The West Virginia & Regional History Center recently acquired three original manuscripts written by the famous author, activist, and native West Virginian Pearl S. Buck. The acquisition includes a review of the book Japan Over Asia by William Henry Chamberlain and a draft of an unpublished short story entitled “Mother Without Child.” Perhaps the most notable piece in the acquisition is a possibly-unpublished article called “Letter to a Girl.” These three manuscripts will soon be added to the WVRHC’s Pearl S. Buck Papers collection, A&M #0727.
Pearl S. Buck was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia in 1892. However, she spent most of her childhood and young adulthood in China, where her parents worked as Christian missionaries and scholars. It was in China that she first rose to prominence as a writer, publishing her first novels and short stories in the 1920s and 30s. In 1935, Buck’s bestselling House of Earth trilogy portrayed Chinese peasant life with a level of sympathy and understanding previously unseen in Western literature, and its first volume earned her the Pulitzer Prize. She continued to publish critically-acclaimed books and stories throughout her lifetime, though no others reached the same level of prominence as the House of Earth trilogy.
Inspired by her time in China and by her experience raising her developmentally disabled daughter Caroline, Pearl S. Buck spent the latter half of her life working as an activist and philanthropist. She wrote essays in support of the NAACP and Urban League, advocated for birth control with her friend Margaret Sanger, helped develop the United Nations’ laws against genocide, lobbied the U.S. Congress against restrictions on immigration, and campaigned for cultural understanding between Asian and American people. Buck founded the world’s first international and interracial adoption agency, Welcome House. She also established Pearl S. Buck International, a foundation that remains active to this day in providing humanitarian aid to children in several countries. Buck died in 1973 and is buried at her home in Green Hills Farm, Pennsylvania.
Pearl S. Buck’s lifelong dedication to helping women and children is reflected in her “Letter to a Girl.” Buck evidently spent considerable time working on this piece, as the acquisition includes three different drafts of the letter. Her passion for protecting and educating girls comes through on each page, as she sympathetically advises the letter’s recipient — a seventeen-year-old girl — in matters of love, health, and career. Buck responds to the girl’s questions about young love with the frank admission that “sex is the primary concern in every normal woman and every normal man.” She proclaims that people deserve “more and better sex” within loving relationships, but warns the girl against “mere emptying of the glands for physical relief… a woman is not a clay pot.” She asks the girl to focus on her career and education rather than on young men. “In this new age nothing keeps you from being whatever you want to be…” Buck states, adding that, “it has become possible for a woman to consider the presidency of the United States…” Buck concludes her letter to the girl with an inspirational decree: “take care of your precious self… because to unfathomable depths and to immeasurable heights, you are the guardian of the human race.”
Other portions of this letter seem to contradict Buck’s more liberal views of gender. In one section, she advocates for her belief in gender essentialism: the theory that men and women have fundamental mental differences due to their biology. Here, she initially condemns old-fashioned gender roles, decrying “the woman who retreats into her home and family, who shuts her doors and windows to the world,” as well as “the limited male who is himself only when he is with other males, hunting, fishing, and clowning…” Nevertheless, Buck reminds the letter’s recipient that “of course you bear the children, of course you want a home, of course you must be responsible for your home and family…” She also believes in complementarianism, stating that “the most tragic loneliness of life is when man is without woman and woman is without man.”
Bafflingly, the letter includes a declaration that in matters of sex, the woman “is responsible for herself, and for the man.” Buck states repeatedly that it is solely the woman’s duty to say no to premarital sex, to control both the actions and feelings of herself and her partner. “For I do not believe that there is such a thing as rape -” Buck writes, “except perhaps in the very few, proportionately, cases of actual insanity.” She laments the way that girls’ miseducation about sex has led to the birth of 250,000 children outside of wedlock annually at that time, of whom “more than half are born of high school girls.” Why does Buck blame women for this, when men have an equal role in procreation? How can she recall statistics about underage pregnancy while denying the existence of rape? This letter gives no further explanation.
Pearl S. Buck’s “Letter to a Girl” is undated, but context clues indicate that it was written in the 1950s. The first clue is in the letter’s references to the Space Age with its technological revolution in household appliances. It also warns against sex outside of marriage because, “in spite of every precaution, a child is always possible when men and women meet physically.” Thus, this letter was presumably written before the first birth control pill was approved in 1960. Although some parts of this letter advocate traditional gender roles, Buck also calls for women “to organize, perhaps, into cooperative effort,” in a statement foreshadowing the nascent second-wave feminist movement. As a whole, Pearl S. Buck’s “Letter to a Girl” provides a glimpse of the author’s complex, even seemingly contradictory, views of sex and gender during a historic turning point on these issues.
Written by Ava Stanski, Rare Books Graduate Assistant
When you ask a bibliophile what their favorite thing about books is, you’re likely to get a variety of answers. Some like the smell of old paper, others like the different designs on the covers, and some enjoy the content of the books more than the books themselves. As a graduate assistant with the West Virginia & Regional History Center’s rare books department, I had the opportunity to indulge my love of books as I sorted and catalogued over 6,000 new acquisitions, courtesy of a recent donation by Jim Presgraves, owner of the bookstore, Bookworm and Silverfish. Throughout the semester, I organized the books based on subject, then figured out what was already in the system. Out of those, I compared the condition of the recently acquired copies to those of the older copies, and decided whether to keep or replace them.
Working so closely with such a wide variety of books – some as much as three hundred years old- allowed me to learn about aspects of books and book-making that I had never considered before. I learned about different binding techniques, the different materials used in the covers, and the different aesthetic choices in cover designs and how they differed from decade to decade. I even learned that many cloth covers were patterned to look like leather, since it was more desirable but less financially sustainable for publishers to use. I also learned that every material, font, and color had a story. For example, green covers from a certain time period had trace amounts of arsenic used in the coloring.
Each book I worked with was unique in its own way, and each one will surely stick with me in the future. Thanks to the assistantship, I’m able to appreciate much more about books than I ever thought possible, as well as contribute to the appreciation of others by sorting them into the History Center’s collection and putting together my own exhibit, made up of several different subjects and categories that I found especially interesting. One shelf contains books on natural history, with detailed gilt designs on the covers and intricate diagrams on the pages. The second shelf holds books in other languages: one mathematics book in French, one book on horse care in German, and one translation and analysis of Herodotus’ work in the original Greek.
The final shelf displays two different decades of books and the differences in the designs that make up the covers. The exhibit, as well as the assistantship itself, was a joy to carry out, and hopefully many others will be able to appreciate everything I love about it.
Wilmer Siegfried Richter was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1891. Growing up, Richter’s interest and talent for drawing were pushed aside by his father who insisted Wilmer and his brother learn the violin and piano. He credits his mother and ninth-grade teacher for pushing him to study art professionally. At 18, Richter secured a job in a photo-engraving art department. He went on to study illustration while traveling across the U.S., throughout Cuba, and along the Panama Canal. When Wilmer returned to Philadelphia, World War I was already in progress. He would eventually be drafted into the infantry and sent to France with no training. In 1918, he was wounded and spent a considerable amount of time at the base hospital before he was sent home with other wounded men. Richter returned to the U.S. with a collection of 5×8 drawings of the war and other street scenes. Wilmer was 102 when he passed in 1993.
Now displayed in the Stealey Manuscripts Reading Room in the WVRHC is one of Richter’s watercolor paintings titled “Sunlight and Shadows-Pennsylvania Farm.” Also having been born in Pennsylvania amongst the rolling hills, the painting captures the warmth and beauty of rural farms that remind me of home. His use of blues, yellows, and greens pairs beautifully, while a curious deer peeks out between the trees.
The diaries of Captain George W. Johnson, 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, showed that Civil War soldiers found many ways to cope with the stresses of army life (see A&M 4538). While many soldiers filled their time through socially and morally acceptable activities like letter writing and reading, soldiers also found entertainment through other means. Although war was a serious business, alcohol, gambling, and humor were ways for these men to break the tension, suffering, and death around them.
Often soldiers were found drinking liquor in camp. One reporter noticed that upon pay day, soldiers immediately exchanged a portion of their pay for liquor. He noted with disgust how many soldiers were seen in the streets, “lying in the gutters, or on the doorsteps, in a state of beastly intoxication.” The number of intoxicated men had also led to some violence in the form of riots. As noted in the previous post, Captain Johnson also commented with disgust when he encountered hundreds of intoxicated Union soldiers in Alexandria, clobbering and beating one another. He frequently commented upon the presence of alcohol in camp, among the men and his fellow officers, and the measures he and others took to keep them in line.
In February 1862, Johnson recounted how the regimental commander, Charles A. DeVilliers, became so exasperated with soldiers’ drunkenness that he ordered the alcohol in a nearby warehouse to be poured out and emptied in the town’s streets. Desperate soldiers soon found the “large puddles” of liquor and scooped up the alcohol into their canteens. DeVilliers ordered Johnson to station two soldiers to “guard the puddles.” Only an hour later, soldiers brought two drunken men to Johnson’s attention. Johnson saw that the one intoxicated man was one of the very same soldiers “I had stationed to keep others from drinking.” The temptation had apparently become too great for him to resist.
