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I thought she was going to come after me so I climbed up a rail fence

Posted by | August 16, 2016

Well, a cow had a little calf and I was going to milk them. Had her in the barn. I went to put her in with the calf to let it eat and I was going to finish milking. But when I went to put her out, the calf got out and I went to put it back in and couldn’t get it back in so I turned around to fasten the gate of a thing to keep her out of the stall and when I turned around I guess she butted me, I don’t know. All I remember is turning around.

Next thing I know I was sitting down. My leg was sticking out. She had already hit me in the face. So she was going to come at me again, knowed I couldn’t get up. And the big old doors to the shed had two buttons on it, one at the top and one across. I looked up at those buttons and said, “Oh Lord, help me….” The old cow come at me and them doors flew open as pretty just as you please. No one could open them as pretty as they flew open.

She (an angel) got me on to the outside and old dog heard me holler and he come up there and got her off me and I scooted a long ways. I sit down and scooted a long ways and I climbed up on a rail fence. I looked back and saw both cows and I thought she was going to come after me so I climbed up a rail fence. I don’t know how in the world I got up there, but I got up on it.

And I could see our neighbor across the creek, so I hollered and hollered. Pete and Mary was down at the house, they were just little. Charlie Gregory had gone somewhere to walk up the road to feed and I hollered and hollered, no one come. Sat there awhile and saw one of the neighbors that lived on up the road, come through the gate, the yard gate and I hollered. He looked up and saw me and he’d come up there and got me and carried me to the house. They had to call an ambulance to take me to the hospital. Pete and Mary stayed with John and Pauline Gregory. I had to have three or four operations before I could walk.

Waucella Coburn Gregory (b. 1920)
raised down Wolf Creek below Rocky Gap, VA

The Bland County History Archives


The Grave Creek Stone – archaelogical gem or hoax?

Posted by | August 15, 2016

Scholars and archaelogists have been duking it out over the authenticity of the Grave Creek Stone since it first surfaced in 1838.

Local amateur archaelogists in what was originally called “the Flats of Grave Creek” and is today Moundsville, WV reportedly found it during the first recorded excavation of Grave Creek Mound.

This burial mound was built in successive stages from about 250-150 BC by the Adena culture (~1000 B.C. to ~1 A.D.) This Woodland Period group had well-organized societies and lived in a wide area including much of present day Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and parts of Pennsylvania and New York.

Grave Creek Mound, Moundsville, WVIn addition to the Adena ornaments and remains found in the interior, the first of two vaults allegedly contained a small flat sandstone tablet inscribed in an unrecognizable alphabet.

In 1847, archaelogist E.G. Squier made quite a fuss over the “singular omission” of any mention of the tablet in Dr. James W. Clemens’ first-hand, day-by day account of the excavation, which appeared in ‘Crania Americana’ (1839), by S.G. Morton. In 1858, however, anthropologist Wills de Hass managed to produce the manuscript original of Clemens’ account, and demonstrated that Morton had merely taken it upon himself to eliminate the stone’s discovery from the published version. Dr. Clemens in fact recorded the inscribed stone on the day of its discovery.

By 1868 the stone was in the collection of E.H. Davis, Squier ‘s partner in the Squier & Davis archaelogy firm, before most of Davis’ collection was sold to the Blackmore Museum, now part of the British Museum. Davis made a plaster cast of the stone and deposited it in the Smithsonian Institution, but the original never made it to the British Museum.

Charles Whittlesey, a prominent soldier, attorney and scholar, writing in “Archaeological Frauds,” (1876) cites Squier’s finding that “Dr. Clemens, in his first account of the opening of the mound, makes no mention of this stone” but himself makes no mention of de Hass’s correction of this misconception.

By 1876, there were 4 plaster casts of the stone, 1 wax cast, and 6 drawings, most made from inferior copies of the stone, and not the original. “If the Grave Creek find was free from suspicion as to its integrity,” noted Whittlesey, “it has undergone so many mutations from transcribers and translators that its value to ethnologists is gone.”

The Ohio State Archaeological Society appointed a committee in 1877 to study the authenticity of the stone. Committee member Rev. J.B. MacLean “did not hesitate to pronounce its authenticity as incontestable…. Regardless of who found the stone or whether it was discovered inside or outside the mound, all professed witnesses agreed it had come from the mound.”

drawing of Grave Creek Stone by Seth EastmanWhittlesey returns to the topic in an 1879 article, “The Grave Creek Inscribed Stone.” “The characters on the stone, by whomsoever they were cut,” he declares, “are not alphabetical or phonetic. If they have any meaning and are not a mere jumble of characters they must be symbolic or picture writing. It is therefore of small consequence whether the stone is antique or modern, whether it is genuine or a fraud.”

