THE TOWN OF KEYSER
IT'S PAST, PRESENT AND PROSPECTIVE FUTURE
An Unexcelled Location for Manufacturing Industries - Natural Resources of the Highest Order.
A Community Wherein Progress is the Watchword Among Business Men - Biographical and Descriptive Sketches of Public Spirited citizens Whose Interests Are Bound Up in the Welfare of Their Town
EDITED, COMPILED AND ILLUSTRATED BY TOWNSHEND & LYONS
As a town advances in wealth and population, and as it
commercial affairs multiply, and the arms of trade are reaching in
every direction, it becomes a vitally interested public to know the
importance of its demands, as well as the causes which have given it
claims upon their patronage and attention.
Trade watches with lynx-eyed vigilance and with the keenest and closest scrutiny, the manipulations of those who seek to secure its benefits, none the less than it does the points best fitted by natural means or artificial efforts as the proper fountain head for supplies, or the channel through which its commodities may flow in the least obstructable and least hindered way.
To supply this information in a concise, and if possible, interesting manner is one of the objects of this issue.
Another fact which makes a work of this description well nigh imperative is that Keyser needs new people and more capital in order to take advantage of the natural resources so prodigally lavished on this favored section. It is therefore principally to interest investors and attract immigration that this work has been attempted, and if those who purchase or receive copies of the paper will take the necessary trouble to forward them to friends in other localities, there is little doubt but that new people and new industries will be attracted to our already bustling and growing town.
People who are struggling against fate in the over crowded cities of the North and East, where sandbagging competition and the intense spirit of commercialism have reduced the chances of success to a mere atom, can get a new start in life, with enlarged opportunities for acquiring a competence, by locating and expending their energies in Keyser and Mineral County. In the heart of a section which is just feeling the impetus of a new development. The opportunities offered the possessor of a limited capital can scarcely be duplicated elsewhere.
Paddytown, the original name of what is now the town of Keyser, was probably bestowed in the honor of the leading member of the most notable family among the early pioneers of this section - Patrick McCarty. Certainly the McCarty, Moseley and Singleton families were the principal people of this section at the inception of its settlement, and while no direct evidence corroborates the fact, it is generally admitted that it Paddytown was not named for Patrick McCarty it most assuredly should have been. The McCartys were in many respects the foremost citizens. they erected near here a forge or Iron furnace, and were interested in the water transportation facilities, at that time about the only means of communication and shipment between this point and tide water. They also owned a large tract of land.
The greatest event in the history of Paddytown was the construction of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, to this point, which occurred in 1852, and to do fitting honor to so momentous a happening the name of the village was changed to New Creek, as being more fitted to a coming metropolis than the euphonious cognomen of Paddytown.
The railroad officials, pleased with the natural advantages of New Creek, with its wide extent of level land, greatly desired to locate its shops here and would have done so, had not the owners of the small tract of land needed asked an exorbitant price.
These shops have since been secured by the payment of a $10,000 bonus.
Piedmont was, consequently, made the division point, and that town rapidly increased in wealth and population. Had the company been encouraged to make its large contemplated investments here at that time, it is highly probably that long ago we would have passed the town period of our existence and have become a full fledged city, for no other station along the railroad possesses more desirable natural advantages.
New Creek (Now Keyser) was an important military base of the Union Army during the Civil War. The town was among the very first places occupied and fortified by the Federal forces, Gen Lew Wallace taking possession early in June, 1861. Its importance from a military standpoint is easily understood. It commanded the roads from Franklin in Pendleton county; from Petersburg, Grant County; Moorefield, Hardy count, and from Romney, Hampshire county, as well as the B&O railroad. At the period when Gen. Wallace occupied New Creek, all of these towns were in the possession of the confederates, or liable to be so, as the rebels were masters of the situation east of the Alleghenies. Romney was distant but 18 miles, Petersburg 40, Moorefield not so far, and Winchester but 60. It can thus be seen that New Creek was exceptionally open to attack from the confederates, and that if they gained possession the B&O railroad would be useless to the Federal government. For these reasons the Union forces were especially desirous of occupying the town at the outset, and this policy continued throughout the war. AT times the place was strongly garrisoned, by Forts McHenry, Williams and Piano, and it was frequently the center from which important military movements were made.
