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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 190th installment of the Centennial History.


Submitted by Dora and Rada Phelps

Worlie Phelps was born September 18, 1892, and died on September 18, 1975. He married Della Frances Mitchell, born March 22, 1895, died November 15, 1967. They were married in 1912. They had four sons and one daughter.

Hersel Kenneth Phelps married Dora Johnson. They reside in Hurricane.

Wayne Theodore Phelps married Bessie Johnson. They reside in Nitro.

Robinson Clay Phelps (deceased) married Gladys Womack. She resides in Hurricane.

Roland Eugene Phelps married Delphine Bailes. They reside in Teays Valley.

Betty Lee Phelps is a patient in Danville Americana Nursing Home.

Worlie and Della had ten grandchildren, eighteen great-grandchildren, and eleven great-great-grandchildren.

Worlie was born in Putnam County on a farm about four miles from Hurricane, on Route 34 south. His father acquired this 124 acre farm by trading a pair of horses valued at $600.00 for the farm. Worlie’s parents were James Phelps and Louella Caldwell Phelps.

Worlie was a farmer, a merchant, and he helped with the construction of the B.F. Goodrich Rubber Plant at Institute, now a part of Carbide.

Worlie and Della were active members of Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church. They were good to visit the sick and to help neighbors who were in need. They always had a lot of company and no one went away hungry.

Things are a lot different in the Hurricane area than when Worlie was a young boy growing up.

One of his chores when he was a young boy was to watch the young chickens and to keep the hawks from getting them. He became an expert rifleman.

The squirrels were so plentiful that Worlie and his brothers and cousins would squirrel hunt with rocks. Some of the boys would scare the squirrels around the trees where the others were waiting with rocks.

When the railroad was built through Hurricane, Worlie would rabbit hunt and take the rabbits to sell to the railroad cook. They would pay him 25 cents a rabbit.

Worlie as a boy had a bicycle. At this time he lived on Route 34 about 4 miles from Hurricane. He would ride his bicycle to the Post Office and get their mail as well as a lot of his neighbors’ mail.

When Worlie and Della lived at the top of Trace Creek Mountain (Johnny Moore Hill) before it was paved, he used his team of horses to pull cars up the mountain.

On Worlie’s 80th birthday, he was helping his son Hersel cut tobacco. Worlie enjoyed working. He also enjoyed visiting with his family and friends.

This is meant to be a living tribute to the memory of a wonderful Father and Mother, Grandfather and Grandmother.


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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