However, as demonstrated with the Harper’s Weekly print (above), soldiers found in a state of intoxication could be subject to punishment. In this print, a soldier wears a barrel with writing that reads, “Too fond of whisky, forged an order on the surgeon.” Soldiers desperate for alcohol would go to desperate measures–however, they had to be willing to face the consequences, including possible humiliation and punishment in front of their comrades.
Gambling and card-playing could accompany drinking, serving as outlets to relieve the stresses of war for some soldiers. Johnson noted in late January 1862, “The boys say they have a very good time generally playing cards drinking whiskey.” Soldiers grumbled when they were without the comforts of alcohol and cards to help them with the ruggedness and boredom of camp life. Some enlisted men complained to Johnson when he reprimanded them for playing cards after the playing of Taps at night. They argued that “the officers do it [play cards] and why not let them do the same.” Johnson noted that as he listened to his men’s complaints, his fellow officers were “playing [cards] in our quarters” that same moment. The men bristled at the unfair double standard.
Johnson looked down upon officers who spent too much time in immoral activities and were an unfit example for their men. Johnson frequently commented on officers he disliked and who were too fond of alcohol or were corrupt. For example, he described the regimental quartermaster as a man who “knows as much about his business now as he ever will know,” implying in his following sentence that the quartermaster knew very little. He criticized the quartermaster as a man who “Pays a great deal of attention to drinking whiskey & running after wimmen [women,] playing card & C.” instead of his soldierly duties. Whether Johnson confronted his officers directly or confined his commentary to his diary remains unknown.
Soldiers also found clever and humorous ways to get what they wanted. In July 1862, Johnson had paid a local citizen for “huckel berries” and some coffee. However, once the man set down “several jugs of milk” and left them temporarily, Johnson took the milk for his own use and “in the inter time filled his jugs with water.” Upon his return, “he tried to sell his milk but of course the boys did not want to purchase” since they knew better. Less than a month later, a Union soldier of Johnson’s regiment “dressed in a Butternut suit,” and accompanied by his comrades acting as “guards,” entered the home of a Confederate family, pretending that he was a Confederate prisoner. According to Johnson, “after hearing his tale the old woman & daughter just flew around to acomade [accommodate]” him and handed him “a good supply [of] some whiskey & wine.” The men were quite glad “that the delusion worked well.”
Soldiers could be very daring in their pranks and put themselves in danger. In August 1863, one soldier thought it might be funny to provoke the Confederate soldiers on picket duty across the river. The Union soldier “was attending to a call of nature” and then “exhibited his posterior[,] asking them if they had ever saw a Yankee Gun Boat and if not to satisfy their curiosity by looking at his ass.” In response to this insult, the Confederates “immediately fired on him,” but he escaped safely, as “he laughingly got out of their range.”
George Johnson’s diaries show that soldiers turned to different means to alleviate their burdens and enjoy themselves in spite of the danger. They could be clever and daring, intoxicated and unruly, and many other things. Johnson’s diary entries show the daily experiences of soldiers who often lived on the wild side.
For further information about George Johnson’s diaries, see A&M 4538.
Publications like Harper’s Weekly and Currier & Ives tended to romanticize the life of a Civil War soldier by painting sentimental pictures of camp. Such sentimentalism can be seen in “The Soldier’s Dream of Home” (pictured below). Here the handsome soldier sleeps peacefully, his hand resting by his opened letters, dreaming of his wife and child. Such images reinforced the depiction of Union soldiers as loyally steadfast, responsible family men. The camp scene in the background looks quiet with a few soldiers sitting underneath the flag. Others gather around the cannon with their rifles in hand, perhaps on guard duty. Even in the midst of war, there is little sense of fear, chaos, or violence, although the bright red blanket under the soldier may foreshadow future bloodshed. Nevertheless, it appears to be a more idyllic setting than other wartime scenes. Hand-painted lithographs tended to show a civilian’s conception of war rather than the brutality that soldiers experienced on the battlefield.
Captain George W. Johnson of the 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry had no sentimental picture of soldier life. His diary transcriptions (see A&M 4538) present descriptions of camp life, soldier conduct, and battlefield violence that are often brutally honest. His accounts are not romanticized but show that these were real men, including a few teenagers with an eye for mischief, who had their strengths and flaws. He details accounts of overindulgence in alcohol, sexual promiscuity, and crude soldier behavior and pranks in camp. In this Victorian Era, such subjects were socially taboo to mention, much less discuss. Yet, since Johnson never intended for anyone to read his private thoughts, he recorded his observations in an entirely direct and blunt manner.
George Johnson was about 35 years old when he enlisted in the 11th Ohio Infantry in June 1861. He resided in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife, Sarah Hardin Johnson, and at least six young children. It must have been difficult for him to decide to go to war for his country when he had so many young children at home. Nevertheless, when he enlisted on June 19, 1861, he committed himself to serving three years in the army. He began his service as a second lieutenant in Company K. About six months later, he was transferred to and promoted as first lieutenant in Company A in early January 1862. He was wounded in his right side during the Battle of South Mountain on September 14, 1862, and was promoted to captain of Company K two months later. His wound from the battle later prompted him to offer his resignation in December 1863 and bothered him for the rest of his life.
As an officer, it was Johnson’s responsibility to ensure order and discipline, as well as act as a role model for his men. In several entries, he listed soldiers’ names and their companies, perhaps to keep track of them for certain duties or other matters. He noted other officers who failed to serve as good examples for their men, and how men reacted to bad officers. One soldier, after drinking too much on the 4th of July, got ahold of “a large sheet of fools cap” paper and wrote on it “Kiss My Ass.” He then sealed the paper in an envelope to give to his captain. However, such criticism could put soldiers at risk of charges for a court martial. Colonel Charles DeVilliers, a man whom Johnson despised and who organized the regiment in its beginning, was brought to court martial and discharged for multiple reasons, including the theft of civilian property. One of the charges brought against him was that he berated his fellow officers as cowardly several times in front of all of the soldiers in camp. Most notably, he insulted another officer by declaring, “You Lieut Mc Abee are a coward[.] you have more shit in your breeches than in your guts.” Profanity directed at officers in front of other men was not to be tolerated. If use of profanity was not addressed by officers, it encouraged the enlisted men to disrespect their officers as well.
Johnson observed widespread alcohol abuse and noted how he and other officers struggled to keep their men in line. In early February 1862, he declared, “After I get the command the privates have a good time but the Commissioned Officers have to come down to the scratch,” detailing how two men, presumably commissioned officers, stumbled upon an ongoing drill “staving drunk and not keeping still.” Another officer “had them put in the Guard House.” In another more shocking instance in August 1862, he recorded his venture into the town of Alexandria, Virginia, where he “saw about 800 drunken soldiers” in the Union Army of the Potomac and observed many soldiers fighting with “fists, some bayonets & some guns.” He then added, “I never seen anything worse before,” showing how things could spiral out of control. However, he proudly noted that all of the privates in the 11th Ohio were present at regimental roll call and had not participated in the fighting. He was determined to keep order and discipline in his men.
Johnson’s accounts bring much light to aspects of camp and soldiering that were not often widely talked about. Although these events happened over 150 years ago, Johnson’s descriptions bring the soldiers’ actions and words to life and make their lives seem less distant.
For further information about Johnson’s diaries, see A&M 4538.
 “George Johnson,” Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census, Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio; [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.
 Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.
 George Johnson, diary entry, July 4, 1862, A&M 4538, Civil War Diary Transcriptions and Related Material of Captain George W. Johnson, 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries, Morgantown, West Virginia, https://archives.lib.wvu.edu/repositories/2/resources/6910.
West Virginian Arthur J. “Pete” Ballard (1931-2017) liked to paint with vivid colors, especially when it came to his many paintings of various flowers. His “Iris” painting shows his inclination towards bright colors, especially in his use of different shades of green. The white of the iris makes a sharp contrast to the vibrant green. The white petals, tinged in blue, indigo, and purple, draw the viewer into the life-like painting.
At a 2000 art exhibition, Pete Ballard remarked, “Occasionally, I’ve had my green backgrounds questioned,” as many of his paintings of flowers contain green settings. He found that other background colors never quite fit as well as he liked the color green. As he mulled over whether to use another color, he looked outside and saw green in everything alive, as “the hills were green, so were the trees; the grass was green, so were all the leaves. God used it. Why try to improve.” Green was the color of life and energy, so Ballard decided to keep using green in his paintings, especially when it came to his paintings of flowers.
Pete Ballard used green to show the vibrant colors of nature and liked to paint the beauty and colorfulness of nature through his many flower paintings. As the weather (slowly) warms, one looks forward to the re-appearance of green and flowers as spring comes around the corner.
 Pete Ballard, “Memories and Mementos: A Collection of Paintings and Commentaries,” 2000, Box 2, “2000 Exhibition of My Paintings at Gertrude Smith House-Mt. Airy, NC.” Arthur J. Ballard, Costume Artist and Curator, Papers, A&M 3869, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries, Morgantown, West Virginia.
An all-male marching band from Keyser, West Virginia physically defended suffragists during a historic parade at our nation’s capital in March 1913. Did they return to Washington for another round in 1917?
No history of the equal suffrage movement is complete without a description of the violence against women who paraded through Washington, D.C. in March 1913. At the local level, however, our understanding of this watershed event remains incomplete. Luckily, contemporaneous newspapers—like those digitized through the West Virginia Newspapers project—provide meaningful insight into how participants expressed suffrage activism before and after this historic parade.
