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Chapter 3 – Memories of Schooling

We had a very poor school house. The winter I was 8 years old the trustees decided to have the school in summer as the house was too cold for school in winter. Father rented a room from Uncle Elisha and sent some of us to Perie, who was teaching at Otter Slide. She had a program at the end of the term. It was at night, and there was a large crowd there. I had a small recitation, which was the only part I ever had in a “Last Day of School Program.” For the benefit of some of the little grandchildren, I will give it:

A boy got up one winter’s morn and came to breakfast rather late,
Yet raised a fuss because there was no nice, big pancake upon his plate.
His father took him o’er his knee and raised his hand up in the air,
And when that boy got loose again, he held his spanked ache in the chair.

This was all my experience as an actor until after I began teaching.

The summer after I went to Perie at Otter Slide, I went to school to Callie at Berea. Mr. Brake owned the land all around the school house. He came to the school one day and complained that the children were getting into his orchard and wasting his apples (which I expect was so). Callie told them that she would whip anyone that went into the orchard. A few days later one of the Brake boys and two of the Hise Davis boys got some apples, and she whipped all three. This stopped apple stealing.

Some Memories of a Teacher Named Hall: The winter I was 9 years old, a young man by the name of Hall was teacher. He could do nothing with the children. I will give you one incident that I saw myself. Four or five of the larger girls were in mischief, and he told them they would stay after school. When he dismissed school, they started to get their wraps. He said, “Girls, I told you to stay in.” Ocea Colgate said, in a voice that was plain for everyone to hear, “I don’t have to; I don’t intend to; and you can’t make me.” What do you suppose he said? “Well girls, you can stay in at recess tomorrow.”

When we got outside, John Meredith proposed, “Three cheers for Ocea,” which we all gave with all the power of our lungs. Then someone proposed, “Three groans for the teacher.” This we gave just as loudly as the other. We were up on the hill on the road to Auburn one half mile from Berea and could be heard there. We told about it at supper that evening; and Father said, “If one of my children was in such a thing, I would whip him.” We never mentioned that we yelled as loud as anyone.

Now this teacher had a rule that when he called the roll, if you came in late you were to answer, “Tardy.” Also, if you had whispered that day, you were to say, “Imperfect”; if you had not whispered, you were to say, “Perfect.” Ellsworth was 19 years old and was very careful to not whisper. But one day some of the big girls fooled him into whispering, so he had a time the rest of the day. The girls had lots of fun thinking he would have to answer, “Imperfect.” When the roll call came, he answered, “Tardy.”

The trustees planned to turn Mr. Hall out at the end of the second month (we only had four months then), but he promised Mr. Brake that he would quit his tarnal partiality and not whip his boys unless he whipped someone else. Father took us children out of school and sent Ellsworth and Alva to another school three miles away.

Another Teacher-Tom Brown: The next winter Tom Brown taught our school. He was entirely different from Fred Hall.

One day the trustees came in to visit the school. They were Father, Mr. Brake, and Mr. Colgate. They were seeing about getting some new seats. Of course, the children were watching. After Father left, Mr. Brake made a speech. He said, “There’s not enough studying, too much looking around. Give it to ’em, whip ’em. Give ’em the rod; it’s good for ’em. We had to take it.” Mr. Brake always said lick ’em. But if he found the teacher whipping one of his boys, he would take them all out of school.

The teacher was mad. After Mr. Brake left, he told us if we didn’t study better he would get some hickories and whip anyone who looked off his book one minute. He soon got the hickories and told us not to look off our books one minute on penalty of a whipping. I was 10 years old and knew the difference between looking at a book and studying. I looked at the book, but I did not study. (There’s an old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.”)

(I have heard that there is a way to get many to think, but some will not for they have no thinker.) But during the evening while I was looking intently at my book, (with my eyes rolled up, looking at the front of the house), I saw the teacher looking at his clock on the wall, then jump and grab a whip from the wall. I suddenly glued my whole mind on my book. When I heard him pass my seat, I knew I was safe. A moment later I heard him say, “What are you doing?” The boy replied, “I was studying.” But the teacher said, “No you weren’t”; and he jerked him out of his seat and gave him a hard whipping. I didn’t look back to see.

Now, who do you suppose it was? You’re right; it was one of Mr. Brake’s boys. I am sure he had watched all day to catch one of them. Mr. Brake always said, “Whip ’em!”; and just as he did this time, he always took them out of school if the teacher whipped one of his kin.

More School Memories: I will go ahead and finish the account of my school days, and then go back to give an account of other happenings in my boyhood days. The next year Mr. Luzader (the father of Everett Luzader) taught part of the term. The children were so bad that he quit and Tom Brown finished it. I remember nothing important happening except his giving Elmus Bee a very hard whipping for looking out of the window to see how much snow was on the ground.

Mr. Wade taught the winter I was 12 years old. It was reported that he was very strict, so everybody was good the first month. The first morning of the second month he told us he had heard it was a very bad school, but he had never taught a better one. Poor man! That was the worst mistake he ever made, for the Berea school would not be bragged on. In the next three months he whipped not less than 10 or 12 times. Of these were the four largest boys in school and two girls. One of these girls was 15 years old, would have weighed at least 175 pounds, and was married in six weeks. He whipped her very hard. Mr. Brake again took his boys out of school because they got whipped.

At 13 I went to school to George Hoff for my last term at Berea. This was a very quiet term of school-never but one little flaw. He told us one morning that there had been some kissing games played and that there must be no more. A lot of us boys went down into Mr. Colgate’s field to play ball. We heard the bell in just a little while and went to school. He told us, “I told you this morning you were to play kissing games no more, and at noon you went down behind the house and went to playing them again. There will be no more of it.” And there wasn’t. Mr. Hoff boarded at our house and was a very nice man about the house.

An Incident at Upper Bone Creek: Before school began when I was 14, they had made a new school district at Upper Bone Creek and put us in it. Mr. Hoff was the first teacher. Things went along very well until he got into trouble with Frank Prunty. The school house was built on the Prunty farm. At recess one day Frank saw their sheep in the meadow, so he went to put them out without asking the teacher. He didn’t get back until 15 minutes after school was taken up. When Mr. Hoff asked him how he came to be late, he wouldn’t say a word. So Mr. Hoff told him he could stay in five minutes at noon. But Frank ran out.

Mr. Hoff got a whip at noon. Then before recess he got the key from the janitor and locked the door. Frank told the janitor, who was a boy about his age, that he would kill him if he gave the teacher the key. Before recess he was told that he could stay in all recess, but he just laughed at him. His older brother said at noon that he hoped Hoff would skin him alive as he was so mean none of them could do anything with him. Mr. Hoff proceeded to do what the brother hoped. Frank fought, but he was surprised to find himself jerked out of his seat, thrown to the floor, his hands tied behind him, pulled to his feet, and the whip worn out on him. Frank fought and swore he would kill Hoff, but George just threw him down on the floor and held him there all recess.

It was equal to any revival you ever saw. There was weeping and wailing, but no shouting. The girls all cried; the little children howled; and Frank kept swearing he would kill Hoff and the janitor. After recess he turned Frank loose, and Frank went out and got a ball bat and dared Hoff back there. He then went home, swearing to kill the two.

The trustees met the next day and expelled Frank. Mr. Prunty was away and did not return until the next afternoon after the fight. On being told why Frank was not at school, he went to the woods, got some hickories, and whipped him until he gave out. The next morning he got some more whips and began again. Frank finally said, “Father, if you won’t kill me, I will go back to school.” The trustees took him back when he agreed to behave in school and not bother young McClain (the janitor) while they were at school. He did not keep his word, but picked on him every chance he got and still said he intended to kill him.

One day the next summer, the McClain boy went down to get some sheep that had strayed onto the Prunty farm. Frank saw him and ran down and started a fight. The boy proceeded to cut him up, but not seriously. He was indicted for unlawful cutting, but he was cleared when Frank swore that he had said he would kill McClain but he had decided just to give him a good beating. The District Attorney said Frank got what was coming to him, which proves that justice is pretty sure to come sooner or later.

Another Teacher-John Lowther: I will write of one more teacher so that you may get a fair picture of the schools of that day, both good and bad. The next winter after the events mentioned above had happened, we had John Lowther as our teacher. He was a big man about 25 or 30 years old, but a teacher that kept no order at all. He would yell out so you could hear him for a half mile, “Cut that out,” or “You’re getting fresh back there.”

One cold wintry day, when Frank was the only one of the Johnsons who was there (now Frank had to be careful when any of the other children were there, for they would tell on him and Mr. Johnson would whip the life out of him), Frank was having a big time at the stove and Lowther told him to go to his seat. But Frank did not go. After Lowther yelled at him two or three times, he started back and Frank ran. Just as he got out the door Lowther yelled, “If you go out that door you’ll never come in here again.” Frank had closed the door, but he opened it, came back in, went up to the stove and sat down. Then Lowther really spread himself. He said, “If you ever do such a thing again, I’ll cut every dud off you. I’ll skin you alive! Don’t you know you’ve got to mind me?” Frank replied very quietly, “No, I don’t.” Lowther finally ran out of steam. After telling Frank to go back to his seat and close his knife (which he had been whittling a seat with), he then went on with the school.

My Final Years of School: The next year Alva taught, and I had a very successful term of school. The next year Alva taught again, but I stayed at home and helped with a big saw set. The next winter I was 18 and went to Miss Miller, who was a good teacher for an ordinary school but could not handle some of the outlaws of “Bloody Bone” (as we called the school). They annoyed her until she became a nervous wreck. They would drop a book on the floor to see her jump and hear her scream. They would throw a ball on the roof at recess to hear her scream. She finally had to stay at home and rest a few weeks before she could finish the school.

I will now tell you of an incident that happened at my last winter’s school, to show you the kind of boy my youngest brother, Delvia, was. One evening after school was out a boy ran up behind him, knocked his hat off, and started to pick it up and throw it in the mud. Delvia just lifted his heavy boot up by one foot and placed it firmly in his face, which left a rather muddy spot. The boy just turned around and walked off.

The next morning, Delvia slipped around the garden to the barn with the new hat. When I overtook him, he pulled an old, slouch hat from under his arm and said, “I am going to knock hats today.” When anyone came around knocking hats off, he took his turn. His aim was poor; instead of hitting the hat he would take the side of the head just about the ear. They never bothered his hats any more.

This was my last year in public school, for the next year I got a second grade certificate and began teaching.

Chapter 2 – My Early Childhood

I was born on the Right Bank of the South Fork of the Hughes River on September 7, 1872. The old homestead was about one mile below Berea, which at that time was frequently called “Seven Day Town.” I have no specific memory of the event, but I presume I was about as unpromising a brat as could be found in seven counties, for my first memories which I can recall make me think I must have been “small potatoes.”

Falling in a Lime Vat at the Tan Yard: At an early age (probably two or three, for I had on my first pair of pants) I wandered up to the tan yard, which was about 150 yards away. Among other attractions was a lime vat-this was a wooden box 6 by 4 feet, set 4 feet in the ground and was nearly full of water in which had been poured enough lime to take the hair off the hide (or a little boy)-and I proceeded to walk right into it. Luckily there were some hides in it, so I did not go over my head.

Ellsworth, who was ten years older than I, ran up, grabbed me by the hair and pulled me out. Father came running out of the shop with a leather apron on, which he always wore when he worked in the shop, and yelled, “Take him to the run; take him to the run!” There was a hole of water in the run about ten steps away; Ellsworth ran down there, threw me in and rolled me over and over. Providence seems to care for children, as well as fools, so the lime water did not get into my eyes.

There were no other bad effects except I got my new pants wet. (It was the first time I had worn them.) I had no others, so they put a dress on me. Doctor Hall, who had been our family physician for many years, came to see mother that night and made fun of me, calling me a “girl.” All is well that ends well, and I never fell into a vat again.

A Flood: In 1875 or 1876 we had a great flood. The water ran knee deep back of the house. I remember two things about this flood. It was in the night, and we felt the house shake and heard a great noise, which scared us. Upon investigation it was found that the rain had loosened a large stone on top of the chimney, and it had rolled down the roof and fallen onto the ground. The river went down very rapidly. In the morning one of the boys went out in the garden and found three or four nice big fish in a puddle of water. As I remember, they were some 12 or 15 inches long. I presume I helped eat them, but I have no memory of that.

A Deer and Dogs: In the early winter of 1876 I saw my first and only deer until after I was grown; in fact, it was the only wild deer I ever saw in Ritchie County. One morning a neighbor came rushing into the house to get the rifle. He said there was a deer out there. A hound had run it into the field, but the deer was tired of being chased so it turned and chased the hound out of the field and home.

We had two big dogs, one of which was a large greyhound that had caught a deer before. The dog caught the deer as it passed, but his teeth were so poor he could not hold it, so the deer just knocked him over and went on. This made Pete (the other dog) mad, for they were chums. He did not intend to have his friend picked on by any low down sinner while he was around. Now Pete was round and fat and never had been able to run much. It so happened that mother was having a quilting that day, and all the women ran out and yelled with all their might (which was plenty). Pete went wild.

That was some race! I stood behind the house and watched it. The deer was making great leaps (it seems to me every leap carried it ten feet) while Pete was running with his feet more stretched out, his belly close to the ground like Satan was after him. I can see it all as plain as if it were yesterday. The deer had 75 yards start when Pete started after it, and it had one150 yards to the road. Just as the deer’s tail went over the fence Pete’s nose went up.

Father was crippled so he could not go fast, so he told some of the men to hurry up there; for he knew they would meet on the ice (which was just strong enough to hold them up). One of then would surely die, as Pete feared nothing and a deer is very dangerous with its horns. Before the men could reach the scene, we heard the deer bawl (I can still seem to hear it). Emza was the first to arrive there and saw the two meet. She said Pete’s nose was at the deer’s shoulder when it turned to hook him. He grabbed it by the nose, ran between its front legs, and threw it on its back. When Uncle Elisha got there, he was chewing at its throat. Father sold the deer to a Prunty, but kept the heart and liver, so I got to taste it. Since then I have eaten venison several times, but none that I killed.

About noon the owner of the hound came and demanded pay for the deer. Father paid him although he had no right whatever to it. Father would rather give him the money than to racket with him. His name was McDonald, and the worst trouble I ever had in school teaching was two McDonalds (one in Ritchie and one in Taylor County). I would still be afraid to have dealings with a McDonald.

