Someone has recently raised a question regarding a cave reportedly located between Sunnyside and Fort Gay.  I sent a request to Bill Wellman who grew up and attended and graduated from Fort Gay High School.  Below is Bill’s answer.  Thanks Bill for passing the information along.

“Yes, I recall there being a cave on Sunnyside Road near the Mill Creek bridge. It was east of the McClure family property. If you go to Bing Maps and look at Fort Gay, you can see an outcropping of dirt and rocks midway up the small hill adjacent to the railroad crossing going to the old McClure apple orchard. That was our access to the Old Rocks swimming area in the Tug River.
As I remember the cave, it was evident only as a very small hole about six feet wide and barely two feet high at the center of the access. There was a spill of small rocks and debris that appeared to have been ejected from the cave by an animal or person. That, to me, indicated that someone or some animal had continued to eject rocks and dirt debris from the cave in order to make it larger. I recall my brother Doug showing me cave along with some other guys, but can’t recall who else was there at the time. I visited the cave more than once but ventured inside the cave only on one occasion. It did not seem to be very large from my view and I felt very restricted in what movements I could make in the cave. I did not venture any further inside the cave so don’t know if there was a complex consisting of more ‘rooms’ or not. At the time, I felt like I was intruding on some animal’s home/nest and did not feel comfortable at all, especially since I had to crawl on hands and knees to gain access.
I just tried to send a photo of the Bing Map to myself and it didn’t work but you can call it up and see the area devoid of trees and brush that, to me, marks the area of the cave. The location is listed as Lat 38.11270 X Long-82.588013”
Bill W


Do those words sound familiar?  They should if you were a product of the late 20th. century.  They were spoken by former president George H.W. Bush in his desire, I believe, to take us back to a time that he remembered as a child.  He was never able to do that nor will any future leader or leaders of our country as long as we continue to embrace a decadent and disruptive lifestyle, a lifestyle of catering to the demands and wishes of the few brought about by an addiction to the enticements presented by the “nanny state”.  I believe it was Ronald Regan who said; “I wonder what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses would have had to present them to the U.S. congress for passage”.  They most certainly would have looked a lot different, probably couched in language that only the lawyers and sometimes not so wise supreme court members would have understood.  I am certain the first thing they would have removed would have been all of the “That Shalt Not” placed there by God, very much as they have either changed or ignore the rules set down by our forefathers in the very documents establishing the rules we should govern or be governed by.

What got me to thinking about a lot of this was a simple letter written to a newspaper and published on the editorial page.  Incidentally the subject paper is an extremely far left news paper in both its editorial policies and it’s one-sided reporting of the news.  The letter had to be written by an older person and I am going to tell you why I know this.  He or she was writing about sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair at a Cracker Barrel restaurant following a meal.  He talked of the many people from many states that he was able to relax and fellowship and converse with, who, like he was practicing what I like to call “rocking chair philosophy”.  You know, if you have a full stomach, are rocking in a comfortable chair, and having a pleasant conversation, it is pretty hard to start a fig;ht, riot, or nose in some other countries problems and start a war.  There  is not a lot of drug usage, pornography, excessive consumption of alcohol, or road rage that occurs on a Cracker Barrel front porch.

A lot of the problems can be attributed to the fact that a lot of young people grow up today not even knowing what a front porch is.  Look at the houses being built today.  How many have a front porch.  Sure there is a patio in the back yard, with perhaps a pool, a hot tub, and maybe even a fire pit for toasting marshmallows.  It’s pretty difficult to converse with neighbors and people passing by when you are hiding in your back yard.  You also have a lot of activities going on back there that prohibits you’re sitting down and talking about what’s going on in the world, your life, or your neighborhood, and potential solutions for problems.

Did you ever think about asking a young person if they know what a rocking chair is?  Do you even own a rocking chair?  John Kennedy, in his short time as president, recognized and maintained a rocking chair in his office.  I believe it was given to him by a Kentuckian.  Everyone has a chair that they sit in that is their favorite chair, but does it rock?  Does it move you back and forth in a gentle manner that soothes the soul and aids in the digestion of the rich meal that you have just eaten?  Probably you don’t.  You may have something called an “anti gravity chair”.  Anti gravity my foot!  Get leaned back in one of those devices and try to get up in a hurry.  You will end up in a tangle of lets, arms. chair, and perhaps other body parts.  They have even taken the joy out of an old lever operated recliner.  They are now powered by an electric motor that operates very, very slowly.  Just when you are leaned back and comfortable the phone rings and by the time you get the thing in an upright position, the caller has hung up.  You then sit and wonder and worry if the caller might have been calling to tell you that you won the lottery, or was a relative or loved one in trouble and needed help, or was a friend perhaps calling for a friendly chat.  None of the above would have happened if you had a simple old rocking chair.

