Thursday, January 10, 2013

Moses/Harris sites in the coal fields of WV

My daughter is doing a rotation in Rural medicine and living with me for the month of January.  I am having a lot of fun spending time with her.  She is in McDowell County today and tomorrow at North Fork.  I wanted to share with her some of the places in southern WV that are meaningful to her father's side of the family.

Quite a number of years ago when my husband's uncle's wife died, Jack and I accompanied his mother and father to the funeral that was held in Bluefield (my memory is less than perfect perhaps it was Princeton?).  That afternoon, we drove on RT 52 from Princeton through the coal fields of WV where the Moses and Harris family had lived in the early to mid 1900's.

Sarah's rotation is with Dr. Thacker who has a family practice in Milton, WV.  However, twice a month Dr. Thacker works in a clinic in Northfork, WV for two days.  When Sarah and I were chatting about her upcoming trip with Dr. Thacker, I kept thinking that there was a reason that Northfork was familiar to me.  But I couldn't come up with it.  I am adding this paragraph to the post at the end of January.  Sarah and I were talking with Sue Moses and Barbara Atkins and they reminded me of why the town was familiar.  It was Northfork Middle School now.   Jack Moses, Sr. taught and coached in the early days of Jack and Sue's marriage!   Jack Sr. taught accounting and business law and coached in 1940 at the high school.

You will see Northfork on the map below just northwest of Kyle on the right hand side of the map. Click on the map to make it larger if it is not clear.

If you need help with figuring out relationships of the people, click on the URL on the right side of this page.

some other places that have meaning to the Moses and Harris family are:

Welch was the town in which Sue and Jack were living when  my husband Jack and his brother, Bob, were born.  It was the town where Jack first went into the automobile business.  Sue's parents were living in Welch when they met.  I am not sure if Jack's family was living there at that time or not....need to do a bit of research on this....some

The above photo is the two Jack's (father and son) standing in front of the first home owned by Jack Sr. and his wife, Sue Harris Moses on Lake Drive in Welch, WV.

Welch Elementary is where Jack said he attended first and second grade.  The family moved to Ashland, Kentucky after his second year in school.

Jack remembered riding his bike to play on the playground that was next to the school.

The above photo is of the home of the Vilani family.  Jack and Sue and son, Jack, remembered Doctor Vilani and his family very fondly.  The Moses family lived next door.  The house that they lived in has been torn down.  Dr. Vilani delivered three of Sue's children.  Virginia Vilani was Sue's best friend.  The children in the two households were close to the same age and played together.

This was the apartment building in which Sue's parents lived.  Sue lived here with them from the time she was 14 until she married.  She lived with them all through the war.  You can see the train on the tracks in the background.  The next photo shows the train coming out of the tunnel which was just across from the apartment building.  And the photo below that show the Tug River that flowed behind the apartment building.  Sue would walk through the tunnel.  She would put her ear down on the track to listen to see if the train was coming.

The above photo is the Appalachian Power Company where Sue Harris Moses worked during the war while her husband, Jack was overseas.  She walked to work every day.  Sue said that she worked for the man who was over the whole  building.  She said when she started to work she made $80 a month and when she quit she had worked up to $180 per month.

The above photo is the site of Jack's first  automobile dealership in Welch.  The Ford Store was located at this site from approximately 1949 to 1954.  And the below photo is of the site at which the Lincoln Mercury Dealership was located from 1946 to 1949.  Earl Yeager and Don Clark were Jack's partners in this store.

The above photo is the Methodist Church in Welch.  Jack Sr. was on the building committee when the church  was built.

We visited the Flat Iron on this trip.  This was a hangout of Jack's and Sue's during their courting days. To see what this street looked like during it's hey day see the photo below:

Sue always told the story that her Uncle directed traffic on Saturday night.  He would take his daughter and Sue with him and they would sit in the car and watch the crowds.

Roderfield   The below photo is a photo of the cemetery at Roderfield.  Several members of the Harris family are buried at Roderfield.  The below photos were taken in October 2009 when I attended the funeral and burial of Everett Harris with my mother-in-law and her family.

The above marker is beside the grave of Everett.  The marker is that of Samuel Sterling Harris and Louise Frances Woodson Harris.  These were the grandparents of my mother-in-law, Sue Moses.  I am going to add a copy of Samuel Sterling Harris' Death certificate at the end of this post.

Sue and Jack Moses had one still born baby born after Jack and Bob while they were living in the coal fields of WV.  She is buried at Roderfield.  This is the marker for Sarah Ann Moses.

Twin Branch
Sue Moses' father was Hewitt Samuel Harris.  Here is what I have in the notes for Hewitt:

 Hewitt Samuel Harris started working as a coal miner when he was 12 years old.  his pay was $0.05 per hour for a 10 hour work day--6 days per week.  The date was 1897.
    In 1912 he began working for the railroad and worked there until 1930 (approx).  He had the agency for tickets for the N&W Railroad at Twin Branch, WV.  In 1909 he fired the railroad train.  he did this for approximately one year.  In 1930 he worked for Peerless Laundry and Drycleaners at Welch.  In 1942 he began working for Appalachian Power Co.  In 1950 he retired from Appalachian Power Co.  In 1950 he started working for his son-in-law, Jack Moses, in Huntington, WV.

Sue's mother's name was Mattie Lee Johnson.  Mattie Lee was living in Henry County, Virginia when:

The Johnson family lived on a farm in Henry County, Virginia.  There was not much money to be had in farming and two of the Johnson brothers decided to move to the coal fields of WV.  The coal fields were booming in the early 1900's and many young men moved there for work.  The two brothers who moved were were Everett Hamable and Luther Nathaniel.  Sue named them as Hamable and Luther.

