From a Barbour County Scrapbook
Clippings from the Barbour Democrat

submitted by Linda Graham.

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 below:

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 you will.

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 in Philippi.

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 1788.

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 and dreaming!

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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