OF RIDGELEY, WEST VIRGINIA
BY MARY RIGGLEMAN FRYE
In the beginning there was a void and God separated the waters (Potomac River) and made land which eventually became known as the town of Ridgeley in the State of W Va. A mountain arose in the middle of the land called Knobley Mt. The Potomac River derived its name from Pawtowmeck or Patawome Indians of the Algonquin tribe who lived upon the river shores at the time of early European explorers. In 1608 John Smith identified this river as Patawomeck on his map of the Chesapeake region later known to George Washington as the Patowmack, translated to mean "Where something is brought."
Ridgeley's place in history was indeed one of importance to the westward movement across the Alleganies. As part of that movement the Ohio Co was formed in 1749 by charter from England. A group of wealthy London and VA gentlemen formulated plans to carry on an extensive trade with the Indians and for colonization of lands West of the Allegheny Mts. In 1750 the Ohio Co erected a stockade and small storehouse on the West side of Wills Creek, North of the Potomac River. Two years later it was rebuilt on the Va side of the confluence of what is now Ridgeley WV. The storehouse was built at the foot of the bluff (referred to as Ft Ohio) and was constructed of logs and of sufficient size to hold company merchandise, house company agents; and afford a place of retreat and defense from Indian attack.
The French & Indian resisted the English attempt to claim the land in the Ohio Valley. This was the beginning of the French and Indian War, which lasted for seven years. The Will's Creek area consisted of scattered farms which suffered greatly from attacks. Much cruelty was suffered on both sides.
Ft Ohio was the most northern in a chain of Forts built to protect settlers during the French and Indian War. They spanned from Winchester, VA to Ridgeley. Ft Ohio helped supply the settlers moving across the Alleganies to the Ohio Valley. It predated Ft Cumberland and did indeed play a valuable role in our expansion West. There are no records of when it was torn down or of any relics remaining. Ft Ohio stocked 4000 (English Pounds) worth of merchandise purchased in London for the Indian trade in the Ohio. This blockhouse is shown on a sketch map in Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America. "Vol.V11.p.577: and "Fort of the Ohio Company" appears on Fry and Jefferson's Map of 1775. Under date of Sept 5, 1754, Gov Dinwiddie wrote Gov Sharpe of Md, saying "I have ordered Col Innes to take possession of the Ohio Co's warehouse which will make a very good magazine, and we had better pay rent than begin to build. I have directed a breast work, and the Great Guns of be mounted for Defense; and if they can build a shed round it, (it) may be proper for the soldiers to lodge in."
Around the year 1816 a large mansion was built on the bluff overlooking the Potomac River. This beautiful 22 room house was built by Capt George Calmes, an officer during the Revolutionary War. He died at home on the bluff at the age of 80 in 1835.
The house then passed to his son-in-law, Capt Roger Perry. He and his wife had a little girl who died at the age of two years on April 16, 1850. She was buried on the property but her grave has never been found.
During the Civil War, Rebel soldiers were entertained at this mansion and at one point had artillery there ready to bombard Cumberland. This information was form the Cumberland Airport Museum.
According to papers presented to Lemuel Powers, who owns the building on Carpenter Ave, which at that time was the carriage House for the mansion, there was a walking bridge between Cumberland and Ridgeley, and the people living in the mansion would also take a boat to the other side in Md.
Capt Perry farmed all the land on what is now known as the lower side and the flats and had in his hire many negroes.
According to a deed from Mary Lynn Baker Null, her grandfather's land which was deeded from Robert and Emily Perry in Dec 1872, was the bottom of the Perry land. It was sold to William and Elizabeth Wineow in 1887 and then to Benjamin Valentine to James Vandergrift in 1911 and on to Andrew Brue Baker in Dec 1919. This land is now Potomac Street.
Dr George Carpenter was the last person to reside in the mansion. In 1905 he leased the property which was then renovated with tennis courts, swimming pool and named it the "Potomac Club" used by the elite of Cumberland.
James Vandergrift purchased the Mansion and all the surrounding land. He tore down the house and subdivided the land to build homes.
In the early 1800's the Charles Ridgeley family (for whom the town is named) settled in Ridgeley. They built a lovely home on the banks of the Potomac. It now stands across the street from the present "Town Hall Building". The house was built in two sections - the first in 1837 and the addition in the late 1800's.
Every brick used in the house was made in his own brickyard. The foundation was made form stones which were pulled and hauled form the Potomac River. The wood used was cut, stacked and turned for one year prior to the building of the house. A variety of some of our best wood was used in this structure such as oak, southern pine and chestnut.
There is a beautiful Italian marble fireplace in the living room which was mounted in 1929. The house remained in the Ridgeley family until 1992. The Ridgeley family was quite an industrious family. Charles also married twice having 12 children to continue the family tree. Many Ridgeley family descendents still reside in our town.
Our town was sparsely populated and part of it was first called St Clarisville. It was given the name because of a donation of ten acres of land to the county seat by a man named St Clair, to encourage erection of the Blue Bridge crossing the Potomac River form Allegany Co, Md. Before this a footbridge was used.
In 1874, the first "Ice House" was built and supervised by Charles Ridgeley. He employed 12 men. The ice was cut form the Potomac River and kept in storage. In 1901 the Ridgeleys began to manufacture ice in the brick building which is now the Town Hall. They had an "ice wagon" which serviced the area. They also had a brickyard, a lumberyard, a small brewery inside the icehouse and when the automobile was introduced the Ridgleys built a series a garages on the bank behind their home.
