Archive for April, 2011


The below ten pictures were taken by Bill Wellman in either 1949 or 1950.  They depict a terrible flood of the town of Fort Gay.  Bill made the pictures using a Kodak Brownie Reflex camera that he had received for Christmas of 1948.  Bill indicated that he still has the camera.  The pictures are numbered one through ten, starting at the top and proceeding to the bottom picture.  The following list tells of the picture location in Fort Gay.

Picture one is the Hitch-up at Carter Hill; Picture two is the Hitch-up at the Maynard house; Picture three is the intersection of Mill Creek Road and Route 37; Picture four is a different view of the Hitch-up at the Maynard house; Picture five is another view of Mill Creek Road and Route 37 intersection; Picture six is the Tug River at McClure Hill; Picture seven is Apperson Street and Palace Street; Picture eight is of the water plant and the Hubbard house; Picture nine is another view of the Hitch-up; Picture ten is the Wellman backyard.

You may click on the pictures to enlarge them.


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You may look at the title of this posting, and as I did, question what the term means.  Bill Wellman sent me some pictures of flooding in Fort Gay,  several actually, many years ago and in captioning the pictures Bill used the term “hitch-up”, and I must admit I did not know what it meant.  I questioned him as to whether it was something he used in coding his computer files, makes sense to me, and his answer is in the form of an email.  It is posted below and I must admit, I learned something today.  I thought all reading this would enjoy it and become enlightened as I was.  The pictures Bill sent, along with their captions, will be posted later on tonight.  Bill’s email follows and I do appreciate him sending it along.


I thought everyone ever associated with Fort Gay was familiar with “The Hitch-Up”.  (I suppose that is the way I should have written the term, Hitch-Up as opposed to hitch up.)  That was so natural for me to call the place as it was always referred to by everyone that I knew.  But I now realize that since you lived on Queens Creek for you might never have heard the term.  The Hitch-Up was at the end of Vancouver Street, the end opposite the FGHS athletic field.  During the early days, people who visited town for their weekly shopping trips would travel to town in horse-drawn wagons.  The only place large enough to accommodate anything over a few wagons with teams was the bottom field at the end of Vancouver Street.  When the town installed a central sewer system, the obvious geographical low point was the Hitch-Up.  There were a couple large septic tanks installed there, thus taking advantage of the natural gravity flow from the sewer lines.  I believe the tanks were installed long after the last horse and buggy rigs were parked there.  I am totally unsure about the outflow of the septic tanks, whether they had leach line fields or if the outflow of the tanks went directly into the little brook that transited the bottom land.

            The septic tanks were eventually replaced by a couple of lagoons and now I believe a real sewer handling system located on Big Sandy River Road N/W of Ft Gay but I have no real information of when that occurred.

            I am now trying to recall the name of the place that was a ‘make-out’ parking area.  For some reason it is not surfacing for me now.  But it definitely was not the Hitch-Up.

            In one of my memory chapters I described how the present day bottom looks with the large overgrown trees, weeds and such, as compared to what I had recalled seeing back in the olden days when there was a relatively well-kept area.  There were paths crisscrossing the Hitch-Up connecting Palace St., Vancouver St. and the Rt. #37 approach to the toll-bridge.

            As I recall, there was a flooding event just about every year, depending on the amount of rain that the seasons brought.  I think the flood event that I captured in the photos was about the highest water that I recall seeing.  There was one year that I recall, there was a pure cloud burst event up over the water shed area of Mill Creek.  The rushing water out of Mill Creek rearranged the entire area under the Mill Creek bridge and our swimming pool there.  There was no back water from the Tug River/Big Sandy Rivers so there was a real water fall there.  There was a great scouring of the Mill Creek swimming poll that was forever changed thereafter.  That was my first observation of what I call raging waters, brown muddy in color and real mean looking.

