FROM: The Memories and Writings of Harold David Somerville, by Pauline Somerville Smith and Lola Mae Smith, Volume II  information on how to order click here


    This was a January morning and it was said by some thermometers to be 30 below zero. Not being dismayed by the extreme cold, I saddled my steed and started for Joes Run. I, like many others who boast and brag about what I can stand, I braved the weather. I was warned by different examples of how cold it was. One was the report that Tom Barnharts well froze over, water well, not gas well. I knew within myself I would not be bothered with sweat bees or my horse with horseflies.
    I went up Trace Fork and then up Bucket Run. The trip from there I had planned to go down Joes Run up the other branch of the ridge in the low gap, near Mt. Hope Church, go through Mr. Hawk’s field to the Trace Fork road and down this creek and over the hill by John Ayers and then to Sandyville.
This trip I did make but may I never have such an experience and such a close call.  The weather was bearable and I did not suffer so awful much with the cold until a blizzard came up in the afternoon, about two o’clock. The blizzard hit me with its full fury when I was going up the Benton Hinzman hill. The snow fell so fast and the clouds hung low and black. It appeared to be dark. My horse wanted to turn around and go home. I knew if we did we would not get off of Joes Run. I continued up the hill. Here I got off my horse, laid down the fence and it was so dark I could hardly see. Some one had gone this way ahead of me and I could see their trail. But in a few minutes there was no trail to guide me. There was no North Star nor the Dipper to guide me. I was lost but I kept the horse going down the hill. I began about this time to get real cold. I finally was on the creek and crossed at the Pyatts house.
    I was now cold enough to go to any man’s house but as I didn’t see any one at the Pyatt home, I decided to go on and stop some where else. So few people were stirring that I decided I would go ahead to Duskey’s. Well by the time I got to Duskey’s I did not feel so awful cold. It must have been the numbness that caused me to not know how cold I was and lulled me into thinking I was better off than I was. I only had two more boxes to serve and then I could fold up in my big heavy coats and over the Jont Ayers hill home I would go and didn’t need any one’s fire to warm me and again have to enter the cold.
The colder I got the less I felt it and the further down the road I got the less need I thought I had for a fire. My horse well knew the road and was then pointed homeward too, seemed to be fine.
    It had got too cold for me to smoke my pipe from the time the blizzard struck me. At Ted Shepherd’s I saw Mr. Shephard at the barn and he called to me to get off and warm by a good big fire. I laughed at him and told him I had been very cold but wasn’t now and that I would go ahead over the hill. Mr. Shepherd then approached my horse and said, you are colder than you think and it is 29 below zero and you just can’t stand it to cross the hill in this blizzard.
    Ted being such a nice, sociable fellow and giving such a warm invitation to his fireside, I decided to go in for a short time and warm, but still thinking I was not very cold. Here is where and when I found out I was in great danger of freezing to death. I could not move. I was so numb and weak I could not get off the horse at all.
    Mr. Shepherd is a large, strong man and my size being of the lesser size, he picked me up and carried me to the house, put my horse in the barn and then he went to work to bring me back to my natural feeling. As I began to warm up, I began to realize how cold I was and how near I came to freezing to death. I now know that to freeze to death would not cause much suffering and none at all after you have reached certain stages. I had passed the pain condition and was so drowsy I did not care what happened.
It took the family to remove my shoes and to place me up close to the fire and then Mrs. Shepherd said, I am going to give you some whiskey. She got a spoon and dished out one spoonful to me. I wanted more, but said nothing. She probably saw the longing eye I kept on the whiskey. She cared for this by saying if I give you more and you went out in the cold you may freeze to death.
    Probably Mrs. Shepherd thought of what happened to Rip VanWinkle and his dog, Wolfe. Rip, if you remember took his dog Wolfe, after listening to one of the many tirades of Dame VanWinkle, and went into the mountains and then rolled at Nine Pins and often took drinks from a little brown jug that sat in the corner and woke up 20 years later. I too was going into the moun-tains and Mrs. Shepherd didn’t want me to take a 20-year nap. If I had taken the sleep I came so near doing I would not have awakened in 20 years.

