Roseby's Rock

By Dorothy Dakan Sedosky.


(NOTE: The correct spelling, ROSEBY'S ROCK, is reflected here.)



A history of Marshall County would not be complete without more than a passing allusion to the community of Roseby's Rock. Even though that is really all that remains of it today, it was for many years much more than that.

The community had no name before the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad crossed the Allegheny Mountains through West Virginia to the Ohio Valley.

Some may refute that the last spike was driven at precisely the spot where the huge sandstone rock came to rest just above the railroad track, when the men working eastward met the forces working westward.

Nevertheless, over the entire B & 0 Railroad system there was not a more conspicuous landmark.

The giant rock of sandstone obviously broke away front the strata of rock far above in the hills many years before the rail system was even thought of. The perfectly shaped rock contains 900 cubic yards of solid stone, is 64 feet long and 20 feet thick.

The stone's inscription reads "Rosbbys Rock, Track Closed Christmas Eve, 1852."

The name was derived from the rail systems superintendent, Roseby Carr (In jest he was often referred to as 'Roseberry'), who was on hand when the last spike was driven.

It is said there was quite a celebration: the Martins Ferry Times-Leader (3-2-83) "Backward Glances" (of Roseby's Rock) points out "the two stonecutters who cut the rock were said to be well "oiled" - they put too many "B's" in Roseby!" However, it was previously spelled Roseby's Rock, later the "e" was dropped. It is obvious that the first "b" was intended for an "e". Originally, Roseby's Rock natives used that spelling.

The late Craig Shaw, owner and editor of the Moundsville Echo wrote in 1916, "Roseby's Rock has been one of the important trading points in this section of the country. While its close proximity to Moundsville (seven miles east) has prevented it from growing to any great extent it has, nevertheless, been the scene of a most unusual business career".

A short time before the "connecting of the rails" this place had become a trading point and from 1852 for almost 100 years, Roseby's Rock prospered.

Parsons Gorby was one of the first settlers and was often considered the founder of the town. However, the rail system attracted more enterprising business men; "men who realized what the new shipping facilities meant in the way of business and community development." One such person was L. G. Martin.

Martin was a young, ambitious man "eager to cast his fortunes" and did so by joining Mr. Gorby in that promising community.

He also became the first agent for the B & 0 Railroad Co.

Martin remained in Roseby's Rock for more than twenty years before moving to Moundsville, continuing in the retail business. Meanwhile, other prominent men were successfully engaging in business there: S.B. Elliott, W.D. Hicks & Co., M.D. Evans, William Lutes & Son, Wade O'Neil and later R.G. Dakan (many years later, sons George and Joe joined the Dakan firm).

R.G. Dakan became the leading businessman of the town. He first established himself in business at the age of 19 (after serving as a clerk in the William Lutes' store and his father's hotel in Clarksburg) by buying the S.B. Elliott store in 1882. He later purchased the stock of goods and business of William Lutes & Son.

"It can well be said of Roseby's Rock that it is the biggest little town to be found in a long distance. The town has a business record which it can well be proud. The good business houses there have proved a distinct advantage to all the farmers for miles around, affording them a convenient market for their products as well as giving them shipping facilities at home". (Echo 1916)

Because of the business houses, the railroad company maintained a station there and the express company gave service to the people of the community. Joseph Dakan of Elkins remembers when the B & O also maintained a stock yard, not far from the Dakan store. The Dakan firm used the facilities extensively. Other communities along the B & 0 were provided with this service also. Utilization was to the advantage of both, the shipping firm and the B & 0.

As Mr. Shaw pointed out, those advantages attracted the highest class of farmers who brought their farms up to the highest state of improvement. "The high standards of citizenship prevailing has made it agreeable with such men as R.G. Dakan to live and transact business in their midst and take an active part in the building of their community. At the same time it is a distinct advantage to all the people throughout that section to have a man of his ability and progressive inclination among them. Thus their interests are mutual and by their complete co-operation all have prospered."

The R.G. Dakan store's main building carried a complete line of dry goods, notions, groceries, household wares, yard goods, mens work clothing and shoes, farm implements, wagons, mining and building supplies. He was a cattle dealer and buyer and seller of wool.