            Speaking of floods, I know that the town experienced flooding when the Ohio River backed up the Big Sandy and Tug/Levisa Rivers and when there was a severe rainy season south-east of Ft Gay in the headwater areas of the Tug and Levisa Rivers.  I can recall seeing trees and even small buildings floating down a swollen, fast flowing Tug River.  Those conditions always brought me to the river bank to observe the event.  Things stick around in my memory.

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I received the below email from Bill Wellman down in Warner-Robbins, GA.  It is pretty self explanatory and in looking at the picture, even though it is of poor reproduction quality, it looks like a beautiful scene.  If you can help, please reply in the comments section and I will get you in touch with Bill.

I was thumbing through the 1948 Viking Log again this evening and saw a photo that caught my eye for a second time.  I recall seeing it before and wondering about it, especially since it was titled “Our Town”.  I am guessing that the photo was taken from atop the hill where Bede Wellman had his punching bag but was farther back on the ridge.  It was an excellent view of the town of Fort Gay, or at least holds a good bit of the town in the view.  It was taken during the winter and there was a snow on the ground that made the scene very appealing.  Of course the printing in the Viking Log was not very generous to details in the photo and that is the point of this message.  Could it be possible to find a better print, or from the end of a rainbow, the negative from which the photo was printed.

Patty, you were editor of the Viking Log and Nancy Fluty was assistant editor.  Barbara Cooke was art editor and many others were involved in gathering photos for the Snapshot pages so most anyone on the staff would most likely have seen  the photos when they were solicited and arranged for printing.  Do you know who was the source for the photo?

Richard, would it be an imposition to get it on the Viking Chronicles to see if anyone recognizes it and who might have been the originator?

From just looking at the photo in the Viking Log, it looks very appealing and I’ll bet the original would be a great one for anyone to have in their photo album of Fort Gay memories.

I am enclosing the photo both here in the body and as an attachment.

Regards, Bill W

PS  By the way, I would like to ask if anyone knows how Nancy Fluty is doing now.  The last I heard, she was ill.


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REUNION “2011”

The FGHS Alumni Association Board of Directors held their first meeting 0f 2011 on Friday, April 15.  The agenda was set to approve the updated FGHS Memorial Scholarship guidelines that were the result of discussions held with representatives of The Marshall University Foundation and the Office of Financial Aide at Marshall.  approximately a month has been spent editing wording and setting new policy and standards of the scholarship guidelines.  As a result of the guidelines update, the scholarship will be considerably stronger than previously.  Built in now will be provisions to insure that the scholarship will be able to weather future economic declines and maintain a continuous flow of funds to the student recipients of the scholarship.  It also provides for a more realistic student selection, insuring that the proper students are receiving scholarship support.  I think all FGHS Board members were pleased with the results of the work on the guidelines and the ease that it will provide in student selection by Marshall.  A big “Thank You” is well deserved by the committee that did the work.

Joe Damron will be serving as Golf Chairman again this year and announced that the FGHS Memorial Scholarship Benefit Golf Tournament will again be held at the Eagle Ridge Golf Course located at Yatesville Lake just outside Louisa, Kentucky.  The date will be Friday, September 2, 2011.  We don’t have times an additional information at this time but this would be a good time to be setting up your golf team to participate.  As many know, Joe has had some health issues but is ready and willing to again accept the responsibility of taking on the task of again producing a successful golf tournament.  He will be ably assisted on his golf committee by Gary Huff, Paul Artrip, and Paul Salmons.  We can always use more help and if you would like to assist, contact Joe or one of the golf committee members.

We were pleased to have Gary Huff (better known as president of the Paddle Creek Country Club) join our Board of Directors as our newest member.  Gary brings a lot to the board in experience, management, innovation, and a willingness to work hard.  Gary currently lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Again, we thank Gary for joining us.  We have room for lots of additional board members, and if you would be willing to serve, just let us know.  My cell phone is 859 361 3318, so just give me a call if you would like to help in any manner.

