MOUNDSVILLE A TOWN WITH SPECIAL PEOPLE-PART 3
HISTORICAL CONTEXT MOUNDSVILLE
In part 2 describing the special Moundsville people I promised to put Moundsville people into context. I don’t believe it’s possible to put people into context without historical facts. Moundsville was incorporated in 1865 one year after West Virginia became a state. Joseph Tomlinson had discovered the Grave Creek Mound in 1770. Prisoners had been housed in the Moundsville Pen since 1867. As I was growing up the town population soared to over 15,000 people, but in recent years a decline has been seen to 9998 people in the 2000 US Census.
It was a huge manufacturing community with many varied industries. Within a twenty-mile radius of Moundsville there were many industrial facilities including coal mines (both Consolidated Coal, and Valley Coal), power plants (Kammer, Mitchell, and Burger), chemical plants (Solvay*, National Analine*, PPG, Mobay, and Mountaineer Carbon, and a pilot coal to gasoline operation*, steel mills (Wheeling Steel Benwood Blast Furnace* and Martins Ferry Rolling Mill), aluminum mills (Ormet smelter, and Olin Mathison Rolling Mill*), zinc smelters*, Fostoria Glassworks*, Marx Toy Plant*, Triangle Conduit&Cable Co., Blaw Knox Machine&Foundry, Shadyside Stamping &Foundry*, U.S. Stamping Works*, Garvin’s Dairy, and United Dairy (now combined). Moundsville was a bustling hustling community back in those days. (Those marked with * are gone.)
There were also many retail establishments within the city limits. There was the G. C. Murphy 5&10*, Hinerman Brothers*, West Virginia Clothing*, The Ferris Shop, Jimmy’s Shoe Shop*, Kay’s Jewelry, Beams Rexall Drugs*, Meyer’s Drug, Neubauer’s Flower Shop, Ruttenburg’s Clothing, A&P Groceries*, State Food Store (now Greg's Market), Grizzell’s Funeral Home (now located in former A&P Grocery site), Lute’s Funeral Home, bars too numerous to mention, three theaters The Grand*, The Park* and The Strand (which is being restored), during my youth there were free playground movies* at the East End Playground and the Spurr Memorial Playground which also housed the swimming pool where swim dances were held, along with many other small retail establishments.
The Food service industry was well represented with Bob’s Lunch, Mitchell’s Restaurant, DiCarlo’s Pizza, Elbys*, King Cole Restaurant*, and Dick’s Fine Foods*, to mention a few. There was also the professional community found in such a bustling small metropolis. There were doctors, nurses, lawyers, paralegals, teachers, engineers, barbers, beauticians, preachers of every Christian denomination of which I can think, and the many varied professionals needed to provide the necessary services for a boomtown.
Moundsville is the county seat of Marshall County hence the courthouse is a prominent figure in hometown life. The Sheriff’s office and the county jail are right across the street from the courthouse. There is a State Trooper detachment in Moundsville, along with a Marine Corps reserve center. There is also a National Guard Armory used for many public events such as the Marshall County Fair. My band, The Darvons, played Moundsville High School’s last prom at the Armory in 1968.
There was also a vital agricultural segment to the Moundsville area economy. Several dairy farms were the primary source of income for their owners, while other truck farmers supplemented their income through public works or driving school buses. The Marshall County Co-op sold farm supplies. The size of truck farms was limited by the topography of the area.
What is described above is a hustling bustling community found all over the United States of America in the 1950’s through the 1980’s. The folks in Moundsville liked Ike; for the most part after all he had led our efforts in the ETO (European Theater of Operation) during WW II. They were hopeful his plan to bring our boys home from Korea would work well. His vision of development of the Interstate Highway system was well supported both financially and in spirit. Everyone in Moundsville felt the shock when he had a heart attack. Then the shock of Sputnik took everyone aback. Following on into the 1960’s JFK ruled. The Bay of Pig’s was not his finest moment, but he came through during the Cuban Missal crisis. Then the shock of his assassination was a devastating event. The mood of Moundsville seemed to sour along with the country as we became mired in Viet Nam. This was a direct result of a hoax perpetrated by LBJ. We lost too many of our children and many others were wounded, but the people of Moundsville did their duty proudly. Service was performed with head held high and we were proud of every one of them. They served with honor and got their due respect. This was as it had always been so in Moundsville and God willing always will be in Moundsville. We rejoiced when the first man on the moon was American. We loved it when the American hockey team beat the Russians during the “Miracle on Ice”.
We bow our heads to pray, we salute the flag during “The Star Spangled Banner”, and we proudly say The Pledge of Allegiance with our hands over our hearts. We stop our cars to allow right-of-way to funerals. We try our best to obey the law. We give generously to charity.
WHAT IS MOUNDSVILLE
I have tried my best to provide the needed context to answer the question, what is Moundsville. First Moundsville is my hometown. Moundsville is the quintessential American town. We do our best but we make some mistakes, but we learn our lessons well. Some may think that like America Moundsville’s best days are over, but I don’t believe it for a second. Like all of America we’ll come back with guns a blazin’!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!