My First Farming Enterprise-Chickens: I will now record my first memory of farming. When about three years old, I went into the chicken business. I have heard Father and Mother tell about it many times, and I also remember it myself; so I know it’s no fake. This is the way they told it-I would run around with my pants down and a hen under each arm. I would take a hen to a box, fix a nest, put the hen on it, and make her stay there till she laid. By the time I was four or five years old, we could take a hen, put her on a nest anywhere we wanted to (if she was a setting hen), and she would sit there without being covered up. This sounds big, but it is true. I can still see myself, about as big as a bull frog, running around with a hen under each arm, with a dirty face and hands and a smile on my face, for I thought I was of some use in the world.

When I was about ten years old, our chickens got the cholera. When it stopped, we had one hen left out of about one hundred. She was a pure white hen and a pet which a neighbor woman (Ora Bee’s mother) had given me. We never had such a tame flock of chickens again as I had to work some after this.

A Fall into the River: The first day I went to school was a very rainy one. I was wearing a cloak. We had to cross the river on a foot log. Virgil was afraid Cleo or I might fall off the log, which was floating on the water. Just as he got Cleo over, he heard a splash and turned around to see me floating serenely down the river with my head up out of the water. The cloak had spread out on the water and held me out of it from my shoulders up. Virgil had told me to wait till he came back for me. Nevertheless he rushed back to the center of the river, jumped in, overtook me and landed me about 150 yards down the river.

Thus I had been twice saved from the water-once from drowning in the river and at least from the loss of my eyes in the lime vat. (If Ellsworth had not been so prompt in snatching me out of the vat, I would have been down, the water would have gotten into my eyes, and I would have never seen again.) So I owe much to my older brothers.

Anecdotes about Delvia: Probably it would be well to tell a couple or three anecdotes about my baby brother Delvia. We burned coal in an open grate. He loved to come in from outdoors and back up to the grate to warm his back. One day he came in, backed up to the grate, and stood there until someone called to him, “Delvia, you’re burning.” He moved very quickly, but not quickly enough to save losing the seat of his pants. Luckily the fire did not go much deeper.

Still Delvia would back up to things (which is never safe, for you cannot see what is behind you). One day he came into the kitchen, backed up to a chair, sat down, and wished he hadn’t. In that chair was a pan with 10 or 12 dozen eggs, which were on his seat in the form of scrambled eggs.

Chapter 1 – Family Connections

My Parents: My father, Asa Fitz Randolph, was born in Salem in 1833, the son of Doctor John Fitz Randolph, being the only son by the first marriage. He had five half brothers—James, Reverend Gideon Henry (who was a Missionary to China about 1890), Joel (who was chief of police of Salem for many years), Steven and Thomas. These are all deceased. Two of the sons of Uncle Henry are Seventh Day Baptist ministers—John is pastor at Berea, West Virginia; and Wardner is missionary in Jamaica, British West Indies.

Mother, Marvel Maxson, was born on Greenbrier in 1832, the daughter of John Maxson. Her mother was one of a large family of Bees, all of whom were Seventh Day Baptists. The most famous of these were Ezekiel, (who was pastor of the Pine Grove Church at Berea for many years) and Ehriam (who went to Richmond to the state legislature before the war).

Mother had one sister, Annetta (who married Grandfather for his second wife), and two brothers, Nathan (who moved to Ohio about 1865) and Elisha John (who spent most of his married life on Otter Slide near Berea). Her father, John Maxson, was a very consecrated Christian and a local preacher. As nearly all the Randolph ministers from West Virginia were direct descendants since their mother or grandmother was a daughter of John Maxson, this, I feel, was inherited from him. Her brother Elisha lived to be past 97 in years.

Father ran a tan yard for Grandfather and had a tan yard of his own until he left West Virginia. I will mention several experiences in the tan yard later in this article.

The chance for schooling was very limited, and Father never got more than three quarters or nine months of schooling until after he was married. He had a felon on the thumb of his right hand which kept his arm in a sling for 18 months. Part of this time he went to school. Later he cut his leg very badly; as soon as he was able to ride, he went to school. He read much and was especially good in figures. In fact, one of his teachers said that he did not need to study arithmetic—he could make one. His interest in education is shown in the fact that of the nine children who grew up, all went to college at least a year, and five have a degree.

Mother was as much interested in education as Father, but she did not have as good a chance as he. I think she could read about like a third grader. She was a very great worker; in fact, I have heard her say that the only request she made of Father before they were married was that he would furnish her plenty of work. She was also an excellent manager. I believe there is no doubt but what she had much to do with his making a success financially.

Father and Mother were married in the fall of l852 at Washington, Pennsylvania. (The grandchildren and the great-grandchildren must skip this.) They eloped! Father said that Grandfather promised him if he would stay at home until he was 21 he would give him the shoemakers trade. But when he arranged to stay, Grandfather forgot the deal; so Father did too. (This should be a lesson to all parents, except me, to keep their word.)

They lived on the waters of Bone Creek for a while, then on Middle Island until 1857, when they bought the farm on the South Branch of the Hughes River, a mile below Berea, where I was born and reared.

My Siblings: There were eleven of us, of which I was the ninth. Two died as infants, but the rest of us grew up and married. There are four of us still living—Virgil, who is 90; Cleo, 80; myself, 78; and Delvia, soon to be 74. We are a long-lived family. Callie lived to be 94, and Alva was 81.

Of the nine, Perie was the most noted; she became a Seventh Day Baptist preacher. She married when she was 35 to Leon B. Burdick, whom she educated and made a preacher. They had one daughter.

Callie married John Meathrell and spent her life on a farm near Berea. They had four children—Julia, Rupert, Conza, and Draxie (who married Ruben Brissey). They are all living.

Emza married the Reverend A. W. Coon and died a few years later.

Virgil taught a few years after finishing college, then became a farmer. He married Mary Wells. They had one son, who is now an engineer.

Ellsworth bought the Hise Davis farm from Father, married Sarah Stalnaker, and settled down on the farm. He had a fine team of horses and did lots of logging in the winter. While logging for Zeke Bee in the spring of 1905, he was accidentally killed. He and I had been more than brothers—we had been companions for years. If one needed help, the other helped him. If there was sickness, the other was there to help in any way possible. Things have never been quite the same since his death. They had one child, Blondie, who is now principal of a school in West Virginia.

Alva married Mary Hoff. He finished college at Alfred with the best grades of anyone who had ever graduated there. He settled down near Alfred and became a famous farmer and leader in farm activities. They had five children—Fucia, Elizabeth, Lowell, Florence and Vida. Florence died in young womanhood, shortly after she married. Elizabeth is an ordained minister of the Seventh Day Baptist denomination. She is now a traveling evangelist.

Cleora (Cleo) went to New York, taught for some years and then married Gene Jordan. Gene died a few years ago, and she is now living in Pennsylvania with one of Gene’s boys, Leon.

Delvinus (Delvia) went through school at Alfred, married and moved to California for his wife’s health. They had two children, but I never knew anything about them. He is retired now and living with his second wife.

The last two mentioned, Cleo and Delvia, and I were inseparable from earliest childhood. Where one went, we all three went. We would go after the cows together until Cleo was almost grown. We had a deal with mother in which we were to feed and care for the chickens and gather the eggs. When we took her twelve eggs, the next one was ours. We made lots of money, for eggs were often worth 5 cents or 10 cents a dozen. We really felt we were in business. Prices are just a little different now.

Mother died when I was 15; three years later Cleo went to New York; and then in 1892 Father took Delvia to New York, which broke up this trio. Oh, that we three could be together for at least a few days! But we are separated by many miles, and none of us has the money to travel so far, I fear, and age is creeping up on us. Blessed are the memories!

Grandfather, Dr. John Randolph

Before I begin the record of my own life, I think I had best give a paragraph to my Grandfather Randolph, as I have already given a short account of Grandfather Maxson. Doctor John Randolph was the son of Jesse Randolph by his first wife, whom he married soon after coming to Salem with the church in 1792. Doctor John was much better educated than most of those of his day. He was a stone mason and helped build the Pike through Salem. He practiced medicine without any special preparation, so was called Doctor John. He had a very keen mind, but I think was very self-willed.

I will give one anecdote about him. Uncle Elisha and he went to a revival meeting down at Bristol. A girl who had worked for Grandfather for years went down the aisle shouting her best, and Grandfather called to her, “Where are you going, Bet?” She replied, “To heaven, I hope.” Just then she reached a young man who had been going with her and threw herself into his arms. Grandfather said, “You have got there now, Bet!”

15f. (Seth) Albert Lewis

Seth Albert Lewis was born September 24, 1870.

(seth) Albert Lewis

(Seth) Albert Lewis

He married Mary Lulu (Lou) Jones May 31, 1896.

Lulu "Lou" Lewis

Mary Lulu "Lou" Jones Lewis

She was born to John Wesley and Mary (Johnson) Jones on June 11, 1872 in Raleigh, IL.

Albert and Lou had 12 children

  1. Ruth born 11/18/1896, died 10/20/1912
  2. Hugh born 2/21/1899, died an infant 8/11/1900
  3. Florence born 4/28/1900, died 11/3/1979,  married Earl Hancock.  They both are buried in Sunset Lawn cemetery at Harrisburg, IL
  4. Mildred born 6/25/1902, died 6/7/1935
  5. Evelyn born 3/13/1905m married Romeo Todd, both buried in Joyner Cemetery.  I remember riding ponies they kept – lots of fun for a young boy!
  6. Frank born 1/11/1907, died an infant 5/7/1907
  7. Leland 4/22/1908.  Graduate of Salem College, West Virginia.  A teacher, and dedicated family historian.
  8. Joseph born 8/2/1910,  died 11/21/1973, buried in Joyner Cemetery.  He always introduced himself as “Joe Lewis from Saint Louis”
  9. Benjamin born 6/18/1929, died 8/26/1965, buried in Joyner Cemetery
Joseph, Albert, Benjamin and Leland - 1924

Joseph, Albert, Benjamin and Leland - 1924

Seth Albert Lewis was the second son born to Robert and Minerva Oshel Lewis.  He grew up helping his father in all phases of agricultural farming and livestock raising, and it was said that he was depended upon to a very great extent in this.

He secured all possible education available at that time through the elementary schools, and took courses at the high school level.  On May 31, 1896 he was married to Mary Lulu (Lou) Jones in Stonefort, IL.  They had nine children, and spent their married life on their farm near Stonefort.  Albert was a farmer, always raising enough hay, grain and other livestock feed for horses, cattle, higs, chicken, etc.  He also did a considerable amount of truck farming, raising vegetables for home use.  On December 7, 1919, Lou died, and Albert moved to the nearby town of Carrier Mills where his daughters could go to high school.  He worked in the coal mines, and his sons took jobs after school and in the summers.

Albert was killed by an out of control motorist on Dec 4, 1927.  He, Lou, and most of their children are laid to rest at the Joyner cemetery.

Fitz Randolph Family (my Mother’s maiden name)

Fitz Randolph


Fitz Randolph is my mother’s maiden name. She grew up outside Salem, West Virginia, a town that was built on land purchased by her Gr. Gr. Gr. Grandfather, Samuel Fitz Randolph. She graduated from Salem College, where she met my father, Harry Lewis, when they were both students.


I have not done original research on this genealogy, and am indebted to past researchers including:


Oris H. F. Randolph, who compiled the book Edward Fitz Randolph Branch Lines Allied Families and English and Norman Ancestry, A Family Genealogy 860 – 1976, copyright 1976, Library of Congress number 76-50733


Louise Aymar Christian and Howard Stelle Fitz Randolph who wrote Fitz Randolph Genealogy in 1950 and Supplement in 1955.

Planned enhancements are the addition of images of individuals as well as locations related to the family.

Rev Elmo Fitz Randolph

My grandfather’s younger brother wrote about his life as a boy in West Virginia, Boy Scout experience, and life as an ordained minister.

Bond (my maternal grandmother) Family History

My Maternal Grandmother’s Family from England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia

My Bond ancestors were from an estate in Cornwall near Plymouth called “Erth Barton”, meaning the farm of the Erth family.  The building is today a country manor Bed and Breakfast with the same name.  In 1610 a study was commissioned to determine if it was the oldest building in Cornwall, and the conclusion was that it indeed was the oldest building.  It came into Bond possession when the only daughter of the Erth (or de Erth) family married Richard Bond.  Their descendants were known as the Bonds of “Earth”.

The first land grant to a Bond in Pennsylvania was to Richard Bond in 1696 and then one to his wife Sarah Robinet Bond in 1702.  Richard is believed to have emigrated to America around 1696.  Family history has Richard returning to England for business and dying there before April of 1702.

Richard and Sarah had a son Samuel Bond born ca 1692. He married Ann Sharpless in Pennsylvania ca 1726 and soon moved to Cecil County, Maryland. Richard and Sarah had one son, Richard Clayton Bond, born Oct 4, 1728 and three daughters.  Samuel left the Church of England to become a Seventh Day Baptist by 1737, and Ann Sharpless left the Quaker Church to become a Seventh Day Baptist with her husband.

Richard Clayton Bond lived most of his life in Maryland, where his 9 children were born.   He was a man of wealth and influence, and represented his county in the state assembly for 21 years.   When he was past 70 he moved to settle on a large farm near present-day Lost Creek, West Virginia, where he died at age 91.

  1. Samuel Bond, oldest son, was born Sept 30, 1754 in Maryland and lived most of his life in Pennsylvania.  All his large family remained in Pennsylvania except Eli moved to Browns Creek, Virginia, and Jonathan, who moved to Milton, Wisconsin.
  2. The second son, Richard Jr., born March 9, 1756 was known as Major Richard Bond, and he lived most of his life at Lost Creek, WV.  He owned and operated a mill 1/4 mile above the present town of Lost Creek.
  3. Susanna Bond, born Aug 24, 1757
  4. Levi Bond, born Aug 20, 1758
  5. Lydia Bond, born Aug 2, 1760
  6. John Bond, born May 20, 1762
  7. Abel Bond, born June 4, 1763
  8. Sarah Bond, bonr May 9, 1765
  9. Mary Ann Bond, born May 15, 1767, died in infancy

Richard Bond Jr, also known as Major Richard Bond, was married the second time to Mary Brumfield, who bore himfour sons.  After Mary died, he married a third time to Mary Lewis.  He died Feb 14, 1820 at the relative young age of 63.  Sons of Major Richard Bond and Mary Brumfield are:

  1. Levi Bond
  2. Abel Bond, married Elizabeth Booth, had six children in Maryland and seven more after moving to West Virginia.  He established mills at Quiet Dell, WV, about 8 miles North of Lost Creek, WV.  He died Jan 23, 1852
  3. Elnathan Bond
  4. Richard Bond III

Levi Bond, the oldest son of Major Richard Bond, was born in Maryland in 1785. He married Susan Eib on May 3, 1807 at her house near Clarksburg.   They settled on a large farm on Broad Run, near Lightburn, where they raised a large family.  In 1876, after 69 years happily married, they died within a few weeks of each other.