The Confederates never seriously contemplated capturing and holding the town for themselves, but they cherished the hope of destroying the large quantity of stores concentrated here, and in August 1864, Gen. McCausland made an attack, but was defeated with considerable loss. Gen. Rosser prepared to attack the town in November, 1864. He unexpectedly moved against it from Moorefield, and on Nov 28, his forces captured New Creek and destroyed large quantities of military stores. Gen. Rosser did not attempt to establish himself in the town, but withdrew after inflicting all possible damage to railroad property. the next day the Union troops returned and re-established their camp. Their possession of the town was never again endangered.
The town retained the name of New Creek until about 1873, when, because of the removal of the division from Piedmont to this place largely through Vice-President Keyser of the B&O railroad, the people showed their appreciation by rechristianing it in his honor.
Situated at the foot of the Allegheny mountains, at the confluence of New Creek and the north branch of the Potomac River, surrounded by mountain scenery of the highest degree of grandeur, in a valley noted well-nigh nationally for its productive soil, is the town of Keyser. It is on the main lines of the Baltimore & Ohio and West Virginia Central railroads, giving with their connections, outlets to all the great inland and seaboard markets.
Its population is now about 3,300 people nearly all of whom are Americans, the scarcity of other nationalities being unusually noticeable. Constant grading and paving have made Keyser the possessor of the best appearing streets of any town between Baltimore and Wheeling. the land on which the townsite was laid off, has a slope to the river, and the resulting natural drainage is in itself a sufficient explanation of the extraordinary health conditions.
Spared alike the exceeding heat of summer and the extreme cold of winter, situated 900 feet above seal level (high enough to be free from fogs and malaria, the climate of no town is more healthful or delightful. The winters, while open, are cold and snowy enough to give tone and vigor to the constitution. The summers while hot enough to ripen any kind of grain, or grown any kind of vegetables, are not so warm as to be enervating. the mountain ranges surrounding on all sides secure Keyser from the visitation of severe storms.
The town is an unusually pretty and attractive one, and the magnificent homes of its wealthier residents, some illustrations of which will be found in these pages, give an added air of culture and refinement. The substantial brick business houses, the broad well-kept streets lined with handsome shade trees, the excellent roadways radiating into a flourishing agricultural country, all combine to give a picture of thrift and comfort such as is seldom met with. The streets are lighted by twenty-six candle power arc lights, and in all that goes to make up a thriving prosperous town. Keyser is behind none of its.(missed a few lines) expense of $45,000 one of the best systems of water works in this country was put in about three years ago, the supply being drawn from a never failing spring of the purest mountain water. The fall of 290 feet gives it a pressure of 120 pounds to the square inch, and throughout the town an adequate number of fire plugs have been conveniently placed. The water from its natural pressure, can be thrown over the highest building in town, and this fact alone fully justifies the cost of the improvement. the bonds issued have already been reducted to $37,000, and these will easily be taken care of as they mature.
Keyser is blest with an excellent and efficient
VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT
Which is fully equipped and well managed. No engine is required.
THE MUNICIPAL OFFICERS
Include in their number some of our most influential
citizens. They are:
Mayor - W M Welch
Recorder and Assessor - S M Atkins
Sergeant and Treasurer - C F Vest
Councilmen - F M Reynolds, J T Carskadon, James H Rine, N J Crooks, H G Buxton
Keyser's total bonded indebtedness is $37,000: the assessed value of real estate subject to taxation is $465,400. Exempt property includes: School house, $7,500, churches and parsonages, $29,500, courthouse and jail $15,800, council chamber $700, benevolent institution $1,000. Town taxes for all purposes are but 70c, or $100.
THE TELEPHONE SYSTEM
Lately introduced is a distinct help to business activity, and is being liberally supported by our citizens. It is operated under a franchise by the Gordon Telephone Co. The Burlington Telephone Co is leased by the Gordon Telephone Co as far as Burlington, where it connects with a complete system in operation to Romney, Moorefield, Petersburg, Franklin and intermediate points. Keyser has full telegraphic and express accommodations, both the United States and Adams Express Companies operating from this point.
