history

West Virginia Flood waters of Change 2016

 

It has been a very long hard couple of days for friends and family all over my beloved state. It seems as if God opened the floodgates of destruction on some of the most fragile and isolated communities of Southern West Virginia. If they had little before the flood waters rushed into homes and businesses last Thursday, then there is nothing left at all today.

As volunteers, Red Cross, National Guard units and Department of Highways workers rush to the southern portion of West Virginia the reports of loss get larger and harder to hear. The reality is starting to sink in that tomorrow will not be easier than today. That home is no longer home and never will be. That this historic flood was not just a single stream overflowing or even a town that got several street full of water but, county after county is destroyed…. whole towns have been wiped from the maps or our lives.

I am sure that when all the information is totaled this will be listed as the third most deadly flood in our state’s history and the 2nd most deadly caused by nature. Worst on the list is the Buffalo Creek Flood in Logan County, Feb. 26, 1972. The flood was caused by Pittston Coal Company’s coal slurry impoundment dam #3 when it gave way after several inches of rain fell along Buffalo Creek Hollow killing 125 and covering 16 small coal towns in black sludge water.

 

 

Then followed by the Election Day Flood Nov. 1985. The flood was concentrated in northern mountainous portion of the state around the area where I have lived for the last 20 years. The flood was storm related and killed 47 West Virginians. My family was lucky to not suffer damage to property during the flood but spent several days trapped due to high water.

It seems to me that flooding is just part of living in West Virginia. You can not have our high mountains and low hollows without the water to carve them. You can not live with the lush green hardwoods without the water that falls year round. So it is our plight to constantly keep an eye on the river and her course. We all in West Virginia know her power and know that the flooding is a small price to pay to remain within her mountains and hollows. Rebuilding is not a question, it is when that is the issue that hundred face in West Virginia today.

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Change, community service, Flooding, historic locations, history, rural life, Travel, weather, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

The “Creepy Virginia”, Stereotyping West Virginia.

When I hear about people joking about West Virginia it ruffles my feathers. I am not a native to the Mountain State so I find it even more offensive when outsiders make fun of the people I love and work with everyday. Last month I was again disappointed when I heard that The Daily Show’s Twitter feed called my state “Creepy”.

The Darden House my office in Elkins WV

The Darden House my office in Elkins WV

The Daily Show’s Twitter statement that I have linked to, shared a disparaging comment about West Virginia and it struck me as irritating. As usual, a person who knows nothing about history or culture has attempted to paint a crude generalisation about the people who call West Virginia home. Calling West Virginia “creepy” and implying that West Virginia is not the “Good Virginia”, pissed me off for about 2 seconds. It took me two seconds to get mad and then two seconds more to understand that maybe being creepy is not such a bad thing…. Let me explain.

West Virginia is 75% wooded and has a population of about 1,844,128 about 36,488,393 LESS than California! That ranks West Virginia in the lowest 12 populated states in our county. So lots of woods, few people, few big cities, means less of the problems that many of our Western States face. Massive growth and terrible air pollution( I know about this one, I grew up in the Denver Metro Area and you can keep the brown cloud) are just a few of the Less Creepy Problems that California, Colorado and Nevada face everyday. Then when we start to think about Virginia you know the “NOT SO CREEPY STATE”… the one with Washington D.C. I wonder if the Daily Show would like us to forget the constant gridlock of traffic in and out of the Capital City?The high cost of living( 6th highest in the country) and the amount of people pleaser who live in and around D.C. Also does The Daily Show really want all of us to forget about the Crime Rates of other states and cities all over the country? We are not perfect here in West Virginia but we do have some really great things going on, maybe Creepy is not so bad after all.

Old cabin in Cleveland West Virginia

Old cabin in Cleveland West Virginia

As my mind rolled this twitter post around over the following weeks, something came to mind. It is a very specific kind beauty that popped into my imagination. An image of something that is not found just anywhere but in the deep hollows and on the high ridge tops. The beauty of the ancient and of the decaying, the beauty of the “Wild and Wonderful”. The beauty that is found in hard work and long-suffering,the kind of beauty that is epic and larger than a single story. These are not the images of perfect clean beaches, crisp snow-covered vistas or smooth sandy deserts. They are not images of the huge skyscrapers or modern metro stations. They are images that are creepy and I love them.

Kenchelo road barn before being torn down

Kincheloe road barn before being torn down 2015.

I am not a fantastic writer or photographer, but I have dedicated my blog to trying to share the magic of my state. I share my love of  the creepy, decaying, damp, world that I see every day.

Fairy Mushroom in the woods of West Virginia

Fairy Mushroom in the woods of West Virginia

Snail on river moss, cleveland, WV

Snail on river moss, Cleveland, WV

If you find in some way that these photos  are creepy, then you have discovered the ancient magic of West Virginia. A magic that is not always visible to outsiders, as the above Tweet reveals. West Virginia does not open her secret vaults to all who pass by her borders. She remains hidden just like Avalon in Camelot.Only allowing those who understand her mystery to view her treasures.

 

Iron train bridge in foggy Lewis County West Virginia

Iron train bridge in foggy Lewis County West Virginia

snow bales, west virginia

snow bales, West Virginia 2014

So, I now am wondering if maybe Trevor Noah and the crew at The Daily Show are close to the truth when posting that West Virginia is “Creepy”. Maybe our lives seem foreign to people who live in the big city under the spotlight. I am thinking maybe being Creepy is the very best way to keep our state a secret for another generation.Saving all of us Mountaineers from the problems of the “Good Virginia” and other states.

reenactment at the TALA front lawn

Reenactment at the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum  front lawn, Weston, West Virginia.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Barns, blogging, Country life, history, rural life, Stereo Types, stereotyping, trends, Twitter, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A Town that Time Forgot, The Heritage Center of Beverly West Virginia

Often when people travel by car they are so busy trying to reach their destination they never take time to stop and enjoy little towns along the way. Beverly, West Virginia in Randolph county is a  mountain town that time forgot. It is a place to enjoy walking on historic streets, take educational tours and shop and eat in places that remind us of our struggles,our victories as a country and a state.

