Issue 1.October 2018
Evolution of the universityâ€™s name and mascot
by Kaitlyn Thompson
Building changes Professor Thompson Student Life Elda
by Corey Frazier
by Samuel Abels
by Toni Grogg
by Tyler Hilbert
Staple Pieces of WVU at Parkersburg by Alex Kimble
Poor House Poor Farm Cemetary
The Chronicle October 2018 Special History Edition West Virginia University at Parkersburg 300 Campus Drive Parkersburg WV 26101 The Chronicle is a public forum, published by the journalism students of West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Opinions are not necessarily the opinion of the Chronicle adviser, the administration or the staff of WVUP or the advertisers. Readers are invited to submit letters to the editor of 200 words or less. Letters must be signed, and the right to edit is reserved. The Chronicle also reserves the right to refuse to print any advertisment. West Virginia University at Parkersburg shall no discriminate on the basis of age, race, creed, color, sex, national origin or handicap in any of its education programs, activites, or employment policies.
by Ryan McCoy
by James Dobbs
3 4 5 6-7 8 10-11 12 13
Staff Samuel Abels, Brooke Buchanan, James Dobbs, Corey Frazier, Toni Grogg, Tyler Hilbert, Alex Kimble, Ryan McCoy, Madeline Murphy, Stephen Storey, Kaitlyn Thompson, Taylor Wigal Editor-in-Chief Brooke Buchanan Assisstant News Editor Kaitlyn Thompson Page Design Kaitlyn Thomspon: 3 Brooke Buchanan: 4-5, 8,10-11, 12-13 Toni Grogg: 6-7 Tyler Hilbert: 9 Nameplate font downloaded, Vogue, was created by Vladimir Nikolic. The font is available for download on dafont.com. Cover photo taken by Olivia Reeder
Evolving into WVU Parkersburg College undergoes name changes, creates mascot. by Kaitlyn Thompson
In 1961, Parkersburg, W.Va. became home to the Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia University. Since then, the college has evolved into one of the most affordable and highly respected forms of higher education in the state for traditional and non-traditional students. Beginning with 104 students in an abandoned elementary school, WVU Parkersburg’s history is intriguing in and of itself. Whether you are researching the past relationships with West Virginia University and Glenville State University or the evolution from name to name, the journey is noteworthy. As many know, WVU Parkersburg has gone through several changes. Those changes include curriculum, faculty members or the affiliation with WVU, but what most do not know is how the college was not always called West Virginia University at Parkersburg. When WVUP began in 1961, the college was originally named West Virginia University – Parkersburg Branch. This was fitting as the college was originally a branch from WVU itself. However, five short years later, the college’s name changed from the Parkersburg Branch to West Virginia University – Parkersburg Center. The college’s relationship with WVU determined the name and was, at the time, only a community college connected with the main university, offering associate degrees in several majors. In 1969, the campus complex on Route 47 was completed and ready to welcome students. Two years later, following legislative actions, West Virginia University – Parkersburg, broke ties from WVU and became Parkersburg Community College (PCC). PCC was one of the first institutions of higher learning to become part of a new community college system, along with two other community colleges state-wide. According to Dr. H.G. Young, music professor, PCC was one of the most successful community colleges in the state and paved the way for several others to open up across W.Va.
“A mascot is the outward representation of an institution and signifies a school through clubs, sports teams and other extracurricular activities.”
