Mountaineers Are Always Free




"A psychologist could probably explain the elastic, but strong, ties that bind wandering West Virginians to the place they continue to call home.

The hills may have a lot to do with it.  I have read that growing up among mountains gives one a feeling of being protected, enfolded and nestled.  Take the hills away and there's a sense of deprivation, and real loss.

Whatever it is that keeps us forever West Virginians, it is felt strongest when we return after being gone.  At the first sight of those familiar hills rising against the sky, there's and emotional lift, a recognition that we are ....... "home where we belong."

Quotation from the Vandalia Historical Society Quarterly
Putnam County, West Virginia




Advertisement in the Dryfork Flyer - 1927
Berwind High School Newspaper





Named for   D. N. Newhall, manager of the West  Virginia holdings of the Berwind-White Coal Company.  The New River and Pocahontas Consolidated Coal Company opened the mines at Newhall around 1916.  Three mines made up the town, number 6,7 & 8.  Number 7, being the central mine, included a company office, post office, theatre, church, poolroom and barbershop.


 "Grade School"
Date of photo unknown
Contributed by:  Hazel Dixon Lambert

This school was built in 1925/26 but was not finished when the old wooden school, that was being used, burned.  The children used this school even though it was not finished.  Miss Blanche Daniels was the first Principal and taught the third and fourth grades.  Byrd and Martha Boothe were the first janitors and their daughter, Dolly  was the last head cook before it closed.  After it was closed in May, 1993 the building was sold and the bottom is now being used as a home.  The rooms upstairs are used to house  the young people who come to the little towns, around the area, to do community service for their churches.  




    Post Office 
Photo taken 2000 

The Post Office was originally the office of The New River and Pocahontas Consolidated Coal Company.  The post office was inside the Company Store and the Store manager was  Postmaster.  Oma Brewster bought the building and had the post office moved to it's present location and she became the first Postmaster, of this office, and remained  Postmaster until she retired.









 House on Cucumber Creek
          Photo taken 2000 


Believed to be built in 1928, George Conner's father purchased the farm in 1937, which included two houses.  George was born in the house, next to this one.  It has since been torn down.  George is the present owner of this house .



Newhall Advent Christian Church
Early 1960's

" Where I went to Church, Sunday School and Scout meetings"
" When I was a kid almost everyone in the "holler" had their funeral at this church" 
"The house above the Church belonged to Arthur and Nell Brewster"

Contributed by George Conner

The church was built in 1929 and the first pastor was Dan Christian.  In 1949 the basement was added, and at the this time William Hankins was pastor.  George Conner's father's funeral was held here in 1964.  The land, for the Church was donated by Katie Albright's great grandfather, Mr. Rufus Asbury.





Typical Coal Company House

Betty (Harmon) Hangs was born here in 1943
Photo - 1999 by Doug Harmon



Built in 1952,  the land for the Newhall Bible Church was     donated by Homer Brewster.  Homer owned the store up    Cucumber Creek hollow.  It was started by a group, led by Miles "Sunshine" Rowe.  The first pastor was Miss Mildred Ayers, a Missionary Minister.  George Connor's aunt and uncle, Ambrose and Freida Brewster have been prominent members since the beginning.  


  Newhall Bible Church
               Photo taken 2000 

The building was completed, as it is today, with the addition of the top and parsonage when Preacher Martin  became pastor.  George Connor and his wife, of thirty one years, were married in this church.  His aunt has been a member for forty three years.


Sent to George Conner by Ray & Rose Brewster  --- after all those years

George graduated from Berwind Jr. High in 1952 and Big Creek High in 1955



Contributed by:  Linda Compton Cain - 2003





Photo 2001

The Methodist Church, in Cucumber, played an important part in the community.  Built in 1932, it is known as "the church built in a day".  The first services were held the day after being built.  The Reverend J. W. Wysor, pastor of the Berwind Methodist Church,  also served as pastor of this church.  Later the church was The Assembly of God and others.  And today is the home of The Cucumber Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Located beside the church was the General Store and housed the "water works".  The building and water works were owned by Mr. Craig Simpson.  In 1953 the store was leased to Mr. Clay Penland, the "sawmill" manager at Rift, and the store was managed by Beulah Harmon.  Mrs. Harmon commuted from Berwind, six days a week.  By this time the NR&P Company Store was closed.

Cucumber was one of the few towns in the area to have a "Car Lot".  It was owned by Mr. C. L. Young and Bill Rangeley.  Cucumber also boasted it's own "Drive-Inn Theatre", built in the 1940s by Mr. G. A. Kroger.



The town of "Eight" was made up of fifty houses, a company store, post office (located in the company store), a mine shop and a one-room school, grades one through six.  Later the fourth, fifth and sixth grades moved to the Newhall school.


C. L Young's recollections of the town of "Eight"

"My father worked at Number Eight company store.  There was a large community there.  You went up Newhall hollow, called Cucumber Creek, about a mile and Number Seven was on the right and about another mile up the hollow you turned left, up another hollow, to go to "Eight".  It had it's own company houses and company store.  My 5 year old sister is buried in the cemetery there".  The town of "Eight" no longer exist.







1927 Dryfork Flyer

In the year 2000, the Old School is now use as a food pantry







 Metal Scrip - - - - good only at the "Company Store"




Located near the McDowell County Seat, Welch,
Havaco and Capels were the only N R & P -  McDowell County Towns -  not located in the extreme southern part of West Virginia





Mines at Capels

Capels Tipple




     I am Wanda Bignotti Simons, a l960 graduate of Welch High School.  I have been told by my 
older siblings that the picture of the "Polish" coal miner is our "Italian" father - Pete John Bignotti,
formerly of Capels and lastly of Hemphill, WV.  He died in 1966 at Appalachian
Regional Medical Center in Beckley, WV, of silicosis-pneumoconiosis.

More Capels Pictures





Located about two miles from Welch, West Virginia, originally named "JED".    After the 1912 mine explosion, that killed eighty-three miners,  The JED Coal and Coke Company, changed the name to HAVACO.... the Post Office  also adopted the name.

Photo taken on the day of disaster  (March 26, 1912)

Note coffins stacked against building - right center.   Many of the miners that died in this explosion were buried on the barren slopes, known as "Little Egypt"




15 miners were killed in the Havaco explosion of 1946.  Two years later, in Capels, August 6, 1948 a 
"Roof Fall" killed 6.Capels had experienced earlier explosions, in 19ll (6 killed) and 1927 (8 killed)











The abandoned "Shaft" at Havaco 


My name is Rhea Romans.  My sister, Jackie, and I grew up in Havaco.  I also had brothers and sisters who grew up in Capels .... Gloria, Laura, Eddy and Billy Romans.  We lived in the first house in the bottom as you crossed the bridge. We attend Hemphill/Capels Elementary and Jr. High School and on to Welch High School.

Yes, Havaco still exists today, barley but it is still there.  It actually has a paved road around the houses in the bottom.  Still living there are Roger Harrison, Mike Slusher (aka Ray Able's and Irene Sluster's son) and his children.  Most of the folks who lived up over the highway are children of the original owners of those homes.

Little Egypt is just thriving ... those black folks know how to take care of things

(Footnote:  Mr. Sluster passed away in February 2001)


There are no mines in Havaco now.  The old mine was sealed and the tipple torn down a number of years ago.