Driving to Beverly a person leaves the more modern world of strip malls and congested traffic and  returns us to a quieter time. This town is mostly residential, built around a central plan of main street businesses that are all within walking distance. The historic district surrounds a small green town square that is hub of activities even today. The city has added to the historic downtown over the years, investing in other old structures, moving them from other areas in Randolph County.

Cloudy day in Beverly WV looking down Main Street from the Heritage Center

Cloudy day in Beverly WV looking down Main Street from the Heritage Center

As a visitor my first stop was at the Beverly Heritage Center to take the tour of the largest and most important buildings in the Historic District. It is hard to miss the Bank on the corner of Main Street ( US Rt 250/219). I feel in love with its white brick and decorative exterior the minute I drove past. Built in 1900 by  the local Dr. Humbolt Yokum, it was the town’s only bank for 33 years. It is the first of the four buildings that connect as The Beverly Heritage Center.

Main Street Bank Beverly, WV Circ 1900

Main Street Bank Beverly, WV Circa 1900.

Rounding the corner off of Main Street on to Court Street, visitors are able to view the other buildings in the collection and enter the parking area at the back of the buildings. The next building on the side street is the most notable of the four buildings. It is the former Randolph County Courthouse. The Courthouse completed in 1815 is one of several buildings used as a County Courthouse. The location of the county seat would move  back and forth from Elkins to Beverly several times over 84 years. Finally the city of Elkins won the battle for the county seat in 1899 leaving this building to serve other purposes.

Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV, Bank, Courthouse, Store and House

Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV, Bank, Courthouse, Store and House.

The Courthouse connects with the next building in the row, the Hill building. The Hill building was constructed in 1912 for use as a store, pool hall and bar, it has the smallest footprint of the four buildings.The bar inside is said to have even survived the prohibition era with ease.Then connected to the Hill building is the Bushrod Crawford House Circa 1850. The building housed a family until General McClellan needed a headquarters during the civil war in the summer of 1861. The home was an important location to the General because it’s close location to several battlefields, it had electricity and could supported telegraph communications. The historic value of this simple looking home is priceless to anyone interested in the history of our country.

Beverly Heritage Center Sign

Beverly Heritage Center Sign

In back visitors see the main entrance of the  Heritage Center. Here you are able to take a tour,enjoy a gift shop and look through a collection of found items from around Randolph County and the Rich Mountain Battlefield.

The quality of this restoration project and unique way the four buildings connect into a single unit is flawless. Visitors move seamlessly from a modern addition where offices and tour guides lead you to the historic buildings. Tour Guides explain the history of each room as you pass from one room to the next room through natural looking passages. The tour actually starts in the rear of the Courthouse and passes to the Bank and back to the store/bar then to the house. At the end of your tour you return back into the entry area through a second doorway.

Each of the buildings are handicap accessible and the flooring in all the rooms of the center are of traditional hardwoods. Each of the buildings contain a collection of items that would have been found in a building of this style and age. The Courthouse has a courtroom display that made me think of what it must have been like for a judge in such a rural area in the 1800 hundreds. Thoughts of the of crimes and what judges would have to rule about drifted into my mind.

inside old Randolph County Courthouse, Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV

Inside the old Randolph County Courthouse, Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly W.V.

After leaving the courtroom visitors are lead into the Beverly Bank. The inside restoration is just as  wonderful as the masonry work of the exterior. The shiny tin punched ceiling and the arched windows make me almost want to go back into banking. The displays in this room are a collection of found objects that were found on or around the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike that passed through Beverly. Many of the items are things that would have been part of wagon or team of horses. There’s also a lovely desk covered in banking papers reminding me of the importance a bank has to a small community.

Desk with bank papers underglass, Beverly Heritage Center.

Desk with bank papers under glass, Beverly Heritage Center.

McClellan style saddle, used during the Civil War and would have been seen along the roads in Beverly WV

McClellan style saddle, used during the Civil War area Beverly WV

 

Beverly Bank interior with tin ceiling, Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV

Beverly Bank interior with tin ceiling, Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV

When visitors finish enjoying the Bank, they pass back through the courtroom into the Hill building. This building is home to a beautifully restored bar and pool hall area with a storefront window that has two mannequins who appear to be running for some sort of county office.

Bar Room in the Hill Building of the Beverly Heritage Center.

Bar Room in the Hill Building of the Beverly Heritage Center.

Mannequins about to shake hands in typical 1800s dress, Beverly Heritage Center.Beverly WV.

Mannequins about to shake hands in typical 1800s dress, Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV.

Finally the tour heads into the Bushrod Crawford House circa 1850 where the Heritage Center has a civil war display area. My favorite portion of the collection is a corner display of a civil war camp site. Making thoughts of long cold nights in the Appalachian woods and the sounds of rifle fire slow my pace through the tour. Visitors also enjoy the story of General McClellan’s use of the house and how important the telegraph was to the battles in this area of West Virginia.

Civil war encampment display at the Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV.

Civil war encampment display at the Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV.

When finished with the Civil War display visitors pass into another area of the house that has a fireplace and furnishings that remind you that at one time this was a home. Visitors then can shop for handmade gifts and toys popular in the 1800’s in the last room on the tour. Quests slowly make their way back to the modern entry where the tour of these buildings comes to an end.

Fireplace and upright piano in dining area in Crawford house, Beverly Heritage Center.

Fireplace and upright piano in dining area in Crawford house, Beverly Heritage Center.

The continued exploration of the historic district should be seriously considered while visiting. The Heritage Center Staff have walking tour booklets and other information to help you continue to enjoy the town of Beverly West Virginia. Below are some more of the wonderful places I photographed that day.