This is especially true for activists from rural areas. For example, newly digitized resources prove that an all-male community band from Keyser, WV wielded musical instruments against the riotous mob that attacked the 1913 equal suffrage parade. Moreover, a mysterious photograph appears to indicate that they also participated in a second suffrage protest in 1917. This post offers recently discovered proof of the band’s first date with destiny, and compelling evidence of their second.
Descending on DC
Organized by Alice Paul and the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), the 1913 march on Washington was scheduled for March 3, i.e., the day before the first inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. Excitement over this first national suffrage march on the capital had been building for months, but it exploded into a full media frenzy in the final three weeks as “General” Rosalie Gardiner Jones led a group of several hundred “suffrage hikers” on a long march out of New York City and toward Washington. From West Virginia alone, over 100 women from the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association, the Charleston Equal Suffrage League, the Wheeling Women’s Suffrage Association, and other organizations journeyed to Washington.
The parade and demonstration included 5,000 women from various racial and social backgrounds, but it also included several hundred men. For example, the Oakland Republican reported that men belonging to a community band from Keyser, West Virginia would “take part in both the suffragette and inaugural parades.”
The band’s expenses were covered through the assistance of Jacob Gabriel Moody, a Keyser native who directed the National Guard’s 2nd Regiment Band of Washington, DC. They may have also received support from NAWSA, which sent letters to bandmasters across the nation inviting them to join the parade. This was a smart move. Not only did such bands add an air of celebration to the event, but they would end up on the frontlines of an historic clash.
Clearing a path through history
The afternoon of March 3 was warm and overcast, with little wind. As the parade started down Pennsylvania Avenue, the 153-member 2nd Regiment National Guard band played rousing suffrage songs. Though impressive, they were outnumbered by 100,000 onlookers, including scores of drunken rowdies angered by the demands of the suffragists. However, the 2nd Regiment was not alone. The College Equal Suffrage League of New York and the New York State Woman Suffrage Party brought smaller bands, while all-female musicians comprised the 23-member Missouri Ladies Military Band. As for the 26-man Keyser Municipal Band—aka McIlwee’s Band—they marched with the hikers led by “General” Jones.
Seeing the crowd swell, parade organizers asked the Missouri band to move forward, start playing, and clear a path. The band did so from a position immediately behind their horse-mounted Grand Marshal, Jenny May Burleson of Texas. Still, spectators shouted their disapproval—and the 575 police officers standing along the parade route were unable to keep the peace. After ten blocks of slow progress, the flimsy crowd barriers failed, and the turbulent pressure of what Burleson called a “horrible, howling mob” squeezed the parade to single-file formation.
The surging mob tripped, grabbed, spat on, and shoved the female marchers. Signs and banners were seized and shredded. Flowers were plucked from coats, and flags were snatched and burned. Men taunted the marchers with insults such as “old hens,” while women of the West Virginia delegation were derided as dirty “snake hunters” and “coal diggers.”
It wasn’t just the women being attacked. One man who marched with Jones’ “suffrage hikers” struggled to keep the American flag he carried from being dragged through the dirt. Social status did not provide any advantage, either. When a congressman’s wife asked a police officer to clear a path, he shouted, “If my wife was where you are, I’d break her head!”
Despite this chaos, many marchers fought back. Inez Millholland, who rode a white horse near the front of the parade, claimed to have “slashed a drunken lout across the face with her riding crop…”
McIlwee’s Band also took a few shots. According to the Keyser Tribune, “The Missouri Girl Band, headed by Mrs. Champ Clark, was directly ahead of the Keyser Band, and the unruly crowd, taking advantage of the girls, succeeded in closing the line and marching was impossible. At this time the Keyser boys took things into their own hands and forced the mob back. Ginger’s big bass made a good battering ram and by strenuous work and the assistance of a squad of Boy Scouts, the band maintained a small space and kept the line moving until aid came from the cavalry troops. . .”
The large man behind that “big bass” was tuba player Forrest Guy “Ginger” Davis, who also served as the Keyser Chief of Police. Davis was a lifelong law enforcement officer elected to three terms as the Sherriff of Mineral County (as a Democrat in 1932, 1940, and 1948). He also served more than thirty years as Keyser Chief of Police. Known for his energetic and tactful approach to policing, Davis was already in his second decade as the band’s business manager.
Alongside Davis fought Mineral County Sherriff, Charles Ervin “Mighty” Nethken, a former standout football player for the WVU Mountaineers who was renowned for his physical strength. Nethken won the Stephen B. Elkins gold medal as the Mountaineer’s best player after the 1895 football season and is listed as a guard on WVU’s official All-Time team. In the school’s Monticola yearbook, Nethken was compared to legendary strongman Eugen “Mighty” Sandow, and the nickname stuck even after he graduated. Like Davis, Mighty Nethken served as the Mineral County Sheriff three times (elected as a Democrat in 1904, 1912, and 1920). After his third term, he also served for 25 years as a judge on the WV Public Service Commission.
Between these imposing lawmen, a few members of the Keyser Fire Department, and several railroad employees, McIlwee’s Band had plenty of muscle to withstand the onslaught. They may also have benefitted from teamwork skills developed while playing together on the Keyer baseball team.
As for the Boy Scouts, around 1,500 were brought in to help the police. Averaging just 14-years in age, they were armed with long wood staves, which they used to hold back the crowd, then to form stretchers for carrying wounded women to ambulances that “came and went constantly for six hours.” Six squads of young men from the Maryland Agricultural College (now called the University of Maryland) also fought the mob. Nonetheless, at least 100 injured women were transported to the local Emergency Hospital.
In the days after the parade, national headlines contrasted the peaceful suffragists against the violent mob. More details emerged as a congressional committee investigated the failures of the Washington police. Among those who testified was “Mrs. Champ Clark,” i.e., the wife of the Speaker of the House. Most shockingly, the committee concluded that off-duty police officers encouraged attacks against the parading women.
As for McIlwee’s Band, the Keyser Tribune reported, “After the parade the band was publicly lauded by Miss Millholland, General Jones, and other leaders.”
The band also played concerts during the inaugural festivities. According to the Keyser Tribune, “In the Inaugural parade, the band headed the Civic Division and led the President’s own club, the Wilson Democratic League, from Trenton, NJ. This was certainly an honorary position and one that might have been given to a larger band.”
The famous Keyser band
Under Professor William H. “Will” McIlwee, who was in his second decade of leading the Keyser band, local musicians played at fairs, athletic events, church revivals, lectures, fundraisers, weddings, funerals, and more. In concert settings, they were called McIlwee’s Concert Orchestra, and their weekly summer performances from an electrified bandstand on Prep Hill in Keyser were attended by as many as 4,000 locals in 1914. They also toured on a limited basis. For example, the band entertained attendees at the 1915 reunion of the Grand Army of the Republic in Washington, as well as the 1916 reunion of Confederates at Franklin, WV.
As one admiring Keyserite wrote, “The Band is the greatest institution of life; when it plays all individual differences cease; we are no longer Republican or Democrats; Prohibitionists or Socialists; Methodists or Baptists; Catholics or Masons, we are humans of a common brotherhood, ready to put our shoulders to the common wheel and boost our town or our state or our country higher into the limelight of prestige and prosperity.”
A commitment to equality
After the 1913 parade violence, Mighty Nethken appears to have stopped performing with McIlwee’s Band. However, he continued to speak in support of equal suffrage. For example, when Keyser hosted a suffrage rally in July 1916, McIlwee’s Band played first, then Nethken introduced a young activist who’d marched with them in Washington parade.
As the Keyser Tribune described the scene, “Notwithstanding the rain Miss Eudora Ramsey… addressed a large crowed on Main street last Monday night on behalf of the equal suffrage amendment. McIlwee’s band put the people in a receptive mood, when Sheriff Nethken gallantly introduced the fair speaker …”
When Democratic gubernatorial candidate John J. Cornwell campaigned at the Keyser Music Hall in October 1916, he also sought the support of women. For months, Cornwell publicly courted the support of the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association, and now that he was teaming with a band that marched with suffragists, advanced notice for his Keyser speech stated, “Ladies are especially invited. McIlwee’s Concert Band will furnish music.”
Cornwell even used the front page of the newspaper he owned, the Hampshire Review, to endorse Mighty Nethken in the Democratic primary for the second congressional district seat vacated by Nethkin’s political mentor, William Gay Junior” Brown, Jr., who died in March 1916. Congressman Brown’s widow was suffragist Izetta Jewel (1883-1878) who later became the first American woman to deliver a seconding speech for a major presidential nominee when she supported John W. Davis (1873-1955) of West Virginia. While campaigning for Davis at the Keyser Music Hall on the day before the 1924 election, she was joined by Nethken. Again, McIlwee’s Band provided the music.
Solving a photographic mystery
In January 1917, the Piedmont Herald reported, “The committee in charge of the inauguration ceremonies at Washington are corresponding with the famous McIlwee band of this place, with the view of securing them for the next inauguration This band made a great hit at the last inauguration in leading the suffrage parade.”
The invitation was also reported by the Mineral Daily News, which added, “Of course the Band will make a contract if there is nothing in the way. The Keyser band made such a hit last inauguration that the committee has given them first consideration.”
