The History of Taylor County Chapter Two Hundred Sixteen


Fire Department Co. 4 Organized in East Grafton

Those two famous comedians, Charles Rice Charles Barton, played a return engagement in the Opera House March 16, 1897, presenting their laughing comedy McDoodle and Poodle.  The two stars surrounded by a most capable company drew an audience that amply repaid them on thier second visit to Grafton.

  Word was received in Grafton of the death of Matthew Luzadder who passed away at his home in Greenwood Township, Illinois in March, 1897.  He was a descendant of Aaron Luzzadder, who settled in what is now Taylor County some time after the Revolutionary war.  A resident of Grafton at its beginning, he conducted a hotel on the site now covered by the Loar Building and was among the first members of the Methodist faith to assemble for worship in the home of the old Peter Wolf home at what is now 35 West Main street.  He probably was one of the prime movers in agitating the erection of the first Protestant church known as the Methodist church that stood on the lot that is now 203 East Washington street, and was made one of the trustees of the building at its completion in 1858.  Some few years after the close of the civil war with his family emigrated to the state of Illinois where he and his wife, Matilda Luzadder ended their days. 

  A serious fire destroyed the home of William L. Newlon on Boyd street March 12, 1897.  Mrs.Newlon having finished ironing some garments and hanging them close to the kitchen fire stepped across the lot to chat with a neighbor, leaving her two small sons playing in the home.  It is supposed the clothes ignited and started the fire that almost resulted disastrously it had gained such headway, she barely had time to the rescue the two children before turning in the alarm,  Company No.1 rushed to the scene but could not save the home as it was practically destroyed before they were summoned, but confined their attention to prevention the flames reached the adjoining homes.

  The heirs of Alexander Yates had that portion of the old Stewart farm over in West Grafton surveyed and laid off in town lots.  The town council ordered streets laid out and graded on this newest addition of Grafton.  Among the first purchaser of lots on which to erect their homes on McGraw Avenue.

  Joseph M. Allen who began his career as a soldier in the Union army was unfortunate in having lost an arm in the Civil war, at the close of the war took up teaching in the rural schools of Taylor county and continues in this occupation until 1872 when he was elected assessor of Taylor county serving some twelve years.  Ill health forced him to resign this office and he spent the rest of his days at his home at the north east corner of Main and Luzadder streets.  An active member of Reno Post No.7 Grand Army of the Potomac and who served with Company. B Second West Virginia Infantry, Grafton’s own company organized by Captain George R. Latham in 1861.  He died March 19, 1897 and was buried with military honors in Bluemont cemetery.

  Edgar Sandsbury the town bad boy of the 80s in difficulty with the authorities on unnumbered occasions during his youthful years.  After his marriage to Miss Mat Cisney of Grafton located at Cumberland, Maryland where he died March 20, 1897.  His remains were brought to Grafton and buried beside his mother in Bluemont cemetery.

  Council ordered sewerage placed on St.John and Luzadder streets and gave a contract to Michael Barrett for this work and contracted with Patrick Managan for curbing both streets.

  Council to provide the citizens on the west side of the river with water and sewerage posted notice of a special election to be held July 1st for the issuance of bonds in the sum of $10,000 for the approval or rejection of the voters for this needed improvement.

  A clever theatrical entertainment entitled “The Sporting Craze” came to the Opera House March 20, 1897 and pleased a fine house.

  Few of the present population particularly those who were admireres of pugilism attended the event held in Colonel Thomas McAvay’s saloon on Latrobe street where he had a wire from the telegraph office run to his place and engaged Bruce Kinney to take the messages round by round of the fight for the heavyweight championship between James J. Corbett and Robert Fitsimmons.  Much money was bet on Corbett who rules a favorite in this fight, but when operator Kinney took the message that the lanky Fitzimmons knocked out the champion in the seventh round on the night of March 17, 1897.  Those who wagered their money expected to clean up, but were sadly disappointed.  It is extremely doubtful if there are a dozen people among the population of today who attended the event of 42 years ago. 

  Al G. Field in his day perhaps the greatest exponent of the art of minstrelsy departed from his usual method of confining his efforts to black face entertainment by organizing a company of negro performers in a new kind of entertainment entitled “Al G. Fields Darkest Africa” a departure from the old style minstrel show, but retaining much of features and music of his own company, except in color.  He placed the management of the company in the hands of his old time trombone player William H. Junkins and sent the attraction to the Opera House on March 30, 1897 and which pleased a very good house.

  S.T. Little and Sons prominent jewelers of Cumberland, believing there was a field in Grafton for the expansion of their line of business leased the room in the Central Hotel on Ethel street and established a branch store in Grafton.  The form sent Mr. George V. Ruhl here as manager of this venture.  Mr. And Mrs. Ruhl were welcome additions to the population and were active in the musical and social events that occurred often in the 80s and 90s long before the radio had come into popular use.

  To provide fire protection in the new ward in East Grafton Chief William Jennings came before the council and submitted the names of William Faust, L.C. Haymond, David Fortney, William Malonee, N.E. Nichols, Charles Moore, Michael J. Howley, Atwell Summers, Harry Sheets, John Stemple and William Wren to be organized as Company No. 4 in East Grafton.  Council accepted and ordered a hose house and equipment installed in a convenient point in the new fire district.

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