Ricky Riverhawk prepares to head out on a parade route with other WVU Parkersburg faculty members. Photo provided by: Tyler Hillbert
PCC was successful in its efforts to provide students with the opportunity to earn associates degrees and then move on to larger universities, such as WVU, to earn a bachelor’s and or higher degrees, according to Dr. Young. After spending several years with PCC as the official college name, change occurred once again. In 1989, the West Virginia Legislature had a hand in determining the fate of PCC. The legislature decided to establish PCC as a branch of WVU, once again, replacing PCC with West Virginia University at Parkersburg. West Virginia University at Parkersburg then became a campus of WVU. Since 1989, the name has remained WVU Parkersburg, however, in 2008 the state legislature decreed WVU Parkersburg would no longer be affiliated with WVU. Dr. Young said that across the state, community colleges were forced to create and choose new names or the legislature would take over and make the final decision. After much deliberation, WVU Parkersburg finally came to the conclusion that they would try to keep the name as is. According to Dr. Young, WVU Parkersburg was the desired title because the “West Virginia University” part of the title stood out and became a branding tactic. The only obstacle that WVU Parkersburg faced now was WVU; WVU would have to agree to the college using their name without the college being officially affiliated. Finally, it was agreed and approved through legal documentation that WVU Parkersburg could keep the name as is. Not only has WVUP evolved from name to name, but the curriculum, past sports teams, clubs and several more academic advancements have crafted the history of the college in one way or another. By adding, taking away or advancing areas to keep students engaged and excited about learning, WVUP has made several changes. One of those changes happened nearly ten years ago when WVU Parkersburg decided to brand themselves in a more traditional way. In 2009, WVU Parkersburg decided to bring a mascot to life to characterize the college and all those who are part of it. No school system can live without a mascot. A mascot is the outward representation of an institution and signifies a school through clubs, sports teams and other extracurricular activities. The student body was responsible for choosing the final four mascot options, and from those, the final decision was made. The final four options were the Continentals, the Pilots, the Black Bears and the Riverhawks. Each choice was given based on a reasoning as to why it was a choice. The Continentals was chosen for Parkersburg’s connection to Alexander Parker. Parker served in the American Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. The Pilots was chosen as a reflection of Parkersburg’s history as a “river town.” The Black Bears option was created as a way to represent the official W.Va. state animal that inhabits areas surrounding Parkersburg. The final option was the Riverhawks. The Riverhawks mascot name was crafted as a way to represent a colony of Osprey that live on Blennerhassett Island. These birds are typically known as “sea hawks,” but because they reside on the river, “riverhawk” is more appropriate and thus became a potential mascot possibility. Ultimately the Riverhawks won the ballot, and Ricky the Riverhawk became the WVU Parkersburg mascot. The Chronicle | 3
Location Changes of WVU Parkesburg
4 | The Chronicle
by Corey Frazier
The institution now known as West Virginia University Parkersburg (WVUP) has seen numerous changes throughout the years. Originally, WVUP was known as The Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia University when it was established as an institution in 1961. The building that housed the institution originally was an abandoned elementary school on Emerson Ave. That elementary school was known as Emerson School which was created by adding a large addition to the back of what was known as Sand Plains School. Sand Plains school was built in 1880 along Bull Creek Road (now known as Emerson Ave.). When it was opened, The Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia University enrolled 104 students. The Emerson School building housed the current college bell. The bell is still used in college ceremonies and events. The college bell; however not a building itself, is an important architectural part of the college. Meneely Bell Company of Troy, NY, cast the bell in 1902. The bell was found in a campus storage facility and was restored to its original condition; it has since been used for numerous college ceremonies. The college bell is now kept at the front entrance to the main campus near the presidentâ€™s office. By 1965, Wood County citizens had helped pass a bond that would provide $3.6 million to build a new complex on grounds provided by Wood County Court. The following year the institution experienced a name change. West Virginia University-Parkersburg Center was the first name change that the university underwent. This name change was only the first of many to come. Then, in 1969 construction was complete on the new complex. Two years later West Virginia University-Parkersburg Center experienced yet another name change. Parkersburg Community College was the institutionâ€™s next name change. The Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library now stands at the location where the original WVUP, the Emerson School building, was originally located. 1975 saw the opening of the Jackson County Center of Parkersburg Community College in Ripley which currently serves Jackson, Mason and Roane County. Then, in 1989 Parkersburg Community College becomes West Virginia University at Parkersburg, with another name change. The Caperton Center opens on the same grounds that WVUP stands on in 1999. 2010 marks the institutions biggest milestone; WVUP becomes the 4th largest institution of higher education in W. Va. The institution has previously owned and operated smaller facilities as well. WVUP was granted property in Downtown Parkersburg in 2008 by the Erickson Foundation. It opened as West Virginia University at Parkersburg Downtown Center in 2013 for use in the collegeâ€™s culinary program. The area in which the Parkersburg Brewing Company stands was home of the Downtown Center; it was approved for sale on Dec. 2, 2015. WVUP no longer owns or operates the Downtown Center. The college still owns and operates a small farm that was originally used for the Diversified Agriculture program, but is no longer in use for the program. The college maintained training labs and classrooms at the Polymer Technology Park (PTP) in 2015. The college no longer owns and operates classrooms at the PTP. WVUP, today, owns and operates numerous facilities. The main complex houses faculty and staff along with a library, multipurpose center, tutoring center, radio station, mock courtroom, a cafeteria and much more. At the same location of the main complex is the Caperton Center and Workforce and Economic Development building. The college also owns the Jackson County Center. The Jackson County Center (JCC) is located in Ripley, WV and accommodates students in Jackson, Mason and Roane Counties. JCC is used to assist students in Jackson, Roane and Mason by being a closer facility than the main campus. It was built in 1975 and has operated in the same location since. West Virginia University at Parkersburg has a rich history and has achieved many milestones and experienced numerous changes to achieve this rich history. As one of the largest institutions of higher learning in W. Va. there is a lot to be proud of. The institution started in an abandoned elementary school with just over 100 students and is now housed in a relatively massive complex that enrolls over 2,000 students. The institution continues to grow on a daily basis.
