Virginia Beryl Stiles Wilt

by Virginia B. Wilt

I was the fourth child of John and Lora Stiles and was born September 26, 1911 at what was called the house on the hill. This was a house built at Pine Bluff, one of several houses to be built by my father.

John and Virginia Stiles. Taken at the house on the hill when I was about 3 years old

Ernie Stiles, my cousin, was supposed to be helping my mother while she was pregnant since mother was having difficulty with the pregnancy, but Ernie got married on June 11, 1911 so her sister Ruth became our hired girl. Ashby, my oldest brother, and Ruth gave me my name, Virginia Beryl. Ashby stayed with our Grandmother until he married. Dad and mom sold the hill property to the Western Maryland Railroad. Dad then built a cottage on Bingmon Creek on the property adjacent to grandma Morrow, the land he had inherited from his step father, David Morrow, his mother's fourth husband. They moved into the new house when I was five years old, in 1916.

My dog and I. I was approxiamtely 4 years old

The railroad was being built up Bingmon Creek to Wyatt. After the railroad was built the mine shaft across Bingmon Creek was sunk. The mine was being opened by the Thomas Love Coal and Coke. While the mine shaft was being dug, Tony Love, the brother of Thomas Love from Fayette County, Pennsylvania boarded with our family. This was in 1918. This was the year of the birth of my younger sister, Catherine, born on May 3, 1918. When Catherine was born there was a very bad flu epidemic and also there were several cases of Infantile Paralysis, at that time a very dreaded disease. Marie Matheny was the hired girl during mom's pregnancy with Catherine. During this time William Greeve, from South Connellsville, Pennsylvania also boarded with us. I started to school at Long Run School when I was six. My first grade teacher was Archie Ashcraft. During this time the Thomas Love Coal and Coke started to build company housing for the employees so William Greeve brought his family to West Virginia. Mrs Vella Greeve, son Kenneth and daughter Lois. They moved into the very first house finished in 1919. We had a large Chestnut orchard and we always picked up chestnuts in the fall and sold the nuts. We sold them to Mr and Mrs Curry that had the streetcar Station in Shinnston. That winter I fell through the ice while crossing Long Run. My sister, Maggie pulled me out. Maggie was still in high school. In the spring of 1919 Maggie met a tall read headed fellow just out of the National Guard. They were married August 16, 1919. They went to house keeping in Grandma Morrow's house since Grandma had died June 16, 1919. They moved to Ohio when Catherine was one year old. Dad was working on the Western Maryland Railroad as a Section hand. I was eight years old. That fall Mother, Dad, Catherine and I went to Detroit, Michigan to visit dad's half sister, Belle Shultz and her family. We stopped in Springfield Ohio to visit my sister, Maggie and husband, Leo Davis. Leo was working in a Steel Mill. While in Detroit, dad and I went over to Windsor, Canada and visited Belle Isle, and some other show places.

My school picture. Taken at Long Run School

My sister, Maggie's first child was born in Glouster, Ohio in 1920. Mother, Catherine, and I went to Ohio to stay with Maggie before the baby was born. Leo, at that time, was making moonshine. I went across town on the streetcar to pick up something for Leo. What I picked up was in a flour sack. I did not know what I was carrying. I found out later it was a coil for a whiskey still. I was only nine years old but I did all the shopping from the grocery store. It was a big grocery store. Leo must of made arrangements for me to get groceries and charge them. The bill was made out, put into a cup like instrument and sent up to the office. We charged the groceries to Earl Davis, Leo's deceased brother. The law was looking for Leo. When Mildred was only ten days old, mother, Catherine, Maggie, the baby, and I left Glouster, OH for West Virginia in a hurry on the train. Leo was arrested for moonshining and spent sometime in the work house. Maggie stayed at home all of this time. Dad was very upset over the situation so he forbid Maggie from seeing Leo. In the meantime, my brother Bill had gotten married and he was living in grandma Morrow's house. Leo came to visit his brother-in-law, Marshall Fortney. He saw Maggie and they made plans for Maggie and the baby, Mildred to run off and go with him. They followed through with the plan, Mildred was about nine months old. This was March or April of 1921. We had no idea where they went. It seems as if they had covered their tracks very well. Dad did not give up the search. When I was ten, dad sold the cottage he had built to Ashby, my brother.