Bosworth Store/ Museum across street from Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV

Bosworth Store/ Museum across street from Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly

Green grass city Square Beverly, WV

Green grass city Square Beverly, WV

Randolph County Jail 1813

Randolph County Jail 1813

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This town has so many  interesting stories and I have only begun to explore them all. My trip to the Beverly Heritage Center was a morning well spent. I will be back and will be taking more time to learn about this wonderful little town that time has forgotten.It was such a pleasure to spend a day with people enjoy old buildings as much as I do.

Categories: Beverly West Virginia, Civil War, Country life, Elkins West Virginia, ghost stories, historic locations, history, Randolph County, rural life, Travel, traveling | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

A 1800’s Living History Christmas at Fort New Salem

A visit to Fort New Salem  is a trip back in time. The Living History Museum and Cultural Center in North Central West Virginia is a collection of over 18 historic cabins and buildings that are arranged as a pioneer settlement. The New Fort Salem Foundation of Salem West Virginia has public events all year to encourage the public to come and learn about what life was like in the 1800’s. It celebrates and educates about the traditions and folk-ways of the settlers of this area. The nationally recognized event ” The Spirit of Christmas in the Mountains” is the year-end gathering and a great place to spend the day with the kids for fun and learning.

The Village at Fort New Salem with woman in period clothing

The Village at Fort New Salem with woman in period clothing

I was lucky to have my whole family along on this afternoon trip to see  the Christmas in the mountain program. It rained most of the day we visited, making it feel a little cool and damp out side but the fires in each  tiny cabin warmed us. We started our visit with the two cabins that had candle making and a small kitchen that served hot chocolate, ginger bread men, pumpkin muffins and Wassel. The kids hand dipped candles for about 10 or fifteen minutes going from wax dipper to water and back again, over and over… The candle maker said to get a modern stick candle you would have to dip 50 coats of wax on a cotton wick to get one that size. Christopher dropped out fast only dipping about 15 times and Paige made it to about 25 dips before the repetition made her ready to find something more to do. The candle maker explained that most woman would make about 8 candles at a time instead of one at a time and a family would need about three candles a day to light their cabins at night. Making candles a very important necessity for settlers.

Paige dipping her candle in a bucket of cold water before adding another coat of wax at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

Paige dipping her candle in a bucket of cold water before adding another coat of wax at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

Christopher dipping candles at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

Christopher dipping candles at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

We then took the little ones to make their own ginger bread men and I got to have a cup of Wassail. (Wassail/Wassel  is an apple cider punch served warm and the above link has a traditional recipe that my family used).  I have not had the spicy cider in years, it tasted wonderful heated in a kettle in the fire-place. We all enjoyed the cookies and music playing while we ate. Christopher could not make up his mind if he wanted to keep the cookie or take it home, in the end it tasted really good and cooked perfectly to eat.

getting some decorating help at the kitchen at Fort New Salem

getting some decorating help at the kitchen at Fort New Salem

music played while we ate

music played while we ate

We then took the kids around to the blacksmith shop and tin shop where we all enjoyed watching things being made. The blacksmiths were making ornament holders and a fireplace set for the cabins. The Tin Smith at another cabin spent a lot of time with us explaining how tin things were made and used. The kids got to make tin ornaments for the tree as a gift from the foundation.

Blacksmith making a fireplace poker at Fort New Salem

Blacksmith making a fireplace poker at Fort New Salem

Tom helping Christopher and Paige make tin orniments

Tom helping Christopher and Paige make tin ornaments

We also went to the apothecary and honey houses. I bought some home-made Vick’s Vapor rub made with bee’s wax and lanolin and the kids got honey sticks to suck on. The day was almost over when we took a few minutes to  play with some traditional mountain musical instruments. We played with two different kinds of dulcimers and a cigar box banjo. The first instrument was a lap dulcimer that Christopher and Paige played along with using a home-made dance toys that made a rapping sound when it hit the wood plank. The other was my favorite instrument the hammer dulcimer. If a person is really good with the hammers they can play with 4 hammers at one time. This man was using two at a time, one in each hand.

Christopher playing in rhythm to a lap dulcimer

Christopher playing in rhythm to a lap dulcimer

Man playing a hammer Dulcimer at Fort New Salem

Man playing a hammer Dulcimer at Fort New Salem

In the same room with the dulcimers were a couple of banjos this one made from a cigar box  had  only 4 strings. Paige could not resist trying it out.

Paige playing the cigar box banjo

Paige playing the cigar box banjo

Even Tom was curious enough to see what the banjo sounded like and if he could play a few notes.

Tom playing a cigar box banjo at Fort New Salem

Tom playing a cigar box banjo at Fort New Salem

Then I took some time to talk with some of the volunteers who made the afternoon so exciting.The one I enjoyed talking to the most was Sarah who at the age of 70 came to play her bagpipes at the settlement. She had a remarkable story to tell me about her learning to play the pipes at 53 and that she had just recovered from a brain tumor  surgery 6 weeks earlier to come and play at this event. She love to play her pipes to remind everyone that many of the settlers of north central West Virginia were of Scotch-Irish decent and many of them were able to bring with them a form of the pipes called a chanter.

Music was  a large part of how the people of this area spend their time in the settlements and still is today.It makes the day so festive to hear so much music in the air. We even let the little ones buy whistles to make music with, which I later regretted on the hour car ride home!

Bagpiper at the Christmas Fair of Fort New Salem

Bagpiper at the Christmas Fair of Fort New Salem

The final event of the day is the annual tree lighting at the Fort. The Luminaries are lit and the candles on the tree begin their nightly glow and the sound of Christmas carols are heard ringing off the roof tops. The costumed volunteers walk and sing around the village shaking jingle bells and holding burning candles . It is a beautiful way to end a great afternoon of learning and shopping for crafts at the village store.

