The History of Taylor County Chapter Two Hundred-Fifty-Six


Move Water Mains

James B. Mackie, an eccentric comedian who created the part of the Bell Boy in Hoyt’s “A Bunch of Kays,” was starred in a new comedy entitled “Grimes Cellar Door” in which Mackie assumed the title role as “Grimsey Me Boy” in this new vehicle written for laughing purposed and touring the country under the management of B. Frank Taylor, who sent the attraction to the Opera House, February 3, 1902. Mackie displayed the same amusing comedy roles in this new play that made him such a stage success as “Front” in the Bell Boy and he used the flexibility of his features with the same amusing effect that won him plaudits of his admirers in the audience.

Superintendent Hustead, of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, on behalf of his company, came before the town council and asked the town council and ask the town connect the water system supply the company’s reservoir on West Main Street with town water as the company contemplated the razing of the old maintenance shops west of the Grafton Hotel to provide trackage room for the Grafton and Belington division of the railroad and this would eliminate the old pumping station that kept the reservoir supplied with water for the past quarter of a century. The mayor and council advised Mr. Hustead that the superintendent of water would be instructed to connect the reservoir with the town water system and the railroad furnished water at actual cost. Mr. Hustead expressed his appreciation and their generous action.

The dramatic adaption of Ouida’s celebrated novel “Moths” for the stage came to the Opera House February 14,1902, and was witnessed by an audience who admired the French writer’s work. .The stage adaptation carried out the principal features in the novel and was a pleasing and high-grade performance by the members of the cast.

A.L. Stevens and Son opened an agency for the sale of high grades of pianos and organs at 29 West Main Street, and along with this business carried a full and complete line of sheet music for both instruments and voice of which the firm made a specialty. This once was a prosperous business but since the advent if the mechanical musical instruments and the radio this line has about been cast to discard.

The Van Dyke and Eaton company under management of Ollie Mack came to the Opera House for the week of February 17,1902, presenting a week of popular plays to excellent business at cheap prices, Among the members of the cast was Del Henderson, now a famous director of moving pictures in Hollywood, whose portrayal of Cardinal de Richalieu in the melo-drama “The Three Musketeers,” was one of the finest bits of stage delineation of that famous churchman ever seen on the local stage  among the members of the cast was a young actor named Joseph A. Ellis, who was cast as Athos in the play, overcome with illness he filled his part in the repertoire for the week, no matter what happened the old saying among theatrical folks “the show must go on” and young Ellis, true to his stage training carried on which cost him his life on Friday night, February 21, 1902, when he played the last act in life’s drama in his room at the Blen Avon hotel surrounded by the tearful members of the company who saw his eyes close and the curtain rung down on this earthly career.

He was the first professional actor to die in Grafton and the stage hands, members of the orchestra and other attaches of the Opera House laid token of sympathy on the casket of all that was mortal of him and followed his remains to the resting place in Bluemont Cemetery. The members of this company were his pall bearers and the ladies were the chief mourners at this burial at which not a single blood relative was present to mourn over the passing of this man.

The members of the First Baptist Church, to enlarge the seating capacity of this historic old temple of worship and provide Sunday school rooms and rooms for other purposed on the Main street level, began removing the walls and terraces in from tog the old Colonial building up which so many of the people of that faith had passed in the 36 years since it was first erected to be taken into the faith and who, in many instances, were carried up the flight of stone steps to have the last word said over all that was mortal of them before being carried atop  the hill to their last resting place.

The names of Anderson, Bartlett, Beery, Blue, Boyd, Bradford, Brown, Clayton, Creel, Davidson, Fenton, Griffith, Hamilton, Handley, Herr, Hoskins, Jarvis, Lathem, Leith, Love, Mellonee, Sargent, Sinsel, Stout, Rector, Rightmire, Rogers, Thayer, Tibbetts, Warder, Ware, Whitescarver and Yates were consistent members of this church from its beginning and held their membership until they were called upon to join the innumerable throng in the march to the tomb, and too many of them were direct descendants of those first pioneers who were denied the right to worship in the creed they believed, and they broke the wilderness to worship in the faith in which they believed. 

It would be interesting to know the almost innumerable company of children, men and women who walked up the first flight of wooden and later stone steps at the summons of the deep-toned bell that called them to their devotions. The number who went down to the icy waters of the Tygart Valley and had their faith proven by immersion in frigid weather. It seemed like a sacrilege to destroy the beautiful lines of the old colonial church, but man and civilizations are both destructive and care nothing about ancient buildings between whose walls so much past history was made and then arises a new structure in their place and only a very few recall these old shrines in their original form.

During the process of construction a well known plaster employed in working on the ceiling of the Main street floor on a high scaffolding bothered with a loose sole on his shoe walked to the edge of the platform and hooking the loose sole on the edge of a board ripped it loose from his shoe, falling to notice the entrance of Reverend J.D. Cruley, the pastor, he looked down at one of his friends and said,” This is a hell of a place for a man to lose his sole,” and observing the pastor, he was profuse in his apology for this language at which the pastor remarked, “No need to apologize, brother, I know the kind of sole you referred to.”

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