Other businesses were coming to town - a second "ice house" named Miltenbergers run by Henry Wolfe and located where the Riverside Casino stood. Levi Wickard started the first brickyard, and Nick Morrisy's butcher shop was under way along with Martin's slaughterhouse in 1891.
The old W VA Central Railroad had just begun to move its shops from behind the Algonquin Hotel to Ridgeley, and as a large rock, about the size of of large room stood where our railroad crossing now is, it was necessary to blast in order to put the railroad through. This rock was used to fill n the pond and swamp where Bane's Store stood (now Joyce's Ceramic shop), and all of Mineral St.
As the process of building went on, two of our first contractors were Mr James T Vandergrift and Mr Ambrose Lawrence. Mr John P Barncord, uncle of the late Charles V Barncord who was chief of police at one time, opened the first grocery store in Ridgeley. He also had charge of the post office and called the address "Barncord W Va". Thus we had two towns, St Clairsville, and Barncord and a flag station at Ridgeley - which was very confusing to the public.
About this time John Barncord sold his store to R A Radcliffe, who on April 12, 1898 received the appointment as Postmaster, and immediately proceeded to name the town "Ridgeley" after the Ridgeley family who were the early landowners.
On Nov 28, 1914, in the Circuit Court of the County of Mineral, upon petition of R A Radcliffe, William Everstine, C A Jewell, Ferman H Moreland, H E Valentine and G W Spangler, the matter of the incorporation of Ridgeley was considered and acted upon.
The first election was held sixty days later, with T D Harrison, J H Kerns, and W N Gower in charge.
The first election was held sixty days later, with T D Harrison, J H Kerns and W N Gower in charge.
OUR FIRST TOWN OFFICIALS WERE:
Mayor - James T Vandergrift
Recorder - C P Blaker
Chief of Police - E B Hutton
Councilmen - J C Chase, J W Shepherd, O W Summers, L E Long and C E Rice.
MAYORS WHO HAVE SERVED RIDGELEY SINCE THAT TIME ARE:
J W Shepherd
L G Bridgers
J C Chase
R A Radcliffe
I S Detrick 1925 - 1927
Frank Magruder 1927 - 1935
Paul K Morgan 1935 - 1945
Odbert Poling 1945 - 1947
Frank Magruder 1947 -1953
W D Bidinger 1953 - 1955
Charles H Fryer 1955 - 1989
Michael Lantz, Sr 1989 - 1993
Charles Wilson 1993 - 1995
Warren R Harness - 1995 - 1999
Mitchell Reeves 1999 -
The longest serving Mayor was Charles H Fryer Sr, who served fro thirty-four years. His love for his family and this town were his life. He passed away May 3, 1993.
The first schoolroom in the community was in the Ridgeley "Ice House" The first teacher in this historical building was a man named Mr Borror. School was taught four and a half months a year.
A small one-room building was erected on Knobley Hill in back of the Little Church. This was torn down later and a two-room structure replaced it. This finally being replaced with a six-room building which was used until the late 1930's.
In 1915 The Knobley Street Elementary School was built for the primary grades 1-3 with pupils in grades 4-8 going to the six room building on Knobley Hill. Until 1934 students who had completed the eighth grade in Ridgeley had their tuition paid by the Frankfort District Board of Education to attend Allegany High School in Cumberland Md.
In 1934 the first high school in Ridgeley was opened in the Knobley St Building with Festus W Smith as principal. The first graduating class in 1935 had thirteen members receiving their High School diplomas. The building on Knobley Hill was used for an elementary school at that time.
After the disastrous flood in 1936, the grade school students were using Calvary M E Church and other scattered places for their schoolrooms. In 1938 a four-room building was constructed on the lot of the school athletic field for several grades as a government project.
In 1939 Ridgeley High School was constructed at its present location and added to these rooms. Ironically, our high school ended in 1976 because of consolidation in Mineral County, and the 1976-1977 school year found Ridgeley and Ft Ashby High both united to form the new Frankfort High School, grades 9-12, which is built in the Short Gap area. In the 41-year history of Ridgeley High School, three principals have guided its destiny: Festus W Smith, 1934-38; Melvin M Heiskell, 1938-68; and Golden Adkins, 1968-76.
Ridgeley High School was then used as an elementary school with an addition built on for Kindergarten and other classrooms with Mr Clarence Golden as principal.
In 1993 a new middle school was completed at Frankfort near the new high school. Kindergarten, first and second grades went to Wiley Ford and grades three and four are bussed to Ft Ashby so there is no longer a school in the town of Ridgeley.
The old high school is now being renovated to be used as a Community Center for the Frankfort Community. The former Kindergarten Building is now a Kinder Center under the direction of Mrs Karen Johnson and Mrs Candi Stonebraker.
Our town has three churches, Calvary United Methodist, St Anthony's Catholic and The Church of Christ located on Knobley Hill. We have been called "the town with three churches and no graveyards."
The first church building in Ridgeley was Calvary M E Church, which is now the Church of Christ on Knobley Hill. It was dedicated Aug 15, 1902 with Rev S K Cox as pastor. Prior to this the Methodists worshipped in the public school house (or ice house). Later the Methodists sold the little church to the United Brethren Congregation for $1500. After selling the church in 1915, the Methodists built on the spot where the present church is located. Rev W W White was pastor. On Jan 5, 1918, the new church was lighted. As it was heated and lighted by gas, and because the gas pressure was too strong after others turned their gas off, it became stronger through the pipes leading to the church and the licking flames poured through the open door and set fire to the church, leaving nothing but the fire-eaten walls. The present parsonage was saved with great difficulty. This left the little band without a church, so they worshiped in Bane's storeroom until the present church was opened Jan 12, 1919.
