"BILL OLLIE" UMSTEAD - Recalls Early Calhoun Families

Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 9/5/1968.

Many Old Families of County are Recalled
By Bill Umstead

When I undertook to pass on to The Chronicle readers a bit of history of the early settlers of the Mount Zion community, I find it a very difficult matter as many relatives (descendants) do not have much of a history and I was a bit amazed that many do not know the name of their great-grandmother or father.  I hope, however, that the information I have will help those interested.

Willis and Nancy Digman Stalnaker

This couple came into Calhoun, it is believed, before the county was formed, from Barbour county  and settled on Pine Creek.  I do not know who Nancy Digman was.  Many years ago a man by the name of Bent Digman lived on the ridge between Mt. Zion and Hur.  Several of the children are still living . Sam and George that I know about.  It is believed that Nancy was the Bent's father's sister.  Usually close relatives followed each other into new territory.

Willis and Nancy Stalnaker had several children who are the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of a very large segment of people now living in Calhoun county and elsewhere.  Many were the builders of the first church and schools.  The names of their children, as given to me are: Ellen, Elizabeth (Aunt Bett), Magdalene (Aunt Lany), Catherine, and Ella.  I was told that there was one called Chant who married Franklin Poling.

Allen Stalnaker and son, George

Allen, as given to me, married Betty Gainer, and the only child that I learned about was George.  George married a Hathaway and they had the following children: Floyd, Sam, Della, Mary, Sarah, and Millie.

Floyd left when a young man and lived in Barbour county.  Sam never married.  Della married Sidney Stevens; Mary married Jess Williams; Sarah married Monroe Ward; and Millie married Wes Propst.  As all these persons are deceased, I shall, for identification purposes, name a few of the children.  Jess Williams is the father of Hollie Williams; Sidney Stevens is the father of Lora Stevens; Monroe Ward was the father of Bryan Ward, late sheriff of Calhoun county.

Ella Stalnaker and Levie Gainer

Ella, daughter of Willis and Nancy, married Levie Gainer, and their children were: Everett, Bully, John, Ida, Esta, May and Blue.  I do not know who Everett and Bully married.  Ida married Henry Sturm, and their children are:  Mallie, Fred, Lester, Ella and Nellie.  Blue married a Greathouse.  May married Kenny Hunt, Esta married, I believe, a Buck, father of Orvan Glenn Buck, sr.  Lonnie Gainer, who lives in Grantsville is the son of Bully.  Mrs. Charley Garretson is the daughter of Everett Gainer.  John Gainer is the father of Ivy Gainer.

Jessie Gainer and Catherine Stalnaker

Catherine, daughter of Willis and Nancy, married Jessie Gainer.  Their children were:  Al, Guy, Lee, Oak, Sol, Sam, Lottie and Dora.  At one time all the children, except Dora, after marriage, lived on Pine Creek.  Guy married Osie Leach and they moved to Ohio in 1915.  One daughter married Homer Hughes, who lived near Joker.  Dee married Esta Stevens and lived in Akron all their adult life.  Lee Gainer married a Roberts, and after her death he married Laura Elliott, and they had the following children:  Denzil, Burl, Otho, Glenna and Elva.  Denzil is our present State Auditor.

Oak Gainer married, I believe, a Wigner (not certain about this).   Oak lived on Pine Creek for many years finally moving to Henrietta. Frank married Fred Burroughs' daughter, Vesta, and they now live at Russett.

Lottie Gainer married George McEndree.  George was the son of my grandfather's sister, Nina Umstead.  They had no children.

Dora married Dowd Stump.  They lived on Phillips Run, and two of the children that I know are Lorena, who married Bill Kelley, and her sister, Arldia, who married Hollie Bell and after his death she married Tom Kelley.  Jim and Mike Bell are two of their children.  Other children of Dora and Dowd Stump were Dorfetta Hathaway, Waitman, Jess and Mattie.

Al Gainer married a Leach and their children are:  Lee, Fay, Vennie and Eulah.  Lora Stevens married Eulah; Vennie married Allie Roberts; Fay married Green Hartshorn's daughter, and I believe Lee married a Hartshorn.  Sol Gainer married Lottie Elliott, sister to Mrs. Lee Gainer and their children are Cleo and Cora.  I do not know about Sam Gainer.