Highlighting Awesomeness Dave Thompson’s timeline with WVU Parkesburg by Samuel Abels
Professors are a driving force in our lives. Some are more notable than others, and some are defined by the stories they created getting to where they are today. Beginning in 1973, Professor Thompson became acquainted with the facilities at WVU Parkersburg through a Law Enforcement program, long before the doors to the now cemented Criminal Justice Program was introduced to its facilities. His initial interests were to become a forensic scientist, which he ultimately did not wind up pursuing. Later, he returned to pursue his then-newfound interests in both music and theatre. At the time, Professor Thompson was also a member of a band named “Road Work’’ alongside five others, all of who performed in a mid-term dance for the school in 1982. But there was a deeper meaning to the pursuit of his interests. “It was my involvement with the music that set the stage for subsequent interests and studies,” Thompson said. “The introduction of musical synthesizers lured me into the realm of electronic instruments,” Thompson added. “In order to create the sounds you desired, you needed to construct, or synthesize the sounds using various electronic circuitry to generate and modify sound waves.” This was merely a prerequisite for his eventual learning of wave theory and of how certain components of electronics operated. Gaining an increased understanding of it, though, Professor Thompson began acquainting himself with his band’s PA systems, lighting, and various other equipment necessary to their performances and function. He would later return to WVU Parkersburg in pursuit of an A.A.S Degree in Electronics Engineering Technology, in order to better understand and maintain the band’s equipment with the knowledge he would gain from his time earning this degree. Thompson would later go on to become a salesperson, electronics technician, manager and eventual Vice President at the Wendell’s Music building, briefly pursuing setting up his own music-oriented shop before working for 11 years as an industrial electrician at a local manufacturing facility. It was then that Professor Thompson decided his energy spent towards aiding his employers’ success might better be spent towards helping others succeed. So he returned to the campus, this time, taking interest in their RBA program, this time specializing in psychology because of his interest in behavior. He also wound up tackling another A.A.S degree this one geared towards ElectroEngineering Technology, eventually accepting a soon to be vacant position as an electronics professor. Professor Thompson happily began teaching all of the classes associated with this A.A.S degree in the year 2005. About five years ago however, Professor Thompson had the doors open for him to pursue instruction in the field of psychology coming in the form of a “jump” from his place at the Caperton Center to a psychology position on the main campus, and with previous experience with instruction (also being a piano and sound theory teacher at his position at Wendell’s Music), he took the bull by the horns. Professor Thompson also makes no bones about the impact those he teaches have had on him and his own viewpoints. “My students are a great source of information, as their experiences, viewpoints, priorities, and concerns are quite different from my own,” Professor Thompson said. “Being aware of and appreciating this diversity helps broaden and refine my course content,” Thompson added. “With the help of my colleagues, administrators, and the students, I am hopefully becoming a better teacher.” For Professor Dave Thompson, he has lived a long, interesting life, but it is now finally nice to have carved out a niche in the world.
Professor Dave Thompson of Psychology and Technology. Photo Provided by: Samuel Abels
“It was then that Professor Thompson decided his energy spent towards aiding his employers’ success might better be spent towards helping others succeed. So he returned to the campus, this time, taking interest in their RBA program, this time specializing in psychology because of his interest in behavior.” The Chronicle | 5
Student Life through the Decades
WVU Parkersburg: Then & Now
Although this was the case Bird had some interesting memories that include some changes that occurred while he was attending the college. One of the best being a protest that occurred where all the students skipped class and gathered in the courtyard to force the resignation of the current president. They did not like the way this president was running the college and wanted him gone. Also another interesting change that Bird remembered was the way they taught core classes during that time. Bird explained that they had a place like the tutoring center now, called the Student Learning Center where students worked on subjects such as math or English. “You were given the course work and set off to do it at your own pace. If you struggled they had professors that walked around the room to help,” Bird said. Now, of days we go to English or math classes that have one professor that set deadlines on assignments rather than letting us go at our own pace. Would some students do better if classes were like that now or would procrastination be worse? This all depends on the student. The change or difference that Bird stated was the biggest from then and now was technology. He explained that the only type of technology that they had then was typewriters and calculators. They did not have computers to help them find answers. Bird said, “If we needed a resource we went to the library to search. Answers were not readily available like they are now.” The growth in technology will also be a big difference for all the upcoming generations.