After Whittlesey’s two articles the Grave Creek Stone was generally dropped from serious consideration by archaeologists, except as a textbook example of an established hoax. It was so thoroughly discredited that they even lost track of its whereabouts.

Wills de Hass was appointed in 1881 to head the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology’s Mound Survey project, but was replaced after only a year in favor of Cyrus Thomas. It is not unlikely that this had something to do with his favorable position toward the Grave Creek Stone, whereas Thomas stood firmly in the skeptics camp. “What is in the published record is that DeHass got very little done,” said director John Wesley Powell. “He certainly was not a good field person.”

DeHass mainly dropped from sight in archaeology, although he still maintained his interest in mounds and American archaeology, giving a few reports in the Anthropology section of the AAAS (magazine of the American Anthropological Society), and exploring a few ruins when he was named U.S. Consul in Yucatan. The stone was probably in his collection at the time of his death in 1910.



Why not Skyland?

Posted by | August 12, 2016

She was the only woman to take part in the negotiations that brought about the creation of Shenandoah National Park in 1935.

Addie Nairn Hunter, an accomplished, independent divorcee from Washington, exercised an enormous impact on the direction of George Pollock’s Skyland resort in Stony Mountain, VA from the moment she swept into Pollock’s life. She provided the first solid financial advice, backing and direction that her trumpet-blaring husband had ever seen.

Not long after meeting in 1910, the two married. Pollock’s memoir, Skyland, does not mention her previous marriage, perhaps out of respect for his wife’s privacy, and refers to her only as Addie Nairn. Several of her first husband’s relatives owned lots and cabins at Skyland.

Addie Nairn PollockAddie shared with George a sense of obligation to the land. She once bought 100 old-growth hemlock trees near Skyland, in an area she named the “Limberlost,” after the novel Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter, at $10 a pop to save them from the logger’s ax. The biggest trees may be 350-400 years old.

Addie immediately built the most impressive and imposing of all of the Skyland cabins from the Pollock era, Massanutten Lodge, designed by the noted Washington, DC architect Victor Mindeleff and constructed in 1911.

George Pollock had worked at Glen Echo, originally a summer chautauqua just outside Washington DC, 20 years prior, and had met Victor Mindeleff there. Mindeleff also designed a cabin for himself at Skyland with the telling name of Tryst-of-the-Wind.

In his 1923 Annual Report to the Secretary of the Interior, Stephen T. Mather, Director of the National Park Service, suggested that a national park be established in the eastern United States, possibly in a “typical section” of the Appalachian Mountains.

The following year, Secretary of the Interior Hubert Work acted on Mather’s idea and appointed the Southern Appalachian National Park Committee to study and recommend potential sites for a park. After reading a Washington Star article regarding the committee’s search, Harold Allen, a frequent guest at Skyland, sent the newspaper clipping to Pollock with the words “Why not Skyland?” written on the page.

Massanutten Lodge at SkylandMassanutten Lodge shortly after its completion.

Although Pollock did not respond, Allen remained persistent. When he learned that the committee believed that there were no appropriate sites north of the Smoky Mountains, he obtained a copy of the committee’s site selection questionnaire, and with the help of Pollock and George Judd, completed the form during a visit to Skyland during 1924. He then returned the questionnaire to the committee in Washington.

Pollock subsequently focused his energy on improving the areas in and around Skyland in an effort to boost the appeal of his Blue Ridge location. Pollock was also concerned that government intervention was necessary due to the extensive chestnut blight that decimated the trees at Skyland, resulting in a serious fire hazard.

Unbeknownst to the Skyland boosters, 13 county organizations from around the Shenandoah area had formed Shenandoah Valley, Inc. (SVI), to promote Massanutten Mountain as the site for the new park. However, Pollock and Allen were able to persuade the group to change their allegiance and recommend the Skyland site.

FDR visits CCC camp in Shenandoah National Park, 1933President Roosevelt and visiting dignitaries at Big Meadows Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Shenandoah National Park. August 12, 1933.

With $10,000 from SVI, Pollock built new trails and observation towers, and offered up his resort as a place where organizations promoting the Blue Ridge could entertain–and hopefully impress–key decision makers in the park designation process.

L. Ferdinand Zerkel, an active member of SVI, was able to influence the selection committee, resulting in their recommendation in December 1924 that the “Blue Ridge of Virginia [was] the outstanding and logical place for the establishment of the first new national park in the eastern section of the United States.”

The Shenandoah National Park Association was created in the summer of 1925 to lobby for the passage of park legislation and to raise funds for land acquisition by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Later, in 1927, a plan that would allow Virginia to condemn and purchase land that would then be donated to the United States government for the park was proposed.