To a few public-spirited citizens Keyser owes this handsome theatre. The building is shown in the cut of the Keyser Bank which occupies rooms on the lower floor. It is a massive brick structure, the auditorium having a seating capacity of fully 600, and a good attraction invariably packs the house. The main floor is easily transformed into a ball room, and weekly dances are held by the young people's social societies. The commencement exercises of the schools, the Demarest medal contests under the auspices of the W.C.T.U. political gatherings, etc., are all held in the Music Hall. Occasional concerts have been given by the Keyser Brass Band which was organized in 1897. This is a superb band of twenty seven pieces.
BALTIMORE & OHIO SHOPS
Progressive citizens had never ceased to regret the non-location of the B&O Shops here. the railroad had moved the division from Piedmont to Keyser in the 70's, but in 1896 again moved it - this time to Cumberland Md. The council, voicing the public's sentiment, thereupon determined that herole action was necessary to save the growing town from a retrograde movement. J A Sharpless was then mayor, and he together with F M Reynolds, T R Carskadon, T R Davis and W C Clayton formed the committee which waited on the B&O officials and secured the agreement whereby the citizens of Keyser were to furnish a bonus of $10,000 and the company was to erect a repair shop 80X500 feet long and employ from 175 to 200 men at this point. Two more members, J T Carskadon and W D Reese, Jr, were then added to the committee at a Citizen's meeting and the work of securing subscriptions successfully consummated shortly after. The beneficial effect of this improvement has since been felt in every avenue of Keyser's business life.
The best proof of the suitability of Keyser as a place for
manufacturing industries is found in the record of the establishment
and growth of those is described in these pages. It is a wrong if not
conclusive presumption, that they could not have been built, or if
built, could not have bee run with success, unless Keyser possessed
all the incidents of location, labor and material needed to give
success to manufacturing. the various lines of industry described
cover a wide range. they include: A woolen mill, a furniture factory,
a planning mill, a telegraph supply factory, a cigar and stogie
factory, a carriage and wagon works, flour mills and bottling works.
Keyser, while certainly more fortunate than most towns of equal size in the extent of her manufacturing interests, has by no means progressed as far as her natural resources would invite or suggest. The advantages possessed as a manufacturing site are not excelled by any location in the state. Keyser is in close proximity to raw materials and inexhaustible coal beds. Of the raw stuff, wood, iron,sand and clay may justly be called the principal materials: closely allied to which in importance are wool and hides. the finest timber lands in the state are in this vicinity. This hardwood timber is specially adapted for all kinds of building purposes, furniture, wagons, spokes, farming implements, cars, etc, and for the manufacture of paper. There is also within easy reach, a large supply of bark timber, both hemlock and oak, for the tanning of leather. Within a convenient distance are large deposits of potter's clay and sand suitable for making pottery ware, tile, brick, etc., as well as vast quantities of limestone, iron ore, and other materials. Keyser is within seven miles of the greatest coal fields of the state including the famous mines of the Upper Potomac and George's Creek region.
Labor is at all times available, and at moderate wages, which the margin on almost any investment will justify the capitalist in paying.
There is still room for almost every kind of manufacturing enterprise. To a moral certainty the following small enterprises would pay and pay well:
Ice factory and cold storage plant.
Fruit and vegetable cannery.
Any factory into whose products wood, iron or wool enters, and which can take advantage of cheap fuel and perfect shipping facilities.
the following list of articles will some day unquestionably be made in Keyser:
Wooden ware of all kinds
Wooden handlebars and rims for bicycles.
Boxes, baskets and brushes.
Bar fixtures, etc.
The Chief merit of selection does not exist in securing an unoccupied field, but is due to the opportunities to develop capacity and production untrammeled by a rack of convenient markets. In locating in Keyser, the manufacturer who seeks a local market may consider that he is not dependent upon present trade conditions, favorable as they may seem, but that the field of demand is increasing in direct proportion to the wonderful development of this favored section. to a great extent manufacturing is stimulated by the immediate agricultural resources of a town, and in the article on Mineral County this subject is fully treated.
AS A BUSINESS CENTER
The business men of Keyser have faith in the bright future of their town, a fact easily demonstrated by the practically unanimous response accorded to any movement having for its object the progress or advancement of the community as a whole. They fully realize the need of more industries, and will in the future,as they have in the past, offer every reasonable inducement to attract investment. Representatives of every retail business necessary to the comfort of a community are among their number, and the stocks carried compare favorably with any. It is unnecessary to leave Keyser for the purchase of any commodity, necessity or luxury, and prices will be found at bedrock, owing to the unusual freightage facilities. to patronize your home merchant is to build up your town, and a spirit of local pride should make it a motto of our people "never to buy elsewhere, what can be secured at home." the financial solidity of Keyser, business men is strikingly unusual; and this fact adds to the fame and good name of the town.