  1. Jacob Bond, b Jan 20, 1808, the oldest son of Levi and Susan Eib Bond, married Sophia Grant and became a successful farmer in Lewis County.
  2. Brumfield, (see writeup below)
  3. Tamar, b Dec 5, 1811, married Eli Forsythe on Sep 30, 1833 and lived in Wisconsin for some time but died in Iowa
  4. Richard, b. Feb 16, 1814, was a farmer in Roanoke.  Married Lydia Davis.  Their son Florien Lee Bond was born July 25, 1857 and on April 11, 1886 married Lenora Bond, daughter of his first cousin Booth Bond.
  5. John Eib, b June 7, 1816
  6. Abel, b Aug 22, 1818
  7. Mary, b Aug 22, 1818
  8. Peter, b. Jan 2, 1821, m Dec 11, 1845 to Elizabeth Payton
  9. Susan (Susanna), b Dec 2, 1825, married Deacon Levi Bond of Lost Creek.
  10. Elizabeth “Betsy Ann”, b Jan 25, 1828 married Dr. Croner Musser of Lightburn.
  11. Almeda lived with Mrs. Musser after the death of her parents.

Brumfield Bond, b Dec 15, 1809, the second son of Levi Bond and Susan Eib, m Nov 3, 1832 to Belinda Hoffman.  Reared his two sons  (Booth and Levi) and daughter (Tamar) in Upshur County.

  1. Booth Bond, b. Oct 23, 1833 at Lost Creek, WV, married Rebecca Van Horn
  2. Tamar Bond, b Sept 16, 1835 at Hacker’s Creek, Lewis County, married Abraham Wolfe and lived at Berlin, Lewis County, had no children
  3. Levi Davis Bond, b. July 28, 1830 at Hacker’s Creek, m Victoria Arnold Dec 31, 1963, d 1923  Their son Emery Herbert Bond, b Feb 6, 1868  married Rena Fitz Randolph on May 24, 1893, d Nov 25, 1937.  Their son Sirus Orestes Bond was born Aug 12, 1877, m Venie Hagerty in 1904,  Received PhD at Alfred University in 1924.  Was President of Salem College.

Booth Bond, b. Oct 23, 1833 at Lost Creek, WV, April 5, 1859 married Rebecca Van Horn b. May 15, 1839.  They had a farm on Hacker’s Creek.  Both died Nov 9, 1907 and Rebecca died April 17, 1904.  Their children were:

  1. Lenora May Bond, b. Nov 22, 1861.  Married her father’s cousin F Lee Bond (see below)
  2. Elsie Belinda Bond, born April 18, 1864, died 1961.  Devoted more than 50 years of her life to Salem College as registrar and teacher of History, Latin and English.  She was known as “Miss Elsie”
  3. Thomas Mardsen Bond, born Feb 2, 1866, married Bessie Clark (1871 – 1946).  They had two children, Lotta Mabel (1895 – 1977) and Paul Van Horn Bond (1897 – 1966) who married Evaleen Kennedy.
  4. Samuel Brumfield Bond, b Oct 13, 1868, graduated from Alfred University in 1897.  Married Carrie Truman and they had a son Dwight Truman Bond.  Dwight Truman Bond had a son Carter Bond by his first wife.
  5. Xenia Ethel Bond, b Sept 28, 1870.  Earned her medical degree from University of Illinois College of Medicine.  Dr Bond delivered over 1,000 babies in home deliveries, and experienced zero maternal deaths.  Dr Bond lived with her sister “Miss Elsie” in Salem, and died July 21, 1940 at seventy years of age.
  6. Orville Austin Bond, b Sept 28, 1872, m Aug 20, 1901  to Mabel Lowther, and had one son Booth Forest Bond.
  7. Lora Antha Bond, b Feb 27, 1875 married M S Erlow.  They had a daughter Velma Marcelle who never married
  8. Cora Elizabeth Bond, b Sept 5, 1877, m Aug 20, 1901 to Roy Fitz Randolph.  They had two daughters, Greta and Mary.
  9. Otto Romain Bond, b. Feb 7, 1882, graduated from Cornell University, owned a large apple orchard in Wenatchee, WA, died in Reno, NV Mar 7, 1969.  Married Julia Crowell, had a son Clyde Herbert Bond who had two daughters.

F (Floren) Lee Bond married. Lenora May Bond.  They had children:

  1. Ada Pearl Bond
  2. Orville Booth (OB) Bond, married Lucille Davis
  3. Orson H Bond, married Muriel Bailey
  4. Dr Ian H Bond, married Pearl Hill
  5. Lydia Bond, married Oris Stutler
  6. Susie Bond,married Everet Williams
  7. Ruth Content Bond, married Ashby Fitz Randolph (my maternal grandparents)
  8. Maine Bond, married Gertrude Bosley

Appendix A — Memories from Family Members

The following memories were collected from brothers and sisters, children, and grandchildren of Ashby and Ruth Randolph. Some of them were written in 1975 to be included in the “This is Your Life” booklet that was prepared for the Golden Wedding Anniversary of Ashby and Ruth. Others were written in 1984, especially to be included in this book of memories.

Memories of Sons, Daughters, and Their Spouses

Xenia Lee Randolph Wheeler

I remember when . . .

We children played in dust and fine, tasty dirt under the living room floor.

The foundation was covered with galvanized tin sheeting.
A fence surrounded the house.
I planted daffodils along the fence.
Dad, Mom, and we kids played tag, hide-and-seek, softball.
Dad used to bang my head on the ceiling; then, as I grew, I clasped my hands together and he lifted them to the ceiling.

I remember trading lunches at Morris School, playing ball, playing house on a rock–which reminds me of the beautiful rocks on the flat at home where we girls and the boys had play houses and sometimes had picnics of a quart of blackberries or raw beets and carrots. Sometimes we took popped corn up there.

I remember scarlet fever–Dad staying in the front bedroom so he could attend summer school. We children watching the paved road being built; the excitement watching our first pit toilet dug and set up–such luxury! Gaining strength and learning to walk again. Skin peeling. Great Grandma scooting her rocker throughout the house. Dad’s graduation from Salem College.

Quilting parties, candy making at Christmas, Christmas programs at Morris. Uncle Elmo as Santa–singing “Jingle Bells” louder and louder, hoping Santa would hear us and come.

Dad’s illness; Grandma Randolph taking care of us; Aunt Lydia teaching us. I remember ear aches. I remember Beth’s arrival–then the thrill of having Dad home–good neighbors who came to help day by day. Mom and Dad numbering two checker boards so the closet doors could be opened and they could call out numbers as they enjoyed many checker games in their respective rooms.

Christmases with oranges and popcorn balls piled under the tree on the table in the living room (front bedroom now). Shoes filled with nuts, candy, and fruit; dolls we proudly showed Dad and Mom; the boys’ punching bag.

I remember milking cows, feeding chickens, picking wild strawberries, blackberries, huckleberries; taking family walks into the woods in early spring. Sabbath days having our own church services and Sabbath School classes, later Dad and Mom reading to each other –sometimes American Magazine novels.

I remember getting to hold Edna Ruth if I did not cry when the health nurse came to the house to give me a shot so I could go to school. I had crawled out of reach under the house when I saw her coming. This was not my first shot!

I remember going to Grandpa Bond’s on Christmas. I remember sugar cookies that Grandma made. I remember the terrible snow blizzard one Christmas and walking home from Weekleys in it, stopping at Coffindaffers to warm up and on home. I remember crying children, cold hands, and that last bank to the house; the warm fire, hot sausage with milk gravy on biscuits eaten in the living room by the fire (Mom wearing her coat to prepare meals).

I remember 4-H clubs at Morris and Jarvisville; baking and sewing projects; demonstrations during meetings; exhibits of projects; 4-H camps and Church camps with Dad helping.

I remember strawberry time at Aunt Susie’s, butchering time at home. Vacations at both grandparents; getting acquainted with cousins!

How thankful I am for parents who taught me the real values of life early. We walked every week to church and Sunday School. Mom played piano. One year I had perfect attendance. They gave me a little doll. How I loved it!

I learned to keep house, cook, can, bake bread, sew; but most of all I knew the security of a home where love was practiced and felt, harmony reigned. We worked together and played together. What a rich heritage. Your deep faith and trust in God, your service to Him as you met needs in the community, as we had devotions in the home, as Dad read, taught and practiced God’s teachings and disciplines in the school room as well as home–all gave me a solid foundation on which to build my life and brings me to the joys I know today in my own home with my family and in full-time Christian service for others.

Thank you, Dad and Mom!

Edgar Wheeler

I remember my first visit to Dad and Mom Randolph’s home. It was an early misty 4th of July. Xenia Lee had invited me to go with the family for a picnic at Grandpa Randolph’s at Sutton, W.Va. My first interest was Xenia Lee, of course; but I was immediately impressed by the friendliness and industriousness of Dad and Mom, and the closeness of the family–a real memorable day!

That was my unforgettable introduction to them and the family of which I am very happily a part. I remember kindness and helpfulness they have constantly shown through the years.

And I remember asking for their permission to marry Xenia Lee –and receiving it after a little friendly persuasion from the two of us.

And “Thank you, Dad and Mom, for letting Xenia Lee be my wife-and me be a part of a good family!”

Mae Randolph Lewis Bottoms

There are so many things I could write about, but I will pick just a few that will give some idea of life in the 1930’s and 40’s as we grew up in rural W.Va.

Early Schooling

In the fall of 1936, I started first grade at a one-room school at Morris–the last year that Dad taught there. I can remember sometimes walking the mile to school with Dad, Bond, Xenia Lee, and Alois.

One incident I vaguely remember involved Alois, who was in second grade. He sat toward the back of the row of seats in which I sat toward the front. One day there was a commotion, giggling, etc. at the back of that row. When Dad investigated, he found that Alois was entertaining everyone near him by making them think he was eating a fly. (He was a real ham!) So Dad made him come to the front of the school and entertain everyone by actually eating that fly. I don’t know if that taught him a lesson or not.

I also remember nature walks in the spring when Dad took all of the student–grades one through six–for a walk through the woods near the school and to a meadow on top of a nearby hill. He taught us to recognize trees by their bark and by leaves and to recognize many wild flowers and birds. When we got to the top of the hill, Dad would help the older children to fly kites–a real special treat!

When I was in second grade, we all went to Jarvisville to a two-room school. Dad taught grades 4-6 and was the principal. A Miss Smith taught grades 1-3. Xenia Lee and Bond were in grades 5 and 6 and still had Dad as their teacher.

One incident I remember that year happened in the spring when they were first paving the road in front of our house. As a part of in-service education at that time, teachers would cancel their school one day and go to visit some other school in the area. So Dad had a visitation day, and children in grades 4-6 did not have to go that day. But Alois and I still had to go.

I don’t remember our getting to school that morning, but I assume Dad took us as he went to another school to visit. I do remember that Alois and I had to walk home alone the 2 1/2 miles. That would have been no problem except for the fresh tar. Dad and Mom tried to tell us how to walk along the ridge of a hill near the road and come across the hill and in behind our home. We had not gone a half mile before I started crying and was sure we were lost. With my insistent crying, Alois began to lose his confidence as to our whereabouts. Finally, Alois gave in to me, and we decided to walk up the road where we knew the way. Thinking we were staying out of the tar, we walked in the grass alongside the road. Instead of just getting tar on our feet, we got tar all over us from the tall grass. We were late getting home, and we were a mess. Mom had to clean us up with gasoline to get the tar off.

One special thing I remember from the country schools was contests between different area schools. Sometimes we went to other schools, and sometimes they came to our school. These contests would usually take half a day and would include spelling bees, arithmetic contests, and softball games.

Dad was especially good at teaching math, and he made all of us love math. I especially remember the way we had to analyze problems verbally, and I feel this did much to develop our analytic thinking and logic. For example, we would have to verbalize each problem as follows: “If one apple costs 5 cents, then 20 apples would cost 20 times 5 cents or $1.00.”

Going to school to Grandpa Randolph.

When I was in sixth grade, I thought I wanted to go to school to Grandpa Randolph for a while, and I knew that would be the last year that I could. Grandma and Grandpa Randolph lived on Bug Ridge near Sutton, and Grandpa taught a one-room school about a mile from their home. Grandpa had an apple orchard, and in October Mother went there to make applebutter. Edna Ruth was in fourth grade that year, and she and I decided to go with Mother and stay until Thanksgiving to go to school to Grandpa. They lived about 70 miles from us, and it took about half a day to get there. The afternoon that we got to Grandpa’s, Edna Ruth was having second thoughts about staying but I was excited about it. We had taken some of our books with us, and that evening I asked Grandpa what kind of math workbooks he used. He said, “The only workbook I use is a whip.” I didn’t know what to make of that answer.

The next day Mother was going to make applebutter in the morning and start home after lunch. Edna Ruth and I went to school with Grandpa that morning. The mountain children were strange to us, and we were strange to them. At noon I was having second thoughts about staying, and Edna Ruth was trying to persuade me to stay. We ended up both going home with Mother and singing “Home, Sweet Home” most of the way. So we went to school to Grandpa Randolph–but only half a day!

Playing together.

We worked hard together, and we played together. Although Mother did not particularly like the water, Dad saw to it that we children all learned to swim and that we loved the water. I remember many happy times swimming in the deep hole in the creek that ran in front of our home. And many times we went with Aunt Susie’s family in a larger stream near their home. Because we swam in rivers and creeks where there were no lifeguards, Dad always saw that we had a buddy system. Two people were paired as buddies, and those people were responsible for watching each other. When Dad blew a whistle, the buddies had to be holding hands within a few seconds. If not, we had to get out–so we learned fast to be good buddies.