Al Collins, the campus police officer, attended the college in the 80s and graduated during the time when the colleges name was changing from “Parkersburg Community College” to WVU Parkersburg. Collins has been a part of the college for a long time by Toni Grogg and has seen many changes that it has gone through. He went from 57 years ago, the first 104 Riverhawks enrolled to attend classes at being a student, to a security guard for the college, then to what he The Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia University. 57 years ago, is now, the campus police officer. an old, abandoned elementary school was taken over to start a new During Collins’s time as a student, he expressed that it was an beginning for many people who wanted expand their knowledge enjoyable experience full of fun and memories. During this time, and start a new chapter in their life. students were more involved with clubs and school activities. Present day WVU Parkersburg is a lot different than the past. “Students seemed to have been more into college activities and First of all the name of the college has changed four times since taking part then than they are now. There were so many clubs that it has opened. It was first known as “The Parkersburg Branch of so many people wanted to be a part of. I tried baseball club, theater West Virginia University” in 1961, then it changed to “West Virginia club, radio club, weight lifting club, and many more. Anything that University-Parkersburg Center” in 1966, then in 1971 it changed sounded fun, I would try,” Collins said. to “Parkersburg Community College” and it is now known as Other activities were offered such as “Nooners.” These events WVU Parkersburg since 1989. Changes also include those in the would happen every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. Collins said categories of reconstruction, services provided to students, clubs, that students, including himself, would schedule their classes around student struggles and technology. this time to enjoy the activities that were being held. Students would also take matters into their own hands and find things to do such as playing football behind the school. Collins said that they would make it even more fun by digging a mud hole to play in. There were also “Final Final Finalizes” that were held at the end of each
In the 70s, and most of the 80s, students knew WVU Parkersburg as “Parkersburg Community College.” Those students were those who attended in the 70s and through most of the 80s. Students in the 70’s did not have the services that the college provides today. They did not have student advisors, a tutoring center, technology, etc. Higher education in the past required more from the students themselves, and you had to do it all on your own to get far. In the 70s college tuition was cheap and students were focused on one thing: getting a higher education to land a better job. College then was a time for learning and that only so that you could support yourself and your family more efficiently. Greg Bird, a student in the 70s, stated “I was there to get a degree so that I could get a job.” This seemed to be the mindset at the time for most students. Many students had other responsibilities to deal with such as jobs and a family to care for. Bird goes on to explain that people were there to improve their education so that they could have a greater chance at getting a job. Employers started to require and prefer those with an education. He explains that people worked when not at school, and most student's schedules consisted only of school, work and home most of the time. 6 | The Chronicle
Al Collins, 2nd from the top right, and some friends playing football behind the college in the 90’s. Photo provided by: Al Collins.
semester. It would be a six hour long event with flag football, tug-of war-over a mud hole, BBQing and more. In the 80s technology was advancing, but it still was not even close to the way it is today. Collins compared technology during his time to how it is now by stating how it affects the way we communicate with each other and the amount of technology that we have today that wasn't even a thing in the past. He said that when he was a student, there was one computer lab while now there are computers everywhere. The library used to be full of all books and is now taken over with computers. He also explained how communication is hard for this generation. “The student lounge was a place to go where it was easy to sit down and get to know someone while now it is just faces in phones.” At the end of Collins’s time as a student, the activity center was built, and it changed the whole layout of the school. Before it, there was only a mini gym located in the basement where the cafe and lounge used to be as well. Also, throughout his entire time with the college, Collins has witnessed the college go through five to six presidents with his favorite being Eldon Miller. He stated that Miller was a laid back and caring president who wanted students to enjoy their time at WVU Parkersburg. Collins has been a big part of the college and has watched it grow and change in many different ways. He has spent a big chunk of his life at WVUP and adores the college saying, “I think we are a great little gem in the valley.”
Students in the 90’s relaxing in the student lounge when it was located in the basement. Photo provided by: Melissa Deem.
