Above the interstate, the creek makes a moderate fifth of a mile loop to the south. High on the left, just beyond the overpass and above the Old St. Ambrose Pike, stands the large American Foursquare that served for many years as the farmhouse to the Robinson place. A short distance to the right is the original barn from the days of the Burner family, previous owners of the farm. The structure is supported by a foundation of massive cut stones while the rafters are supported by a framework of large timbers. The center bay is open to the roof, but on each side is a hay mow whose volume in loose hay was more than adequate for the dairy cattle that once lived there.
A tragic “accident” once occurred in that old barn; Rolf Burner, the owner of the farm, went out one morning to feed and milk but never came back for breakfast. When one of his family members went looking for him, he was found in the basement of the old barn, dead from a 30 foot fall down the hay-hole up in the mow. Many years later, a neighborhood ne’er-do-well told Iva Day that “Ol’ Man Burner” forbade his coming to court his daughter, so he later “thanked” the elder gentleman by “helping” him down the hay-hole.
George Robinson eventually bought the place off Burner’s heirs and lived there many years. As sometimes happens, there were a couple divorces and remarriages in the family and the farm ended up in the hands of John Perry, one of Robinson’s step grandsons. Perry had wed a city girl from Charleville and brought her to live in the beautiful old farmhouse. Like many folks, however, she had no appreciation for the historic home and demanded that he build her a new brick home. Unwilling to tear down the old place, he built her new home between, but behind, the old house and the ancient barn. He and his wife now live happily in what looks like a brick garage apartment on a nearly vertical hillside while the beautiful old foursquare is inhabited by renters.
About a third of the way around the loop is the site of an old swimming hole. Generations of area youngsters (and quite a few adults) have dove from the creek banks or swung on large ropes tied to overhanging sycamore limbs to drop into the milky-green water below. In the hot days of summer, the water there is shaded by the sycamores and, in the days before the interstate, you could find a good breeze there as well as the deep, cool water.
Once located there, too, was the first of three swinging bridges that had spanned Waddington at one time. It had been installed by George Robinson as a way to reach the part of the farm across the creek when the water at the ford below the baptizing pool was too deep to wade. Most of that farm lay across the creek to begin with, and now the interstate slices between the house and distant pastures, the home seems even more cut off from the farm. He is able to sneak across the interstate bridge on foot when the creek is up so that he can feed his cattle, thus getting some use out of the otherwise aggravating structure in front of his home.
The creek travels just a little east of south, paralleling the interstate, for about a third of a mile before it dog-legs sharply northeast as it rounds the point of Mount
Zion Hill. In doing so, it
encircles what remains of the Ray Snyder place. The farm never was very big;
Snyder used it mostly to fatten out cattle he’d bought to butcher for his meat
market in Newport.
Perhaps five acres remain around the Federal Revival farmhouse; the interstate
got all the rest except for another little piece about the same size at the
back of the farm which the interstate left landlocked. Snyder retired soon
afterward, for Uncle Sam never pays market value when he steals a man’s
property. There wasn’t enough money from the theft to buy another comparable
size farm, so the interstate basically caused the closing of his business in
Across the road from the Snyder place, a narrow concrete driveway cuts a sharp angle up Mount Zion Hill. The hill unofficially sports that name in honor of the
at its summit. The
word “united” wasn’t originally in its name; that didn’t come along until the
Methodists swallowed most of the Evangelical United Brethren Church. If you
look at the name logically, it just sounds like a bunch of Methodists got
together. Most older E.U.B. members were opposed to the merger. Mount Zion
For many years, a couple oak-shaded acres behind the church served as the Methodist camp for the area. Eve Day, now a member of the community, went there some in the 30’s and remembers the old army-style canvas wall tents, his and hers outhouses, the hand-pump on the well and the campfires. Kids really “camped” at church camps back in those days, and Eve came clear from
to do it! Worth County
For much of the life of the old church, it had been a hub of community activity, with many of the valley folk celebrating all their religious rites there before being laid to rest in the quiet hilltop cemetery. Sadly, it began to be dominated by two families who constantly bickered over control. The only time they voted in sync were those times when it looked as if they’d lose control of the church if they didn’t stick together. Eventually, most members grew weary of the situation and went elsewhere or nowhere. As a result, a church that used to be almost standing room only during services now only has eight to ten members in attendance on a “big” Sunday.
