The History of Taylor County Chapter Three Hundred-Sixty-One


The First Land Engagement of the Civil War

Someone, probably a member of Reno Post No. 7 Grand Army of the Republic, desirous of inquiring into the matter of the funeral expenses of the 107-year-old civil war veteran, who died at Flemington in 1899, and if not paid, ask that the matter be taken up with the undertaker at Flemington and regard to who, if any, paid the expenses of the burial of this aged veteran who passed away 10 years before. The inquiry brought the sworn affidavit of Mr. W. L. Hyson, the undertaker at Flemington, which read:

state of West Virginia,

County of Taylor:

February 17th, 1909

Personally appeared before me, a notary public, for

the county at four said, W. L. Hyson, who being duly

sworn, states that the burial expenses of Thomas Allen,

deceased, have been paid, and to the best of his

  knowledge by J. Howard Cather, now deceased, in

the amount of $37.00

Signed, W. L. HYSON

Funeral director

Subscribed and sworn to before me the 17th day of February, 1909.

ISAAC D. MARTIN,

Notary Public

This aged veteran, Thomas Allen, who lived far beyond the allotted time of a man, lived and fought in many wars both in Europe and the United States, was entered in the old Ironside Baptist cemetery, midway between Pruntytown and Flemington, and his grave is marked by a modest headstone on which is inscribed Thomas Allen, born 1791, died 1899 period until his passing, he never missed attending the Memorial Day exercises and Grafton, and the sprightly form of this aged veteran was a notable figure in the line of March on that day and the town.

The comic opera, “The Royal Chef”, came to the Opera House, March 17, 1909. This break, sparkling musical production with its cast of comedians and great singing chorus did a fine business and pleased and enthusiastic house during the two-act entertainment. 

State Senator Benjamin Franklin Bailey contracts with builder John W. Gigley for the erection of a handsome brick dwelling on McGraw avenue, West Grafton, and at its completion moved his family into the new home from the home he occupied since his residence inn Grafton. This edition to the town of Grafton began a really fine residence street with buildings of the better class being constructed along its length. The land is really historic, being first settled by William Robinson in 1773, who erected his cabin overlooking the present high school athletic field. Later the land was occupied by Silas Stewart, who, it is claimed, erected the first log house on the site at or near the site occupied by the building of the standard filling station on beach street, that was familiar landmark to the people of four decades ago. Mr. Stewart lived on what was known as the Stewart farm for possibly a quarter of a century. In 1835 Stewart disposed of his holding to a pioneer family named McKelvey, who occupied the farm until 1847 and then in that year sold to James Alexander gates, who came from Pruntytown and moved his family on the land to become the first permanent settler on the soil that is now Grafton, and where he died, March 19, 1853. In 1850 a son, John M., was born to James Alexander and Emily Bailey Yates, the first child of record born in what is now Grafton. In 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War on the arrival of Colonel B. F. Kelley, commanding the First West Virginia and the 4th, 6th and 16th Ohio Infantry, the army pitched their tents at the very back door of this first house in the town, and here General George B. McClellan, commander-in-chief of the Army of the Potomac, General Thomas Morris and Colonel Kelley planned the first battle of the Civil War against the Confederate forces under the command of Colonel Porterfield on that historic rainy morning of June 3, 1861, and which was the very first land engagement fought between forces of the north and the south.

Hiawatha tribe of Red Men, some of its younger members and the best local talent presented the western drama, “A Texas Ranger” on the stage of the Opera House March 23, 1908. The chorus of young girls singing “The Lanky Yankee Boys in Blue,” “It’s Great To Be a Solider Man,” “Yankee Doodle Came To Town” and Miss Dorothy Morgan’s military solos, “Topeka, My Rosie Rambler,” and Indian songs, showed careful training and drilling and both the soloist and chorus won the acclaim of the large audience. Hyle Sandsbury, as Captain Jack Benton of the Texas Rangers, Homer Moran, as Lieutenant McClure and John W. McClung as Colonel Walter Marshall were good in their parts. Lloyd Nuzum, as “Yellow Dog,” a Mexican half-breed, was probably, from an acting standpoint, the best character in the drama. Ralph Smith as Bill, Joseph Boliner as Lone Wolf, an Apache chief, Charles Hannon as Hop Woo, A Chinaman, Miss Leota McFarling as Anna Washington, a colored cook, Miss leba Fisher as Ethel Marshall, the colonel’s daughter, Miss Della Hoff, as Ne Wa Ta, and Indian maiden, acquitted themselves in a most creditable manner and whose success was due to the training of Alph Shaw, whose long connection as stage manager of the Opera House, fitted him for the production and success of the drama.

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