HECK FAMILY RETURNED TO SPENCER'S "MANSION ON THE HILL" - Roane Wildcatter Lost His Fortune

(06/13/2017)

The McIntosh-Heck Mansion is on the National Historical Registry

Carolee Morford Snyder displays picture of wildcatter Heck

PHOTOS FROM 2002

By Bob Weaver

The Heck descendants returned to Spencer in 2002 to visit Albert Heck's "Mansion on the Hill."

"Al Heck could smell oil," said David McKain, curator of the Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg. The Roane County wildcatter was said to have had one dry hole in fifty strikes, many in the Liverpool field in the early 1920's.

"He made it big very quickly, an overnight millionaire" said surviving granddaughter, Carolee Morford Snyder of Parkersburg. "He smoked dollar cigars, wore $200 suits, had house servants, gardeners and a chauffeur," during Spencer's roaring 20's.

Ms. Snyder said she was "of the Spencer and Grantsville Morfords."

Original Heck resident was former Hardman-Conrad Funeral Home

Heck-Crislip memorabilia in front of portrait of F. F. McIntosh

Ms. Snyder was among two dozen or more Heck descendants returning to the Heck ancestral house, now known as the McIntosh Mansion, located west of Spencer on Route 14.

Heck came to Spencer from Ravenswood before 1900 to seek his fortune, working at age 14 as water boy on the Ravenswood, Spencer and Glenville Railroad, which was closed in the 1960's. He was a part owner of the railroad.

In 1898 he married Estelle Crislip of a well-known Roane County family, and for several years lived on Market Street in Spencer, a place known as the old Hardman-Conrad Funeral Home. It still stands and is currently for sale.

Diane Vineyard (Right) welcomes descendants to mansion

Heck descendants return to "Mansion on the Hill"

In 1925 the Heck family, with their six children, moved to the "Mansion on the Hill," a premier showplace said to cost $100,000, which may have included the price of some of the finest pieces of furniture seen in the growing town of Spencer.

It was originally known as "Bowman's Grove," then Heck named the mansion "Sylvanius," his middle name.

It was designed by the construction firm of Wallace Knight of West Virginia, the same construction firm that constructed the West Virginia Executive Mansion.

It is two story, brick Neoclassical style mansion with 17 rooms, six baths and a full basement. It features a front portico with two story fluted Corinthian order columns and pilasters. The basement features locker rooms and showers.

A tennis court with adjoining locker room was constructed to satisfy Heck's interest in the game. A large fishing pond was placed on the lowest point of the property and Heck imported exotic tree varieties for planting.

The mansion incorporated the latest technology and many unique architectural features. There was a house-wide buzzer calling system, a root cellar, roof ventilators.

Heck lost his mansion in 1937, "a victim of his partners and Standard Oil," said Ms. Snyder. The F. F. McIntosh family purchased the estate, which was restored, utilized and maintained by the McIntosh family for over 70 years, recently sold to the Freshwater family.

Ms. Snyder said Heck was not a bitter man over the loss of his fortune. He said "I had it when I needed it and gave my family some nice years. I started with nothing and ended with nothing."

Mary Kathryn Crislip Pursley of Spencer attends event

Day spent recalling family history

Albert Heck reposes in Spencer Cemetery,
a short distance from his mansion


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