The History of Taylor County Chapter Two Hundred-Seven


A Shocking Tragedy

Michael Donahue, one of the pioneers settlers of Fetterman and one of the oldest residents who came at the same time the Baltimore and Ohio established their terminal in the village, died October 25, 1895.  His was a wonderful experience in seeing the little village of Valley Bridge that contained possible a score of souls filled with people who sought employment on the railroad, the little shops and house erected to house the influx of people; the little house of worship built in which they might come to offer up their devotions; and the school in which his and other children might come for the rudiments of their education.  The town name was changed to Fetterman in honor of a woman,, Mrs.Sarah B. Fetterman, in 1856, and administered under a town charter, then saw the growing town almost deserted when fire destroyed the shops of the railroad in 1857.  He probably was one of the men who saw the slaying of the first soldier, Thornsbury Bailey Brown, at Fetterman in that historic episode of the great Civil war on the night of May 22, 1861.  The town of Fetterman seemed to have appeal for him.  Here he settled, here he lived and here he ended his days and rests in the old Catholic cemetery upon the hill. 

  Al G. Fields sends out a troupe of real colored minstrels in this year who came to the Opera House October 28, 1895, and gave an exceptionally clever performance both in musical and novelty acts way.  A fine band and street parade drew the colored performers a very good house and sent them home highly pleased with the evening entertainment. 

  Michael O’Donnell, a quaint character and one of the pioneer settlers of Grafton who after the death of his wife made his home with Mrs.Ann Burns on Latrobe street, died.  He came to Grafton Junction at the beginning of the North West Virginia railroad in 1852 and lived here all the rest of his life, known to every man, woman and child in the town with whom he was ever friendly and who enjoyed his native Irish wit and sage remarks who often told them of Sweet Ballyturn, his natal place in the beautiful Emerald Isle that he declared was fairer than the Biblical Garden of Eden.  For many years he was in the employee of the Baltimore and Ohio at the Grafton terminal, then like the way of flesh he passed on October 29, 1895, and all that was mortal of him was carried to the old Catholic cemetery to be laid beside his wife and family far from loved Sweet Ballyturn across the wide expanse of sea.

  The expense of operating the municipality in 1895 was $9,175, the income was $5,100 leaving $3,655 to be raised by taxation.  The town levying body fixed 40 cents on the one hundred dollars valuation, twelve and one-half cents for street improvements.  License for peddlers making house to house canvas was fixed at $25 and whose one or more horse vehicles at $50.

  The erection of the First National Bank at the junction of Main and Latrobe streets caused the council to ask for bids for the removal of the town scales.  The bid of Patrick Hussion for the sum of $95 being the lowest, he was awarded the contract for placing the scales in front of the residence of Peter McMannimon on East Main street.  For this privilege Mr.McMannimon was appointed weight master.  But with many people using gas for fuel and baled hay coming into use the scalage fees reached such a low level the scales were abandoned a short time later.

  The board of directors of the First National bank notified the tenants of the Bradshaw building, the Eagle-Sentinel Publishing company, the Bell Telephone company, Mason Brothers, harness and saddle makers, the Singer Sewing Machine company, the Yocum Photograph Gallery and Thomas Yates, attorney, to vacate the building which was soon to be razed and the ground prepared for the erestion of a fine new banking house on the historic old lot where so many of the most prominent Democratic leaders of the past, Governors John J.J. Jacobs, Henry Mason Matthews Jacob B. Jackson, Hon. Henry G. Davis, Hon. John J. Davis, Benjamin F. Martin and others stood on the porch of the old Evans building and raised their voice in the interest of their party and its candidates.

  Marshall J. Parsons, prominent furniture dealer and undertaker purchased on the lot on the Campbell property adjoining the First National Bank between Main and Latrobe streets and contracted with William H. Morgan and Sons for the erection of a fine new brick business and apartment building on this lot.  Mr.Parsons installed the first elevator in Grafton in his new business building to lift heavy furniture and household utensils to the different floors of the building.

  After voting almost solidly against annexing their town with the town of Grafton, the citizens of West Grafton petitioned the town council to extend the mains of the new water system to their side of the river but the council refused to act on the petition. 

  The evangelist, Reverend Sam Small, who was probably the most noted man of his day in his work of salvation, spoke to the people of Grafton in the Opera House October 20, 1895.  A fluent speaker , whose logic was most convincing carried with it an appeal that caused many of his hearers to come forward and express their approval of his endeavor to convert people in righteous living and true Christianity.

  The people were horribly shocked at the fearful accident to L.M. Boyles, prominent merchant and proprietor of the historic old Ward House on Wednesday November 6, 1895, while engaged in watching the progress of the construction of the six story annex to the Ward Hotel.  Mr.Boyles standing by the open elevator shaft guiding a load of roofing timber to the top of the building with his hand when suddenly the rope parted and wrapped itself about his hand and jerked him at a terrific speed the six stories to the roof of the building striking his head with awful force against the roof timbers causing concussion of the brain.  The injured man was lowered to the street floor by the workmen and the doctors hastily summoned who did all that was possible to relieve the stricken man who lingered without gaining consciousness and died Thursday, November 14.  The local Board of Trade passed resolutions of respect and along with the fraternities of which he was a member attended the funeral in a body.

  Rice and Barton came to the Opera House November 6 1895, and presented an absurd musical comedy entitled McDoodle and Poodle.  Both Rice and Barton were exceptionally clever comedians and with the aid of a competent cast gave a most excellent entertainment which was enjoyed by a very good house.  The musical numbers presented were all new and tuneful and appreciated by the audience who repeatedly encored the performers.

  Clement Ross Jones, of Knottsville, a descendant of one of the most prominent and historical families of Taylor county was elected to membership in the faculty of West Virginia university in 1895 and later was elected dean of the school of engineering. He graduated from Grafton High school in the class of 1889 and began his career as a teacher in the rural schools and later entered West Virginia university in the school of engineering from which he graduated with high honors and won himself a place on the faculty.

  Henry Blackaller’s Stock company, supporting that sterling actor, Clarence Bennett and Miss Anna E.Davis, came to the Opera House for the week of November 25, 18995, presenting the repertoire of plays that included “The Princess of Paris,” “The French Spy,” “Queena,” “Armazinda,” “Daisies and Diamonds,” “Tom Sawyer” and “Faust”.  All of the plays offered were new except for “Faust,” and the company did excellent business throughout the week at prices of 10, 20, and 30 cents which provided excellent entertainment within the means of all classes of theatrical attendants.

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