Monday, October 03, 2016

Monday Mourning Oct.3, 2016

       The month of October at Whipple has become  known for its haunted history and mysteries, focused on the darker side of events from the past.  I am often asked questions about death,burials, coffins, embalming, cemeteries and rituals of mourning surrounding the coal fields.

        Mourning dates back to the Roman Empire but gained attention and  inspired by Queen Victoria in 1841. Queen Victoria turned her very existence into a life dedicated to mourning death. Symbolic rituals seemed to be for the wealthy but followed many immigrants to the United States with its English form finding its way to the coal fields of Whipple.

 “We mourn in black” – (Shakespeare)

     Black was of course the chosen color to be worn by both men and women. This color was to represent spiritual darkness and loss, an outward and public display.
Widows were expected to wear full mourning for two years, – for children mourning parents or vice versa the period of time was one year, for grandparents and siblings six months, for aunts and uncles two months, for great uncles and aunts six weeks, for first cousins four weeks. 

      Many superstitions associated with death found its way to the States and into the coal camps as a proper means to mourn our loved ones.

 When there was a body present in the home ( known as a wake) you had to cover mirrors.  

  It was believed if the soul of the departed saw their reflection in the mirror, they would become trapped and not be able to leave to begin their afterlife. This might cause the spirit to stay and haunt all who remain in this world.


     Stopping all the clocks was also done as a superstition  based on the belief that if the clock was not stopped, there would be bad luck upon all those who remain in the home. This belief is said to have originated in Germany and it was said that when a person dies, time stands still for that person. A new period of existence then begins without time.  If the time is allowed to continue moving on, this invited the spirit of the deceased to remain in the home and to haunt without end


    When the body was removed from the home for burial it had to be carried out feet first because if it was carried out head first, it could look back and beckon others to follow it into death. 

Its no wonder why so many people are curious about ghosts and haunting when referring to the life in the coal fields, coal mines and coal camps.

We have had many people visit the company store and share their own stories about life, death and mourning. This is a sample of one:

The ol German man  insists on coming into the Whipple Company Store through the side door. it enters into a narrow hallway but allows access to the management side of the building.  After a few moments of trying to persuade him to enter in the front I finally let him in the side door only to be yelled at by him. The door that lead to the long hallway and then the doctors office was the wrong door.  

"That's not the door,That's not the door," he screamed. His daughter who was with him calmed him by telling him I was not aware of what he was talking about.

The old German man appeared to be in his late 80's and stood a little bent over. His silver hair was still thick and full on his head, his eyes a steel blue and very moist, staring at the door.  He was shaking a bit from the excitement and I suspect anxiety from the door being wrong. 

Wrong for what? I was only beginning to learn and understand.  

His interest in this door was not his real reason for visiting that day. OL' German, which is what I was told I could call him was here to tell me about the "holding hallway" which was behind this door in the 1900's. 
According to his story,  the miners that were embalmed and waiting for the wakes would be placed on long tables in this hallway and the "Prayerman " would spend all day praying over these bodies till dusk. In the dusk when the trees are black but the sky is still illuminated the body would be moved to the home and the family would then continue to watch and pray and visit for approximately 72 hours. Ol' German said this was a very important process very few people were aware.  The prayers and watching the dead would prohibit any evil that would move in on this body using it as a vehicle to a life of unrest. He said, that "evil waits for you to look away."
Ol'German said this was the reason for the wakes, however our young American people were unaware of the actual reason they were watching their family member all the way to the grave. 

I have asked many people why we have wakes, and its strange that no one really knows. Perhaps Ol' German knew.



Friday, July 22, 2016

The bell rings loud through out the building and I promptly stepped in front of the window .  Greeting a young woman standing on the porch I ask, "hello, how are you, would you be interested in a tour today?" She glanced up looking at the glass window and said, " well, uh, what is this place?"
That was a question that had been asked 6 times that same day by people touring through the county,stopping to ask what we were all about.  I ask myself this same questions many times.
An old company store, antique shop,restaurant,theater,falling down building, what EXACTLY is this place. What purpose do we serve in this time? 

The Coal Camp of Whipple has been gone since the late 1950's but the history of that time is interesting and one that sparks much emotion and feeling.  The architecture of the beautiful artful structure is explained on our tours in as much detail as time will allow. The building has been a source of many memories depicting family closeness, happiness, loving memories intertwined with moments of struggles and hard times. These difficult times did not seem to dominate the structure of the American dream, as most folks state they would go back to those times given the choice.