As March arrived, the Piedmont Herald confirmed, “Chief F.G. Davis has the arrangements nearly perfected for the McIlwee Concert Band to attend the inauguration…”
Nonetheless, unlike the band’s heroics before Woodrow Wilson’s first inauguration, their performance during his second one did not receive any post-event press coverage. The reasons for this omission were multifaced. First, the Keyser band was not listed in the official inaugural parade formation. This suggests they were in town for auxiliary events, such as another historic suffrage gathering. Second, there is evidence that their association with suffrage negatively impacted band members as political candidates.
To understand, consider that West Virginia voters narrowly elected Democrat John J. Cornwell as their new governor in 1916. After Cornwell’s election, hundreds of citizens from Mineral County braved a rainstorm to travel to his home in Romney where 1,500 heard him give a short address. Once there, they congratulated and serenaded the victorious Democrat, led again by McIlwee’s Concert Band and speaker, Mighty Nethken.
However, Nethkin was not a winner that year. He lost his congressional primary in a landslide. Moreover, in the general election, Ginger Davis lost his first run for Mineral County Sheriff. These stinging defeats marked the only political losses either man ever experienced, and it’s possible that their support of an equal suffrage measure that lost by a greater than 2 to 1 margin among Mineral County’s all-male electorate contributed to these losses.
Local support for the band also seemed to wane. After a smaller than anticipated crowd attended one of their concerts in 1916, Mineral Daily News editor William Henry Barger scolded his readers, stating, “If some cheap, ragtime and dance orchestra from out of town had given the concert, there is no doubt but that the auditorium would have been filled, but when an orchestra, probably the best in three states, and an orchestra that belongs to Keyser offers a concert of standard world-famous selections only a few come. Strange, isn’t it?”
As an organization led by Democrats, band members may have also been reluctant to publicize plans to protest a Democratic president’s opposition to nationwide equal suffrage, even after it was endorsed in the 1916 Democratic Party Platform. Nonetheless, evidence suggests this is exactly what they did.
As with the 1913 parade, the 1917 White House picket was planned by Alice Paul. It began on January 10—without McIlwee’s Band—but during the week preceding the inaugural celebration, organizers planned to increase public pressure through what they labelled, “The Siege of Jericho.” For this, they would need trumpets.
According to the National Woman’s Party (aka Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage), protestors intended to dramatize the sixth chapter of Joshua by marching around the White House for six days, “Then, on the seventh day—next Sunday to be exact—with their number swelled by thousands of women from all parts of the country, they shall compass the ‘city of Watchful Waiting’ seven times, and seven priestesses, bearing the suffrage ark, ‘shall blow with trumpets.’
“‘And it shall come to pass that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout and the walls of the city shall fall down flat.’”
However, the pre-inauguration picket did not draw nearly as many participants (or spectators) as the 1913 parade. For example, the West Virginia woman who intended to carry her state’s banner around the White House grounds for this siege did not make it and was replaced by a local.
There were three main reasons for lower numbers. First, the picket went on for months, so that only a portion of the total number protestors were active at any given time. Second, the “siege” elements were downplayed after March 1, when an intercepted German telegram made it clear to most Americans that the nation was headed for war. Third, a rainstorm pelted the women who did picket—and the two bands that joined them were thwarted by a continuous downpour that “silenced the drums” and “strangled” the horns.
As a result, the drenched marchers made only four trips around the White House grounds, and when the President and Mrs. Wilson crossed the picket line in their limousine, they refused to even look at the protestors.
In her memoir, suffrage activist Dorothy Stevens recalled, “It was a day of high wind and stinging, icy rain… when a thousand women, each wearing a banner, struggled against the gale to keep their banners erect. It is always impressive to see at a thousand people march, but the impression was imperishable when these thousand women marched in rain-soaked garments, hands bare, gloves roughly tourn by the sticky varnish from the banner poles and the streams of water running down the poles into the palms of their hands. It was a sight to impress even the most hardened spectator who had seen all the various forms of the suffrage agitation in Washington… Two bands whose men managed to continue their spirited music in the driving rain led the march…Vida Millholland led the procession carrying her sister’s last words, ‘Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”
The suffragists had their own band led by Lavinia Dock. Doris Stevens played the snare drum; and before her death in November 1916, Inez Milholland played accordion. In her memoir, however, Stevens specifically referenced two bands of men who played during the White House picket of Sunday, March 4, 1917.
One photograph taken on the day of the March 4, 1917 picket shows an unnamed band marching around the executive mansion while women carry flags and banners behind them. The rainy scene includes policemen in raincoats, a drummer with his own coat draped over his instrument, and a large tuba player. To those familiar with the famous Keyser band, the tuba player resembles Ginger Davis, and the drummer is a ringer for Professor McIlwee.
Although this photographic evidence is not conclusive, it strongly suggests that music at the “Great Picket” of March 4, 1917 was provided by McIlwee’s Band. If so, this second appearance in support of suffrage activists says even more about the band’s convictions than their heroics during the 1913 parade. One might even conclude that a second appearance places the all-male Keyser band in the vanguard of grassroots support for suffrage.
The perseverance of marching suffragists against opponents at all levels of society—from politicians to drunken rowdies—gained them numerous allies. For example, national headlines about violence at the 1913 equal suffrage parade convinced many that the suffrage movement would not be easily derailed, while photographs of women arrested for “obstructing traffic” during the 1917 White House picket campaign, including some from West Virginia, did much to convince the public that activist women were on the right side of history.
Although progress toward equal suffrage slowed during World War I, Governor Cornwell called a special session for March 1920, during which the WV state legislature ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Six months later—after 36 hard fought states ratified the historic amendment— a woman’s right to vote became federal law. As described above, McIlwee’s Band played a supporting role in winning that right, and their brassy defense of equal suffrage deserves remembrance as part of West Virginia’s feminist heritage.
Blog contributed by Greg Leatherman. Greg is a Keyser native now residing in Florida.
Future researchers interested in this topic may benefit from examining relevant records from NAWSA, the National Woman’s Party, and WV suffrage organizations. Further photographic corroboration may also be possible using sources available through the WVU Library Systems, the Library of Congress, and family records.
McIlwee’s band was not the only musical outlet for these men. For example, by 1916, saxophonist Walter S. Decker found a national publisher for his musical compositions. Another member from a later iteration of the band, Howard S. Pyles, became a longtime orchestral conductor for the Columbia Broadcasting Company.
A few bandmembers were not from Mineral County, but neighboring Garrett County, Maryland, where they played in the Mountain City Band of Oakland under the visiting instruction of Prof. McIlwee. On occasion, Keyser band members (e.g., Davis, Decker, and Schaffenaker) also supported the Mountain City Band, as they did when joining them to entertain a Democratic political meeting at Oakland in 1911 Compared to Mineral County, Garrett County was a suffrage hotspot. As a result of this relationship, before the 1917 picket, the McIlwee’s Keyser Band added talented cornet player, Roy F.T. Hinebaugh as a permanent member. Hinebaugh—along with Charles I. Liller, Calvin H. Echard, Wallace “Wall” E. Brown—also marched with the Keyser band in the 1913 parade as guest musicians from the Mt. City Band. This was a semi-regular occurrence, as these same men (and others) also temporarily joined what the Oakland Republican called the “famous Keyser band” in 1910, 1915, 1917, etc. Some switched between the two bands, as needed. For example, Dennis T. Rasche, was listed as an official member of the Keyser band in 1914, yet he was again a visiting musician from the Mt. City Band in 1915.
Doris Stevens provided a list of songs played during the 1917 picket: ‘Forward Be Our Watchword;’ ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic;’ ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers;’ ‘The Pilgrim’s Chorus,’ from Tannhäuser; ‘The Coronation March; from Le prophète; the ‘Russian National Hymn;’ and ‘The Marseillaise.”
This research was made possible thanks to digital resources provided by the West Virginia Newspapers site hosted by Potomac State College of West Virginia University.
