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The Centennial History of Hurricane: Meet Some of Hurricane’s Oldest Families

In 1988, The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV was published to commemorate the town’s 100th anniversary. Since the Centennial History is now out of print, the Breeze is reprinting articles from the book as space allows. This week’s selection will be the 183rd installment of the Centennial History.



Emmett Tyler McGehee was born in Louisa, Virginia, in 1881 and died in West Virginia in 1963. He was married to Francis (Fannie) Mills when he was 30 years old. After two of their three children were born, Margaret and Blair, the McGehees moved to Hurricane, where Emmett worked as a telegraph operator for the C&O Railroad. After their move to Hurricane, their son, George, was born.

The McGehees moved back and forth from Louisa, Virginia, to Hurricane most of their adult lives; however, they did spend their retirement years in Hurricane.

Mr. McGehee was well known in the community and known as a good Christian man. He worked in the C&O Tower as a dispatcher. The Tower had one of the few telephones in Hurricane, making the Tower and Mr. McGehee very popular because telegrams were the main source of communication.

It was his habit to visit any sick person in the community whether he knew them or not. He usually carried a bag of oranges with him just to brighten their day. He also frequently invited strangers to Sunday family dinners. Mr. McGehee had a great compassion for those less fortunate.

Mrs. McGehee was also well known as a cheerful white­haired lady with a delightful Southern brogue, who loved to sit on her front porch and carry on conversations with each passerby.
Mrs. McGehee, even in her 70’s and 80’s, was very young at heart and enjoyed socializing with the younger generation. She always had many interesting stories to share with her friends. She was never at a loss for words. Mrs. McGehee died at age 83.

Blair McGehee, the youngest daughter, died when she was 12 years old. Margaret, the oldest daughter, never married and worked at Union Carbide for over 35 years. Margaret passed away in 1984. George, the youngest child, and only boy, married Freeda Smith, daughter of Hattie Smith Barnett of Hurricane. George and Freeda had four children, James, Douglas, George Gregory, and a daughter, Mary Margaret. George, Sr. died in 1962 at the age of 43.

Jim, the oldest son of George and Freeda, is a resident of Hurricane and works for the Putnam County Board of Education. Jim and his wife, Joy, have three children Kimberly, Jimmy, and Shawn.

Douglas, the next son, is also a resident of Hurricane and is employed at the John Amos Power Plant. Doug and his wife, Mary Ellen, have two children, Kelley and Dougie.
George Gregory (GG), the youngest son, lives in Hurricane and works at Ashland Oil in Kentucky. GG and his wife, Linda, have three children, Gregory, Melissa, and Jeff.
Mary Margaret is also a resident of Hurricane. She is attending West Virginia State College and plans a career in social work. Mary Margaret and her husband, Jerry Hogg, have five children, Mary Michael, Gillian, Roger, Mark and Matthew.

All of the grandchildren of Emmett and Fannie McGehee have remained in Putnam County and live within four miles of each other.


Much hard work and effort by many people went into the compilation of The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV. Published in 1988, the history incorporated family and business histories and local history. All this information was enclosed in a beautiful red and gold hardback volume, the pride of anyone wise enough to have purchased it. Unfortunately, the book is now out of print, so finding a copy will be difficult, if not impossible. It is a great shame that many do not know the existence of this fine book, so the Breeze is reprinting the articles in serialized form as space allows.

A digital copy of the Centennial History can be obtained from the Hurricane City Hall for a small donation. For more information, call the City of Hurricane at (304) 562-5896.

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