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Centennial History of Hurricane: James Monroe Wallace

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 238th installment of the Centennial History.


(1886 1966)
Submitted by David and Beulah Wallace

James Monroe Wallace, better known as “Jim,” was born at Winfield, West Virginia. He was a well-known figure in Hurricane from the early 1900’s until his death. He was a tall stately man of Scotch-Irish-German descent, and had many friends in the Hurricane area.

Jim is descended from Benjamin Wallace, Sr., born 1760, and Benjamin’s son, Benjamin, Jr. (1790-1861), who married Lettie Wilkes (1796-1887) in 1813 in Luenburg County, Virginia. Lettie was the daughter of Minor Wikes, Jr. (1761-1802) and Phoebe (White) (1770-1820). Minor, Jr. was a Baptist preacher and a Revolutionary War Veteran.

Benjamin and Lettie were the parents of thirteen children, all of whom were born in Luenburg County, Virginia. It was sometime before the Civil War that the family moved to Teays Valley. They made their home on Mill Creek where Benjamin was killed when a tree, he and his son Hugh were felling, crushed him. Both Benjamin and Lettie are buried in the Wallace Cemetery back of Milton.

Jessie Wallace (1825-1911), the seventh child and fifth of seven sons, born to Benjamin and Lettie, married Sara Margaret Crowder (1844-1915) in 1870. Sara was born in Fayette County, daughter of Henry Crowder and Delilah Likens. After the birth of their sixth child, they went to Nebraska, but later returned to West Virginia. They lived in the present site of the Estes’ homestead. Both are buried in the old Pete Lunsford Cemetery.

They were the parents of ten children: Henry Benjamin (1871) married Louvenia Dunn; David Alexander (1872) married Ora Sovine; Sarah Isobel (1874) married George Daniels; Mary Delilah (1876) married Andy Roach; Cora (1878) married John Long; William Addison (1880) married Grace Queen; Ada Eliza (1883) married Kelly Bess; James Monroe (1886) married May Bell Switzer (Gilfilen); Christine (1889) married William Laten Long; Argelia Mae (1890) married Pearl Edgar Call.

“Jim” and May were married July 1908. May was born 1878, Cheshire, Ohio; the daughter of Lucy Curtis Chappelle and Americus Valentine Switzer. She was the widow of James Gilfilen with two children; Edward George and Lucy Frances. May died in 1963 at Hurricane.

May and Jim were the parents of six children and one adopted son: Ina Margaret (1909-1909); Cleo Burton (1910-1923); Virginia May (1913) married Jesse Edward Estep, Sr.; Dana Monroe (1915-1940) married Evah Mae Rowsey, (three children); Aura Ida Lenora (1918) married Harold Burton Banks (four children); Arthur David Odell (1920) married Beulah Delilah Estep (three children); James Donald (1927- 1973) (adopted), married Alberta Jeffers (two adopted daughters).

May and Jim faced many heartaches. Their firstborn, Ina, died as an infant. Burton died at age thirteen of pneumonia. Virginia faced life without her hearing after an operation at age thirteen. Dana was asphyxiated by gas while working with his father for United Fuel Gas Company. It was his daughter Jeanette’s third birthday and his brother David’s first day of work for the gas company.

During Jim and May’s marriage, they first lived at Sugar Camp in the Gilfilen property. After a move to Gallipolis, Ohio, where Jim worked in a furniture factory, a move to Cincinnati, Ohio, back to Sugar Camp before 1918. Then in 1919 they moved to Hurricane, and Jim began his work with the United Fuel. He bought a farm on lower Virginia Avenue where he farmed. He was a hard worker. The farm is still in the Wallace family.

During the great Depression, May and Jim fed many a “hobo” and at times whole families, who came through the “Valley” seeking work. Jim was very humane and often refused to cut off the gas for families who were in dire straits. After May’s death in 1963, Jim married Edith Savage (Hofuer), a widowed school teacher. They moved to Coolville, Ohio, after their marriage in 1964, but soon left to live in St. Albans, West Virginia, where Jim died in 1966. Jim’s descendants no longer live in the Hurricane area.

They are scattered throughout the United States, but to many, Hurricane still means “home.”


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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