We had lots of softball games in the meadow in front of our home. Sometimes neighbors who happened to be driving by would stop to play with us. And when we got together with Aunt Susie’s family, we had enough people for two full teams. We also played badminton in the yard. I don’t remember playing volleyball when we were children, but I do remember many volleyball games in a court in the meadow when we got together after we were grown. I also remember sometimes when we did not have a softball to play with, Mom would make one for us by winding string into a ball.

I remember Easter egg hunts in the pasture at home, at school, and at Grandpa Bond’s. We colored eggs, and Dad often bought wrapped peanut butter taffy and caramel candies. These would be hid along a marked trail; and at a signal we would go hunting. Usually different trails would be prepared for younger children and older children.

Dad got paid once a month during the school year, and he did not get a school check during the summer months. I remember payday was a special time. Mother usually went to town to cash the check and pay monthly bills. We sometimes ran a grocery bill at a country store in Jarvisville. When Mom paid this once a month, the storekeeper usually gave her a sack of candy for us children. Also I remember that sometimes when Mom went to Clarksburg on payday, she would buy us a jump rope or jacks. Alois usually could beat me at jumping rope and at jacks, but I also loved to play. We had lots of fun together!

There are many more incidents that I remember, and it is hard to chose what to include. I will simply close by expressing my thanks to you, Dad and Mom, for the love and sense of responsibility and belonging that you gave to all of us. I feel privileged to have had you as parents and to be able to help you complete your book of memories by including a few of mine.

Donald Richards

I’m happy to share several mental pictures of memories which have personal value and are characteristic of our relationship over the years.

The first time I was in your home, following introductions, I talked with Dad while he churned butter. After he finished, he put the churn on the floor next to his chair. Trying to be helpful, I offered to take it to the kitchen and received permission. However, as I started to put it on the table, the lid and crank mechanism separated from the jar. Butter, buttermilk, and broken glass splattered the floor. I wanted to crawl into a hole and pull it in after me, but couldn’t. I certainly succeeded in making an impression on you! You did your best to make me feel at ease, for which I was grateful. Only later did I discover that I had broken a borrowed churn.

Being near you through parts of Edna Ruth’s four pregnancies was a lifesaver for both of us, and later all of us. The same was true of Tim’s early illnesses. You never offered a word of complaint about personal inconvenience, added expense, and general emotional anxiety caused by our sickness. You were always there to help as needed, and not interfere.

As the children grew older, they looked forward to their summer visits, as did we when able to stay. When we left them, we always missed them but knew they were happy to be at Grandpa and Grandma’s home. Tim wrote, “We’re feasting on groundhog and turtle!” Your home was a haven for all. Special visit highlights include your 40th and 50th anniversary celebrations.

I will always remember and appreciate the generous and gracious spirit exemplified during Edna Ruth’s sickness and death. You hurt, oh so deeply, but you were there. I remember so well following her first surgery when we urged you to go ahead with your planned trip to Florida. You, Mom, said, “Oh, we couldn’t think of such a thing without knowing for sure Edna Ruth is all right.” You postponed your southern trip and came to New Jersey instead. Your presence helped so much and was deeply appreciated. Then, after she was better, while packing the car for your Florida trip, I remarked, “I can find only one of Dad’s overshoes.” I still laugh at myself when I think of the incident.

After Edna Ruth’s death, you returned home with an ache in your heart for her, and for us. You have always made me feel more like a son than a son-in-law. And I’m grateful for your acceptance of Shirley into the family circle, too. This is so typical of the circle of your loving concern, ever reaching out and drawing us into your hearts.

We are indeed rich and thank our heavenly Father for you, and pray God’s blessing and peace may rest upon you always.

Beth Randolph

I have lots of memories from when I was a kid, but probably the one event with the longest-lasting effect on my life was the time I used eggs to make my mud pies. I had been doing this for two or three days when Mother asked me if I knew anything about the eggs. She hadn’t been getting many the last few days. I said I didn’t. She never said anything more and neither did I, but the eggs quit disappearing. I felt so miserable about her believing me with no more questions asked that I have never intentionally lied to anyone again.

My legacy from Dad was a love of nature–especially birds, trees, and flowers–and a love of sports. People tell me they enjoy my enthusiasm. If that’s what I have, that must have come from him, too.

Thanks for all you’ve given to us, Dad and Mom.

Memories of Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren

Ruth Wheeler Thorpe

As a young child, I remember many trips to W.Va. to see Grandma and Grandpa. I always remember the atmosphere being somewhat quiet and joyful.

Many times we children would wake up in the morning and hear Grandma and her daughters, Mom included, in the kitchen preparing food and laughing as they gabbed. They prepared specialties such as rolls, fried fish, pies, cookies, fresh vegetables, and delicious fried crab tails (the only times I have had that).

At Grandma and Grandpa’s there was always a lot of time to fish and play games. In fact, that is where we grandchildren learned to play “Rook” cards.

In the evenings I can remember everyone sitting around in the cozy living room and we’d sing as Uncle Louie played the guitar. Then Grandpa would sing his “Poodle Dog” song and Grandma would tell “Woodticks.” That’s something I still enjoy when we get together.

When I went to college, I spent some weekends with Grandma and Grandpa. As I was taking a course in children’s art, Grandpa and Grandma helped me make some miniatures of a whittled gun and a braided rug. The time together was real special.

Our church college group had a weekend at Grandma and Grandpa’s my second year in school. It was so much fun, and the food was great! Grandma and Grandpa always welcome people into their home with wide-opened arms, and it is such a joy to be with them.

They get so much done and yet have so much time for fun things. And while things are being done, you feel relaxed. It is country living at its very best.

Leon Wheeler

The sun begins to rise, the rooster crows. Another day springs to life.

Pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast from homemade bread. Delicious!

An old wooden scythe, a whetstone, a club attached to my black leather belt, and high-cut boots. It’s time for work.

The cool morning air and glistening grass–dogs bark–birds sing in celebration. It’s a beautiful day.

The scythe swings in rhythm with the pulse of the earth. hot, perspiring, full of energy, alive . . . a drink of cool water. Ahh . . . refreshing. United with nature and self and the quiet exhilaration of physical labor, the day is quickly spent. I am tired, but at peace.

The work is done, the pond calls. rod and reel, hook and bobber, shining minnow, a serene lake. Life is so simple.

Evening falls silently . . . gently, the benediction to a beautiful day.

I’ve learned so much, Grandpa and Grandma. Thank you for teaching me to appreciate nature, work, and life. I love you.

Jon Wheeler

When I went to Great Grandma and Grandpa’s house, I remember fishing at their pond and catching a 19 1/2 inch catfish. And it was so big I could hardly hold it.

Robert Wheeler

It is interesting how our views of people reflect as much ourselves as they do those people. As I think back on my memories of Grandpa and Grandma Randolph over the years, I am reminded of that. Therefore, it is with some risk that I write these memories.

My earliest memories of Grandpa and Grandma are vague and infused with the home place, aunts, uncles and cousins. My first specific memories come from the time when our family lived in Salemville, Pennsylvania. Dad was and is a minister, and in my early childhood we lived far from any close relatives and we moved fairly frequently. Therefore, our visits to West Virginia became what I would now consider a return to roots. In West Virginia one found kin firmly established within the embrace of those timeless hills. I am certain that those visits contributed as much to my identity as any other single set of experiences outside my immediate family.

I vividly recall arriving at Grandpa and Grandma’s, usually late at night; turning off the winding paved road that was more potholes and patched potholes than original pavement onto the driveway;, the crunch of large chunks of refuse coal under the tires; the frequently muddy ruts where the coal had been pressed into the slick red clay; the old bridge which disappeared from view of the headlights as we approached it; the clatter, creaks and groans of the planks as they rose and fell again on the timber that seemed so precariously to span the banks; the cellar house growing out of the hill to the south of the main house; the pump on the porch by the kitchen that had to be primed and by which we had our Friday night baths in the zinc plated washtub; and grandma. Grandma was always there waiting and out the door before the car came to a stop. She was the epitome of loyalty and steadfast love. She almost ran to the car in her long strides, her strong arms and work-worn hands extended, and her weathered face radiant with a huge toothy smile that almost burst with enthusiasm. And it was so good to hear her call in that high resonant voice that must have called many a cow with a sincere Hilly drawl, “Well, how’r ya doin’.” it all engulfed me in a huge hug that was so warm and secure that it left no doubt that I was “home.”

Upon entering the house, Grandpa would call “hello” from behind the curtain which passed as a door to the bedroom just off the kitchen. Frequently other aunts, uncles or cousins were there or would soon arrive. If it were winter we would crawl up in a bed with the glow of a gas stove with its blue pointed flames above which radiated its heat in orange-red ceramic fingers.

I never saw Grandma retire to bed, nor did I ever see her arise. When I awoke to the bustle of activity about me and went into the kitchen, Grandma already had pancakes on the griddle with perhaps sausage or bacon and puffed rice and grapenuts on the table. Grandpa usually was seated in his rocker by the door to the window to the dark walkway under the cellar house by which one could get to the cellar. It was in that same cellar that Grandma once said she killed a huge black snake. That was okay for Grandma who seemed always to be killing snakes about, frequently copperheads, it seemed, and an occasional rattle snake or some “harmless” snake; but I dreaded even the distant sight of snakes and I don’t believe that I ever had the courage to enter the cellar even as an adult.

My earliest memories of Grandma essentially cast her in the role of the great provider. Grandma somehow did it all with a hearty laugh at anything we kids had to say. She might punctuate the laughter with “Well, fer cryin’ out loud!” or “Ya don’t say!”

When Grandma was not looking after us, she was looking after Grandpa. Until he got his whistle, Grandpa need only call, “Ruth! Hey Ruth!” and she came in a jiffy from the garden, kitchen, or field, where ever she might have been working. In later childhood or adolescence I recall an occasional remonstrance: “You’d think that all I had to do was look after you,” or something to that effect.

I remember Grandpa’s frown of concentration and his large hands that were an integral part of his speech and personality. Even today when I visit I am struck with their deliberate and precise expressions which speak even when at task. I recall as a child those hands with a knife skillfully applied to a stick of wood one of the grandchildren had brought to him after a precisely prescribed adventure designed to obtain the required material; I remember those hands with lace or leather tools, always deliberate, with the thumb underneath and the rest of the fingers aligned straight and above and touching to the thumb in a measured way until it was just right for the task; I remember how they embraced the steering wheel of his car with a finger extended in precision, and how they gripped his crutches or the chair into which he was descending, again with the utmost deliberation. But behind all the precision and deliberation of those hands extended Grandpa’s personality. Whatever those hands said, they expressed an opinion, and not just an opinion but one that was final, that put the matter for rest once and for all.

One did not argue with Grandpa. No one, that is, except, perhaps Grandma. And then, it was not argument. For all Grandma’s selfless serving of others and of Grandpa, particularly, on matters of importance to her, Grandma stood her ground, and Grandpa listened. This I saw only when I was much older, and although it surprised me at first, yet, once I had recovered, I was impressed that there remained under it a mutual respect for the other, a mutual devotion, dependency, love.

Grandpa was forever the teacher. That is how the entire community saw him. Everywhere Grandpa went, someone greeted him as though they were family. When one rode with Grandpa in the car, almost no one passed without greeting us with an enthusiastic smile and a waive, and Grandpa would return the kindness with a nod of the head and a variation on that familiar hand gesture which this time approximated a salute. It made me feel good, not so much because everyone knew my grandpa, but because the whole community was in some sense family. Everything, everyone belonged, even I.

Grandpa’s grandchildren were as much his students as his school children. We were taught the calls and identity of the bob white, wood thrush, catbird, cardinal and many other native birds. Wood carving was an essential summer activity and a sharp knife was essential to the lessons. We worked with lace and leather, too. We learned how to dig sassafras and make tea of its roots, and we learned to cut white birch twigs and make tea of the bark. The birch bark was better when eaten from the twig, however.

When he still taught, I recall the smooth worn wooden tray on which Grandpa corrected papers, frequently in the Spring to the sound of the Pittsburgh Pirates game. Those games also provided good company when fishing. In fact, although I knew Pittsburgh was in Pennsylvania, I assumed that the baseball team belonged to West Virginia, and more particularly to Grandpa.

When he still smoked, I recall how Grandpa rolled the cigarette in a thin white tissue, licked the edge of the paper carefully and nursed the edge with that same deliberate manual expression. I recall the very first puff, too – a fresh almost roasted smell. Unfortunately only the first puff that filled the air was good. However, Grandpa quit smoking soon thereafter, I am told probably as much out of concern for the example it taught as for his own health.

In my high school years I noted that with Grandpa adults were not beneath his teaching – not even his own children. That surprised me because I always imagined how great it would be when I graduated from high school and no one would tell me what to do again. When there were tasks to be done, Grandpa carefully explained the manner in which they were to be accomplished, at times with some difference of opinion.

I attended Salem College for five years upon graduation from high school. It is difficult for one to attach rational explanation to adolescent decisions, but I suppose I chose Salem as much because of my attraction to Grandpa and Grandma and romantic notions of escape from the outside impersonal world as for any other reason. Retreat to Grandpa and Grandma’s was retreat into the friendly isolation of their locale and family. I recall many weekend visits from Salem. Uncle Rex, Uncle Bond or Grandpa and Grandma would provide transportation to or from the campus. Rook was the favorite pastime of family gatherings. Uncle Bond could do magic, Grandpa was deliberate, serious and calculating, but Grandma was a joy. She was the best partner one could have. Even when she complained of miserable hands, one always vividly sensed in her the pure, simple joy of life.

Early in my college experience I recall complaining to Grandpa about professors and being met with hostility toward my impudence, disrespect and presumptuousness. His Democratic views frequently clashed with my innately Republican views. He suggested quite antiquated ideas. I am sure that he and Grandma would not be offended when I say that Grandpa and I simply did not see eye to eye on many things and it was frequently evident.

Toward the end of my college career, it was no longer necessary for me to teach Grandpa. Although Grandpa used language which was old and unfamiliar to me, what he said expressed fundamentally sound, eternal principles about human nature which were as applicable in education then as at any other time in history. Once I could accept Grandpa for the person he was and not try to remake him in my mold, a whole new person opened up to me. I vividly recall his description of a lecture by the dean upon his graduation from teachers college. The subject was “How to Whup a Boy.” It struck me that although the current education thought was adverse to corporal punishment in schools, nonetheless the method described struck at the core of all good education, indeed human relations: respect and love for the individual; restraint; reconciliation. The method described required three swats, but after each a period of time when the teacher rubbed the boy down, explained the problem of the behavior, that the teacher did not want to punish the child, but that it was done to help the child. Such a method kept the punishment focused on the welfare and dignity of the child, and it assured that the punishment did not deteriorate into mere vindictiveness or venting of rage.