Christmas tree at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

Christmas tree at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

Tree lighting at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginai... photo by Murphey

Tree lighting at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia … photo by Jaime Murphy Fort New Salem FB page

This is what we brought home with us on this trip to the Fort. These things remind me of all the work that the settlers put into everyday living and how lucky we are today. It was a hard, cold, life and it really is amazing the so many of them survived and went on to make better lives for all us Mountaineers. A visit to the Fort is well worth the 5$ for each adult visitor and they encourage you to bring your children under 12 by not charging any admission for them. My family learned and enjoyed a lot this day and I am sure we will be back during the next year. Now if I can just get time to make a kettle Wassail for myself before the holidays are over!

a collection of crafts and gifts from Fort New Salem

a collection of crafts and gifts from Fort New Salem

 

 

Categories: cabins, Christmas, Country life, education, Fairs and Festivals, Fort New Salem, history, Homestead, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Blogging Junky and the Blogger Monster on My Back.

How many of us bloggers write more than one blog? How many write poetry and flash fiction on top of the blogs that we all generally write each week? How many have several topical blogs or work blogs? I am guessing hundreds if not thousands of us do. It must seem crazy to the outside non-blogging world that any of us would write more than we have to. I am thinking that this writing thing is a habit or an addiction… something like junkies feel.

It all starts out with your friends doing it. They share their stories and some tips on how to take that journal of thoughts or notebook of ideas and turn them into some thing much cooler, a…. blog.

Yea, you get to be one of the cool kids. 

You get to try writing on a real blog, where people you have never known before will read and write back to you. You get that first high. The one that comes from writing that first page and first post. Wow you get to hit the  publish button and you are now a writer. Not the hide under the bed kind of writer anymore,but a writer that is now on the World Wide Web, out their in the universe for everyone to see.

The first LIKE changes everything, just like a first high would.

Someone out their LIKES me and wants to share some good stuff with me. I am liked, I touched some one,I am part of group, I am not alone, that is how they hook you. You can’t believe that some one out their understands you… so you write more and more. At some point  you gain a follower or two. Two people who read your nut ball stories and rambling thoughts regularly and may even drop you a note about how wonderful your writing is and how true your statements are. You are in deep now, you schedule posts, maybe research topics and take colorful photos to gain more followers and get more LIKES.

It is official it’s a habit,you have a Blogger Monster on your back.

You think about writing when you aren’t doing it. You talk to people about it when you are doing other activities and wonder how you will fill you time if the power goes out and you can’t get to the computer that day. You spend time sending notes to other bloggers that your personal friends and family know nothing about…. Sending smiley faces and recipes back and forth at all hours of the night and day.

It is a full-blown addiction.

So what do you do? Stop writing? Could you if you wanted to? Do you want to ? I am guessing like myself that in many cases the answer is NO!  I enjoy it too much and it fills a large gap in my creative life. It gives too much back for me to stop. So I am wondering if I am a WordPress Junky, If one blog is just not enough. Maybe I just have more to say deep down inside, about even more important things or more edgy things that I may need to share with a whole different group of people.Maybe I just need to write more than one or two posts a week … my  posts now are  just not enough.

I see where this maybe going… it maybe true…. I think I have a Blogger Monster.

I think it is time to spread myself out a little farther, to try to write something different. I want to experiment with more styles and topics. I want to try poetry and fiction and short stories. I hear that is where the really cool kids hang out. You know who I am talking about, where they create just for the fun of creating. Heck, those kids don’t even really try to teach you anything they just let the words just sore.

I am not even sure there is a treatment or a cure for what is happening. I am guessing the one thing that will help is to write more. I will add another blog to my writing life. Not sure what it is all about yet but it will be a fiction site where I can work out short stories and poetry with the hopes of one day making my love of books and words come together some how. That somewhere out there are others who love West Virginia, its people,and places and want to hear some more of her stories. Maybe then when I get to spend more time with this monster  so I can sooth it and make it lie down for a long rest. Until then I guess I will just try to keep posting here every week and working on getting some thing up and running where I can write fuller deeper stories.I hope to bring you all along when I am ready, That is if you want to go down this path with me. I will let you know where and when this addiction has landed me as soon as I settle down. In the mean time this mountain mama will  post every week and be getting ready for the fall and winter seasons. Time flies and I have so much to still do.  Jolynn

New light sconce light fixture and some of the base board and ceiling molding

Christopher work at my desk in the new family room

Categories: blogging, Change, history, nostalgic, writing | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Helvetia, a Swiss Village Hidden in the West Virginia Hills

A slow, tree-lined mountain road is the only way in or out of Helvetia,West Virginia. Where in the 1860’s a strong and talented group of Swiss and German settlers founded a new community within the isolated mountains of Randolph, County. To visit Helvetia today is to step back in time, to a place where culture and traditions remain very much the same as they were in the 1800’s. It is a place to sample the food, music and dancing that has been lost in the world of the internet and interstates. My love of this community and the ones that surround it started when Tom and I were first married and we would take day fishing trips to these mountains for some rest and relaxation. It was so refreshing to eat home cooked food and buy fresh honey in the country store that I just could not stop myself from wanting to spend time with the people here.

Main street of Helvetia Wv

Main street of Helvetia, WV

Helvetia is home to about 100 full-time residents and has one historic restaurant, a country store with a post office, a dance hall, community building, library and a church. Surrounded by farms, mountains and other tiny communities it is the center of all the events that residents and visitors enjoy. The annual “Helvetia Community Fair” is just one of several festive events that are held in this village year round. Most of people at these events are the descendants of the settlers and their families who work hard to keep these European traditions alive.

The Helvetia Community Fair includes a small  parade, crafters, live music, Alpine Horn Blowers, Swiss Dancers, Swiss Flag Throwers (Fahnenschwingen), a 10 k mountain run with a 2 mile walk, Archery Shoot and great food. The( Kultur Huas) a Post office/small store/ mask museum is open, the library has a book sale and the Honey Haus and Cheese Haus are open to visitors. The Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant is open and serving the most wonderful Swiss/German food in the State. This is a festival for the whole family who want to know more about the Alpine life of the settlers and eat some of their wonderful food.

While visiting the fair we made sure the Christopher was able to see the parade as it traveled down main street.

