Preserving Pocahontas Part 3


In this, the third and last installment of the Preserving Pocahontas story, BJ Gudmundsson of Preserving Pocahontas tells us about what preserving history really means, and relates a really fascinating story about how a Maryland man reconnected to his family history through a photograph found in the Pearl Carter Ward house by Preserving Pocahontas.

The primary mission of Preserving Pocahontas is preserving history for present and future generations. BJ Gudmundsson provides insight into exactly what that means. BJ.

“People think that historic preservation is just about saving a building or maybe saving a picture or a family history, but all of these documents have historical relevance because they tell us so much about the everyday life of people at that time” said BJ. Whether it’s how many pounds of sugar came in a bag or how much they paid for a pound of sugar or where it had to be shipped from, it’s just tremendous insight into how they lived. It tells our story!”

BJ went on to talk about the Heritage Room in the McClintic Library, in Marlinton where our interview took place, and how people from the Historical Society like Jane Price Sharpe, Bill McNeel and Denise McNeel realized there was a need for a place open all year where people could research their family histories. The room also houses a computer on which Preserving Pocahontas has placed a searchable database which they had created containing every issue of the Pocahontas Times from 1886 up to the late 1980’s.

She also related an amazing story which illustrates the importance of preserving our historical records and photos. It began with the finding of a photograph of a mother and her two small children in the Pearl Carter Ward house. I’ll let BJ tell the story.

Mrs. Kelmenson with Children

Mrs. Kelmenson with Children

“And there was a photograph of a lovely woman with two children“said BJ. “You could tell the photograph was from around 1905-1910. And it was written on there, –Mrs. Kelmenson and children.  And then there were other photographs of children and they were the children that were in the photograph and they had their name on them – Harry Kelmenson and whatever the little girl’s name was. Kelmenson – a very interesting name for Pocahontas County, I wondered how they were connected to the Carters. So I want to the Pocahontas Times archive and I started finding advertisements for Kelmenson’s Store and then I went to and found the Kelmenson’s on there and they were first generation immigrants from Russia. It turned out the Kelmenson’s came here from Russia and built a store. Over on the other side of the bridge the Kelmenson’s had a general merchandise and dry goods store. So I put the photographs of Mrs. Kelmenson and the children on the digital archive on the Internet – didn’t think anything else about it. Get an email from this man, Jack Kelmenson and said he had seen picture on our archive on the Internet of Mrs. Kelmenson and children and was it possible to get a print. So I emailed him back and told him how to get a print and ‘OH BY THE WAY how are you connected to the Kelmensons?’ (He) sent me back an email. It turned out that the little boy in the photograph, Harry, was his father.  This man lived in Maryland, and of course the lady was his grandmother. And he said they had lots of pictures of his grandmother and his family, but these were pictures that nobody in the family had ever seen. Mr. Kelmenson is going to try and come to Marlinton sometime in the near future. It was just a fluke that I happened to put it on the Internet; that he happened to find it; we happened to connect; and I think it’s just a beautiful Story.”

So, this story illustrates that sometimes we can learn a lot about our heritage because someone took the time to preserve a little piece of history. You can see the picture which started it all on our website – – with this story, and you can browse all the Preserving Pocahontas historical pictures on their website,

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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