How the post office came to Pine Mountain KY

Posted by Dave Tabler | November 27, 2015

“Back in the days when I knew him, Uncle William [ed.– William Creech 1845-1918] was the sage of Pine Mountain; he was the leader to whom the creek dwellers far and near turned for guidance in time of decision.

“In any rural community the mail is always a matter of importance, particularly in a region so isolated as the Cumberlands. Uncle William had decided that Pine Mountain’s crying need was a post office.

“For years he had labored so that letters could come to the little cabins that dotted the green hollows. At every attempt his efforts foundered on the stern government rule that no office could be opened until the postal business in the area reach a certain definite total each year.

“Uncle William at last grew weary of delay and failure. He decided to take drastic action; when Uncle William took action a result was as certain as night follows day.

“The difficulty in the great postal war was that most of Uncle William’s neighbors could neither read nor write; mail is after all a form of written communication. He made a first attack on the problem by calling at every mountain cabin; solemnly he urged each mountaineer to send off to both of the leading mail-order houses for their catalogues. If the son-in-law of the family had a different name, he asked the farmer to send it off twice. Whenever the necessity arose, which was often, he wrote the cards of request himself.

“This initial undertaking produced a considerable postal volume; each heavy catalogue that arrived was balm to Uncle William’s soul. His next move in the campaign was in the more complicated field of correspondence. The First World War had come upon the countryside; most of the young men were away in the Army.

William Creech Sr.William and Sally Creech about 1900.

“Uncle William made the rounds of the cabins again, urging mothers to write to their sons and daughters to their sweethearts. Here again the lack of formal learning interfered with their desires. Once more Uncle William became the correspondent, writing long letters telling the news of the day. When the answers came, scrawled by some soldier friend of the absent one, he would journey to the cabin and read it aloud to the whole family.

“So effective were his efforts that even the postal authorities in charge of the district were impressed by the quantity of mail that was arriving. At last they decided the business was enough to warrant opening the office.

“There are many Uncle Williams still in the Cumberlands; it is their presence which makes these hazy uplands unique. For they are the last outposts of a vanished world.”

Children of Noah: Glimpses of Unknown America

By Ben Lucien Burman
Publ. by Julian Messner, Inc. 1951

2 Responses

  • Louella Hall says:

    Love this page. I just found it today.

  • Rose says:

    My Great Grandmother, Sarah Jane Metcalf, was William’s Great Neice. I never knew much about him nor what he did until after I started researching the family tree.

    William and Sally were:
    Married: 15 MAR 1866 in Harlan Co., KY
    Event: Performed by in J. P. Smith J. P.
    Event: Witness in Wm Dixon, Preston Hall

    Birth: Oct. 30, 1845
    Death: May 18, 1918
    Jefferson County
    Kentucky, USA

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Dave Tabler | November 26, 2015


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Thanksgiving 1950. The snowstorm of the century.

Posted by Dave Tabler | November 25, 2015

On November 25, 1950, the so-called “storm of the century” hit the eastern part of the United States, killing 353 and causing millions of dollars in damages. Also known as the “Appalachian Storm,” it dumped record amounts of snow in parts of the Appalachian Mountains. Record low temperatures were recorded in Tennessee and North Carolina even without the wind chill. In Mount Mitchell, NC, a temperature of 26 degrees below zero was recorded.

National Weather Service Surface Chart, 1:30 am November 25, 1950.

The precursor to the storm was the passage of an arctic cold front late on the 23rd into the 24th. The front passed through eastern Kentucky around midnight and the change in airmass was dramatic. Temperatures plunged from the 40s and 50s just ahead of the front to the teens just behind it. A thin but heavy band of snow accompanied the dramatic temperature drop behind the front with as much as 7 inches falling across southeast Kentucky on the morning of the 24th.

Temperatures across eastern Kentucky by the morning of the 25th were in the single digits and teens, and still dropping. Low pressure developed on the arctic front over the Carolinas on the 25th. Once that occurred, the storm quickly moved north, striking western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia hardest. Many locations in those three states saw snowfall totals greater than 30 inches: 62” in Coburn Creek, WV; 57” in Pickens, WV; Steubenville, OH’s snowfall exceeded 44 inches with snowdrifts up to 25 feet.