Pittsburgh Press. 28 Oct 1894, p. 13; 21 Mar 1895, p. 1; 03 Jan 1896, p. 4;
Wheeling Daily Register. 08 Jan 1896, p. 1;
Mineral Daily News/Mineral Daily News-Tribune. 26 Jul 1912, p. 2; 07 Aug 1912, p. 1; 10 Aug 1912, p. 1;15 May 1913, p. 1; 16 May 1913, p. 1; 27 May 1913, p. 1; 28 May 1913, p. 1; 01 Jul 1913, p. 1; 08 Jul 1913, p. 1; 04 Nov 1913, p. 1; 13 Apr 1914, p. 1; 07 May 1914, p. 1; 01 Jul 1914, p. 1; 09 Sep 1914, p. 1; 18 Sep 1914, p. 1; 19 Sep 1914, pg. 1; 21 Jun 1915, p. 1; 02 Mar 1916, p. 2; 22 Mar 1916, p. 2; 04 Apr 1916, p. 3; 22 May 1916, p. 2; 03 Jun 1916, p. 4; 05 Jun 1916, p. 2; 14 Jul 1916, p. 1; 15 Aug 1916, p. 1; 19 Sep 1916, p. 1; 18 Oct 1916, p. 4; 21 Oct 1916, p. 01; 23 Oct 1916, p. 03; 24 Oct 1916, p. 1; 25 Oct 1916, p. 1; 26 Oct 1916, p. 1; 23 Nov 1916, p. 2; 03 Jan 1917, p. 1; 23 Jan 1917, p. 1; 24 May 1917, p. 4; 04 Jun 1917, p. 1; 26 Jun 1917, p. 2; 25 Oct 1917, p. 1; 29 Nov 1918, p. 2; 02 May 1920, p. 2; 01 Nov 1920, p. 1; 03 Nov 1920, p. 2; 02 Jan 1924, p. 1; 04 Apr 1924, p. 1; 07 Mar 1925, p. 2; 27 Nov 1925, p. 1; 02 Sep 1932, p. 1; 11 Feb 1936, p. 1; 24 Jun 1936, p. 1; 07 Jun 1955, p. 2; 03 Apr 2003, p. 1;
Tampa Tribune. 29 Dec 1912, p. 8; 05 Mar 1917, p. 3;
Dunkirk Evening Observer. 28 Feb 1913, p. 1;
Piedmont Herald. 07 Mar 1913, p. 7; 11 Dec 1914, p. 10; 20 Oct 1916, p. 5; 02 Mar 1917, p. 9; 14 Jul 1916, p. 1; 21 Jul 1916, p. 5; 02 Mar 1917, p. 9; 02 Aug 1918, p. 5; 31 Oct 1924, p. 1; 03 Nov 1938, p. 8; 10 Nov 1932, p. 1; 10 Aug 1939, p. 6;
Keyser Tribune. 20 Oct 1911, p. 2; 22 Nov 1912, p. 2; 20 Dec 1912; 07 Feb 1913, p. 4, 5; 07 Mar 1913, pp.1, 5; 14 Mar 1913, p. 2; 21 Mar 1913, p. 1; 11 Jul 1913, p. 1; 12 Dec 1913, p. 1; 26 Dec 1913, p. 1; 25 Sep 1914, p. 2; 11 Dec 1914, p. 1; 12 Nov 1915, p. 2; 14 Apr 1916, p. 4; 26 May 1916, p. 2; 21 Jul 1916, p. 2; 22 Sep 1916, p. 2; 20 Oct 1916, p. 2;
Washington Post. 05 Mar 1913, p. 3; 18 Mar 1913, p. 2; 04 Mar 1917, p. 6; 05 Mar 1917, p. 2;
Fairmont West Virginian. 25 Mar 1913, p. 1; 10 Sep 1917, p. 4;
Kenosha Evening News. 26 Dec 1912, p. 4;
Washington Herald. 27 Dec 1912, p. 4;27 Feb 1913., pp. 1-2; 04 Mar 1913, pp. 1, 4; 06 Mar 1917, p. 1;
Buffalo Sunday Morning News. 19 Jan 1913, p. 18;
Pittsburgh Daily Post. 04 Mar 1913, p. 1; 03 Aug 1916, pg. 1;
Baltimore Sun. 04 Mar 1913, p. 2; 11 Mar 1913, p. 1; 23 May 1918, p. 3;
Baltimore Evening Sun. 04 Mar 1913, pp. 3, 6.
Wheeling Intelligencer. 04 Mar 1913, pp. 1, 8; 05 Mar 1917, p. 4;
St. Louis Post Dispatch. 04 Mar 1913, p. 6.
Nashville Tennessean. 04 Mar 1913, p. 1;
Alexandrian Gazette. 04 Mar 1913, p. 1;
Clarksburg Daily Telegram. 04 Mar 1913, pp. 1, 9;
Moberly Weekly Monitor. 04 Mar 1913. p. 1;
Houston Post. 07 Mar 1913, p. 1;
Washington Times. 10 Mar 1913, p. 7;13 Mar 1913, p. 1; 16 Apr 1913, pp. 1-2; 02 Mar 1917, p. 5; 05 Mar 1917, p. 10;
Bluefield Daily Telegraph. 11 Mar 1913, p. 1;
Washington Evening Star. 06 Mar 1913, pp. 1,2; 17 Mar 1913, p. 1;25 Feb 1917, p. 17; 04 Mar 1917, pp. 4, 14,15; 05 Mar 1917, p. 2; 06 Mar 1917, p. 15;
Saskatoon Daily Star. 26 Mar 1913, p. 4;
Oakland Republican. 21 Jul 1910, p. 5; 23 Feb 1911, p. 5; 06 Mar 1913, p. 5; 10 Jun 1915, p. 4; 24 May 1917, p. 1; 11 Oct 1917, p. 4; 18 Dec 1924, p. 5; 02 Mar 1933, p. 3;
Hampshire Review. 24 May 1916, p. 1; 31 May 1916, p. 1; 15 Nov 1916, p. 1; 22 Nov 1916, p. 1; 25 Feb 1920, p. 1;
Shepherdstown Register. 19 Oct 1916, p. 4; 19 Oct 1916, p. 4;
Clarksburg Exponent. 24 Oct 1917, p. 4;
Preston County Journal. 10 Dec 1914, p. 1; 30 Sep 1920, p. 5;
Cumberland News. 06 Jan 1953, p. 7;
Mountain Echo. 30 Oct 1952, p. 3; 28 Jun 1956, p. 4; 15 May 1958, p. 3;
Stevens, Doris (2008). Jailed for Freedom: The Story of the Militant American Suffragist Movement, pp. 92-100. Lakeside Press, R.R. Donnelly & Sons, USA.
“Boy Scouts at the 1913 Suffrage Parade,” National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/boy-scouts-at-the-1913-suffrage-parade.htm (accessed 02/12/2023)/;
“West Virginia and the 19th Amendment,” National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/articles/west-virginia-women-s-history.htm (accessed 02/15/2023);
“What the Boy Scouts Did at the Inauguration,” Boys Life. April 1913, pp. 2-4;
Written byElizabeth James, the Digital Archivist at the West Virginia & Regional History Center.
What kind of items come to mind when you think of archives or archival materials? What about digital archives? When it comes to digital archival materials, many people will think about scanned copies of physical materials like books or maybe even web pages saved to a platform like the Internet Archive. But there are many more formats in WVU’s archives: from 3.5 inch floppy disks to Zip disks to CDs, contemporary archives contain all of these material types and more. These media formats contain what are known as born-digital materials, or materials that were originally created digitally.
In this post, I’ll take you through the journey of one seemingly familiar format through the typical procedures used in the WVRHC to remove content from the original media and make born-digital archival materials accessible.
Let’s meet our protagonist for the day: the compact disc, or CD, a format first introduced to the commercial market for music in 1982. Though CDs are still common, when it comes to any media formats you need the following two things in order to access the content:
Have equipment to read the item—for instance, if you have a 3.5 inch floppy disk, you need a 3.5 inch floppy disk drive.
Have software to read the files saved on the item—if you have a Word Perfect file from 1992, that file is designed to display correctly using the 1992 Word Perfect program.
For CDs, external USB drives and internal disc drives are still accessible. I have an internal and external disc drive I like to use with CDs and DVDs I’m processing. Since we have the equipment to read the item, let’s get started! This example uses a CD found in the International Association for Identification Collection at the West Virginia & Regional History Center.
Though I couldn’t tell until I inserted the disc, this CD is a data CD which means that the CD contains non-audio content. To access the files, I need to open the CD on my computer using Windows Explorer rather than having any audio or music files play automatically. On the left you can see the view if you use this approach. However, CDs can have multiple file systems underneath what you see in this basic view. On the right is the view you see when using IsoBuster, a software that supports a more digital forensics style approach to examining files. In this view, you can see multiple file systems that each tell your computer’s operating system how to access the files on the CD. Multiple file systems may contain different files, so we want to make sure we check to see that we grab all of the unique files.
Luckily, these two file systems contain the same files, so we’re safe to use a software like Teracopy that will copy these materials off the CD without modifying any of the files or file metadata, a term archives and libraries use to talk about information that describes the files. After all, we can’t party like it’s 1999 if we unintentionally edit the files and change the “Date Modified” to 2023. By using Teracopy, which retains the original file metadata and ensures that we don’t accidentally edit the file along the way, we can assure researchers that what they’re accessing in the archive is as close to what the original creator saved to the CD as possible.
Now we can move on to step two: determining if we have the software to access the files. Upon looking at this content, I discovered the CD was a front for something unexpected: a floppy disk! The files on the CD were a copy of materials found on a floppy disk in the collection. All of the files on the CD are dated to 1999, which is conveniently the title of a catchy Prince song and the inspiration for this article title. We can see that the files are Microsoft Word-based, albeit Word 97, which means that opening the files in a modern version of Word should be fine.
But what’s on the disc? Well, it’s an unpublished history of identification and the International Association of Identification by Carey Chapman. We have several versions of this manuscript across both printed materials and floppy disks, which means that any researcher can examine these versions to gain a sense of what Chapman’s writing process was like. You can see some of the floppy disks where this content came from below. If the number of disks seems like a lot, remember that floppy disks can only hold 1.44MB of information. To give you a sense of scale: a 2GB thumb drive holds 1,422 times as much content as a single floppy disk.
Let’s up the difficulty level and go to :
Time taken: 20~ minutes
If I wanted to conclusively say I had tried every avenue, I would use something like a Kryoflux that reads every available bit, even floppy disks with issues. While I might use this approach in the future, this floppy disk seemingly contains a translation of a document and the content of the disk isn’t vital to understanding the collection.
