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Beavertown History


 

Beavertown: a spirited history

The Marietta Times, September 3 & 4, 1988 (date handwritten)

By Roger G. Kalter, Times Staff Writer

            Beavertown—A mix of riverside bungalows and trailers, an underground house, two taverns, a service station and a little white church skirt the Ohio River in the shadow of what was once a notorious moonshine town.

            Folks in this mile-long hamlet along Ohio 7, three miles south of Matamoras, still are full of stories about illicit whiskey made during prohibition in the wooded hills overlooking the Ohio.

            During the early days of the 20th century, there was little else in the way of work in the tiny community, which today has 75 to 100 residents.

            “People simply did what they had to do,” said the Rev. Frank Conley, minister of Beavertown United Methodist Church.  His church was converted from a one-room school house perched on the hillside.

            Conley, who has ministered the church nearly 28 years, believes stories told about the town’s moonshine history are worse than deserved. 

            “Beavertown is not as bad as the name carried down through history,” said Conley, who lives in Sardis.  He also ministers churches at Mt. Olive and Locust Grove.

            “I came in as a young minister.  I was new,” he said.  “And I stayed there.  I’ve always had the freedom to worship there.  It meant the world to me.”

            The town has a special quality that pulls it together when hard times fall on residents or visitors.

            “Nobody ever came to Beavertown hungry and then left hungry,” Conley said.  “When there were disasters or desperate needs, the town pulled together to fill that need.”

            Although Conley said his small congregation is extremely spiritual, it is another spirit that comes to mind when many residents and former residents talk about the town.

            “When I was a kid, the cow went dry and my dad gave me moonshine,” said Earl Flowers as he nursed a mug of beer at Whitey’s Tavern.  Flowers, a retired construction worker, spent seven years building the Pleasants Power Station, which looms overhead south of town on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River.

            The remoteness and ruggedness of the terrain made the Beavertown area a natural place to hide stills and their pig-tailed tubing.  Some abandoned equipment is said to still dot the countryside.

            Law enforcement officials occasionally attempted to shut down the operations during Prohibition, but at least several attempts ended in failure.      

            “My neighbor threw a federal man into a mash barrel head first,” Flowers said.

            Marietta historian Jerry Devol said one of his ancestors had a run-in with the moonshiners, too.  Fax Devol was a Marietta constable in the early 1920s.

            Squire O”Neill got a complaint about the moonshine operations and sent Constable Devol to do something about the problem

            “He ended up in the middle of the river without any clothes,” Devol said.  “They took his gun, his clothes, threw him in a row boat and told him never to come back.”

            Walter Beaver, 65, of Matamoras was born in Beavertown during 1923.

            “It was a town where you generally minded your own business,” Beaver said.  “You were taught never to look too much up the hillsides or at the houses so you wouldn’t see anything.  If someone saw you looking up there, and then their still was raided, they might blame you for it.”

            Beaver did watch his grandfather, Robert, in action, however.

            Robert Beaver’s two sons made moonshine, and he rowed their product across the Ohio River to West Virginia customers, Walter Beaver said.

            “I was too young, they wouldn’t let me go,” he recalled.

            The family had a sophisticated alarm system to watch for law officers. That system apparently included someone in the courthouse who tipped off the local distillers.

            Someone in Robert Beaver’s house would yell the name of a nonexistent dog, and by the time the law arrived, family members were all sitting around the dinner table.

            There was one close call, however, when Robert Beaver’s sons dashed down to the riverside and escaped across the river in a row boat to West Virginia as the law closed in, Walter Beaver said.  The two hitched a ride to Sistersville, W.Va. and then were picked up by a friend who brought them back to Beavertown.

            L. H. “Scotty” Scott would fly in and land in corn fields and a small landing strip to collect loads of the Beavertown moonshine for sale elsewhere, said historian Devol.  Police couldn’t cope with the area’s first aviator because they were limited to land.

            Although moonshine was touted as the only way to earn a living in the community, Lyle Beaver set up another business there. 

            “I had a barber shop when I was 12 years old cutting kids’ hair,” said Beaver, who is 80 and still working part-time in his Matamoras shop.  “I cut for 10 cents.  If they didn’t have a dime, I didn’t charge them”

 


 

Beavertown Has Esprit de Corp

The Parkersburg News, Sunday, May 9, 1976

By Diana McMahan of The News Staff

            Matamoras, O.—Throughout its long history, Beavertown has been known to have an unusual amount of community spirit, and esprit de corp among the people who live there. 