Bitter cold also gripped the area with most locations recording temperatures in the single digits to near zero on the 24th and 25th. Middlesboro, KY bottomed out at 3ºF, Williamsburg, KY 1ºF, and Somerset, KY –2ºF. All still stand as record low temperatures for the month of November.

Three men shoveling snow in front of Wayne Feeds on the corner of School Avenue and Hewes Street in Clarksburg, WV.

Three men shoveling snow in front of Wayne Feeds on the corner of School Avenue and Hewes Street in Clarksburg, WV.

The storm was unique, however, because it featured not only extremely strong winds and heavy snow, but both record low and high temperatures. Buffalo ,NY saw no snow, but experienced 50 mile-per-hour winds and 50-degree temperatures.

Power was out to more than 1 million customers during this storm. It actually affected 22 states, killing 353 people and creating $66.7 million (1950 dollars) in damage. U.S. insurance companies paid more money out to their policyholders for damage from this storm than for any other previous storm.

Many buildings collapsed under the weight of 2 to 3 feet of snow. Roads were closed; trains and buses canceled. People could not leave their homes for days. Milk and bread and other delivery trucks could not get through. School buses were halted, and it was a joyous occasions for all students. Snow clearing was much different in those days also, since they used no salt on the roads.

“Although I was 11 months old, I remember the talk of the 1950 Snowstorm,” says Ray Mulrooney in the Weirton [WV]Area Museum & Cultural Center newsletter (Nov 23, 2009.) “My mother was with child and was worried that she could not get to the hospital in Steubenville. The streets were covered with 36 inches of snow and there were 6 foot drifts. Banfield Ave. was covered.

“Our house was a full block and a half from Rt. 7 which had been cleared by the Ohio National Guard. There was no way we could get to Rt.7 with out help. My father called the neighbors. They got out their coal shovels (not many had snow shovels in 1950) and started to dig. They had to put the snow to the side, so when they were done there were 8 foot walls along the path that my dad’s car would travel. The path went from our house to Rt7.

Children sled riding on Brightway on Marland Heights, Weirton, WV during the 1950 Snowstorm.

Children sled riding on Brightway on Marland Heights, Weirton, WV during the 1950 Snowstorm.

“My father, mother, and my mother’s mother cooked eggs and anything else that we could find to feed the shovelers. The Wilsons across the street fixed highballs to keep them warm.

“Soon my mother was on her way to Steubenville with her unborn child that I wanted to call ‘Stormy.’ The baby was not ready to enter this cold icy world, so my mother went to her aunt Anna’s house on 3rd Street in Steubenville. My dad got food for us and restocked the Wilson’s stock.

“The roads up the hill to the Ohio Valley Hospital were impassable, a day or two later my mother had to walk a few blocks to Gill Memorial Hospital that was near Aunt Anna’s home to have her beautiful little girl Janice Sharyn on November 29, 1950.”


3 Responses

  • Hazel Moats- Hughes says:

    My dad would talk of this storm every year in the winter, I loved to hear his account of it, I miss my dad but share this amazing story with my children and grandchildren.

  • Sheryl P. Suplee says:

    I was 3 years old and do remember my Dad and Grandfather trying to dig us out..It was deep enough to make a tunnel for me to walk through..

  • Robert Mease says:

    I was born November 23,1950. I heard about the snowstorm from my father and a friend of my mother.

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He is now in the C.C. Camp

Posted by Dave Tabler | November 24, 2015

“Andy Orville Bozzel is the son of Mr. And Mrs. George Bozzel. He was born in Andover, VA in Wise County, November 24, 1922. His education is limited, he having completed the fourth grade. He quit school in 1937 on account of lack of money to send him on. He lives a mile from school. He has lived in Appalachia [the town in VA] for the past five years. He seems to be a bright youth but not anxious to study in order to succeed.