R. G. Daken & Sons Store

Roseby's Rock was one of the first rural communities to have telephone service through the Farmer's Mutual Telephone Company, and public-spirited Dakan was one of the principal promoters.

Mr. Craig Shaw said, "that while Mr. Dakan was not the oldest in years he bears the distinction of having engaged in business longer than any other man located in the Wheeling division of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad." It was said that his business career covered more years than any other man in Marshall County.

The three-storied mill of the R.G. Dakan enterprise was the scene of much activity in the summer season with the weighing in, sacking and storing wool before shipping it by rail to Philadelphia or Baltimore.

One story and part of another was used entirely for the wool. In large bins, another floor was used for storage of grain, and the other for grinding or milling the grain. One of my long time friends, Faye Wellman West said "not to forget that playing in the wool sacks provided a lot of fun for the Wellman, Dakan, Cecil and Emery kids. And come October 31, we knew where we could get our corn for Halloweening!"

Although Dakan was a leader of the community and was often referred to as the "Mayor" or Roseby's Rock by his Moundsville counter-parts, other people of the community actively participated in civic affairs and the communities religious needs. Their support of the school and church made both a part of betterment of the community.

The businessmen from the beginning also assured that churches and schools be "materially elevated through their moral and financial support".

The church that served the people for so many years was the First Methodist Church on the rural circuit (one minister serves several churches). On the Roseby circuit were the Roberts Ridge Ebenezer, Lynn Camp and Bowman Ridge churches.

The church was built by men of the community in 1905. They provided the minister (before the rural circuit) with a lovely new parsonage (built by contractor Harry Bonar). Two of the best known occupants were the Rev. Frances Sigler who served the community so ably for a number of years and the Rev. and Mrs. Charles Stephans. They and their families brought much serenity as well as activity to the community.

One of the interesting events was a May Day celebration complete with a May Pole beautifully decorated with brightly colored streamers. Held in the front yard of the parsonage with the Siglers as hosts, people of Roseby enjoyed fellowship, food and games together.

Later finding the parsonage too expensive to maintain, it was sold. The Joe Dakan's became the new owners (Mrs. Dakan still resides there). The church, due to lack of participation, was removed from the circuit (1960's) and was later sold.

Many who "laid the rails" were of Irish descent, but Roseby had other nationalities - German, English, Welsh and many prominent people in her midst who were skilled in many trades and professions:

Henry Faust was an expert shoemaker. One of the first and best known telegraph operators was Edwin Shewbridge. And the prominent Burke family (Virginia, Agnes (Mrs. J.J. Campbell), the late Elmer and Leo) lived east of the Rock. Their father was Thomas Martin Burke, an early B & O foreman. D.C. Lutes funeral director conducted his first mortuary at Roseby's Rock. Walter Schumaker was known for his skill in the baking business. Markey Bros. & Co. in 1910 built a new blacksmith shop (it was reported that 423 horseshoes were made in December of that year). Later there was enough work to keep two blacksmiths busy - John Will West and S.J. (Bub) Jackman.

Dr. and Mrs. Ruckman followed physicians Hennen and Duffy and practiced simultaneously with Dr. Harry Howard.

After Ruckman moved from Roseby, the Earl Wellman's moved to the Ruckman house and Wellman became the postmaster and clerk in the R.G. Dakan & Sons store.

Assistant postmaster was Joshua Hood who was also affiliated with the Dakan store as bookkeeper. The post office was located in the store, prior to that location it was in the Alfred Games store.

The Luther Billiter's (Jesse Hood) operators of a green house on Tomlinson Avenue, Moundsville, became proficient in that profession while still Roseby residents. It is said their yard abounded with beautiful flowers and shrubs from early spring until late fall.

Thomas and Hulda Blake, early residents, were retired farmers, as were the Charles White's. He developed a profitable hobby in raising shrubs. The homes in Roseby were a show place of beautiful flowers and meticulously kept lawns.

Many residents were B & 0 employees. One who worked on completion of the tracks was the grandfather of Rex Conner of Big Grave Creek. Others were the Grays, Campbells, S.J. Howard, McDowell's, Siburt's.

John Founds, well known B & 0 foreman, lived on the east side of the tunnel. His family was prominent throughout the panhandle as well as the county. Retta was a teacher and principal for years and Allie operated a confectionery with husband Charles Spoon in Moundsville.