 

Helvetia Children leading in the parade

Helvetia Children leading in the parade

Christopher getting candy from Mrs. West Virginia

Christopher getting candy from Mrs. West Virginia

Swiss family on float

Swiss family on float

Live blue grass music during Helvetia community parade

Live blue grass music during Helvetia community parade

After the 4 floats and a fire truck pass us we eat our afternoon meal at the Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant on main street. It is a one of a kind restaurant voted one of the top 10 best restaurants in West Virginia. The house is over 150 years old and maintains both the interior  and exterior in historic style. The house has passed through a few hands but one ever wanted to lose the history or feel of the house even with it being a restaurant.

Hutte Haus Swiss Restraunt, Helvetia, WV

Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant, Helvetia, WV

The house has many small rooms with tables and other furniture that are from many of the families in the community. Some are gifts as people updated, some sold to the current owners as families moved away and other pieces belonged to the first owners of the house.

Largest of the dinning rooms at the Hutte Haus restaurant

Largest of the dinning rooms at the Hutte Haus restaurant

Tom and Christopher Powers looking over wall decor at the Hutte Haus Swiss restraunt, Helvetia WV

Tom and Christopher Powers looking over wall decor at the Hutte Haus Swiss restaurant, Helvetia WV

 

Wood stove used to heat our dinning room at the Hutte House Swiss Restraunt

Wood stove used to heat our dinning room at the Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant

Front dinning room at the Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant, Helvetia, WV

Front dinning room at the Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant, Helvetia, WV

Front Porch of the Hutte Swiss Restaurant , Helvetia, WV

Front Porch of the Hutte  Haus Swiss Restaurant , Helvetia, WV

The food is traditional Swiss German fair, with things like brats,  sauerkraut and Swiss cheese soup on the menu every day. Then during the festivals they serve the sample platter to everyone. This is includes hand-made sausage, white bratwurst, brazed chicken, potatoes, home-made sauerkraut and swiss cheese with home-made peach cobbler and fresh whipped cream for desert. It is a feast for the eyes and the stomach.I can can not say I have had a better meal any where that I have traveled or lived.

As our meal ended the rain started and  we walked the main street to the only intersection in town  and turned to see the community hall enveloped with people. The entertainment was thoughtfully moved in doors for the rest of the day and we found our benches and seats inside the wooden hall. In the hall we watched villagers perform the Alpine Horns, singers in costume sing traditional folk songs and young children perform Swiss/German dances that Tom and I remember from when we lived in Germany . The best, saved for last, was watching two young men swing the Switzerland flags to the Alpine Horns.

Young Swiss folk dancers

Young Swiss folk dancers

Swiss community singers

Swiss community singers

This is a short clip of what the Alpine horns sound like and what Flag Swinging is. I found them hypothetical when preformed together.

 

When the performances are over and the crowds slowly file back to the parked cars, Tom and I stop at the Kultur Haus / museum/ Post office. It is the place to get your souvenir tee shirts and post cards, honey candy and a cold pop, but I visit for a different reason. I come for the museum portion of the store. The museum is a loose collection of hand-made masks that  local village members hand make for the Fasnacht Celebration every spring. Some get donated to the shop and placed on display and show off the talent and strange and wonderful paper mache skills of the creators. Fasnacht is held around the first week of February and is the traditional celebration of the end of winter. It is much like a combination of Halloween and Mardi Gras and a Druid Ceremony rolled into one. The village people who attend, dress in home-made costumes, have a community dance with buffet dinner and live music. Then at around midnight the leaders of the community cut an effigy of old man winter down ( a straw stuffed scare crow with pine bows and a rubber mask face)  from the rafters of the dance hall carry him out in the nearby field and set him a blaze. The bonfire roars for an hour or two where the spirit of winter is free from the land. The night ends around 1 am with the start of spring. Some of the wonderful masks from these costumes are on display year round for everyone to enjoy it the Kultur Haus on Main Street.

Drunken Sailor and Zodiac Lincoln with Rams head masks Helvetia WV

Drunken Sailor and Zodiac Lincoln with Rams head masks Helvetia WV

Sun and China dog masks from Helvetia WV

Sun and China dog masks from Helvetia WV

Winter Frost Mask Helvetia West Virginia

Winter Frost Mask Helvetia West Virginia

 

more masks

more masks

Kultur Haus/Post Office/Museum

Kultur Haus/Post Office/Museum

Some of the other wonderful places we visited on the trip are the Honey Haus and Cheese Haus. They are not in operation any more but the structures are wonderful to look at and during this festivals are usually open for visitors. This year the Honey Haus had many hand-made honey products for sale and the Cheese Haus had samples of cheeses made and used in the area.

Honey Haus Helvetia, WV

Honey Haus Helvetia, WV

Cheese Haus Helvetia, WV

Cheese Haus Helvetia, WV

Street Sing Helvetia WV

Street Sing Helvetia WV

So with the rain trying to pour down again we headed to car with a 1/4 of a wheel of Swiss cheese, full hearts and tummies. The day seemed short although we had spent 6 hours at the fair. I was glad to get in the warm and dry of my car, but I didn’t want to leave.I  loved my time here and could have just stayed and worked in the warmth of the kitchen at the Hutte Haus or collected the mail in the Museum…I guess I will just have to come back as often as I can so that I will understand even more about why after 155 years people never really leave this place but always come back.

Swiss family crests flying over main street in the rain

Swiss family crests flying over main street in the rain

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Fairs and Festivals, family fun, Halloween, Helvetia West Virginia, history, rural life, Swiss culture, Upshure County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Shoeing a Horse with the BarnWood Builders T.V. Show and Spiker farm.

As part of every episode of Barnwood builders Mark Bowe  always likes to show off other skilled craftsman or tradesman who do things the old-fashioned way. So when producers from the show discovered that Tom was a farrier,they were thrilled to add his skills to their show. To film his farrier skills we needed a willing client and a farm to work at. We were able to contact Sue Ann Spiker, also from Jane Lew, and include her and her farm in the last portion of the filming of this episode.

