When my cousin dropped off my Aunt Bonnie's files, I did not anticipate finding this story in one of her notebooks. This is what she wrote in her notebook about a trip she took to find the old DeHart place in West Virginia in 1988. I will try to transcribe it as closely as I can, but there are just some spellings, expressions, and sentences I will have to modify. There are many, many pages so I will share the story in segments.
A dream come true - we're on our way to the place my grandma was born. I've been finding out some things from the Historical Society and was sent maps and other information about the DeHart settlement and cemetery on Knobs Mt. outside Union, West Virginia. So in June of 1988 my husband, Al, and I drove out to see what we could find.
Our trip was going fine and at Beckley, W.V. we got on the turnpike which would take us to highway 219 and we'd go south 20 miles and come to our town of Union. But, the turnpike didn't open until the 15th of July so they told us the highway we should take was #3. As we only had 50 miles to Union, we knew it wouldn't take long. As we left the town of Beckley, we didn't think the highway would be as bad since the highest Mt. is only 5,000 ft. We started our short trip to Union only to find the road, our half isn't quite as wide as our motor home. Not only was it a narrow road but it was up and down and on further a sign pointing straight left and we'd get around the curve and another sign would be pointing straight right. Timber lined both sides of the road with a little town every few miles, small towns that had been there forever with fences coming up to the road. I took a few pictures as we thought Union would be older than what we were seeing.
As we'd come to the bridges, they were all one lane bridges When we came to Highway 219 going up to Union, it was a good wide highway, anyway wide enough for our motorhome.
We got into the town of Union at about 11:00 a.m., on Friday, July 2, 1988. Still a one street small town, but more up to date then we'd seen since we'd left Beckley. We went to the Historical Society, and it was closed. The man had gone to Charlotte to see his family. So here we are. How do we know how to find the DeHart place? The map I had didn't say what road or how far out. We found the Watchman's Newspaper office and we walked in. It was an office like you'd see in the old western movies. The editor wasn't there but would be back soon, the gal said. So we walked down a block or two and then went back, and he was there. We told him our story and why we were there. He didn't know much but we showed him our map and he said if we'd go up the main street and Knob's Road would go off to the left. Follow it and it would take us up to where we wanted to go. Also he said it was a one lane blacktop road going up and a winding road, but he thought we could make it O.K. So we start out to find the Knob's Rd. sign, make our left, and start out and up. Of course near town there are lots of houses and as we go higher, there are fewer houses. Of course we have more trees the higher we go, more curves and up and down hills. As we get out a few miles, we meet speeding cars coming down. We have one tire on the blacktop road and one on the edge of the road. There's a shop of sorts and we pull into the driveway.
A car was getting ready to leave with a couple of young men in it. Al told them we were looking for the DeHart land. One of the men told him to keep going up and we'd come to Knob's Road and his uncle or great uncle lived on the corner. He could tell us what we wanted to know.
(to be continued)...........................................................................
Will they find the DeHart place? Will they end up in a situation like in the movie Deliverance? These ups and downs on the mountain roads, the thick timber, and the desolate nature of the area are making me nervous. Well, maybe I exaggerate just a little.