The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

May 27, 2013

Beckley celebrates Founder’s Day; mayor lauds service men and women

BECKLEY — Under a canopy of a blue sky punctuated with an occasional cloud, and long-awaited warmer temperature, Beckleyans turned out Sunday to honor the city’s founding in 1838 by Alfred Beckley.

Townspeople sat on folding chairs and enjoyed picnic fare after taking a tour of Wildwood, the home that bears the founder’s name.

“This is a hidden jewel, if you will,” Beckley’s current mayor, Emmett Pugh, told the audience at the outdoor gathering.

Before diving into remarks about the historic structure, Pugh took notice of Memorial Day to applaud the men and women who have served in the military.

“We reflect on those who have given their lives, their service, for our country, and reflecting on members of family and friends we have come to know who impacted our lives,” Pugh said.

Pugh acknowledged that his personal sense of history wasn’t all that sharp in his younger days.

Some years back, he quipped, a friend told him he never met a building that he didn’t think would make a great parking lot.

“Back then, you’re young, you don’t have that sense of history,” the mayor said. “You’re worried about trying to expand businesses and provide services to the city — police, fire and public works.”

Working with the Ralsten family, he noted, the city managed to acquire Wildwood and turn it into a historic site for generations to come, partnering with the Raleigh County Historical Society and the Piney Creek Watershed Association.

“So, we’re in this for the long haul,” Pugh said. “It’s just a great historical piece that really just attracts your attention, holds your interest. This property grounds us as a city and as citizens of this community back to our past.”

After a tour of the structure, attendees walked across South Kanawha Street for a wreath-laying ceremony by the American Legion honor guard at Alfred Beckley’s gravesite.

Among those at the function were Gerald Godfrey of Shady Spring, a member of West Virginia Re-Enactors, and his 5-year-old grandson, Jeremiah.

Godfrey wore a business suit of the period, and could have passed himself off as Beckley himself — same height, 5-foot-10, fair-complexioned, and blue eyes. The only discernible difference is that Godfrey effects a mustache.

He isn’t related to the city’s founder but, reflecting on his 19th-century suit, said, “I look like any gentleman would have done in that period, not a soldier, or a farmer.”

His grandson was taken with the home’s history, saying, “It’s amazing.”

Inside a log cabin, not a part of the original estate, longtime Beckley historian David Sibray pointed out that the Beckley historical holdings don’t end on South Kanawha Street.

Instead, Sibray said, a move is afoot to restore an old grist mill about two miles away on Piney Creek, working in tandem with the watershed association.

“The grist mill bears witness to Alfred Beckley’s struggle to establish the town of ‘Beckleyville,’” he said.

“And this house bears witness to his success. Beckley knew he was going to have to have a mill to run this town. If people were going to move here at all in this wilderness, they were going to have to have a reliable way to grind grain. So, he established the mill in Piney Creek.”

Sibray said the U.S. Park Service and the state would be asked to come in and offer recommendations for restoring the mill.

“We don’t even know what it looked like,” Sibray said, noting that only the foundation has survived all these years. “There is no record. We just know the Beckleys had it.”

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • Sunflower 1 Unique sunflower

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • How much will annexation cost?

    City of Beckley officials say annexation would provide many benefits to outlying residents, but exactly how much would annexation cost?

    July 28, 2014

  • Not in my backyard: U.S. sending fossil fuel abroad

    As the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America’s unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution.

    July 28, 2014

  • Greenbrier PSD officials worried about State Fair tunnel project

    Plans to raise a section of U.S. 219 and construct a tunnel underneath for the passage of State Fair pedestrians provided a hot topic for discussion at Friday’s meeting of the Greenbrier Public Service District No. 1 board.

    July 28, 2014

  • Beckley man places second in three-day world horseshoe tourney in Buffalo, N.Y.

    One Beckley man knows a thing or two about pitching a horseshoe. He’s been throwing for decades and he’s been to a handful of world tournaments. Recently he placed second in the 2014 World Horseshoe Pitching Tournament.

    July 28, 2014

  • saints garb new Saintly garb

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • tunnel flow Tunnel reopens after fire

    Traffic on Interstate 77 was still backed up about 14 miles in Bland County, Va., Saturday evening, but the Virginia Department of Transportation reported at about 6 p.m. that both northbound lanes of I-77 through East River Mountain were open to traffic.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • tunnel firefighters Bluefield firefighters first ones on the scene

    Lights in the southern end of the tunnel illuminate an odd design beside the catwalk near the left lane of the northbound tube of the East River Mountain Tunnel that transports I-77 from Virginia into West Virginia. Two firefighters who made the initial assault through the total darkness of the soot and smoke-filled tunnel left those marks as they slid their arms along the catwalk wall on their journey back to the light.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Internet service providers talk shop at Broadband Summit

    Call it the Internet 101.

    West Virginia’s Internet service providers, with the help of Mike Holstine, explained how end-users in homes and businesses get the Internet, how and why they use it and the benefits of having high-speed Internet for everybody. 

     

    July 27, 2014

  • tunnel Fire closes I-77 for hours

    East River Mountain Tunnel was engulfed in a cloud of black smoke Friday as a result of a tractor-trailer fire inside the tunnel that ignited just after 3 p.m.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo