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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 188th installment of the Centennial History.


Submitted by Virginia Nall

George Roberts Penick (1888-1952) was from Richmond, Virginia. He was a civil engineer and while on an engineering party with the federal government met Mae Sims of Swiss (1894-1978) West Virginia. They were married seven years later in Christ Church Methodist, Charleston, West Virginia.

Their first home in West Virginia was established at Ramage, Boone County where two children were born to them. Lucile, now Mrs. Cliff Boyce, Yuma, Arizona, and George Jr. (1921-1986).

My father and Mother saw the beginning of the “Mine Wars” in the Coal fields and decided he should move to avoid the coming strife, and to find a place with better educational opportunities. He just started out one morning to find the new location and returned that night the proud owner of property on the corner of High School Avenue and Midland Trail, across the street from the new Hurricane High School. A few days later, in the fall of 1923, Daddy, Mama, Lucile and George arrived in Hurricane. They spent their first night here at Thornton’s Boarding House which was on the corner of Second St. and Dudding Ave. They went over the next day to make the property livable and moved in.

There was a building large enough for the family to live and also for Mama to start a small restaurant. She fed school children for many years with great hotdogs and hamburgers. Daddy put in gasoline pumps and in a year or so started selling cars. He first sold Hudsons and then Essex automobiles before becoming the Chevrolet dealer. By this time, they had added rooms to the house, an automobile garage and another child, Virginia, Mrs. John L. Nall, Hurricane. Daddy sold Chevrolets until his death in 1952. George Jr. continued the business for a few years before selling it and returning to the practice of law.

I guess the twenties and thirties were hard years for everyone. My father was Road Supervisor for Putnam County and later sold the first school bus to the County. It was delivered and placed in our backyard; a lot of body work had to be done to it before it was usable. He was also on the Board of Directors at Putnam County Bank when they returned money to depositors after the reopening of the banks.

We lived in front of the schools so it seemed our lives were always involved with teachers and schools. Lucile went to school her first year in a little school house that was somewhere behind the First Baptist Church. Her second year she attended school on High School Avenue, just where the “big step” was in the sidewalk (the one we jumped over on our bicycles, and flew over in winter on sleds). There were two buildings, side by side, these were later converted into houses. Mrs. Doris Qualls Sovine was her teacher there. In her third year of school, she attended the new elementary school (now middle school annex). Lucile taught school in the area for several years. I (Virginia) have been teaching in Hurricane schools for twenty-seven years.

In my growing up years, in our end of Hurricane, I remember waking on Saturday morning in autumn and hearing Uncle Lum Taylors grist mill making its Thump, Thump, Thump, sound up on the corner. You knew you had overslept and the gang would have already started their day.

As Elizabeth Wilson wrote me last spring… “I remember all the good things – like the way we rode bikes, and the fun we used to have in the lunchroom. For us that space on Midland Trail was just right. There are always moments we never lose that were perfect for that time…”


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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