CALHOUN'S GARDEN OF EDEN - Aristotle Smith "King Of West Fork Eloquence"


The decaying homestead of the Anise Hardway
family, near the long-gone "Garden of Eden" ...

... The Eden/Upper Big Run area sparsely
populated, Eugene Helmick's family homestead

By Bob Weaver

Calhoun once had a place named Eden on Upper Big Run in Washington District, settled by the Chenoweth family, well-known early comers, farmers and merchants.

Eden was made a post office about 1882, named after the "Garden of Eden," recalled by the life and times of Aristotle Smith (1862-1911).

The population was reported as 20 before turn of century, the village being the law office of self-made lawyer Smith, who married into the Chenoweth family.

It faded out of existence over hundred years ago, the remote, forested valley now less populated and more wooded.

Well-known West Virginia historian and writer Boyd Stutler, a former Calhouner, best known for his collection on John Brown, said "Aristotle Smith (1862-1911) was the king of West Fork eloquence."

Aristotle was a man for all seasons, a teacher, poet, lawyer, self-taught doctor, preacher, politician and imbiber, but best known for transcribing the memoirs of Col. C. S. Dewees in 1902-03, Calhoun's most significant historical document covering the 19th century.

Read CALHOUN'S ARISTOTLE - "Anything You Wanted Him To Be"

Family members said the exuberant Aristotle was his own worst enemy, drinking himself to death in 1911 at the age of 48. He believed with "our depravities we get most of our hell on earth."

About the last man standing in Eden, Eugene Helmick admires fruit on homestead he has lived for 65 years, just recovering from a 12-day electric outage, saying "It's a quiet place around here"

Dr. Tim Miller of Kingwood, a Calhoun native and consummate historian, recently extrapolated some of Aritstole's luminescence verb-age from a copy of The Grantsville News, written in 1902:


Eden post-office, at present, is located on the head of (Upper) Big Run, a tributary of the Left Hand Fork of the West Fork, with Aristotle Smith postmaster.

Eden was first established with D .W. Chenoweth, as postmaster, nearly twenty years ago. Later Alexander Downey, who lives at the mouth of Big run, was postmaster for about ten years.

Big Run was first settled by R.J. and D.W. Chenoweth, and their father, Robert Chenoweth, about fifty years ago, D.W. Chenoweth coming into possession of the farm soon after and has since resided on (Upper) Big Run, and from all appearances and his physical activity is good for a quarter of a century yet.

Our modern Eden, not altogether like Eden of old, where man first grew, reminds us of the paradisaical garden of purity, where in the early morning of time, God having ended his work on the seventh day, after which he formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.

The Bible further says that the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the man that proved requient to the trust imposed in him, for which he was driven out of the garden and has ever since been a wanderer upon the face of the earth, which clearly and abundantly shows to us that that man is superior to all the rest of God's creation and by the powers of his superiority wields dominion over the earth and all created things on it.

Man has no power, control or dominion beyond the observance of the fixed laws of nature over himself, but is purely a creature of circumstances.


So named for him who is styled the Father of this country, the first in war, the first in peace and the first in the hearts of his countrymen.

Washington was a worthy predecessor of the immortal Lincoln, the great emancipator and liberator and was not second to Grant, who worthily bears the urban of the Savior of his country.

The noble example of Washington, his patriotism, devotion and sacrifices in the face of his opportunities to court favors of gilded courts and aristocracy and enhance his financial interest.

Washington casts a great shadow of a more brilliant lustre upon memories walls of more enduring and undying fame than has ever been to the credit of any other patriot.

Christ was the purest, Solomon the wisest and Washington the greatest and best.

Calhoun County symbolizes the name and emulates the fame and brings to mind that great commoner who throughout the long and eventful career of his busy life, was ever jealous of and zealous guarder of what he regarded the people's rights which in the excessiveness of his strenuousness in his advocacy of state rights, branded him with the epithet of Nullifier which toga he bore with the eloquence of a Roman Senator.

Reminding us that high-minded and dignified American manhood and citizenship is more to be desired than to have been a Roman, and to have been a Roman was greater than to have been a King.

And West Virginia, whose motto is emblematic and characteristic of the hardy... "Mountaineers are always free men." May our citizenship and individuality ever continue such that the banner of our motto will never be trailed in the dust.

Our old Uncle and friend R.J. Chenoweth has been paid such a glowing and handsome compliment recently through the columns of the Chronicle by his old friend Capt. H.A. Ferrell.


We having had the pleasure of spending a night not long since with Mr. Chenoweth who is recovering from a long and severe illness that has confined him to his room since last autumn, his increasing vigor and returning strength is encouraging... observing the unbending laws of nature, he bids fair for another generation yet.

And may it be to him as Abou Ben Adsm, Mr. Chenoweth requests us to say by your permission and kindness to Capt. H.A. Ferrell and all his old friends, Jim Wilson and numbers of others too numerous to mention, that notwithstanding the lapse of time, he has ever cherished fond remembrances of them for their loyalty and devotion and especially to Capt. Ferrell for his eulogy and kind words by the kindness of the Chronicle, which is a balm that completely erases all bickering's and pangs of remorse, sadness and disappointment that may have lurked with in his heart regarding his memories of the memorable campaign of 1880.

And now that his three score and ten and odd years having weighed with no gentle hand upon him, In his declining days he desires to live in peace with good will,for all and that it has ever been his aim and object in life to so live that his friends would never be ashamed of him, and in the end be gathered to our Father where the just are make perfect, reminding us that the mills of God grinds slow and exceedingly fine.

He further wishes us to say that while his heart is inbounding in his admiration, love and devotion for his friends, upon the other hand for those who oppose him, many of whom were unfortunate in the end by the success of his rival, that he cherishes no ill feeling or spirit of resentment but Samaritan-like would give the widows mite or lend a helping hand in any manner honorably possible that he could to lighten their burdens and make life more cheerful.

Whilst many have gone, some west and some to the great beyond, he hopes none have gone south. With an ill will towards none and charity for all. He would that all may do right as God has given light to guide us aright.