Zerkel was chosen to coordinate with local residents and assist in their relocation. This proved to be an exceedingly slow process, with many families not relocated until 1935. It was to Zerkel’s advantage to portray them as squatters, illiterate, immoral and backward to stir up sentiment against them and thereby get complete approval to establish the Park and displace all the hundreds of people who had lived in the area since the early 1800’s.

skiers in Shenandoah National Park 1940Recreational skiers at the new park, 1940.

In December of that year, Virginia turned the land over to the Federal government, and Shenandoah National Park was formally dedicated on July 3, 1936, with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt speaking before a crowd of 5,000 at Big Meadows.

Pollock’s property–as well as others at Skyland– had been condemned by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1930. Pollock was forced to hand the operation of Skyland over to the Virginia Sky-Line Company, Inc., the park’s new concessionaire, in January 1937. However, the Pollocks retained life tenancy and continued to live at Skyland until their deaths, Addie in 1944 and George in 1949.


75 Hikes in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, by Russ Manning, The Mountaineers Books, 2000


Queen of the Meadow cures all

Posted by | August 11, 2016

If butterflies are about this week, you can be sure you will find them on the heads of sweet Joe-Pye-weed (Eupatorium purpureum). This perennial herb, found in moist woods and fields throughout Appalachia, is at its height of bloom right now through September. Atop each stem is a rose pink to whitish domed cluster of flowers, about 1 foot in diameter. Gardeners delight in this towering, showy plant, as another common name for it, ‘Queen of the Meadow’, clearly suggests.

However, the plant’s name is the first clue that we’re dealing with far more than just another pretty flower. It’s named after a New England American Indian named Joe Pye, who was said to have cured typhus with it. Tea made from the dried root and flowers can still be used to induce sweating and break a high fever.

The entire plant, in fact, is used in native medicine, with the roots being the strongest part. Crushed leaves have an apple scent and can be dried, then burned to repel flies. Joe Pye was used by the Iroquois and Cherokees as a diuretic, who infused dried root and flowers for a tea to relieve kidney and urinary problems. They also used this tea for rheumatism, gravel (gallstones), and dropsy (fluid retention).

The Cherokee used the stems of Joe-Pye Weeds to suck water from shallow springs, which was convenient since they are often found in wet areas. They also referred to it as Blow Gun Weed, and used it in the way suggested by the name to administer throat medicine.

The Ojibwa used Joe Pye to strengthen a child. They would wash the child with a strong solution for first 6 years of its life. The Chippewa used a decoction of the root as a warm wash for inflammation of the joints, or in a child’s bath to induce sleep.

Huron H. Smith, an ethnobotanist who worked with several North American tribes during the nineteen-twenties and thirties, was told that the Meskwaki used the root as a sort of “love medicine,” nibbling it when speaking to an intended.

“Fresh leaves of Joe-Pye weed are used by the Potawatomi to make poultices for healing burns. Mrs. Spoon used the root under the name “maskwano’kûk” [red top] as a medicine to clear up after-birth. Among the whites, the root and the herb have both been used for medicines. The root is said to have diuretic, stimulant, astringent and tonic properties, while the plant itself is diuretic and tonic.

“The Herbalist says that the root has diuretic, astringent and tonic properties and has been used by eclectic practitioners in the treatment of chronic urinary disorders, hematuria, gout and rheumatism. The Forest Potawatomi use the flowering tops of the Joe Pye Weed as a good luck talisman. When one is going to gamble he places the tops in his pocket and then is sure to win a lot of money.”

“Ethnobotany of the Forest Potawatomi” by HH Smith


Joe+Pye+weed Queen+of+the+Meadow Cherokee+herbs native+american+medicine appalachia appalachian+culture appalachian+history appalachia+history history+of+appalachia


The Dotey family’s going from riches to rags was a shocking example

Posted by | August 10, 2016

The Calvin B. Doteys, a wealthy and greatly respected family, had a very fine old home with spacious grounds on South Third Street. Old Mr. Dotey [ed. – newspaper articles of the era spell the name ‘Doty’] made his fortune in, and was president of, the Jefferson Iron Works in the lower end of town. He had a daughter Molly, who became the one and only titled person in Steubenville. Long before I was born, it was said a German, Baron Lagerfelt, came to town and married Molly. Only a few months later he left his bride and skipped to parts unknown, taking with him most of his wife’s fortune. He never returned, and so far as I know, all the Doteys, probably Baroness Lagerfelt included, felt it was good riddance.

Another child of the Calvin B. Dotey family was Harry. He wore his hair long, played the piano and pipe organ, and never worked a day in his life. He left the Episcopal Church and became a devout Roman Catholic. Among his many eccentricities was his adoption of the name Harry Linwood Marie Dotey y Carr. He wore gaudy scarves and ascot ties, pink shirts, flashy suits, and always carried bright yellow gloves. A large Catholic medal on a heavy silver chain hung ostentatiously from his neck. With very large jeweled rings on both fingers and thumbs and heavy bracelets with lockets, he attracted attention wherever he went.

