Woofter's Writings - Letherbark & Nicut

(08/05/2002)

Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from a clipping from the Parkersburg News (undated).

Town and Country
By Albert J. Woofter

"Several months ago I read an article in Town and Country by A.J.W. The question asked: How did Letherbark, W. Va. get its name?

"I shall give you the history as I know it," writes Mrs. Cleo Clark of Rt. 2, Willard, O.

"Mrs. G. W. Clark and Mary Elizabeth (nickname Lillie) also daughter Orpha, moved to Letherbark from Salem, W. Va., Nov. 4, 1895. The farm they bought was in woods.

"They had no mail service. Mrs. Clark got busy working toward getting a post office and a mail route. The post office was established and Mrs. M. E. Clark appointed postmaster Dec. 2, 1897. Letherbark was named for the bark on a Leatherwood tree. The man who did the legal work left the "A" out of Letherbark. James A. Gary was postmaster general at that time.

"Mrs. Clark and the neighbors answered advertisements and wrote letters to get mail on the road. There were two or three letters a week for a long time. Mr. Clark carried the mail from Letherbark to Pasco in Roane county (without pay) for quite some time.

"My husband Oral Clark was born at Letherbark. He is a retired B & 0. Railroad engineer.

"The Post Office Dept. retired Mrs. Clark Feb. 1, 1940. 1 was appointed postmaster, worked 18 years.

"Oral says if the lady who asked about Letherbark lived near there he would know her. Don't think you gave her name.

"Thanks for reading this long rambling letter."

We must hasten to say we certainly enjoyed Mrs. Clark's letter which we didn't feel was "rambling" at all but rather brief and to the point.

Letherbark, in case there are any who do not know, is in Calhoun county, and since it is no longer listed in the Blue Book under post offices, we assume that it is among the many which have ceased to function in rural areas of West Virginia..

We note that Nicut in Calhoun county is still on the active list of post offices.

John Stump of Grantsville clarified a puzzling situation which had existed in our mind regarding Nicut.

The post office is located in the southern portion of the county, and we suppose that this could be considered the official Nicut.

By this method of reasoning, we probably could place the "unofficial" tag on the Nicut which is located on W. Va. 5 below Cabot Station.

"Nigh" is an old-time way of saying "near;" like, for example, "It was nigh onto 50 years ago."

So "Nicut" evidently means "near cut," like a path or road which shortens the distance between two points.

We used to hear the old-timers mention "Nicut," which was on their route as they made their way on foot back from Creston after taking rafts downstream to that point. This would be the Nicut along what is now W. Va. 5.

Now back to Letherbark - Our late father years ago pointed out a bush to us and said it was known as leatherbark and the bark would readily peel even in the winter season. Other trees with which we have had experience lack this capability. This particular bush was located at the foot of a hillside along Dark Run, just about a mile east of the Calhoun border. We doubt if we would recognize a leatherbark or leatherwood tree if we'd seen one.. Our tree book says Indians used this bark for their bow-strings. It doesn't mention its winter-peeling qualities, perhaps for the reason that the author wasn't aware of that distinction.


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