It was a wonderful experience when just Grandpa and I went fishing and he trusted me to support him in place of his crutch. For a person with one leg, stability is a constant concern. The Grandpa on whom I had always depended, was now depending on me. It is difficult to describe what that change in relationship meant to me.

Similarly, it was toward the end of my college education that I began to discover a new Grandma. About that time I was trying to sort out who God was and why illness and evil occur in the world despite the best of our efforts – those apparent flaws in a fabric which I had always believed to be perfect. At that time I became impressed with Grandma’s quiet, yet powerful and pervasive faith. She never preached to anyone, even when they deserved it -she never had to. She was always willing to help, to serve, and yet she did so with the greatest of self integrity. She always accepted people without judgment.

I became impressed with Grandma’s quiet and constant religious conviction. Although Grandpa was physically unable to attend church at Lost Creek, and I do not recall a time when the two of them went to Church, every Friday night Grandma studied the Helping Hand in the rocking chair in the kitchen. It was evident that she obtained great strength from that time of devotion.

As I have matured, I have found myself moving from focus on “right belief” to a recognition that at the core, Jesus’ message is that one can find God and salvation only through love and service of other people. Both Grandpa and Grandma, I have come to realize, have shown and indeed experienced, God’s love, through their love and devotion to each other and to the people that surround them, whoever they may be. I see their influence in not only my aunts, uncles, cousins and parents, but also in myself, and I am indeed grateful. The roots I have found in them turns out to be far more basic and expansive than the isolated family orientation which I originally sought from them. I thank them for that. I also thank them for this autobiography in which they again share themselves with us.

Cindy Randolph Truman

I like to go to West Virginia to Grandpa and Grandma’s because I just love Grandma’s cooking, and many times she also helps me cook. I also like to go fishing with Grandpa because he’s always teaching me something new. I’ll never forget when Diana and I were little–about 9 years old–and we were learning to fish. I was taking the fish to the bucket. I didn’t hold it like Grandpa said; it stuck its fin up and stuck my hand. Grandpa got upset because I lost my fish, but I was glad because I learned how to hold a fish. I love also to take care of Grandpa’s tropical fish.

Every time I go down, Grandma adds me a couple extra pounds. But everyone loves her cooking.

I think they are just the greatest grandparents anyone could have.

Brian Randolph

I like to go to Grandpa and Grandma Randolph’s because we are always welcome. Grandma’s food is always great, and she is always glad to see us. She always has work for us to do. I don’t mind because I like to help her. Grandpa is special in other ways such as if we work for him after we are done he will take us fishing. It is fun to fish with Grandpa because you always learn something new. On days it rains Grandpa starts up chess matches and other games. Grandpa usually wins, but it is fun to try to beat him. I love Grandpa and Grandma for what they have taught me and for the things they have done for me.

Doug Randolph

I like to go to West Virginia to stay at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s to fish and play chess with Grandpa, and I also like Grandma’s cooking. I also like to play in the pines and at night watch TV with Grandpa–and the snack that Grandma makes before bed.

John Randolph

When I go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house,
I very seldom find a mouse.
Grandpa–well, he likes to fish,
While Grandma cleans another dish.
Uncle Rex don’t live too far away;
Sometimes I go up there to play.
I will love Grandpa and Grandma always,
And I’ll always remember the good old days,
When Grandma would make us a rhubarb pie,
And we would go fishing–Grandpa and I.

Elyn Lewis

From the time I was very young, I felt that my grandparents were very unique and special. No one else’s Grandpa had only one lea and walked with crutches. The crutches always intrigued me, and wished I could play with them. And my Grandma had pure WHITE hair, but she had much more youth and stamina than the picture-book grandmas with white hair.

I was impressed that they lived in W.Va. in the mountains with a river” in front of their house and that they had a cellar house connected by a walkway rather than the traditional two stories. I always hoped our family could sleep in the cellar house, and I thought it was fantastic to catch minnows and crayfish in the creek.

When I got older, I enjoyed going fishing with Grandpa in real rivers or lakes and sometimes riding in his rowboat or just hearing about it. When I thought of Grandpa, I thought of fishing. And Grandma amazed me by the many skills and talents she possessed, not the least of which was her cooking, including her specialty–homebaked bread.

My summers in W.Va. included fishing every day, working in the gardens, and learning to be a “Boy” Scout, among other things. At night we slept in the cellar house and scared each other with stories of bobcats outside.

Now that I’m older, I’m convinced more than ever that my grandparents are unique and special. Their inner characteristics and strength impress me now. And I know my friends and I are always welcome no matter what the hour of the nightl

Mark Lewis

Since my earliest memories as a chld, the memory of trips to West Virginia to visit Grandpa and Grandma Randolph have always been special. The trip from Southern Illinois was an adventure, and our expectations rose as each mile drew us nearer to their home. No matter what the snow and winter chill was like outside, the warmth of love in their home made us always warm and comfortable.

When I think of trips to their home, good fishing and good eating are always highlights. We spent hours weeding the gardens every summer. Now, weeding a garden wasn’t my first choice of summer fun; but it taught us kids the value of work. If you want to enjoy the bounty of the harvest, you must share in the labor that preceeds it. Many summer afternoons were spent sickling the grass around new pine seedlings on the side hill over the pond. This summer (1984) those same seedlings are 20 feet tall!

The summer of 1968 cousin Richard Wheeler and I stayed with Grandpa and Grandma and worked for them. That’s the summer we sickled the pine seedlings. We cleared undergrowth in their woods up the hollow. Grandpa carved a handle to fit a double-bit axe head, and it was just the right size for a boy like me. I was so proud of my axe; it was a joy to cut wood with it by the hour. Grandpa taught me how to build a fire and how to cook outdoors.

Grandma was always spry, healthy, cheerful, busy, hard-working, supportive, full of love for us all, and baked pies and cakes so good you never wanted to stop eating. Grandpa was always ready to teach us kids somethings, especially scouting skills. He taught me how to whittle, sharpen a knife, and the value of patience through fishing.

Two sayings stick most in my mind when thinking about my grandparents. First is “Look for the good in people.” They always looked for the good in people, and it was very easy to find boundless good in them. Second is “Actions speak louder than words.” They were never braggers or boasters, but instead they gave us all a clear Christian message by their daily conduct. I guess the one thing I best remember about them is the love they shared with us all.

Tim Richards


Worked real hard to build that camp.
Lean-to, cookstove, all of that.
Cut the trees down one by one.
Worked real hard ’til it was done.
Built the frame real good and strong–
Wanted it to last real long.
Covered it with Hemlock green–
Best looking thing I’ve ever seen.
Worked real hard ’til it was right.
Waited for that fateful night.
All us guys slept out that night,
Gave ourselves a real good fright,
Talked of all the snakes about–
Finally wound up in the house.


Randall, Diana, Stacy, and Jeremy Randolph

To the most lovable grandparents in the world:

We want to thank you and let you know how much we appreciate getting to live in your cellar house while we build our home. You are giving us the financial edge we need to accomplish our goal.

We also are enjoying getting to know you better and growing closer to you.

No matter how often you read these paragraphs, our love and appreciation will be thousands of times greater.

Christina Boyd Thorngate

Visits to Grandpa and Grandma’s are all memorable, but they’ve asked me to share only one.

The Bond Reunions have always been among my favorites. The one I remember the most was back when I was about 10 or 11 years old.

We were having our annual softball game, and Grandpa was in his usual position behind the plate calling balls and strikes. I was playing out on second base; and when the ball was hit, Uncle Bond came running toward me. I got the ball and just stood there ready to tag Uncle Bond out. He kept running toward me hoping to scare me, but I stood my ground and got him out. I heard Grandpa yell, “You’re outl” The next thing I knew, my Mom came up from behind me, picked me up and twirled me around, saying, “That’s my Chrissy! That’s my Chrissy!” Grandma just sat up on the hill, smiling and looking contented.


Almost Heaven, Grandma’s Kitchen,
Homemade bread and even homemade cookies.
Life is good there–better than my own–
With the smell of good bread always in the air.


Back Roads, Take me home,
To the place where I belong,
Grandma’s kitchen, Grandpa’s fishpond
Take me home, back roads.

All the fishes hate our dear Grandpa,
Even Grandma’s good homemade bread.
In the sun and even in the rain.
Grandpa’s always in his boat a’fishing all the time.


I hear Mom’s voice in the morning as she calls me.
The pancakes fryin’ remind me of my Grandma’s kitchen.
And lyin’ in the bed I get a taste
Of Grandma’s homemade bread, homemade bread.


Memories of Brothers and Sisters

Avis Swiger

Ashby, do you remember a trip we made to Uncle Waitie’s when we got a bucket of strawberries to take home? I recall two special things about it. I decided I had carried the berries long enough and told you to take them. As usual we disagreed (don’t brothers and sisters always), and I set the bucket down and walked on. You also walked on–and I can’t remember who went back after itl We came near to the station at–(I can’t remember the name of that train stop), and there was a snake by the path. I was perfectly willing to take the bucket while you killed the snake. My private thoughts were that I was being punished for my stubbornness about carrying the berries.

I am sure you haven’t forgotten the time I just missed your head with a salt shaker. You tormented me by flipping a towel at me. You didn’t often hit me, but just the idea of it really scared me. I called to Mama for help but didn’t get it, so I grabbed the first thing at hand and threw it. Our salt shakers had heavy leaded bottoms, and it would have knocked you out if you hadn’t ducked. I believe the incident helped both of us, for I don’t remember any more times you “flipped” me with a towel. I thought many nights about what could have been the result of my mad throwing.

In later years we were able to work together very well. I used to read aloud to you for our English assignments, and you did my work in the lab–cutting up the star fish, etc.

Orson H. Bond

Ash, I did not know you until you were well established in the family; but Ruth, I well remember your young days up to or near the mule days, which you and Main had an opportunity to enjoy that we older kids missed. However, Papa did save for me the first ride on the first mule raised on Crooked Run. It was my first and last ride on a mule. Main and I rode over to Beachlers.

Ruth, do you remember how you and Main helped me develop my arm muscles so I could compete with 0. B. doing chin-ups? Outdoing 0. B. was hard to come by. but when I could do the chin-ups with you hanging onto one leg and Main on the other, I was in the running for keeps.

How you did love to swing, more so than being rocked in a chair. Before you were a year old, we kids would put you in a swing. You liked to do your own hanging on–you always was sort of a “do it yourself” youngster anyhow. You required far less help than any of the eight kids, but a bit venturesome when alone.

I can still hear Mamma, Ada, and Lydia calling, “Ruth, where are you?” You were quite good about answering. If I am not mistaken, Papa was the one that taught you to answer when called after you had been a bit slow. Anyway, the answer would be, “Out here,” “Over here,” “Up here,” “Under here,” and sometimes “Down to the run.” No one liked that. What we did not know then was if you fell in you would crawl out. If you did not like it, once was enough. If you did like it–well, that is something else.

I guess the worst scare you ever gave us was on a windy day. Papa and I were making brooms. You perhaps can recall Papa did not like to make brooms on a good day. Anyway, by the time the third one joined the “Ruth, where are you?” Papa said, “Orson, you had better go see what’s the trouble.” When my “Ruth, where are you?” had no results, Papa joined the “Ruth, where are you?”s

From a tall white oak sapling that was a bit taller than the others in a clump of oaks down by the run, across the road from the corner of the lawn and garden, you had a clear view of what was going on between the broom shop and house, while the stiff wind swayed you to and fro. You had climbed to a position in the top and were living it up when Papa joined the “Ruth, where are you?”s

You thought it was about time to say, “Up here. Watch me swing.” Mamma was saying, “Mercy, mercy, don’t scare her.” In the softest tone Pape could muster, he asked if you didn’t think it was about time to come down. The tone of his voice and your urge to swing gave you an okay to say, “After one more swing!” One more was not according to Papa’s liking. But in your case it was fine. The question was how you ever got up there in the first place. Papa said, “She knows, and she can get down.” You did, by changing to trees you could reach until you got to the ground. Papa did not even say, “Don’t you ever do that again”; but instead, he did say, “If you want to climb trees, you had better have someone with you.”

It was not so long after that Papa changed from raising horses to mules, you may recall. Not that your tree climbing was the direct cause of changing from horses to mules. But it does show the changes that did take place during our growing-up period.

Ian H. Bond

My youngest sister, Ruth, was approximately 2 1/2 years younger than I. My earliest recollection of her was the day she was born. It seemed to me, in my immature and confused mind, that other members of the family and friends had been paying a great deal of attention to some object that was lying in bed with my mother, which I was curious to see. After much tugging on one of the more available members of the family, whose attention I was able to gain, probably Ada, I said in a quiet, pleading voice, “Let me see that cucumber.” Mamma heard me and said, “Let him see her.” I went to the side of the bed–there I saw Ruth. After I saw her, I still seemed confused that I was seeing a cucumber, and no one was about to tell me anything different.

She grew up to be a swinger and could swing continually from morning to nite. Later when we went to Salem College Academy, Ruth had pretty well caught up with me–classwise–that was a good thing, and I am grateful to her. She studied hard, and her grades were so good that the teachers would sometimes tell me I should be ashamed for letting my little sister beat me, and that usually had its proper effect.

My early memories of Ashby Randolph was that of a youthful, rugged boy scout, who loved the out of doors and the many mental and physical activities which scouting provided. He diligently developed his talents and became an expert swimmer among his contemporaries. In college he found time for football and gained a wellknown reputation as a lineman and opened many a hole for the Green and White running backs.

Main Bond

This is your life, Ruth:

Sabbath School class under the Oak Tree–memory verses–Uncle John, teacher.

First things first, and you were always first.

Grandpa taking us a horse-back ride. Went under a clothesline. You, being first, went under. The clothesline went under my chin.

Playing in the snow when we were supposed to be in the house. You made it to the house; I was caught at the yard gate.

Fishing at the Rhodes place. You pulling turtles out of the creek bank.

4-H poultry project. What a mess, ha!

Playing Rook at Harvey Heaveners.

The lost sheep at the Watson place. A buggy trip to Uncle Eddie’s. Supper!

Exercising the horses Sabbath afternoon.