In 1956, a new Educational Building was added and extensive remodeling was completed under the leadership of Rev Harold May and Melvin Heiskell, building chairman. Calvary United Methodist Church now stand as the beautiful church it is today. Rev Bob Cook is the Pastor at the present time.
The little church on the hill that became the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1917, also needed some repair work. In 1938, during the depression, a faithful group of only 14, led by Mr E G Snider and George E Hiser (who was also Justice of the Peace) kept the church and Sunday school going. Through the next decades EUB flourished and the need for more room was evident. The congregation voted to enlarge the basement, which at that time, had just enough room to shovel coal into the furnace. When the digging began, the men had to place the church shell on double-tiered concrete blocks. One night a terrible windstorm blew up and the members were certain the frame would b blown over the side of the mountain. But, as a tribute to their faith, the next morning the church was still standing.
Another obstacle encountered by the men as they dug, was a huge limestone rock. Several attempts were made to break it up, but even using a sledgehammer, they were unsuccessful. So, the rock was buried. But that rock would come back to haunt them. Over the next several years, as more space was required, every time renovations were made, the rock had to be buried deeper. Finally, the church was finished and rededicated in Jan 1960.
During the long pastorate of Rev George Widmyer (1956-1968), it was apparent that a new church was crucial. The decision to relocate to Millerdale (now Carpendale), was made and by the middle of 1967, the new building was completed. It would be the last church built by the Evangelical United Brethren denomination, as we now became United Methodists by a union of the two denomination.
From a beginning of worship in a tabernacle located in the cut across from the Catholic Church the church in Carpendale is now Holy Cross United Methodist Church with Rev Harry L Burchell, Jr as Pastor.
In 1968, the Church of Christ bought the little Church on the hill. They borrowed benches from the Senior Citizens until they could purchase their pews, pulpit and piano from a church in Grantsville. Rev Roger Tuning is now Pastor of the church.
St Anthony's Catholic Church first began in 1913 when the St Vincent de Paul Society of Cumberland asked the sisters of Charity of Allegany Hospital to take charge of the Sun School in Ridgeley. Before long, the enrollment had increased to 40 members. They were then meeting at a Western Md, Railroad shanty with a tiny oil stove for heating. This was temporary for soon a small house was secured. Services were held in the former Monnet Store located on Knobley Street. The first mass was offered on Jan 25, 1914 by the Rev Thomas A Petri, O M Cap of St Peters and Paul Monastery in St Francis Chapel which was fixed up in the little house. The last mass to be celebrated here was in July 1915.
Again in Jan 1916, Father Brunning, held mass in a room over the People's Bank which had been prepared for the occasion.
On Jan 14, 1918, Thomas and Mary Kean deeded a plot land on Main St in Ridgeley in which was to be built a Catholic Church.
Some of the Sisters from Allegany Hospital would walk to Ridgeley and stop at the empty lot and dig a small hole in the ground and place a Miraculous Medal in it and say a prayer knowing God would answer in his own time.
In 1920, a young priest by the name of Father Robert Kilgannon came to Ridgeley to build a church. A contractor was hired but the work was mostly done by the men. Mass was celebrated in Spiker's store until the church could be built.
On Oct 9, 1921, the Church was formally dedicated. Also a rectory was donated by Mr James Daugherty and Father Kilgannon moved in.
Father Kilgannon had previously lived with Laura and Joseph Hughes and begin teaching Latin to Curly and Owen Hughes who were the first altar boys but Philmore Fleming, Harold Fleming and Cecil McCullough soon came forward to also serve Mass.
St Anthony's parish grew and progressed under the leadership of Father Kilgannon who served from 1921 until his death in 1969. Father James Chitock was appointed in Jan 1998 and is serving at the present time.
William E Shuck Jr, a former St Anthony's altar boy was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for heroic action as a Marine in the Korean War.
May God continue to bless the churches and their congregation in our town.
RIDGELEY VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT
The Ridgeley Volunteer Fire Dept was organized in 1924, by a group of citizens from Ridgeley who understood that a town, small or large, must have adequate fire protection.
Prior to 1924, fire protection for the town of Ridgeley was handled by the City of Cumberland Fire Dept.
The Fire Dept in Ridgeley was incorporated and chartered on Nov 5, 1925, to be known officially as the Ridgeley Volunteer Fire Dept, Inc, with its active membership not to exceed 64 members and no less than 26 members, and with a company motto of "We Labor to Protect Educate and Prevent."
The charter members were R A Radcliff, H R Knight, H M Brown, J L Biggs, L P Walker, S J Folk, B F Magruder, J H Simmons, H E Metger, John Byer, J L Hughes. The first piece of fire fighting apparatus used by the was little more than a Model T pickup truck with hose and other equipment being carried in the bed. This vehicle was used until the delivery of a 1926 Sea graves pumper with a 350 gallons per minute rotary pump and a 60 gallon booster tank. This vehicle was the backbone of the Fire Dept for many years and was owned by the Fire Dept until 1963, when it was sold to make room for a newer vehicle.
In 1926, the RVFD built a dance hall, the proceeds being used to help raise funds for the purchase of equipment, vehicles, etc. During the period from 1926 to 1940 the Fire Co rented space for the vehicle from the Rideley Motor Co, owned and operated by B F (Frank) Magruder who was also a charter member of the Co, for the sum of $4 per month.