THE KEYSER BANK
the feeling of security afforded to a business community by
the possession of a responsible banking institution
whose methods and principles are founded upon broad experience and ripe judgment, and whose financial status is beyond question, may not be overestimated. Of such a character is the Keyser Bank, organized July 15, 1886. Its paid ?word stock is $?50,000 and its surplus and undivided profits $8,000. For twelve years that staunch financial concern has done business in this city continuously, never having closed its doors save on legal holidays, never having repudiated an obligation, and having safely weathered every financial panic and period of depression, which have brought disaster to banks all over the country. this is a record of which the Keyser Bank has reason to feel proud. The bank in question does a general banking business, It's annual transactions comparing favorably with the figures of any bank situated in a town of equal population in the state. It has correspondents in all the principal cities of the United States. At no period in its history has the Keyser Bank failed to respond promptly and liberally to requests for financial accommodations on the part of such of its depositors and customers as were able to furnish proper collateral. At the same time, it has always exercised the most conservative judgment in handling the funds in its possession, taking not the slightest risk warranted by approved banking methods. The bank has its home in one of the best buildings in Keyser, a brick structure of two stories, situated on a prominent business corner. The bank's interior is handsomely fitted up after the style of metropolitan banking institutions, their furniture being substantial as well as elegant. In the (unable to read part of this line) is a capacious apartment, used as consultation and director's room and private office. the dimensions of the interior are 25X50 feet, thus affording ample convenience for the transaction of business. A large steel vault with time lock affords the fullest protection against fire and burglars. The officers of the bank are: F M Reynolds, President; W J Babb, Vice President; and J T Carskadon, Cashier, with J A Sharpless as assistant. Its directorate is composed of its officers, J D Gelwicks, G T Carskadon, N J Crooks and J H Markwood. The gentlemen above named, with the both well and favorable. His business experience required as a clerk has gained in our city and he is a conversant with the needs and of our people, in merchandise, ions, etc. the stock carried is and specially selected in quality.
THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
CONDUCTED ON A PROFESSIONAL BASIS - HIGH SCHOOL AFFILIATES WITH THE STATE UNIVERSITY
There is no better drawing can for an enterprising little city than good public schools. Valuable as good building sites may be, importance as traffic facilities are, attractive as a generous and enterprising disposition on the part of citizens always proves, none of these advantages weighs more with desirable newcomers than progressive, well taught and well disciplined public schools. For years the schools of Keyser have been recognized by all unprejudiced persons as being among the best of the state. With one of the handsomest school buildings in the eastern West Virginia, it is best that the standard of the schools should be so high. As evidence of the reputation of the schools of Keyser enjoy is the fact that pupils nearer other schools attend and pay tuition in order to get the benefit of the instruction of these schools. The high standard of excellence which, the schools have attained and the de* of popularity in which they possess, * been brought about in no small measure by the wise administrations, economical yet generous management of the Board of Education. Keyser has been particularly fortunate in the selection of the men to whom have been entrusted the affairs of the public schools; and, so strong has grown the public school sentiment, that party ties bind but loosely in educational matters. Present Board of Education: J A Sharpless, president; W E Fazenbaker, commissioner; George R Davis, secretary. The school building is a handsome edifice, as shown the the accompanying illustration, and was built at a cost of $15,000. It faces on one of the town's better streets, having spacious grounds to either side and rear. the building is provided with modern means of heating and ventilation. Keyser's scholastic population is 752 whites and 55 colored. The colored pupils are taught in a separate building by a teacher of the same race. Amount of money expended in salaries for teachers of 1897 -8, $4,986. Number of teachers employed 12. school term, 9 months. First high school graduate, 1889. High school has an alumni association. R * Collins, who has been the principal of the school for the past three terms, is an educator of state prominence. The school has 9 grades in addition to high school studies.