Banquet planning is underway and we will have announcements regarding times, etc. at a later date.  It will be held on Friday evening, September 2.  Catering will probably be done by the group from Rebel Barn Catering that has done such a great job in the past.  We will have representatives from their group at or next meeting to do menu selection and other catering details.

We are looking at different  ways that we might exercise in fund-raising for the scholarship fund.  As you know, the Labor Day weekend provides the major portion of fund-raising that is done throughout the year.  We would love to have ideas and suggestions from you the readers and members that are out there.  There are individuals that do things each year to raise money and then present it to the scholarship fund.  The Jude family with their baking, and others who sell crafts and items that they make for sale.  If you would like to do something, just let us know.

We have not heard from the Heritage Day committee yet as to their plan, but with the creativity that they exhibited last year, this year certainly should be a “hum dinger”.  Now that is an interesting word and I have no idea where it comes from or how it got it’s beginnings.  Any thoughts?

We again and constantly thank all of you that participate in reunion activities and provide financial support of the scholarship.  Always keep in mind that it is not for our glory but for the “Glory of God” and his children that the scholarship serves.

I will leave you with this thought and the picture at the end  of this writing.  If you ever visit John Plymale in North Carolina, don’t park in front of his house.  Block his driveway and he might chop a tree down on your car.

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The Fort Gay High School Alumni Association Board of Directors will begin meeting soon in preparation for this years Memorial Scholarship fund raising, FGHS Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament, Banquet, and Fort Gay Heritage Days weekend.  It promises to be a busy and successful year, BUT, WE NEED HELP.

Our first board meeting of the year will be held at 9:30 AM on Friday, April 15, at the Fort Gay Baptist Church.  There will be refreshments.  If you live in the area and would like to join us in providing educational opportunities for the young people of the area, call me at 859 361 3318 or any Fort Gay board member that you might be acquainted with.  The board is responsible for planning and execution of all Alumni Association activities.  Won’t you join us?  We meet approximately five times each year and our meeting day can be flexible. 

It  has been a long, cold winter and I think we are all anxious to get on with the business of the Association.  A committee from our group met recently with administrative people from The Marshall University Foundation and representatives from Marshall University financial aid who are charged with the awarding and administration of scholarships.  It was an extremely fruitful meeting resulting in additional adjustments in the scholarship guidelines of The Fort Gay High School Memorial Scholarship.  These adjustments will not only serve to strengthen the financial base of the scholarship but also to improve the manner in which the scholarship is awarded to insure that the most deserving students are receiving support.  The scholarship is vibrant and healthy.  As proof of this, at no time during the recent economic decline was there an impact on students receiving support from the scholarship. 

The Marshall University Foundation representatives were able to advise us how we can strengthen the scholarship financial base to provide for stability during fluctuations in the economy.  They announced that The Foundation is strong, healthy, and has regained most of the declines suffered during recent economic declines.

We would like to see other groups from the Tolsia High School service area join us in supporting the FGHS Memorial Scholarship.  I am sure that there are groups such as women’s clubs, men’s groups, PTA’s, etc. that could provide some small support.  Many times groups feel that their small contribution doesn’t mean much, but when it is all added together it can be large in it assistance.  If you have a small civic group, church, club, or whatever, consider having a bake sale or some other activity and using that money, no matter how small, into support of the FGHS Memorial Scholarship.  IT NEEDS TO BE POINTED OUT THAT THE FGHS MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP DOES NOT SUPPORT ONLY FORT GAY RESIDENTS BUT ALL STUDENTS FROM THROUGHOUT THE TOLSIA HIGH SCHOOL SERVICE AREA.  I MAY BE WRONG, BUT I DON’T BELIEVE ANY OF THE STUDENTS WHO HAVE BENEFITTED FROM THE SCHOLARSHIP WERE RESIDENTS OF THE TOWN OF FORT GAY.