It can well be imagined what a stir such a person created in a small sleepy town over sixty years ago. He loved to ride for hours on the old streetcars engrossed in reading books and magazines. A great student of art and an accomplished musician, when grand opera came to Pittsburgh, Harry Dotey always bought two seats and appeared at every performance. He placed his hat, gloves, coat and cane on the adjoining seat. Music lovers in the city of Pittsburgh wondered who the strange man was sitting alone on the aisle.

Both he and his sister, the Baroness, did a tremendous job at squandering the money which their father had worked so hard to accumulate. The walls of the old house on South Third Street were hung with rare paintings, and the home was filled with priceless objets d’art. Most of these treasures were bought from the Wunderly Brothers of Pittsburgh, who for generations have owned an especially fine art store.

Main Gallery of Wunderly Galleries in 1912. Courtesy Urban Art Antiques.

Main Gallery of Wunderly Galleries in 1912. Courtesy Urban Art Antiques.


One of the Wunderly Brothers told me years ago that Harry Dotey’s knowledge of art was amazing. He bought extravagantly and was notorious for never paying his bills. About the time the Wunderlys felt forced to bring suit against him, he would come into the store and pay a long outstanding bill. But, according to Mr. Wunderly, when he left the Gallery he invariably had bought additional treasures, and owed the Wunderlys an even larger amount than when he came in.

At Christmas Harry and the Baroness sent the most elaborate and expensive presents to all their friends, including my father and mother. They were always beautifully wrapped and tied with wide satin ribbon in tremendous bows. For many years a framed picture of a nude was turned to the wall on the floor of our bedroom closet. Harry and the Baroness had given it to my father and mother, but my parents immediately relegated it to the darkness.

Unfortunately, old Mr. Dotey made my father guardian of his two spendthrift and eccentric children. Father had a terrible time with them. Harry could have made a little money by playing the church organ for pay, but he pretended righteous indignation when any such degrading suggestion was made to him. The Baroness finally died, and poor Harry lived on for several years in the Massillon Insane Asylum, which while he wasn’t actually insane, seemed a more suitable place for him to end his days than in the Jefferson County Poorhouse.

Father, who was the epitome of generosity, preached economy to us incessantly, and frequently held Harry Dotey and his sister, Baroness Lagerfelt, up to us as horrible examples of what happens to people who spend more than they should. The Dotey family’s going from riches to rags and the Poorhouse was a shocking example. Father told us that when the old Dotey home was dismantled, the third floor was filled with the most expensive and beautiful toys which Mr. and Mrs. Dotey had bought for Harry and Molly when they were children. This great store of playthings, any one of which would have made some child happy, was allowed to accumulate dust over the years. The old colored man who spent his life working for the Dotey family had many children of his own, but in the end Harry Dotey stood adamant over him and watched closely to see that every sacred article which he had enjoyed in his childhood was burned, so that no lesser child could defame it.

Father and his Town A Story of Life at the Turn of the Century in a Small Ohio River Town, by Wilma Sinclair LeVan Baker, Three Rivers Press, 1961


Here’s where Molly Doty Lagerfelt ended her days. Postcard reads ‘Old Ladies Home, Woodsdale,’ located in Wheeling, WV. More formally known as Home for the Aged, or Altenheim, it was at one time the Belleview Hotel. Postcard by Olmstead Bros., Wheeling. Postmarked 1910. Courtesy Postcard Collection of the Ohio County Public Library Archives.

Here’s where Molly Doty Lagerfelt ended her days. Postcard reads ‘Old Ladies Home, Woodsdale,’ located in Wheeling, WV. More formally known as Home for the Aged, or Altenheim, it was at one time the Belleview Hotel. Postcard by Olmstead Bros., Wheeling. Postmarked 1910. Courtesy Postcard Collection of the Ohio County Public Library Archives.

Here’s where Harry Doty ended his days. Back of postcard reads: “ASYLUM HOSPITAL Massillon OH c.1908 Eastern Ohio Mental Asylum then Massillon State Hospital for the Insane Side View Opened in 1898 Wards & Cottage Buildings and Grounds and UNUSUAL Water Tower2.” Collection Donald Harrison/UpNorth Memories/Flickr

Here’s where Harry Doty ended his days. Back of postcard reads: “ASYLUM HOSPITAL Massillon OH c.1908 Eastern Ohio Mental Asylum then Massillon State Hospital for the Insane Side View Opened in 1898 Wards & Cottage Buildings and Grounds and UNUSUAL Water Tower2.”
Collection Donald Harrison/UpNorth Memories/Flickr

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