Harvesting corn. From back of the house to the foot of the hill. Watermelons, and who grew them? Ruth, of course.

I may have remembered things I should have forgot. Forgot many things I should have remembered.

Maybe this is enough horsing around. So as the youngsters say now, KEEP ON TRUCKING!

Chapter 7: Memories of Retirement Years

Ashby’s Memories — Getting My Birth Certificate and Social Security

Before I could retire, I had to furnish proof that I was born and when and where. It was a difficult job to prove those things. I finally got statements from Salem College officials of their age records and Mother and Father’s Family Bible and other school records that allowed the Ritchie County Clerk to issue me a birth certificate as Ashby F. Randolph. Apparently, the death of my older brother, Harold, on the day I was born had caused Dr. Bee to forget to register my birth.

The getting of Social Security payments took a number of visits to their office in Clarksburg. It must have taken them six months to a year to get my payments straightened out. I got some extra checks but only had to give back one check. I do not remember the exact amount of the first check, but in January 1972 my Social Security check was $155.00 and my school retirement check was $306.34. Ruth got Social Security of $69.20 and no retirement for cooking. If she outlives me, as long as she lives she will get one-half of what my teacher’s retirement would be. Now, January 1982, my Social Security is $381.50, my school retirement is $416.06, and Ruth’s Social Security is $177.20.

Living on Retirement Income

You might wonder how we could live on our income. There are reasons and I will mention some. We own our home. We get 200,000 cubic feet of natural gas per year free because of a gas well on the original farm for this house site. We have only used more than the 200,000 cubic feet three times in our 53 years here. Two of the bills were under $3, and the other was over $11.

Another reason we can live on our income is because Ruth learned from her mother and my mother what they had learned from necessity about cooking and managing a household economically. Besides, she has learned a lot on her own.

You may have noticed earlier in this story that we kept pigs (one or two), two cows, and chickens. Before I was handicapped, we raised grain and meadow to feed our stock. It wouldn’t look it now, but we raised 2 1/2 acres of such things as corn, wheat, or soybeans; and I always either cradled or cut it with a scythe. Besides that 2 1/2 acres, we raised corn and Sudan grass on a 2-acre piece at the very head of our hollow. Then, of course, there was the 3 acre meadow in front of our house that I put up with horses or tractors.

After I was handicapped, Ruth tried to keep cows and take care of the hill meadow. She stacked one of the most beautiful haystacks on the hill that I ever saw. The cows were a pain in the neck (would be one way to say it). One of them (the beautiful Jersey that one of our very best neighbors, Bill Jarvis, gave us while I was sick) kicked so fiercely that Ruth had to tie her hind feet together before she could milk her; so we got rid of her. The other one got hurt. After much raising her up each day, she fell into the creek; so I shot her.

Ruth didn’t stop helping by a long shot. She has always raised two gardens of about one acre together. It is one of the best gardens in our region. She not only raises the garden, but she cans and freezes all that we can use and gives away the rest. We used to hire the gardens plowed and disked, but now she even does that with her Troy Built rototiller.

You might wonder what I do to keep out of mischief. I can’t stand to just watch Ruth work, so I try to help her all I can. I use my tractor to furrow the rows ready for planting; and I haul in her garden crops, water, fertilizer, lime, etc., with the tractor trailer. I also mow a good acre of yard, but Ruth does the real hard work–the trimming. I also do some leather craft such as handbags, billfolds, and belts. I have done some for pay (realizing about $2 per hour) but most for love for relatives and friends.

Visiting and Fishing in Rhode Island

This is enough about making a living during retirement. Now, maybe you would like to know of our pleasure–or you might call it recreation.

Our recreation mostly consists of visiting, fishing, playing cards and Aggravation, and watching television. The visiting and fishing usually go together.

We visited our daughter and son-in-law, Xenia Lee and Edgar Wheeler, in Ashaway, Rhode Island, for about a month in November 1966. Besides visiting their family, we visited and fished with our Salem College schoolmate, Everett Harris. We also visited and fished with Elsie and Kenneth Leyton. Kenneth and Elsie lived on the beach and had one of the best fishing boats we ever fished from. The four of us caught about 30 flatfish, and they gave us all they caught.

Each of the other days that the weather was the least bit fit, Ruth and I fished for flatfish at a salt pond of about 50 acres where Edgar kept his boat. We would go for about 3 or 4 hours and sometimes catch about 20 flatfish–sometimes 2 or 3.

November 21, 1966, Esther, our granddaughter (a really grand one), was born. We went back to their place when our grandson Ernie (and a really grand one he was) was born on February 1, 1968. Our fishing and visiting was about the same as when Esther was born.

Traveling through New York City.

Our trips through New York City were a real experience for us. On the first one we followed Route 1 from the Washington Bridge to Route 95 on the east side of the city. I remember going underground quite a way once. Another time I was blocked by heavy traffic from following our Route 1, and an obliging policeman helped us. We thought we could do anything after we survived that experience.

Before we went the next time, Joe Boyd, our son-in-law, told us how to go around New York City by the Saw Mill Road. We followed it a few years; then we started going by the Hudson River Parkway and the Merritt Parkway to I-95. That was beautiful scenery. On the far side of the Hudson were the steep Palisades, and on the river were boats and ships of all kinds. The Merritt Parkway was lined with forests, flowers, and rocks.

The last time we went that way, they played a trick on us. Beth was with Ruth and me, or we might not have made it. They had been directing us to the Hudson River Parkway until we got across the George Washington Bridge; then we could find no more signs saying we were on or how to get onto the Hudson River Parkway. Finally I stopped and tried to get Beth to get directions from people in another car that had stopped. But Beth noticed that the driver and probably his wife were having an argument about the same trouble. So we went on until we came to a pay station, where the collector told us that we weren’t lost; they had changed the name to Deegan Upstate Highway, and the Merritt was just a little way ahead.

Once after that we missed the way onto the Deegan Upstate and thought we would find it again, but we got lost at a dead-end road to a big estate. After wandering through all kinds of places (some of them scary-looking), we found a telephone crew working. The crew leader walked to show us how to get on a highway that led us onto the George Washington Bridge. After that, we always followed the Garden State to the Tappan Zee Bridge to the Merritt Parkway to I-95.

Fishing in Florida

The trip to Orson’s in 1970. In 1970 we decided to try our luck fishing and visiting in Florida. Ruth’s sister Susie Williams had been fishing with us often. She seemed to enjoy it so much that we asked her to go along. She was glad to go. A cousin, Lotta Bond, had retired; so we asked her to go along (which she was glad to do). The trip went fine until we got to Daytona Beach. We went by Cleveland, Tennessee, where ,my sister, Avis Swiger, lived. We stayed over night with Avis, Archie (her husband), and their family. What a visit we had before retiring. Archie and Susie especially kept us laughing so much that my sides were sore and I could hardly get to sleep.

About 9 p.m. we got into Daytona Beach and began hunting for 110 Azalia Drive, Holly Hill (which is a suburb of Daytona Beach). That was where Ruth’s brother Orson lived, and we were to stay at his place. We must have gone through Holly Hill three or four times, each time stopping at a different place near the corner of Mason and Ridgewood to get directions. Finally, after Ruth and Susie got hysteria, a man at a newsstand told us that Azalia Drive didn’t enter Mason Street but we would have to go back of the bowling alley, where we would find Gardenia Street, which would lead us to Azalia Drive. So, about 11 p.m., we found Gardenia; and Orson was there watching for us. All were happy at last.

Orson was living by himself, so we had a great time helping him celebrate his 80th birthday on March 7. We also fished off some of the bridges. Once we went on a large boat up the Halifax River; Orson and I both caught a few nice sea trout.

A trip to Ian’s in 1973.

In January of 1973, we went to Ruth’s brother Ian’s-who-had retired from being a medical doctor in Chicago and built a home in Ormond Beach, Florida. We were so glad that we easily located his home at 386 Military Boulevard. Orson and Ian were outside the house watching for us.

The house and the whole place were a dream retirement place. Pearl and Ian had planned the house the way they wanted it–spacious and handy kitchen with both a bar and a table for eating (so you could take your choice), a large sitting room with a cozy fireplace, and three bedrooms and two baths. Back of the house and yard was an orchard and garden (which Orson had helped plan) with a strawberry patch and different citrus fruits. We sampled them, and they were delicious.

We mostly went to a pier to fish. When Ian could, he went with us. I remember once he was with us when I was especially glad. I caught a blue, and the darned thing grabbed me between the thumb and the front finger with its sharp teeth. The more I tried to get it loose, the tighter it clamped down. Ian noticed my trouble and pried its jaws open with a doctor’s instrument that he carried.

Once Ian went with us on an ocean-fishing trip. Ruth caught about as many as we did, but she put in a lot of time on a couch in the cabin because of sea sickness.

After five weeks of fishing five days each week, going to the Daytona Seventh Day Baptist Church each Sabbath, and visiting on Sundays with such people as Mary and Kenneth Hulin and Kay and Lillian Bee or going sight-seeing with Ian, Pearl (Ian’s wife), and Orson, we packed our fish that were left and joyfully went home.

We kept up our trips to Florida each year until this year (1981-1982). We are staying home to write this life history. It is not easy.

Fish We Caught in Florida–and Where

I have been thinking that you might be interested in the kinds of fish and the amounts of them we caught in Florida. Maybe you would like to know where we caught them.

One of the most common kinds of fish caught off the piers of Florida is the whiting. We caught many of them. One day we caught 58–and most of them were between two and three pounds of extremely delicious meat. Many think they are the best-tasting salt-water fish. There were two older ladies from Ohio who caught two five-gallon buckets full–about twice as many as we did–that same day.

Another special day on this Ormond-By-The-Sea Pier, the blues were hitting on Sea Hawk plugs; Ruth and I caught 42 of them. They hit savagely about every cast. If one got off, another would strike–usually before you could get the bait in to the pier. One time Ruth thought she had a monster, but she landed two of them on one plug at one cast.

Fishing trip to Lake Okeechobee. Ian only fished with us two years in Florida because he died during an operation to repair a blood vessel that was in danger of bursting. The last year he fished with us, we had a special experience. Ian, Pearl, Ruth, and I went to Lake Okeechobee to try to catch bass over 20 inches long. (I had been trying for years to do that. I had caught some between 19 and 20 inches but none over 19 3/4 inches.)

We got adjoining rooms in a hotel at Clewston and arrived Sunday afternoon. We (Ian and I) hired for Monday a guide who we thought could get us the fish we wanted. Sunday afternoon we fished from the bank and caught a few bass. That night we played Rook until bedtime.

Monday morning finally came. Our guide outfitted us with three dozen six-inch shiners, and away we went in his power boat. At noon we had two channel cats about 20 inches that Ian caught, and I had one bass 21 inches. The girls had come back from sightseeing and shopping and had our dinners ready for us. We ate it in the park, and right back on the lake we went. I got two more 21-inchers, and Ian got one 18 inches. He had one on that jumped before it got under the boat and broke off (probably on the anchor rope). It seemed larger than any of mine. What a memorable trip!

Fish on the St. John’s River.

The first year Ian fished with us (the same year he saved my hand from that bluefish), we went crappie fishing on the St. John’s River. We paid $30 for that day and caught 14 crappies, each about 15 inches long. (The guide for the Okeechobee day cost us $50 besides the bait.)

Flagler Beach, Fall 1980.

The last year we went to Florida we stayed at a motel (Topaz Motel) at Flagler Beach instead of staying at Ormond Beach with Pearl. This Flagler Beach Pier was more economical. We paid $15 for fishing rights for the seven weeks (we had to pay $3 per day at Ormond Beach).

On the pier we filleted the fish and kept them on ice until we got them to the motel, where we put them in the deep freeze. Every other week we would take them to Pearl’s big freezer.

The number and kinds of fish we caught.

During the seven or eight weeks we usually-stayed in Florida, we would accumulate about 400 fish. The last year that we stayed with Pearl, we put 417 fish in her freezer. We didn’t bring them all back with us; we gave some to Pearl and other special friends (like Mary and Kenneth Hulin, Rev. Kenneth Van Horn, and Rev. Leon Maltby).

Some of the kinds of fish we caught besides blues and whiting were Spanish mackerel, jacks, drums, sheepheads, and sea trout. Others we caught and did not keep were hammerhead sharks, sand sharks, shovelnose sharks, occasionally a stingray, and many catfish.

Card Games and Other Recreation

For breaks, we play Aggravation and Rook. In playing Aggravation, we never aggravate each other unless there is no other possible move. When we play Rook, we use a dummy–we help each other keep Dummy from setting us. Also, we pass some time by watching television. There aren’t many programs we can stomach. The horror, supernatural, and crime stories are not for us. We do like news, Gun Smoke, Chips, and Little House on the Prarie, etc.

Sometimes we have mighty welcome company–all the company we get are extremely welcome!

I expect Rex, Phyllis, Bond and Ruby come most often. Others who come fairly often are Chris Boyd and her friend Laurel Sue Smith. Chris is a senior at Salem College this year (1982). Neighborhood children come to fish or sell something. All are very much appreciated.

I think these things will get us through this winter (1981-82) until we can catch trout–then go West to visit our in-laws and fish with as many as will go with us (especially our grandchildren and great grandchildren). Then back home to our garden, yard, and West Virginia turtle- and fish-catching.

{Note (inserted by Mae as this is typed in 1984.) Mom and Dad were not able to make the trip west in the spring of 1982 because Mom had hip-replacement surgery in April. She got along marvelously, and by July she was working in her garden again. The doctor said he had never had a patient improve faster than Mom did after this type of surgery.}

Bird Watching

I left out one of our most important winter entertainments. We feed the birds grain and suet in plain sight of our kitchen and TV room. Maybe you would like to know some of these entertaining friends that eat the food we put out in our grain feeder and the onion sacks with suet.

There are always downy woodpeckers, titmice, chickadees, and nuthatches at the suet. Sometimes hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and a carolina wren will eat at the suet.

More different kinds of birds eat at our grain feeder. I expect cardinals and slate-colored juncos are the most common ones. Sometimes blue jays, morning doves, red-bellied woodpeckers, song sparrows, tree sparrows, white-throated sparrows, vesper sparrows, and (about once a year) evening grossbeaks and purple finches visit our feed box. Also occasionally a fox squirrel or a ruffled grouse will visit us.