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

If you have been following along with my last couple of posts about our house remodel these are the guys who invited us to join in the fun of their T.V. show and help us get barn wood for our family room. I have already shared the barn at Home remodel #1  and showed off the set and my house in Home remodel #2. But the last part of our day of filming really was about my husband Tom and his client Sue Ann Spiker and her farm.

Tom has worked for Sue Ann for years and when Tom was in middle school she was his Art teacher. When setting up this portion of the show Tom and I needed to find a horse and farm family willing to have a film crew on the farm.  Tom thought of Sue Ann’s horse and farm right away. Sue Ann and her husband John, have historical buildings on their farm. This also excited the show producers and we ended up not only shooting Tom with Sue Ann holding her horse but getting a guided tour of their Guest House, Barn and 1700’s cabin. A real treat for everyone that was on set that day.

Actor Mark Bowe talking with the Director of Barnwood builders

Actor Mark Bowe talking with the Director of Barnwood builders

Sue Ann has spent about 5 years or more restoring and decorating the buildings on her farm. The Guest House is a lovely two-story house built-in 1862. The family rents out house, cabin and barn for family gatherings and weddings. More information is on the families website at Sunny Pointe Guest House. com. The main excitement for the show is the little one room cabin or as The Spiker family informed us is the “Loom House” where linens were woven for the farm family 1700’s. The cabin is now set up as a bedroom with a lovely fire-place to keep couples warm at night.

Sunny Pointe Guest House side yard view

Sunny Pointe Guest House side yard view old cabin in shadows

 

Cellar steps into the basement to Sunny Pointe Guest House

Cellar steps into the basement to Sunny Pointe Guest House

back of cabin at Spiker Farm

back of 1700’s at Spiker Farm

Sue Ann Spiker and her 1700's cabin

Sue Ann Spiker at the front of her 1700’s cabin

bed inside cabin at Spiker Farm

bed inside cabin at Spiker Farm

Christopher walking in front of fire place  in cabin at Spiker farm

Christopher walking in front of fire-place in cabin at Spiker farm

Front door of cabin with photo of Gen. Thomas "Stone Wall" Jackson

Front door of cabin with photo of Gen. Thomas “Stone Wall” Jackson

 

One of the secrets of the cabin revels it’s self around this door… the builder and his family will be forever remembered.

door jam of old cabin with fathers initials and 8 of the twelve children that lived and used the cabin

door jamb of old cabin with fathers initials and 8 of the twelve children that lived and used the cabin

Cabin door jam with more initials carved into the frame

Cabin door jamb with more initials carved into the frame

After the tour it was time to get Tom working on Sue Ann’s horse and here he is getting his microphone.

Tom getting ready to shoe. sound engineer hooks up his micriphone

Tom getting ready to shoe. sound engineer hooks up his microphone

Sue Ann also getting ready to talk about the farm and her horse.

Sue Ann Spiker with sound engineer getting her microphone

Sue Ann Spiker with sound engineer getting her microphone

I can only tell you that the portion where Tom puts a shoe on the front of Sue Ann’s horse went fine. I was with them, holding on to the horse’s tail so that the camera man would not get kicked in the face. He was so low and close to the horse that we all just were a little worried about his safety. So, sadly I was not able to get photos of that portion of the filming. In the end, I was glad I was at the rear of the horse. She was a little wiggly and it took a while for her to get comfortable with all the attention. So the photos I have are of Katie the producer getting some time with “Miss Lee” the Tennessee Walking Horse before everyone got busy working with her feet.

Katie Rolnick the producer with Miss Lee the Walking horse

Katie Rolnick the producer with Miss Lee the Walking horse, Bruno the donkey is in the back ground

The shooting ended with Tom letting Mark Bowe try his hand at nailing on a shoe and talking to everyone at the end of a very long day.  The sun was setting, Tom, Christopher and I climbed into the truck to head home. The day was perfect and we learned more than we ever expected to from this experience and we still had one more day of filming to go.   The view of the rolling hills and green grass of the Spiker farm were hard to leave behind but after 9 hours of filming and a couple of hours of driving and unloading lumber. I was ready for my home and bed.

Rolling pasture of Spiker Farm

Rolling pasture of Spiker Farm

The following day was time to film my house and to take the film crew around our local area to find beautiful scenic and rural images for cut-ins during the show. This ended up being my favorite part of the filming. I was not on camera but got to spend the day with this wonderful people and get my only photo taken.  I got this photo of me in a e-mail a few days after the team left never even knowing Katie had taken it of me while in my kitchen.

Jolynn Powers holding  television camera from the Barnwood builders crew

Jolynn Powers holding television camera from the Barnwood builders crew

The remaining portion of the story is more about demolishing my house and the actual rebuilding process and that will take a while to do and write about. In the future I will share more photos and stories about the mess we make.  In the mean time,I though you might like to see the lumber from the barn. It is beautiful and we have plenty to do our walls and some other projects.

10 pounds of nails came from the lumber

10 pounds of nails came from the lumber

 

Categories: Barns, Barnwood Builders, blacksmith work, family fun, family memories, Farrier work., history, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, Horses, Jane Lew, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Home Remodel # 2 Filming Barn Demolition with the Barnwood Builders at Jane Lew West Virginia.

If you are just dropping in, I am working on a home remodel with a company from Lewisburg WV. They happen to have a television show titled the Barnwood Builders.  They invited me and the blog to take part in not only a large amount of barn lumber but also in the filming of the episode at a barn in Jane Lew, W.V. The process began with Tom and I scouting out the barn and getting to know the producers. You can see more of that post at                            Home Remodel #1 .

Lets just say the I was thankful when Katie one of the producers, canceled Tom, Christopher and I from coming out to the site on Saturday. The rain was bad and the temperatures cold. Generally a typical dreary spring day in West Virginia. This also meant that the filming of my portion of the show was already a day late. Sunday morning Tom, Christopher and I packed into the truck and headed out  for a long day at two different locations. When we arrived the shed and outside wall of the feeding area of the barn are gone and they are working on getting some of the interior wood ready for Tom and I to take home.