At that time, Hewitt Samuel Harris, was working in the company store in Twin Branch.  He had taken a correspondence course in business and had then been hired in the office of the company store.  Mattie Lee visited her brothers and visited the company store with her brothers which is where she met Hewitt.  They were married soon after the meeting in the home of Hewitt’s parents.

After the marriage of Hewitt and Mattie Lee, they continued to live in Twin Branch.  Sue remembered having lived in a large house.  I am guessing that it was a company house as she said that during the depression her father lost his job and they moved rather suddenly to Davey, WV.  Sue said about this time in her life:  

Sue told the story that when they lived in Twin Branch they lived in a large house.  Her mother always had boarders.  The boarders would pay for a room, but eat at the company club house.  Sue said that she never had a room to herself.  She always had a roommate and she remembered that it was usually a boarder rather than a sister or brother who would room with her.


Hewitt Samuel Harris's father was Samuel Sterling Harris.  Samuel Sterling had grown up in Appomattox County, Virginia and he too had moved to the coal fields of WV for work.  Here is what I know of Samuel Sterling and Davey WV:

The Obit is headed Death takes wellknown citizen of Davy, S.S. Harris, Confederate Veteran Dies at Home...It goes on to say that Mr. Harris was born February 18 1848 at Appomatix VA.  He spent his early life in Virginia and enlisted in the Confederate Army in the war between the Statesat the age of 16.  Mr. Harris was married to Miss Louise Woodson on September 18, 1882.
  He came to Wv in 1902 and was mine foreman at Davy until ill health forced him to retire.
  Funeral services will be held at 1 o’clock afternoon in the Davy Methodist Church, conducted by the Rev. W.L. Suggs...Interment  will follow in the Iaeger Memorial cemetery at Roderfield....

The below photo is the Harris family when they lived in Davey.  This photo if from the photo album of Sue Harris Moses.  Samuel Sterling Harris  is sitting on the porand Grandma Lou is beside him.  Louise Woodson Harris was a beloved grandmother to many!  I have never heard any story from any of her descendents that wasn't about what a wonderful woman she was. The couple on the far left are Sue's parents:  Everett and Mattie Lee Johnson Harris.  Beside Mattie Lee and just below Samuel Sterling is Aunt Sis and the man beside her on her left hand side is Uncle John and Uncle Pete on far right

The two  women on front row are Cousin Louise and Sue's sister Nora is the lady with legs crossed and wearing a hat. Louise died young of pneumonia.  Louise's mother was Aunt Mabel.   Again the two men to her left hand side are Uncle John and Uncle Pete with the hat in his hand.


 A.L. and his wife, Lida Augusta Fitgerald were the parents of my father-in-law.  They lived in many places before their move to Ieager  in September 1936 to Iaeger, WV.  A.L. sold life insurance for the John Hancock Co. My father-in-law would have been about 19 when they made this move.  However Ieager always stood out to me as a place in his life.


 When A.L. and Lida were first married they lived at Kyle, WV.  He was employed by the Lynchburg Coal and Coke Co.  From March 15, 1912 until Jan 1, 1917 he was office manager and payroll clerk there.   There was only one office. After that A.L. and Lida lived in Omar Wv in Logan County.  He was with the Main Island Creek Coal COmpany as cashier and payroll manager for 6 or seven mines.  He stayed there yntil Mr. Jack Dalton and Mr. Jaong A. Kelly came to Huntington.  A.L. came at the same time to work in the new Huntington office.  Jackson Fitzgerald Moses was born in Hugtington at thte hospital located on the corner of 1sty st. and 6th Ave.  Dr. Hatfield delivered Jack.

I did not show Omar on the map as it is up closer to Logan and not on the RT 52 map....from Rt 52 one would take Rt 44 north towards Logan and one would pass through Omar

      Their next move took them to Mohawk, WV where they lived from Sept. 15, 1924 until September 1936.  This is the town the kids (Jack, Bob, Barbara, and Steve) always kidded Jack about--they referred to the “tough area” in which he had grown up.
     In Mohawk A.L. worked for the Mohawk Company which was the same interest as the Lynchburg Company he had worked for when he was first married.  During this time A.L was appointed as a member of the board of education of McDowell County.  He was also elected to be a member of the County Court in the November election of 1934.  this was a 6 year term--four years of which he served as  president of the court.

In the early 1900's:

The coal fields of WV were booming in those days.  That was where the jobs were!   I always tell the story that...tell about 

I am showing the photos to Sue Moses in April 2014.  She told the story that she worked for H.B. Gibson when she was about 12.  Sue lived in Twin Branch at the time.  They called Mr. Gibson Hoot Gibson.  His wife had died and he sent his children away to school.  There were three boys and one girl.  Sue's mother looked after them during the summers.  So the four children almost always ate dinner with the Harris family.  Mr. Gobson lived next door.  

Mr. Gibson took Sue every Saturday night to Davey to see the movie.  Sometimes they went to Welch instead. 

Mr. Gibson was an engineer for a mine that was owned by Henry Ford.  They were trying to organize a union.  Henry Ford told them that if they did so, he would shut the mine down.  And he did just that .....the mine has never reopened.  



  1. Wow! I found your post while researching the Lynchburg Coal Company Store where my dad, Opie Austin worked in 1939. He grew up in Kyle and coincidentally, his Grandmother who raised him was a Moses. Thank you so much for this terrific walk through McDowell County!

  2. Thanks indeed for the tour of McDowell County, perfect for residents of other states. I am Kentiki's sister, she recommended your post and site. Our great grandmother was Willie Bell Moses, daughter of Wm. W. Moses (man of mystery). His parents were (Allen) Jonathan Moses and Elizabeth Pannel. I have a few family photos (Willie Bell and Minnie Kelley Moses Hancock) I would be happy to share if you like. Thanks again! :-)