My Home Town

Welcome to my home town, Barboursville, West Virginia. Nestled among the hills I called home, the Village of Barboursville was founded in 1813 by an Act of the Virginia Assembly, before West Virginia broke away and formed it's own state on June 20, 1883. During the Civil War several skirmishes took place in and around the village. As the railroads and highways passed by, Barboursville became a quiet, residential setting of historic homes and figures. The population of the village has increased from 339 in 1814 to more than 3,000 residents.Yet, despite the rapid growth and modernization of Barboursville the village remains steadfastly proud of its heritage. According to the Department of Tourism, it is this unique blend of historical and contemporary sights that make Barboursville a memorable stop for any visitor.
But to me, it's just home. Let me take you on a tour of my home town.
This is the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue. Every business in town was located on these few blocks. Growing up, I remember Updike's 5 & Dime store, Plyburn's Pharmacy, Brady's Hardware, and the Stop & Shop. The First State Bank of Barboursville had only 2 tellers and about 3 offices in their small second story building. We had the Corner Grill, The Center Cafe and the Village Inn. And of course, there was Herrold's Barber Shop. Across from the some of the stores was Barboursville Junior High where I attended 7th, 8th and 9th Grade. Until recent years, we never even had a traffic light in town. But times do change and now there are a couple.
The following is an old Civil War Cemetery located about a half-block from mine and Allen's first house. We only lived about 3 blocks from "up town". We would walk up for Oktoberfest and coming home late at night, Allen would tell our kids stories about an old Civil War Colonel who was buried there and still walks the grounds at night looking for his lost soldiers. The boys would usually sneak ahead and run out and scare the girls about that time. And being little girls, they fell for it every time.
One of our biggest tourist attractions was the Old Toll House. It was used by the James River Co. to charge tolls for crossing the Guyan River until the first bridge was built. It was moved in later years into the center of town, where it still sits today.
Several years ago, land was purchased at the edge of town and they built a park, ball field, fishing lake and much more. Here is a view of the "Park". The park ended up almost as big a the whole town.
View of one of the modern day store front in town.
There is a public transit system in the neighboring town of Huntington. It makes regular runs several times a day through Barboursville. There are a lot of college students and wives who don't drive who take advantage of this. Growing up, my parents neither one drove. If it hadn't been for the "town bus" as we called it, we would never have ventured outside of Barboursville. On a recent trip to Mom's, I took my grandkids to the mall on the "town bus". Some memories are not really worth repeating, but the kids loved it. They want to make it part of their trip to Mamaw's every time now. So I guess it was worth it after all.
The old bridge. This bridge has since been replaced with a new concrete one with sidewalks. It was used to cross the river at the edge of town. We used to walk across it to go to Dr. Sadler's office and to visit my sister when she got her first house "across the river." I was petrified every time I walked or drove across it. Glad they replaced it.
This is a C & O train coming through town. Daddy worked at the C & O Reclamation plant in Barboursville. There are tracks going through town so you usually would get caught by a train and rather than sit and wait, we would usually "go around the long way" on the side streets to get by it. Many a summer night I would lay with my window open and listen to those long, sad whistles as the trains ran through the night. I still here them when I visit Mom and they are like a long lost friend.
Those are just some pics of the old home town. I hope you enjoyed a walk with me. Barboursville is still a place where neighbors visit on their front porches, you can walk around town on the sidewalks and see some of the same people that you saw when you walked the streets 50 years ago. Family is still family and friends are still friends. You can go back again and even though some things change, some still stay the same.


Deb said...
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Rachel said...

Love the pictures! I still live in Barboursville and I still love hearing about it's history and seeing the pictures. Did you know our grandmother, Rachel Eden, lived in that toll house when she was a little girl? She was very young. It would have been around the early 1900's. I think her dad, our great grandfather, collected the tolls on the river. I also remember when Dad took us to Updykes that Sat. morning when I was 6 and you were 5 and bought us those little black bibles. I still have mine and I think you still have yours. All those ice creme cones from the corner grill!!!! Were'nt they great? So many wonderful memories! If we could only go back for a little while.......Thanks, Sis, for the little walk down memory lane!!

Charles Rahe said...

Great to read your blog about Barboursville. My mother was Dorothea Penley Updyke and worked in her cousin Chauncey Updyke's
Store in the 1920s and 1930s. I was born in 1943 and visited Chauncey and Roxie and Cecil and Eileen Updyke at their homes at (681-683?) Water Street. Chauncey was in his 50s and 60s when I visited in the 40s and 50s. He was a kind, loving generous man and one I have always loved and aspired to emulate in kindness and caring and generosity. In my growing-up years Barboursville was my favorite place on earth to visit. Around 1955 I wanted to gain some weight and Chauncey took me across the street from his store and bought me chocolate milkshakes with an egg in them. Della Childers helped in Updyke's Store in those days and was a beautiful, cheery person to talk with. "Squirelly" ran a barber shop next door to Updyke's Store and Cecil and Eileen Updyke ran a shoe shop on the other (south?) side of the store. Todd Townsend and Beatrice Irene Burks were kids about my age that i knew in Barboursville in those days. For a child Barboursville was right-sized: everything in walking distance and no bad places for getting in trouble. Chauncey Updyke died in 1967 (49 years ago) and is buried in Barboursville. From what I can tell his store has been torn down. Fifty years on I was thrilled to see you mention his store in your blog as I assumed the name was long gone and forgotten. I am now 72 and live in Boulder,Colorado. My name is Charles Rahe and my email address is cprahe@gmail.com. I would enjoy making contact with people who knew the Updykes or shopped in the store.

Mamaw's Place said...

Mr. Rahe, thank you so much for your post. Do you know one of my earliest memories is my Daddy and Mommy walking up town on Saturday's and it almost always involved a trip to Updyke's. That was my favorite place to go. When I was a little girl, my daddy bought me my first bible. I couldn't have been more than 5 or 6. It was a little black New Testament. I cherished it forever until during a move one time, I lost a couple of boxes and my little bible was in it. It broke my heart. So wonderful to hear from someone who is from the Updyke family. Store could learn a lesson from Mr. Updyke and his wonderful staff about customer services. They made us feel like family every time we went in there.