"Id like to take the 30 minute tour," she finally said. I don't know much about coal mining but the place looks interesting."
Her family didn't seem to be to interested, I could tell this was something she wanted to  do  and hubby was coming along for her benefit. The 4 children were not interested in a tour at all, but I'm always up for the challenge, I never enjoyed history either..
I picked up a few items for my tour and headed to the other side of the building to introduce them to this beautiful place.
A brief introduction of the porch,and how volunteers were working hard to preserve the building was received well, the 2 girls about middle school age were intrigued that a woman, Lucy Collins influenced this artful building, and the tour wasn't all about men mining coal.  Lucy became the topic of conversation for the next few minutes and then we moved on inside.  Hubby changed almost immediately, wandering,looking touching and asking questions. The little children felt comfortable holding historical items, and hearing about how they were used as they demonstrated using them. Stories along the way about real people that had lived there, buying candy, playing baseball, hopscotch,going to school , enjoying church and having neighbors that played together seemed to be most interesting to them. Lots of smiles.
The 30 minute tour turned into about and hour and a half.  As they were leaving the girls gave me a hug and said it was the best tour they ever had, the little ones were happy with their moon pies in hand and hubby said, " This  is an Oral Tradition, best place I've ever been."  I simply smiled.
He continued to say, "I have to admit I wasn't to thrilled about a tour, but everybody needs to visit here and take this tour, this is a fabulous place.  He dropped a donation in our donation box and smiled as he continued out the door, "you keep up the good work, this is a treasure for sure."
His wife leaned over the counter and gave me a little hug and whispered, "thank you for a wonderful time, my family needed this. We now have a new topic of conversation that will include all of us."
I watched them wander slowly down the steps, the kids arm in arm, smiling to myself and thinking,
"Yes, but what is this place?"


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Whipple Wednesday 2/3/2016

Whipple Wednesday

As I was reviewing some of our old Facebook posts I ran across the "Wishes of Whipple" 2015 resolutions.  it looks like we missed the mark for some of the expectations in 2015 so this is as good a time as any to revisit, alter,change,and add for 2016. ( If you have a suggestion let us know your ideas.)
But first...a re-cap of 2015.

1. We did plant a victory garden. A wonderful woman and her daughter arrived  one Saturday morning to ask if they could look around. The building had intrigued them and they would like to know more about it.  They had a farm of there own and offered and spent many hours of volunteer time as well as finances of their own to prepare our vegetable beds and paint and organize our garden area. . Our board members and volunteers planted the beds and watered them throughout the season. A couple school groups and several scout troops cultivated the garden and reaped the benefits of the harvest. In the fall a group of scouts cleaned the beds, covered them with hay and got them ready for the winter. We will have another garden in 2016 
2. We did welcome additional committee members. In 2016 we will be asking for new board members and revising our mission statement.
3.We continued to work on our documentary , due to unforeseen circumstances the preview did not happen has planned. We will work toward that in 2016.
4.Roof? Well a portion of the building seen that. More of the building will receive new roofing  in 2016. ( the top)
5. A newsletter,  2016 is the year to introduce this as well as a membership for the museum.
6. Our resource and heritage room (genealogy) was a huge success thanks to the group from the NCCC and Victor Mender. The room will be dedicated in 2016 to mark our 10th year as a museum. Look for more information on this awesome project.
7. Our volunteers had to return to school much to early this past summer and we planned late for our dinner, but we did enjoy and appreciate all the hard work and dedication of our volunteers and look forward to meeting some new ones this season and welcome back our loyal volunteers and friends.

2016 is going to be a great year for preservation and time to share memories. 
Volunteers working hard at scrubbing years of dirt from the Ballroom floor.
 Scouts coming to the rescue, arbor and garden beds built.
 NCCC never stop's working. The resource and genealogy room being built. Notice the beautiful map table that they built from wood preserved from the company store.
 superintendents office going from pink to a beautiful black and white. the new window was preserved and waiting to be dedicated.  

Writing down 2015 resolutions...
1.Planting the Victory Garden (April)
2. Adding additional Museum committee members (May)
3. Preparing for the documentary preview. (June)
4. New roof (July)
5. A newsletter for those having a desire to keep in touch (Aug)
6. Preparing a genealogy/culture/heritage research area (Sept.)
7. Having a volunteer appreciation dinner. (Oct.)
OK, who's going to help me???? smile emoticon smile emoticon smile emoticon
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Whipple Wednesday

Little known facts...