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

We greet the producers and some of the staff as we walked up to the old house that is on the property. The sitting room is full computers and cases, it is now “Head Quarters” for the crew. With in minutes I received  a microphone and transmitter. On a morning that started out about 38 degrees this was the worst of the entire experience. The cord, microphone and box were freezing cold. It took my breath away to have an ice-cold cord dropped down the front of my sweater and run around my waist to my back where the sound engineer clipped it in place. BURRRRR!!!

I then headed over to met the director and star of the show. I walked across the yard to the fence in this photo and waited. Tom and Christopher waited on the porch and watched in the distance. I had no idea of any of the plans for story or lines. I was flying blind, alone and cold. I had not really realized how cold it was and had only worn a sweater and a wind breaker… no hat, no gloves, just rubber muck boots that would later fail me.

Eventually from the field that you see in the photo two men walked up to me at the fence and introduced themselves. Mark Bowe is the star and owner of Barnwood builders and Steve is our Director. They proceed to explain what we were going to do and what was going to happen first. Mark Bowe would pretend to see me standing at this very fence and walk across the field to see what I wanted and the story would run from there. The story for this episode is that a local woman writer is curious about the strangers taking down a loved local barn and wants to learn more. Pretty close to the truth and totally possible where I live. They begin filming with in minutes of our conversation. I stumbled through a few opening sequences, but get my stride and we film at the barn for the next 3 hours straight. All the while the rest of the crew continues to work at removing boards that I will eventually take home.

Johny Jett and Tim loading wood on to fork lift . the wood will  is for my house

Johnny Jett and Tim loading wood on to fork lift . the wood will is for my house

As you can see in the photos the ground is wet rutted mud. Making it a tricky place to walk,talk, think and “Act” in. It was all I could do not to fall. Then as Mark and I walk away from the barn, I do it, I find a rut with the tip of my rubber boot and trip. Still filming, I reach out and just grab his arm and we laugh. I say “It’s OK you work out” as he laughs and has some charming reply(that I have no memory of now) and keeps me from falling face first into the mud. We walk another 20 feet almost to the fence and the unthinkable happens. My boot gets sucked into the wet mud and I totally lose it. I just holler ” Shit!”…. “My boot is stuck in the mud!” as I pitch forward about falling on my face again. Twice in less than ten minutes, I have made it in to the blooper reel. Mark and I finally make it up into the yard laughing when the director and camera man reach us at the gate. Steve the director at this point complements me on my abilities ( of what I am not sure) and says I am actually good at this ( I am a basket case) and wants to give me a hug. “Wow, third hug in just three hours must be doing something right” I think to myself. I am free to return to seeing my family and friends at the  house as the crew finishes moving piles of lumber.

The time off camera is good, we all eat lunch from my friends Josh and Andrea Evans’ restaurant. They own The Second and Center Cafe’ in Weston, West Virginia.  Sitting around the yard and porch of the house,I finally get to take some random photos and spend time with Christopher and Tom. We are all getting excited to load lumber into our truck and watch the barn go down.

Grahm from the Barnwood builders gives Christopher his personal hat

Grahm from the Barnwood Builders gives Christopher his personal hat

Josh Evans owner of Second and Center Cafe with Bryan from the Barnwood builders

Josh Evans owner of Second and Center Cafe with Bryan from the Barnwood Builders

 

 

Lunch break Mark Bowe and Andrea Evans

Lunch break Mark Bowe and Andrea Evans

Loading up only one truck load of lumber for the shoot is great, it gives everyone the opportunity to get filmed even my little Christopher. Mark Bowe, Johnny Jett, Tim and Sherman, help Tom and Christopher load up the truck. Christopher is loving all the attention and steals the show when he dances with Mark in the muddy road.

Christopher with Star of Branwood builders Mark Bowe  loading lumber int o our truck

Christopher with Star of Barnwood builders Mark Bowe loading lumber into our truck

With the lumber loaded we drive away from the location only to return on foot. Tom parks the truck out of sight and  we all walk back to see the final moments of the barn going down. It is a happy and sad feeling watching part of my community being torn down. I have included a short clip of the last few seconds of the barn going down with sound. The cheering and talking is a little loud so please excuse it. I have no skills at editing video.

We  finished our trip home to unload this pile of lumber and head back to Jane Lew where we met the film crew at another location.The production company also wants to film at my  friend Sue Ann Spikers’ farm. She owns a beautiful property with several old buildings, a house and an old cabin. The Barnwood builders want to see the cabin and talk about its history and visit Sunny Pointe Guest House. Sue Ann is always ready for guests at her restored 1860’s Guest House and 1700’s cabin.

Sue Ann Spiker and her 1700's cabin

Sue Ann Spiker and her 1700’s cabin

This is where I will leave this Blog post. I will continue the story of Tom shoeing a horse for Sue Ann’s and share photos of the farm, guest house,and my pile of lumber. I want to explain more about what we are going to do with all this wood and the treasures we found inside the old barn.

I still can not believe that I was part of this experience and that the Barnwood builders will be back at my house this summer again to shoot footage of the after part of my living room.Hope you are enjoying a behind the  camera look at a TV show and who would believe that this all happened because I write a blog.

 

Categories: Barns, Barnwood Builders, blacksmith work, blogging, family fun, Farrier work., friends, heirlooms, history, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, Jane Lew, nostalgic, recycling, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Home remodel Part 1# The Old Barn, Barnwood Builders and My House.

Today begins the first step in the process of our remodel. Tom, Christopher and I are meeting the show producers for BarnWood Builders, from the DIY Network, at the barn that they are demolishing to repurposed  into a pile of supplies for our home. The Barn is way back in the country taking us around 25 minutes to get to from the interstate of I-79 and the Jane Lew Exit. So the logistics of moving the lumber out is still in the works. But here she is in all of her 120 year old glory. This is her before photo. I am a little sad to see her go as I have passed by her so many times over the years but the other part of me is so EXCITED knowing that I will share in her future and will love her even more at home.