I saw some figures this week that indicated that the figure of alumni members that provide financial support for their school following their graduation is very low.  I think that this is something that will have to change over the next few years if the quality and quantity of education that has come to be expected by American citizens is to maintain that high level of expectation.  As the move continues to lower national debt and government spending through cutting of the many budgets that exist there is simply just not going to be the dollars out there for education.  It is being seen now through tuition increases, etc.  Private scholarships, such as The FGHS Memorial Scholarship, are going to play a much larger part in the scheme of advanced education.  We are proud, as a group, to be a player in this ever increasing need.  Support THE FGHS MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP when you can.  It truly is a dollar well spent.

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This is a question asked by Larry Wellman>

I recall Okie warmly….a good friend.. Does anyone remmeber the

> Hurley family? The father shot several of his family…I think S. B .

> Noe killed him.

This is a response from Fred Reid and Bill Wellman.

Bill correct me if I am wrong , but didn,t Okie Gun down the Hurley man there near Dave wHeelers Farm : I know that Hurley shot Okies Right Hand al most off . Take care , today it was 92 , Nice . Fred


 I believe you are correct about the name of the man that Okie shot. Okie had arrested the man earlier in the day for public drunkenness I believe. The man had a quart jar of either beer or lard, I don’t recall which. I remember during that time the beer gardens would empty a couple bottles of beer in a quart jar for take-out if the patron didn’t want to pay the deposit. I believe that is what the man had. He swore that he would kill Okie (I didn’t actually hear the threat) if Okie put him in jail. After sobering up, the man went home and was returning to town with a shot gun in hand to do what he had promised. Okie met him adjacent to the Price home next door to Dave Wheeler. I was witness to the initial arrest and then later in the evening I witnessed the man drawing his last breath. I am not sure who shot first but it may have been almost at the same time. Okie lost a little finger, his shirt front was in shreds and his stomach had pellet wounds all across the front. His left front tire was flattened, the vent window was shot out as was the roll-up window. The handles of his revolver were broken into pieces. I recall hearing Okie say that he thought he had missed with his shot because the man was trying to reload his shotgun and when Okie reached him, he fought a strong fight until Okie knocked him over the bank, after which the man didn’t move again. They pulled him up to the road and that is when I arrived on the scene. His shirt was pulled open and a hole was seeping what seemed to be a small amount of blood and he drew only a few more breaths. John Artrip sent me some information about the incident and I have tried to find it again but my computer is mixing up stuff and I have lost a lot of files.

For some reason, I had the misfortune of being at the site of several of Okie’s arrests and fights. At the time I thought it was my good fortune for being witness to a lot of that stuff. Now I can’t recall the name of the two brothers that Okie arrested for fighting at the beer joint on Dave Wheeler hill. One tried to pull a knife and dropped it. Okie was walking the two down to Reynolds Frasher’s home to book them into jail. They turned on Okie and nearly beat him to death. I was a witness in their trial in the Wayne County Court later in the year.

I thought we were going to have a nice early spring here but the temps have been bouncing up and down. Two nights ago we had 39 and now again tonight a front is coming through bringing temps in the 30’s again. Today we are expecting it to be in the high 80’s. I had to do some work in the yard yesterday on the sprinkler system and it felt like spring for sure.

I hear a strong storm is brewing for all of the mid west and I think we may get some of that bad weather.

Bill W.

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I was looking at some pictures recently from the 1940s depicting travel modes at that time, rail, auto, and air.  In the early 50s, long distance travel was probably more related to utilizing the railroad passenger service.  Vacations, etc. utilized mostly automobile unless you had a lot of money, and then you might have chosen to fly on one of the growing airlines.  One of the problems with flying at that time was lack of convenient flight schedules and prevalence of nearby airports.  The availability of the many small airlines had not arrived at that time and if you flew, you went when they went.