When I was a kid, a lot of people made things that were used around the house.  This was particularly true if you lived on a farm.  There were lots of hickory, willow, and other varieties of trees that grew that were pliable, and if you were handy with simple hand tools, made wonderful rocking chairs.  They were both comfortable and durable.  They were not made to become a decorative item of furniture but to be used as a place to sit, think, and discuss world problems and solutions with neighbors, family, and friends while gently rocking back and forth.  Today we go to the Crate and Barrel, Wal-Mart, or some other local furniture store and buy a chair simply for its appearance, with no thought given to the comfort and fellowship it should provide.

As a child growing up, early on I recognized that there was a “pecking order” to things.  You were at the bottom of the proverbial “food chain”.  We were fortunate to have a grandparent living with us throughout my childhood.  Back then you did not ship a grandparent off to someplace called “an extended care facility” or some other fancy name, supported  by the government or some social service agency.  You took care of your own.  Next in the pecking order were your parents followed by you and your siblings.  If you were the oldest child or the youngest child, you got “cut a lot more slack” than the child that was born in the middle.  They got things because they were older or they were the baby.  That order of things held true even when sitting on the front porch following chores and supper.  Grandparents got first choice, parents second, and then what was left to sit in was occupied by the children.  If you were the baby you of course got rocked in a rocking chair, to the envy of all the other children.

The adults would sit and rock and discuss matters of the world that were of importance to them.  Those discussions were pretty much limited to what went on within the county lines or the household.  There was no government news regarding how many billions of dollars this or that tyrant of some obscure upstart nation was going to get or scandalous news regarding the life style and activities of some crooked politician.  I am sure that they did have concerns and questions about feeding and clothing the children and aspects of daily life, but you know they sat there in their rocking chairs and figured it all out.  They did not run to some governmental agency or program who was spending ninety percent of what they were getting in their budget for personal benefits and salaries.  That folks is called independence and solving ones own problems.  And it all came about as a result of an old rocking chair.

So, I guess my point is as follows; Let’s get some government money and build a bunch of rocking chairs and send them to Congress and move them out of their air-conditioned surroundings int the fresh air on a big front porch and let them think a while about how they got there and what they were sent there to do, all the while rocking back and forth.





I came upon the following poem and immediately thought how appropriate it is today with all of the political wrangling coming from our “do nothing” politicians.  We are again facing a war in the middle east today due to bungling and bad decisions by our leaders. Politicians start wars and then the brave soldier must lay his life on the line to again “pull our chestnuts our of the fire”.  Does he get a large unearned pension such as the politician does upon retirement?  Does he get a LARGE salary as the politician does?  Does he have health care coverage such as the politician does?  Is he honored for his service such as the politician is?  I think not.  The next time you see a notification of a veterans passing, offer up a silent prayer for having had him protecting you and your loved ones through times of turmoil.
> He was getting old and paunchy
> And his hair was falling fast,
> And he sat around the Legion,
> Telling stories of the past.
> Of a war that he once fought in
> And the deeds that he had done,
> In his exploits with his buddies;
> They were heroes, every one.
> And ‘tho sometimes to his neighbors
> His tales became a joke,
> All his buddies listened quietly
> For they knew where of he spoke.
> But we’ll hear his tales no longer,
> For ol’ Joe has passed away,
> And the world’s a little poorer
> For a Veteran died today.
> He won’t be mourned by many,
> Just his children and his wife.
> For he lived an ordinary,
> Very quiet sort of life.
> He held a job and raised a family,
> Going quietly on his way;
> And the world won’t note his passing,
> ‘Tho a Veteran died today.
> When politicians leave this earth,
> Their bodies lie in state,
> While thousands note their passing,
> And proclaim that they were great.
> Papers tell of their life stories
> From the time that they were young,
> But the passing of a Veteran
> Goes unnoticed, and unsung.
> Is the greatest contribution
> To the welfare of our land,
> Some jerk who breaks his promise
> And cons his fellow man?
> Or the ordinary fellow
> Who in times of war and strife,
> Goes off to serve his country
> And offers up his life?
> The politician’s stipend
> And the style in which he lives,
> Are often disproportionate,
> To the service that he gives.
> While the ordinary Veteran,
> Who offered up his all,
> Is paid off with a medal
> And perhaps a pension, small.
> It is not the politicians
> With their compromise and ploys,
> Who won for us the freedom
> That our country now enjoys.
> Should you find yourself in danger,
> With your enemies at hand,
> Would you really want some cop-out,
> With his ever-waffling stand?
> Or would you want a Veteran
> His home, his country, his kin,
> Just a common Veteran,
> Who would fight until the end.
> He was just a common Veteran,
> And his ranks are growing thin,
> But his presence should remind us
> We may need his likes again.
> For when countries are in conflict,
> We find the Veteran’s part,
> Is to clean up all the troubles
> That the politicians start.
> If we cannot do him honor
> While he’s here to hear the praise,
> Then at least let’s give him homage
> At the ending of his days.
> Perhaps just a simple headline
> In the paper that might say:

