A winding road, cramped by encroaching woods, leads through the
narrow Laurel Shoals valley, once inhabited by a few Calhoun families

The Ghost of Edwin Starcher's house is barely standing,
where about a dozen children grew up, Edwin died in 1919,
the first death in a motorized vehicle in Calhoun County

By Bob Weaver

Photos Margaret Smith Volkwein/Hazeline Anderson

Laurel Shoals is a Calhoun hollow where early comers found seashells, a place older than the mountains, once covered by ocean water.

The remote hollow produced four Calhoun teachers, Eva Starcher Cain, mother of Dr. Joe Cain, Nettie Starchger Slider, Edwin Starcher, Jr. and Hazeline Anderson, and well-known businessman, politician and member of the House of Delegates Cleo Kingsbury. He served in US Army Engineers in World War I.

During the past 125 years or so, at least three families lived in the remote hollow for an extended time, the small stream empties into the West Fork of the Little Kanawha at the former George McCoy farm (now Billy Houchins) and going back into the deep woods of Jesse's Run at Liberty Hill.

Joy Morgan Stevens of Grantsville remembers the place well, it's close to the Morgan family homestead.

Stevens recalls three family dwellings in Laurel Shoals, the closest to the West Fork belonged to Edwin "Ed" (1873-1919) and Lydia Kirby Starcher (1873-1956) described as a nice two-story house, still barely standing.

Edwin Starcher and Lydia, daughter of Wesley and Ruhanna Stalhman Kirby of Hur, had about 12 children.

The Starcher house is falling down while
nature returns to its' primitive state

He was the county's first state road supervisor and was killed in a truck accident on Barr Hill in 1919, said to be the first vehicular death in the county.

See related story County Engineer Dies in Accident in 1919

Starcher's son Thurman (1901-1978) never married and was the last to live at the home place, described by Joy Morgan Stevens as "A genius, who had mental quirks."

The Starcher descendants reads like a who's who in the county, including Eva (married Everett Cain); Julia (married Grover Cooper); Lona (married Paul Bowers); Bernice (married C. M. Smith); Nettie (married Bill Slider); Edna (married Roy Cooper); Lulu (married Winfield Thomas); Edwin Jr. (married Opal Starcher); Freddie and Wesley Starcher.

Matilda Lynch Kingsbury and George Jack Kingsbury
rest in their front yard on Laurel Shoals, in 1930s
(Hazeline Anderson Photo)

Kingsbury family in front of Shoals dwelling, about 1930 (L to R) Rector Kingsbury, George Jackson Kingsbury, Matilda Lynch Kingsbury (daughter of George); Sarah Kingsbury who married Vance Anderson (Hazeline Anderson Photo)

Sarah and Jabez Kingsbury tending cattle
(Hazeline Anderson Photo)

The second dwelling up Laurel Shoals was the home of George Jackson (1869-1945) and Matilda Lynch (1870-1951) Kingsbury, who had seven children.

Possibly the best known child was merchant Cleo Kingsbury, who once operated the Rocksdale store, but later had the Ben Franklin "Five and Dime" in Grantsville. He was a World War I veteran and Calhoun politician.

Hazeline Anderson, a retired Roane County teacher, has pleasant memories of Laurel Shoals, being born in her great-grandfather Anderson's house at the head of the holler, four generations of Andersons were connected to the place.

She was the daughter of the late Vance and Sarah Kingsbury Anderson

William "Billy Anderson's (1863-1950) house was two-stories with a spiral staircase," she recalls, Anderson came to Calhoun from Wetzel County in the 1800s, marrying Nancy Ellen Masters (1865-1935). The house is no longer standing.

Old Buick taken over by woods and weeds

Laurel Shoals has meandering creek and rock walls

"My grandparents never uttered a harsh word, loving people. We played in the creek and swung on grapevines. There was never any electric on the creek, they always saved the battery on the radio to listen to war news," she said.

"During the war (WWII) I would get very scared when a plane would fly over, thinking it might be a "Jap," Anderson recalled.

Disappointment Hollow was a branch of the Shoals, where Will Starcher, Jr., son of Edwin, built a beautiful two story house with second story portico and basement.

Joy Stevens said the hollow was "a forlorn place," thus the name Disappointment Hollow, while others said it was haunted with ghostly apparitions.

Among other newcomers to the Shoals, was the Hoskins family, with James Allen Hoskins being born there in 1874.

The hollow has returned to the forest, only harbored memories about the remote location remains with a handful of Calhoun descendants.


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