“He is now in the C.C. Camp and is receiving thirty dollars per month. Of that amount twenty two is sent home to his parents. He got to go to the C.C. Camp by his mother taking him to the welfare office and asking that he be signed up. Since going to camp he is completely self supporting. He has been there only a short time. I received this information from his mother. His mother told me that she asked him if signed up to go to night school in Camp and he answered, “You know I did for I want more education.”

Spirit of CCC poster“His mother has completed the ninth grade in school and his father the fourth. Orville’s home life is not very pleasant. There are nine children two girls and seven boys. The girls are married and not living at home. The other children at home are under sixteen, all boys. They live in a run-down four-room house which has no convenience whatever. I have been in this home a number of times, knew Orville personally and know the condition of the home he came from.

“The mother works out when she can get it and is sole. The father works not at all, although he used to be a good worker and provided well for his family. He is letting drink get the best of his manhood. The father is 46 years old and the mother is 38 years old.

“There are no magazines or daily papers come to their home. I have known the children to have to go to school without breakfast. They have received aid from the Relief. He [Orville] spends his leisure time in reading, going to movies and playing ball. He is not a church member and does not attend church.

“The yearly income of family is $180.00.”

Maude R. Chandler
October 2, 1939

From a collection of approximately 1,300 Work Projects Administration/Virginia Writers’ Project life histories, social-ethnic studies, and youth studies that were written by agency staff members between 1938 and 1941, housed at the Library of Virginia


One Response

  • Trish Willette says:

    I am an Appalachian woman. My father and Mother bought an old CC camp; 4 room no pumping, house in the Southern section of Big Stone Gap,VA. As a youth, My father worked in the C C Camp just to make ends me before going to War at Peril Harbor. This man story is much like my dad’s.But dad never when past 8th grade if at all went. Mom totally opposite; a socialistic woman who finish high school in Scott county and worked at Eastman. I was looking for something on CC Camp houses since many were sold to people like my parents.Do you know any stories about those houses? I remember that in 1973 that old home finally got a”facelift” of sorts. It needed to be torn down long before my parents became parents. It could hold two people but a family of seven was not suitable. I could write a story on it and I should. Thanks for the story on Appalachian culture my dad lived. I lived it through him even though it could have been a better life.

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The turkey was dressed out the day before

Posted by Dave Tabler | November 23, 2015

“In my younger days, during the 1920s, work was very good, and I would see men at the commissary company store, flipping gold and silver coins in the air and catching them as they fell. Shopping at the company store was an event. We all had our favorite clerk and would stand in line to have him wait on us. I recall Mr. Norman, the store manager; Mr. Bartlett; Mr. Ross, and a Mr. Meadows. Potatoes and pinto beans were the big sellers for a long time.

“Beans came loose and were ordered by the pound. I will never forget when a clerk was scooping up beans from the large bin under the counter, and he threw a scoop of them in the floor under the counter. Come to find out someone had forgotten to close the lid at closing time, and the cat found a new litter box. Bread came unwrapped; eggs loose; and if you wanted meat, Mr. Bartlett, the butcher, cut it on order for you.

“One of the officials of the company, every Christmas, would give dimes to all the kids who came by, which was all of us. That dime went a long way. Christmas was a good time for all of us. At the commissary the large show window would be converted into a toy wonderland. The window would be covered until the day after Thanksgiving. We would all try to be there at 9:00 a. m.

turkey in KY“Thanksgiving and Christmas were our favorite days. The turkey and ham dinners were the best foods I ever knew. The turkey would be purchased live and dressed out the day before. I will always remember the wonderful smell of the dressing cooking. I don’t think anyone makes this dressing, also called stuffing, anymore.

“No one I knew had electric Christmas lights back then. A few people would put a red bulb in a homemade wreath and hang it in the window. Christmas trees were mostly decorated with homemade decorations. Trees were cut live in the hills, and we would be looking for a nice one long before we needed it. We all got toys, but not as many as children get today. For Christmas we also got lots of candy and fruit. Sometimes we also got sick from so many goodies.”

Curtis R. Pfaff
Allais, KY


Allais+KY thanksgiving+in+appalachia appalachian+food appalachian+culture +appalachian+history

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