This is a picture of Grandma Morrow's house on Bingmon Creek

We moved to Grandma Morrow's house which now belonged to dad. When moving to grandma's house there was a big three cornered cupboard. Catherine was about three years old and Carl Fortney, Ira Fortney, Catherine and I were carrying knives and forks to put into the cupboard and Katie started swing on the lower door, which pulled this big heavy cupboard over on Katie and me. Carl and Ira started to scream that Katie and I had been killed. Ernie, my cousin, Carl and Ira's mother, came running and lifted this cupboard up and we crawled out. Katie was not hurt but I had a big bruse on my hip but three doors on the big cupboard were broken off. We got Mr. Stackpole to replace them. Dad took wire and fixed the cupboard so it couldn't be pulled over again or to be a death trap or dead fall. The summer before I was eleven I was baptized and joined the Long Run U. B. Church. Rev. Vanscoy was pastor. The baptism took place in Big Bingmon Creek near the church.

Picture of Long Run United Brethren Church

In June of 1922, dad and mother both seemed very troubled over Maggie and felt she was having problems. They had not heard from her. They both dreamed she was in Cairo, West Virginia with Leo's sister. One day they decided they would go search for her. I was almost eleven and Katie about four. They told me to watch my baby sister and not to tell anyone where they had gone. Late that night mother and dad came home. They had Maggie and her two little girls. Maggie had a new baby girl named Leo June. All they had was a basket of clothes. Leo had been arrested for bigamy. He went to court and was sentenced to the penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia. Maggie had to get a divorce which cost dad ninety nine dollars. Mrytle, Leo's first wife also divorced him. After Leo had served his sentence, he came back to see Maggie. She remarried Leo on February 15, 1925. They went to housekeeping in Farnum, West Virginia. Later, they bought a house from Mr. Flint. Mr and Mrs Russell Drummond had lived there and the house was orignally built by Clarence Fortney. During all of this I was attending school at Long Run. Long Run school only went to the seventh grade. The teachers that I remember most were, first grade, Archie Ashcraft 1917, Bess Bock, 1921, Fay Bryner and Mrs Hall for seventh grade. I went to the eighth grade in Enterprise, West Virginia. My teachers there were, J. V. Rowley and music teacher Miss Helen Martin. I rode the streetcar to school. I had a perfect attendance that year. Enterprise was a very good school. I joined the 4H and met a lot of nice people. I took part in a spelling bee at the Shinnston Grade School in the spring of 1925. I stood and spelled until there were just three of us left standing. I lost to a brother and sister by the names of Abe and Josephine Hudkin. They spelled me down. I went my last month of grade school at Shinnston Grade School. They only had eight months of school at Enterprise that year. We had a graduation service in Clay District High School. There were 76 to graduate. It was held May 28, 1925. L.H. White, president of Glenville State Normal was the commencement speaker for the Clay District Jr. High graduation exercise. May 24th at 2:30PM Rev. H.A. Murrill, pastor of M.P. Church in Enterprise (southern Methodist) delivered the baccalaureate sermon to the class. Rev. E. A. Crites gave the benediction.

The cottage and some of the girls that I stayed with at 4H camp in 1925

That summer I went to the 4H camp at Jackson's Mill with some of the other girls from our Enterprise 4H club. They were, Angie Heldreth, Merle Morris, Dorothy Wyers, Mary Glaspell, Dorotha Ice, and Martha Jean Hardesty. You could pay your way to camp or you could bring farm products. There were slips of paper to fill out to tell you what to bring. As I remember some of the things you needed to take were, one live chicken, and a peck of potatoes. You brought the produce to the collection point and they (officers of the 4H club) would crate it up and send it by streetcar to Jackson's Mill via Clarksburg and Weston. My dad paid my way. There were not to many cottages built in Jackson's Mill in 1925. The first year I stayed in the Upshur County Cottage. The pool was built then. I loved to swim, not many girls knew how to swim.

