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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 216th installment of the Centennial History.


Submitted by Virginia S. Chapman

In 1859 Laura Ingalls Wilder was writing about life in remote Minnesota. At approximately the same time, John Henry Sovine was born to John McDaniel Sovine and his wife, Catherine Taylor, in Hurricane, Virginia, on October 23, 1859.

John McDaniel came from Craig County, Virginia, to Teays Valley, Putnam County, Virginia, in 1838. He married Catherine Taylor who was born about 1838. There were seven children born to this union – John Henry Sovine being the eldest.

On April 24, 1890, John Henry married Nancy Lucretia Browder. There were thirteen children born to this couple – all born in Hurricane, West Virginia. William Hobart Sovine, the subject of this short biography, was the fifth child born to this union, being born on West Virginia’s birthday, June 20, 1898.

Hobart always had a zeal to learn. He attended Signal Gap School, which was near the family home. There was not a high school in Hurricane at the time Hobart was in school. He went to Signal Gap until he was in his late teens. Then he went to work wherever there was work.

While taking census for Putnam County, William Hobart Sovine met and “courted” Birdie Dare Mitchell, daughter of the Reverend Michael Floyd Mitchell and Olivia Bowles Mitchell. Somewhat later, on September 19, 1921, they were married. To this union was born a daughter, Virginia Dare, on July 12, 1922, who married Edward Malcolm Chapman, Jr., on June 3, 1949. Edward died in 1981.

Virginia Dare and Edward Malcolm had two daughters – Melanie Kay, born July 30, 1950 and Kimberly Jane, born May 27, 1959. Melanie Kay Chapman married Darrell Lee Welker on June 18, 1968. Darrell died in 1985. They had two boys – Jeremy Lee Welker, born on November 20, 1973, and Jared Mitchell Welker, born July 10, 1980. Kimberly Jane Chapman married Michael Wayne Edwards on August 15, 1981. They had a son, Christopher Michael Edwards, born on October 23, 1985.

William Hobart Sovine went into the store business in 1921. Hobart’s first store was located on the corner of Putnam Avenue and Conner Street. W.H. Sovine General Merchandise was established in 1921. Hobart rented the store building from E.J. Qualls and his wife, Mary, until 1944 when he went out of the grocery business. In the latter part of 1945, Sovine Furniture came into existence. This was located on Putnam Avenue where the John D. Henson Senior Citizens Center now stands. The building was first owned by W.H. McCallister; then William and Nita Wheeler purchased it from Mr. McCallister. Hobart rented the building until 1964 at which time he purchased the building from Mrs. Wheeler.

Hobart Sovine was an extremely hard working, ambitious man. He, too, was charitable, benevolent, and compassionate to his customers, church, and family.

Mr. Sovine was a member of the First Baptist Church where he served as church treasurer for many years, taught the Men’s Bible Class for more than two decades, and was on the Deacon’s Board.

Hobart remained in the furniture business until 1980 when he sold the store building to the Town of Hurricane, making way for the John D. Henson Senior Citizens Center.

William Hobart Sovine passed away on June 5, 1982, at the golden age of 83.


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.

Hobart and Birdie
Nancy Lucretia Sovine Family
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