Preserving Pocahontas Part 2
In part one of these stories we talked about the historical preservation organization, Preserving Pocahontas; its mission and goal of locating, identifying and digitizing locally historic documents and photos; and about their ongoing World War 2 project. Today we will talk about the recovery of such items from the Pearl Carter Ward house.
BJ Gudmundsson, the Historic Preservation Officer of Preserving Pocahontas explains just who Pearl Carter Ward was.
“Pearl Carter Ward was a school teacher here in Pocahontas County” said BJ. “She was one of the first, I think it was, three graduated of Edray District High School –which went on to become Marlinton High school. She went on to college, got her teaching degree and came back to Pocahontas County to teach, and taught at a lot of the schools around the County.”
Pearl’s mother was Levia Gibson originally from the Elk community near Elk Mountain. Pearl’s father, Marvin Carter who was originally from Onoto, WV – which is near Edray – was a businessman who founded the Valley Hotel in Marlinton around 1900. The hotel was near where the Mason Jar now stands. The Carters later built a huge house off Route 39, now known as the Pearl Carter Ward house. Pearl ended up living alone in the house after both her parents and her husband died until she died in the late 1990’s. Recently Preserving Pocahontas received permission to recover boxes and boxes of important historical documents and photos from the Pearl Carter Ward house, which they are still sorting out. The original guest registers from the Valley Hotel were among the items recovered, as BJ explains.
“In that collection of stuff were ledgers – the old big heavy ledger books” BJ said. “One of the first ledger books that I opened up was the guest registry for the Valley Hotel in its first year of operation. It was absolutely fascinating, there were all sorts of names that we all recognize; people that nobody recognizes; parties of people that would come and they would sign the book and they were there just to sit down and have dinner together; people that were coming here to do business in Marlinton- coming on the train – politicians, all sorts of people and of course they stayed at the Valley hotel because it was right there.”
BJ points out that finding the Valley Hotel records settled a debate about the existence of the hotel.
“(It was) absolutely fascinating to find this record of the Valley Hotel –this place that nobody remembered; this place that everyone said ‘oh, it wasn’t here’’ said BJ.
Pearl’s father also shipped items and even opened a store. Records from these shipping transactions and store merchandise were also found in the house.
BJ talks about a local person whose name appears often as a guest at the hotel.
“One that sticks out in my mind – and there are a lot of people in Pocahontas County who still remember him- and that was Doctor Jim Price” said BJ. “They called him Doc Jim. He was a brother to Calvin W. Price, who was the editor down at the Pocahontas Times. And Doc Jim lived on a farm up at Edray and his medical office was upstairs in the Bank of Marlinton Building- the building that burnt. And, (it’s) very interesting that Doc Jim’s name pops up a lot in the book. Either he was there for dinner, but he popped up a lot as an overnight guest and it was always in the winter. And I would guarantee you that if you had access to old weather records you would find out it was because the weather was bad and he couldn’t get home.”
In the third and final installment on the work of Preserving Pocahontas, BJ Gudmundsson explains the significance of what preserving history really means. We will also learn a little about the Heritage Room in the McClintic Library and about digitizing the Pocahontas Times issues. Finally, BJ will explain how a photograph that was found in the Pearl Carter Ward house has reconnected a Maryland man with his ancestral family history.