One of the goals for FGHS Alumni arriving in Fort Gay for the annual reunion on Labor Day weekend is to visit the old high school and visit their class picture hanging in the halls of the retired building.  As of last summer this became impossible because of the closing of the old building and movement of the middle school to their new facilities.  With the closing of the building it was feared that the pictures, which are a part of the alumni heritage, would be lost.

Through a lot of effort,  and not a small amount of good fortune, the Wayne County Board of Education gave the pictures to the FGHS Alumni Association.  Their only stipulation was that they would not be sold.  The pictures were removed and stored in a temperature controlled and secure location until a proper new  home could be found where they would be available for viewing by all who wished.

After a year-long search, that location has been found.  Due to a recent addition, the Fort Gay Public Library has expressed a desire to have custody of the pictures for display for all to see during library hours.  Accordingly, the FGHS Alumni Association has signed an agreement with the public library that places the pictures on permanent loan with the stipulation that they will provide a safe and secure display area and that in the event of movement or closing of the library should ever occur then custody would revert to the FGHS Alumni Association.

The official turning over of the pictures will occur at 11 am on Saturday, August 30 at a ceremony at the public library.  They will then be available for public viewing.  We do think you will be proud of the environment surrounding them.  We do thank Ms. Shiela Bowen for making this space available.

additionally, prior to the pictures being moved to the library, pictures were made of each and converted to a CD.  They are of very good quality considering the age of the pictures.  These will be sold by the FGHS Alumni Association at our banquet on Friday evening, August 29, and again at the Alumni tent on the lawn of the old high school on Saturday, August 3o.  Following this a quantity will be placed in the Fort Gay Public Library for ongoing sales by them.  We will also have an address where you will be able to mail order them.  The cost will be $10.00 each and all monies will go 100% to the Fort Gay High School Memorial Scholarship.  Mail order cost will remain at $10.00 each, however, there will be a $5.00 shipping and handling charge.  These will make a wonderful gift for all who have a Fort Gay or Fort Gay High School connection.

Anyone with questions can email me for information at:  richard.plymale@gmail.com.



Below is a brief history of the Fort Gay High School Alumni Association.  It briefly describes who we are, why we are, and what we do.  At some time in the near future, I will post a more complete anecdotal history, naming some of the names of people who have had an influence in some manner that brought about the success of our pet project; The Fort Gay High School Memorial Scholarship.  There are so many little side stories that will come out of such a project and I would welcome any input from alumni members or friends that would add to the history of the FGHSAA.  The Board of Directors is a very unselfish group, giving of themselves, their time, and their resources.  This is all done with one area of focus, aiding young people in the area in the pursuit of an advanced education.


                                         “GIVING SOMETHING BACK” 




A few years ago, a group of former Fort Gay High School students that graduated during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s began gathering each year to renew old friendships established during their days at Fort Gay High School.  This group would talk about the “old days”, fellowship, and reminiscence about times past.  A committee was formed by a group of these former students to plan the annual banquet, keep up with a small amount of correspondence, and to keep the group together.  They were a very seasoned group of individuals, having attended school during the great depression of the 30s, World War 2, and the turbulent post war years of the 50s and 60s.  They all felt that they had learned something special during their high school years at Fort Gay that was denied students at larger schools.  That elusive something that they had learned was a strong work ethic, the ability to be self-sufficient, a strong desire to succeed in life, and a desire to help those less fortunate than themselves.