Early residents John and Eliza (Terrell) Dakan (parents of R.G.) operated a grist mill and small trading store in the upper part of Roseby. John and Hettie Hood moved to Roseby also in early 1880. Mr. Hood became the first operator of the newly built grain mill of R.G. Dakan. A young Joe Dakan learned the art of milling grain under Mr. Hoods direction. Although he became a partner in his father's business for a number of years, Joe maintained his love and expertise in working with horses.

The Fritzman family moved from Berkley Springs, affiliates of the railroad in various positions.

The community was brought together with intermingling of culture, religion, civic affairs and prosperity which continued for many years.

There were organizations such as the Junior Order of United American Mechanics (J.O.U.A.M.) and the "Boys Always Ready" Club. These well attended organizations met in the second floor club room of the Wade O'Neil store.

Organizations of a patriotic nature were formed throughout the country. "Marshall County Aid to the War Fund" was consistent with that trend. R.G. Dakan was a member of the "One Thousand Dollar Bond Club". The "General Pershing Club" members were: Mrs. Kate Hood (Kathryn Shutler of St. Joseph, widow of Henry Faust, married widower Jot Hood), Mrs. Emma Ruckman, Freeman Beebout, Dr. Harry Howard and Frank Hopkins. Organizations such as the Epworth League of the Methodist Church brought stability and sociability to the community, as well as spiritual guidance.

Newspapers of that era show that the young people of the community were gracious entertainers. One account of a birthday party in July 1908, in the "In Society" section, held at the Wayt home seemed to be the big event of that week. "After many beautiful and useful gifts were presented to Miss Elsie Wayt, guests assembled in the parlor where Miss Bessie Dakan took her place at the piano and furnished some fine music (she had just returned from a music conservatory at Ada, Ohio) after which the guests left for home with light hearts and happy thoughts."

A favorite activity was square dancing. Moving the furniture out of the living room, a lively evening would be enjoyed by the participants.

Newlyweds could always be sure of a loud clatter from guests beating on pots and pans outside until they made their appearance at the front door, inviting them in to an evening of festivities.

Other members who contributed to the community life were, Mrs. Grace (Bert) Conner who served as a very capable Superintendent of the Sunday School for many years. The Conners lived across from the Rock, access was by a swinging bridge over the creek. It was quite a distance to the church from their home but over the years she never missed a Sunday (nor a revival).

George Dakan worked for better schools, roads and phone service. He was active in civic affairs (the Lions Club) and served on the Clay District (as his father had) Board of Education and Marshall County Board for twelve years. He was associated with his father as a business partner from 1917 until the business was dissolved at the death of his father.

Other residents and affiliates of the railroad were the Claire (Palmers) and Lee Maxwell's, Muldrew's, Clarence Johnson's, Wetzel's, McElroy's and Crow's.

The Fahnestocks purchased the newly built R.G. Dakan home near the foot of the Bowman hill. Mr. Fahnestock engaged in farming the hillside land and successfully produced an abundance of corn on the large bottom creek land. This section was called "Dakan Addition".

The bottom land, below the Rock was the original John Dakan land (mill, store and residence) and now under the ownership of Charles Woods who has sub-divided it into residency as well as crops, similar to the 1880 Dakans.

The local sawmill located on the Fork Ridge side of Roseby was owned and operated by Charles and Merle Lydick. Mrs. Lydick, like her valley neighbors, had a special affinity for flowers. Besides her garden, she beautified the roadside for nearly a half mile from her home!

Some residents worked outside the community (later everyone was compelled to). The elder Muldrews were employed by the Manufacturers Light & Heat, located west of Roseby, referred to as the "Pump Station".

Other residents were the Wylie Cecil's, Ben Springer's, Everett Emery, Zeke Hall's, Fred Faust, Burge, Hunt and Anderson,families, (many were skilled carpenters).

Later retired Strosniders, Sprowls, Chaddock families moved from Moundsville to Roseby, contributing to a happy community life.

Roseby, bustling with activities as well as business, had some rather colorful people who made it very exciting. One of the more colorful was a little man by the name of Jimmy Lowry.