Kenchelo road barn before being torn down

Kenchelo road barn before being torn down by the Barnwood Builders

The story behind her removal from the property is a common one. The home owner has passed away and the next generation of owners don’t want the barns and needs to remove them due to flooding and new uses for the pasture. As you can see the barn is in need of repair and in some cases dangerous to use. So to remove them solves lots of problems for the owing family and adds nicely to our new house.

When we visited the farm today the bottom land was still swampy. I was ankle-deep in standing water only feet from the shed on the right. This move will be very tricky… lots and lots of mud, gravel and hard work!

Here Tom and I walk down to get a closer look at the buildings and what we would find still in them or if they were empty of all history.

Tom walking to barn on Kenchelo

Tom walking to barn on Kenchelo

Tom looking at barn

Tom looking at barn

If you look closely at the siding boards… some of them are massive. Tom and I are guessing 18 to 20 foot lengths, twenty inches in some cases wide. Only massive trees produce lumber of this size. In most cases these trees grow on the farms or near the farms where the barns stand.  Tom says The boards look like white oak and are in wonderful condition for reuse. We are so lucky to keep some of this wonderful wood close to its home.

Sean,  Barnwood Builders producer, and Tom talk equipment and timing and I just hunt around the old barn looking for lost treasures. I found a couple of things and that will eventually become part of my home decor. The team from BarnWood Builders will arrive tomorrow and some of the filming will begin at the site and if we are lucky the rain that the weather man predicted will some how pass by.

So I guess I better get things ready here before the crew shows up to do some filming here at the house for the “Before” Portion of this project. Here are some photos of the family room as we use it today… lots of white walls and brown. I cant wait to see what happens when we add the barn wood as paneling to the walls in this room. Then Tom and I will be replacing the carpet in the family room with slate tile on the floors and a new ceiling light fixture. We are making a Chandler out of canning jars. So much fun and so much work to do over the next 4 or 5 weeks.

 

Family room from the laundry room door

Family room from the laundry room door

Famliy room from the front door

Family room from the front door

large front window at front of room

large front window at front of room

office portion of the family room

office portion of the family room

Wish us luck we could use it right about now… The national weather service in Charleston, WV already has flash flood warnings on the radar for tomorrow. So who knows what is going to happen over the next few days.

Categories: Barns, Barnwood Builders, furniture, heirlooms, history, home improvement, home remodeling, Homestead, Jane Lew, recycling, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Blogger Who Can’t Spell

   For those of you who are reading this blog for the first time, I will explaine a little more about myself.  I have been recently contacted again about my blogs spelling and grammitcal errors… let me put all the rummors and helpful statments to rest… I CAN’T SPELL…This is my disablity.

people who love us dont see our disablities just our ablity to love

people who love us don’t see our disabilities just our ability to love

   Ok,  now that we understand each other, let me also explain why,I have a form of Dyslexia called Disgraphia. It causes problems with short-term memory and graphic recall. I can read fine and really enjoy it as a hobbie. But the same skills that it takes to read are unrelated to spelling. Hard to beleive, I know, but when I read I only identify only about half the word and by its shape and size and context  my brain is able to understand its meaning and moves on. I never really see each individual letter while reading. Then, add in the fact that my brain recalls letters and numbers in the wrong order and presents them to me in a jumble, I have a terrible time remembering what words look like. So I have spent my life trying to hide, correct, learn, memorize… millions of words that no matter what I try to do end up coming out of my damaged recall system… in a mess.

    The fact that I even attempt to write on my Face Book wall or write on a blog is maybe a little on the crazy side. I constantly miss spell simple third grade words that anyone in the world knows are the basic building blocks for communication. But I continue to gain friends and readers of my blog. I at some point in my life I made PEACE with myself and my situation…. I am not a technician of language, I am not a professional writer (thank GOD) I am a Mom who has, in some strange twist of fate,  found that she LOVES to write. Yea,  kind of like  having no legs and learning that you love to ski.

   You find a way… I have found a voice and a place to, lets say improve, my skills. Word Press and its freedom and tools have allowed me to have a space in the universe where I can share my world and stories.It is freeing to write without a person leaning over me ( a thousand teachers) saying with red pen in hand, “you misspelled this or that” or  “that is not the correct usage for that verb”. I do try to correct what I can and manage my  grammar, but let’s get real… I am not good at it! I don’t get paid to reread my own words forty or fifty times. So Please stop informing me that I have spelling and grammar errors, I already know. 16 years of education didn’t fix it, I am positive that rude statements will not either.

  I have lovely friends and family that are grammar Nazi’s. They chose to not read my blog and I am fine with that. it is grating on their nerves to read and try to not correct every one of my mistakes. I love them for their honesty and wish that I had their skills. I also have die-hard fans who read and enjoy my stories and photos without much comment about my spelling. I love their support and understanding and am glad they “GET IT”.

   Maybe to your surprise I am educated, I have a B.A. degree and graduated from college with honors… my lack of spelling skills has never stopped me from pursuing my dreams and attempting to share what I love. It also does not lower my intelligence. Dyslexia has actually given to me many wonderful things, one of  the most important is tolerance. I know what discrimination feels like. I understand being segregated from others because you are different and I have learned to work around my disability and at times over come it.

   Word Press is the perfect place for me. I can write when and where I want. I can write about any topic and share what is real and important to me. I can write with my own misspelled voice. Word Press is freedom from over bearing institutions,where my words fly out of my finger tips. I love my blog and that I can find a creative freedom here that was lost in the 4 years of college and the twelve-years of public education. It is my freedom from the grammar Nazi’s in the world.    Finally, I hope that this has enlightened my readers.That maybe it is something deeper than laziness and lack of attention to detail that causes a person to misspell. Thank you for your time reading this,  it is my goal to improve my skills. I just hope that in 5 years I am a better writer then I am now.

JoLynn Powers

Categories: About me, Dislexia, Friendship, history, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

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