John Nelson Stiles

October 26, 1876 - April 25, 1953
by Richard R. Wilt
John and Lora May Robinson Stiles

     John Nelson Stiles was born on a small farm in northwest Marion County, West Virginia, the son of John Wesley and Elvira Thomas Davis Stiles, very near to the Monongalia County line. The farm belonged to his grandfather, John Stiles.

     John Nelson was the middle son, having an older brother, Isaac Alburn and a younger brother James. He also had two stepsisters, Lydia, Mary, and a step brother, William from his motherís first marriage to Turner L. Davis.

      Johnís father died when he was only seven years old and his mother with the three children continued living on the small farm until Elvira met and married a widower by the name of David M. Morrow of Harrison County. Elvira and David were married January 31, 1889.

David Morrow Homestead on Bingmaon at mouth of Nutter Run

     David had an older son by the name of David. David, Elvira and the four boys moved into a small log cabin located on a farm owned by David, located at the mouth of Nutter Run on Bingamon Creek in Harrison County. John grew up with his three siblings at the mouth of Nutter Run on Bingamon Creek. He attended school at Long Run School located on Bingamon Creek at the mouth of Long Run. He also was a member of the Peoria United Brethren Church and later a very active member of the Long Run United Brethren Church.

      John attended Long Run school in 1896 where he met and Lora May Robinson the daughter of Charles Wesley Robinson of Upshur County. May had been living with the Shreve family of Harrison County since a very young age. They were married on February 3, 1897. When first married they lived with Johnís brother Isaac Alburn and his wife Sara in a small log cabin on Long Run. Their first child Ashby was born here on September 27, 1987. Soon after the birth of Ashby John and May moved to Kesling Mills, Upshur County, near the town of Buckhannon. May had inherited half share in a 65 acre farm from her grand father, Minter B. Miller. This farm had been left jointly to her and her half brother, Luther David Miller. They lived here in a log cabin on the farm for a short, when, as it has been told, John became homesick for his home in Harrison County. He wrote a letter to his brother Isaac to bring a wagon to Kesling Mills and move them back to the farm on Bingamon Creek. On there return to Harrison County from Upshur County, the horse that was pulling the wagon developed a disorder know as Wins and John and Alburn tried to buy a horse to replace their horse. A farmer was willing to rent them a horse but charged them the price for which they could have bought a horse, but, of course, they had no choice but to pay what the man wanted. John and Alburn returned to Bingamon Creek with the wagon. Upon arrival home John was so upset with what they had to pay for the horse, he just unhitched the horse, smacked it on the rump and yelled, ďIf you are such a great horse you can just find your own way homeĒ. The horse was never seen again.

      John soon found himself a job working on the Fred Sturm farm at Viropa, WV as the farm boss and he and May moved to Viropa. Their next two children were born while John was working for Fred Sturm. Willie was born on April 4, 1900 and Maggie was born February 28, 1903. The Sturm farm was a commercial farm growing vegetables, cattle and other livestock. The larges and most profitable crop was Strawberries.

Sturm farm near Viropa, WV.

Strawberry fields, John Stiles on right in white shirt.

      On August 13, 1902 James C. Stiles, Johnís younger brother died of what was diagnosed as Cancer. Later the next year, Johnís stepfather David M. Morrow died on April 9, 1903. Davidís son had also died a little earlier. Upon death of their stepfather, John and Alburn inherited the family farm on Bingamon Creek at Nutter Run, where their mother Elvira lived. This property also contained a portion of land located on Long Run, which also had a small cabin.

      In 1902 May sold the mineral rights on the property at Kesling Mills to W.G. Davis. She also sold her portion of the farm with the house to John Kesling. Upon the death of their stepfather, John and Alburn had inherited the Morrow farm. Johnís portion was on Long Run with the small cabin, and Alburnís part was on Big Bingamon at the mouth of Nutter Run with the Morrow home. Soon after the death of their stepfather Alburn and his wife Sarah moved in with his mother in the Morrow home place. Elvira and Sarah could not live together so Alburn and Sarah moved to the small log cabin located on the farm on Long Run. Alburn later bought a house on a piece of land adjoining the property on Long Run so John and Alburn traded the two tracts of land. (Harrison County Deed Book 160 page 256 and Deed Book 162 page 367, dated January 16, 1907) Johnís share was 15 Ĺ acres with the Morrow home, and Alburn received 37 Ĺ acres on Long Run with the small cabin. John continued to work on the Sturm farm as Farm Boss until 1910.

      John and May and the children moved into the Morrow home with Johnís mother for a short time. John, May and the children shortly thereafter moved into the old Shinn property located near Pine Bluff, while John built a new house on land they had purchased overlooking Pine Bluff.

Shinn property located near Pine Bluff
John, Lora May, Ashby, Maggie, Willie Stiles

      After they moved into their new house, their fourth child, Virginia Beryl was born on September 26, 1911. The family continued to live at Pine Bluff until they sold their property to the Western Maryland Railroad. They then moved into the Morrow home for a short time while John built a new house very near to his motherís house. Their fifth child, Catherine was born here on June 16, 1918.

Cottage built by John Stiles later sold to his son Ashby
May on left, Catherine center, John Nelson Stiles on right

      Johnís mother, Elvira Thomas Davis Stiles Morrow passed away on June 16, 1919. John and May sold the house that John had built near his mother to his son, Ashby on November 17, 1921. John and May moved into the Morrow homeplace with the two youngest children, Virginia and Catherine.

      John and May remained in this home until October 1, 1948 when they sold their property to the Consolidated Coal Company. John built a new house directly across the road on his adjacent property.

      This house was very primitive by modern standards. They had only cold running water furnished by a small spring just above the house. They had a commode but no other modern plumbing. It was a very nice small house but seemed quite adequate for John and Mayís needs. My mother, Virginia Wilt made a trip, at least, once a week to visit and to pick up and deliver the laundry, that she did for her mother and dad every week. I always liked visiting my grandparents because grandma always had baked goods of all kinds. There was always , corn bread, biscuits, cookies, and cakes or pies all of the time. They lived in this house until 1951 when the Consul offered to buy all of their remaining property on Bingmon Creek, so my grandfather and grandmother bought a house next door to my family, their daughter, Virginia on Pleasant Hill in Shinnston. The house belonged to a widow named Angeline Marino, and had been rebuilt after the Shinnston Tornado of June 29,1944. Mr Marino had been killed in the Tornado. Angeline was a very old fashioned Italian lady that did not believe in modern indoor plumbing. She had only cold running water in the kitchen and no bath. She had an out house built on the rear of the property. Before John and May moved in, my father Herbert Wilt and my grandfather dismantled the outhouse and used the wood to inclose the back porch and install a modern half bath and also built a shower located in the basement. They also plumbed the kitchen and bath with hot and cold running water. This was and still is a very nice house. It was very small and only contained one bedroom, a living room, large kitchen, and bath. May did not live here long because she passed away on October 23, 1951 from a stroke. John continued to live here while taking all of his meals with his daughter and her family next door. John ended his life on April 25, 1953 by his own hand. He was very distraught and depressed after the death of his wife Lora May. He always said, "He could not remember when he was not married to May."

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