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 15th history from The Centennial History of Hurricane WV Continued — 1994.
Carol Warren, daughter of Thelma Harbour Warren, submitted her story of A RETURN HOME FOR A SPECIAL FOURTH OF JULY VISIT.
The Fourth of July holiday gave me a chance to go home to West Virginia for a visit with relatives. I spent some time with my cousin, Greg, who now owns the old homeplace near Culloden. He took my husband and me for a walk around the farm and pointed out places with interesting histories.
“Another family used to have a house here,” Greg indicated a spot overlooking the valley. “Dad said he used to find an excuse to be here around dinner time. There were only five kids in this family instead of ten, they always had more to eat than the folks at home.”
“I can imagine Uncle Larry conniving to get extra food,” I commented.
We walked a bit farther along the cows’ trail through the pasture, stopping as Greg showed us an old hand dug well. “I need to get that covered up better before one of the cows gets in it,” he said.
“Say,” Greg went on, “did you ever hear the story Aunt Jennie used to tell about their grandma?” Virginia Harbour Barker, eldest child of Minor Sim & Mary Etta Harbour. The family lived with Charles & Kate Harbour when Jennie was young, and according to her, Grandmother Kate told this story herself.
I heard Greg’s voice as if from a distance, as I gazed into the mossy depths of the well. My mind seemed to be searching for something written on my genes.
Suddenly, a bucket crashed through the water’s still surface. I looked across the well at a woman bending over to pull up her bucket with a rope. She paused for a moment, and then the rope from her fingers as she slowly straightened up, stock-still, listening. Her long, hill skirt moved slightly in the breeze, while her keen black eyes searched the trees just up the hill.
In an instant, a scrawny young boy of perhaps thirteen darted from the forest. He recoiled for a moment upon seeing the woman, but then resumed his rapid approach. He wore a tattered white shirt, and the remnants of gray trousers. Although he carried a shotgun, he was not in the least threatening-in fact, he was obviously scared to death.
“They’re after me,” he panted. “Please help me, Ma’am….please!”
After only a moment’s hesitation, the woman beckoned.
A few seconds later, two men on horseback emerged from the woods, followed by a few comrades on foot. Their blue uniforms were in only slightly better condition than the boy’s had been. They were a bit surprised to meet this unsmiling young woman, her shotgun held loosely, but ready.
“No cause for alarm Ma’am”, one of the men on horseback said, touching his hat. “We’re just chasing a runaway Reb. Perhaps you saw him?”
The woman’s face revealed nothing, but she gestured with the gun barrel, indicating the other side of the pasture.
“Good day, then, Ma’am,” said the officer, touching his hat once more.
The woman nodded briefly, and slowly lowered the gun to her side as she watched the uniformed men move rapidly toward Charley’s Creek and disappeared into the trees.
“They’re gone now,” she said quietly, apparently to herself.
Then, with a brief rustle, the frightened boy crept from under her skirt. As he rose to his feet and was handed his shotgun, he exclaimed, “God bless you, sped away up the hollow and out of sight.
The woman, Katie Kirtley Harbour, turned back to her task at the well. The merest hint of a smile played across my great-grandmother’s face. She raised one eyebrow slightly, in the same way I have done a million times. I grinned.
“So do you think all that really happened?” heard Greg asking.
“Oh, yes,” I responded as we resumed our walk.
“I’m quite sure it did.”