THE ELECTRIC LIGHT PLANT
THE KEYSER ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY'S PERFECTLY EQUIPPED PLANT
During the past decade so universal has become the use of
electricity for lighting and power purposes that for a community to
maintain kerosene street lamps is to lose all claims to
progressiveness and enterprise. Electric lights in short, are an
absolute necessity. Most towns already possess plants of more or less
completeness and efficacy, but few, indeed, can boast of a so
thoroughly equipped and well managed an one as that of the Keyser
electric Light Co, which was erected in 1895.
the generating plant occupies a neat, solidly constructed fire-proof brick building and its capacity with the motors now installed is 1000 16 candle power in candescent lights and 40 2000-candle power arc lights. the brilliancy of the lights, their steadiness, and the perfect service rendered has more than borne out the highest expectations. Practically all of the business houses, church buildings, lodge rooms, and many private residences are now using these incandescent lights. Under a contract with the municipal authorities the streets are lighted with arc lights.
the officers and directors of the company, all local business men, include F M Reynolds, president; A W Coffroth, vice-president; N J Crooks, manager and treasurer. Directors: W E Crooks, H G Buxton, J H Markwood and J T Carskadon. The authorized stock is $50,000. to private enterprise is owed the finest, most modern and generally complete electric light plant to be found in any town of equal size in the state.
A BRIEF SKETCH OF OUR PLACES OF WORSHIP
A municipality's thrift and moral tone can generally be correctly rated according to the number of church spires to be seen within its limits, and judged by such a standard, Keyser ranks foremost among towns of even greater population than she possesses.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The first congregation of this denomination was organized here early in the 50's, and bore the name of New Creek mission. During the war, the church building which had been erected was burned. About this time, interest in church matters began to lag, due to the concentrating of troops here and the excitement of war, and for a period of several years, no regular services were held. At the close of hostilities, a pastor was secured and services resumed, since which time the church has prospered and largely increased in membership. March, 1894, work was begun on a new building, which was dedicated the following Dec. It's cost, including the grounds, was $12,000, and by the illustration presented on this page, some idea of its beauty of finish and modern architectural features may be gathered. The Rev J O Wightson is the present pastor of this church.
GRACE M. E. CHURCH, SOUTH
The origination of this church dates back to 1875, services then being held in the basement of the old courthouse building. One year later the handsome edifice now worshipped in was erected, to which in 1897 additions and improvements were made at a cost of $3,000. In 1894, a parsonage was built which is a highly creditable residence. It cost $3,000. The church has prospered from its inception, now having a membership of 250, and a Sunday school class of 300. Rev J H. Light, the present pastor, has been in charge for the past four years.
The first services held by the Presbyterians in this community were at the house of one Robert Sheetz, the pastor being the Rev Edward Martin. Later a suitable church building was erected. During the war this building was used for the storage of commissary stores, arms and ammunition, and regular services were no longer held. After the war closed, renewed interest was taken by the members and regular pastor again secured. In 1893, the handsome edifice now worshipped in was constructed at a cost of about $10,000. The present pastor, Rev J H Moore, was installed in 1890. Then the membership was 35, it now being 190. Prior to Rev J H Moore's advent here, Piedmont was included in this pastorate, but it is now independent and in a highly prosperous condition.
The Christian congregation meets in Carskadon's hall and has an active membership. Pastor, Rev W H Patterson.
ST JOSEPH'S CATHOLIC CHURCH
has a large membership with Father Drake as pastor.
ST JAMES METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
This is a colored church having a small congregation.
The churches have their axillary societies, or guilds.
WEST VIRGINIA BUILDING COMPANY
MANUFACTURERS OF AND DEALERS IN LUMBER, SASH, DOORS, BUILDERS HARDWARE, PAINTS, OILS, ETC.
Keyser affords an unsurpassed field of operations for the manufacture and sale of builders' material, and already possesses in the plant of the W Va Building Co, a comprehensively equipped enterprise of that nature. The future of this section is bright, indeed, and the progressive sound of the saw and hammer gives evidence of a large local demand for the products manufactured by this company. the plant is all immense affair, and when running to its full capacity, an outlet for a portion of its sash, doors, etc., must be found elsewhere. It is advantageously located for cheap and rapid shipments, sidetracks running to the doors to facilitate the handling of its heavy products. employment is given in the busy season to a large number of skilled and unskilled workmen and vast quantities of W Va lumber are utilized.
TRANSCRIBED OCTOBER 27, 2001 BY PATTI MCDONALD
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