This fall one ruffled grouse came in our TV room at a north window and left by a south one. We were eating when we heard the crash. When we looked, there was glass all over the TV room, and just outside lay a grouse (which was delicious as a grouse pie).

Ruth’s Memories — A Fishing Trip to New Jersey

We took sister Susie with us to New Jersey. Her son James lived in Bridgeton, and Edna Ruth’s lived some six miles away across the road from the Marlboro Church. James was a “craft” teacher. At that time one of his former students owned a small boat. He agreed to take us fishing on the bay. James said he had a toilet on the boat so we did not need to worry about that.

Going out, the waves were quite choppy, reminding me of a short-loping horse. I thoroughly enjoyed that, for short-loping a horse was a childhood game I loved. The wind did not let up. By the time we got out a mile or so, the waves were tossing the boat about enough to make Susie and me both sick. He anchored the boat, and we tried to fish. Part of the boat had a flat bottom. The front end (where the toilet was located) was a foot or so lower than the rest of the floor. Ashby sat on the floor near the middle to help keep it balanced. I would fish a little while, then have to lean over the side to “york.” I had to take my teeth out first, for I did not want to lose them. Ashby hung onto my coattail so I would not fall overboard. I finally caught a two-foot shark.

Susie was sick, but she did not “york.” She did need to go to the restroom. The door was so low one had to almost crawl to get in. There was not room enough to turn around, so she had to crawl out and then back in. After all that, we decided to go back to shore since we could not catch fish anyway. They were preparing to send a boat out to search for us. I was fine as soon as I got on land, but Susie was sick in bed the rest of the day.

Our Last Trip to Florida, October 1983

I must tell about our last trip to Florida in 1983. Right now we do not think we will go alone again.

It took 1 1/2 days to get to Flagler Beach. We had an efficiency apartment for six weeks. We got there about noon, got the key to the apartment, unloaded the car, ate a bite, then got our permits to fish from the pier for three months for $15, and went fishing. Fish were not plentiful, but we caught enough for supper. Then we had to go 17 miles to Aunt Pearl’s to pick up a cart and some ocean-fishing equipment we had left there. On the way back we stopped and bought a supply of groceries. It was getting dark when we got back to our apartment, tired but happy.

I took a load of groceries in, unlocked the door and put the things on the table (including the keys) and went back for another load. The window had been left open; and while I was gone, a big puff of wind blew the door shut and it locked. There we were–in a strange place, knowing no one, and tired as fox hounds–locked out of our house. We both wished we were back home.

We decided to go to the pier. A restaurant was connected to it; we thought maybe they would know where the lady lived who rented the apartment to us. They were busy waiting on customers, so I waited what seemed a long time before anyone came to help me.

I noticed three men sitting at a table visiting after a late sandwich. I told the lady the predicament we were in, but she had no idea how to help us. Just then two of the men got up and came over to us. one of them said, “Did I hear you say you were locked out of your car?” I said, “Mr, it is worse than that! We are locked out of our house.” He said, “I am a locksmith, and this fellow with me works for the city. His job is unlocking doors.” The Good Lord was in control!

Our apartment.

I must tell you about our apartment. The living room, dining room, and kitchen were one big room. The refrigerator had a big freezing compartment, so we had room to take care of our fish. There was a TV, a nice couch, two comfortable chairs, dining table, stove, and nice cabinets–real cozy. There was a narrow hallway with two closets. The bedroom had a bed and chest of drawers, with just room for me to go between the foot of the bed and the chest. Daddy had to sit on the bed and scoot to the foot and get up again to go to the bathroom.

The bathroom must have been about six by six feet. The shower took up about three square feet. It was impossible to get a shower without getting your head wet. When Dad took a shower, he had to sit on a chair, then onto the floor and scoot in. When he got in, there was not enough room to get his foot in since his knee could not bend that much. I had to wash his foot.

We really enjoyed our stay there. We made a lot of new friends on the pier. One little old lady watched for us. She would always come and push the wheelchair. She had a home there and also one in Jacksonville. We missed her when she left.

Caring for the fish.

When we had the freezer about full of fish, we lined a cooler with four thicknesses of newspaper dipped in water, then put the packages of fish in as close as possible, covered them with more wet newspaper, and put the lid on. We wrapped the cooler in more wet paper and put it all in a plastic bag. We took it to Aunt Pearl’s where we could put the whole thing in her freezer and have it ready to take home. By the way, when we got back home, the paper in the cooler still had ice in it.

Maybe I should tell you that we cleaned the fish on the pier. We filleted them to save space and put them in a plastic bag in the cooler. When we got home, we washed them, put them in a large flat pan with paper towels in the bottom and on top to get them as dry as possible. Then we wrapped six pieces in a plastic strip, then in aluminum foil, and put them in the freezer.

A Trip -to North Carolina with Rex and Phyllis

We had a wonderful trip with Rex and Phyllis to Holden’s Beach Pier in North Carolina in May 1984 for a week. Fish were not too plentiful. One day we did get 28 blues, but we had a bad storm that night. The ocean was too rough to do any good fishing the next day or two. We did have some fish to bring home with us.


Just before Christmas ’83 Dad’s knee gave away with him after walking from the kitchen to the TV and almost back to the couch. He managed to fall on the couch, but he must have gotten his fingers caught in his crutches. Besides cracking the bone between his little finger and wrist on his right hand, all his fingers were bruised and swollen. It was weeks before he could use his crutches at all. He could manage with a little help to get from the wheelchair to the bed or into the rocking chair.

It is now July, and he still cannot walk alone with his crutches, and he can only walk a short distance with help. I can manage to help him to his tractor or to the car, into the boat and out again, when I have to. Usually some kind soul is glad to give us help.

We have two good-size gardens and a lot of mowing to do. Dad does the mowing except the hillsides–so what do we have to complain about?

Right now (July 3, 1984) we have Ed, Xenia Lee, George, and Mae with us. We are expecting Walt and Ruth and family this evening, Verne and Betsy De and girls in the morning, Beth and Betsy Jo on Thursday, David and Chris Friday evening, Mark before morning, Joe Sabbath a.m., and all of Alois’ family by noon Sabbath. We love every minute. Ann, boys, and Gary will get in sometime Sabbath. We will enjoy it all and look forward to having other members of the family whenever they can come. WE LOVE YOU ALL!!

You can surely see that we have had an interesting life with our friends, work, and recreation.

Chapter 6: More Memories of Teaching Years

Ashby’s Memories — Teaching Again at Jarvisville

I taught in Jarvisville eight years, and my pupils were considered excellent in junior high and high school at Bristol in both scholastics and athletics. Jarvisville won so many scholastic ribbons at the Field Meets that they quit publishing the results and then quit the contests. My 4-H Club was great, as was my Boy Scout Troop. We had wonderful times at Camp Mohonagan and other places.

Ball Teams at Jarvisville.

I had one, among many, special school-softball games. The coach of West Milford High School brought the sixth grade softball team over. They were fine-looking boys. I had to have fourth and fifth graders and even three girls on our team. We played across the schoolyard fence in Bill Jarvis’ meadow. (Mr. Jarvis always let us play there.) Mr. West, the coach, insisted that he umpire because it was difficult for me to get through the fence. Mr. West umpired from behind the pitcher and coached his pitcher but didn’t help mine. I was sure he missed calls at home plate in his favor. Some of them I didn’t even think were close. Even after all that, we beat them 10 to 9.

I had the presidency of the men’s softball league, and I had a lot of success with a women’s softball team. We were blessed with outstanding athletic families: Myers, Stutlers, Jarvises, Posts, and Westfalls. In different end-of-the-season Jackson’s Mill Roundups, we won in girls’ softball and men’s volleyball. One special time during the second World War, we had such a hard time getting a team; but we won two 1-0 games of men’s softball in one day.

Teaching at Laurel Run

In the year 1947-1948, I went to the Laurel Run one-room school. You might be interested in hearing how I came to be moved. I did not ask to be moved. There had been a small group watching for me to make a mistake from the time I first went to Jarvisville. (I’ve heard that if you don’t have opposition, you are not doing anything.) Once the buildings superintendent came stomping into my room during a class. (He didn’t even knock.) He said, “Get the front door open.” I said, “Let’s go outside and talk.”

He went outside, and I explained that we had our kitchen in the primary room where it disturbed the classes and that the P.T.A. had put it in our hall. He saw the need of a kitchen and promised to build one, which he did while we used the one in the hall. That really cooked the opposition.

The last straw that made the county superintendent move me occurred when I wouldn’t promote a boy into my room. His mother was the daughter of an important doctor in Clarksburg. He and the superintendent were members of the same club. So I was moved and the boy was transferred to Bristol Grade School.

That move was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The day school started, the principal of Bristol Grade School came and asked me to teach all his arithmetic classes and nothing else if I would get my one-room school to go with me. I didn’t accept or even mention it to the parents, although that was the job I had always wanted.

My twelve years at Laurel Run were full to overflowing with pleasure and successes. The parents and community were enthusiastically behind and with me. We had a 4-H Club, a Boy Scout Troop, a wonderful hot lunch program and a great P.T.A. Our sixth-grade graduates did great in their adult lives.

4-H Clubs.

Usually all of my eligible pupils belonged to the 4-H Club. The girls usually took the same projects–like cooking, sewing, or craft. The boys took woodworking, gardening, and birds, mostly. They won lots of first-, second-, and third-place ribbons, which made them, me, and the community very proud. I remember one year when a lot of them had bird projects. We had a bird feeder against a window, and the birds became very friendly. The boys took pictures of many kinds of birds eating and put them in their project circulars. I remember once my girls in the craft class made each of their mothers a Tom Thumb change purse of leather, and the boys made their daddies each a key case.

Boy Scouts.

Our Boy Scout Troop was equally successful. My son, Ashby Bond, was their scout master after I decided they needed more hill climbing than I could give them. Later a great community man, Cecil Fultz, was scout master. I was always on the Executive Board and often took them to camps like Mohonagan. These scouts made real successful men. One is a high school principal in Cleveland, Ohio. Another is high school coach in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Another has traveled all over the world (some of the time in a submarine). He was a communications officer, having charge of building an observatory in Alaska and retiring from the Naval Observatory in West Virginia. One of my 4-H girls graduated from Salem College Cum Laude and is in charge of a library in Detroit, Michigan. I am extra proud of this girl because I started her as a wee-tiny first grader and had her through the sixth grade.

Hot lunch program.

Our hot lunch program was a success mostly because the proof is in the eating and my wife, Ruth, cooked it the very best. The community (through their P.T.A.) furnished all the utensils we needed. I made the menus, using all the government-furnished food we could get. This use of free food let me charge 10 cents per pupil for the first child in each family; for each child after the first in each family, the charge was 5 cents. Besides, some families ate free because of their financial status.

I must tell you how I got all my pupils to like at least fairly well everything Ruth fixed. The children watched Ruth fill their trays. They got at least a tablespoon of each thing on the menu. If they thought they might not like a food, they only took a small tablespoon of it. When their trays were cleaned, they could get more of anything, as long as there was any left. I never allowed discussions about not liking any food, and it was amazing how many pupils learned to love foods they never liked before.

I used two special awards for cleaning the trays. Children who had their trays clean could go play after 20 minutes from the time we started to eat. All who could not clean their trays had to wait 10 more minutes. If all of the pupils cleaned their trays, we celebrated with a ciphering match or some other loved activity, like map-match, etc. We had to celebrate often, and a teacup would almost always hold the leftover food. Parents often asked Ruth for her recipes, and now and then a former pupil calls or comes to ask her for some recipe.

Special community affairs.

We had many community gatherings. At most of the holidays, we would have programs and a covered-dish meal. One of the special holidays was Easter, when the community would come in. Some of the patrons (led by a grandpa of one of my boy pupils, Ora Stutler) would hide eggs and candy for an egg hunt. They had a definite area of about an acre for preschool children only. We had regular P.T.A. meetings and special 4-H and Scout celebrations. It was an awful thing to give up all these community ties when they consolidated our school at Salem and sent me to West Milford.

Teaching at West Milford

I was hired to teach the fourth grade; but when I got there, they gave me a fourth and fifth grade combination. In those days, the Board did not seem to consider the teacher’s needs at all. I soon learned to like my pupils, their parents, and my principal (Mr. Laughlin). I especially loved my location and building. The building had been a two-story home, and it sat on top of a knoll separated from the main high school and grade building. We even had a private yard and the football field for a playground. In the upper story, a close friend of mine (Kester Fiddler) taught high school science. He told me when I first went there that if I needed anything to just let him know.

The second year they let me keep the same pupils as fifth and sixth graders. My parents asked for that, which made me very proud. I also talked my principal into letting us have a softball and volleyball league with each fourth, fifth, and sixth grade belonging. Every other teacher was a lady, and some didn’t like the league idea, but their pupils loved it. We did that two years; then the Board hired Mr. McLaughlin to be the high school superintendent.

This move of Principal McLaughlin (who had furnished my room with the teaching aids I needed and supported me in every other way) was a terrible loss to me. Mr. Hess, my new principal, would not allow me to use any extra texts. (He also stopped our inter-grade athletic contests.) The trouble was that I would have pupils who needed first-, second-, and third-grade texts in order to be able to read in them and learn from them. Of course, I made do with what supplementary texts I could find, but it would have been better with the principal’s cooperation.

The second year that Mr. Hess was principal (which was iiy fifth year at West Milford) I had to move out of the hilltop house because they were tearing it down to build a new school building. I also got only fourth-grade pupils, which meant I got all new pupils each year. This meant I had to teach all of them to prepare lessons at study time and keep order so all could do their thing. This took paddlings or other punishment for the first month or so.

It was not all trouble. We had a basement room with an empty room adjoining that we used in bad weather for games such as dancing and relay games. We also had the high school gym (because they had been moved to a new building) one period a day for recreation. This gym was a great place for singing games, leap frog, some gymnastics (especially tumbling), basketball drills, and some calisthenics each day. The other teachers had a high school pupil give their class calisthenics at their period in the gym. I always thought a child got better exercise from games and that they learned from them too.

This effort of mine to give my pupils clean supervised play (instead of their running over others or being run over or forming gangs to run over those they couldn’t run over by themselves), alone with my having the principal’s only child in my room, caused my principal to come stomping into my room at opening exercise time one morning about one month before the end of my last year of school teaching. I tried to greet him friend-like, but he went to ranting and throwing his arms through the air, accusing me of not teaching anything but ball for the last two months. When I tried to get him to listen to the pupils’ ideas of what I had taught, he would not let them talk. Instead he just stomped out.

