newlon, who for many years was general manager of the old Grafton Gas company which was established in 1858 and had supplied the people of the town and the municipality with this artificial illuminant until the coming of electricity and natural gas with the consent of the stockholders equipped the plant with generators for producing electric lights and perhaps the Opera House with the was the first building equipped with this new lighting and both the house and on the stage, replacing the dangerous open gaslights and the borders above the stage that were a source of anxiety to the house management during the use of the stage for theatrical and home entertainments.

After the installing of this new and better lights, the old calcium tanks used for spectacular effects were discarded and these effects produced in a four better manner and with less danger.

Colonel John T. McGraw purchased the old plant about 1904 and installed new generators for operating streetcars he contemplated for transporting people over the streets of Grafton. Mr. Newlon in 1905 established the Newlon Foundry and Machine company in a part of the old John Carr foundry on lower Latrobe Street and stocked his warehouse with gas and electric fixtures in conjunction with his foundry and machine business and found a ready market for the products of all departments of his business in the town which he conducted for 20 years and at his death his widow and family closed out the plant and stock.

The famous Irish comedy, “Finegan’s Ball,” made its last appearance in the local theater September 20, 1905. These travesties written around the Irish character whose wit was proverbial and so much appreciated and enjoyed by the local theater patrons always found a warm welcome in the theater and perhaps in the future the motion picture companies will revive many of those amusing comedies that gave so much pleasure to the people of a third of a century ago.

Frederick T. Martin was a son of John V. Martin who served as prosecuting attorney for Taylor County from 1872-76 and who lived for a time and practiced his profession and his law office on Latrobe Street. Frederick Martin as a boy lived with his parents in the family home at the corner of Boyd and Ethel streets after the death of his father in 1876. He followed his father’s profession and after gaining his law degree opened an office for practice in the McGraw building on West Main Street. He was admitted to the Taylor County bar and practiced law in Grafton until 1924 when he was stricken with an acute illness that proved fatal in 1924. He was widely known and very popular among all classes of people in this and the surrounding territory. His remains were interred at Fairmont.

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