From 1926 until 1940 the Fire Co meetings were held upstairs over the old Ridgeley Bank Bldg.
In 1940, John Brehany was chairman of the committee who added on and built a two-bay garage and meeting room on the existing dance hall and it was the first time since it was organized that the Fire Dept was consolidated in one building.
In July 1970, under the leadership of then Co President R B McFadden, the building then owned by the Ridgeley Distributors, Inc., locate across the street from the old Ridgeley High School, was purchased. This allowed the Fire Dept more room for additional vehicles and expansion.
In the early part of 1977, the company remodeled areas of its equipment building adding a new meeting room, office and training classroom and in July 1977 it was dedicated in memory of Wm E Shuck Sr, and for the second time it was organized, the company had all its necessary fire fighting functions in one building.
In 1979 the company officially organized its first Ladies Auxilliary and elected as its first President, Mrs Mary Jane Lindsay. Other charter members were Louise Kincaid, Tita Crigar, Margaret Jones, Rebecca Steele, Donna Schoenadel, Vonnie Pollock, Paula Detrick, Clara Dawson, Sylvia Carr and Esta Bowers.
The Ridgeley Volunteer Fire Dept is a member of the Mineral Co Fire Fighters Assn, the Potomac Valley Fire Fighters Assn and a member of the W Va State Fireman's Assn since it was organized on march 2, 1926. The President Fire Chief is Robert Shipley and in the year of 2000 the Ridgeley Volunteer Fire Dept is still living up to its motto of "We Labor to Protect, Educate and Prevent."
PAST BUSINESSES IN RIDGELEY
The year 1906 gave us our first dairy. "Bloomingfield Dairy" owned by Lloyd Lowndes. After the milk was brought down on the train from Rawlings it was separated at the dairy.
Ridgeley's first bank was organized in 1915, with James T Vandegrift as president and L P Walker as cashier. It was on Knobley St where Alan's Styling Salon is now located.
The first doctor in Ridgeley was H P Carpenter who had bought the Perry Mansion and turned it into a clubhouse called "The Boat Club." It was here that the first telephone was installed in Ridgeley. In 1919 James Vandegrift bought the clubhouse but after some time tore it down.
The year of 1921 gave us the first garage and gas station run by B F Magruder. TI was located on Potomac St. He sold new Model A Autos and Starts. Eh had a showroom for the new cars.
One of the highlights of the history of our town was the installation of a water system. It took the flood of 1924 to bring this about. Before this wells and cistern were used. Electricity and gas were already in use.
Jim Doughtery owned a large dance hall known as the Riverside Casino. At Christmas he opened it up for roller skating for the youth of the area.
The first barber shop was operated by Carl B Blaker, Later Web Carr and R Borror had a barber shop on Mineral St. Bill McCullough and Gary Barker opened the Flat Top Barber Shop in later years.
In 1935, we had our first dentist. Dr Martin's office was located in a small house between the Ridgeley Dairy Queen and our present Dentist, Dr Thomas Benson's office. Dr Benson's office had previously been a grocery store and apartment building..
Valentine's operated a brick yard behind the old Ridgeley High School. Metzer's had a sand and gravel operation in the same area. Many local bricks were made there.
Many grocery stores were located in our community. Some of the early ones were Banes on Knobley St opening around 1917, Bert Spikers on Main St, Delmar Schartiger's grocery on Potoamc St, The Spot located on Third Ave, Odbert Poling's Gas Station and Grocery on Potomac St, Tony's on Bridge St, Ralph Frantz had a large market on the corner of Potomac and Third Ave. He had moved from several other locations before building here.
Frank Heiskell opened a used car operation, on Potomac St, and later was bought by Joseph Nelson and was greatly enlarged. Lynn Nelson took over from his father and it is now operated by his son-in-law Barry Mason.
I was also told that Seymour Hutton who owned a poolroom on Bridge St had two bowling alleys at the same location.
Present businesses besides Nelson's are Haggi's Market, two beauty shops, Alan's and Basic Beauty, Lennox, Prime America, Criger Electronic, Tatoo Shop, Dairy Queen, Top of the Hill, Joyce's Cermics, My Place and the Pizza Shop. Ridgeley Senior Citizen's on Second Ave served lunches daily and we also have the VFW and Ridgeley American Legion.
FLOODS HIT RIDGELEY
It was in 1924 that the flood hit Ridgeley and ruined the wells and cisterns. As we noted before it was at this time that we acquired a new water system installed through Cumberland Md.
Ridgely was hit hard by the 1936 flood. It had been raining hard for several days before St Patrick's Day plus there was a lot of snow still on the ground and in the mountains. We had 4.25 inches of rain and the Potomac rose at the rate of a foot an hour so about 8 feet of water inundated parts of Ridgeley.
Many residents went to the school and little church on the hill and spent the night. While there we could watch the water gushing down Knobley St carrying the debris from many locations. 75% of the homes were flooded and nearly 1,200 person were homeless for two days.
Typhoid shots were given at the bank by the State Health Dept after the flood.
The home of Roy Flanigan and hundreds of garages and out buildings were washed away. Also Homer Smith and John Bloss's homes were moved 100 yards from their foundation. James Smith, his wife and five children were trapped in their one story home. Mr Smith cut a hole in the ceiling and moved his family to the attic. He had planned to cut through the roof when the water crested. Many people were taken form their homes by boat.
The only injury reported was Mrs Ruth Borror, a school teacher. She fell and broke her leg while leaving her home.
In 1937, Ridgeley and Cumberland was again hit by another big flood so officials knew something had to be done. At this time the local flood protection was conceived.