Where did the name Whipple originate from?  While most of the coal camp towns have a known explanation to why their town was named, Whipple has been one of controversy in the actual naming of the unincorporated town in Fayette county WV. Who named it? Why was it named Whipple?
  The name  itself has proved to be somewhat of a history mystery to those that study words and surnames. Perhaps it's origin came from a lost site known as "Whiphill" still some research has uncovered an early name for the dogwood tree known as Whippletree. The term Whipp is also used and refers to one who carried out judicial punishments. 
One of the first American born Whipple's 1730, was one of the signatories of the 1776 American Declaration of Independence.  One of the few things we are certain of is the names origin is either Old English pre 7th century, or Anglo-Saxon.

In our small coal camp of Whipple, West Virginia we can be sure of one thing. Whipple was named for  Lucy Gertrude Dent.

 "Whipple" is a family name in the Collins Clan.  Justus Collins, known as a tough Coal Baron for many reasons, adored,admired and respected his wife Lucy.  Whipple was named in honor of her.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

WOW, it has been along time since I visited this blog. I figured an update was in order.
2015 proved to be a very good season for me. I had lots of friends visit and many of them helped put their touches on my inside and exterior dilapidated parts.

A couple of drivers had a mishap in April and ran smack into my front building part. Fortunately no serious damage to the drivers but it left me a painful hole clean through to my basement. I felt so exposed and it has taken many months to get me repaired. I have had repairs done to my outside rocks in the past years, but not the whole wall.
It has been a difficult task to match the cement and color to make my 100 year appearance look dignified. But.... the preservationists were able to work their magic and I am almost good as new. (or is that good as old?)
 My basement staircase had to be removed and supports added to hold me secure. I looked a lot worse on the inside than on the outside. Then the rocks were marked and placed aside hoping to reuse as many as they could. That left me with a huge hole, so a small wooden room was constructed on the outside with a lock door to keep out  the cold and give the workers a place out of the weather to work.
 My owner asked if  the rock whisperer could add a kettle bottom that had been donated to the wall at the bottom of the steps and this is what it looked like pre- cement. It tells a story all its own.
 The rocks have such beautiful color. I believe i will be quite lovely when the crew is finished with me. BJ (the rock whisperer) could just look at the broken pieces of me and place me all back together. I suspect BJ can feel the energy and nature in the rock and stone. I fit together so nicely. He worked quietly and with the help of Chris and Jay I began to feel better by October.

 Then came matching the color for the chinking. That took a few tries, after all i am a seasoned work of art and was being matched with the new modern stuff.  First try, to light so onto the next tint and see what happens...

 Stay tune .. I am still in the working stage, but almost done.. finished photo to come.
More about 2015 happenings in my next post. check back..

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Whipple Winter Wonderland

Some of my people have arrived  to get me cleaned and organized for the 2014 visitors.  My family leaves me in safe hands and go down south to work in the winter so they can spend  the summer months keeping me looking lovely and continually preserved.   Joy arrives in April to start the dusting,washing,wiping and swiping process. She walks around and smiles a lot when she first gets back. (she likes me)  Victor gets the water turned on,toilets flushing, and lights bulbs working, then the washing and cleaning begin.   I can smell fresh brewing coffee and Granny brings in chili, soups, food and goodies.   My old bones start to warm up and I pop and creak with 100 years under my roof.   People start to show up at the front door and want to come in to take a look.  The grass is beginning to turn green, Easter lilies are blooming. I stand tall over the community feeling the coal camp folks. Our heritage and history leave me with a warm since of pride.

    It has been a long cold winter with lots of snow. I'm looking forward to getting warmer.  I have one of my front windows broken on the front porch.  That makes everyone sad. It will be expensive to replace. A few more leaks have showed up and my boards on the west side have flew off. All and all I have weathered pretty good. My family is pleased.  
    I have a sweet Easter egg tree giving color to my front porch and volunteers have come to wipe away dust and dirt from my shelves and ballroom.  I will be ready on May 1st for friends and visitors.  

I over heard conversation about my new roof. I will be getting it later this summer.  I'm getting some new paint in places and a community garden is being planted with vintage plants. Come out and join us. Well enough bragging for now. I'm so happy to have people here again. . See you soon.   Whipple

Easter egg tree

Monday, September 24, 2012

“When daddy died he stopped needin his light and energy from hims body turned into heat and the light was taken in by other natural things. Daddy died in the company store when I was 9 years old and I believe to this day his light is still here. Thats why I come to visit today.”