The 90s In the 90s, the college was finally known and accepted as West Virginia University at Parkersburg. During this time, WVU Parkersburg was known as the first and only community college that offered bachelor's degrees in West Virginia. During this decade, student services were a lot different than what they are now. For example, Melissa Deem, a student from 19921998, explained how student advisors, the process of registering for classes and tutoring in the past has changed. Deem stated that student advisors were just teachers with a list of students names that they had as a second job. You did not have to use them, but they were there to help if you needed. These days, those who are student advisors do so as their main job with the occasional class. Students are required to meet with them before registering for classes each semester which is in itself a big change. Deem also explained that registration is a lot different because when she attended, you would have to stand in a long line and hope for the best that you get your classes. Registering online makes it a lot quicker and easier. Tutoring is also a big change that has taken place over the years. Deem explains that when you were in need of a tutor there was no center to go to, so you would look on bulletin boards to see if anyone was offering. If so, you would have to contact them and set it up yourself. Today, you could just walk into the tutoring center with no appointment necessary.
Like those from the prior generations, Deem believes that technology is the main difference for students then and now. “Technology is building a more inclusive student body. People say that it breaks us apart from one another, but in reality it helps us communicate better. It makes it easier to communicate with fellow classmates and our professors through email and other programs offered now. When I attended the college, the only way to get ahold of the professor with a question was stopping by their office.” Deem has two memories from when she attended WVU Parkersburg that were her most favorite. The first one being the OJ trials. She stated that on the day of his conviction classes were let out to watch the verdict in the student lounge where it was packed full of those eager to know. Her second favorite was graduation. “Graduation was like finalizing it all and putting an end to it,” Deem said. She explains that college was a solitary adventure; whereas with high school, parents helped out and supported you. Graduation was the first time her parents have ever been to the college because it is not required of them to come any other time. College is something you do on your own and celebrate with your loved ones once you are finish.
In the 2000s, the college continued to grow with the offering of more bachelor degrees and technology advancements. Chasity McDonald, a graduate from 2007, explains how things were at the college when she attended and how it differs now. “WVU Parkersburg was an amazing university to attend during my time as a student because classes sizes were small, and it offered a more personal learning experience! I loved the diversity that existed at WVU Parkersburg because most of my classes were made up of nontraditional students,” McDonald said. She explained technologies role in how things are different now. “Students are faced with much more technology now in the classroom, so I’m sure that is a big difference! There are also more opportunities for students to take online courses now, which can be helpful for students like me who are young moms or dads or even for students who have a job,” McDonald said. McDonald majored in education while attending WVU Parkersburg, and she stated that there was a lot to offer for those who were in this program. There were many resources for education students when she started and she explained that they increased more and more throughout her time at the school. When asked what her favorite memory was from her time at WVU Parkersburg she said, “It is so hard to choose one memory because I have so many! I will never forget Dr. Martha McGovern who taught me how to be a reading teacher; she had such a passion for teaching children and for teaching her future teachers! She was always smiling, and she offered the best constructive criticism in the world! I couldn’t thank this amazing lady enough! I will also never forget my amazing education professors who always taught me to set the bar high for expectations in the classroom! I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today if it wasn’t for their outstanding guidance!” Throughout these decades, WVU Parkersburg has come so far from where it started. We went from an old abandoned elementary school to a college that is now adored by many who have made memories here and watched it become what it is today. Each past student that was spoken to was not disappointed with their time spent at WVU Parkersburg. Bird explains his time saying, “It was a learning experience that was different than what I grew use to from being in the military for four years. Went from military learning to higher education.” Collins explains his feelings about the college by saying, “We are a true asset of the community and one that I wish more people would know about.” McDonald explains her time at WVU Parkersburg by saying, “Getting to attend WVUP was such a blessing to me! I didn’t have the option to go elsewhere because my family simply didn’t have the money to send me away to college, and yet, I didn’t miss a thing! Truthfully, staying at home to attend college was the best choice for me, and I was even more blessed by the fact that WVU Parkersburg has one truly outstanding education program!” This college has helped shape many student lives into what they are today through the memories made and the education gained. The Chronicle | 7
West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s Other Mascot?
College Dog Lives On In The Hearts of Faculty and Staff by Tyler Hilbert
Many of you may already know our current mascot, Ricky the Riverhawk, some of you may have even seen him on campus or out and about trying to gain new students! Although Ricky is the official face of WVU Parkersburg now, he had some competition in the past. Back in the mid 80s the era of walkmans, Reagan, jazzercise and Madonna, our first mascot made her appearance. One fateful day around 1985, a pregnant dog appeared on campus, alone and with no owner. Staff and students on campus decided to try and help the dog. The dog gave birth to a happy and healthy litter of puppies right here on campus and was accepted then and there as a member of the WVU Parkersburg family! After the puppies were old enough to leave they were all given away to their new homes, but the mother remained. She would often come around the building and make the routine laps with the security team. People even started to believe she was a security dog! Staff would have food for her and a local vet even came to give her vaccines and checkups! Most of all though the dog loved spending time with the president Eldon Miller. President Miller was known to take walks around the campus whenever he needed a break or wanted to get out of the office. The dog would accompany him and seeing this the faculty decided to name her after him, and since she was a girl they decided on the name Elda. Elda was so popular around campus the bookstore even sold Elda merchandise! Students and staff alike were all a fan of Elda and she enjoyed walking the campus and greeting people as they exited and entered the building. She was known to walk with people to and from classes as well as make her usual security laps, even without the security team.