The Army Corp of Engineers began acquiring land for Flood Control Construction Project in March 1949. The Flood Control Project was completed in may 1959 at a total of 18.5 million dollars.
One highway and one Railroad Bridge was removed and three highways an two Railroad Bridges were reconstructed and over 70 buildings in Ridgeley were razed. The total length was 4.3 miles.
Since it was necessary that levees and walls be constructed on both banks of the North Branch and since the town of Ridgeley was unable to finance its share of local costs, Cumberland assumed the total cost of lands, easements and rights of way and for the modifications of utilities and interior drainage for Ridgeley as well as for Cumberland. In addition, the city of Cumberland has assumed the responsibility for maintaining and operating the completed works both in Cumberland and Ridgeley. Maintenance of the channels is a federal responsibility. It is estimated that a recurrence of the 1936 flood under present conditions of development and without the flood protection features would cause damages in excess of 8 million dollars.
AMERICA AT WAR
Dec 7, 1941 - A Day that will live in Infamy&ldots;During World War II, Ridgeley, a town of about 1,200 had approximately 340 of our brave men and women serving in the military. According to the Ridgeley Honor Roll our town had eleven men who paid the supreme sacrifice. John DeRosa, R W Grace, Richard Duer, Charles Woods, Frederic Kincaid, Louis DeRosa, Richard Spence, William Kline, Fred Digman, Kenneth Baker and Jonas Moreland. Our hearts went out to these families.
Also, we had Paul McFarland, Harold "Bud" Herbaugh, Ed Brewer and Jack Murrell who were taken prisoners.
Jack Murrell who now lives at 816 Maplewood Lane, Cumberland Md, was an Air Force C-47 pilot. He was shot down while carrying paratroopers to a drop zone near Arnheim, Holland.
He bailed our at 1,000 feet and broke his leg on landing. He and 25 other Allied Fighters, who were wounded when their planes were shot down, were taken to a hospital at Utrecht.
While in the hospital a member of the Dutch underground contracted the Allied prisoners about making an escape. Jack and Ray Kubly of Watertown, Wisconsin, joined in this effort. On Oct 26, 1944, they crawled through heating ducts of the hospital to the central system outside the grounds.
Once free the prisoners split into pairs and changed into civilian clothes. Jack and Mr Kubly spent several weeks at Dutch homes on the outskirts of Utrecht. Then moved to Doorn, Holland, where they stayed in the servants quarters of the estate of WW I Kaiser Welhelm.
Disguised as farmers they moved about Holland which was a very dangerous matter as they could have been shot if apprehended. They traveled by bicycle in the evening until about 8 pm. They spent time at 14 different underground groups in six months. At one point they passed through a German check point. On Nov 18, an attempt was made to get the escapees across the enemy lines back to their own troops. A party of crack British rangers n the woods near Leerdam, Holland, gave a machine gun and hand grenades to a dozen of the prisoners.
Within a mile or two they ran into a German patrol. Mr Murrell and Mr Kubly escaped in the gunfire and ran for about an hour and a half before reaching a farmhouse. They were grudgingly given food and permission to sleep in the barn. Fearing they might be turned in to the Germans they decided to leave the barn but found the door locked. They broke out and walked all night to another farm and met Dries Klooster, who contracted the Dutch. While at the barn near Barnveld they heard the children telling their friends about them staying there. They decided to leave and just missed being captured by a German patrol which had heard about them.
The two escapees last stop with the underground was with Cor Lof from Dec 5 to Feb 19. They were well fed, some of the supplies being stolen from the Germans. In mid Feb they moved to another underground group and on March 12, 1945, they rowed across the Rhine River to Canadian front lines. The pair was then sent to Paris. They gave intelligence reports to officers. Mr Cor Lof, a member of the Dutch Underground, Ray Kubley and Jack were reunited after 33 years in 1977.
HAROLD "BUD" HERBAUGH was also a prisoner of the Germans. He had been going through flooded fields all day and going from one foxhole to another when he was captured according to his brother Charles. As a prisoner they took the hides of cows and horses that had been butchered to make soup to keep up their strength. "Bud" died a few years ago.
EDWARD BREWER now lives on N Centre St, in Cumberland went in the army in 1944. He did his basic training in Camp Wheeler, Ga, and was then sent to England on the HMS Aqtonia. He was in England for Thanksgiving and left for LaHarve, France on Dec 1, 1944.
The soldiers had to walk eight miles in pouring down rain then for three days and nights were sent by trucks to relieve the 2nds Division in Germany. He was with the 106th Army Division. A lot of the men had frozen feet because in Germany the rain turned to snow. The Germans started bombardment at 5:30 AM and by 10 AM they had hit all their artillery and their was also no armor. German tanks came up on them so the Regional Commander surrendered but the Yanks destroyed all their equipment so the Germans wouldn't get it.
A German soldier was taking all their wrist watches and when he came to Ed, he put his hand over the watch and the German put a lugar pistol between his eyes. Ed then helped him take the watch off. Ed said he is probably in the jewelry business by now.
They marched the prisoners 20 kilometers a day, across the Rhine River to Koblentz. On Christmas Day, 1944, they were staying in an old barrack, and someone brought them a 5 gallon can of black strap molasses. They hadn't eaten for 3 days so it tasted good, but the side effects were terrible.
In the prison camp of Torgau which held American and British prisoners only, they signed up 25 men to work in a strip coal mine. Ed signed up and was put on a train in box cars with about 70 to 75 men in one car and sent to a town called Sanderdorf.
