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Centennial History of Hurricane (1994 Edition): John H. Smith Family

John and Victoria Smith

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 42nd history from The Centennial History of Hurricane WV Continued — 1994.

Submitted by Verna Smith

John H. Smith was born in 1858 and died in 1935. About 1883, he was married to Victoria Stanley in FrankJin County, Virginia. She was born in 1864 and died 1934. In 1890, they moved from Rocky Mount, Franklin County, Virginia, to Putnam County, bringing with them Victoria’s mother, Martha Stanley (1844 – 1926) and three children. They came first to a rented farm on Trace Fork, Putnam County, and moved once but stayed on Trace Fork. It was here that the remainder of their children were born.

In 1906, John and Victoria bought 100 acres of land from Tas Oxley and moved into an old house on the property until he couJd clear the land and build the beautifuJ house you see here.

The property they bought and later built their home on was on Nelson’s Branch, laying in the head of a hollow between Trace Creek and Sycamore Creek.

Transportation was slow in those days and times were hard. Since there was no road into the farm, they first had to obtain right-of-way and then build a road in order to get lumber and supplies to the house site. Building materials were purchased from Wymer Lumber Company in St. Albans and then shipped by rail to the Depot in Hurricane. From there, it was hauled to the farm by horse and wagon. After completion, the house sheltered three generations of the Smith Family, and is a classic example of a turn of the century farm house. The old house stands vacant today but gives mute testimony to a vanishing way of life in this country.

John and Victoria were the parents of nine children, three of whom died at an early age. The children were:

  1. Lucy E. “Betty”, 1884-1957, was never married but stayed on the farm and helped care for her parents until their death.
  2. Mamie, 1887-1960, who married John E. Wheeler (1878-1956) and lived on Poplar Fork most of their lives but spent their last few years on Virginia Avenue in Hurricane. They had no children.
  3. Dena, 1889-1958, married Ralph Miller. They lived a few years on Sycamore and then moved to Hurricane where they raised five children: Mae, James “Jim”, Margaret, Norris “Mosey”, and Betty.
  4. James, 1891-1957, married Alberta Thornton, 1896-1931, and lived in St. Albans most of their lives. They were the parents of five children: Dennis, Earl, Nile, Verna and Donald. Alberta died when the children were small, and late in his life, Jim married Pansy Parsons. They had one daughter, Ann.
  5. Nannie Ethel, 1893-1909.
  6. Alonzo, who died before 1900 at age one month.
  7. Joel Thomas, 1900-1960, married Bessie Miller. They were lifelong residents of Putnam County and were the parents of five children: Verna, Louis, Jewel, Hazel and Ruby. Although confined to a wheelchair, Bessie, now 87, still lives in her home on Sycamore Road, and greets each day with a smile.
  8. Charley C., 1902-1910.
  9. John, 1909-1986, lived with his parents until their deaths. Later, he and his sister Betty moved to Hurricane. In 1944, he married Mildred Kirby of Milton and brought her to his home in Hurricane. They were the parents of three children: Sharon, Freddie, and Teresa. For many years, John was Chief of Police in Hurricane. Better known to most as Johnnie, he was loved by all.
John H. Smith Homeplace
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