Lowry was the recipient of frequent visits from the young population on Sunday afternoon walks to the Rock. He lived alone in a small one room house along the side of the railroad, facing "Tool House Hollow" (the B & O's building for storing tools gave it its name), just below the Rock. "Jimmy" was unique in every respect. He was small in stature, and delighted everyone, young and old, when holding his jug (for a special effect) danced what was called the "jig"! A 1909 Echo tells another side of this interesting person - it says "James Lowry of Roseby's Rock was contracted to fatten ground hogs for the Coon Hunters Club!" I am told he also, at times, became the "town crier" - himself an early riser, at daybreak would go up and down the railroad calling for everyone to "rise and shine" (adding some of his own favorite expressions!). Education was important to the people of Roseby's Rock.

Prior to building the "new" school, educational facilities were adequate and attendance quite good. Early teachers, Miss Carrie White (referred to as teacher in #1 room - (were two separate buildings) and W.P. Fish were praised for their good teaching abilities. Before the county system, Superintendent Winter of Clay District ably took care of administrative duties. Meeting at Roseby's Rock in 1907, plans were formulated for new schools at Fork Ridge and the "Gas Station" (Pump Station at Grave Creek).

Grace Bonar taught young Henry, Bessie, Joe, George Dakan and Ed, Charlie, Earl, Elsie Wellman, among others. Her abilities were highly praised and her influence never forgotten by appreciative students.

Others held in high esteem were: Gladys Sivert (Chapman) who came to Roseby from her first teaching assignment at St. Joseph.

Miss Sivert stayed with the Dr. Ruckman family, and since the school was right in the community, had easy access to it as well as transportation to her home on Bowman Ridge on the week-end. However, if her father was unable to come for her, horse and buggy was available to rent at the livery stable, or the train to Moundsville (or Glen Easton), stopping a few hundred feet from her rooming house. A comfortable depot was adjacent to the upper crossing, one side for passengers, and the other for baggage and the telegraph office.

Hattie Terrill will be remembered as one of those highly praised, dedicated teachers (and counselors). Hattie didn't have accomodations quite so handy when she taught at Games School in her early teaching career (and came to Roseby for transportation home on the week-end). Games Ridge, the locale of Games School, is just off Bowman Ridge, not far from the Roberts Ridge line. Hattie roomed with the Seb Lancaster family, not too far from the school, about a mile. But walking to and from school everyday and on Friday's to Roseby to get the train to Moundsville, must have been quite a task. Healthful, but tiring! The distance from the Lancasters to Roseby would have been about two miles. As the people were grateful for these dedicated teachers, the teachers were grateful for the convenient train service.

Some teachers continued to room with people in the community where they taught, others commuted, providing their own transportation while still others rode the school bus as the last teachers, Carrie Games and Eleanor Fink, did.

The "new" Roseby's Rock school was built in 1924. It consisted of two classrooms, cloak rooms, full basement, small library and indoor plumbing. It was built on an area that provided more than adequate recreation at lunch time and "recess". Youngsters enjoyed playing ball and an area beside the school was used for other games. A nice sloping area was used for sledding. The Roseby's Rock school was discontinued June 9, 1964 and the brick structure and furnishings were sold to Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Wheeler on October 11, 1966 by the Marshall County Board of Education. The building was razed and removed from the community.

World economy was shattered and economic conditions affecting the country began to effect Roseby's Rock. Everyone was, or soon would be, in the grips of the Great Depression. If the effects were not felt at that time, eventually it would be. As prosperity began to decline, people in that happy valley held onto what had made them special from the time that a young man began his "flourishing business career." Never was so much compassion shown in a community - to help compensate for lack of work, commodities were brought to the Dakan store to be dispensed to those in need by the store managements discretion.

Life was now more "leisurely" spent. Men gathered at the store for longer periods of time, talked, laughed, played cards and continued being the gentlemen that they had always been. As the residents gathered to wait for the "mail", the atmosphere was jovial and lighthearted.

Moundsville friends continued to come to the "Mayors" store apartment to play bridge on a Saturday evening. Others in the community gathered for an evening of homemade ice cream or spent an evening at the Jamboree listening to a favorite entertainer. Square dancing continued to be a favorite in homes and in other communities with the ever popular socials. The men's ball team enjoyed success, as did the 4-H ball team.