Some of the swimmers at Jackson Mill 4H camp
Notice the modern swimwear

The dining hall was not built at this time. A long mess hall was built along the river while I was in camp. My brother, Ashby, was injured in the coal mines at Oakpoint. He worked on a motor. He had a leg broken. Mother wrote me a letter to the camp telling me about Ashby. He was in Saint Mary's Hospital in Clarksburg, so, on our way home from 4H camp Angie Heldreth and I stopped and visited him. While in the camp I belonged to Shawnee Tribe. Everyone worked for points. This was a great learning experience for me. In September of 1925 I started to Clay District High School in Shinnston, West Virginia. Mr Clyde McCartney was principal and Mr Vassar was the janitor. He was a very lovable person. I rode the streetcar to Bingamon Junction and changed to a streetcar going to Shinnston. I then walked across the old Iron bridge into Shinnston. It was very cold in the winter. I met Alison Champ at Bingamon Junction, he worked for his mother in the streetcar station. His mother thought I would be an ideal person to be Alison's wife. I had one date with him and we went for a ride in a car. It was a Packard Touring Car. It just didn't work out. Angie Heldreth's dad owned a car. It was a Nash Touring Car. I ran around a lot with Angie. I also went to church a lot, it was my most important place, spiritually and socially.

pool The swimming pool
with the new Dinning Hall in the brackground

The summer of 1926 I went to Jackson's Mill again to 4H camp. This year I stayed in the Marion County cottage. They had the dinning hall built then. I started as a Sophomore in Clay District High School that year. The teacher at Long Run School was needing money for the school. She was having a box social to make money. I took a box lunch, the box was trimmed so pretty. My sister, Catherine took a pie in a box. Jerry Lucas bought my box. A stranger, young man, Bud Wilt bought my sisters pie. It was the custom to eat with the person that owned the box but Bud took the box with the pie to his shanty where he lived at the mine. This really upset my sister. From this time on this fellow was always around. If you wanted to date a young girl, the custom was to go to church and ask a girl to walk her home.

Picutre of Long Run School

This is how it all started. Bud gave me a ring for my sixteenth birthday, September 26, 1927. I started my junior year in high school. I went for nine weeks. I wasn't happy going to school, feeling I would get married and not need an education. I quit school and stayed home that winter. Bud asked me to marry him. I was slow in saying yes, but I did and we set the date for June 27, 1928 or near Bud's birthday, but work was slow. He went to Crellin, Maryland and went to work and stayed with his brother Ernest (Pude). We decided to get married so Bud came home on February 2, 1929 so we could get married. We could have gone to Oakland, Maryland to be married, but dad wanted me to get married in West Virginia. On Monday, February 4, 1929, dad and Bud went to Clarksburg to get the marriage license. Dad gave his consent because I was only seventeen years old. I stayed with Mrs Burnett and we walked over the Rev. Jesse's house, the Shinnston United Brethren Church Parsonage and we were married. Dad was our witness. Dad went home, Bud and I went to Fairmont and stayed with Richard and Beah Ice. The next morning I called home. My brother's wife had a baby girl (Gladys Ruth). We took a train to Grafton, West Virginia and took a train to Oakland, Maryland. Bill Shaffer picked up us in a taxi and took us to Crellin where we stayed with Bud's brother and sister-in- law (Pude and Lillian). We lived with them for about three months. We then rented a furnished apartment on Liberty Street. Resse and Mable Friend lived down stairs. I attended the Presbyterian Church and sang in the choir. Bud worked at Tuner Douglas. He bought a model T Ford and drove that to work. We drove back home to visit my mother and dad. School was out so my sister Catherine went back with Bud and I. She stayed a month with us. When we took Katy home, Bud got a job at Kelly Mine. We then decided to pack up and come home to live. We borrowed fifty dollars from my mother to pay off the car. Bud rented a two room cottage from Tally Piggott. We bought new furniture from Palace Furniture Company. We went to house keeping on July 14, 1929, my mother's birthday. By this time I knew I was going to have a baby. I never consulted a doctor. Bud talked to Dr. Nutter about delivering our baby. I got along fine. We moved above the railroad track on January 27, 1930. I was uncomfortable and felt it was time for my baby to be born. Mother Wilt was with me. I did not know what to expect giving birth. Bud called Dr. Nutter. He came over on the streetcar. It wasn't any problem to deliver, at all. Dr Nutter stayed a while to see if I would be all right. I gave birth to a 7 3/4 pound little girl on January 28, 1930 and we named her Barbara Mae, after her two grandmothers. My first bunch of flowers came from Weber's Flowers sent by Loree (Socks) McRobie, Buds cousin in the Marine Corp.

