Featured, Local History, The Centennial History of Hurricane

Centennial History of Hurricane (1994 Edition): The Kiff Family and Charlie Johnson Family

Charlie and Ellen Grass Johnson

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 19th history from The Centennial History of Hurricane WV Continued — 1994.

Submitted by Ben W. Kiff

The Kiff Family came to Hurricane in 1914. Ben F. Kiff was a mechanical engineer and was instrumental in developing the natural gas fields in Lincoln County and southern Putnam County.
He was active in community affairs and he and his wife, Rena B. Kiff, were mainstays in the Forrest Burdette Methodist Church. Rena Kiff taught a class of young women in the Sunday School and for many years one of the circles in the Women’s Society was named for her.

Even though he was a Republican in a predominantly Democratic community, Ben Kiff was elected Mayor of Hurricane in 1920 and a member of the Curry District Board of Education in 1922. The first Hurricane High School building was constructed during the time he was on the school board.

He had an office in Huntington and was one of the first daily commuters from Hurricane to that city. To facilitate the journey, he organized the first bus company, with a regular schedule, between Hurricane and Huntington. The line was later extended to Charleston and eventually became part of the Atlantic Greyhound system. He also organized the first bus company in Huntington.

The Kiffs had three sons: Francis and Denzil, both deceased and Ben W. Kiff. The family moved to Ona, West Virginia in 1928 but always maintained close ties with the people of Hurricane.

Ben Kiff died in 1933 and Rena Kiff in 1965.

Submitted by Shirley Parsons Edwards

Charlie Johnson married Ellen Grass.

Their Children were: Linnie, Alice, Tim, Vena, Bertha and Guy.

Charlie Johnson died October, 1897. A few years later Ellen married Thomas Wheeler. To them were born: Virgie, Mary Nora and Oma.

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