It was a town about the size of Ridgeley. They lived in a small house with 13 double deck bunks.
They had one guard for each place and Ed said they were treated pretty good. They guard even got them something to soak their feet which was in pretty bad shape by then.
They were up at 5AM every morning and off on Sundays. One man from Charleston W Va, insisted on a Bible reading and Church services every Sun. They were paid by the Germans 70 pfenning (7 cents) a day and worked 12 hours, six days a week.
When the Russians came in and the war was over, the prisoners were moved to Naumberg - to an old artillery school for about a week, then flown to LaHarve, France on a C47. Gen Eisenhour was there. They came back home on SS Sea Robi, took them to Camp Shank and gave them a big steak dinner.
Ed said it taught you to appreciate what you have.
From here we go to the Korean War and our hometown boy, William E Shuck, Jr of the US Marine Corp, who was awarded post humously the Medal of Honor, by the Pres of the US, Dwight D Eisenhour.
STAFF SGT WILLIAM E SHUCK was born on Aug 16, 1926, the son of Mr and Mrs William E Shuck Sr. He was graduated from Ridgeley High School, in the spring of 1944 and entered the US Navy on Sept 21, 1944, in submarine service. He was discharged form the Navy on July 19, 1946, and worked for the Kelly -Springfield Tire Co prior to enlisting in the US Marine Corp on Nov 14, 1947. He received his basic training at Parris Island, SC1 and served at various duty stations, before being transferred to Korea in Jan of 1952.
Sgt Shuck was killed in action on July 3, 1952, while serving as a Squad Leader of Co G, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Div. The Citation reads as follows:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidly at the risks of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Squad leader of Co G, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Div (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 3, July, 1952. When his platoon was subjected to a devasting barrage of enemy small arms, grenade, artillery and mortar fire during an assault against strongly fortified hill positions well forward of the main line of resistance. Staff Sgt Shuck, although painfully wounded, refused medical attention and continued to lead his machine gun squad in the attack. Unhesitatingly assuming command of a rifle squad when the leader became a casualty, he skillfully organized the two squads into an attacking force and led two more daring assaults upon the hostile positions. Wounded a second time, he steadfastly refused evacuation and remained in the foremost position under fire until assured that all dead and wounded were voluntarily assisting in the removal of the last casualty. Staff Sgt Shuck, by his fortitude and great personal valor in the face of overwhelming odds, served to inspire all who observed him. His unyielding courage throughout out reflects the highest credit upon himself and the US Naval Service. He gallingly gave his life for his country."
Dwight D Eisenhower.
In a letter to Bill's wife, 2nd Lt George Shields stated that Bill was with the assault platoon and squad leader of a machine gun section. The assault forces moved out at dawn. When the mist lifted all hell broke loose&ldots;The Marines went up the hill four times, they had to withdraw bringing two prisoners with them, Bill was the first wounded in the arm and later in the leg - but he refused to be evacuated.
He continually went up to help as a litter-bearer for the wounded. It was at this time and task that he was killed. While bending over to pick up a stretcher his bulletproof vest slipped up his back and he caught a 50 caliber round in his back in the spine. He died instantly. For his valor that particular day, I and his whole section wrote him up for the congressional Medal of Honor.
I found out later that Archie Carr and Lerloy Henry were also German prisoners during WW II. Archie's daughter, Sharon Clark said he didn't talk much about it but he was captured during the last couple of months of the war and sent by boxcar to a Nazi Concentration Camp. He and Leroy were both wounded during the war.
DO YOU REMEMBER?
When Doc Radcliff delivered ice to the residents of Ridgeley in his wagon?
Hanging out at the Spot on 3rd Ave or Valentines (where My Place is now located) or the Fire Hall where Nonie Vogtman and "Pop" Duer made the best hamburgers in town?
Cecil Winterstien delivering groceries for Bane's?
Exciting Fri afternoon football games on the field behind the High School until the flood control went in and it was moved beside the school?
Waiting at the Railroad crossing for a long freight train and the black cinders that used to land on your freshly washed laundry?
Walking to Riverside Park on Sun to hear a band concert.
Walking to the big rock on the hill above the church
Ice skating on the Potomac River?
Queen City Dairy milkshakes or the delicious ice cream and candy at the Maryland Nut Shop?
When Ridgeley had a grocery store on about every corner and about five gas stations.
Morgan's Jewelry School on Knobley Hill?
A school for blacks across from Nelson's (formerly Heiskells} Used Cars on Potomac St. this was about 1925 - 1936?
Blackouts during the WW II -also rationing stamps for sugar, shoes, gas, etc and putting yellow food color in oleo.
The ten o'clock curfew?
Buying saving stamps until you would have enough for a war bond?
Listening to Ma Perkins, Lux Theatre, Gabriel Heater or Walter Winchell, and the Hit Parade on the radio.
Patsy Amato singing and playing the guitar with the rain pouring down, at the dedication of the Ridgeley Honor Roll?
The Great Northern Lights, people thought he world was coming to an end, this was the 1930's?
The Ridgeley High School students went out on strike for Coach Cathers?
The Ridgeley Teen Age Club (R-TAO) held at the Rod and gun Club (now Senior Citizens) in the late 40's?
Walking out to the tunnel in Carpenters Addn on a pretty day just for a drink of water?
The one room school in Carpenters Addn for students outside the Ridgely City limits?
Bull banning -when a couple got married, people (esp kids) would bang tin can or pots and pans together in front of the newly weds home until they threw out candy or pennies?
Basil Moreland's meat market on Blocker St?