Virginia and Barbara Wilt

We moved into my brother Ashby's house for a short time but Ashby's job had been terminated in Parkersburg so he had to move back home.

Picutre of the house that Ashby bought from dad. This picture was taken when Catherine was about two. Pictured left to right unknown, Lora, Catherine, John Stiles.

Bud and I moved to Jim Heldreth's house. This house did not have any electricity or gas. We had a torch light coal stove to use for cooking, a coal fireplace with a grate for heat and oil lights. We had just moved there and Barbara came down with whooping cough she had contracted from Carrie Wilson. She was only three months old and was very sick for several weeks. We then moved back into the coal camp. We weren't there long until Bud was discharged because he gave some assistance to a union organizer on a very cold morning. We move back to Ashby's house again. While we lived there, my dad was leading a cow and the cow bolted, hit dad and threw him to the ground and broke his hip. Dad was up Nutter Run when this happened and someone brought him home. We called Harmer's and they took him to Saint Mary's Hospital in Clarksburg. They put him into a full body cast and he was in the hospital for a few days. After he came home, it was quite a task taking care of him. We put a board under his mattress so he could sleep. Lonnie Tucker came and helped Katie to care for dad. Dad recovered after several months in bed. One day while we were living in Ashby's house someone came and told me that a close friend, Blanche Lucas was very sick. I took Barbara to my mother's and went to see Blanche. This is the very first time I had ever seen someone die. Blanche had been a childhood friend. We walked on stilts, played Jacks and other games that were not to difficult for Blanche because she was nearly blind. She attended the school for the blind in Romney, West Virginia. George, Bud's brother came to live with us when he got out of the Marines in 1932. He married Hazel Brookover. We five lived together. George spoiled Barbara, he was her uncle Flickie. Shortly after this Maggie's house burned down. In all the excitement Bud and Katie ran into each other and Katie hit her head on Bud's jaw and broke it. It was very painful. Dr Nutter said the cheek bone was cracked. Bud had to have his jaw wired closed until the jaw healed. When Bud and George got a job at Owings Mines we rented a house in Solon (at Shinnston, West Virginia). Hazel and I walked across the hill from Bingamon to Enterprise to catch the streetcar to Shinnston. It was zero weather and we thought we would freeze. We walked to Solon from the streetcar station in Shinnston. We stopped at Mr and Mrs Estep's and he came with us to help build a fire in the grate to heat the house so we could clean it up so we could paint and move in. We moved in on Feburary 15, 1934. The house was a double house that had been built by the coal company. George and Hazel moved in with us for short time and then rented the other side of the house and started housekeeping. The first of April there was a coal strike. This is when we became acquainted with Charlie Witt, Paul Witt, and Johnny Knoble. Johnny went back home and Charlie and Paul came to our house. They were boarding at Mrs Rounds. Taking these two boys in we became friends with all the Witt family. The Witts had hard luck. Their house had burned down in Oakmont, West Virginia. Mr Witt was working at the Pruntytown reform school. The Witt family was scattered everywhere. We helped them get a house in Shinnston and remained friends until their death. Bill Witt, Charlie and Paul's brother, was in the navy. We moved from the double house to one of the small cottages in Solon.

House on the Charles Long farm where we moved in 1935. This picture was taken about 1995 and is still occupied by members of the Colburn family

