Look Back: Jones leaves Parkersburg with a few observations

Historical newspaper excerpts from the Wood County Historical Society

Photo provided by Jeff and Christy Little Terrapin Knob still towers over what was the main entrance to Terrapin Park from Dudley Avenue in Parkersburg.

The letter written by past Parkersburg resident David Jones, to the editor of the Parkersburg Daily Times in 1870, continues. As is the case with many historical writings, it contains language that would not be used in print today.

Jones was sharing his thoughts about the changes that have occurred and his memories of years ago.

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In the low parts of this farm [the Col. B.H. Foley farm] in those days were large quantities of spice bushes and rose berries which made it a great resort for bears. This knob [Terrapin Knob] is one of the most beautiful and commanding pieces of ground near Parkersburg, and it would be a delightful place to build a Female Seminary.

About twelve miles above here is Williamsport [Williamstown], where the early settlers had considerable trouble with the red men of the forest. A Mrs. Howe, while visiting Marietta about twenty years ago, had a little son who, noticing the ferryman constantly crossing to Williamsport determined to go over. After he had nearly reached the Virginia shore, his mother discovered where he was, and was in agony until his return. He arrived in safety, perfectly elated with his trip, rushed up to his fond parents saying, “Mother I have been on General Washington’s land.”

A short ramble brought us to an elevated piece of land, lately owned by Mr. Albert Logan, (who we regret to learn died a short time ago at his house in Parkersburg) which gave us a fine view of James’ Island, where our friend Mr. Alfred Neal[e] formerly lived. Parkersburg presents a beautiful appearance from this point and it afforded us a great deal of satisfaction to see what great improvements had been made since our first entry into this place 25 years ago. We passed the Pottery [Donaghho’s Pottery] near Parkersburg, where some very superior ware is made. The Cook graveyard is not in as good repair as it should be, and it will not be long before some of the graves are exposed, if the bank [along the Thirteenth street hill] is allowed to crumble away as it is doing.

While passing down Juliana street, we heard the cries of what sounded to us like a baby, and upon our crossing over to relieve the wants of the little one, what should it be, to our astonishment, but a parrot. You may imagine our embarrassment when we saw two school girls about sixteen years of age partly hidden behind the window laughing at us. The bird has deceived others, which is a consolation to us. It was brought by the Hon. J.B. Blair from Costa Rica upon his first visit to his family, while serving as U.S. Ambassador to that place.

Years ago one of your physicians complained of its being distressingly healthy in Parkersburg. We think, if he could see the Juliana street pond in what is known as the “burnt district,” he would likely think there would be a rich harvest for him, if the City Council do not have it filled.

Stopping at Capt. Hiteshaw’s Commission House, we were shown his mammoth corn-sheller, which has a capacity of 200 bushels per hour.

The train starts this evening towards our distant home in New Mexico, but we will often think of Parkersburg and its improvements while so far away from the place, where we enjoyed ourselves in times past.

Yours, Respectfully,

DAVID JONES

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Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical Society. Would you like to help preserve our past for future generations? The society offers informative monthly meetings and an interesting, 20-page quarterly newsletter. Dues are just $15./year. Send to: WCHPS, P.O. Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

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