Getting content off this CD was comparatively easy. For other materials, I’ve had to do everything from emulate MS-DOS to see the contents of a program, trawl the internet for 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, to doing research on what type of computers and operating systems the United States Senate was using in the 1990s. Suffice to say, digital archives work takes many forms. Though the digital materials in this collection are still being processed, you can reach out to Elizabeth James, Digital Archivist, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about accessing this item or anything I’ve written about here.
Louise McNeill was the Poet Laureate for West Virginia, 1979-1993 and was once told by renowned poet and writer Jesse Stuart, regarding her writing talent, “… you have genius in you.” Most, if not all, who have enjoyed her prose agree.
McNeill was born and raised in Buckeye, Pocahontas County, West Virginia on a farm situated above Swago Crick. “This patch of earth” had been in the McNeill family since 1769 and was all Louise knew until she went out into the world. However, her passion for family and the history of her people’s mountain land, always flows through her lyrical works linking the “long tides of the past” with the love of home, known as “a place called solid.”
Louise believed her poetic gift came from her grandfather, “Capt. Jim.” She grew up hearing the stories of Capt. Jim, describing him as a verse-writing, hard-set, rebel soldier. James McNeill was a Confederate officer during the Civil War and was captured at the Battle of Droop Mt. in Pocahontas County, November 1863. He spent the rest of the war as a POW at Fort Delaware.
While in prison, Capt. Jim promised himself if he got out alive he would go home to Swago Crick, clear the fields, and build a new house under Bridger’s gap. He also wrote in a little brown notebook several love poems, death poems and a lengthy pose called “Virginia Land.” Released at war’s end, Capt. Jim walked back to Swago and set to.
Long after Capt. Jim died, Louise’s father gave the notebook to her which she never knew existed. Later Louise would publish the poems adding biographical information about the captain, drawing from the stories she heard as a child. She never personally knew her grandfather, he died two months after her birth. But then there was the passing. As Louise tells it, “When he was going out the door of life, I was coming in, as we passed each other he gave me his pencil stub.”
From A&M 3201- Louise McNeill Papers, West Virginia & Regional History Center, WVU Libraries.
The Chappell Collection at the West Virginia and Regional History Center is the most comprehensive state-wide collection of folk music field recordings in the United States. Between 1937 and 1947, WVU professor Louis Chappell visited every county in the state and made more than two thousand audio recordings of songs and instrumental tunes at a pivotal point near the beginning of the history of the field recording of folk music.
Written by Luke Masa, WVU History Doctoral student & National Digital Newspaper Grant Assistant
In July 1900, just after the Randolph Enterprise newspaper moved from Beverly to Elkins, its newly minted editor C.P. Darlington got into an argument with a man named Woodward Hutton. Hutton was the son of a Colonel, and nearby Huttonsville was named for his ancestor John. And despite being four years out from William Jennings Bryan’s loss to William McKinley, Darlington and Hutton were said to have been vigorously debating the question of “free silver” – that is, should U.S. currency be backed solely by gold, or should silver be exchangeable as well? Darlington, a Democrat like Bryan, was for free silver, Hutton, a Republican, against. While it is unclear precisely what each said to the other, the argument ended when Darlington shot Hutton, who later died from the wound.
Violent incidents such as this one were far from unheard of among the men who edited and managed West Virginia’s newspapers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In writing title essays for the National Digital Newspaper Program’s website Chronicling America, I have come across numerous examples of scuffles, scrapes, jabs, and barbs which transcended the page and moved into the realm of physical altercation. For instance, Martinsburg’s F. Vernon Aler, an acerbic corporate lawyer and amateur historian, tried his hand at the printing business twice, once in the late 1880s and again in the early 1890s. His first attempt, the Martinsburg Gazette, folded shortly after he was arrested following a fist fight with another young man on the city’s streets. And he left his other paper, the World, after exchanging blows with the President of the local National Bank.
Some twenty-odd years later, with the martial fervor of World War I in full swing, the associate editor of the Randolph Review, Leslie Harding, was shot at through the window of his home. Though unscathed, he immediately blamed “a socialist or some other German sympathizer”, as apparently, he thought his patriotic invective sufficiently notable to warrant such an attempt.
Earlier that decade, during the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912-1913, the Pocahontas Times called for anyone caught “tear[ing] down the flag” to be “[shot]…on the spot.” As the above anecdotes attest, rhetoric of this sort was not always merely rhetorical. This was a period of great upheaval throughout the state, and not just for industrial workers. Unfortunately for a certain subsection of the professional class, the pen was not always mightier than the sword. Or gun, for that matter.
Dr. Reed was born in Lowell, Ohio on September 18, 1887. After graduating from Marietta College, Reed went on to receive his Ph.D. in English at Ohio State University in 1916. Until 1920, he served as the head of the English department at the University of Maryland. Eventually, Dr. Reed made his way to West Virginia University where he would go on to devote his life’s work. In 1939, Dr. Reed founded the WVU School of Journalism. In April of 1973, Dr. Perley Isaac Reed passed away, sadly before the college was recognized as the West Virginia University Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism in 1977.
On July 1, 2014, the WVU Board of Governors made the decision to change the name of the school to “Reed College of Media.” They hoped the name change would “reflect the current and future direction of our college as we prepare students for careers in modern media communications.”
Throughout his life, Reed enjoyed funneling his creative energies into painting and writing poems. Reed painted “Romance in Old Paris” in 1957 on canvas board with oil paints, as he did with his other work. I chose to temporarily display this painting in our library because of Reed’s unique style of painting, in which he applies small strokes which blend very beautifully. I would consider myself a romantic, so when I first saw Reed’s depiction of the two lovers, I couldn’t help but fall in love as well. Some of Reed’s paintingsare currently located at the West Virginia & Regional History Center. Linked below is the collection titled “Perley Reed, Author, Poetry and Artwork” where more details concerning Reed’s other paintings and works can be found.
As of September 2022, Reed’s painting “Romance in Old Paris” can be appreciated by visiting the manuscripts room of the History Center, where it has been selected and displayed alongside other beautiful pieces of art.
Peonies were a popular choice of painters, especially for artists of China and Japan and French impressionist artists. French impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir said that “painting flowers rests my brain. . . . I place my colors and experiment with values boldly, without worrying about spoiling a canvas.” The same held true for West Virginia artist Arthur J. “Pete” Ballard, who said he too “love[d] to play with color, light, shadows, seasons, the sky.” His “James Woods Crimson Peonies” painting exemplifies this obsession with vibrant colors, quick brush strokes, and contrast with lighting.
“For almost sixty years, I have ached to paint peonies,” Ballard wrote in one reflection upon his work. Born in Welch, West Virginia, in 1931, Ballard won an art scholarship to attend a fine arts school, but he decided that he wanted something more. He graduated with a degree in education from Concord University. Much of his post-collegiate life was spent as a teacher, as he taught English in China, India, Saudi Arabia, and other places.
However, he remained fascinated by art and costume design. Upon returning to the United States, he was an instructor at the North Carolina School of the Arts. He further developed his passion for costumes through conservation of old costumes and his design of historical dolls, which exhibited the fashions of the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. He worked as a curator for fashion exhibits at many North Carolina and other museums. The Ballard collection at the WVRHC includes many papers and articles about his lectures, exhibits, dolls, and paintings. The collection also contains many paintings of flowers, still life and other subjects (to see more about the collection, A&M 3869, see the finding aid). It was not until his retirement when he could pursue painting further, which Ballard was happy to do. “It’s an exciting way to spend one’s time in retirement. You can make all the mistakes you want, then correct them,” and added, “There are endless possibilities for subject matter.”
There are also endless possibilities for painters when it comes to painting peonies. Ballard noted, “The enormous beauty of peonies has always held a fascination for artists.” In Chinese and Japanese culture, peonies are a symbol of status, wealth, and beauty. In China, where these flowers have been grown for several thousand years, they are referred to sometimes as “the king of flowers.” Since Ballard spent time in China, perhaps he was influenced by different styles of Chinese artists and paintings of peonies and other flowers. French impressionist artists also took to painting flowers, especially peonies, as they offered many opportunities for color and light experimentation. Many of Ballard’s favorite artists were impressionists, as he described his admiration for artists like John Singer Sargent and Joaquín Sorolla, both of whom painted in impressionist style.
Ballard’s “James Woods’ Crimson Peonies” painting demonstrates impressionist influences. The colors are vibrant. Although the peonies are described as “crimson,” there is no one color that defines the painting, which awes the viewer with a wide array of pinks, purples, and reds. Ballard catches the light and shadows of the painting, making the peonies seem life-like. The vivid green background suits the painting well. When trying to find another color to use as the background for this painting, Ballard couldn’t help but paint it green. “The hills were green, so were the trees; the grass was green, so were all the leaves,” Ballard wrote, thereby settling on the color of nature as his background.
After so many years, Pete Ballard was finally able to fulfill his aching desire to paint these bright peonies. The “James Woods’ Crimson Peonies” picture exemplifies the complexities of painting such beautiful, colorful flowers that have garnered admiration from painters and viewers alike around the world.
