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 189th installment of the Centennial History.
Submitted by Norma Jean (Phelps) Williams
We, the wife and children, could write a book about our beloved husband and father, but instead we will condense this into just a few words.
On December 6, 1898, Royal S. Phelps was born to William Pearl and Mary Jane (Moore) Phelps on Cow Creek in Hurricane, West Virginia. He spent his childhood on Cow Creek, attended Oak Dale School, working for his father on the farm, and cutting hair only in his spare time. He became so well known in and around the community for his work, that the people who came to him on a regular basis asked him to open a shop in Hurricane, which at that time was needed.
So in 1925, he started his own shop, charging twenty-five cents for haircuts, and fifteen cents for shaves. In the span of forty-five years that he was a barber, there wasn’t a man or boy who didn’t come to him at one time or another for a haircut.
He had four locations. The first barber shop was in the alley behind the old post office on Main Street. From there, across the railroad on Front Street near Billups’ Store, then later back to Main Street in the Conner building close to Bill Black’s Grocery Store and Doc Raines’ Drug Store. His last shop was in a small building he remodeled behind the house on Rhoda Street where he worked until he retired in 1972.
On August 26, 1923, he married Eunice M. Boothe of Salt Rock, West Virginia. They had two sons and two daughters, but lost their first son at the tender age of sixteen months with pneumonia.
In 1938, he joined the Hurricane Church of the Nazarene, and was a very active member. It is our belief that everyone who knew him loved and respected him. He loved to fish, hunt, meet and talk to people, but above all he loved God and his family.
After his retirement in 1972, he and his wife moved to Culloden, West Virginia. He passed away October 23, 1979, two months before his 81st birthday. His wife and youngest daughter, Lorena Mae Miller, live in Columbia, South Carolina; a daughter, Norma Jean Williams, in Thornville, Ohio; and son, Eddie, lives in Elyria, Ohio. There are seven grandchildren, two great grandchildren.
If he were alive today, we know he would join us in saying, “Happy 100th, Hurricane.”
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.