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The Glenville Democrat
Glenville, West Virginia
March 26, 2009     The Glenville Democrat
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March 26, 2009

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Page 8 -- The (;Icnvillc I)cmocrat / --Thursday, March 26, 2009 O O t By, Jeanette Riffle Rosedale Look a little closer. This is not just a feeding stauon for cattle. Almost hidden but not quite, are the remnants of what once was a Quonset hut prison camp on Rosedale Road in the right fork of Steer Creek valley, Gilmer near Braxton County. Tourists from out of state and those too young too remember sometimes look and wonder what was here at one time. A friend of mine from Pennsyl- vania and her husband were driving by recently and she noticed the foun- dation in the snow and she called and asked me if I knew what was there at one time. I replied that I remember my father driving our family to see the convicts working back in the early 1950's. I was just a small child, but it is a memory that stuck. We slowed down to watch them picking at the rock quarry on Rosedale Road at Bear Tree Bend. Dad drove us on up to the camp and went across the bridge and parked by the church on the other side of the creek. I remember seeing those huts and a tall fence around every- thing. Morn was afraid and wanted to go back home. The Quonset huts were set up like army barracks. There were huts up near the road and bigger ones m the back near the creek for laundry, show- ers, and the mess hall. There were two guard's towers, one on each end of the camp. The Quonset was used for a prefab- ricated shelter set on a foundation of bolted steel trusses and built of semi- circular arching roof of surrogated metal insulated with wood fiber. The concrete foundatigns that still remain are remnants of huts that ac- commodated some two dozen con- victs. There was a guard assigned to each hut. When one shift went home. an other one came on. There were about sin guards to a shift These are some of the memories of Preacher George Rose who grew up around the bend from the camp and still lives in the area on O'Brien Road which turns right when approaching from the bridge across Steer Creek, off Rosedale Road. He remembers a small plane flying over the Rose home and over the small town of Rosedale. The pilot was running out of gas. He dropped a note explaining and store owner Jack Carroll. came from Rosedale and brought gasoline to the pilot That little plane only had a 40 HP motor. ,.-:.: ..... .... CLOSE VIEW OF THE REMAINS OF THE HUTS TENMANTS OF CAMP ii!~!i~Ji~!iiii; Oberhauser Named Director .::--- JIM BROWN, (RETIRED PRISON GUARD) PREACHER GEORGE ROSE Small planes were made of wood and for Hamric Ridge. A neighbor's dog County on Russet Road. They worked plastic back then. chased him and attacked him. He on roads by digging ditches and put- Soon the building of the prison be- headed for the ridge towards ting in culverts. They put more mud ganandpotatoeswereneeded.George Frametown but the going got too on the roads where needed. They Rose's father. Gordon Rose. and his rough and he had to come back to were hauled around in a dump truck. family, raised potatoes for the camp camp. A guard with a shotgun rode in a and in return, they gave him leftover There was a w~re fence around the dump truck behind the rest. cabbage, or "pig slop" to feed about camp. It was barbed and went up the Early one morning while in route 100hogs. inside wall and up over the top. It was to the quarry down in Calhoun Gordon Rose and his family planted chain length and ten feet high with County, aprisonerjumpedoffadump 1.200 pounds of potatoes and in due four strands over the top. They truck. A guard yelled for him to halt time. dug about 326 bushels which couldn't get through it bur they tried but he kept going trying to get over was enough to feed the prisoners, the to climb over it and they escaped the hill. He was shot and killed. There Rose family and the nearby school, quite often: was a big slip in the road and the Itwasaprivilegefortheconvictsto The Rose family was awakened to truck had to slow down to drive be sent to the Rosedale camp. The s~rens going, shot guns cracking and through the narrow passage around trustees were allowed to go out in a bright lights shinning in the windows the slip. This happened above what is boat fishing, and there was a ball field at night. They knew an escapee was now the Tucker home on Rosedale where they could play softball on round somewhere and it was hard to Road. Sunday afternoons. It seems that it sleep. My husband remembers seeing the was a real challenge though to play When one did something wrong, prisoners in dump trucks going by horseshoe with them. A few neigh- he was went back to the state prison the old Stick log cabin where he grew borhood boys gathered to join in on at Moundsville. Preacher Rose told up. and his uncle. Ralph Perrine, car- the fun. and as Preacher George re- ofaprison break up there:The guards ried a gun in a holster, inside a paper calls. "You had to watch for one that thought the convicts were hiding in a bag, to the Shock post office where couldn't make a ringer. They were shack and