Saturday, September 3, 2016

Today in McGraw History - September 3, 1953

Today in McGraw History. . .

At the reunion, I told a few people how it was H.G. "Dad" McGraw's habit to stop in at the newspapers to visit when business would find him in Beckley. On many occasions, the editors thought the visits were interesting enough to share with their readers. This is the second in the series of columns that we've found. We will have a few more of these columns to share in the months to come. . .

(This one is hard to read, so we have transcribed it below in case you can't make it out.)

The  current hot spell is the hottest any of the old timers can remember around here.  

Horace Greeley McGraw was in from McGraws yesterday, and, as is his custom when he comes to town, he stopped at the Herald office to exchange greetings.

We asked him if there had ever been a hotter spell in his recollection.  

"No, I can not remember when it was this hot around here.  But we have had worse droughts. The 1930 drought was worse, that year it rained hardly at all from early spring until fall.  There was another bad drought in 1894."

Mr. McGraw set the column straight on the slight controversy which occurred a few months ago over the naming of Hotchkiss, small Raleigh County community, and Maben, in adjoining Wyoming.  

These two places were named for Major Jed Hotchkiss and John B. Maben, he said-- and he ought to know, for both of these gentleman, accompanied by Uncle Dan Gunnoe, came to his house in 1893 and stayed all night.  

They were land agents, and "never surveyed a foot of the Virginian or C & O right-of-way," says Mr. McGraw.

They bought up and immense acreage for the Western Pocahontas Land Co.- 24,113 acres to be exact.  The land company, of course, was a subsidiary of the C & O.  This tract was part of the old Mandeville survey of 90,000 acres.  

Maben and Hotchkiss sold most of the remainder of the big survey to W.M. Ritter in 1965.  Mr. Ritter, a very smart businessman, paid $30.00 an acre, less $80,000.00 for rights-of-way to get out the lumber.  It did not require nearly $80,000.00 for this purpose, however, and when he later sold the land to some Cleveland financiers, he received $80.00 an acre at the time reserving the timber for his own.  

In 1900 occurred the big court battle between the Virginian and C & O over which was to get the right of way at Jenny Gap near Lester.  Mr. McGraw went down to Oceana to hear the case tried, and he has never forgotten the courtroom scene.

Judge Joseph Sanders was sitting on the bench.  He appeared to be strongly inclined to the C & O's side.  Judge Nelson Campbell, a Monroe Countian, was one of the C & O 's attorneys in the case.  He was a giant of a man, with a long flowing beard almost to his waist, and weighed over 300 pounds.  

After all the evidence had been taken, Mr. McGraw recalls, Judge Campbell stood up and faced the court, saying in a thunderous voice; "Judge Sanders, your decision may be against us in this case- but you have no right to rule against us.  No court in this land has a right to give a decision against us."

Judge Sanders did rule in favor of the C & O, but the State Supreme Court reversed the decision, just has Campbell had said.

Mr. McGraw recalled that it was a quirk of fate that placed Judge Sanders on the bench.  Judges were nominated by convention then, and the delegates from Wyoming, Raleigh, Mercer, and McDowell and possibly other counties then in that judicial district, had assembled at Bramwell.  The year was 1895.  When the first vote was taken, Raleigh County's James H. "Fud" McGinnis and a McDowell man received a tie vote.  Some of the Raleigh delegates had not yet arrived, and a party of horsemen was quickly dispatched to Raleigh to round up the errant delegates. In the mean time, however, Joseph Sanders, who had just been defeated for Mayor of Bluefield, sent word to the convention that he would be receptive to the Republican judicial nomination. And he was nominated before the Raleigh delegates arrived to give the nomination to Fud McGinnis.  


Of note to me in this article is James H. "Fud" McGinnis. We have our own James H. "Fud" McGraw who is the son of William Harrison "Pole" McGraw. "Fud" was the progenitor of Paul, Darrell V. (Sr), and Kenton McGraw among others.