In front of the church, the cemetery covers about half an acre; the names of the valley’s settlers are prominent there. Most graves are marked, some aren’t. Over the years, worshipers have occasionally arrived on Sunday morning to discover a new grave, though no one asked for permission or informed the trustees of the new tenant’s name. Rumor has it that the Methodist Conference is anticipating the last few members joining their friends under the sod so the conference can sell the increasingly valuable property.
If you travel the length of the cemetery and then drop over the hill, you’ll find yourself at the “end of the pavement;” of course only the old-timers in the area know that name.
is located in the Newport Voting District of Stone County. Back in the days of
yore, the Old St. Ambrose Pike was paved with brick out to the district line;
from there the road became gravel.
That line also formed the beginning of Federal Voting District and the western border of the Wesley Anderson place. The farm was one of the original holdings of the
Anderson clan and was
probably at least a full section (640 acres) in the beginning. Wes had
inherited the farm through a long line of ancestors and, though some land had
been sold off through the years, over 400 acres yet remained. He ran a dairy
and a family sawmill operation for most of his life; as he grew older he gave
up the dairy and switched to beef cattle. The place was purchased by R.W.
Winterfield a few years before the death of Wes at age 91.
Waddington enters the
place as a deep pool which gradually grows shallower as it reaches the one time
site of the ford to the hayfields on the creek’s eastern side. It starts a
swing to the right as it reaches the sturdy steel and concrete bridge
Winterfield built soon after buying the place. From there it reverts back to a
stretch of decent pools, then turns left, and straightens out to become shallow
riffles with a bed of lifeless, fractured sandstone. Near the end of that
straight-stretch, it enters the old Watson place.
Watson was a dairy farmer, like most folk in the valley were at some point in time. He was considered a decent fellow by all that knew him and was very well liked. Unfortunately, his two claims to fame were having a wife that was crazier than a bedbug and begetting an amoral son.
The son had started a house near the downstream side of his dad’s farm, but never got any further than the basement before he tar-papered over what was to be the floor of the first story and called it done. It was a constant battle to keep the covering tarred well enough to keep out the rain, and it was mostly a losing battle. Still, no more work was done on the house, despite its builder having a decent enough job to afford doing so. Rumor linked the lack of home completion on young Watson having a liking for beer, stud poker and other men’s wives. Gossips aren’t above stretching the truth to make a good story, though, so who’s to say? Still, those traits weren’t the ones that earned him the reputation that lingers yet today; that required a special act of infamy.
Two-thirds of the way from his basement home to the Old St. Ambrose Pike was a 50’s-style house jokingly called “the swamp house,” due to its location on wet ground. Halfway between it and young Watson’s basement was an old cemetery which was overgrown with locust trees, honey-suckle and poison ivy. Most of the markers were of local sandstone, many just flat field stones with irregular edges. The majority gave no sign of ever having had an inscription; they were just placed there to mark the site of someone’s resting ancestor. Some, however, were of granite or marble and still had legible inscriptions. A few had birth dates in the 1700’s and one had a death date of 1806 with the notation that the occupant of that little piece of earth died of the bubonic plague.
Although the basement home was located on higher ground than the swamp house, part of young Watson’s driveway had potholes that reappeared after each stretch of rainy weather. So, with no respect for the dead, consideration for the living or regard for the law, one evening he just ripped all the stones from the little grove and pounded them up in his driveway with a sledge-hammer.
It so happened that Wesley and Kenny Anderson went onto their front porch to sit a spell and let their supper digest when they looked over to see young Watson drag the last tombstone to a pothole and pound it to smithereens. Realizing what was happening, and knowing that they had ancestors buried there, they walked briskly to the worksite to pay the culprit a visit.
The prosecuting attorney tried his best to charge Kenny and Wesley Anderson with his murder, but young Watson’s own wife testified that they never laid a hand on him. The rascal took exception to the tongue-lashing Wesley was giving him for his dastardly deed, picked up a shovel and swung a crushing blow towards Wesley’s grey head. However, he misjudged the elder man’s ability to duck the danger and the force of the swing caused him to lose his balance and fall on the freshly broken gravestones. The jagged corner barely punctured his skull, yet, in spite of careful surgery and prescribed antibiotics, the wound turned septic and young Watson was dead within a week.