 “Memories and Momentos: Artwork by Peterstown Resident on Display in N.C.,” May 11, 2000, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Box 2, “2000 Exhibition of My Paintings at Gertrude Smith House-Mt. Airy, NC.” Arthur J. Ballard, Costume Artist and Curator, Papers, A&M 3869, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries, Morgantown, West Virginia.
 Pete Ballard, “Memories and Mementos: A Collection of Paintings and Commentaries,” 2000, Box 2, “2000 Exhibition of My Paintings at Gertrude Smith House-Mt. Airy, NC.” Arthur J. Ballard, Costume Artist and Curator, Papers, A&M 3869, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries, Morgantown, West Virginia.
 “Memories and Momentos: Artwork by Peterstown Resident on Display in N.C.”
 Pete Ballard, “Memories and Mementos: A Collection of Paintings and Commentaries,”
 Pete Ballard, “Memories and Mementos: A Collection of Paintings and Commentaries.”
As part of my job as photographs manager, I field research questions and fulfill orders for high resolution copies of photographs in our collection. The most common request is from authors and publishers securing photographs for their books, but the WVRHC actually serves a much broader audience. Here are a few categories of requests that I receive on a monthly basis!
This photo was previously listed on the site as standing at Putnam Street and Highland Avenue, but this was incorrect information as the two roads do not intersect. A patron— the current owner and resident of this home— contacted us with the correction after discovering the photo online.
The patron also generously provided a photo of the house as it stands today (2022). You can see the clothesline, on the left, is still in use!
A surprising number of ghost hunters and storytellers purchase copies in the course of their research, whether to spruce up their podcast thumbnails or to publish in newspaper articles. I’ve also had ghost hunters once purchase a photo to give their psychic a source to pore over in search of clues. The belief that photographs can “capture one’s soul” remains popular in occult study circles!
Miniature Model Makers
Some of my favorite photo requests come from folks in the miniatures hobby. Attention to detail can be paramount in recreating props and machinery, and some hobbyists will go to great lengths to get accurate references— and what better to use as a reference than an actual photo?
Trains are a popular subject in this category, as their makeup is quite complicated.
As mentioned, the largest percentage of photo requests come from authors and researchers hoping to illustrate their papers and books with photographs. That doesn’t mean their requests are always cut-and-dry, though; some authors need assistance finding appropriate photos for their subject matter, leading to a treasure hunt on my part for good images.
One author recently asked me to help them locate the origin of this photo:
…as they had taken a phone pic of it a few years prior but lost the information about where it came from. I was able to locate it as being part of this photograph:
…which the patron promptly purchased!
These examples are not exhaustive, but they represent the variety of requests the WVRHC fields when it comes to photographs. The breadth of populations we serve keeps every day interesting!
A&M 0979, Miners’ Treason Trials, Records, contains six reels of microfilm of case papers for the trials of coal miners and UMWA leaders who were indicted for, varying, treason or murder in connection with the armed march into Logan County, West Virginia, during August and September 1921, better known as the Battle of Blair Mountain. These materials specifically concern the 1922 trials of Walter Allen, William Blizzard, C. Frank Keeney, Rev. J.E. Wilburn, and John Wilburn. Unlike most of the collections at the West Virginia and Regional History Center, this collection exists only on microfilm, a format similar to film negative strips, that allows a single reel to contain thousands of images of miniaturized versions of documents. But how did the WVRHC get these materials, and why is it important that we have them even if they are not the original documents? Judge Decatur H. Rodgers and Clerk W. M. Jones of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County in Charles Town, WV sent these materials to the (now defunct) West Virginia University Libraries Photoduplication Section in 1957 to be microfilmed only 35 years after the trial occurred. Though we don’t have documentation on why this was done, other collections within the WVRHC such as census and county court records exist in this format as well.
The microfilm contains more than 8,700 pages of records from the trials, including trial transcripts, charges, witness summons, and other court documents. These documents follow the progression of the trials in varying levels of detail. But to fast forward to the end: what happened to these men? Ultimately, William Blizzard was tried for treason in Charles Town in the same courthouse in which John Brown was convicted of treason in 1859. He was found not guilty. Rev. J.E. Wilburn and his son John Wilburn received an eleven year sentence in the West Virginia Penitentiary for the murder of Deputy John Gore. They only served three years after receiving a pardon from Governor Howard M. Gore. Walter Allen was tried and convicted of treason. Though he received an eleven year sentence, he jumped bail and was never imprisoned. C. Frank Keeney was charged with treason and the charges were dismissed.
The six reels of microfilm containing the records are divided into nine “flashes”, or sections, that are now available online for the first time thanks to a project conducted by Catherine Venable Moore and a research assistant using MacDowell Fellowship funds. Use CTRL+F within each file to search for relevant words and people.
Flash 1 – Jefferson County Circuit Court. Orders and opinions regarding witness claims, change of venue. Various defendants.
Flash 2 – Kanawha County. Intermediate Court. Indictments and certifications, recognizances, court order, grand jury proceedings.
Flash 3 – Logan County. Indictments, carbon copy of letters, etc.
This summer, I worked as an intern in the Rare Book Room studying manuscript leaves and fragments in antiquarian books. I was terrified. What if I dropped one of the books? Turned a page too fast and ripped it? Committed a major faux pas to the world of rare book study?
I did make a few blunders (note: do not compliment the condition of a book “considering its age”), but I avoided most of the nightmares that worried me most. I did not break anything, rip off any covers, etc. Something unexpected did happen, though—my attitude toward books changed entirely.
I had always appreciated stories and the power of a good book. But it did not occur to me that the most valuable books might not be the signed first editions, but the book bound in manuscript. I had never thought about the value of a book’s binding or the history it might share. Rarely did I think about what happened to the volumes upon volumes of manuscript after the invention of the printing press. Now, though, these are the first things I think of when an old book is placed in front of me.
The Rare Book Room’s collection of manuscript fragments is varied and encourages those that study it to consider the multiple repurposed realities manuscripts faced as technology progressed. This 1566 edition of A Summarie of our Englyſh Chronicles by John Stowe, for example, has manuscript fragments hiding inside its covers. Their intended purpose is unclear. They are too small to be pastedowns or endpapers, and it is not possible to discern if they reinforced the binding in any way. Perhaps they were cut. It is a mystery that we might never uncover. What we are sure of, though, is that these fragments, like many in our collection, were recycled and used as scraps for binding purposes. After the invention of the printing press, manuscript fragments were considered junk—certainly not valued as they are today!
Even further hidden in the binding are the fragments inside this Bible printed in 1493. The fragments are barely visible peeking through the spine. Can you spot them?
This dictionary, rather than having manuscript fragments tucked away inside, is bound in a manuscript leaf. On its back cover is a doodle of a man. The doodling is likely contemporary to the book, which was printed in 1731.
Fragments come in all shapes and sizes. This choir book, commissioned by Andres Camacho in 1450, is huge. There is an elaborate manuscript fragment used as a pastedown inside the rear cover. The decorative initial is gorgeous, but this fragment was cut, repurposed, and meant to be ignored in the back of the book.
Some manuscript fragments survived long enough to be sold as antiques. The library has a small but impressive collection of individual leaves like this Book of Hours fragment. This leaf was printed then hand illuminated, meaning a scribe decorated the capital initials by hand after the text was printed. This single leaf is worth hundreds of dollars!
Collectors often sell individual leaves rather than full manuscript texts because they can increase their profit this way. Some go so far as to cut leaves into smaller pieces, which they then frame and sell.
This process of deconstructing and selling manuscript texts makes Fragmentology—the study of manuscript fragments—quite difficult. The pieces are scattered and oftentimes impossible to reassemble. Still, we are able to learn a lot about early book and manuscript history from each fragment and how they were repurposed!
If you are interested in learning more about West Virginia University’s manuscript collection, you can read this bibliography I created as part of my internship that provides in-depth descriptions and pictures of each fragment in the collection. I also designed this slideshow with pictures and information about the collection that you are welcome to share in a classroom setting.
Most people have heard of Shakespeare’s First Folio, but the subsequent folios don’t seem to get quite as much press as the first one. What’s so great about a later printing of Shakespeare’s folio? Turns out – plenty!
The third folio is particularly interesting. Basically, it’s the third printing of the first folio, which was the first printing of Shakespeares’ plays. The first folio gave us eleven plays that were unknown before its’ publication including Macbeth, The Tempest, Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night. A significant literary achievement.
The third folio, published in 1663, is important because very few copies have survived. Traditionally, a few hundred copies of a book were published, then stored in a warehouse while waiting for buyers. Three years after its publication, while many copies of the third folio were still warehoused, the Great Fire of London erupted. The fire destroyed many booksellers’ warehouses along with their inventories, thus, few copies of the third folio have survived.
WVU’s rare book room is fortunate to have a copy of the third folio donated by an alumnus, Arthur Dayton. WVU received five Shakespeare folios in the Dayton donation, the first, second, an additional second printing, the third and the fourth folio. These comprise the complete set of Shakespeare’s folios.
The Dayton third folio is interesting for another reason. Several names, notations and bookplates appear on the first couple of pages. These notes and bookplates document previous owners. Evidence of previous ownership is called “provenance.” Provenance is considered to be a record of an items’ history, or a record of ownership. If you’re a fan of the PBS series, the Antiques Roadshow, you know that provenance, such as purchase receipts, bookplates, author signatures, and gift presentations, are important tools used to establish the authenticity of an item.
