This cemetery is nestled between the Wesleyan Church and the abandoned school in the heart of Mount Hope. Many of the graves are from the late 1800's to early 1900's.. some are more recent. It is a beautifully maintained cemetery. Though some say it is haunted, I felt quite at peace here. Perhaps things change at night though.
This is a Community Cemetery.. Some of the graves are very old. From one of the sources I spoke with, they informed me that in 2012, they brought in bulldozers and etc, to clean up the cemetery. When they did, they actually removed some of the headstones. Some are nothing more than mere blocks of cement or huge stones to mark their graves. Now, many graves are without markers, because of the original ones being pulled up. There are still alot of graves here, though it is sad to see the grounds, knowing some are now in unmarked graves. Community cemetery located at Bradley, Raleigh County, WV
From Beckley, WV, take route 19 north to Bradley and turn left onto Maple Lane. Go to Presbyterian Church on right and cemetery will on left in front of church
This school was closed due to being consolidated with other schools in the area. This school is where my daughters went for their elementary education. It was a great school and my daughters loved attending it.
Various family members are buried here, along with some friends that I know. It is a beautiful cemetery.
The mountain Homestead is a fabulous place to learn about history of the mountain people. The one room school house, the moonshine shed and stills, the buggies that they rode in. All the beautiful log homes . There are sheds with spinning wheels, looms and etc that people used in everyday life. The old tools are still in the shed as well..as all the farming tools that they required. There is even an old out house. What a great way of learning about history. It is located adjacent to the Beckley Expedition Coal Mines.
As we were exploring the Ghost town of Thurmond, my grandson absolutely loved playing in the pieces of coal we found , he even tried to eat it, ( no coal won't hurt you)...and we taught him a little bit of history of the once thriving community.
I have taken my family to Thurmond many times over the years. We would go on the river banks and over to the abandoned bridge, train station and homes. It was once a thriving community but now, only their memory and spirits linger behind. As one of my daughters and my grandson were with me, during this tour of Thurmond, we thought of how people lived back then. Their lives . I could imagine children running around barefoot and laughing as their daddy's worked the coal mines and their momma's conducted their family business. A much simplier time than now. Here is the ghost town of Thurmond.
The low volatile coal of the New River, Winding Gulf, and Pocahontas coal fields of Southern West Virginia, came to be commonly referred to and widely marketed as smokeless coal because it produced very little smoke when burned. In addition to the coal's nearly smoke free qualities, the overall characteristics the coal of the New River Coal Field placed it in a category that was separate and distinct from all other classes of bituminous coals.
The desirability of coal that was nearly smokeless during the early 1900's was very great. During this period of time, most coal was burned in fire loaded by hand. Because modern methods of controlling the burning of the coal, to control the amount of smoke and waste produced were not yet common, most buyers of coal wanted coal that burned as clean as possible. This was especially true in the nation's larger cities, many of which had strict laws that restricted the amount of smoke allowed from its railroads, factories or other industries. In general, the less volatile matter the coal contained, the cleaner it burned. While the sellers of anthracite coal could boast of its 6 to 8 percent volatile matter, the smokeless coal of Southern West Virginia provided a very close match to anthracite coal.
I went there today and learned alot of facts from the current owner, Johnny and a previous investigator , Richard the founders of SAPS. We are hoping to be able to get full permission to do an investigation of this grand place. This once majestic hotel is filled with spirits throughout the ballroom and all through the building... I wasn't permitted yet to get up to the ballroom, but I had permission to go through some of the attached back part of the building and into the boiler room..and down the hall towards the kitchen area. I took a LOT of photo's. Please enjoy the pictures. There are a few that I am curious about.. but, you can let me know what you think. I am also going to add the history of Mount Hope and the Mountainair Hotel..
The Early History of Mount Hope
Following the end of the American Revolution the region surrounding the area that is now Mount Hope remained a wilderness isolated from the civilized world of the white man. Even the Cherokee Indians that claimed the lands occupied the area only temporarily during hunting and war expeditions.