Martin Sturm and Magdalena Stalnaker

Magdalena was better known as Aunt Lany and she lived to be 101 years old.  She would walk from Mt. Zion to Hur when she was 100 years old.  Martin Sturm and Aunt Lany had the following children:  Sam, Amos, Will, Jake, Mary and Catherine.

Martin Sturm died in 1879.  As it was told to me, Jessie Gainer, brother-in-law to Martin Sturm, visited Mr. Sturm while he was on his death bed and asked him where he would like to be buried.  Mr. Sturm said, "Up on the hill, but there is no church up there."  Mr. Gainer told him that if the Lord would let him live, he would see that a church was erected.  Martin Sturm was buried up on the hill and was the first person buried in St. Paul cemetery.  Mr. Gainer, with others, erected the St. Paul church some few years later.

Amos Sturm, son of Martin, married Martha Fowler, and they had one daughter, Frances, who married my brother, Ivan Umstead.

Will Sturm married a Durst.  Some of their children are:  Mrs. Paul Slider, Mrs. Bessie Roberts, Mrs. Andrew Starcher, Mrs. Walter Scott, and Lonie married Ed Starcher and lives at Hur.  Sam Sturm lived in Oklahoma.  Catherine married a Stout, Laura Kerby, long time postmaster at Mt. Zion, was a daughter.  Jake Sturm, I believe, married a Yeager, and their children are:  Berta, Hester, Letha, Josie, Opal, Lyman, Clay and Lennie.

Elizabeth and Solomon Wilson

Elizabeth, better known as Aunt Bett, married Solomon Wilson, and they were the parents of Clay, John H., Sam and Charles.  As I was told by a relative and others, Aunt Bett gave birth to Charles when she was past 50 years of age and that she delivered the child herself, preparing supper for her husband afterwards.  Aunt Bett was a midwife and she delivered more babies, perhaps, than most doctors did back in those days.  I do not know much about the children, but know that Sam lived at Russett, where he conducted a store for many years.  One of his daughters, Lake, married Lee Fogle.

Other Gainers

I might state here that John Gainer, whom I made mention as father of Ivy Gainer, also had other children, namely:  George, Otha, and Eva.  George married Fay Fowler and they had a daughter, Velta.  After George's death, Fay married Austin Riddle.  Eva married George Kerby, father of Willard Kerby.  George Kerby lived in Grantsville and was janitor of the high school and post office for many years.

I would also like to mention that Willis and Nancy Digman Stalnaker had other sons whom I did not name because I had no other information about them.  They are:  Ahab, Samuel, and Charles; and other children about whom I had no information are:  Sally, Charity, Mary and whom I did mention.

On Pine Creek

It might be interesting to hear some of the happenings that took place back there a hundred years or more ago.  It was told that people had no lights to travel by, and made torches of shingles.  After the St. Paul church was erected, the Polings from the Sycamore country would attend big meetings, bringing shingle torches which they would set up at various places to guide the way back.  They would walk across the mountains, through the cleared places, setting up a torch along the way.

Grant Roberts, who is 93 years old, told me Jessie Gainer had the first lantern he ever saw, and the first on Pine creek.

When the church was built, Sam Gainer fell from the roof to the ground but was not hurt badly.  As the forest was felled, they logged the logs to the stream by oxen and floated them down Pine Creek to the river where they were rafted.

Around the turn of the century, my father, who had a general store at Mt. Zion, was also engaged in extensive timber business.  Mr. Roberts said he had floated many a log down Pine Creek for him.  When I was a very small boy I remember the Hathaway boys, Curt, Oscar and Dock, transporting logs, on sleds, over the big snows.

And to add a sport note, I remember when stores bought rabbits and shipped them out to markets.  Boys would have ferrets and when the big snows came, they would take a ferret out, put it in the holes and catch the rabbits as the ferret chased them out.  Thousands of rabbits were caught and sold each winter, and it seemed the more caught, the more there would be the following winter.  We carried the ferret in a little pouch, usually made from the leg of our overalls.