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Centennial History of Hurricane: Welker Family

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 239th installment of the Centennial History.


Submitted by Howard D. Welker

Jacob Edward Welker (1853-1936) and Eliza Melisky Welker (1864-1943) moved from Darwin, Meigs County, Ohio, to Putnam County, West Virginia, in 1893. They first lived on the James Mynes farm on the James River Turnpike (now Route 60), two miles east of Hurricane. Edward worked as a tenant farmer for Mr. Mynes until 1895 when he moved to Hodges Branch Road and began working for Jim Bailey, who ran a sawmill.

On November 7, 1896, Edward bought the log house and farm of J.S. Mille on Hodges Branch (now Peach Ridge) Road. In 1910, he built another, larger house on the property for his family.

Edward and Eliza had four children: George Davenport (1882-1973); Bessie Ines (1889-1981); Phebe Clara (1894-1913); and Coleman (1897-1898).

Edward was a large man for those days, standing 6-ft., 1 in., and weighing 200 pounds. He had lost the sight of one eye while working on the railroad in Ohio, and eventually he became totally blind. However, that didn’t deter him from turning his 40-acre farm into one of the most productive in the area.

With his team of horses, he cultivated the garden near the road and raised an orchard on the hills above the house. He prided himself on the large variety of fruits and berries he grew. Because his farming was so successful, there was always produce to sell, and Eliza handled those duties.

She was a familiar sight in Hurricane, dressed all in black and sitting ramrod straight as she drove her buggy up and down the dirt streets offering the high-quality fruit and vegetables the townspeople had learned to expect from the Welkers. She was often helped in these duties by her grandson, Howard Doyle Welker (1911-?), who she and her husband raised.

Eliza was a charter member of the Moses Chapel Methodist Church, which was built in 1896 and is now the Peach Ridge Community Church. When her baby, Coleman Welker, died in 1898, his was the first body buried in the cemetery. Edward, Eliza, and Clara later joined him in the cemetery.

Before her death in 1943, Eliza deeded the farm to her son, George, and her grandson, Howard. In 1972, George and Howard deeded the farm to Howard’s wife, Inez Welker. In her will, she has given it to one of her sons, so the farm will stay in the Welker name for some time to come.


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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