From a Barbour County Scrapbook
submitted by Linda Graham.
Clippings from the Barbour Democrat
Shurtleff Dedicates Program to Philippi
[Thursday, May 18, 1939]
About two weeks ago, Dean SHURTLEFF, of Fairmont State Teacher College, broadcast the
forty-seventh number of his program "Know West Virginia Better," which was dedicated to
Philippi. These series of programs were sponsored by J.M. HARTLEY and Son Company of
Fairmont. For the benefit of those who were unable to hear the program we are printing it in full
Historic Philippi, in Barbour County, is my guest city for the evening.
I wish to extend greetings and best wishes to Philippi. These greetings go
out to His Honor, the Mayor, H. F. BRITTINGHAM and to Okey J. WOODFORD, City
Clerk. I remember also Mrs. Ben M. WILSON who can grow some of the finest
and most beautiful dahlias I have ever seen. And they are good dahlias too.
When Mrs. "Ben M." brings her dahlias to the West Virginia dahlia show they
will their share of the first prize blue ribbons. Visitors at the state
dahlia show this fall will see some of these prize dahlias from the Philippi
gardens of Mrs. WILSON. Then they will know that I am telling the truth
about these fine qualities. I send greetings also to Phlippi's fine Kiwanis
Club and to the club's president, Curtis E. LAMBERT.
I don't know the name of my closest friend in Philippi but I send him very
personal greetings. He doesn't know my name either! He calls me "doc.": I
call him "Goose"! My personal greetings to "Goose" WARD and if he is
listening in let me tell him that I don't care if I don't know his name, I
still like him. Ward and I used to teach together in the Fairview high
school here in Marion County. I send greetings and thanks to Dan LOVE, a
student at Fairmont State Teachers College, who has very materially helped
me with the information in this broadcast.
Philippi, I greet you. You are a fine little city, hustling and energetic.
You are proud of your town and hospitable to your visitors. May good luck,
good days and good times always be a part of your municipal blessings.
The community where Philippi now is located has had several names. The
original name for the settlement was Anglin's Ford and was named in honor of
a William ANGLIN. Later the settlement was named Booth's Ferry in honor of
Daniel BOOTH. The present name, Philippi, was given in honor of Philip
Pendleton BARBOUR, an associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United
States. Barbour County, of which Philippi is the county seat, was also named
in honor of this eminent and distinguished jurist. Philippi was originally
chartered as a town in 1844.
Philippi is the home of Alderson-Broaddus College, a Baptist institution.
The present college was made by combining two schools, Alderson College and
Broaddus College. Broaddus College was organized in 1871 and was originally
located in Winchester, Virginia. It was moved to Clarksburg, West Virginia
in 1876 and to Philippi in 1909. The present consolidated college was
chartered in 1932.
While on the subject of Alderson-Broaddus College, permit me to pay my
respects to Dr. John ELLIOT, the new president of the college. Dr. ELLIOT is
to be inaugurated as president on the twenty-second day of May. I wish for
him a long and successful administration. The many fine things I have heard
about Dr. ELLIOT are an oracle of his success. Alderson-Broaddus College,
Philippi and his people, give you best support to Dr. Elliot. I know that
I think I should say another word for Alderson-Broaddus College. This time I
say it to Rex PYLES, coach of the Alderson-Broaddus champion basketball team
winner of the 1939 college basketball tournament. Congratulations, Rex, you
have a fine team. Congratulation team, you have a fine coach.
Philippi is an old settlement. Way back in 1780 three members of the TALBOTT
family settled near the present site of Philippi. These early TALBOTTS were
Richard, Cottrill and Charity. TALBOTT is still a prominent and honored name
Philippi is rich in historical lore. Philippi was the scene of the first
land battle of the Civil War. Early in the history of the Civil War the
Confederacy ordered Col. George A. PORTERFIELD to come into the Monogahela
Valley for the purpose of recruiting soldiers. The original headquarters for
PORTERFIELD was Grafton. His orders were to move on to Wheeling in order
that the Wheeling convention might be broken up and dispersed. But in the
meantime Federal troops had been collected under Col. B.F. KELLY. After
additional troops had been sent to Col. KELLEY, Col. PORTERFIELD fell back
to Philippi, where on the third day of June, 1861, was fought the first land
battle of the Civil War. General George B. MCCLELLAN had arrived in Grafton
on June first with heavy reinforcements from the west. McCLELLAN and his men
entered West Virginia at Parkersburg. The Battle of Philippi was a victory
for the Federal troops but Federal control of the territory was not absolute
until much later. Capt. Rutherford B. HAYES and Private William B. McKINLEY
were among the troops coming into West Virginia headquarters at Grafton. It
is presumed that they participated in the Battle of Philippi. These two men
were later presidents of the United States.