            Perhaps this is because the large majority of people who have lived there for the past 125 years have been friends, as well as being related to each other—sisters, brothers, cousins, down through the fifth and sixth generations!

                        Or perhaps it’s because they have shared so many of the same experiences.  During historic times, the people of Beavertown not only lived in close proximity, but they worked side by side, on family and community projects.

                                                Mussels Industry

            One of the best known of the community projects was a fleet of mussel boats, a combined project of the Beaver and the Mount families.

            Mussel shells were sold to button factories, chiefly the factory located at St. Marys, W. Va.  However, before the mussel shells could be sold, they had to go through a rough processing.

            Although it was mostly the Beavertolwn men who manned the mussel boats, it was the women and children who waited on shore and did the dirty work.

            Mussel boats were equipped with poles about 10 feet long, each pole having about 40 lines going down it.  Each line contained sturdy wire hooks with four barbs each.  These hooks dragged along the river bottom, and mussel shells would clamp shut on the hooks.

            Once the men had the boats of the Beavertown fleet filled with the big Ohio River mussels, they would dock and the women and children took over!

            The mussels had to be completely cleaned before they could be sold to the button factory.  The women had huge fires roaring on shore, and they could fill the big pots with mussels.

            Then after the mollusks were cooked, they had to be cleaned.  The mussel boat fleet was truly a community project, and everyone participated.

                                                            Other Boats

            IN addigtiion to the fleet of mussel boats, the Beaver family had prospered, and they owned at least two packet boats on the Ohi River.

            These boats were named Beaver No. 1 and Beaver No. 2.  These boats seem to have been a family or community project, including both ownership and the crewmen who worked on them.

            Dates for these two boats are not presently known.  However, the “Matamoras Enterprise” dated Dec. 17, 1914 has a note listed under Sheets Run items.  “Beaver No. 2 is going to run excursions to Marietta this week.  Now is the time to do your Christmas Shopping!”

                                                            Beaver History

            The Beaver family can trace its genealogy back to Michael Beaver, who came from Germany.  He married Catherine Benine, and they brought their family first to Maryland, then to the Oho Valley in 1838, settling on Sheets Run on the Arthur Taylor farm.

            The couple lived out their lifespan on the farm and are buried in a small family grave yard.  Michael Beaver, born 1784, died July 28, 1860, aged 75 years, nine months and four days. His wife’s stone reads born Sept. 10, 1796, died Sept. 5, 1858.  They had three children, Nancy, Rachel and John.

            John was born May 16, 1831 in Maryland.  Once in Ohio, he remained his lifetime, marrying (1856) Rebecca Thompson, daughter of Benjamin Thompson of Pennsylvania.  Although Andrews Washington County History states that they had 13 children, the family Bible lists only 10.  John Beaver died Nov. 21, 1913, and is buried in the older section of the Parr Hill cemetery.  Thanks for Beaver historical details goes to Eileen Thomas, who has done a complete study.

            The name of Beaver crops up often throughout area history, not only in Beavertown, but in the outlying areas.  Peter Beaver moved north to Matamoras and was one of the fore thinking men who signed the first petition for incorporation in 1846.                                                                      First Called Dawes

            Beavertown Post Office bore the name of Dawes, for Rufus Dawes, rproponet of the ill-fated Marietta to Bellaire railroad.  However, it was not established until 1882.

            The Beavertown area also boasts several important firsts!

            Thus far, it is thought the very first man to live in Grandview Township was David Shepherd, who built his cabin right below Beavertown. He came down the river, lived here an undetermined amount of time and then moved on.

            The first permanent settlers in the township were most definitely the Dickerson brothers, who took over the Shepherd claim.  They were Thomas, Revolutionary War veteran.  And his brothers, Vachel and Kinsey, who were famed as Indian scouts throughout the Ohio Valley, often traveling with Jonathan Zane and Lewis Wetzel.

           



 

BEAVERTOWN derives its name from the fact that everyone in the village had the family name of Beaver or is related.

The post office was established in Beavertown and named Dawes Post Office. The first postmaster was James Cochran in 1882, Daniel Webber in 1885, Samuel Cochran 1889, Sethathiel Hutchinson 1891, Aurelius Ellis 1893, William Beaver 1894, Fredrick Joy 1907, and when the appointments rescinded, William Beaver was postmaster until 1911 when the office was dissolved due to rural free delivery from New Matamoras.

