My Recollection of Ward – by Sally Drake – Part 1

{This is the 1st of two installments – reprinting this story exactly as it appears in the 2001 Ward Community Reunion Book, in Sally’s own words…}

On the night of March 6, 1934, in a howling snow storm, I was born at home in Ward, West Virginia. For seven years, we lived in the same house, by the hard road, next door to Allie Harrison.  His daughter, Sue Ann and I were best friends.  His baby son, “Pepper”, was so beautiful (usually only wearing a diaper in the summer) clinging to his bottle which was a coke bottle with a  nipple on it. (I have a picture of him like that).  My other friends were Jo Ann Dangerfield and Richard Lee Stevens who lived across the road.  Back then, we had so little and were happy just playing across the fence.  Polio was a threat to everyone, mostly the children.

Somehow we survived the epidemic and also the hard times that were too evident back then.  It seems our growing up under harsh conditions made us very strong people with know-how and good values.  I’m very sure there are many stories that will never be known of battles fought and victories won in this one small community. (My story happens to be positive and a happy view of “My recollections of Ward”.) As times were very hard, the struggle and deprivation some people had then is unimaginable today.

Sometime in 1941 we moved two houses down from the “Grill” across from the park and we loved living there.  My father planted flowers everywhere and we had chickens in a pen out back.  I made a playhouse under our back porch, but my favorite thing was sitting on our big front porch when it was raining.  I dreamed many dreams there of what my future might be.  Going to the Grill for big cones of orange sherbert, listening to the jukebox playing the “Jersey Bounce” and going to the company store were always “special treats” for me.  I recall Tex Ritter came to the Ward theater and kissed me on the cheek.  I still have the autograph book he sold.

One Halloween the school had a party and I won a big, beautiful, chocolate cake.  My mother always wondered who made that tempting delight. (I still think of those treasured memories, the little things that meant so much when I was a little girl and even more meaningful now that I am older).

Our teachers in school taught us well at Ward. They were dedicated to their jobs and I am sure their pay was very low during those times, those terrible times.  I remember “Pearl Harbor Day” vividly, although I didn’t really understand it’s meaning, I knew something terrible had happened in our world.

Hard as times were, my father somehow managed to buy a brand new bergundy “Chieftan” Pontiac.  It was rare to see a car like that in Ward and the only other car I particularly remember, nicer than ours, was a shiny, black Lincoln “Zephyr” tha someone had and used to wash it down at th e”lower bridge” in the creek.  I’ve always wondered whose it was. (I can still see all “My Recollections of Ward”. Those memories have not dimmed as my eyes have).

I have had many dreams about Ward and one dream that keeps coming back is about the path that led up the mountain, to the right of the Company Store. I never knew where it lead back then, but I have been on that path many times in my dreams.

{this story continues – click here to see the second installment}

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  1. Clarressa Thompson

    Thanks so much for this information. I was born in Ward in 1963 and have been living in Columbus, Ohio since I was very young. I still have relatives in Rand and other parts of WV but I have been so interested in learning more about Ward. My grandparents left Ward in 1972 to join us in Ohio. I often have dreams about our home in Ward and wish so much that I could take my kids there. A few years ago, I had heard that there was talk of building modular homes in Ward and I was hoping to get one as a summer home but I don’t think it ever came to fruition. My grandparents, Clara and Rolf Turner (may they rest), raised their family in Ward and my grandfather was a miner. My grandmother was a cook at the Company House. My other grandmother, Alice Higginbotham moved here to Ohio 3 years ago at the age of 88. She recently took ill. I am hoping to find pictures of Ward.

  2. Lisa

    Hi Claressa,
    I intend to scan and post more photos of Ward, just have difficulty finding time. I have a full time job and I also run 4 blogs and a website – hopefully I’ll be working on these Internet projects full time someday. In the meantime please continue to check back, by early fall I hope to start an email list and have regular, monthly photo uploads to this website. I also plan to create indexes of the Ward Community Reunion books to post out here in order to offer lookups – and then copies – of information on specific individuals listed in these books. ~ Lisa I.

  3. Daphene Simmons Richard

    I too lived at Ward until we moved to Campbells Creek in 1961, the year I graduated from Cedar Grove High School. I was reading about Pepper Harrison, who is a Baptist minister for he married Keith and me way back in 1965.

    The Ward reunion is held on the second Saturday of September every year at Carnifaz Ferry.

