ETHEL RADER'S RIVER LIFE - "I Grew Up In Hard Times"

(10/04/2017)

RIVER WOMAN ETHEL RADER DIED IN 2014 AT 97

Ethel Rader (left) at age 90 still cooks and
cans and her son Gene still farms the acreage, her only other child is Lorena McKown, who visits often

They hold forth in this 120-year-old farm house
along the Little Kanawha, surrounded by eight
to ten outbuildings and barns, used for farming

The Petit-Rader house reposes next
to two large meadows along the river at the edge of the large backwoods, Sixteen Ridge and Katy's Run, with great bends in the Little Kanawha

By Bob Weaver 2007

Ninety-year-old Ethel Rader, like her one hundred-twenty-year-old house, is connected to the Little Kanawha, living beside the twisting river's great bend all her life.

Other than a few trips to Ohio and a trip to Nashville to attend the Grand Ole Opry, she has been by the river since 1917, moving a short distance upstream from her birthplace in 1943 when she married Herbert Rader.

Herb Rader, son of Harry and Hattie Petit Rader, died early in life in 1956, after running the Annamoriah ferry for about 20 years, operating his 132-acre farm and running the local store.

Read about Annamoriah Ferry   Ferry Cross The River

"Been through some floods," she said. "The big one was in 1967. Got in the house 22 inches. We just moved upstairs. Only lived in two houses in my lifetime and never really wanted to live anywhere else."

Martha Petit (left) with children Gay, Freddie
and Hattie (center) and husband Benjamin Petit
in front of house the river house near Annamoriah about
1900, a short distance from the ferry crossing

Floods would wash "a lot of stuff down the river," Ethel said, recalling when the ferry broke away from its mooring, but "My dad caught a five gallon keg of moonshine when it floated by, from up on Annamoriah Creek."

She was the daughter of Ebenezer "Ebby" and Blanche Craddock Maze, who were married in 1916 and lived along the "big bend."

Ethel (pictured left) sharply recalls the Little Kanawha riverboat days. During her childhood (1920s), her family would fix cornbread and biscuits for the riverboat captains and workers. "They'd blow their whistle across the bend, giving us time to get the food to the river," she said.

"Our dog would go crazy when the boats blew their whistle, because dad was often on one of them." Ethel admits she never liked to ride the boats much, just up and down a short distance. "Never did go to Parkersburg on one."

The river had dozens of boats traveling up and down its waters, gasoline engine boats delivering goods and passengers from Parkersburg to Glenville. The riverboat years ended during the 1930s when roads were improved.

"I remember the Eugene, the Sunshine, the Gracie R and the Acme, it was the mail boat," she said.

Ethel attended one-room schools at O'Brien and later Pine Alley on Katies Run, a pretty good walk from her house.

"I had a dog named "Ted" who went with me. I took food for his lunch, too," she said. She recalled playing noon-time games like drop-the-handkerchief and London Bridge, with teachers Jim Reed and Hershel Peppers.

Ethel, who rather recently broke her hip, is up and about with a walker, still cooking and canning. She says her long life has been possible by doing a lot of hard work.

"I once bought a pack of cigarettes and smoked one. That day I went to church and decided it was not good for me and threw the rest away. Now, I did take a little nip of whiskey when I was young," she said.

"I've seen some pretty hard times. I grew up in hard times, but I've enjoyed the work," she concluded.

The Petit-Rader house at Annamoriah was built by
Benjamin (1845-1920) and Martha Dix Petit,
who likely moved to the location about 1880. Benjamin's
father Silas was on the river property before 1856

Benjamin and Martha Petit, early-comers to "the bend"

Herbert, Glen and Howard Rader of Annamoriah


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