Under the agreement of a treaty, the Cherokee nation sold their rights to lands south of the Great Kanawha (River) on October 18, 1770 to the Governor of Virginia. But conflict with other tribes that controlled areas north of the Kanawha River soon developed. Indian tribes living north of the Kanawha River began to stage numerous raids into the area that is now Southern West Virginia in an attempt to control these lands. But the Indians' hold on the land would be short lived. On August 20, 1794, General Anthony Wayne won a decisive victory over the Indians at Fallen Timber, Ohio. This victory ended the threat of Indian invasions and resulted in a treaty that secured the peace for area's east of the Ohio River. As word of this treaty spread there was a great rush of people westward into the frontier regions of Western Virginia and Kentucky.
Perhaps being influenced by the recent peace treaty, in 1796 William Blake Sr. decided to purchase a three thousand acre tract of land from William and Sarah Austin. In the Spring of 1805, Blake and his family located on that land becoming the first white setters in the area that is now Mt. Hope. The family at first lived in an old Indian fort that stood near the present (1999) location of the town's Middle School. Shortly after settling in, Blake constructed a log cabin to serve as living quarters for his family.
The area that is now Mt. Hope was then a part of Montgomery County, Virginia, remained remote and isolated, totally lacking of man-made roads. Until 1786, an old Buffalo Trail was the primary route of travel through Fayette County. Through the most rugged sections of the nearby New River Gorge not even the buffalo had roamed, as there was not even enough room for large animal to travel within confines of that narrow and rugged canyon.
But despite the lack of an "modern" highway, Blake is said to have constructed an inn for the accommodation of travelers within a few years after moving to Mt. Hope in 1805. Perhaps Blake's motivation to build the inn was due to his involvement with other citizens of the region who were attempting to provide a transportation link for the region. The building of a highway was a innovation being promoted by citizens of Fayette, Mercer, Kanawha and Monroe counties during the early-1800's. Colonel Alfred Beckley, the founder of the city of Beckley, was one of many future-minded citizens of the region involved in formation of the company to see to the building of the turnpike.
According to an account written by Col. Beckley, the Giles, Fayette and Kanawha Turnpike Company was formally chartered in 1843. A few years later, in 1848, the highway known as the Giles, Fayette and Kanawha Turnpike was completed, stretching from the Giles County (Virginia) Court House to Fayetteville, West Virginia (then still a part of the state of Virginia). The turnpike joined with the James River and Kanawha Turnpike at Kanawha Falls which provided travelers with a transportation link to Charleston.
The Giles, Fayette and Kanawha turnpike, ran through the middle of what is now Mount Hope's business section, passing by the inn constructed by Blake years earlier, which had come to be known as the Blake Inn. The location of the Blake Inn is said to have been very near the present site of the Mountainair Hotel. Undoubtedly Blake's business at the inn increased dramatically soon after completion of the highway, as stagecoaches soon began traveling along the route of the newly completed turnpike on a regular basis. Blake's lodging business should perhaps be regarded as the first tourist business locating in Fayette County, an area now world renown for its recreational activities and natural resources that attracts thousands of tourists each year.
Despite the building of the turnpike and resulting the stagecoach line, the area remained remote and isolated. For the next forty-five years the region would remain largely in its primitive state with very little development occurring. During this period through the late-1800's, only three families lived in the general vicinity that is now Mount Hope.
At some point during this period, some of the early settlers began removing coal from a "coal bank" located in the area now known as Turkey Knob. Another "coal bank" was also opened nearby in the area that is now Glen Jean. The early settlers took coal only from the outcrops, mining coal from the bank of the hillside rather than digging under ground. The settlers took the coal from the bank of a hill, thus the term "coal bank" originated. It is unlikely that these early settlers could imagine, even in their wildest dreams, how dramatic an influence this coal seam would have on the area during the coming years!