SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Calhoun's Great Half-Runner Bean, 'More Wonderful Than It Outta Be'

(04/11/2007)

By Bob Weaver 2007

Euna Poling Hall of Sand Ridge always bragged about her green beans, passed down through her family for several generations.

Her bean was not widely planted and harvested in the United States, but that was soon to change with the help of O. R. Hardman, who started Hardman's Hardware one hundred years ago (1907) in Spencer.

Tom Hardman, the grandson of founder O. R. Hardman, says Mrs. Hall would come to Spencer to buy seeds in the early 1930s - with the exception of beans.

"She would brag about the seed that had been brought over from Germany by her ancestors. She bragged about it so much that my granddad asked her to bring in a sample," said Hardman.

Euna's daughter-in-law, Martha Hall (wife of Kenneth) wrote: "She lived at a time when a woman's work was never done. Her husband said her 13 children were the cleanest and best fed in the neighborhood."

They surely enjoyed her perfected half-runner beans.

"The half-runner seeds have benefited thousands of appreciative gardners. She would have been proud, because she loved to give," said Hall.

In 1933 O.R. Hardman sent the White Half-Runner sample to J. Chas McCullough Seed Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio. There they developed the Early White Half-Runner that was to become the staple of everyone's garden throughout West Virginia.

A West Virginia dinner table was not complete without a mess of half-runners on the table.

Newspaper columnist Dave Peyton wrote "If I were a poet, I would write an August ode to half-runner beans. Why? Because they taste like home."

After WWII, many families moved out of state. These former West Virginians could not find their favorite bean in local stores so they asked their parents to have Hardman's mail them the seeds.

Tom Hardman said literally tons of one pound boxes of this savory tasting bean was shipped to those living out of state.

Years later, West Virginia University further developed the State Half-Runner and the Mountaineer Half Runner.

Through the 30's and into the 40's sales grew to the point that it was far and away the best seller the Hardman store had, over the years they mailed thousands of boxes of the seed.

Dave Peyton talked about half-runners on a National Public Radio show, later suggesting a historical sign honoring Mrs. Hall at Sand Ridge.

"At the very least, Calhoun should organize a Half-Runner Bean Festival. If you do, I'll be there for sure!" wrote Peyton.

Euna Poling (1879-1954) was the daughter of Civil War vet Wesley Poling and wife Clarissa Ann Stevens. She married Rawley W. Hall, Jr. in 1896 at the age of 16. They are buried in the Sand Ridge Cemetery.

She was an 11th generation Poling living in America, the Poling's first arriving in this country in 1642.

Euna's brother Albert, family members and friends built the round church at Sand Ridge in 1902, which is on the National Register.

Relatives said Euna managed her home, made clothes, made a garden and still had time to love and support her family.

Now that you know about Euna's beans, you'll surely think of her the next time you enjoy them.

My grandmother McCoy said of the bean, "It's more wonderful than it outta be."

Read Peyton's   Ode To Half-Runners


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