The History of Taylor County Three Hundred-Nine

Deep Snow of 1905

After Mr. Shaffer’s funeral was conducted from the home, the widow sold the property to George W. Merchant, one of the old employees of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, who with his family, lived in the home until his passing in 1884. In that year the property was sold to Joseph M. Allen, a veteran of the Civil War, who lost an arm in the service of the Union and took up teaching school as a vocation in the rural schools of Taylor County in 1972 and held this position for a number of years. He brought his family to Grafton and occupied the home until his passing in 1898 and then the property was purchased by Messrs. Cole and Bush in 1905.

The death of ex-sheriff Stephen B. Jenkins on January 6, 1905, was heard with expressions of regret by the entire people of the town, who recalled this kindly, whole souled gentleman and good friend. While not a native of Taylor County, he came to the county as a very young boy and lived the greater part of his life in the Knottsville district.  He first came into prominence in 1884 when he served as deputy sheriff. In 1888, he was elected sheriff of Taylor County and after a lapse of four years was again elected to the office in 1896 and while in office made an army of friends. Twice married, his first wife died during his first term in office. In 1904, he was married to Miss Stella Stubborns of Grafton. HE was one of the leading spirits in the Hiawatha Tribe No. 9, Independent Order of Red Man of Grafton, who conducted his funeral rites at the grave in Bluemont Cemetery. 

One of the deepest snows of record fell on Grafton, January 6,1905, that did considerable damage to trees, telephone and electric light wires, causing them to mingle together and ringing the telephone bells all over town and brought confusion to home and business houses answering the call of the bells only to learn of the trouble caused by this unusual fall of snow. 

John Nestor, one of the men who helped Thomas McGraw build the Baltimore and Ohio railroad through Grafton to Fetterman and was one of Rosby Carr’s force of track layers who helped complete the railroad to Rosby’s Rock on Christmas Day, 1852, and took part in the celebration on that historic occasion, returned to Grafton and with his family moved to a farm in Upshur County, later he returned to Grafton and accepted a position with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. On his retirement from the service of the railroad, he was made sexton of the old Catholic cemetery along the Northwestern Turnpike. He sunk the ground for unnumberable people who came from his native Ireland and some from Germany to settle the town of Grafton in 1852 and hid from the sight of man forever many old friends and acquaintances in his long years as sexton of this place of internment. 

He interred into an agreement with the aged Major John M. Houston, sexton of Bluemont cemetery, which ever died first the other was to dig his grave, and when Major Houston’s labors as sexton ended on January 19, 1890, Nestor shouldered his pick and shovel and proceeded to Bluemont to dig the grave of his old friend as his part of the agreement and stook with bared head as the body of the major was lowered into the earth. Then, on Friday, January 6, he was called to another world and he who covered the faces of so many people of his own faith had this service performed for him. 

J.C. Powell took the agency for the high-grade line of pianos and organs for the C.A. House music dealer of Wheeling, and opened a salesroom at 138 East Main Street, where a line of instruments and music were demonstrated to prospective customers. 

John Pickett, another of the first settlers of Grafton, died at his home, 118 East Main Street, January 5, 1905. He was one of the railroad builders who came with the first construction train on January 11,1852, and became a permanent settler, erecting his family home on East Main Street. At his advanced age he was made time keeper for the “old stone shops,” whose duty was to call the men to work at the sound of the old bell hung in the bell tower above the shops at early morn and dismiss them at the close of night, and it would be interesting to know the number of fires that occurred in the town in the early years, for which he rang the old bell to alarm the citizens of the danger of this most destructive element. On his retirement from the service of the railroad he was engaged in the transfer business in the town, and his horse and dray were one of the familiar sights on the streets of Grafton during his lifetime. 

His son, John Pickett, now in charge of the bakery at the Boys’ Industrial school at Pruntytown is the last survivor of this family that settled in the town 77 years ago.


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