The only photo we have of well-known stonemason
Joe Janerio is of the Spanish immigrant reposing in his casket,
after he was killed in a car accident in the late 1930s

Photo from Mary Starkey/George Wilson

By Bob Weaver 2003

If those Calhoun rock walls could talk, they surely would speak about Joe R. Janerio, a Spanish immigrant who landed in this county in the late 1920s and stayed through the early 1930s.

Janerio was instrumental, along with his Spanish helpers, local stonemasons and WPA workers for constructing dozens of stone walls, abutments, culverts and houses around the county.

Nearly all are still standing from Arnoldsburg to Grantsville to Big Bend, mostly taken for-granted by those who pass by.

They are still useful additions to lots of property, including the stone walls along the highways and streets in Arnoldsburg, at Mt. Zion and in Grantsville.

Apple Farm stonemason George Wilson teamed up with Janerio and his crew during those depression years.

Mary Starkey of Grantsville, George's daughter, said her brother Hugh Wilson drove her dad to North Carolina after Janerio was killed in a car accident.

"They had left Calhoun and had several stonemason projects going on down there, and they wanted dad to come to NC and help," said Starkey.

She said he spent about a year in NC, wrapping up Joe's projects.

Janerio's best work may be viewed at the old Albert and Gladys Weaver Stump service station and house at the foot of High Street, still in good repair, currently occupied by State Farm Insurance and others. He also built the Holbert House in Big Bend. (Now demolished)

In 1936, stonemason Janerio was awarded sub-contracts for building a new bridge at Leafbank He also built an interesting 300 foot long, four by four foot culvert under the large fill on the east side of Nighcut Hill. Few notice the extent of the fill just beyond Cabot Station while driving down Route 5.

Janerio built or supervised the building of Grantsville's retaining walls on Main, High Street and south Grantsville with WPA workers assisting him.

The late historian and attorney, Lorentz Carr Hamilton, said that Janerio embarked on his stone construction as penance to his father for not becoming a priest. He died in the late '30s in a car accident in North Carolina.


IF WALLS COULD TALK - The Fruits Of Labor In The Great Depression

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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