“Some of our staff has fond memories and stories about Elda. “I remember there was one time a woman was here with her little girl. The woman was talking about something and when she looked for her daughter she was gone. Everyone was worried and we told security about it and they notified everyone to look for her. They told them to check by the back dock and there she was,” Said Jeff Scott, Financial Aid Counselor. “They had built a dog box for Elda near the dock and we think the girl had seen her and followed her back there. She was just sitting in the box next to Elda talking to her and having a conversation!” 8 | The Chronicle
“Occasionally Elda would come in the building, but she didn’t like it. As soon as she came in she wanted back out, but she would tolerate it to make her security checks and get some head rubs and treats from people. Every once in a while maintence would give her bath to keep her clean and bugs out of her fur. She got to the point though that she realized when they filled the kiddy pool up that it was bath time so she would run away or hide from them so they couldn’t get her!” Scott said. Sadly tragedy struck at WVU Parkersburg when Elda was found by the side of the road on route 47. Apparently Elda had developed a habit of going to the BP station to get treats from the employees there. Students and staff around campus had recently been told not to feed Elda treats because she was gaining too much weight, so she decided to look elsewhere for snacks. No one knows what happened, but it is assumed that she was crossing to come back to campus when tragedy struck. A huge procession and ceremony were held for Elda’s tragic death. A large, concrete coffin was created for Elda and setup in the school so students and staff could pay their respects to her before her burial. Her coffin was placed on a cart and pulled by a tractor for her procession with President Eldon Miller following behind. He even gave a speech about how much Elda meant to him and the school and what lessons he learned from her. WTAP even came for the events and filmed it. According to Scott we were the first school to have a funeral for a dog. Elda was a fascinating dog and influenced the school and the people in it more than she ever could have realized that 1985 day. Although we don’t know where she came from or much about her story before WVU Parkersburg, but we know how much it changed her life. Elda represents the opportunities we offer here to have a fresh start. Elda’s story is fascinating and intriguing, to be one of, if not the only schools to have a school dog. The next time you’re walking in the parking lot next to the cafeteria look around and you’ll see Elda’s marker. Pay your respects and tell her good girl, because she truly was.
1. Drawing of Elda that used to be sold in the bookstore on postcards. Photo provided by: Tyler Hilbert 2. Elda poses for a photo at the college. Photo provided by: Tyler Hilbert 3. Elda’s grave located outside of the cafeteria doors. Photo provided by: Tyler Hilbert
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Staple Pieces of WVU Parkersburg Items from the past live on by Alex Kimble
For young students at WVU Parkersburg, we donâ€™t sit back and appreciate the little things. When you walk the halls, do you ever wonder about the bell you pass by in the morning? Do you ever walk passed a grave outside, or ever wonder about the clock tower? What are the stories behind those staple pieces that make this university special? Today, I plan on sharing those stories. In 2009, Miller Plaza was created on WVU Parkersburgâ€™s main campus. The plaza has a memory garden of named bricks to honor and remember those who have contributed to the university. By calling 304-424-8340, bricks are available to purchase for a retired teacher, an instructor who passed away or simply to donate to the college. It is a nice way to give back to the teachers who helped give us the knowledge we need to succeed in our field. A clock tower was created as well right in the center of the bricks. West Virginia Senator J.Frank Deem helped make this memorial area possible. This was to help honor the memory of Eldon Miller, former President of WVU Parkersburg. Located by the front entrance of the campus. Miller served as the the president of WVU Parkersburg from 19822000; this stands as the longest tenure at the university. Miller was a well-respected President at the university for all the contributions he gave to this community college. The former President passed in 2013 in his Florida home at the age of 77. Just how giving was President Miller? A year after his passing the university learned of one final gift; he left the university in his will, which grew nearly one million dollars, to help provide scholarships for students at WVU Parkersburg. The bell located in the entrance of the university has some history to it. The bell is one of the few things that remains of the original university before it became WVU Parkersburg. Cast in 1902 by the Meneely Bell Company of Troy New York, the original bell belonged 10| The Chronicle
to the Emerson Avenue school building where in 1961 Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia University was established. This bell is still used at campus ceremonies. In Nov 2017, WVU Parkersburg unveiled a Purple Heart parking spot on campus. According to the WVU Parkersburg website, only fifty colleges and universities nationwide provide a parking place for military men and women who received the Purple Heart award. A Purple Heart award is given to veterans who were wounded in combat. WVU Parkersburg was the first community college in the state of West Virginia to hire full-time veterans and establish a Veterans Resource Center for the college students. At the ceremony, WVU Parkersburg was presented a plaque by the Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Charles Baidsen. Today, our university has over 150 veterans on campus. Elda Memorial Grave is located on campus in a parking lot by the cafe. Elda was a stray dog found on campus. Many would call her the campus dog for WVU Parkersburg, a mascot and a pet for everyone to take care of on campus. President Miller took great care of Elda. Campus even sold merchandise when she passed away. The long tenured teachers who I spoke to about Elda had nothing but glowing stories about how positive of an environment Elda brought to the university. Elda passed away in 1995, but the memories that she brought to WVU Parkersburg are still felt today.
