Sampling of emails I've received over the years concerning the McComas Memories website
enjoy them as I have. 
 Pat "Spicer" Smith
Hey Patty,                       Sun 9/16/2007 9:56 AM
Been a while  since I have checked your web site. Johns Dad  passed away Aug .2 and had been in , in-home hospice for awhile so been pretty tied up.
Just read about Ralphs brother Dale Shrewsberry. Went to school with both of them.
Do you remember helping me get in touch with Jean MacMillan that was my best friend in school? Well, I talked to her at the time and wrote her, sent cards, etc. I found she was not responding as her health was so bad. She passed away a few days before we had our 50th School Reunion last year.(June 2006). I  did not know and sent her a Christmas card last year and her daughter called and told me. So it was a sad, sad thing for me to hear. She was the sweetest person I knew in school.
Hope you and your family are doing good. Our next family reunion will be 2008 and hope  to see you there. We will be in touch  when we get a date.
I do have so many  memories of McComas. I remember the little shoe repair shop accross the road from the RR station. He was a nice little man. I use to stop to say hello to him sometimes  when I did not have repairs to pick up. I can't remember any pictures of it  being  around, do you have any? The RR station is a big memory. We use to ride the train to Montcalm to see aunt Berdie Aust and Aunt Dora Scott. (Moms sisters) Both being your kin as well.
Well will sign off and will be happy to hear from you anytime you have the time,
love cuz Esther (Thompson) Hammitt

Mon 4/25/2005 9:23 PM

Great site you have there, gave me a warm feeling just to see the names of the staff and an even warmer feeling when I think of the students I knew there.

I am Ted G. Byrd and I came to McComas High School in January of 1954 to teach math and science.  The principal then was John W. Magann who was the best school man I ever met.

I taught and coached there until I was made principal for the 1959-60 school year which turned out to be the last year for McComas High.

The Ralph Byrd you listed just under my name should be Ralph S. Bird, principal at Matoaka High School for many years.  He was never at McComas.

Thank you kindly for the many pleasant memories you brought to my mind.

Patty,    Sun 7/29/2007 12:26 PM 

Here are some photographs taken by my daughter and grand daughter on a May 2007 trip to visit Jackie's (Curran Howard) sister, Marie Howard in WV.  I asked them to make sure they visited Uncle Marshall McMillan and his sister Aunt Myrtle East at Windmill Gap. They had a great trip.

The Windmill Gap Country Store has been moved across the road to the southwest of where it has been located for several years.  There were too many 4 wheelers blocking traffic and now they have a little more parking room.  Enjoy the photographs.

 Gordon Howard

McMillan's new TRAILER store on Windmill GapMarshall & Myrtle McMillan

Sent: Saturday, April 21, 2007 6:22 PM
Subject: Crane Creek Pics 1971

Hi Pat,

           My name is Keith Rogers,  I used to be good friends with your brother Mickey.  I graduated in 1967 from Bramwell High.  I now live in Vale, NC since 1985.  You probably don't remember me,  but I used to stay with Mickey sometimes at your grandparents.  I had a lot of good times with Mickey,  thumbing to Bramwell,  going to the movies.  The last time I remember seeing you was I think the summer of 1966.  You had come over to your grandparents, I think you had a brown dodge car,  and Mickey and I were splitting wood and put it under the porch.  I remember I had good times at McComas,  I remember a lot of people who lived there.  My dad and brothers still live up Pinnacle Holler.  There are only 2 houses up there now.

         The pictures that I'm sending you were took in my dads truck coming from Crane Creek #11 mines while I was home on leave from the Air Force in the fall of 1971.  They're a little blurry,  but I thought you might like to look at them.  There are a couple pictures of the Tipple/ the post office/ #11 cutting machine/a scoop they used to haul coal with/ one picture of waiting on the train in the evening/ one of the entrance of Pinnacle Hallar, you can see the house Danny Brock used to live in.

         I have been looking at your website the past 2 years and I have really enjoyed keeping up to date on your website. 

              - Keith Rogers



Hello Pat, I was pleased to get you email. Yes you have the right family. Eilene is my oldest sister.

Hazel was next. Then Robert and Russell. Then Connie and myself.  We lived in two houses on that hill. that I can remember. With such a large family everytime a larger house came open we moved. We also lived on the "Coke road" We called it, in the row between the Brady's and Inez and Carlo Fuda. I think. and in a house on the other side of the hill after the tipple burned. I think the family next to us was the Lee's. I can't remember the other peoples name.

I was born in March of 1951. And we moved to that area from Browning and Lambert Mt. when I was about a year old.  I had just finished the second grade when we left. So I guess we were there about 7 years or more.

Russell pass away about 12 years ago. But the rest of my brother and sisters are getting together weekend after next. We'll talk about submitting something when we get together. I know Eilene and Hazel have both visited your sight. I have passed the web site along to them  Eilene was the only one of our family to graduate from McComas.

I talked to Hazel over the weekend and your web site

was on discussion. We enjoyed it.   Thanks again.