  4. Daphene Simmons Richard

    I too lived at Ward until we moved to Campbells Creek in 1961, the year I graduated from Cedar Grove High School. I was reading about Pepper Harrison, who is a Baptist minister for he married Keith and me way back in 1965.

    The Ward reunion is held on the second Saturday of September every year at Carnifax Ferry.

  5. Kenneth (Bubby)m Gregory

    I was born at home in Ward in July 1939. I lived there until I
    was seventeen when I joined the Air Force. Have been back many
    times. I married Sue McCombs of Cedar Grove who passed away in
    December 2007. We lived in lower Ward until we moved into the
    circle and later in the 2nd house down from the old Grill and
    straight across from the park. A great place to grow up in.I knew Pepper and his sister, Hobo, Jack Landers, the Buckley family, Freddie Dangerfield was my best friend back then. Would love to hear from you.

  6. Goldie Sue (Buckley) Farley

    I lived in Ward from my birth in 1948 until 1964 when my Mother and I moved to Hughes Creek. I was the youngest daughter of Melda and Herman Buckley and had two sisters, Pauline and Rosenia, and six brothers, Herman Jr., Sam (Hoppy), Billy Joe, Carl Tom, Robert and Fred (Pow Wow). I have so many fond memories of Ward and the wonderful people who lived there. I remember Clarressa Thompson’s grandmother, Clara Turner, she was a friend of my Mother’s and Bubby Gregory’s mother Margaret was also a very close friend with my Mother. I have found over the years that almost everyone you meet in West Virginia has some connection to the coal mining town of Ward.

  7. Goldie Sue (Buckley) Farley

    I was the youngest daughter of Melda and Herman Buckley of Ward. I had two sisters, Pauline and Rosenia, and six brothers, Herman Jr., Sam (Hoppy), Billy Joe, Carl Tom, Robert, and Fred (Pow Wow). My mother and I lived in Ward until 1965 when we moved to Hughes Creek. There are so many fond memories of Ward and the people who lived there. I remember Clara Turner, she was a good friend of my Mother’s and helped her with the wedding reception for my sister Rosenia. My Uncle Wayne Akers of Wheeling was an offical of Valley Camp Stores and stayed at the company house when he was in the area. Clara was such a wonderful lady. O also

  8. Frank (Bill) Hudnall

    Great to read that others consider Ward a wonderful place to be from. Thanks for publishing the Blog. Some of you may be interested, if not already, that my book: “KELLY’S CREEK CHRONICLES, The Illustrated Diary of James Alexander Jones, a West Virginia Coalminer, 1870-1939” is a diary kept by Jones from the late 1870s to 1939. Jones documented daily life in the Ward Community for many years. There are photographs and much research documented which backs up Jimmie’s diary entries. It is sold in most bookstores in the Charleston area, and if not there, any bookseller can get one from the West Virginia Books website. plus it is on Jones gives us a running account of daily life in the coalmining community, as well as in other area, such as: Mammoth, Cedar Grove and East Bank. I lived in Bufflick and attended Ward’s schools, graduating from East Bank in 1951. I do thank Ms. Drake for her wonderful coverage of a long-lost community but memories published by Jones will maintain Ward’s historic place in Coalmining History.

    Thanks for reading,

    Frank (Bill) Hudnall

  9. Daphene Simmons Richard

    Does anyone know what year the Ward Cemetery went into existences? Also would like to know the date of the Mount Lewis Cemetery? Thanks

  10. Scott Stephens

    Mu family lived and worked in Ward many years ago. Some are buried in the community cemetery there. I was reading the story above about some friends listed, and I believe that “Richard Lee Stephens” was my uncle. This was his name, and he had a brother named Lionel James Stephens. This was my father. The other names were James Albert Stephens and Mildred Stephens. I was there about 3 years ago and really didn’t know much about the place except for what my cousin Charlotte Kelly was telling me about it when we were there. If anyone has any information about my families early days in Ward, please email me or call me. I am very interested in knowing all I can about Ward and its great days as a community.
    Thanks so much and please help.
    Scott Stephens

  11. John Whited

    I was born in Ward in 1945 and lived there until my Senior Year (1962). Everyone was just so friendly. I can remember my Mom (Ruby Buckley Whited) hanging clothes outside and talking to someone for a good while who might be in the next yard or someone just walking to the company store. My favorite place in Ward was the liar’s bench and I would just sit and listen to the men talk about the Cincinnati Reds, President Eisenhower, East Bank Football, who was the best between Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley, .etc. I live in Utah now and Hot Rod Hundley just retired from being the Utah Jazz radio announcer for 35 years. I would walk home from the liar’s bench right before dark with Harry Gregory who was such a nice man. Thanks for the memories. Johnny Whited (e-mail address:

  12. Frank Hudnall

    This is for Daphne Simmons Richard: the Ward Cemetery was established around 1903 during the building of the community of Ward. The Mt. Lewis Cemetery is on Kelly’s Creek, directly across the road from the Ward Church of God, across the creek and up the hill. The Mt. Lewis Cemetery contains folks who once lived at Mammoth and working for the coal mining operations in that area.

