PARKERSBURG - People had a chance to get out Sunday and take a fall historical tour through the local area.
The Fall Historical Driving Tour, sponsored by the New Era School Museum and the Centennial and Elizabeth Beauchamp chapters of the Daughters of American Pioneers, included stops at some of the oldest buildings and locations in Parkersburg, Mineral Wells and Elizabeth.
Stops included the Henry Cooper Log Cabin Museum in Parkersburg City Park, the New Era School Museum in Mineral Wells, the Cooper Cemetery in Mineral Wells, the McClung-Morgan House in Elizabeth, the Beauchamp-Newman Museum in Elizabeth and Sweet Briar Gifts in Elizabeth.
Patty Cooper, left, in character as a school teacher at the New Era School Museum in Mineral Wells, puts Bruce McCoy, of Washington, W.Va., on the spot Sunday during the Fall Historical Driving Tour. The tour included stops at some of the oldest buildings and locations in Parkerburg, Mineral Wells and Elizabeth as people got to drive around the area and enjoy the fall colors. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
DAP member Patty Cooper was at the New Era School Museum on the grounds at Mineral Wells Elementary School on Sunday in period costume, talking with visitors and helping to guide them through the one-room school museum. Cooper regularly offers area school children the chance to see what school was like back in the days when one-room school houses were more prevalent.
By mid-afternoon Sunday, New Era had over a dozen visitors. Cooper said many people have given her stories to include in a book she is doing on one-room school houses.
"I think a lot of the people who came today actually went to one-room school houses," she said. "It has been absolutely wonderful.
"These people come in and say 'I remember that' (pointing to items in the school house that they may have had in their day) and will tell me a story about it. To me, that is real exciting. It brings history to life."
Sunday's tour was a fundraiser for the Cooper Cabin, New Era School and the Beauchamp-Newman Museum.
"We thought it would be a good way for people to get out and see the beautiful fall foliage and sprinkle in a little bit of local history," said Cooper, who helped organize the tour.
Many smaller museums, like some of those on Sunday's tour, are having trouble just making ends meet with their insurance costs and state fees, Cooper said.
Barbara McCoy of Washington, W.Va., said she and her sister, Janet Eddy of Lubeck, enjoyed being able to get out and enjoy the weather and the local sites.
"We like history and it was a beautiful day," she said. "The leaves were pretty and this gives us a chance to drive around.
"We grew up civic minded because of 4-H and church and community. We always try to support things like this, because we know how hard it can be for them."
The sisters and their husbands were planning to make it to all six stops on the tour Sunday.
"We just like to do stuff that supports the community," McCoy said.
Eddy said she has been impressed with the Cooper Cabin and the New Era School.
"So far, it has been really nice," she said. "I hadn't been in the Cooper Cabin at the park for years.
"I have not been here (to the New Era School) either. I like this. I think it really preserves the past."
Although she never went to a one-room school house, Eddy said when she was in school they had desks just like the ones in New Era.
"I remember having to sit with both feet on the floor and you couldn't squirm," she said.
Charlotte Modesitt, of the Centennial chapter of the Daughters of American Pioneers, was at the Henry Cooper Cabin on Sunday.
With the recent "Reflections of the Past" historical festival last week, the cabin did not have a lot of visitors Sunday, but the people who came enjoyed themselves.
"We have had some nice people and we have had a beautiful day," she said. "It is for the museums to help all of us and let the people enjoy them."
Carol Menefee, Regent of Elizabeth Beauchamp Chapter of the Daughters of American Pioneers in Elizabeth, said they had a good turnout throughout the day at the Beauchamp-Newman Museum, the McClung-Morgan House and Sweet Briar Gifts.
Organizers served chicken noodle and vegetable soups, sandwiches and pumpkin rolls at the museum which was a big hit with visitors, Menefee said. This was also one of the first times the McClung-Morgan House was open for tours since its grand opening during the recent Pioneer Day Festival in Elizabeth, she added.
"We had several visitors and it was just a beautiful day," she said.
Many people were commenting on how nice the fall foliage was on the drive to Elizabeth. Menefee said she hopes visitors got a chance to learn a little about the history of Wirt County and its heritage.
Everyone learned something Sunday, including her, she said.
"There was a 96-year-old woman who came through and she was telling me about some of the history," Menefee said. "It was an amazing day for everyone."
Organizers are hoping to make the tour an annual event with plans in the works to add a couple of historic homes, including the Dr. W.W. Monroe House in Parkersburg, for next year's tour.
"I really hope we get to do it again next year," Menefee said.