they shot it all to pieces, he worked, because this is one of the experts at what they did. They were Later they learned that the prisoners first places an escapee would go to hard to beat." had been in the shack but had already rob for money needed to make his get Some of the most trusted ones were left. away. allowed to stay at the homes of local Preacher Rose remembers a big Preacher Rose suggested we go up farmers. An extra farm hand could snow in 1950 and no equipment to to Pine Grove. to talk to retired always be used with so much work to haul it away. There were 53 inches of Prison guard. Jim Brown. I called do. snow at the Rose farm. and the pris- my cousin. Preacher Leary Vanhorn, My husband and Preacher Rose re- oners were just snowed in. No one as he lives near Mr. Brown. and he member a time when the Gilmer could get any where. Everyone had to made arrangements for us to make County School Band came to enter- wait until melted, the trip. It took all day to go up, have tam the prisoners. They marched in The roads were mud. Therewasnolunch, interview Mr. Brown. and the road and then went to chairs that concrete or gravel for roads back come home. but it was a very enjoy- weresetupinthefieldandtheyplayed then. When at work. the prisoners able and interesting day. Pine Grove a concert there, too. picked at a rock quarry on Rosedale ~s near New Martinsville. northwest The trustees couldn't always be Road called Bear Tree Bend. and of Clarksburg. trustedthough. One got out and headed there was one down in Calhoun ItseemsthatMr.Browncamefrom of WVU Women's Studies Ann Oberhauser. a professor of geography at West Virginia Univer- sity, has been selected as the director of the WVU Center for Women's Stud- ies. Oberhauser received her master's degree and doctorate in geography at Clark University Before joining WVU. she was an adjunct geography faculty member at the University of Toledo, Her research interests include gen- der and development, livelihood strat- egies in developing regions, feminist methodologies and critical pedagogy. Much of her research has taken place in Appalachia and sub-Saharan Af- rica. where she examined how gender is linked to livelihood strategies in the household and community. For more information about the Center for Women's Studies. call 304- 293-2339. Ext. 1155. or visit the website http ://wmst. wvu. edu. PRISON CAMP: This photo was sketched by artist Robert Tucker of Rosedale, this is his view of the prison camps back in the early 50s Pennsylvania and found work introuble, bur we had a drug addict that Moundsville, WV. He followed the got out of hand. job on to the little town of Rosedale Q. Why did the prison camp leave? with the trustees as a prison guard. A. The politicians decided that or- I asked him these questions! ganized labor could do the work Q. What years was the prison camp cheaper than the convicts, so when there? the work was done in the area, they A. 1948 to early 1950's moved out. Q. How many prisoners were there? Mr. Brown has fond memories of A. About two dozen Rosedale and his job and his many Q. How many huts were there? friends here. This is where he met and A.Fivewith alaundryroom, shower married Donna Jarvis, Jerry Jarvis's house, and mess hall in the back. closer granddaughter. She went to the Meth- to the creek. One hut was for the Afro- odist Church in Rosedale, but they Americans. were married in what is now being Q. How many guards were there?used as a Senior Citizen Bldg. There A. Six guards to a shift. When one were only three houses with bath- shift left. another one came. rooms, and this was one. They were Q. Did the convicts have to wear the married Easter Sunday, 1949. Donna ball and chains and striped jail outfits? has gone to be with the Lord and Mr. A. No. They were hand cuffed when Brown has a son living with him. He needed, and they wore khaki work loves to get company and reminisce clothes, but they were never hand- about the good old days. He would cuffed to go to the funeral ofa rel~/tive, love td be able tocome back and watk~ Everyone watched them, a@way'.' ~i "_ to i]a6': two .l~fie, clountry~i'0~d From.. Q. Did you take any of them to the Rosedale to the remnants of the old nearby church? prison camp. Special are the memo- A. No. ries of the wonderful people of WV Q. Who was the best prisoner? and the remn.arits of the past that still A. A black man. He was gentleman, stand and hold wonderful stories. Take. He was very mannerly and so nice. He time to talk to the elderly and hear said his prayers at night and asked the their interesting stories. That are so blessing before every meal. but hehad rich in history and learn from our killed a man. He didn't give us any ancestors the strength of prisoners. ,; I f The Latest in Technology 1 A benefit dinner will be held for I l ~S~e~qU~m;:t!er I Bud Byrd, due to cancer, to help [ [ I -w;th,., medical bills. " " Bake Booth " When" Saturday, March 28, 2009 Time: 3 pm 7 pm Place: Burnt House Community Building in Burnt House. (Rt. 47 about 5 miles East from Smithville. 19 miles West of Linn) 1 - Cross Draft ...... :,-,,,,i ...... "[ NEW and USED PARTS. TOWING Using PPG Products [ Poulan Pro a n St Glenville 462-5631 ations March 31, 2009