This quote made by a tourists that told me about life( and death) in the coal camp in 1922. Lillian was 9 years old when her daddy died. She came to share her stories this summer and was 99 years old . She was pretty as a picture and fairly healthy as well. Her story went like this:

Mother, little Clara and I were walking to the company store in the afternoon of May 1922.. I can remember it like it was yesterday. We was makin a special trip, we never got to go twiced in on week. The sky was real blue and the sun warm on my dress. I kept fighting the urge to lift the hem of my dress to my face to feel the warm on my cheeks. It had been a cold winter, I loved the sun.(she looked so sweet and sincere. I offered her a place to sit, she smiled and said she wanted to walk around the store and touch everything.) “I didn't git to touch stuff when I was commin into the company store. Mother would do the shopping and me and Clara would get to look ,but never ever touch.” Walkin up the big steps made you feel like you were goin into a castle. We all was movin carefully around the company store when mother got to talking to the manager of the store .. he was a nice man and always smiled at me and nodded. There was a man that stood near him most times and watched everyone, he was watching us. He had deep brown eyes that could look right through you. I was always a bit scared of him. He looked like a big bad man, back then I didn't knowd was they called but today I knows they was Baldwins guards. Mother turned to us after a spell she had a tear on her face. She kneeled down to Clara's level and looked up at me locking our eyes and moving her head in a no no slight movement. She spoke real soft to us and said Daddy has been hurt real bad. His hurtin happened when movin furniture up in the top floor of the store. They keep tables, chairs and things to keep your house warm up those stairs right there.(Mother pointed to the stairway next to the post office.) Daddy was always a good man to help the manager and worked real hard at what ever they told him to do. I was confused, Daddy left for the mines early that day and what was he doin on the storage floor? We were told by mother not to make a sound but to git along with ourselves out the front door, we needed to make preprations. I wasn't sure what was meant by any of that . We was leavin Daddy in the company store and goin home. I didn't understand.
We got home and cleaned all the furniture from out the front room into Mother's room . All the windows, we had 4 needed to be covered. A very special wood pallet was brought to the house by some of the miners, laid on the floor and Mother covered it in white linens. daddy was brought home that night by the guards and laid on the pallet.I member they didn't lay him down to easy and mother let out a cry that made my heart real sick. A chair was placed in the corner and Mother and 3 of our neighbors took turns staying up and watching Daddy all the time.. Daddy looked very still, I wanted him to wake up. I asked mother why weez all gotta keep watchin Daddy. I member her smile and she took my hand and squeezed it real soft. Daddy is gonna be in heaven son and we have to watch and make sure no bad spirits try to go with him. Mother said all his energy was gone but I was to never fear he would be in the company store forever where he left his energy and his spirit. I didn't understand what she meant Daddy was laying in front of me but he was at the company store.. 3 days went by and daddy was still laying on that pallet, the house was very quiet. A very nice Coal miner, Mr. Clark came to visit he knew daddy and brought Clara and me a piece of red apple. He ask mother to marry him. Daddy was burried the next day. Mother and Mr. Clark was married by the preacher in the field near daddy's grave. Mr. Clark was a very good Daddy and we always ate good food, but he was always dirty and always smelled like body smell from the mines. I missed my Daddy so very much. When I got a bit older Mother told me that she had to get married right quick cause she had no way to feed us girls. But not to worry Daddy will always watch over us for his spirit lives in the company store. And all thems windows is how daddy watched us so we be safe.”

Lillian never knew how or why her daddy died. She said she suspects he got in a scuffle with a guard and they shot Daddy. Mother( Dorothy) lived in the camp and had 6 more babies. Lillian said, “Nones left now but me, I reckon I'll join them all soon, and I'm ready. I get a bit missin um. But I was wanted to come and see and feel daddy before I decide to leave this old world” Lillian is convinced her daddy is forever and always in the company store.
Dorothy (mother) Clara (sister) Lillian (1913- August 2012) Clarence(1893-1922) Hamilenski

So glad your here!

This is a great place to share about things going on in my world. I have had some wonderful experiences in my company store days and would like to share them. I also am having some fantastic experiences now with my new family and friends. I am getting a face lift and having lots of visitors.
Check back often and share my happenings.


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Whipple/Scarbro, Fayette co. West Virginia, United States
I'm just an 'ol lump of coal, but im going to be a diamond some day!

Couldn't say it any better*****

Couldn't say it any better*****

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