The History of Taylor County Chapter Two Hundred


Centenarian Passes

The new pump station and machinery for the town water system was completed and Frank M. Keane was appointed by the town as engineer who was ready to test out the mains as soon as the tank on the hill was ready to receive its first filling from the Tygarts Valley River.

  That age-old drama “Ten Nights In A Bar Room” that was so often given by the local members of the Temperance societies in the past, who hoped that the lesson taught by the play would influence those given to strong drink and lead them to sobriety was commercialized by Carl Brehm in 1894 who brought the play to the Opera House November 22, 1894 and presented by a most capable company to an audience composed mostly of those who were members of the Woman Christian Temperance Union and other people who objected to the saloon.

  The whole town and county side mourned the passing of Dr. James H. Love at his home on East Main street November 20, 1894.  He was the son of James I. Love who came to Grafton from Virginia in 1860 and for many years was a most successful merchant of East Grafton.

  James H. Love grew to a young manhood with a string desire to enter the medical profession he began his studies under the late Dr. Abel H. Thayer and entered the University of Maryland in 1874 and graduated with honors in the class of 1879.  He located at Grafton and opened an office for practice in the old frame building at the corner of Railroad and Ethel streets and soon gained popularity in his profession by his personality and affable manner, particularly among the rural residents of the county, who turned to him after passing of that fine old family physician, Dr. Abraham Warder, Sr., and his patients in Grafton were legion.  He was appointed a member of the pension examining for Taylor county and his office was the scene of many of the veterans of the Civil war who were incapacitated for labor in their declining years who came to him for examination for support from the government they had served at its greatest crisis. 

  Perhaps the most interesting case that came before him in all the years was that of an old gentleman who came to him in his office in the Y.M.C.A. building and asked to have his pension papers filled out.  The doctor took the printed forms to be filled and taking up his pen asked the man his name who replied:

  Thomas Allen, who gave his birthplace as North Umberlandshire, England, born April 28, 1791.

  Dr. Love paused in the examination and looked up and said, “I bed pardon, please repeat the date.”

  The elderly gentleman with a twinkle in his keen old eyes again named his natal day.

  Figuring on paper the doctor looked at the man and exclaimed, “Why you are 102 years old.”

  The aged man laughed and said, “That is correct doctor.”

  A look at this spry and active man one could hardly believe his statement.  He told of having enlisted in the British army in 1809 under command of Lord Barrisford and had taken part in the engagements fought, by his regiment in France, Germany, Portugal and Spain.  Then he was ordered home to join the forces of General Wellington in the campaign against the master of Europe.  Napoleon Bonaparte, who saw his army decisively defeated by the combined forces of Wellington and Bleucher in the battle of Waterloo on Mar. 1, 1815.  He told of the French foot soldiers who cried like children at the defeat of their great leader who was sent a prisoner on an English ship to be interned for life on the almost inhabited Island of St. Helena. 

  No more fighting to be done in Europe, he asked and received his honorable discharge from the English army in 1816 and sailed for Cuba and entered the employ of an English mining syndicate and worked at mining in Chile, Brazil and Peru until 1823 and in this year came to the United States, working in the coal  mines then being exploited in different parts of the nation.  He claimed to have seen all the presidents of the United States from William Henry Harrison to James A. Garfield. 

  He enlisted in the Civil war at Clarksburg and took part in the engagements in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia under General W.W. Averill in which he was twice wounded.  During the campaign in Virginia he personally met Generals Grant, Sheridan and Sherman, all of whom he said were fine men and great soldiers.

   A few of the older citizens will recall this very aged and still spry and active man who never during his long years missed attending the memorial day exercises at Grafton and proudly stepped to the tap of the drum and the blare of the bands in the march to the National cemetery to pay tribute to the veterans who slept beneath the sod in that hallowed city of the dead.  He died in Flemington in 1899 and was buried in the old Ironside Baptists cemetery midway between Flemington and Pruntytown where his grave is marked by a modest stone which bears the inscription: “Thomas B. Allen, born 1791, died 1899.”

  It seems to have been a question among the members of Reno post as to by whom the funeral expenses to the aged veteran were borne and to satisfy themselves they had W.L. Hyson, funeral director at Flemington, go over his records in 1909 and report his findings.

  On February 17, 1909, Mr. Hyson submitted the following sworn affidavit:

  “State of West Virginia

  County of Taylor

  Personally, appeared before me a notary public, for the county aforesaid, 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.  Amount $37.00

                                                         W.L. Hyson

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

                                                                      I.D. Martin”

  The passing of the aged George W. Cox at the home of Harrison Jaco on Front street, South Grafton, November 30, 1894, removed on of the oldest residents in that part of town.  Mr. Cox began his career with the Baltimore and Ohio in the 50’s and was promoted to the position of locomotive driver in 1858 and transferred to the Grafton-Piedmont division in 1865 and settled on Front street in that year and erected his home that became the property of Judge M.H. Dent after the death of Mr. Cox.

  Mr. Cox drove the old “Camel No. 169” over the mountains between Grafton and Piedmont day in and day out until 1873.  Then the old Camel type were replaced with the new mogul type and he was placed in charge of Engine No. 477 he operated for two decades on the division.  After the death of Mrs. Cox, he sold the Front street property to Judge Dent and made his home with the family of Harrison Jaco in whose home he died.  He was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers that was organized in old Gerkin hall on East Main street in 1865 and was buried in Bluemont cemetery with the rites of the order. 

  Charles W. Vreeland bandmaster and orchestra director of Gorton’s New Orleans Minstrels for many years and who had the distinction of introducing the famous Arthur Deming, perhaps the greatest “black face comedian” of his day to a Grafton audience, brought his aggregation of talent to the Opera House for his farewell appearance December 6, 1894.  A very good house greeted this last appearance of Charles Vreeland and his entertainers, who had made them laugh for many years. 

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