Little Kanawha Claims a Life in 1909


Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 7/6/1909 and 7/20/1909.


Boy Drowned
Memorial Services at Old Bethlehem Marred by Sad Event

The day dawned fair for a fine time at Old Bethlehem Saturday, and the people from all parts of the county had come to spend a gala day.  Everything went smoothly, the best of order prevailed and every person present were immensely enjoying the occasion, when at about 2:30 o'clock a messenger from the river burst into the crowd with the startling news that a boy had been drowned in the deep hole below the mouth of Bull river, and men were wanted to help search the murky waters for the body.  Immediately the program was brought to a close and the crowd hurried to the river bank near where the terrible accident occurred, hoping to restore life if the body could soon enough be found.

The boy, whose name was Earl Kimball and who was a son of Bud Kimball, of Sand Ridge, was 14 years old and large for his age.  He, together with three other boys, went to the river to take a swim.  He had just jumped into the water and swam about half way across the river when, it is presumed, he became overcome with fatigue and fright, and started back to shore.  The boys who were with him state that he came to the surface 12 or 15 times after he started to drown, but none of the boys were able to rescue him.  The efforts to find the body, which was drowned at about 2:30 in the evening, were unavailing until 7:30 when a large sein handled by a half dozen or so men dragged the body to the shore.

Near the dawn of the day on the morning of July 4th 1909 a lifeless boy of tender years was brought to the home of Mr. E.M. Kimbel and his good wife Mrs. C.V. Kimble near Millstone Post Office in Calhoun county West Virginia which made the day one of mourning not only at the Kimbel home but in entire neighborhood for miles around because it was the body of Erra C. Kimbel who drowned while swimming in the Little Kanawha river a short distance above Grantsville.

Erra was born July 16th 1894 and was not quite fifteen years old when he perished in the waters July 3d 1909 and this sad occurrence brought sadness and gloom to the whole vicinity and when he was interred at the Sand Ridge cemetery on the evening of July 4th after appropriate funeral ceremonies by Rev. Hughes pastor of this charge of the M.E. Church there were more people present to pay a last tribute of respect to his neighbor boy than has been at the cemetary for a long time, for Erra was a good boy and very popular with the old and young.

The deceased leaves one sister Orva, ten years of age and one brother Raymond eight years of age with their parents to mourn their loss; but from the fact that we are taught that the Savior of the world said: "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not; for such is the kingdom of heaven" and the farther fact that little Erra gave himself to the Lord and was happily converted at the age of twelve years we have the glorious consolation to believe that these good parents if they only remain faithful a little longer, will be permitted to clasp glad hands with their dear little Erra upon the banks of eternal deliverance after they have triumphly crossed the river of death and shall hear a voice say "well done thou good and faithful." - H.C. Lockney.