    • Lisa

      Thanks for this information Frank. I have been curious about this myself. My aunt and uncle, Debbie & Ray Lyons live across from this cemetery and I have relatives buried there – from both sides of my family. I’m excited to finally have a little time to re-work this site, there will be a lot more content in the next 2 or 3 weeks. I hope you will come back often. If you’re interested in writing I am looking for guest bloggers to offer their memories and knowledge of the area here.

  13. Stacey Pendley

    I’ looking for relatives of Mr. & Mrs Dave Adamson who lived in Ward W.V. I believed the had a P.O. Box of 218. I found there name and address in an Old Bible. If you know of any please contact me.

  14. Linda Hart Litton

    I lived in Ward from 1947 when I was born to 1955 when my family moved to Charleston. My parents were Hubert L. Hart and Helen Kelly Hart, younger sister Debora and brother John Joseph Hart. Although I was very young when we moved from Ward I have many fond memories. Have actually gone back several times, the latest was 3 years ago. Have thought many times I would like to get my brother and sister together and attend the annual Ward Reunion. If anyone out there remembers my family would like to hear from you.

  15. Clarressa Thompson Kane

    Oh, I am so happy to hear that someone remembers my grandmother, Clara Turner (may she rest). And I am happy to see so many people trying to find their connections to Ward. Thanks so much for sharing and please for anyone who has pictures, post when you can.

  16. Rudy

    A new cousin a day keeps the boredom away

  17. Joe

    Ms. Drake,
    I am so pleased to read your articles as I have been searching for Ward, WVA for a long time. My father was born there in 1927, I have never been able to get any info from him or my grandmother may they rest the in peace. You are fabulous, I hope to one day visit Ward just to feel a part of my father’s birth place.

    Thank You

    • Lisa

      Hi Joe,

      I’m not Ms. Drake, I copied her article out of the Ward Community REunion book just as she wrote it 🙂 so it is in her words. But I’m happy to be able to share them so they reach people like you who want to connect to Ward and the families who grew up there. My mom was born there and my aunt still lives next to Patsy Tucker in the very spot that is known as Ward (although the community of Ward technically is gone now). My family roots are there too.
      Lisa Isbell (and the publisher of this blog 🙂 )

  18. Mary Alice Heagarty Burgan

    My dad was one of the doctors at Ward from 1932 to 1938. His name was John Patrick Heagarty, and his time at Ward with my mother and my sister and me was probably the happiest time of his life. Does anyone remember him?

  19. Donna Goodson Ansted

    I have enjoyed reading this blog. My family is from Ward, West Virginia although, I was born in Oak Hill. My grandfather was “Red” Goodson. My father was born in Ward in 1934. His name is Don Goodson. He attended Gauley Bridge High School. I just wanted those who new him to know he passed away on February 12, 2011. He will be buried in the Ward Cemetary in late June. My family, the Goodsons and the Balls are buried there. We thought we might wait until the reunion in September, as there may be more people who remember him available to come. My father has a brother, Lee Goodson, and a sister, Lynn Goodson Eby both from Ward also. If anyone who knows my Dad would like to make any comment or remembrance about him, let me know. I am told he was the best looking guy in town. 🙂

  20. Eugene (Jack ) Barnett

    I was born (1944) and raised in Ward. Parents Betty and Davis (jack) Barnett. Sisters Lorena and my twin Jean.



  1. My Recollection of Ward - By Sally Drake (2) @ Ward, West Virginia - [...] This blog is about the now non-existent community of Ward, West Virginia - a coal mining town. « My…
  2. My Recollection of Ward - by Salle Drake (3) @ Ward, West Virginia - [...] Click here to see the beginning of this story [...]
  3. My Recollection of Ward – By Sally Drake (4) @ Ward, West Virginia - [...] Please click here to see the beginning of this story [...]

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