AUNT NETTIE'S SUNSHINE AND SHADOWS - "My Heart Has Been Stirred"

(08/07/2017)

"Down through the years of my life, there were so many things I wanted to do. Life is made up of sunshine and shadows and often one's dreams do not come true.

"My heart has been stirred by the beauty of West Virginia, with its hills and winding streams, and the songs of the birds so enchanting."

"My love and appreciation of nature has prompted me with the trail of my pen to write and place before the public this little volume." - Nettie Stump, 1938, introduction to "Trail of My Pen"

By Bob Weaver

"Aunt Nettie Stump (1872-1958) was an outstanding person who had aspirations and dreams, but really didn't want to leave Grantsville," said her nephew, Dr. Charles Stump of Daytona, Florida.

Aunt Nettie, who spent her lifetime living in the Stump Hotel, was a creative person, crafting artifacts, painting and writing poetry. She authored a book of poetry in 1938 - "Trail of my Pen," a compendium of life and history in Grantsville during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

A review of her poetry book in the Parkersburg News said "This book is replete with local interest, as poetic tribute is paid to mountain, hill and vale, and to almost everything that goes to make up home and community life."

The reviewer made note of Nettie's landscape paintings, which she produced and hung in the hotel, frugally brushed with left-over house paints.

The newspaper, in 1938, said Miss Nettie is well-known as the keeper of the Stump Hotel, "one of the outstanding small town hostelries for long years, she being the press correspondent of the Grantsville Women's Club, and otherwise prominent in the activities in the town."

"Aunt Nettie proudly announced she had the first tennis racket and first bicycle in Grantsville," according to Dr. Stump, who said she liked "being the first" and had a vision for herself that exceeded her station in life, but still never desired to live anywhere but the hotel, her home.

Dr. Stump said she was a pleasant, gentile woman who was full of stories about early Calhoun history. "When I was a small boy she would sit with me for hours crafting objects out of old material, trying to make things of beauty," he said.

Dr. Stump's mother, Gladys Weaver Stump, fulfilled one of Nettie's dreams, a trip to Washington, DC, one of the few times she traveled out of state.

"She always enjoyed having house guests. She covered her bathtub with a sheet, when not in use, to keep it from getting dust," said Dr. Stump.

Aunt Nettie never married, but in her younger years romantically pined over one of Grantsville's early physicians who was a widower.

L-R - Aunt Nettie, Gladys Weaver Stump and Dr. Charles
Albert Stump, while in the US Navy (Hur Herald Photo)

Photo of hotel in its prime taken about 1910, notice natural gas street light to left of building (Hur Herald Photo)

She may well have been the greatest babysitter. Al Ball, son of Lennie and Lelah Ball, wrote:

"When Dorcas (his sister) and I were small, mother and dad had adult only business somewhere and so Miss Nettie agreed to "sit" with us for the day. What a memorable experience."

"Miss Nettie taught me how to cut a folded piece of paper with one clip of the scissors. I still remember how to do this and frequently surprise friends by repeating this process. Miss Nettie speculated that this may have been the way that Betsy Ross cut out the stars for her flag."

"She also taught me how to cut a folded piece of paper to make a bird cage or Japanese lantern. I have never forgotten how to do this. She was a very talented and gentle lady."

"Miss Nettie kept us entertained all day."

If you look closely you might see Aunt Nettie sitting on the downstairs stoop in her wicker chair, observing the sights and sounds of Grantsville for well over 50 years, but on the upstairs portico, usually after dark, you might see her brother "Spav" playing his fiddle through the late night hours, music flavored by a flask of home brew or wine (Hur Herald Photo 2006)

The Stump Hotel was established in the 1880s by her father and mother, A. H. "Dick" and Drusilla Ball Stump, described in 1899 as "furnished with the best the markets can afford, good stabling and reasonable rates."

Nettie's father, the first mayor of Grantsville, purchased the land from the town's founder, Simon Stump.

At one time the Main Street hotel stretched back to Mill Street, where a livery stable was maintained. It is now owned by the Calhoun Historical Society, having received some restoration.

A player-piano installed in the Stump hotel about 1910 attracted a good deal of attention. It was likely one of Aunt Nettie's "firsts" in Grantsville.

A newspaper report said the player piano caught on in the community, with "Vernon C. Kelley, of the Clarksburg branch of the Stieff Piano company, since his first trip here, placing pianos in homes of Sheriff R. J. Knotts, J. M. Hamilton, Mrs. Belle Jeffreys, G. S. Smith, Fred Pell, A.B. Harris, W. R. Stalnaker, and C. A. Jarvis. Mr. Kelley has achieved considerable success here and all of his customers are well pleased with their pianos."

Although Aunt Nettie took the hotel sign down in 1919, she continued to keep overnight boarders until shortly before her death at age 84.

Stump Family in front of hotel about 1900
(L-R) Albert Stump, Edna Frederick Stump,
Lucille Stump (front), Nettie Stump, Jean Stump
(Hur Herald Photo)

She wrote "Why I Repose"

The fire is bright at home tonight,
And I have closed the shade.
Sink in my chair with greatest care,
And gaze on a picture I have made.

This view to me as I do see,
Is a cold winter night;
Clouds look gray in distance away,
Snow all banked so white.

No one knows why I repose,
And study my work with care,
It is a pleasure to me, and I can see-
What all is lacking there.

The firelight glows, reflection throws-
Shadows in the distance I see,
The moon hangs low and I know-
What this picture is to me.

"A photo I took of Aunt Nettie about two years before she died,
sitting in her wicker chair watching the world go by" - Bob Weaver


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