This group grew each year and continued to celebrate via their annual banquet, however at some point they determined that something was missing.  Everyone realized that without a long term purpose and goal that the organization was unlikely to survive.  The group decided to give some thought to establishing a lasting memorial to the old Fort Gay High School so that, even though it no longer existed, its memory would be carried on forever.  It was decided that what better memorial to an educational institution than an investment in the strongest resource of the area, the education of the areas youth.  Thereby, was born “The Fort Gay High School Memorial Scholarship” and the group adopted the name, “The Fort Gay High School Alumni Association”.


In mid-year of 1998, the scholarship was established through “The Marshall University Foundation, Inc.” and became fully endowed in 1999.  The first grant was given in 1999 and has been awarded annually thereafter.  The recipient of this scholarship shall be a graduate of Tolsia High School who will enter his/her freshman year at Marshall University and maintain full time student status.  The grant is given for eight semesters and assuming the student maintains scholarship standards, it then is automatically renewed at the beginning of each school year thereafter.  Several goals have been set for the corpus of the scholarship, however, each year these goals have been surpassed.  We are pleased to announce that during the spring of 2014, the market value of the scholarship and associated funds has reached an amount in excess of $300,000.00, far beyond the goal of $10,000.00 that was initially set in 1998.  This means, currently, that $12.000.00 is divided among four students from Tolsia High School each year based on individual financial unmet need and academic performance.. This amount will continue to increase as the corpus of the scholarship increases, but in addition, the scholarship is endowed to last as long as Marshall University is in operation. It is our goal to not only grow the scholarship but to also grow the number of students it serves.


To enable continued growth of the scholarship, we actively solicit the assistance of all individuals and businesses, which, as are we, interested in investing in the future of the areas youth.  Donations may take several forms.  They may be made by direct donations of money or real property, through a memorial in memory of a loved one or friend in lieu of flowers, or through a will or bequeath.  Many of our supporters choose to provide support through sponsorship of our Joe Damron Memorial Golf Tournament from which 100% of the funds are directed to the Fort Gay High School Memorial Scholarship


Anyone requiring additional information should contact:  Richard A Plymale, Chairman, FGHS Alumni Association, 1468 Pine Meadow Rd., Lexington, KY 40504.  Phone 859 255 5836.  Email:  richard.plymale@gmail.com.


Membership in the FGHS Alumni Association is open to all who either attended or graduated from Fort Gay High School and there are no dues.



“Joe Damron Memorial Golf Tournament Supporting the FGHS Memorial Scholarship”     



June 30, 2014


Dear Fort Gay Alumnus;


Enclosed is information regarding our annual banquet, reunion, and golf tournament.  We kmow that you will find this year’s events equal to or exceeding any past reunions.


As many are aware, the Fort Gay Middle School closed the doors of the old high school and has moved to their new building. Because of this it has become necessary to again move the site of our annual banquet this year.  This year’s banquet will be held at the First Baptist Church of Louisa, KY located at 301 West Pike Street, Louisa KY.  The banquet area is air conditioned and is quite large and comfortable with plenty of paved parking.  It is the best site we have had since beginning the banquet back in the 1990’s, and will be our second year using these facilities.   Registration and reception will begin at 5pm on Friday, August 29, 2014.  Beverages will be served during the reception and dinner will commence at approximately 6-6:15 pm.  Following dinner, a program will be presented.  Please note, due to the caterer needing time and space to set up, you will not be able to enter prior to 5 pm. 


The cost of this year’s banquet will remain at $25.00 per person, the same as in previous years.  While we have been able to accommodate all reservation requests in the past, we would recommend that reservations be made as early as possible because of the limited seating area.


We will honor the class of 1964 this year.  They will have reserved seating as a group if they wish and will be introduced as a group.  We would ask that if you are a member of this class and that your class has made plans to attend as a group, that you note that on your reservation request so that we may provide adequate seating.


The deadline for receiving reservations this year will be Monday, August 25.  This is necessary so that the caterer may do her meal planning.  Your check will be your reservation and should be made payable to “The Fort Gay High School Alumni Association”.   Reservations should be made through and checks mailed to our Banquet Chairman, Rita Palfrey, 1105 2nd. Street, Huntington, WV 25701.  Rita may also be contacted at 304 525 5563 or email at;  rpelfrey@yahoo.com.