With no money for a decent burial, his wife scattered his ashes in the featureless little cemetery which her husband had vandalized, sold the basement home to Jake McClure, who’d just bought her father-in-law’s farm, and moved herself and her two daughters into the home of her elderly parents. Jake built an office atop the basement and, not wanting to mow the little cemetery, graveled it and used it for a parking lot. It remains so to this day.
The elder Watson’s wife was one of those people who ran hot and cold, as the saying goes. She would be your best friend one day and not speak to you the next. She grew agitated over things most folks considered trivial and thought trivial what others considered important. At first, her neighbors just thought she was odd, but after each adult member of
got a Black Hand
letter except her and her husband, folks considered her downright “touched.”
Today she’d probably be diagnosed with PMS or Bipolar Disorder, be given some
medication and sent on her merry way. Back then, the embarrassed Mr. Watson
quietly sold his farm and moved elsewhere. Mount
Across the road from the Watson place, high on a ridge overlooking the valley was the Day farm. Cump Day had purchased the first of its three parts in 1910, the last piece in 1919, and the other piece sometime during the years between. The 62 acre John Hill place formed part of the western boundary, as did the 40 acre Oliver Hill place at the back of the farm. The long, narrow 33 acre Thomas Daley farm formed the entire eastern border of the Day farm and the Old St. Ambrose Pike served as its southern boundary.
The John Hill place had a Federal Revival farmhouse that was reputed to have been started in the last year of the Civil War and finished the following year. It had a 44 foot deep hand-dug well about ten feet from the kitchen door. The story goes that they would have liked to make it deeper, but at that depth they heard what sounded like a rushing of water under their feet and were afraid they’d fall into a water-filled cavern. Besides the well, there were five springs on the 62 acre farm; it was what the old-timers called “well watered.”
The Oliver Hill place had a little one story house on it at one time, but it burned during a thunderstorm in the 30’s. All that remained was a cellar hole, a huge cottonwood tree and a 30 foot deep hand-dug well. It also had a good spring in one of its hollows.
The Tom Daley place had four good springs, a cistern for one of them and a hand-dug well that was thirty-some feet deep. Like the John Hill place, it was considered well watered. That doesn’t matter so much these days with city water going up the valley, but with everyone having livestock in the old days, it meant a lot.
The house on the Daley place was down near the pike and was a slightly scaled-down version of the house on the hill. The 33 acres of the Daley place brought the total size of the Day farm to 135 acres, mostly hilltop and hillsides, with a total of ten springs. Except for a tiny bit of creek bottom on the Daley place, there was nowhere that disease-laden floodwater could run onto the property, no small thing in the days before antibiotics for man and beast.
There are two interesting stories concerning the Daley house. The first is that it was built with money given to the owner by the James Gang. Jeremiah Day, Cump’s older brother, had seen the gang ride up
Run Road as they took their 1874 swing through West Virginia after
robbing the bank down at Hunterstown. According to some, the law had been hot
on their trail and they had sought refuge with Tom Daley, whose log cabin was
up the hollow nearly out of sight of the highway at the time. His barn, where
the gang supposedly holed up, was even farther up the hollow and was out of sight of the highway. After lying
low for nearly a week, the gang gave Daley a substantial amount of money before
leaving. After the money had cooled off a few years, he used it to build a new
house closer to the highway. The tale seems unlikely, but who knows?
The other story of the Daley home is true, at least in part. Daley and his wife had four daughters, all of whom were pretty and popular. The suitor of one of the girls started getting a little too serious a little too quickly. Hoping to avoid an even more awkward situation further down the road, she asked him not to call on her for a while. The heart-broken fellow showed up the very next evening, though, and asked to see the girl. When she refused to come downstairs to see him, he pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the head. The story goes that each year, on the anniversary of his death, the bloodstain on the hall floor would reappear for a few hours. Though the Day family lived there for about four decades, they never once saw any bloodstain appear on the hall floor. The rest of the story, however, is true.
