West Virginia October 2006
Robert Helfer ~ Lisa
|We had a great trip to West Virginia to see the leaves and
took the old highways going south from Pittsburgh to Charleston -
Philippi, where we admired the covered bridge;
down to Buckhannon, which took us past Hodgesville
and Peeltree (McVaney and Greathouse ancestors lived there),
French Creek, Rock
Cave, Gassaway, Flatwoods, Falls Mill (where the old store we used to
stop at for drinks and picnic lunch when we were kids going to French
Creek Game Farm with our parents has been replaced by a roadside park),
and down Elk River through Clay and Corton (Hill and Taylor ancestors
lived there), to brother Eric's in time for dinner.
Friday we visited Suzanne's house (sixth cousin and Eric's friend) - a
historic farmhouse with lots of neat old stuff. We had a tour of the "loom
room" and the Christmas room from Georgia Sergent, who turns out to be
a 6 th cousin, too. This is a view from her front porch.
Suzanne laid out a
beautiful lunch table, with homemade bread, peach jam from Eric's tree,
blackberries they had picked up the hollow, and an assortment of cheese
and fruit. Wish I had taken a picture - tasty and beautiful too.
grey and rainy, but we went on up Johnson Creek and over to Stringtown,
which was an oil-boom town now dwindled to a few farms, where Suzanne's
father grew up. That was the first ford. With the help of the topo
atlas, we found our way north from there to Walnut Grove, where
Grandaddy deGruyter was born, before Otto and Jane Hill deGruyter moved
to town. We drove on in to Spencer, which isn't looking as prosperous
as some places farther north - just driving through West Virginia,
things look much better than the last time we were there.
Saturday, Suzanne and Eric came with us down to Babcock State Park -
Robert and Suzanne hadn't been, and Eric and I couldn't remember when
we had - sometime in the 60s with our parents. We stopped at several
scenic spots, including Hawk's Nest, along the way. Going back, we
drove up through Mt. Nebo and Summersville, where we had no ancestors
at all ;-) but it was a lovely drive through Nicholas County mountains.
We had a late lunch at Fran's Restaurant just off the courthouse square
in Summersville, where there has been a restaurant in the building
continuously since 1885. Real home-made hamburgers, onion rings, and
french fries - best burger I had had in years (including at home -
ground beef in our stores seems to be completely tasteless these days).
We went back down the Gauley River through Swiss and Dixie to Gauley
Bridge and back to Charleston.
|Saturday night we went to cousins Mike
and Janice Conley's for supper
and a get-together with cousins Fred and Anne Giersch
- great barbecue
and food too numerous to mention. Mike and Fred didn't rib me too much
(they're a few years older and still think of me (at 55) as one of the
baby cousins - not to mention I left WV and they stayed).
|Sunday Eric, Robert, and I went up to Corton, where the Hills are
buried in a private cemetery - the directions said "take the gravel road
around behind the house", and since we were already up the road marked
private, none of us had the nerve to just drive up (or walk) and ask.
We couldn't see any gravestones from a distance, so we gazed longingly
and went back through the country to Osborne's Mills, where the Hills
and Taylors lived, and then up to Hebron, to take pictures of Hersman
stones. (See pictures here). We went on up Missouri Fork to Lick Fork and all the way up
Lick Fork (where Eric and I had not been since some teenage parties on the Hardman farm out there).
Monday Eric, Robert, and I went up to Gilmer county and poked around
the back roads in Duskcamp, Cedarville, Sand Fork, Truebada, where the
McVaneys, Snyders, Brannons, etc. lived. Visited the Otterbein Church
cemetery where Nancy Brannon Snyder, a g-g-g-grandmother, is supposed
to be buried. There was a large Snyder plot in the back corner, but most of the stones were slate that had been