Dr. Bernard L. Allen, former professor on campus, brought a different feeling to the classroom. He was a teacher like no other. Allen brought history class to life when he taught. He would enter his classroom in outfits like people in history would dress. According to WVUToday, Allen found out early in his career lecturing from notes wasn’t working, so he started to prepare scripts for class. Allen was a recipient of a great number of teaching awards throughout his career. He was one of 46 professors nationwide to receive the “Professor of the Year” honor in 2001. WVU Parkersburg remembers the contribution Allen provided to the university and honored him with a plaque to show appreciation for his hard work. How many instructors can say they have a classroom dedicated to them? WVU Parkersburg’s monuments leave special meaning for students and faculty all across campus. I want all of you, fellow students and even faculty members, to take moments when you are walking around campus after learning of these special stories, and share them with fellow students and faculty as they mean a lot to this university. I hope some of these special stories that were shared will bring more meaning and thought to the people who have read this. Now you know what makes these monuments special and can share it with the community including your friends and family.
1. The Miller Plaza clock located on the main campus. Photo provided by: Alex Kimble 2. The bell is located ourside of the presidents office. This bell is one of the only few thing that remain from the original university. Photo provided by: Brooke Buchanan 3. A drawing of Elda, who was the dog that used to wonder the campus. Photo provided by: Alex Kimble 4. Rodney Parker, President Classified Staff and President Eldon Miller’s memory bricks located in the Miller Plaza. Photo provided by: Alex Kimble 5. Dr. Bernard L. Allen’s plaque honoring his dedication as a professor. Photo provided by: Alex Kimble
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From Agriculture to Academia The rise and fall of the Wood County poor farm by Ryan McCoy
Thousands have walked the halls of WVU at Parkersburg but few have ever stopped to ponder what was here before this school. Long before this school was ever even a thought, another institution stood on these grounds. That institution was the Wood County Infirmary, a place for the poor, elderly and disabled. Poor houses, were once a common site around the United States. They were used in the 19 and early 20 centuries. Able bodied residents were required to work and the farms were funded by the County they were located in. Poor farms slowly fell out of use in the mid 1930’s upon the creation of the Social Security Act. By the 1960’s, Poor Farms had disappeared.