Walking across the Western Md Railroad bridge to Cumberland and praying a train didn't come until you get across the bridge?
Ridgeley High School football team winning the State Championship in 1976?
The bus service from Ridgeley to Wiley Ford for only 10 cents?
The Old Blue Bridge?
Mr Melvin Heiskell's retirement party at the Ali Ghan Shrine Club?
Mr Ed Hiser's grocery store in the white brick building on the corner of Blocker and Lyons St. Mr Hiser was also Justice of Peace for many years and he would hold trials in a room at the white brick. Mrs Hiser also had a boarding house there.
DID YOU KNOW?
In the 60's Ridgeley had a White Cross Store and a medical dr. Dr Pagan was sponsored by the Lions Club and was located at the corner of Potomac St where My Place is now located. In the 90's we now have our first veteranarian. Dr Rick Lechliter is located also on Potomac St across from the Dairy Queen.
The Ridgeley VFW Post was organized on April1, 1951. Nelson Brant was named temporary commander until official charter was received. The post was first named Sinclair Post after one of the first residents of Ridgeley. Gen Sir John St Clair was quartermaster for Gen Braddocks army in 1754. He had set up a commissary here across form Ft Cumberland. Ridgely was called St Clairsvile and then Sinclairsvile until our town was finally made official.
In the early 1930's there was a doubly murder in Ridgeley at the Borror's Beer Garden. There had been several robberies around town, so Mr A Borror, who was also the night watchman had his gun ready. When the robber broke in, they both shot each other, and were killed instantly. They found them the next morning.
Charter night was held at the Clary Club June 5, 1939, with 22 members added to the roster, Charter members were:
William Aumiller, Frank Heiskell, William Biddinger, Mevlin Heiskell, Richard Biggs, J S Hutton, John Byer, C A Jewel, W R Cather, Dr J B Martin, Ward Coder, Paul K Morgan, W M Cornelius, Carl Myers, J Leo Dougherty, Joseph Nelson, George Edenhart, H Brown Oates, Ralph Frantz, Roy Ridgeley, Leon Hammon, Odbert Poling.
In talking with some older Ridgeley residents, I asked them some things they remembered about Ridgeley in their younger days. It was so interesting I think you'll enjoy some of their stories.
RAYMOND SWADLEY who is 85, remembers as a kid how he learned to swim in the Potomac River at the bare beach, above the Railroad shops. When the river would freeze over he wasn't allowed on the ice, but one day he and five other boys went on it. The ice was about 5 inches thick but still soft. A neighbor saw them and told his father He and his brother Art both got a whipping from his Dad. He said "it was the last one he ever got."
When Ridgeley got water up the back road, the pipes were above ground with a spigot at the top of each street. You would go up there to draw your water.
He remembers that street car tracks were run out to the tunnel but we never had a street car because they couldn't get it over the bridge.
Everyone had gardens in those days and they would sell a bushel of tomatoes for fifty cents.
Cumberland dumped their trash at McAbees and then it was burned or just went into the river.
His Uncle Lon Winebrenner lived by now Nelson's Gargare and that was as far as Potomac Street went. You turned up there at Lyon's street to go through Ridgeley. During the 36 flood his uncle's piano floated against the ceiling.
Raymond was very active in the church when he was young as he is still at this time.
MRS OPAL RIDGELEY, 94 years old, moved here in 1925 from Davis WV. She was married to Frank Ridgeley, grandson of Charles Ridgeley, one of the first residents of Ridgeley. She was very active in Calvary Methodist UM church and at one time was Sun School Supt and teacher.
She remembers three feet of water in their basement during the 36 flood. Two women who were driving through Ridgeley spent the night with them because of the flood waters.
There were five boys in the Ridgeley family, Jim, Earl, Roy, Delbert and Frank They were the sons of Walter Ridgeley.
Following is the obituary of Charles Ridgeley:
Feb 17, 1897
Charles Ridgeley Dead
Identified with this community all his life.
Mr Charles Ridgeley, widely known throughout Allegany Co, Md, and Mineral and Hampshire Counties W Va, died yesterday, shortly after noon, at his home in Sinclairsvile, opposite Cumberland in his seventy fourth year. He had been ill about a year, but was able to be about until a month or two ago. His father was tollgate keeper at Folck's Mill on the old National pike in the early days of the noted thoroughfare. When his son Charles, was a youth he removed to Cumberland and here the boy and the venerable ex-Justice J B Wideneer attended school, the teacher being Nicholas Ridgeley, an uncle of the former, and the school on the site of the Justice J Monroe Turner's office. The Ridgeley's took up their residence in a log house which stood where the residence of Col William E Griffith now stands.
Mr Ridgeley was a commissioner for the Allegany co in 1860. He lived at one time on the Tibbett's farm at Cresaptown, the scene of the celebrated Swearingen murder. From there he removed to Sinclairsville W Va, where he engaged in farming and the ice business. He was a member of the county court of Hampshire Co at one time.
He was twice married, his first wife being the daughter of Mr Isaac B Rice, who lived on Williams road, and by whom he had the following children: Mrs Mary E Montgomery of Wheeling, W Va; Mrs Virginia Knight of Keyser; Mrs Florence Dayton of Hedgesville W Va, and Alfred Ridgeley of Sinclairsville.
His second wife was Miss Elizabeth Thrasher, who is still living, and to them were born the following children; Messrs Walter, Charles and William of Sinclairsville; Mrs Anna Wolfe, Folck's Mill and Misses Lillie, Emma, Nettie and Fannie Ridgeley. The funeral will take place at one o'clock Fri afternoon, from the house with interment in Rose Hill cemetery.