If worry was part of parents daily lives, the children were too busy enjoying the magnificent country life to notice - summertime swimming, wintertime ice skating on Big Grave Creek, sledding down Bowman Ridge hill, playing games in Wellman's yard and touch football in the Dakan yard.

After the death of R.G. Dakan in 1942, his loyal partner, son George closed out the store and mill. It was not replaced and an important economic and "social" need was removed from the community. Eventually others would be.

The B & O had proved a vital link during the Civil War and was the keystone of the development of towns along its route. Beginning in Baltimore in the cast, to Cincinatti in the west, and years later joined at what was to be called Roseby's Rock. At the peak, eight passengers and from eight to twelve freight trains a day passed through the community. In our memorabila, picture post cards show that mail service and train service was superb. One of May 12, 1915 says "George why don't you get the 344 at 7:30 tomorrow. I'll meet you. You can either get the 340 home at 11:30 or stay over night." It was from his cousin "Babe" Lutes. Another from Carson Stewart to his cousin Joe Dakan read "Received your card today, will see you on my way back from Wheeling tomorrow evening."

But neither the government, nor the passengers could keep the B & 0 in business. The trucking industry had replaced the trans-continental railroad system to a large extent. Local use of the B & 0 railroad declined. The last passenger train made its final run on October 26, 1957, but the past was conspiciously absent. Even a local newspaper hardly mentioned Roseby's Rock. Quite a contrast from those early articles that spoke so enthusiastically about the historic event there and its wonderful people.

After the final freight runs, 1972-73, abandoment and removal of the tracks and bridges began in 1974. Hopes of ever having a scenic tourist train between Moundsville and Cameron, with a stop at the Rock were destroyed.

Duane Ellifritt wrote in the West Virginia Hillbilly "Early Engineering" (April 1978), "There are no trains through here now and the spot is not easily accessible to tourist. It seems a shame that the State, the B & O, or some group has not made this chunk of sandstone a tourist attraction. After all it is a monument to an important event in the surge of westward expansion that began after the Revolutionary War - the completion of the first rail line from the Atlantic Coast to the Ohio River."

Today, socially and economically the community has changed. There are no schools, churches, store nor railroad. Many of the residents are second or third generation families but new families make up the community for the most part.

From all observations, the people of Roseby's 'Rock have one special ingredient that will always make them special - they are always willing to lend a helping hand, a truly compassionate, affable group of people.

We know that our lives have been enriched by the events of this community.


Although one is enriched by the events of their community, seldom do we have the opportunity to express our appreciation and affection to those people.

My mother, Mrs. George Dakan, and I wish to pay tribute to former residents, those mentioned in Roseby's Rock article and to present residents.

R. G. Daken - George B. Dakan

The long affiliation the Dakan family enjoyed with the people of that unique community and of surrounding communities, the support, friendship and mutual respect was evident. A special tribute to the late Earl and Belva Wellman and family who were special to us.

With the removal of the railroad tracks, homeowners leased right-of-way from the B & 0 affording us the opportunity to greet neighbors as we go to the family homeplace. Included are Eilene and Wilbert Siburt, Diane and Mike Henry, Dale and Susan Whitlatch, Frank and Melissa Ott, the Drake's, Slater's, and, of course, Mrs. Joe Dakan. Others we enjoy seeing from time to time are residents "on up the railroad" - Roger Conner, Steve and Jerry Litman, new families Olnick, Trayon, Efaw, and Barrett's.

We were proud of our educational facility and wish to pay homage to the teachers who served our school. Not only did they bring teaching skills and expertise, but an essential, overall structure to our community. Several lived in our home during their tenure - Flo Teagarden Grathwell, Ada Cummins Carmiachael, Eleanor Hughes, Mildred Anderson Riley, and Opal Dietz. We salute Bernice Maxwell, Carl Anderson, Opal Isiminger, Elizabeth Welch, Thais Suter, and school nurses Louise Norman, Sandra Sherrmann (the latter whom I had the pleasure of re-visiting the school prior to its closing), and Patsy Rafferty Reed whose visits to our home are well remembered.

And to my family, "the Dakan's of Roseby's Rock", a monumental tribute!

-- Dorothy Dakan Sedosky & Mrs. George Dakan