We only lived there for a short time when we rented a house on the Mud Lick road between Bethleham and Enterprise. We rented from Charles Long. It was a small farm and we lived there for nine years. We moved to Bethleham on September 5, 1935. I was pregnant. Charles and Arah Radford lived across the road from us. I had a doctor through this complete pregnancy. It was Dr Johnson. Shortly before I was due, I went across the road to visit the Radfords and stepped on a wet rock and slipped and fell. Bud was hunting and I was alone with Barbara. I was shaken up by the fall and could not venture out until Richard was born on December 5, 1935. He weighed eight pounds. Two of the first visitors to come to see me and the new baby were, Loree (Socks) McRobie, who brought Richard a snuggle robe and Barbara a Shirley Temple Doll, and Harold Wood. Early in 1936 Mrs Arah Radford died and Ray and Kathryn Watts and there children, Ray Stanley and Radford (Bud) Watts moved in with Mr Radford. Kathryn was Mr Radford's daughter. I got pregnant again in 1937. We had a boarder at the time by the name of Frank Matish. He boarded with us for nine months. When I got so I could no longer keep up with work with the boarder, Frank moved out (Frank was later killed in No 9 mines). I had a baby girl on January 6, 1938. We named her Dana Sue. Dana appeared to be very health baby but she died with crib death on July 22, 1938. Ray Watts also was very sick and he passed away around the same time. After Ray died Kathryn and the children moved into Shinnston into a house on Walnut Street and Kathryn started teaching school again. She also had a sister by the name of Mildred whose was in training to become a nurse. Her second sister was Braxie and she also was a teacher. The fourth sister was Bernice Whorton and she lived in Fairmont. Bernice gave me dresses that her daughter, Mary Jo would outgrow and I would keep them form Barbara. June Williams, my niece also lost her baby. My sister Catherine had a baby girl on May 31, 1938 and at the age of tens months, she ate some laxative pills which caused her death. Of course everyone knows the War started in December of 1941. Mr Radford remarried to an old friend, Anna Rector. In 1944 there was an explosion at Kathryn Mines and several men were killed. In July 1944 there was a tornado in Shinnston, it hit the area of Pleasant Hill and injured and killed several people. Houses were hard to fine and Mr Long sold the house we lived in to the Persey Colburn family and we had to start looking for a place to move. Since the tornado there just were not very many houses to be found. They started building in Shinnston and several house were being rebuilt on Pleasant Hill. We looked at one that was way to small for us but there was one being built by Harry Claspell for Santo Rotunda and it was going to be for sale when it was finished. The building went very slowly because materials just could not be gotten due to the war. We bargained to buy even though it was not completed. We moved in on May 1, 1945. I was pregnant again and was due in September. Things for the house were very hard to find. The war had made it very hard to find things like, diapers, sheets, towels, hot water tank, electrical fixtures, and bath room fixtures. We finally got things straightened out by June and bought the house. Santo had to pay his (common law) wife to sign the deed. There was still a lot of ruble around on the hill due to the tornado, but Bud started to work on the house to make it more livable. Bud raised a big garden. He spaded all around the house and I canned lots of vegetables. Kitty was born September 7, 1945. Bud's sister, Susie stayed here helping Barbara take care of things. Barbara was fifteen and Dick was nine years old. Suzie worked the early shift at a restaurant in Shinnston. Dr. Jabout and Kitty Hursey attended me with the delivery. We named the baby Kathryn Anne. Barbara was upset when the baby came but she learned to love her sister. Barbara was a very good student. Bud was working night shift at Owings. The war was finally over. Dobe (Harry Holbert, Susie's son) who had been wounded in the Battle of the Bulge came home. Bub (Forrest Holbert, Susie's son) was coming home. Bud was working as a dispatcher at Owings Mines. Bud got Shorty Martinez to drive us to pick up Bub. Dobe, Shorty, and I met Bub at the train station in Clarksburg. What a joyful meeting but it was so foggy coming home. It took a long time to get home. After Bud got home from work, Bub took his car and went home to see his wife, Maxine and baby, Patty. After Bub was home for a while, Bud took him and Dobe to Williams Mine and got them a job. They went to work after a mine strike in May 1946. Dobe worked on the A&B Gang and Bub went to work as a mechanic. Bub bought a house at Prospect Valley in 1947.

Virginia Beryl and Herbert Stanley Wilt

This is as far a Mom wrote. Some later information can be found in the biography of Herbert S. Wilt. You will have to read "the rest of the story" later. I assume mom figured that Barbara, Kitty and myself could take over where she left off.
Pop left us on June 13, 1985 and mom passed away on April 29, 2002. They are both buried in the Masonic Cemetery, Shinnston, WV.
Dick Wilt

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