The History of Taylor County Chapter Three Hundred-Twenty-Nine


Alpheus Casteel Dies

The Grafton Boards of Trade entertained the local folks in the Opera House March 1, 1906. Plans for the coming year were outlined for the year and all citizens are urged to get behind the movement for bettering the conditions contemplated by the board in their efforts to bring new industries to Grafton and encouraging the present industries to expand. 

The death of Alpheus Casteel on Mach 7, 1906, removed one of the most prominent figured in the business and political life of the town. In the early years of Grafton, he was associated with Hon. Henry G. Davis, the grand old man of West Virginia who established a general mercantile business in the town prior to the Civil War. In 1868, Mr. Casteel served as supervisor of Grafton township and in the following years as overseer of the poor. In 1870, he purchased the interests of Mr. Davis and his brother in the mercantile establishment and conducted the business under his own name and at that time was the most prosperous merchant in all this section. In addition to his mercantile business, he was engaged in the manufacture of building brick purchasing the yards of Ambrose Snively over in South Grafton and maintained a general teaming business. 

He was one of the promoters of the Taylor County Mechanical and Agricultural Society organized in 1870 to encourage farming and better stock breeding in Taylor County. He was chosen as secretary at the first meeting of his society and continued as secretary until a regular organization was affected, when he gave way to Richard Blue as the permanent secretary of the society. 

He, with General George W. Brown, Leroy Cofran, Charles F. W. Kunst and John W. Mason were appointed to purchase the land known as the “Buffalo Flats” in West Grafton for the Fair Grounds from their heirs of Alexander Yates, containing about 17 acres at the price of $5,600. He was given the contract to fence the grounds at the price of $1,940. A fence of the height of 15 feet around 17 acres of land one wonders what that would cost today.  

In 1872, he was elected one of the supervisors of Taylor County for the Grafton township. At that time each district of the county was represented by a supervisor who looked after the affairs of his own particular district. These supervisor offices were later abolished and replaced by county commissioners. In 1872, when the agitation for the relocation of the seat of the courts was in motion, he was president of the board of county supervisors and favored the removal but was outvoted by the other four members and the matter of removal was abandoned at the time. 

He married Isabel, daughter of Reverend John Clark pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church of Grafton. In 1876, he overreached himself, trusting his numerous affairs to others and became involved to such extent he was forced to relinquish so many of his holdings he was faced with ruin. He obtained a position as a commercial traveler for an eastern firm and until his death maintained this occupation. Mrs. Casteel educated his son, Dana, who now is a professor of etymology in the University of Texas and still holds that position.

Miss Mary Emmerson, a most gracious and clever actress came to the Opera House with a clever actress came to the Opera House with s clever comedy drama entitled “The Temptation Of Regina” March 10 1906, and by her clever portrayal of a young woman who is beset by many temptations and charmingly avoids them all was one of the best bits of acting seen on the local stage during the season. 

A new Mercantile establishment, Bradford and Company, leased the William Gould property at the corner of Beech and Walnut Streets, West Grafton, and stocked the business room with a complete line of men’s furnishings, the first business of its kind catering to the wants of men in that part of town. Benjamin Bradford whose long experience in business and intimate knowledge of the requirements of the trade in this special line will personally be in charge of this new venture. The new firm extends a cordial invitation to the public to come in and inspect their stock which is all new and the latest the market affords. 

In the town election held on Tuesday, March 20,1906, for the office of mayor John W. McClung received 916 votes, George W. Lowther received 623 votes. 

For council in the first ward, A. Hood Phillips received 176 votes, Harry L. Baker received 132 votes.

For council in the second ward, Joseph J. Remlinger received 239 votes, Harry H. Williamson received 165 votes. 

For council in the third ward, Thomas F. Welch received 287 votes, Hiram L. Gaines received 167 votes. 

For council in the fourth ward, Samuel A. Shackelford received 195 votes, Martin F. Greene received 163 votes. 

For collector of taxes Okey A. Hefner received 922 votes, James H. Stout received 600 votes. 

The petition of the citizens to have the question of the people vote on the question of saloon license was printed on this off-year ticket to satisfy the demand of the petitioners and 660 votes were cast against license and the question was against defeated. 

Council appointed Harry A. Spies town clerk, Job Jones superintendent of the water system, Ode S. Cole, chief of police, Thomas Turner, assessor of town property, and Ole E. Wyckoff, town attorney. The republican committee of the town charged the town with “crookedness” and demanded the “lid be lifted.” The council prepared the following resolution and had them spread on the minutes: 

“Resolved, that the committee composed of the Republican Club of the City of Grafton, consisting of Dr. Thomas F. Lanham, Thomas F. Welch, Joseph J. Remlinger, together with Town Clerk Thomas E. Joyce for the council are hereby appointed to investigate in detail the records and report any irregularities in the expenses and receipts of the town since the year 1897 and report their findings at the earliest possible convenience.”

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