I had to teach all day while I was the maddest I think I ever was in my life. As soon as school was out, I went to the superintendent’s office to get a hearing on Mr. Hess’s accusation. They (the superintendent and the grade school supervisor) explained at great lenpth that my principal would apologize. He did apologize, and my pupils’ parents gave me a tackle box full of baits at our Last-School-Day Picnic. Also, my principal and my co-teachers gave me a fine folding chair as a going-away present. I retired at the end of the school year in May, 1966.

Ruth’s Memories — Community Spirit

There was a lot of “Community Spirit” in those days. Ashby organized a men’s softball league (usually six or eight different communities). Each team usually had one home game and one away each week (on Sunday afternoon and one week-day evening). All the communities were well supported.

About every Sunday morning during ball season, some of the local fans gathered here with stuff to make ice cream and lemonade to sell at the ball game in the afternoon. That is how they got money to buy equipment. Some communities were lucky enough to find some business to sponsor them and furnish what they needed.

They still have softball leagues, but they are on such a large scale that there is nothings personal about them. The big thrill is gone.

The same thing happened to our one-room schools. When the school was closed and the children were sent farther away, a bit of the heart of each community was crushed. There were four schools on Turtle Tree Fork of Ten Mile Creek when we first moved here, and in 1960 there were none.

Summer of 1945

In May 1945, Bond was called to serve his country. He was sent to Camp Hood in Texas. Brother Ian had been called to service as a medical doctor. He was near Lake Dallas–also in Texas.

Xenia Lee and Edgar were married in August of that year. Since it was wartime, the gasoline was rationed. Ed tried to get gasoline to drive to his home in Kansas, but could not. So he left his car here, and they went by train. They had been at his home only a short time when the war was over and the ration was lifted. They wrote that if we would bring the car to them, they would take us to Texas to see Bond and Uncle Ian.

Since Ashby was a school teacher, there was little income in the summer. A good neighbor, Vivian Post, lived just down the road from us. (We quilted quilts together in the winter time, and she visited us often in the summer.) She was here when the letter cane from Ed and Xenia Lee. I said, jokingly, “If you will loan us $100, we will take the car to them.” She said, “If you will take me to the bank, I will get it for you.” I was really shocked, as I was just kidding. She insisted, so we decided to go. We were on our way by afternoon!

Ashby was afraid the car might break down, so he would not let me drive over 45 miles per hour. We made it with no problems. They were ready to go, so with little delay we were on our way to Texas.

We located the hospital where Ian worked. He wanted to show us around some before taking us to his home. It really was hot and dry. Ashby thought he would wait for us in the car. By the time we got back, he really had a sick headache. Ian’s home was on a lake with lots of trees around, so Ashby soon recovered. Bond arrived the next day. It was so good to see him again.

We went fishing in a small boat on the lake. We did not need poles. We would bait the hooks and let the line down in the water by the boat, then wrap the other end around a finger. Sometimes we would feel a little quiver and pull up the line. We caught a few fish–but none to brag about. It was fun, anyway.

The next day we took Bond back to camp and started on our way back home. We took the southern route and stopped in Cleveland, Tennessee, to see Avis and family. We made better time coming home (only had tire trouble once, and that close to a filling station).

It was good to be back home. The tomatoes had just started ripening when we left; and when we got back, the children had canned over one hundred quarts. They proved they could “keep house.”

Car Accident in.December, 1945

Bond got home on “Leave” before Christmas that year. It was real winter, and the roads were icy. Alois, Mae, and I started to Clarksburg to meet him about nine o’clock at night. Before we got there, the tire chain got broken and wrapped around the axle. We had to stop, and Alois went to work getting the chain loose. He was almost finished when a car going east met a car going west. That blinded the driver, and he did not see our car–so he ran into the back of our car, running over Alois. Other cars were soon there; and before I knew it, someone had Alois in his car to take him to the hospital. Mae went with him, and I stayed with the car, waiting for the State Police. I guess they were busy elsewhere, because they did not come. After a while Lyle Dennison came along and took me to the hospital. We had Bond paged at the train stop to tell him to come to the hospital. Lyle took Bond and Mae home, and I stayed with Alois. X-rays showed a broken pelvis and also broken loose from the spine.

Bond went to Weston to see Ruby the next day. They decided to get married on Christmas Eve. After close to a year in Germany, Bond returned home in time for Christmas the next year.

Alois recovered in due time and later served a time in Korea.

Lydia’s Illness

In 1956 while Ashby was teaching at Laurel Run, Aunt Lydia was having her last bout with cancer. Aunt Susie took care of her and Aunt Ada did the house work. As soon as I could get lunch over and dishes washed at school, I went to Salem and took care of Aunt Lydia while Aunt Susie went to bed. After Aunt Ada finished her evening work, she took care of Aunt Lydia until Aunt Susie got up; I came home. Ashby rode the school bus home. Beth got supper. Edna Ruth was staying here at the last expecting Tim any time. She often went with me so I did not have to drive home alone. Aunt Lydia often said, “It’s a good thing there were four of us girls–one to be sick and three to care for her.” We were glad we could care for her at home.

More Neighbors, and Deer Hunting

Ray and Anna Lou Shay were close neighbors for a time. He loved softball and hunting. His home was at Newburg (a good place for deer). That deer season Ashby got someone to teach for him, and we went to Newburg with Ray and Anna Lou.

At the time the ground was bare, but it was cold. That night snow came, and by morning there was close to a foot of snow. That just suited the hunters, but it was not so good for Ashby on crutches. We were able to drive near to a good “stand.” It was really cold, so someone got a fire started. There was lots of firewood around, but it had to be cut up. That became my job–to cut wood and keep the fire going. They would come in to get warm, then go on another drive. They had some excitement a few times, and the guns roared–but no one got a deer. No deer came in sight of us (Ashby thought it might be because of the fire). We had a good time, anyway!

After that, when it was real cold, we learned to heat bricks and wrap them up well for Ashby to put his foot on. Then we wrapped blankets around him and his chair, leaving room to get his hands out. We put a card table in front of him for his gun and ammunition.

Ashby did get one deer finally. He has not been deer hunting for a long time. The weather is not right for us any more.

Ashby as an Outdoorsman

Ashby was always a lover of the big outdoors. He never stayed in the house when he could be out in the fields or woods. He knew the trees by the shape of their leaves and by their bark. Many he recognized as far away as he could see. He knew the birds he saw, and many he recognized by their song or tone of voice.

Ashby also loved to hunt. He was satisfied with just enough for one meal. It was a big blow when he could not get out alone. I made up for it as much as I could. I just fit under his left arm, and I used his crutch to help keep my balance. Many times I helped him up the hill into the woods to watch for squirrels. At first I went back to the house to work, but I found that was not good. He would shoot a squirrel or two;, and by the time I got back, I could not find them in the leaves. He did not get to go as often as he would like; but when he did, I stayed with him and.enjoyed “the great outdoors” too.

After Ashby got his “Wheel Horse” and cart, I loaded his supplies in the cart and he drove his tractor around the road back on the hill while I walked. He drove the tractor as close as he could to good hunting, and I helped him the rest of the way. I had many pleasant hours in the woods, too. Maybe that has helped to keep us healthy. Anyway, this has been a good life.

Since we had the pond made in 1963, Ashby has had a good place to fish while he enjoys the wildlife that comes around to keep him company.

Some of My Activities When Ashby Taught at West Milford

It was a great day when Ashby was transferred to West Milford. It is only a mile from Aunt Susie’s. I usually went with him and then went on to Aunt Susie’s. Aunt Ada was living with her. Part of the time Aunt Susie was working caring for the sick in their home. I helped with whatever needed to be done.

When we could, I took Aunt Ada to see old friends around home near Roanoke, a cousin on Indian Fork, friends in Weston, and old friends of Aunt Ada’s around Lost Greek. (She had kept house for Uncle Orson back in 1916 and 1917 when he managed the Van Horn Farm three miles from Lost Greek.) (By the way, that was the farm where my grandmother was born and reared.) It was great fun for me to hear their tales. They enjoyed old memories very much. When Aunt Susie was at home, she went with us. I was always back by the time Ashby was ready to leave school.

When Aunt Ada heard Ashby was retiring, she said, “Shoot! I’ll never get to go any place again.” She was about right.

Combined Memories of Farm Products — Regular Farm Products

In the 1930’s Papa and Mama Bond began selling whole milk. They had been separating the milk and selling cream. They gave us the hand machine that separated the cream from the milk. We had three cows and got the fourth one. That made us a little income to help with expenses, and the skim milk raised good pigs to help with the meat supply. We kept a few chickens and butchered a beef every year. We always raised a garden and canned lots of food.

Maple Syrup

One spring we decided to make use of the maple trees around the house. Ashby found some sumac an inch or so through and cut them in one-foot lengths. About four inches from one end, he would saw half way through, then split it off. He cleaned the pith out where it was split and punched the rest out. He rounded the end to fit the size of the auger he used to bore a hole two or three inches deep in the tree. The spile was put in the hole and tamped to fit tight so the sap would have to flow through the spile. Three or more spiles were put in each tree, depending on its size. A bucket was placed under each spile. Some trees had sweeter sap than others–also more of it. As much as two and a half gallon bucket might be filled in eight hours or so. We had free gas, so I boiled it down in a five gallon pot on the kitchen stove. After it started to boil, I heated sap in a gallon pot to fill in so it never stopped boiling. It took ten to twelve gallons of sap to make a quart of syrup. One had to watch closely when it was nearing the end or it would boil over. Sound like work? Not really. The maple syrup was worth it.

Sassafras Tea

Another thing we used to do in February was to dig sassafras roots to make tea. The small roots were cut in small pieces. On the larger roots, we peeled off the bark. Some of that cooked in maple sap needed no other sweetening.

Cane Molasses

Another thing we used to grow was cane to make molasses. Now, that was almost work. The seeds were tiny, and some did not grow so one planted several seeds in a hill two feet apart. Then it had to be thinned to leave three stalks to a hill. Of course, it had to be cultivated. Just before frost the blades had to be stripped and the seed stem cut off. Then the stalks were cut near the ground to save all the sap possible. The cane heads were fed to the chickens.

After the cane was stripped of seeds and blades, it had to be hauled to the squeezing mill. This mill had two heavy steel rollers fastened to a long pole which turned the rollers so they sucked or guided two or three stalks between them to squeeze the juice out and into a tub. It was a job that kept one person busy feeding that mill. Mostly we fastened a horse to the long pole so that it went round and round pulling the pole. Once we let Alois drive a car to pull the pole that made the rollers turn and squeeze the cane. That was the beginning of Alois’ driving, which he has done a lot of.

(I almost left the cane juice in that tub; but I was afraid you might taste that juice, which would be quite bitter.) The making of molasses took a lot more work. Wood had to be gathered and an oven built for a pan (or an evaporator) to boil the sap down in. While it was boiling, it had to be skimmed off with a paddle as fast as the thick scum formed. Then a special person with skill and experience (Ruth) had to keep testing the boiling mass to determine when it was good molasses so it could be put in half-gallon glass jars. The proof of the molasses tastiness was in mashing a lump of butter (about a tablespoon heaping full) into two tablespoons of molasses and spreading it over a hot pancake and eating it.

During all the boiling, a skilled fire-keeper had to feed the fire just at the right place and the correct amount to keep the sap boiling without foaming over the sides. This was done by feeding the new wood to the edges of the fire, keeping the fire in the middle. Susie’s family usually grew cane when we did, so we worked together in making molasses. Our boys hated that job, so we quit growing cane. We did not quit working together when either had a big job to do.


Blackberries were plentiful then, and we tried to can at least 100 quarts–and some juice for jelly. (Now, around here anyway, the blackberries have a kind of blight that keeps them from maturing.) When berries were plentiful, we used to pick several gallons and sell at $1 per gallon. That helped when money was scarce in the summer time.

Strawberries at Susie’s

After Everett passed away and Lee and Charles were working away from home, we used to go to Susie’s and help out when she had a big job to do. Then they would help us out when we needed it. One year they had a big patch of strawberries. Every two days the berries had to be picked. Ashby saw that no dirt or bad berries were among them as he put them in baskets ready for market. The damaged ones we made use of.


One summer a neighbor said that if we would pick six gallons of wild huckleberries for him we could have the rest of the crop. We picked the six gallons so quickly and the patch was so big that Susie’s came to help us. It took two or three days to pick the ripe ones, and then in a few days we had to pick them again. One could set a bucket under a branch and almost shake the ripe ones off. That made them hard to clean. Ashby worked at that until we got them picked; then we all helped. We sold a lot of gallons at $1 per gallon, besides all we canned for ourselves. We kept account of the gallons we picked until it passed the 100-gallon mark. We picked some to eat after that.

Apples and Applebutter

One fall when Grandpa Randolph had a bumper crop of apples, we got a truckload. Besides both families canning applesauce, we made over forty gallons of applebutter. We got the apples ready to cook the day before. We had a 24-gallon kettle with a frame for it to set in about a foot from the ground. We would fill the kettle 3/4 full of cut apples, add 1/2 gallon of vinegar and enough water to come half way up on the apples. We liked to use dead apple wood when we could get it for that burned well and made a hot fire. We put some silver coins in the bottom of the kettle for that helped keep the apples from sticking to the bottom. We cut the wood in short strips so it would not burn up on the sides of the kettle. Then we kept adding new wood from the side so the hot coals kept it cooking all the time. As soon as the apples started cooking, we began to stir them with a long-handled paddle that was solidly secured, something like this illustration.

One stirred all around the side of the kettle, then back and forth across the middle, constantly, to keep the apples from sticking. As they cooked down, more cut apples were added until the kettle was about 3/4 full. Then sugar was added, three pounds for each gallon of applebutter. We kept stirring until a spoon of applebutter in a flat dish left a mark when one ran the tip of a spoon through it. Then the fire had to be removed, oil of cinnamon added and well stirred again, the jars filled and sealed. That sound like a hard job? We loved it. We tried to find a shady place to sit and stir.

One time a neighbor, Bytha Davis, went with me up to Grandpa Randolph’s when Grandma was there. We got there before noon. Grandma had enough apples ready to put on to cook for applebutter. We made that in the afternoon. Then we got apples ready that evening to make another kettle of butter the next morning. We came home in the afternoon. She often told me she never worked so hard in her life. I told her that was just an average day for me.