Pp  178-179

    WA. Hinzman now lives on the Parsons farm, after we passed Box No. 35, and just a short distance up the road was the home of Mr. Ed Pyatt (father of Elmer Pyatt), who died in 1923. At this time I will ask for the indulgence of the readers to relate an experience Ed Crow and I had in a mud hole several years ago, which was about half way between the Parsons and Pyatt homes.
It was like this. The time was just a few days prior to Christmas and there was a skiff of snow on the ground when we left the Post Office in my car. We clipped along very nicely over the frozen ground, covered by snow, until about noon, then it began to thaw some.
    The car began to break through the snow and ice. This day we went up Mud Run, revers-ing our route. The number of times that day we got stuck in the mud I will not try to relate, but it was several. Hegemen Faber pulled us out one time with his team. Further up Joes Run and the next serious encounter with too much mud was on Trace Fork. This mud hole was about two or three feet deep and about 200 feet long, the creek on one side of the road and a wire fence on the other and no way to detour. Other cars had been stalled in this mudhole recently, we learned.
    By the time we arrived there, about 3 o’clock, the snow was all gone. The roads were very muddy and we were some 8 miles from home.
    And that mud hole was between us and the end of our journey. First we served the Pyatt Box and then loaded our pipes with Prince Albert, started the smoke to rolling and proceeded on our way. We navigated some 20 feet of this mud hole and then we bogged down. Try as we would there was no more going forward or backward.
    Ed suggested that he get out and see how bad we were stuck. When he looked the situation over, he said all four wheels are off the ground and the body is dragging.
    Our next step was to get some rocks, pry the car up and put the rocks under it. But we failed at this and there we were to stay unless there was assistance to be had. Ed was off to C.D. Miller’s to get a team of horses. Charley had a good team. This seemed to be the only logical thing to do.
    When Ed got to the Parsons place, where George Richards lived at the time, Mr. Richards was crossing the road with a load of fodder. He had a sorrel horse, about 15 years old and blind in both eyes, weighing about 900 to 1000 lbs., and not any too fat. Mr. Crow told him his trouble, then Mr. Richards told him that he would pull him out as soon as he took the fodder to the barn.
    Mr. Crow doubted the ability of one small horse, blind and poor, to pull the car out. Oh yes, replied the owner, I have pulled bigger cars than that one out of that mud hole. We both had no faith in the one small horse, but as Mr. Richards was confident and was so king, we sat back and awaited results.
    All hitched and with me at the wheel to do the steering, Mr. Richards tightened up on his reins and said “get up” which was good horse language. I can yet to this day see the confidence that horse had in himself He straightened out his hind legs, slowly and steady he leaned closer to the ground and me without proper faith, thought it was all off. But the horse never faltered and at last the car began to move, slowly, but yet moving. You never can tell what there is in a lousy calf or what some horses are able to do. He put that car in the clear on the other side of the mud hole. We were grateful and wanted to show our appreciation in the proper way, but Mr. Richards would have nothing.
    We again were on our way. I am glad to relate that later the Pyatts and Mr. Miller hauled stone and gravel and fixed that place.
    Back to Box 36 - the Pyatts home. The family at this time consisted of Mrs. Amy, her son, Elmer, Francis and younger daughters. Some of the elder children were married and had homes of their own, and her mother, Mrs. Nancy Wilcox Throgmorton who is still living and is the oldest person on Sandyville Route 3. She will be 91 years old on July 27. Of the many old people who were my patrons 18 years ago, many have passed on. Some of those still living are Mr. and Mrs. RE. Lupardus, Rev. Hinzman, Mrs. M.C. Carmichael, Mrs. G.E. Crow, T.A. Wilcox and Mrs. Emma Perry. They are still patrons of my route.
It was the custom of Mrs. Throgmorton several years ago to come to the mail box. But her 90 years have changed all that. Elmer is now married and has children. He gets his mail in Box 36.  We are glad to say that he now has a good position with one of the gas companies. Many a cold day I have warmed by their fire. One reason I used their home and fire for a place to warm, was my assistant from Joes Run and we did not always get to this point at the same time. John and Mary Pyatt came to Trace Fork many years ago, being a part of the early settlers on the creek. Mr. Pyatt died about 1889 and Mrs. Pyatt in 1930.
Many times when I passed their home Mrs. Pyatt would be sitting on the front porch, but like many of my patrons, she has passed on.
    After Harry and I passed the Pyatt home we let our horses walk up a small grade, out a flat for a short distance and then down a small hill where we came in sight of a pioneer home, a log house well kept for its age, a large plank barn and a large farm of over 300 acres. Harry said in answer to my inquiry as to who lived there that it was George W Hawk and wife, Analyza Parsons Hawk. Her father was one of the early settlers of this county (more about them later). Harry advised that here was a good place for us to stop, eat our dinners and feed our horses.
    We had our own lunches and horse feed. We rode in and put our horses in the large wagon shed and here were two good feed boxes to feed our horses in. Some of my predecessors had stopped here and taken dinner with the Hawks and fed their horses. As horses and men were caring for the want of hunger and fatigue, a man short in stature and well up in years came from the house to the barn. He spoke to Mr. Riggs and asked him who the stranger was. He then gave me a hearty handshake and from that time on we were the best of friends. He, like Bill Archer, knew my people, but it was the first time he and I had met.  He was a great talker and stayed until we were off on our journey, all the time telling stories about my ancestors.
    At this time his two sons were married and he and his wife were all alone to manage the large farm. From that time on we usually saw each other every day. I would stop to feed and lunch. He took a great delight in living in the past and told many stories of what happened long before I was born. Many of his stories were about Civil War days. Mr. Hawk’s father, Absolom Hawk, lived on Turkey Fork, and owned a large tract of several hundred acres of land there.