When you go to Philippi you will see and perhaps cross the old covered
bridge! This bridge has served the traveling public continuously since 1852!
It was made of heavy wooden timbers and is one of the few remaining bridges
of its type. I hope that Philippi can keep this bridge forever. It should be
closed for heavy traffic and should be enclosed and made a part of a museum.
Over the entrance to the bridge is the following legend:
PHILIPPI W. Va.
Scene of First Land Battle Of Civil War; This Bridge Erected In Year 1852
Serving both North and South In Passage Troops and Supplies.
Take good care of your bridge, Philippi. Don't let em tear it down; don't
let em wear it out.
I have much more that I could tell you about Philippi but since I have had
so many requests to tell about the famous old apple tree, I am going to use
my remaining few minutes for that story.
This apple tree is known as "Rackum's Apple Tree" and its history goes back
to 1788. That date makes this apple tree a "chronological twin" with the
United States government! The first Federal Congress met in New York City in
It was the summer of 1788 when a young boy named Rackum THOMPSON was out in
the woods hunting ginseng near the present site of Midland, Barbour County.
I don't know whether young THOMPSON found any ginseng or not but he did find
something much more prized than ginseng. That treasure was a lusty little
apple tree seedling growing near the famous Seneca Trail. Fruit trees were
scarce then in western Virginia and were highly prized. Young Rackum
THOMPSON carefully dug up this tree and took it home with him where he
transplanted it. This tree grew as did the fabled "green bay tree."
The Thompsons owned no land of their own but lived as settlers on land owned
by other families. Each time the Thompsons moved -- to see what was on the
other side of the mountain or to find better hunting grounds, the apple tree
was taken with them and replanted. After a while, the THOMPSONS moved to the
land owned by a Michael O'NEAL, an Irish immigrant. This property is now the
Rufus ANGLIN farm near Philippi. When the THOMPSONS moved in, Rackum brought
with him his prized and much loved apple tree.
The Thompsons lived longer on this location than usual. When it again came
time for the family to more, the apple tree had become so large that no sled
or ox-cart was large enough to haul the tree. The other THOMPSON possessions
were taken to the new home but the apple tree had to be left on the O'NEAL
farm. It was left most reluctantly by the sentimental Rackum THOMPSON.
Rackum THOMPSON lived to be a very old man but as long as he lived he made a
practice of coming back to his beloved apple tree at regular intervals. On
these visits he would sit for hours at a time -- smoking his pipe -- smoking
This apple tree is fifteen feet in circumference one foot above the ground.
Five feet above the ground the circumference is thirteen feet. The tree has
a limb-spread of sixty and one-half feet. Six generations of O'NEALS had
played in the shade of this old apple tree.
A few years ago the tree was treated by tree surgeons. A cavity in the tree
was filled with a 3-2-1 mixture of concrete. It required 33 bushels of
crushed stone, 22 bushels of sand and 11 bushels of cement to fill the
cavity. Two men could work inside the tree at the same time. A bottle
containing information about the tree was placed in the center of the
filling" used by the tree surgeons. It also contained the names of the
workmen who did the tree surgery.
According to Barbara BANE, nationally known tree historian of California,
Rackum THOMPSON's apple tree near Philippi, West Virginia, is the largest
known fruit tree, either in America or Europe. Grafts from this apple tree
have been propagated by a nursery and now, several fruit-bearing daughters
of the old apple tree are in existence. The old apple tree is to be
perpetuated, not alone through memories but by its fruits.
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