So, what can we learn from bookplates and notations in books? What role does ownership play in the life of a book? Let’s take a look at the bookplates and notations in Shakespeare’s third folio to find out.
First documented owner: Thomas Sharp.
The first thing we see is an ownership stamp for Thomas Sharp, (1693 – 1758). Sharp was a clergyman. He was named to the important position of Archdeacon of Northumberland on February 27, 1722. According to Wikipedia, the Archdeacon of Northumberland is a senior officer responsible for the disciplinary supervision of clergy within his region. An important position, indeed.
Below, we see a portrait of Thomas Sharp. Beneath is the book stamp he used in the third folio. Sharp held a number of positions throughout his lifetime, but the presence of the stamp verifies that Sharp acquired the third folio while serving as Archdeacon.
Although this attribution is important – there is no record of previous owners. Since the third folio was printed in 1663, there’s 60 years of ownership unaccounted for. That is disappointing, but it is great that we can pick up on who may be the second, or third owner.
Second documented owner: Clare Hall, Cambridge University, England.
The college of Clare Hall, founded in 1326 as University Hall, is the second-oldest college at Cambridge University. In 1338 the college was renamed Clare Hall, in honor of Elizabeth de Clare (1295 – 1360), the 11th Lady of Clare, who provided an endowment for the college.
The notation marking Clare Hall’s ownership is on the title page of the third folio.
This brings us to the question – why did the college dispose of the 3rd folio? And when did they dispose of it? We may never know.
Third documented owner: Shakespearean actors, Edward Hugh and Julia Marlow Sothern.
The Sotherns are shown here, photographed in costume as Lord and Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, in 1911. Edward Hugh Sothern (1859-1933) was an American actor and author who appeared on the stage in New York and London. Julia Marlowe (1865-1950) primarily acted in New York. They met in 1904 when they starred in a play together. They married a few years later in 1911. Following their marriage, they toured across the United States, mainly in Shakespeare plays, until Julia retired in 1924. Their bookplate is pasted inside.
Fourth documented owner: Arthur Dayton
A graduate of WVU with a degree from the College of Law, Arthur Dayton’s lifelong dream was to own all four of Shakespeare’s folios. He accomplished his goal, and after his death, his wife Ruth donated his entire Shakespeare collection, including the 5 Shakespeare folios, to WVU. The folios now reside in the rare book room, which was founded in 1951 to house his collection. Dayton purchased his folios at auction in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, when folios regularly appeared on the market. Today, most of the surviving Shakespeare folios are owned by institutions like WVU and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Above is the bookplate added by WVU to document Dayton’s gift to the University.
The letter below, from the previous owner, Julia Marlowe Sothern, discusses Dayton’s purchase of “their” third folio.
Julia Sothern describes how happy she is that Arthur Dayton, a collector of Shakespeare’s works, purchased “her” folio.
Do you have any books that once belonged to someone else? Who might that be? How do you know? Did the previous owner sign their name or add a bookplate? Let us know!
If you’d like to examine the provenance in Shakespeare’s third folio, please send an email to Stewart Plein at Stewart.Plein@mail.wvu.edu to make an appointment.
Written by WVU History Department doctoral student Jack Webster
The Deutsche Zeitung (literally German Newspaper) was a German language newspaper from Wheeling publishing under that name beginning in 1901. It was not the first German newspaper in the state. German language journalism in western Virginia precedes the Civil War with the Virginische Staats-Zeitung, (Virginia State Newspaper) 1848 – 1863, which became the West Virginische Staats-Zeitung following West Virginia statehood in 1863. Other German newspapers, namely Der Arbeiter-Freund (the Worker’s Friend), also had its start during the Civil War era.
The Deutsche Zeitung was not the first Deutsche Zeitung in the state. The previous paper by that name combined with the Wheelinger Volksblatt (the Wheeling People’s Paper), to form the West Virginische Staats-Zeitung in the 1880s. The West Virgische Staats-Zeitung was actually the precursor to the Deutsche Zeitung of 1901.
Surviving editions of the Deutsche Zeitung commemorate anniversaries, including one in 1906, and another sixtieth anniversary of German reporting in the region in 1910. The 1906 edition includes a list of the men who ran the newspaper, all German immigrants: Fidelis Riester, president, born in Wuerttemberg, who immigrated in 1869; Christian Steinmuetz, vice president, from the Rhineland, immigrated 1866; Constantin Bente, secretary, from Westphalia, immigrated 1879; Michael Kirchner, treasurer, from Franconia, immigrated 1867; and Jacob H.H. Beu, also from the Rhineland, a German Army veteran, immigrated 1881. Bente was the principal owner, editor and manager. All members of the board were involved with a variety of German-American civic societies in Wheeling, including the German American Central Bund, and organizations for Germans from particular regions, such as Bavaria and the Rhineland.
These special editions ran similar articles, including histories of German communities in the Ohio Country and of German language reporting in the state. They also include profiles about towns in West Virginia such as Morgantown and Charleston, as well as their major industries and points of interest, both natural and man-made. The centers of German-American community were the historic German Churches, which could be Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed. These newspapers took pride in their identity as German-Americans: they date from around the Fourth of July, and report stories of German patriots from the American Revolution. One even claims that the tune of “Yankee Doodle” was a Hessian folk song! Each paper also features a page reporting events from German Central Europe, categorized by regions, such as East Prussia and Austria.
Papers like the Deutsche Zeitung not only expressed the voice and culture of German-Americans, they revealed the connections between these people and the Americans of other backgrounds. Each edition contains advertisements for translating services, and both German- and English-speaking entrepreneurs, politicians, and other public figures feature on their pages. Unfortunately, the Deutsche Zeitung appears to have met the same fate as other expressions of German culture from the early twentieth century, going out of publication in 1916. That same year, another German, Austin Brodoehl founded the West Virginia Patriot perhaps responding to a culture now hostile to Germans in the leadup to American intervention in the First World War.
I recently had the pleasure of processing a special collection at the WVRHC. The new “Hatfield Family Papers” collection (A&M 4490 if you want to schedule a visit) is a compilation of papers, photographs, and artifacts all pertaining to the infamous southern West Virginia family. From trinkets and treaties to biographies and a bible (Louvisa Hatfield’s, that is), everyone can find something that interests them within this collection.
The collection was compiled by descendents of Louvisa and Anse Hatfield, and a ton of the material came directly from Louvisa’s belongings. Much of the material, though, is related to subjects bigger than the Hatfield family. There’s content about the Pocahontas Coal Company, information about local politics, and so much more. Any researcher or lover of West Virginia history will have a wonderful time perusing this collection.
My personal favorite part of the collection are the greeting cards and postcards. Not only do many of them have unique early 20th century illustrations, the content is also fascinating. In popular media, the Hatfields are remembered strictly alongside the McCoys. Violence and feuding seem to run the narrative. These cards, though, show the normalcy of the family. From sympathy cards to updates about grandchildren, it is interesting to see what Louvisa Hatfield’s children wrote to her about.
If you’re interested, I urge you to come in and look through the collection yourself. It really is a time capsule into the early 20th century, with helpful printouts regarding genealogy and timelines. Plus, you can sit down with the original 19th century Hatfield and McCoy treaty- which is as neat as it sounds!
By Caleb Paul, intern with the West Virginia & Regional History Center in fall 2021 from The Catholic University of America
The Chappell Collection: Music from the Coalfields Digital Collection is the product of a collaboration between the West Virginia and Regional History Center and the blog Folk Music of the Southern West Virginia Coalfields, an ongoing documentation project by scholars Chris Haddox, a traditional musician from Logan County, and Gloria Goodwin Raheja, author of the forthcoming book Logan County Blues: Frank Hutchison in the Sonic Landscape of the Appalachian Coalfields. Haddox is an Associate Professor of Interior Architecture and Design Studies at WVU and Raheja is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota.
It is the first-time recordings from the Chappell Collection have been available digitally. Not only are a selection of the recordings now available, information about the performers Chappell recorded, including pictures and interviews with descendants are featured on the blog.
When it comes to the study of the folk music of West Virginia and larger Appalachia, the Chappell Collection’s historical and cultural significance cannot be overstated. Louis Watson Chappell was a folklorist, ballad and folk music collector, and a professor of English at West Virginia University. Between 1937 and 1947, Chappell recorded 647 discs in the field. This amounts to over 2000 individual recordings of ballads of every type and topic, fiddle tunes, instrumental music, social music, gospel tunes, and Appalachian song. He is also noted for a landmark 1933 study on the origins of the ballad John Henry.
Music from the Coalfields focuses on Chappell’s summer of 1940 collecting trip to the Southern West Virginia counties of Lincoln, Logan and Mingo. These landmark recordings give a glimpse of the vibrant Appalachian music and culture of a region known for its coal camps, historic border feuds, and for the violent labor uprisings of the West Virginia Mine Wars. Included are recordings of Kate Toney, from whom Chappell made a staggering 85 recordings in one day-long session. Toney, a Logan County ballad singer, had a high lonesome vocal style, and a sizable, unique repertoire that compares to the likes of Texas Gladden and Almeda Riddle.
Click to access the digital collection, the blog, and a podcast which features music from the Chappell collection framed by a discussion of the stories of these performers, analysis of rare ballads, vernacular styles, and traditional techniques featured in the recordings.