Sunday, March 1, 2015

Marshall Store in Williamsport

On January 25, 2014 I was contacted by an old friend, Ron Wilson, who had just discovered my blog.  We had grown up in Williamsport, West Virginia.  Our families had been close; Ron's father and my father had been childhood friends and remained friends until Mr. Wilson's death.   

Ron enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading memories of my family in my blog.  He had a lingering memory of going with his grandfather D.C. Lyon to visit with my grandfather Homer Stewart.  His grandfather had a cane and my grandfather had walking stick, and they were poking at each other with them as they jokingly discussed past and current events.  Ron clearly remembered hearing my grandfather’s loud, unique laugh.  He was probably around five or six at the time.

Over the next six months we exchanged emails with details of our genealogical research. While from the same rural community, we had different perspectives of the people, places, and times that we had in common.  He shared with me some old pictures he had collected from before my time.  He had researched several of the old major farming families.  He pointed me to some research sites that he had contributed to and where I found other information to fill in my family's history.  

There was an old (red) schoolhouse at Williamsport on the Old Fields road. Ron had come across references to its being a schoolhouse as well as being used for church services, but he did not know when it was built or when it was used.  The schoolhouse/church north on Patterson Creek road was built in 1883 and was used as a school until 1935. So he assumed the old (red) schoolhouse was used prior to 1883.  We also discussed the church and school used by the black community (which will be covered in subsequent blog entries).

Lyon Mill in Williamsport
We discussed the grain mill that was run by his grandfather and the two stores that serviced the community.

Marshall's Store in Williamsport
The Marshall Store was owned and ran by a staunch democrat who was known to strongly voice his opinions which sometimes determined which of the two stores folks would “hang out” at.  The store closed in the mid 1950s.  Ron sent me a picture of the interior of the store.  When I studied the picture of the patrons, to my surprise, I recognized my grandfather!  

Patrons at Marshall's Store in the 1920s

But there he was ...  
... a young Homer Stewart !!!

Ron had thought my grandfather was in the picture, but did not presume it was him until I got back to him with my discovery.  We continued to share stories and photographs for a several months.

Ron was planning to return to the Williamsport area in November.  He wanted to do some more research.  But I didn't hear from him between August and November.

When I visited Williamsport during the Christmas holidays, my sister told me of Ron's passing in September.  I was deeply saddened by the loss of an old friend, but moved that he had reached out to me earlier in the year to share such precious memories.  I had no idea how timely or valuable our renewed connection had been.

Note:  Mr. Robert Wilson was a life-long friend of my father.  The Wilsons and my parents remained friends, visiting regularly over the years.  It was the Wilsons who drove me to Poughkeepsie, NY on July 6, 1974.  They were going to spend their anniversary in the Poconos and offered to help me move my few belongings to my new apartment.  I started my first real job at IBM on July 8, 1974.

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