The second annual “JOE DAMRON MEMORIAL GOLF TOURNAMENT SUPPORTING THE  FGHS MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP” will be played this year at the Eagle Ridge Golf Course located at Yatesville Lake State Park near Louisa, KY.  The tournament will be held on Friday, August 29, 2014.  The tournament will again be a best ball tournament with a shotgun start at approximately 9 am. Registration will commence at 7:30 am.  A lunch will be served on the golf course and water bottles and snacks placed on each cart.  We will also have a continental breakfast for those players arriving early.  There will be a number of prizes and awards.  The cost will be $50.00 per player or $200.00 per team which includes cart, greens fees, breakfast, snacks, beverages, and lunch.  The course should be in excellent condition.


The golf tournament is our major source of income for supporting and growing the FGHS Memorial Scholarship.  One of the major aspects of the tournament is the sponsorship of a golf hole by individuals, groups, or businesses.  This has been very well supported in past tournaments.  We have high hopes for a like response this year.  We are making a plea that if you have sponsored a golf hole in the past, that you would consider doing so again.  If you have not sponsored a golf hole in the past, then we would welcome you on board.   Golf sponsorships are $100.00 each. 


For additional information regarding the golf tournament, to sign up to play, and or sponsor a golf hole, please contact Golf Chairman, Paul Salmons, 9811 South Highway #1, Webbville, KY 41180.  Phone 606 652 4048 or email at psalmons@hotmail.com. All checks for hole sponsorships and golf reservations should be mailed to Paul at the above address.   




 An additional honor has now been bestowed upon the FGHS Memorial Scholarship.  All students receiving the scholarship are now designated “FORT GAY SCHOLARS” by Marshall University.  The FGHS Memorial Scholarship continues to thrive and provide support for four students each year from Tolsia High School.  The students receiving the scholarship this year will be sharing in excess of $12,000.00 in financial support from the fund.  In the event that you do not plan to attend the reunion but wish to financially support the scholarship, you may do so by sending contributions to our treasurer, Paul Salmons, at his address mentioned earlier in the letter.  Checks should be made payable to FGHS Alumni Association and noted for FGHS Memorial Scholarship.


The Alumni Association now has a Facebook page.  Perhaps many of you have already found it and are visiting often. You will see continuing information during the month of July and August concerning the upcoming reunion. You may leave comments and it is operated at no cost to the Alumni Association.  Please visit it OFTEN and check out the pictures and make comments.  It is a great way to communicate with former classmates and friends from your high school days.


Enclosed is a one page summation of who the Alumni Association is and what and how it is doing.  We thought you would find it informative.  Show it to friends, former classmates, and other individuals or businesses that would be interested in helping us to assist students in pursuit of a higher education.  It briefly sums up how the scholarship is doing and how it is surpassing all of our expectations. 


At this time, we have no information to pass along regarding Heritage Day on Saturday, August 30, or the Fort Gay Womens Club reception that has been held on Saturday night  in the past.  If we receive anything we will place it on the face book page.


Anyone having questions or needing additional information, may contact me at my address or either of my phone numbers





Richard A. Plymale, Chairman, FGHS Alumni Association

1468 Pine Meadow Rd.

Lexington, KY 40504


Phone 859 255 5836 Cell phone 859 361 3318    Email: richard.plymale@gmail.com.









 Roberda Jean VanHoose Lane, 98, of Gladwin, MI, passed away Thursday, June 5, 2014.  She was born Aug. 26, 1915, in Fort Gay, WV, the daughter of the late Charlie C. and Sue (Weddington) VanHoose. A sister and two brothers also preceded her in death.  Surviving are her son, Michael David Rossman; a granddaughter, Lauree Rossman Hoag, and two great-grandsons, all of Gladwin, and several nieces and nephews.  Roberda was believed to have been the oldest living alumnus of Fort Gay High School, having graduated 80 years ago, just a couple of years after the new high school building was completed. She moved to Detroit where she worked for 25 years in the office of Dr. Yarrows.  She married the late Mike Rossman, and later married Ed Lane, who also predeceased her. Roberda was the granddaughter of William J. Vanhoose who served as a 1st Sgt. in Co. B 45th Ky. Infantry during the Civil War.  Cremation has taken place and she will be laid to rest in the Bartram Cemetery, Fort Gay.