Returning once more to the Watson place, we find the Waddington pressing hard to the hill on the right side of the valley as the stream enters the farm. Its mudless, fishless, rock-bottomed shallows soon revert to pools and good fishing as it curves first left, then right, to reach a ford which was used to access the southern part of the farm. Standing on the bank of that last curve, you would see the farmhouse where it sat on the slope between the creek and the pike. Like most farmhouses in the valley, it was Federal Revival. It burned to the ground in the 1980’s and was replaced with a one-story brick home. Continuing on upstream, we soon reach the eastern border of the Watson place where the creek enters the old Dotson farm near the left side of the valley, and just below the pike.
Dotson once had dairy cattle like most of his neighbors, but he also did a lot of truck gardening. When his markets were saturated, he’d set tables in his yard, pile the produce atop them, put up a sign stating the prices and put out a canning jar in which folks could put their money. They were expected to make their own change. Folks would pull their cars off the road, get what they wanted, put their money in the jar and drive away. Dotson always said he didn’t believe that he’d ever lost a dime. Dotson wasn’t alone in doing business like that either; in those days, “the honor system” was standard fare in the country and often in town as well.
Dotson’s house was always an easy one to give directions to; it was the “stone” house below the road. It wasn’t really stone, but a special kind of concrete block made to look like stone. The blocks were made by the builder who had to form each block separately. The sand was quarried from an extremely soft face of sandstone on a neighbor’s farm where it could be literally scraped off the face of the quarry with a mattock. The course texture of the sand worked to the owner’s advantage for, after weathering a few years, the grey of the concrete disappeared and left the tan color of the sand, making the blocks look exactly like stone. Only the uniformity of the “stones” hinted at their origins.
It was at the back of the Dotson place, near where the ill-fated Phase II of a later housing development tied into the property that another valley tragedy occurred. Will Sawyer, who owned the farm during the Civil War, was nearly done plowing the back cornfield when a thunderstorm forced him to bring his work to a halt. An old barn then stood at the mouth of the hollow on the right side of the run. After pulling his team and plow into the barn, he took the horses out of their harnesses and put them in a large stall to eat hay and rest a while. Returning to the open barn door, he stood and watched the celestial fireworks in awe. That’s where they found him that evening, dead from a lightning strike. Folks back then didn’t know that the dry air inside a large building will sometimes draw lightning through a large door opening to the building interior.
While on the Dotson place, Waddington swings again to the far side of the valley, but with not much effort on the part of the flowing waters since a high hill juts into the valley on the far side. At that point, a section of rock-bottomed shallows makes a natural ford, so Dotson needed little maintenance to keep his crossing passable. Having come from the west a little distance, the creek now turns north a spell until it is once again very near the Old St. Ambrose Pike. Here, is the third place the pike floods, for the road is even with the top of the creek bank and the distance between them only 30 feet. This area is also directly across the road from the site of the Tom Daley house where Cump and Iva Day raised their children and spent the last 30 years of their lives. Surprisingly, though their son John spent many a day fishing in this hole, he never graduated to swimming and remained a land-lubber ‘til the day he died. From this bend, the bed of Waddington Creek travels once again to the far side of the narrow valley as it leaves the Dotson place and enters a straight area where it once served as the border between the Randall Carlton farm to the south, and the Quinley place to the north.
The Quinley’s property was only about 25 acres or so, had a little cottage on a hillside bench above the pike and a nice flat atop the low ridge that formed the back of their place. It was a tranquil little nest for the childless, educated couple, he an upper echelon pencil-pusher with the West Virginia Department of Highways, she a high school teacher. They mostly kept to themselves; but, when approached at the gas station or grocery store by a neighbor, were pleasant and genteel. Unless, of course, Mr. Quinley heard some political view with which he disagreed, then he could be a blustery, roaring, red-faced son-of-a-gun. For that, everyone pretty-much forgave him as such fanaticism was a prerequisite to work for the government in a state that basically has one political party.
The Randall Carlton place has little of Waddington’s shore to its credit. The farm’s wavy north boundary slithers its wet way just upstream of the bridge that carries
Tick Ridge Road
across Waddington. There, the line turns and runs up over a rocky point, jumps
off a cliff and onto Tick Ridge Road, then across a small splinter of land, and across McGill Run Road to another
corner. If you follow the line less than a hundred yards beyond the corner,
you’ll find yourself at McGill Run. It you were to follow the fenceline onward,
you’d go up, over and around the huge hill that makes up most of the Carlton place and against
which the house is nestled. Follow McGill downstream instead and you’ll soon
pass under the bridge to the Carlton house just before you re-enter Waddington
fifty feet downstream of the first bridge where you started.
