In 1988, The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV was published to commemorate the town’s 100th anniversary. In 1994, the Centennial Committee published a follow up book which included family histories which were not submitted in time for the 1988 Centennial History. This week’s selection is the 5th history from The Centennial History of Hurricane WV Continued — 1994.
REV. WILLIAM HARRISON CURRY
William was the son of Thomas & Susanna Johnson Curry, and was born in Fayette County (now) West Virginia, April 11, 1846. His parents died in 1854 when he was 8 years old. He enlisted in the Civil War in September 1861, at the age of 15, serving in Company B—34th Battalion, Virginia, Volunteer Mounted Rifleman. He was a soldier on the Confederate side and participated in the battle at Blue Springs, Lynchburg, Martinsburg, Piedmont, Brandy Station and Gettysburg. In 1865, when the war was over, he returned to the area, purchased 272 acres of land, mostly woodland and farmland in the counties of Lincoln and Putnam near Big Creek, 6 miles north of Hamlin.
He became ordained into the ministry of the Baptist faith in 1870. He served as pastor at Trace Fork and Mt. Moriah churches. He was very sincere about his faith and was a constant reader of the Bible. He also had acquired a knowledge of carpentry and worked at this skill whenever he could.
There was a large area at the head of Big Creek that wasn’t being served by any church. With .50 in his pocket, he proposed to a good friend that they take their letters and go to this area and start a church. Several others joined in when they heard about the project. The Central Big Creek Church was organized in 1897 and met in the school house until the church was finished in 1902.
The trees had to be cut and hauled by horse and wagon to the sawmill. After the lumber was cut it had to be planed by hand. Manpower and funds made progress slow. As soon as the church was completed, they then began to think of the pews and other needs for the inside.
When everything was completed, Rev. Curry served as the first pastor until 1909, without any pay. In 1909, they voted to pay him $36.00 annually. He served 1897-1911, 1913-1918, and 1920-1922.
He built a pretty log home on Harvey’s Creek, meanwhile and married Parthenia Lawrence, daughter of Charles B. & Sarah Jane Spurlock Lawrence. Parthenia was born in Boone County (now) West Virginia, April 28, 1851 and married Rev. Curry, September 8, 1869. They had nine children. Three died in infancy. Others were: Cora McGhee, Ben, Minnie Young, Charles Thomas, Martha Ellen and George Washington. The latter known as “Uncle Wash”, and his wife, “Aunt Ellen” ran the Curry Hotel in Hurricane for many years. Parthenia died April 8, 1883.
In 1884, a beautiful stately young woman entered Rev. Curry’s life. Isabelle Lawson was born March 12, 1863, and lived with her mother and dad at the head of Harvey’s Creek. Her parents, Joseph and Lucy Lawson also had three sons, Henry, Julian and Tom.
It, no doubt, was love at first sight since there was 17 years difference in their ages and only 9 years difference in Isabelle and Cora, the oldest living child. Responsibility for five children was indeed a challenge for Isabelle.
In the meantime, they grew to be almost self—supporting. Isabelle was a good manager, a good farmer, a good cook and a wonderful mother with a great sense of humor.
The orchard back on the hill, in its early days, furnished apples, cherries, peaches and pears. They had cows for milk and butter and lambs, chickens and turkeys for meat.
The large vegetable garden always supplied a bounty of vegetables to eat and can. The hillsides flourished with all kind of berries to be used for jams and jellies. Corn was raised for feed for the animals and also taken to the mill to be ground into meal. Wheat was ground at the mills into flour for bread.
There was a small gas well in the bottom that supplied free gas for heat, cooking and lights. They received a small check from the well each month also.
This marriage was blessed with 8 children:(d—deceased)
Carrie (d) Children: Kenneth, Odell (d),
Williiam, Mable, Mildred, Betty (d)
Imla (d) Children: Marie (d), Garland (d),
Marybelle, Emery (d), Jennings, & Baby Lynn (d)
Elmer (d) Children: 1st marriage: Eula (d),
Willie (Josh) (d), Guy (d), Louis (d)
Children: 2nd marriage: Lorena Lewis,
Harold (d), Alley, Syble (d), Imogene Estes, Ollie Faye (d), Juanita (d), Vondina (d)
Rev. Homer (d) Children: 1st marriage: Mable Roberts, Leland, Martha Bell (d), Quentin, Cristalee Berry
2nd Marriage: Paul, Loeda Woolridge, Rev. Homer W (d), Geneva Hager (d), Rev. Winford
Lucy (d) Children: Shelby Jr., Jo Ann Sharp, Jackie Ballard
Raymond (d) Children. Gene, Rev. Forrest
Rev. Fred, Helen, Ruthalee Bays
The welcome mat was always out and a bounteous supply of food was always on the table.
Later, two sons lost their wives and they moved in until they remarried. They continued to raise part of one family until they died during an epidemic. One grandson they raised until he was grown.
During the morning, Isabelle worked in the garden. As soon as dinner (noon) was over with, she changed her gingham garden bonnet to her dress black sateen bonnet. She would fill her little basket with goodies and go to call on a sick relative or neighbor.
Their home was now covered with siding to make it warmer. All beds were supplied with feather beds for Winter and straw ticks for Summer.
Rev. Curry was much in demand for special services. It was not unusual for him to be gone for 5 or 6 weeks at a time. When he returned many times he would receive a quilt, a ham, some small token but very little cash. He carried a pillow case under his saddle that he would have something to carry it in if he were given anything. If he got a little cash, he would make a point to stop by the grocery store and purchase some stick candy for the children. It made no difference if some feathers stuck to it, they easily washed off and my it was so good!
The church at Central Big Creek is stronger now than ever. It has been kept up real well. It now has electricity, two furnaces and an addition for classrooms. A piano, hardwood floors, new pews and freshly painted walls are new additions. A picture of Rev. Curry hangs on the front wall. They have an active membership of 130.
Rev. Curry died August 28, 1926 at the age of 80.
Isabelle was a widow for 23 years. She continued to live on the farm with the oldest child, Laura. Laura sacrificed her dream of a life of her own to stay with her mother. Even though Isabelle spent her last years in blindness, she never lost her sense of humor and a concern for other people’s needs. She died December 2, 1949.
Rev. William and Isabelle Curry are buried in the Harveys Creek Cemetery in Lincoln County. Submitted by: Mrs. Marybelle Young Preston & Paul J. Curry