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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 191st installment of the Centennial History.


Submitted by Kathryn Simms Foster

Francis (Frank) William Pierce (1863-1940) was the son of Royal and Margaret Pierce. Royal Pierce was the son of Franklin Pierce, who was born in Wales, England and later lived in Pomeroy, Ohio.
Francis Pierce had a brother, Jim, who lived in Ohio and a sister, Ellen Rupe, who had three daughters: Lillie, Lula Sumner and Mary Walk. He married Margaret Viola Phelps (1866-1954) in 1882. Margaret was the daughter of Samuel and Margaret Phelps. Samuel and his wife, Margaret had seven children: John, Jim, Len, Riley, Margaret Viola, Bertha and Mary.

Samuel’s parents came from Holland. They were granted land in Pennsylvania; however, they were not happy there and traveled down the Ohio River on a raft to West Virginia where they homesteaded one thousand acres of land on Buff Creek. While Samuel was away in the Civil War, Margaret used her government allowance to purchase another farm. When Samuel came home from the War, he was pleasantly surprised and was able to present each of his children one hundred acres of land when he/she married.

Francis William and Margaret Viola Pierce were married fifty-eight years. They had twelve children: Hurmy (1882-1949); Sady McCallister (1885-1903); Arilla (1887-1903); Denver (1889-1942); Grace L. Burdette (1891-1979); Maude Thompson (1894-1986); Hobart (1897-1980); Addie (1900-lived four months); Allie Mooney (1900-1978); Verba Simms (1903-1976); Delpha McCallister (1907-1955). These twelve children had twenty-eight grandchildren.

When Francis William married Margaret Viola Pierce, her parents gave Frances one hundred acres of land. He built a small house which was soon outgrown and then a larger house which still stands on the farm on Buff Creek.

Frances William gave up farming after a while and traveled the six miles in to Hurricane to work as a clerk in a general store. In 1906 he built an even larger house on Second Street in Hurricane and moved his growing family from Buff Creek. At the same time, he built a store building which was two stories high. The second floor served as a meeting room for both the Odd Fellows and K of P Lodge. He was also a member of the Hurricane Baptist Church. He was a charter member of both the Odd Fellows and the Masonic Lodges.

In early years, Francis served a term as Mayor of Hurricane, built and sold houses, inspected lumber for the C&O Railroad, and was a prosperous merchant until The Depression forced him out of business. His youngest child graduated from Hurricane High School soon after it was completed in the 1920’s.

All of Francis Pierce’s children enjoyed prosperous lives. They traveled and lived in such places as St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Cleveland, New Jersey, and the state of Washington. All of his children but one, however, were buried at home in Hurricane.


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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