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Centennial History of Hurricane: Fred Wise 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 247th installment of the Centennial History.


Submitted by Charles D. Wise

Fred E. Wise, a Hurricane man, was born on Cow Creek on the last day of 1895. The clock was striking midnight at the time of his birth. The physician in attendance, Dr. Ira Hicks of Hurricane, took note of the time and said the new-born son, the twelfth child in the family, could celebrate his birthday either on the last day of the year or the first day of the next year.

The father of Fred Wise, as he was named at birth, was Samuel David Wise, the house builder of early Hurricane. His mother was Henrietta A. Ellis Wise, a descendant of one of the Putnam County’s first residents. Fred, later as a young boy, adopted the middle name Eugene.

Fred Wise, through most of his formative years, was without a mother, Henrietta having died in 1904 from cancer while the family lived at Diamond in Kanawha County. He had a few years schooling in Putnam County Schools, but went to work with his father at about thirteen years of age, as a carpenter and cabinet maker. David Wise and Fred Wise built many houses in and around Hurricane, as well as many other types of structures. At one time in 1917, Fred Wise owned three houses in Hurricane, two of which were on Putnam Avenue.

Fred Wise built houses, barns, store buildings, churches, banks, and school buildings. He built these and other types of buildings from Hurricane to Logan and from Huntington to Montgomery. For a time his family lived in South Charleston, where he was employed on construction at the Union Carbide Plant, and later, at the Naval Ordinance Plant. At the time of the Great Depression, he maintained his own construction company which went under as did many other small and large companies.

In 1916, Fred Wise met Maggie Morris Harshbarger while he and his father were building a house just below Milton, West Virginia, and they married in November of that year. They moved immediately to Hurricane where they began their married life together in one of Fred’s houses on Putnam Avenue. The small cottage is still standing today (1987). At this place their first child Lloyd Hale Wise was born in 1917. During the Depression, Fred sold insurance to support his family, but in later life went back to his trade-carpentry and cabinet-making for the Appalachian Electric Company. Other communities in which the Fred Wise family lived include: St. Albans, Brushton, Montgomery, Milton, East Bank, Marmet and Kenova. His four children all graduated from East Bank High School.

The four children of Maggie and Fred Wise are: Lloyd H. Wise, presently at Milton, West Virginia; Frances Lorraine Wise Paxton, presently of Hudson, Florida; Fred Eugene Wise, Jr., presently of Charlotte, North Carolina; and Charles Davidson Wise, presently of Muncie, Indiana. Lloyd holds two degrees from West Virginia University and for many years was employed by Pratt and Whitney Company of Hartford, Connecticut. Frances married a chemist of the Pure Oil Company of Cabin Creek and later of Beaumont, Texas, and still later of the 76 Petroleum Company. Fred holds a degree from Marshall University and M.D. degrees from Medical College of Virginia, and a specialty in Radiology from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Fred, Jr., now practices at the Nalle Clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charles Davidson Wise holds two degrees from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. degree from the University of New Mexico. He is a professor at Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana. Also, he has served six years in the Indiana legislature as a State Representative and State Senator.

After retirement from the Appalachia Power Company, Fred Eugene Wise, with his wife Maggie, moved back to Milton, where he lived until his death on January 7, 1984. He died at Presbyterian Manor in Huntington after failure to recover from a broken hip, surgery, and the accompanying trauma. His beloved Maggie and his son Charles were with him at the time of his death.


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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