See That my Grave is Kept Clean

Like many of you, I will be visiting West Virginia this summer.  As usual, I can’t stay as long as I would like – but I’m looking forward to the visit!

In fact, next Friday, along with my carload of “tweenagers”, I’ll be headed to Speedway for the annual Caperton Family Reunion.

Even thought I haven’t placed many postings on Pride of West Virginia lately – the site is still dear to my heart. 

Over the past year I’ve watched family members from all sides and all over the country reconnect after discovering each other on Pride of West Virginia.   It’s been very satisfying!

I also receive emails almost daily from someone visiting the site. 

The most frequent message I receive goes something like this:

 Dear Laurie, 

   My parents and aunts used to send money to someone to help with the cemetery upkeep – do you happen to know who that person is?

Keeping up a cemetery is a thankless job!   Imagine how much work it takes each year just keeping weeds and grass cut in your own yard.  The keeper of the family cemetery usually has to haul in the lawn mower, weed whacker and other tools in order to maintain the area.  It takes quite a bit of money, time, and gas.  

For a long time I didn’t know who was providing the upkeep!  But I made it a point to find out.

I do know, that almost ever one of you who attends a function at “home” this summer, or any other time, usually makes it a point to visit a cemetery.  If you’re like me, you come – you look – you leave.  There’s never time in my schedule to spend a day weeding or cleaning up. 

I don’t want to place the addresses and phone numbers of the caretakers online.  If you would like to email me (la.stone@md.metrocast.net), I’ll provide you with an address or phone number for the caretakers, and you can send them the check directly.  

The Caperton Family Cemetery , in Speedway,  is maintained by Jean and Oren Roland.  This year, at the reunion, there will be many print copies of Julia’s Story available.  I am not setting a price on them, I am only asking for a donation of $7.00 – the cover price on the book.  The entire $7.00  will go directly to Jean so they can keep up with the expense of maintaining the grounds and keep it looking as beautiful as it’s always looked.   I’ll put a donation jar right by the books.  If you don’t want a book – please try to spare a little for the donation jar anyway! Every little bit  helps.

If you are not able to come to the reunion – as my gift to the cemetery fund – all profits from Julia’s Story are going towards the Caperton Cemetery Fund.  You can purchase the book online at this link:

Julia’s Story – the online cost is $7.99

Headstone photographs of the Caperton Cemetery are at the end of this message.

The Rowland Family Cemetery, located in Gardner, is maintained by Gerald Saunders.  I spoke with Gerald yesterday, he would be very appreciative of any help that might come his way.  The once “ample” cemetery fund is now reduced to only a small amount.  In the past, a hat was passed around at the Rowland family reunions.  Since the reunions stopped – the money apparently also stopped arriving. 

Gerald is unable to maintain the grounds himself now, and has hired someone to keep it mowed and weeded.  Please email me for his address if you wish to send funds!

See That My Grave is Kept Clean

Blues Standard, written by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927.

There’s just one kind of flavor I’ll ask for you;

            You can see that my grave is kept clean.

 And there’s two white horses following me;

            Waiting on my burying ground.

 Did you ever hear that coffin sound;

            Means another poor boy is under the ground.

 Did you ever hear them church bells toll;

            Means another poor boy is dead and gone.

 And my heart stopped beating and my hands turned cold;

            And I believe what the father told.

 And just one last flavor I’ll ask for you;

            You can see that my grave is kept clean.

Headstone Photographs from the Caperton Cemetery in Speedway


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Growing up in the 30’s and 40’s in Speedway, West Virginia

Written by: Lillian Ruth Caperton Wimmer

Happy Mother’s Day Marcheta!

When we last heard from Aunt Ruth, her grandmother Ella had just moved to Ohio to live with Ruth’s Uncle Bob.  The young Ford family moved into the Old Home Place,  Ruth and her parents moved into the Old Allie House, named after Aunt Allie, who was married to Uncle Allen Caperton.

The “Old Allie House” had a kitchen, bedroom and bedroom/parlor room.  The parlor/bedroom had a lovely old stone fireplace in it and I can remember the cheerfulness of the fire crackling in the fireplace, especially at night when it cast shadows upon the wall and ceiling.  My sister and I shared a bed in that room and many nights before going to sleep I would watch those shadows upon the wall and ceiling and in my imagination would see different forms and shapes of people, animals, trees, etc.., forming and dancing on the walls and ceiling.  It was very comforting to see the fire and hear the crackling of the wood.  I can remember sitting cozily by the fireplace, curled up in a big chair reading a book. 

Lena Rivers

I always loved to read.  One of my mother’s favorite books, which I also loved to read  titled Lena Rivers. (Footnote 1)   I wish I could find that book somewhere now so that I could read it again.

 My mother and dad later had the “Old Allie Place” torn down and built a more modern house in its place.  The new house had an upstairs which was great.  I had never lived in a house with an upstairs before and I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the new house however; I missed the fireplace and always wished that somehow we could have used the stones and built a fireplace out of them in the new house.  This house consisted of kitchen, living room, 2 bedrooms downstairs, and 2 bedrooms upstairs, with several large closets.   Another smaller kitchen and bathroom were later added and the old kitchen was used s a dining room.  This house was built near the end of World War II and some problems were encountered during the construction of it as some building materials were scarce and hard to find.

