SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - George Richards' "Christianity In The Old Fashioned Way"

By Bob Weaver

George A. Richards came to the backwoods of Calhoun County in the late 19th century, and was a former sheriff of Calhoun. He was a merchant and businessman around Little Creek, Rowels Run and Grantsville. His early life was spent on Little Creek and later owned and operated the George A. Richards Department Store in Grantsville, formerly Wiant and Barr.

Shortly after returning to Calhoun, I spent time with one of my old school chums, Dr. Robert Snider, a grandson of Richards. Bob returned to Calhoun from Billings, Montana to do some family history and visit Little Creek and the family cemeteries.

He was just retiring from his medical practice as an orthopedic surgeon, and wanted to learn more about his family roots. Bob was a real gentlemen and a gracious man, who died suddenly shortly afterward of a heart attack.

George Richards was also the grandfather of my school friend, Vivian Richards, whose brother Bill is a world-class artist in New York.

Bob Snider was vaguely aware his grandfather had written a 145-page book in 1948 "Christianity in the Old Fashioned Way."

Richards wrote about his dedication to faith and the meaning of the family altar - and very little about the people and the places in the community. Actually, he didn't use people's names, which I thought would have been more interesting.

Here is a brief excerpt from his book, given to us by my friend Ron Lynch:

I am a native of West Virginia. My father moved from another section of the state to Calhoun County when I was a small child. He settled on a small creek in the midst of a timber forest of several hundred acres.

He owned and operated a saw mill. We had not lived there but a short time when other mills were brought in and quite a number of crude lumber camps were built so as to house the men's families that worked on the various mills.

There were quite a number of children in some of these new homes. The Board of Education built a one room school house (assume he is referring to Little Creek) and all the kids were proud over our new school building as most youngsters are today over a new high school building.

Above this timber forest on the head of the creek was a settlement of old pioneers that had moved in there several years before (probably the Stutlers). They had cleared up that part and had very nice farms with cattle grazing on the hill sides. About the midst of this improved section a log church had been erected. The logs had been squared and used double length so as to make a pretty fair sized building.

My mother being a highly devoted Christian, on hearing about the log church which was only one and one-half miles from our home, commenced making some investigation about the possibilities of a Sunday School. Since the spring season was near she thought it should be organized in the early spring so as to give the children that lived so far away the advantage of traveling to and from the church during the summer months.

As luck would have it one of these pioneer citizens, though up in years, had been a United Brethren preacher. He was a well educated for a man of his day and the people of the community had the utmost confidence in him for he was a real Christian man.

My mother and father contacted him and went over the Sunday School proposition with him. He seemed to be very anxious to organize since the lumber camps had added so many more children and adults to their number, consequently, a day was set which was for the next Sunday.

They all met and organized and appointed the United Brethren preacher as superintendent. My mother was elected teacher for the Primary Class of which I was a member."

George A. Richards (1880-1968) married Vernie Arthur (1886-1959) in 1905. George was the son of Dovener Richards, an early Calhoun settler.