Lock and Dam No. 16 was completed in 1917. It went out of operation March 1975 with the opening of Willow Island Dam. Charles Yates, Nelson Blair, John Newlin, Jeff Workman, Bernard Diddle and Clyde Johnson were lockmasters. The two lock houses on the other side of Route #7 were where the lockmasters and employees lived with their families.

Earl (Junkie) Beaver, the son of William Beaver, who was born and raised in Beavertown gave me this account of Beavertwon when he was 88 years old.

During the time the locks were being built, Beavertown was a prosperous community. Dan Beaver had a grocery store. William Beaver ran a confectionary called “Pop’s Store.” The Pete Dunn house was once a two-story home which served as a restaurant, pool room and boarding house. Earl ran the pool room in 1914-1916. John Mount had a grocery store, which Earl and his father bought. These businesses were all located at the crossroads of Parr Hill and the Old Road.

After the relocation of Route #7, Earl and Clyde Paynter formed a partnership and built a new store. This was located at the foot of Parr Hill Road and left side of Route #7. They also planted 300 peach trees of Parr Hill. (This was located out from the old schoolhouse.) In the early 50’s they sold the store to Eugene Holdren. This was where the community met to do their loafing.

Danford Beaver was the last owner of the store property. He tore it down.

John Mount built a new store above the Lock property, which he ran until his death in 1950.

Early records for the Parr Hill Fairview E.U.B. Church were not preserved. There was an old log church on the other side of the road. Earl said he was 10 or 12 years old when the present church was built. Some of the early preachers were Reverends Rogers, Davison, Clarence Hubbard and Earl Brown.

The first school house was on Parr Hill. It was located where John and Amy Beaver had their marble home. The schoolhouse had two rooms, with four grades to a room. Some of the teachers were Grover Heddleson, Charles Brown, Clyde Paynter, Iva Keller, Edna Fox, Glenn Miller, and Ann Harrington. Jessie Armstrong taught the 1920-21 school year. Around this time, William Beaver traded for some land and the community built a new schoolhouse. Teachers were Glenn Miller and Nathaniel Kidd. School was held there until the late 20’s when students were transferred to New Matamoras. George Beaver was the first bus driver. In 1930 the school was remodeled and the E.U.B. Church was started. Rev. Frank Conley came on Sept. 18, 1966.

There are two cemeteries in Beavertown. The Parr Hill Cemetery land was donated by Henry Ellis, Albert Slack and Alma Taylor. The other cemetery, the older of the two, is located at the intersection of Parr Hill road and the old road. Records show Henry Frank, a Revolutionary War Soldier is buried here.

-Eileen Thomas

 

 

 


 

Various notes on Beavertown

 

Fairview Church located at the top of the hill.

Early Records for the Parr Hill Fairview E.U.B. Church were not preserved. There was an old log church on the other side of the road.

 

In Grandview Township there are at least 17 Cemeteries and family plots.

Mount Cemetery,

Located: Grandview Twp Road 22, Sheets Run on left side of 1’4 mile on hill behind Doyle Taylor’s home.

Daniel Beaver d. June 6, 18_9 in the 46 year of his age; Footstone with D..B.

Nesbert Mount d. June 8, 1871 aged 46 yr 3 ms 7 ds; with this tomb My husband has his spirit rest above in realms if bliss it never dies but knows a Savior’s love.

Rachel Lee July 5, 1851

Mary Mount January 21, 1851

 

Michael and Catherine Benine Beaver once owned this property. It was on Sheets Run were Art and Alma Taylor lived. There they reared nine children. They are buried under a cedar tree near their home. The stoned have large roses engraved at the top wand were bought in Wheeling, West Virginia. Michael and Catherine (Benine) Beaver each Sunday morning as hey heard the church bells ring would walk their children to service at the Parr Hill Church. Among the other families that would follow along were the Hutchison’s, Flowers’, McCall’s, and McMaster’s.

 

Michael and Catherine Beaver died at home. That’s the way they did it back then.

 

Earl Beaver said he was about 10-12 years old when the present church was built. This renovated church is absolutely beautiful. Freshly painted floors, walls, and ceilings are bright and clean. The original old fashioned pews, cut with a keyhole design on top, have been painted same rich brown as the floor. The old wood stove, manufactured by the Pick Oak Bellaire Stove Company is shiny and black, a tribute to the late Victorian days when the church was built.

 

~On the stone, now laid with prayer, let thy church rise, strong and fair; ever, Lord, Thy name be know where we lay this cornerstone~

 

~By wise master-builders squared, here by living stone prepared for thy temple near thy Throne---Jesus Christ it’s cornerstone~