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

Public Memorial Held

Stetson’s Uncle Tom Cabin company came to the Opera House on November 15, and like all previous engagements of this drama of days before the war as usual drew more than a capacity house, 933 persons swamping the box office to pay admissions to this play that was almost an annual visitor to the local theatre and never in the history of local house failed to profit in Grafton. 

Alexander Best, former prominent contractor died at his home on Wilford Street November 19,1905. Mr. Best, a resident of Fetterman in 185, along with John S. Gould, L.F. Thompson, John Bradshaw, Leonard Mallonee and Adam Zumbro petitioned the ruling elders of the Presbyterian church at Fetterman, Taylor County, Virginia. Later Mr. Best with his family removed to Moundsville and took up his occupation of contracting in the Mound City. In 1872, he with his family returned to Grafton where his daughters were employed in the public school system and his son found employment in the maintenance way department of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. A finely educated man he gave his daughters the educational advantages that he himself enjoyed, all three of whom were instructors in the school system of Grafton. 

The melodrama “Two Little Waifs,” a story of the sordid side of a great city and the struggle to maintain themselves and avoid the crimes that beset them on every hand which ends happily for the waifs came to the Opera House November 21, 1905 and caused many tears to flow from a sympathetic audience while not so great in numbers witnessed a well-acted play. 

An old friend and popular actor Clarence Bennet brought his own play, “A Royal Slave” a story of the Aztecs who lived in Mexico prior to the invasion of the Spaniards in 1519 and who found the inhabitants highly civilized and whom they captivated and made slave. Mr. Bennett, an artistic scene scenery for this play and the beautiful valley of Mexico with a view of the City of Mexico, the noted Volcano Mount Popocatepetl and the lake of the floating Gardens of the Casa De Ora were gems of the artist’s brush with its fountain of real water and the Island of El Toro my moonlight were most exquisite. Mr. Bennett himself portrayed the character of El Aguila, a descendant of the ancient Kings of Montezuma, Joseph Girard often seen now on the screen in moving pictures in the character parts portrayed Padre Dominingues in the play, came to the Opera House November 24, 1905 and drew a most pleasing audience who enjoyed the entertainment that weas full of thrills and startling effects. 

Grafton Lodge B.P.O Elks No. 308 held its first public Memorial service in the Opera House December 3,1905. The service was arranged by A.E.N. Means, Sidney H. Sommerville and Benjamin F. Bailey, who arranged a splendid memorial to 13 members of the order whose work on earth was done. The service opened with a very beautiful overture “Stradella” by Vincent’s full orchestra, followed by the opening exercise led by acting Exalted Ruler Thomas E. Joyce and the four principal stations of the order Sidney H. Sommerville, Frank M. Heipley, Charles H. Straub and Harry Lambreche as Esquire who responded to the virtues of the deceased. Mrs. James B. Moran sang a very beautiful number entitled “Paradise” by Louis Browne. Vincent’s orchestra followed with a very apt number suitable to occasion entitled “Solitude” after which the Exalted Ruler asked the audience to join in with the members in singing the opening ode. Then Chaplain Charles A. Faust came to the alter and lifted his voice in a prayer for those who had gone before and asked the blessings on the assemblage who has come together of this occasion to pay tribute to the dead. Walter L. Tibbets sand a very beautiful transcription of that age old hymn “Rock of Ages” in a most pleasing manner followed by a most beautiful eulogy entitled “Our Departed Brothers” whose tribute was in keeping with honor and high character of those who once stood at the alter and with their hands on the Holy Bible faithfully practiced the cardinal principles of the order Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity. Following the eulogy Mrs. A.S. Warder in a sweet voice sang “Cavalry” by Rodney, accompanied by the orchestra. William B. Cruise recited “Thanatopses,” which is part of the ritual, and the house was darkened while scenes from the poem by William Cullen Bryant was projected on a screen in the rear of the stage. Followed by a reverie by the orchestra entitled “Sweet Recollections.” 

The Exalted Ruler then introduced the orator, J. Hop Wods of Philippi, who spoke in eloquent terms of the order its aims and accomplishments as the one and only true American order that practiced the great principals set forth in the constitution for this society. Mrs. James B. Moran then came forward and in that cultured voice sang that poem by Edward Broome set to music entitled “Crossing The Bar.” This ended the program and the Exalted Ruler calling on the stations asked in Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity had been done.


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