"A WONDERFUL PRESENCE" - Grantsville Man Almost Seven Foot Tall, Taylor Randolph "Zack" Stump's River House

(10/08/2017)

T. R. 'ZACK' STUMP WAS DESCENDANT OF THE HISTORIC FOUR MICHAEL STUMPS

First Published 2006

What one could have seen from the porch of the Taylor Randolph "Zack" Stump's (1847-1918) house, situated along the Little Kanawha River in Grantsville for about 125 years. Native Americans traveled up and down the 169 mile length of the Little Kanawha, long before white settlers came about 1785.

The river "came of age" with the oil and gas boom. By 1891, five locks and dams had been constructed to make the river navigable 48 miles upstream from Parkersburg, accommodating both gas and steam-powered boats. Dozens of riverboats a week navigated past the Stump house until the mid-1930s. Highway's were primitive and the boats brought most of the goods into Calhoun.

The efforts to build the Little Kanawha Railroad about 1900 flunked.

It is one of the river's most historic houses, now occupied by Bob and Samantha Lampros Erlewine, with Orlen and Opal Hayhurst McCartney occupying the dwelling for about 40 years during the last century.

T. R. "Zack" Stump and his wife Samilda Stump (1843-1907) were the original owners and occupants of the dwelling, likely built in the 1870s. Stump was a farmer, furniture and casket maker, later engaging in the oil and gas business, having served in the WV Legislature in 1882. He came to Grantsville in 1868.

The Stump farm as seen in the early 1900s

Taylor R. "Zack" Stump and his wife, Samilda Hayhurst Stump

By Bob Weaver 2006

The Little Kanawha River house of early Grantsville businessman and legislator, Honorable T. R. "Zack" Stump, is one of Grantsville's three historic houses, the others being the Stump Hotel and the Oles House on Main Street.

The house, currently owned by Tom and Jamie Gerwig, has been well-kept over the years, occupied for nearly forty years by Gerwig's grandparents, the late Orlen and Opal Hayhurst McCartney.

Sitting on the porch, one could picture the native Americans who traveled up and down the Little Kanawha, with a horde of riverboats in more modern times. Grantsville was a riverboat town, surrounded by primitive roads, often impassable except by horse wagons and ox teams.

Zack Stump, son of Lemuel and Melinda Huffman Stump, descended from two of the oldest and best known families of this part of the Virginias. Lemuel was a member of the constitutional convention which convened in Charleston, Kanawha County, in 1870.

His paternal great-grandfather was a colonel in the Revolutionary War and fought under Washington. His grandfather, Jacob Stump, was one of the first settlers in what is now Gilmer County, and was the first man to "take out a grub" in Gilmer. Records say Jacob's father and a brother killed a buffalo a day or two after making their stake on Steer Creek.

In 1866, just before moving to Calhoun, he married Samilda, daughter of Jacob J. and Mary (Vannoy) Stump.

They had nine children who grew to adulthood in the house: Loransan T., December 11, 1866; Pratt, March 2, 1869; Okey J., December 18, 1870; Roy, September 11, 1872; Franklin, April 13, 1874; Hester, March 2, 1876; Wade H., September 6, 1878; Robert G., April 27, 1880; Eustice Gibson, October 11, 1882.

Zack Stump put up a large "double-powered" wind mill adjacent his house in early 1900s to generate power for "running a feed chopper and other machinery on his farm."

In 1896 riverboat dweller Andy Hallenbake had an affray with Zack Stump, who stood almost seven feet. After "chewing the rag on street corners," Zack lost his temper and took his boot to "River Andy." Andy got angry and grabbed up a clod, throwing it with great force and violence at Stump's head. His aim was a little high and it knocked Stump's new Stetson into the dust. Stump countered, kicking Andy in the behind. Andy fled toward his riverboat with Stump a few feet behind, still outdistancing him.

Zack's maternal grandfather was a well-known figure, Alexander Huffman, one of the early settlers of what is now Calhoun County. He was sheriff of Gilmer County while this territory belonged to Gilmer, and was many years justice of the peace and a member of the legislature from Calhoun, 1867-68. Huffman died in 1879.

In 1912, Zack Stump addressed a gathering when memorial tombstones were placed on the gravesites of Michael Stump, III and his wife Magdalena (Richards). He was also instrumental in building the first bridge across the Little Kanawha, replacing a ferry.

In 1921, the Stump property was the object of development to become part of the Town of Grantsville.

"Surveyors from the Bowman Realty Co. of Huntington arrived here last week and are busy cutting up the T.R. Stump farm, across the river, into a town building lots which will sold at a big public sale to be held on Friday and Saturday," according to a newspaper account.

The Stump farm was purchased by B.G. Stump, Ira Hardman and R.P. Mollohan, who realizing the need for more building sites to meet the rapid growth of the town, decided to cut the tract up into town lots and put the same on the market. One old map shows dozens and dozens of lots to be sold.

"The sale promises to attract quite a large crowd to Grantsville providing the weather and roads stay fit ... The phenomenal increase in value of lots sold some time ago in South Grantsville and at Arnoldsburg has started an itch to invest in town lots that is very contagious, and we have no doubt that many an old pocket-book will be drawn out from under the mattresses and their contents invested in good, growing-in-value real estate," the account said.

An ad said the development will make "Grantsville the best town in the valley," with the completion of the new high school and growing oil and gas development.

The ad predicted hard surfaced roads coming to the county.

Developers promised a first class road will be built from the South end of the new Grantsville bridge through the development and later said a newer bridge will be built across the river to the sub-division.

In an attempt to draw interested parties to the sale, "An aeroplane and its daring master will maneuver on the sale days. This will be the first opportunity many of us have had to see this attraction and it will undoubtedly bring hundreds into the sale."

The Stump sub-division never happened. Piers of concrete were poured for the second bridge across the river. It was not built.

"It has a wonderful presence, the house," said Jamie Gerwig. "My grandmother (McCartney) loved it and the history behind it, and I do too," she concluded. We intend to keep it.

The ducks still swim in front of the Stump house, a tradition
continued by the McCartney, Erlewine and Gerwig families


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