This was copied form a clipping which belongs to Emma Richards, daughter of Anna Wolfe.
CHARLES "PAPPY" MULLIGAN, 88 years old, who lives on Barncord Street, grew up in Ridgeley in one of the older homes here. His family lived on Bridge Street and when the canal was being used, he said the mules would come across the Railroad bridge and get in their yard. His mother would always tell them to be sure the gate was closed so the mules wouldn't get in. they would always go back at eh same time to be fed.
He remembers Pete Thompson, a black man who had a little shanty above the tunnel, and worked on the Miller farm and also drove mules on the canal.
Mr Mulligan's mother worked at the Potomac Club (about where Lantz's home is now). It was owned by Jimmy Vandergrift and she made fifty cents a day.
Everyone in Ridgeley had a well until 1920 when they started getting water from Cumberland.
"Pappy" remembers when the WPA laid the brick on Carpenter Ave. He said the brick had notches in them so the horses wouldn't slip going up and down.
He also told me about the main highway only going part way. He thought you turned up about Blocker St to go through Ridgeley. HE remembers a lot about our town and was very interesting to talk to.
GENEVIEVE EDMONSON is 78 years old and remembers going to the black school on Potomac Street until the 1936 flood. She said Mr Simmons, who was the principal, came to the school and told them there was going to be a flood. She helped move the school supplies up on a high shelf but they were still destroyed. From then one she went to Cumberland to school.
In 1925, Hestor Parker was principal. In 1935 it was called to Phyllis Wheatley school.
She told me about Mr MaAbee who raised and butchered hogs and he had a dump at the corner of Potomac and Blocker St and how he collected garbage for Cumberland Md.
She also told me about Uncle Pete Thompson and said he lived next door to them for awhile. She said he had his finger shot off and the kids called him "Pistol Fist."
MRS MAE SCHARTIGER, who is 92, said "when you get so old you can't remember things". Delmar and Mae came here in 1925 and lived in three rooms over Bane's Store. She said they paid $12.50 rent. Delmar got a job at the Tin Plate for a couple of months and then went to the Kelly. He also was night watchman at the Fire Dept, and would sound the siren when there was a fire. They ran a grocery store on Potomac St for many years.
GEORGE OTT, who is 84 years old was born in Ridgeley on Miller Road. He also remembers Mr Thompson, who he called "Uncle Pete" coming to his home, but he w2ould never sit at the table with the family. He was raised in slavery and said a black man shouldn't sit at the table with the whites. "Uncle Pete" used to tell ghost stories to George and he would be afraid to go to bed at nights. Pete Thompson ended his life by cutting his throat.
George would get his hair cut at Monnet and Blake's Barber Shop which was located where the city hall is. He said the men played horseshoes by the barber shop and when you needed a hair cut they would stop playing long enough to go in and cut your hair.
The ice house was also in the same building and Ridgeley's would cut ice in square blocks and pack it in saw dust. Everyone had an ice box and would buy the ice from them.
He remembers three or four good size boats going up and down the Potomac River. They were double deck paddle boats and the Cumberland Municipal Band would play music. They would go from about the Moose Building to Dryere's Beach around Bowling Green.
George said every Sun you would see a stream of people going out to the tunnel.
There was a small railroad station right at the crossing and three trains a day would come in and drop off the mail. The Post Office was then located where Joyce's Ceramic shop is now.
BOB MAGRUDER, who is now 90 years old said his dad and brother, Frank had the Magruder Gas station and also sold Model A Fords and Durants. There were 5 boys in the family, Frank, George, Hick, Harry and Bob and they all worked at one time or another in the garage.
He went to school on the hill until the 8th grade then went to Allegany High School. He said you had to pay to go to Cumberland schools.
He said Ridgeley was pretty rough at one time. When the men from Cumberland came over the bridge to see the Ridgeley women they would chase them out of town.
There was a long rooming house when you came across the old Blue Bridge. In the 1924 flood a tanker hit the bridge and knocked it off its pilings. He also said the fire company used to have carnivals by the bridge about where the Potomac Queen would dock.
There was nothing but swamps below Blocker St and he said there were at least three brick yards and Metzer's had a gravel company down by the river..
There was a lot of horse trading going on at one time in Ridgeley. Bob said the gypsies would set up tents in a lot between 2nd and 3rd Ave and trade horses. He said the Smith families who lived behind the high school were also great horse traders.
The flu really hit the town hard in 1918. He was only nine years old at the time but it made a big impression on him.
Bob was a charter member of the Ridgeley American legion which started in 1944. He was also a member of the Ridgeley Fire Dept and said the fire co used to hold dances at the Old Ridgeley Casino.
Bob used to go with the Police Chief, "Buck" Barncord when he made his arrests.
When Calvary Methodist Church burned they paid a penny for each brick that you could clean. Bob said he cleaned bricks like mad.
Bob drove the city bus for 51 years and ran the bus lien from Ridgeley to the Celanese for 21 years before changing to a different route. He could rally tell me a lot of stories about Ridgeley. In fact, he probably could tell me where each person lived when he was growing up. It was a joy talking to him.
JOSEPH MELLO came to Ridgeley from Whitman, W Va, in the mid 1930's. He started working for Heishell Motor Co (Present location of Nelson Auto Sales).
RIDGELEY HIGH SCHOOL CLASSES
1935 - 1950
1951 - 1962
1963 - 1971
1972 - 1976
POSTED MARCH 31, 2002 BY PATTI MCDONALD
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