When asked what brought him to this community, Joe Raines said the Lord had sent him here as a pest on the Maynors and Williames for their meanness. That is the only reason Joe ever gave for coming to Cirtsville, WV. However, he came, and once here, he proceeded to make the most of the generosity of the people of the community.
He established a circuit of enough homes that he would spend a night with so it took him two weeks for him to cover his route. If Joe was delayed in making his rounds, the people became worried about him and began to inquire about his whereabouts.
Joe liked to fish and spent many hours fishing in Paint Creek. Next to Dr. Billy Feazell, Joe was said to be the best fisherman to ever fish in Paint Creek. After fishing all day Joe would take his string of fish to the home he was going to spend the night with. He would dress them and give them to the cook to fry for supper.
Joe was always welcome whether he had fish or not. He was not a lazy man and always had some kind of project underway, but it was usually something that was of no benefit to him or anyone else. His first project in the community was a school. There was a small building at the foot of Spruce Mountain that was vacant and Joe took it over for his school. Some of the people paid a small fee and enrolled their children in Joe’s school. A few of them learned to read and write and a little arithmetic. Joe’s school lasted two months. All his pupils were tired of school and quit going, so the Raines School closed.
Joe was the slowest man I ever saw. The method used to speed up someone who was dragging behind was to say: “Come on, you are as slow as Joe Raines.”
Another project Joe tried that was hard work and very little profit was to gather up surplus from the gardens and haul it to Mount Hope and sell it. Then he would take the money he received for the products and buy such items as soda, soap, matches, and other things that the farmers needed and bring them back and sell them to the people who had given him the garden products.
One summer he used a wheelbarrow to transport his products. Another summer he used a small wagon which he pulled himself. Each year in April he would leave Cirtsville and go to Sandlick and spend a month with the Sandlick people, but he would return to Paint Creek by May 1.
Another visit that Joe made every summer was to the Tollison Stover home. This place was on Lick Run of Coal River. The route traveled was to go to the top of Spruce Mountain, then take a footpath along the Lick Run ridge. It was a good half day’s journey for any man, and at the speed that Joe traveled, it took most of the day.
So on this occasion Joe started early in the morning, and it was late afternoon before he arrived. He was tired and hungry. The girls of the family were good cooks and they were all glad to see Joe again. They prepared a good supper for him. Among the things that they had were biscuits, butter, and honey. That was Joe’s favorite food. Joe just could not quit eating honey and hot biscuits, so he overate. A short time after supper he began to feel pain in his stomach. Joe’s remedy for all ills was Japanese oil [ed- this is the liquid portion remaining after the separation of menthol from Japanese peppermint oil]. He is the only man I ever knew that could drink Japanese oil full strength from the bottle. Joe took several swigs of Japanese oil but it did not help.
The pains continued to get more severe so Joe decided to go to a higher power. Joe went to prayer and his prayer was: “O Lord, I need your help. If you don’t help me Lord, I am going to die, Lord, I know you can help me. I know you have the power to help me but the H— of it is, will you.” Joe’s prayer was answered. He recovered from the honey colic but from that time on, he put a limit on the amount of honey he consumed.
Joe stayed with the people of Cirtsville until he became too feeble to make his rounds and he was taken to the poor house at Shady Spring where he died. He made his boast that he lived in Cirtsville for 40 years, and had as much to eat and was as well dressed as anyone else, and had never done any useful work.
Okey R. Stover
Upper Paint Creek, WV
online at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ggracie/okey16.html