“In 1971 the school became the first comprehensive community college in West Virginia. From there the college would grow into the current institution and the Wood County Infirmary, as with those across the nation receded into history.” 12 | The Chronicle
Wood County’s Poor Farm got its start in 1864. The earliest county record indicates that Edward Tracewell, Harry Beeson, Thompson Leach and Lysander Dudley were appointed to locate a place to build a “poor house” on May 10. In July, it was agreed that some land should be purchased to keep the poor on. On Aug. 13, it was decided that the 200 acre farm of T.H. Bartlett would be bought. Bartlett was paid with a 6 thousand dollar bond that was to be paid in 6 years. In 2018’s money the land cost a little over 96 thousand dollars. Several changes were made in the first decades. In 1881, the county court was given the authority to provide for the means of taking care of the poor such as an infirmary, and a workhouse. In the early 1900’s attention was brought to the conditions of the poor houses in West Virginia. In 1913, Governor William Glasscock spoke against the poor conditions calling them a “disgrace.” To this end, on July 31, 1915 the Wood County Court asked for bids to build a new infirmary for the counties poor. The county accepted a bid from Joseph Hile for just over 15 thousand dollars. The final contract was signed for nearly 22 thousand dollars. The new infirmary was completed late in the following year. The new structure housed women on the left side of the building and men on the right. The Superintendent lived in the center of the infirmary with his family. There was also a separate building for those with contagious diseases. This building was called a pest house and it stood near the location of WVUP’s main building. A multitude of crops were grown on the farm. Red clover, strawberries, cherries, apples and peaches were among them. Jersey cows were among the animals that were kept at the farm. Earle R Bee worked on the farm from 1922 till 1933. He was paid 1 dollar per day and worked for 6 days a week. He worked from 7a.m. until 6p.m. and got hour long breaks for lunch. He lived a short distance away in a small town called Nicolette. During the winter, Bee was paid 2 dollars due to poor road conditions In Aug. 1941, the Wood County Court leased the Infirmary to the Wood County Council of the Department of Public Assistance. Then, in the early morning of Feb. 26, 1950 a fire broke out and destroyed the Infirmary building. At this time there were 29 inmates living in the building. Of these Lewis Coffey was the only person to die in the fire. He is believed to have been 80 years old. The fire could not be put out due to a lack of available water. That June the Wood County Court voted in favor of constructing a new building. This building was smaller than the previous Infirmary and saw another 10 years of use. The County leased it to M. Helen Daniels who opened one of the first licensed nursing homes in the facility. In 1968, ground was broken on the Parkersburg Center of West Virginia University. In 1971 the school became the first comprehensive community college in West Virginia. From there the college would grow into the current institution and the Wood County Infirmary, as with those across the nation receded into history. Now only a small cemetery remains to remind us of our past and of the people that once lived on and worked this land. More details can be found in the source material for this article. Caring for Wood County’s needy on the News and Sentinel as well as The Wood County Poor Farm Property, a short history of the property found online at the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library Genealogy Digital Library.
History of the Poor Farm Cemetery by James Dobbs
The Poor Farm Cemetery originally the Kincheloe-Vandiver Cemetery is located behind the lower end of the West Virginia University at Parkersburg parking lot. It was named the KincheloeVandiver Cemetery, because it sat on property that was owned by the Kincheloe family in the early 1800’s. The family wanted a private family cemetery, so they set aside a few acres 100 yards from their house for this purpose. Once the land had changed hands, the Kincheloe family farm house was used as the County Infirmary in the early 1900’s. The cemetery was then expanded one acre in size. The original Cemetery, created by the Kincheloe family, is the lower left corner of the current cemetery. It is not kept as tidy as the newer portion of the cemetery. Based on a count taken in 2004, there were 176 identified people accounted for in the cemetery. There are also 219 white wooden crosses with no information available and four tombstones with no names. There is also one tombstone with the initials A.E.K., which stands for Ann Elizabeth Kincheloe. She was born in 1825 but died in infancy, she was the daughter of Daniel and Hannah Kincheloe. In 1864 The Wood County Overseers of the Poor Purchased 300 acres (The former Kincheloe Property) on which to create a farm to care for the indigent of Wood County. This Cemetery was established initially for residents of the Poor Farm, also known as the “Alms House” or “The County Infirmary.” Records for deaths at “The Farm” prior to the 1890’s are few. They were possibly lost along with many records for the years of 1910 through 1920, in a fire that destroyed the brick infirmary building in 1950.
From various records that do exist, it has been determined that over the many years, perhaps as many as 1000 “unfortunates” have been interred at his site. Their names and the scant information known about them can be found in the Wood County Courthouse and the public library. There was a monument erected in the remembrance of them that sits in front of the cemetery. In January 2015, Bob Enoch asked the county to consider moving six gravestones back to their original location in the cemetery. Bob Enoch is a member of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. In the 1970’s the county commission gave control of the Kincheloe-Vandiver cemetery to the Recreaton Commission and the six gravestones were moved to another location. None of the bodies were dug up or were moved, they lie in the same spot as before. The only things that were move, were the six gravestones. The gravestones were relocated to 150-by-100 foot plots in another area of the property. The family was willing to give the plot back to the county in order for the gravestones to be returned. The family received 16 feet at the original site for the gravestones. Enoch thought the gravestones could be fenced in after they were moved back to properly honor the deceased family members. The historical society has been working toward a monument to honor those buried in the cemetery by fund-raising.
“This Cemetery was established initially for residents of the Poor Farm, also known as the ‘Alms House’ or ‘The County Infirmary.’” The Poor Farm Cemetery plaque located outside of the cemetery. Photo provided by: Ryan McCoy
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