This little side excursion shows three things. The first is that the state never bothered renaming roads which intersected side roads; after all, the tourists would never see them anyway. Second, the good folks of Tick Ridge fought successfully to keep their identity, mostly hoping the name would keep city-slickers from moving to the area. (It didn’t) Third, being located at the intersection of two creeks and two roads, the Randall Carlton home was a good place to live if you wanted to keep your finger on the pulse of the community, but a bad place to live if you had any secrets, for your home would be under the constant scrutiny of passers-by, whether motorists or fisherfolk.
It may be of interest to some that the first gristmill in the
(and probably the last) was built at the intersection of McGill and Waddington
Creeks in 1842. In 1852, under a new owner, the mill was enlarged and a sawmill
added to the site, making it the first sawmill in the valley. For many years
afterward, the lumber for many of the farmhouses built in the valley was
probably sawn there from logs supplied by the farmers building those homes. Waddington Valley
The Old St. Ambrose Pike lies against the left side of the valley at the point where it was joined by
Tick Ridge Road.
Still, the valley is narrow enough there that the Carlton house is less than 200 yards from the
pike. Tick Ridge Road
turns right from the pike and runs straight to the creek, crosses Waddington
and then runs level only a few feet before it gains its first bit of elevation
on the hill. At the beginning of that upslope, the drive to the Carlton house turns off
to the right and crosses the bridge spanning McGill. The bridge of today is a
steel and concrete wonder able to support a semi truck; a concrete-block garage
is at the end of the drive beside the house. It was built soon after Harry
McPeek bought the place thirty-odd years ago.
Carlton lived there, the
garage was on the ridge side of McGill Run. The bridge to his house was a small
one built of oak timbers that had to be replaced every few years due to rot or
flood. Sometimes they wouldn’t drive across the bridge the last year or so
before a rebuild; at those times, they’d have to carry their groceries across
the bridge and to the house, but it was only a couple hundred feet and no
trouble for country folk.
They didn’t dare leave their car on the house side of the run in rainy weather; the driveway was too low and might flood, keeping Randall from getting to work. If the water got high enough that his bridge flooded, he couldn’t get to work anyway, for it wasn’t safe to wade across the bridge since you never knew when it could give way under the force of the water. It was only by chiseling a place out of the hill to build a garage and using the dirt to fill the driveway that McPeek was later able to get a flood-proof driveway and bridge.
The little creek bottom between
place and the pike was owned by Quinleys. It was usually mowed for hay by John Day or one of the other neighbors. At the upper end
of the bottom, South Penn Oil Company had a pump-house and a huge oil tank
where they pumped oil from a few wells still producing in the area. Inside the
pump-house stood a huge one-lung engine whose flywheels were far taller than
the men who ran it. It was the type where the pumping cylinder was built onto
the side of the engine so one set of wheels could serve both engine and pump.
Unlike the smaller “hit-and-miss” engines used for less grueling tasks, the big single-cylinder machine was a slow-turning four-cycle engine which ran at a set speed. A lot of its efficiency came from the fact that it burned gas from the wells it was pumping, plus, once a ton or so of cast-iron started spinning, it took a lot to bog it down. As a result, during early times when demand for oil was high, the slow, steady thump….thump….thump….of the engine’s firing stroke shook the tin siding of the pump-house which in turn acted like a gigantic woofer in some modern teenager’s stereo and filled the Waddington and McGill valleys with a sound like that of a gigantic beating heart. Night and day it ran, until it got to be a comforting sound to some in the little community. When Bill Day, John and Eve’s son, was a tyke, he wondered if the valley would die if the great heart ever stopped pumping. In time, of course, the huge heart did quit beating, and in a sense, the valley of Bill Day’s youth did, indeed, pass away. © 2013
Please remember, this is historical fiction. While based on the oral history of the area, names and locations have been changed so much that any resemblance to individuals living or dead is strictly coincidental.