I recall leaving Huntington for “boot camp” at Great Lakes Naval Training Center on an afternoon train on the Chesapeake and Ohio RR on an afternoon.  I recall arriving at the duty station at a late night hour.  Did anyone ever get to a duty station at a daylight hour?  Not me.  It seemed that the government just didn’t want you getting a good look at the place during daylight  hours where you where going to be spending time.  I do think we were fed a meal while on the train.  It seems to me that at that time, a meal allowance might have been $1.25.  That didn’t go far in a railway diner.

Following “boot camp” was another long train ride.  This time from Chicago to Los Angeles.  I don’t remember how many hours this particular trip took but I do remember sleeping two nights on the train.  Travel was with a group of seven with a PO in charge.  It was an ancient, non-air conditioned Pullman sleeper car.  Very boring, with nothing to do but look out of the window.  If you have ever ridden in one of those coaches you will remember that there are no bathing facilities.  Just a small sink that might hold a couple of quarts of water.  It was really hard to maintain good personal hygiene while aboard that thing.  I recall we had to wear white uniforms and by the time we got to California, perspiration was causing our dog tags to leave green marks around our necks. 

At stops along the way, we were not allowed to leave the coach to walk around outside, buy a soft drink, or, heaven forbid, an ice-cold beer to make the journey a little more pleasant.  Meal times were about as before, in a group, conducted by the PO in charge and with the small monetary allowance for a meal.  I can recall walking in a line to the dining car and people staring at us.  I wonder if they thought we were prisoners. 

What brings all of this to mind is a picture that I saw recently of a grand old airplane, pictured below.  It was atop the scrap heap in an airplane salvage yard.  Picked apart for salvaged parts, I suppose, over the years.  Can’t you imagine the tales it could tell, the voyages it had been on, the lives affected by the passengers it carried.  My thoughts were what a grand sight it would have been  to have seen it flying through the sky’s in its heyday.  Even though there are no markings on it, it is readily recognizable as a famous Lockheed Constellation.  It was a plane that was widely used during the late 40s and throughout the 1950s. It was widely used by the Navy, the Air Force, and civilian airlines throughout this period.  I believe the Navy was the largest purchaser of this plane followed by Tran World Airlines.


The Super Constellation was widely used by a military group called MATS.  It was a combined command, I believe, of the Navy and Air Force to provide transportation of personnel and materials wherever needed.  I can recall seeing an occasional Air Force crew fly a Navy aircraft or a Navy crew flying an Air Force aircraft.  In transporting personnel, the Navy was a prime user of the “Connie”.

The Super Constellation had the honor of being a presidential aircraft.  It was the aircraft chosen and used by Dwight D. Eisenhower during his presidential years.  It is on display and may be seen at the Air Force museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH.  I am sure that one of the reasons for their choosing it for such duty was due to its record of reliability. 

Below is pictured a “Connie” all decked out in its official paint scheme.


My personal memories of the “Connie” include a trip on it from Norfolk, VA to French Morocco.  I was stationed as part of an Amphibious Construction Battalion at Little Creek, VA. and the Navy in all of its wisdom decided that I should go to a Naval Air Station at Port Lyautey, French Morocco.  We went to a Naval air station in Maryland to get the flight.  It was on a “Connie” very much like the one pictured above.  I recall leaving in the afternoon and flying east over the Atlantic.  The plane was configured, as you might expect, for transportation of numbers and not for comfort.  I don’t recall how many might have been on the plane, but it was close seating.  At some time during the night we made a refueling stop in the Azores, and following that, a flight on to Port Lyautey;y, arriving there sometime the next day.  I do recall a brown bag meal while in flight consisting some “mystery meat” sandwich.  It was pretty boring and there was little to do but sleep in a very cramped position.  I flew in many civilian “Connies” following military service and found them to be one of the more comfortable propeller aircraft in airline service.

I hope that this will stimulate some of you that have stories to tell of your travel modes during military service to bring up some of them and let’s get them on the Chronicles.  I was always amazed at how the military could, without the aid of computers, get their people to where they wanted and needed them.

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