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
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.
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
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
We then moved back into the coal camp. We weren't there long until Bud was discharged
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Return to Biographies Index
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.