Pp 185-186

Cemeteries On Trace Fork
    There is a cemetery, a very old one on the farm where Eugene Fisher now lives.
It is on the lower side of the road on the opposite side of the ravine from the Fisher home.
Old timers remembered when many graves were plainly visible.
A family by the name of Parsons owned this farm and some of them were buried there.
Many years ago John Rockhold, who married Mary Morehead in 1831, lived on the bank above where Hank Kerns now lives, his son Wesley who married a Miss Dunbar with his family lived there also. Last fall I talked to one of his sons, Reuben Rockhold now 86 years of age, told me of one incident he well remembered and he at the time being only 5 or 6 years of age.
    The children were playin blind fold out in the yard. And they had a spring some 5 or 6 feet deep walled up with rock like a well.
    His little brother Jeff was the blind man and in his effort to catch his brothers and sisters in this game he fell through the boards which covered up the spring and splash went litde Jeff. Mr. Rockhold said he gave the alarm and his father who was in the woodyard close by came at once and fished his brother out, and they played blind man no more.
    The family all got sick. They called the sickness the sandy fever (was typhoid) several of them died while living there. The mother of Reuben Rockhold and several of his brothers and sisters. He was quite young but the loss of his mother was a sad event. He never forgot. He told me of neighbors making her coffin and how he missed her and his brothers and sisters.
    She and the children were buried in the cemetery on the Fisher farm, and shortly after this the Rockholds sold out and went back to Wirt County where they lived before coming to Trace Fork.
On the hill above lower Trace Fork School house is a cemetery with a few graves. Neal Vannoy had a child buried there.
    On the D.M. McGrew farm across on the bank from the church is a very old cemetery where some of the old settlers of Trace Fork were buried. John Pyatt grandfather of Lawrence Pyatt is buried there.
The Shepherd cemetery on the Ted Shepherd farm. Adams and the Shepherd family are interred there. It is fenced and has some nice grave markers. The farm now owned by Hoyt Barnett was at one time the property of John Murphy. He had a son who died with fever and he was buried across the road from Mr. Barnett’s farm near where he stacks feed each year.
    When Mr. Murphy sold the farm he had his son’s body exhumed and taken to Ravenswood.
The Hughes Post Office was established April 1, 1902. Okey J. Weekley, Postmaster, was in residence where Tom Weekley’s house now stands.
    March 11, 1903, John Murphy became the Postmaster. It was in a store building on the Hoyt Barnett farm. This office was discontinued on January 31, 1907, when Sandyville Route 3 was established.
On Bucket Run a cemetery that was known as the Richard cemetery which is a very old one. Mr. Parsons and his wife, old settlers previously mentioned in a former article, are buried on the Hawk farm. The Mt. Hope cemetery by the church is a beautiful cemetery. Kept in good shape.
    Trace Fork is a stream of 5 1-2 miles in length, and let me say right here there were no more patriotic citizens lived in Jackson County than the good citizens who lived there during World War I.  And in this serious conflict at the present time (World War II) many of the local boys have gone to fight for our freedom.
    Soldiers of World War I from Trace Fork were 16 and three of those boys lost their lives in the service. Emerson Williams and John and Tom Shepherd the others in service were: Charles Dillon, Homer Nelson, Fred Carmichael, Elza Archer, WH. Shepherd, Oscar Spears, Denny Myers, Fred Duskey, Dock Keenan, Otho Hawk, Clate Hawk, Floyd Richard and Andy Keenan.

Early Schools On Trace Fork
    The first temple of learning on this creek was in a log cabin which stood near the spring on the opposite side of the road from Ted Shepherds house.
    This was a subscription school. This building had a huge fireplace to heat the room, and probably greased paper to admit the light, as glass windows was a luxury in those days.
    Another old-time school was located where lower Trace School House now stands. It was built of round logs and known as the free trade school. Jack Roliff gave the ground. Bantos Curry and the Shepherds were some of the pupils. This building was discarded in 1888, when the present one was erected. Sell Hutchinson was the President of the Board of Education. George Kermel and George Flesher had the contract of building it.
    There was school for a time in an old log house on the George Hawk farm.
    The Middle Trace (Brown School) was erected yet in use and later Upper Trace School but this building has been torn down for several years.
Another old time school while not located on the waters of Trace Fork many of the children who lived on the head of the creek attended this school.
    It was on the ridge between the two prongs of Joes Run on the farm now owned by Curb Patterson.
Tom Murray, C.A. Hess, WJ. Parrish and the Hinzman’s were some who went to school there.

To order the three volumes please contact:
Pauline Somerville Smith
Rt 1 Box 135
Ravenswood, WV  26164

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