Mark Ratliff Jr. 1919 – 1998

This takes me to the time of the second World War.   This war began on December 7th, 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.   I  was ten years old at the time.  My beloved brother, Mark was in the Navy when the war began and we were all worried about him and anxious concerning his well-being.  He was at the Panama Canal during much of the war, but was on a destroyer in the Pacific during part of the war.   Mark was also stationed at Midway Island in the Pacific for a time.  It was a blessed relief when the war was over and he Continue Reading »

My father had many gifts, oration was not one of them.  Don’t get me wrong – he could very effectively communicate using only 3 or 4 carefully chosen words.  I suppose the best way to describe my father would be to portray him as a mixture of the terse NCIS character, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, combined with the understated mannerisms and athletic abilities of a Spartan warrior.  In fact my dad, like Jethro Gibbs, was a Special Agent for the Treasury Department.  Unlike Gibbs, he chased down villains armed with a calculator instead of a gun.

Bill is the nervous looking man in the middle wearing possibly the first suit he ever owned.

Before I begin writing this story, I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to Patricia Smith who graciously allowed me to borrow several photographs from her website McComas Memories.  Pat has worked tirelessly for over ten years keeping the site and community of McComas, West Virginia connected online.  I am placing the photographs at the end of this post as a slide show.  I would also like to thank Elaine McMillion, producer of Hollow The Documentary,  for a couple of the still shots I’m placing in the slide show.

Located in Mercer County about a mile east of the McDowell County line, McComas was once a Continue Reading »

I haven’t laughed so hard since……

1920 Prototype for a Modern Day Mammogram Machine

If you’re from Appalachia then you know your kin had a saying for everything and a story to go with it.

Since  proudly passing my Jubilee year I have to confess, I was probably just a glean in my father’s eye when this event happened.  Yet, I heard my mother and Aunt Ruth tell this story so often that I can just see myself sitting in a corner somewhere tickled beyond pacification while watching the whole thing unfold. There’s an old hillbilly saying that goes ” I haven’t laughed so hard since the day grandma got her teat caught in the wringer”.  Now if you’re not quite at your half century mark, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about and I know you’re sitting there rubbing your chin and going – huh? Continue Reading »

I woke this morning listening to a slight drizzle of rain knocking on my window. There is a bit of a chill in the air, just enough to let the arthritis in my shoulder know that something – not sure it it is good or bad –  is about to change in the weather. What a perfect morning to crawl back between the sheets with a good book! After all – I AM the only one in my neighborhood who hasn’t read  Fifty Shades of Grey.  Tonight is “girl’s” night out with Krewe Hanover Farms  and I really want to have something to talk about that has nothing to do with weeds, husbands or home owner’s associations.

However; after thinking it over a bit I realized if I get engrossed in a book right now, it will be noon before I start my day.   Instead, I decided to spend my morning productively by tackling my overwhelming batch of papers that need filing.   About five minutes into filing I ran across a document that I intended to publish a while back .  After shoving all of the other papers back into an already overflowing, wardrobe sized crate  labeled “Things to File” – I sat down at my computer to bring you the words of my Great Aunt – Lillian Ruth Caperton Wimmer.   This essay, written by Ruth, tells of life around Speedway, West Virginia just before – during – and after WWII.

Growing up in the 30’s and 40’s in Speedway, West Virginia – By Lillian Ruth Caperton Wimmer

I was born September 7, 1931, during the “Great Depression.”  Times then were very Continue Reading »

Root Hog or Die

Root Hog or Die – The Legacy of the Caperton Family

Now see – just when you ‘ll had given up on me I turn up again just like the weeds that are now popping out of my garden.

Even though I haven’t been posting – I have been quite busy.  Over the holidays Julia’s story was published in print form.  It’s now available as paperback print book.  Julia’s story is self published to keep the price low, which means I had to fore-go some important things like a real editor!   If you are interested in purchasing this book it is available at the link below.

Julia’s Story – Print Version – $7.99 – any profits from the book will be donated to help maintain the Caperton Cemetery in Speedway

For the post today, I thought I would add the first chapter of the book.  Please remember that some of the information in the chapter are my conclusions and may not be correct!

The Caperton Legend

Most remarkable family legends are filled with truths – partial truths – myths based on partial truths and topped off with a bald face lie or two just to add a little bit of excitement.  The remarkable legend of the Caperton family is no different.  While the European origins fall into the partial truth and possibly the bald face lie categories, the true legend of the Continue Reading »

Three Balls of Fire

As we come to the close of October and Ghost Month, I’m leaving you with a little story that still sends a row of goosebumps up my spine.

Christmas Eve was an exciting time for my mother Joan and her brother Eddie.  Even though the family didn’t have a lot of money, somehow their father Robert always managed to find enough for the holiday.  Robert enjoyed spending all day on Christmas Eve shopping in town for his family.   When he arrived at home he was always in jolly good cheer *wink*, after spending the day in the stores and sharing his *cheer* with friends and family along the way.

Robert Rowland

My mother and her brother could hardly contain themselves as they waited for their father to return home every Christmas Eve.  His routine was the same, year after year and he always came home at the same time – just in time for a Christmas Eve supper.  One year, sometime around 1950 they became worried.  Robert didn’t show up.  It was getting later and later – the supper my grandmother spent all day preparing got cold – and Gertrude was about to fetch someone to go looking for him. Continue Reading »

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