Debbie M. Thorne Keys.           Tue 8/8/2006 9:40 PM

           PAT          Tue 6/12/2007 10:24 AM
       Let me introduce myself first and then tell you about myself. My name is Ryland Sizemore and I grew up at Thomas across the creek from your Grandfather and Grandmothers house. I grew up with your Mother and her brothers and sisters. My Father was the tipple boss at Thomas from1930 until 1945.
      I have a yearbook from MHS dated 1945 and a 8 by10 photo of the graduating class of 1948 from  MHS  with every one identified. I attended Pinnacle Elementary, Mora School and MHS. We moved from there in June of 1945 to Martinsville Va. and I live in Newport News va. presently. I have really enjoyed browsing through all the information that you have on the internet. If you could tell me how to get the pictures and information to you I will send you copies of all the information that I have.
   Talk to your uncle Luther and he can tell you a lot about us growing up together. Looking forward to providing you with information that I have.

     Ryland Sizemore


  Hi Pat   Sun 6/17/2007 11:56 AM
       It was good to hear from you an was surprised to find out that we live near each other. The next time that you and Jim come to Fort Eustis, please stop by because I have a lot of information and pictures that you can select from to add to your Web Site.
        Looking forward to seeing you and Jim.

      Ryland    Sizemore


Sun 5/14/2006 12:58 PM

Hi Patty

My brother Cork and I are enjoying your site. Our Dad was, of course, teacher and coach at McComas for a while (Howard Conner)... 

Cork and I have both taught and coached for a very long time... both overseas for Dept of Defense schools and me here in Oklahoma... also  Kansas and Tennessee for Cork.

Pete the barber was our "uncle" and lived with my papa and granny... and me  on Lorten Lick rd near Montcalm/Bluewell...  he died at Moosehaven Nursing home in Jacksonville, Fl. around 1993 or so.

Dad died of a heart attack at age 38 in Wellsburg.

As soon as I win the powerball lottery I plan on resurrecting the skyway drivein... while returning home to West Virginia permanently.

keep us informed; thanks for doing this

Jimmy Conner-Garvie                     Cork Conner
Oklahoma                                     Tennessee          

From: Rodney Hedrick

Sent: Friday, June 06, 2003 4:04 PM

Subject: Crane Creek & McComas

We moved to Crane Creek in 1944, I went to that school just up the road from the Company Store across from the Mariotta. When Television came out they were the first family to get one, they would let us kids sit out on the porch and watch it, when they were ready to go to bed they would close the drapes.

We moved to Montcalm in 1952 my Dad got a check for Black Lung for $500 he bought a 4 room house and 3 1/2 acres. We dug our well 37 feet deep by hand and cleared enough land for our garden.

My brother Houston Hedrick was shoot by Bobby Berry in 1948 over a bag of candy. He died about a week later.

When I was 13 in 1956 I ran away from home and joined the Army, don't know how I ever got away with that.

The Mountains have never left me, I recently bought 68 acres in Montcalm and will be returning there when I retire which is anytime now.

My Mom and Dad did fare much better later in life, my Dad got hurt at a job in Herndon, Va. With his disability and his Black Lung check he was clearing $4000 a month, they moved to Florida, my Dad died in 1988, my Mom in 1999.

He always said that he Loved West Virginia, but just couldn't make a living there.

I had some relatives that lived on Wind Mill Gap, Andy Hodges family.

I may find the weather rough when I go back, but I will be retired so I shouldn't have to get out in the snow that much, I have lived here in Phoenix, Arizona for the past 30 years. I have one sister that lives in Harrisonburg, Va 2 sisters and a brother that live in Florida, I think I am the only one that wants to go back to West Virginia.

I ran across your site by accident, thought it was fantastic, never would have dreamed that I would find anything about those small places. Memories run deep and as tall as those beautiful Mountains. I have only been back there about 4 times in 40+ years, found the property that I bought on the Internet, just a stroke of Luck. Dirt cheap too.


I really enjoyed the website about McComas. Great Job and I love the pictures. I was also surprised to read my son's great grandfather's name (John Imhoff railroad engineer) on the site. I have some pictures of him with his train if you are interested. I can scan them in or whatever you prefer as long as I get them back. Let me know. Great Site!!!

Denise Smith

Rocky Gap, VA

Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2003 10:57 AM

Greetings.  I very much enjoyed reading your site on McComas.  I grew up at Weyanoke, from 1947 until 1967.  I believe the older sister of Sybil Steel, Della Kaye, married my cousin, Jerry Siner.  She must have married one of the Brownings who lived just across from where I was born.

My dad, Roy White, went to Conner School for all his 8 years of education.  He and I went up on Conner Mountain over 20 years ago, trying to find where the school had sat, but it was so grown up he was not really sure where it had been.  He would have loved to have seen that picture you have of the school.  He died 9 years ago.

Fascinating looking at all that history.  Hard to believe that it all happened, in a way.  The mines were not there, the mines were there, and now they are not there any more.

Danny White

Hi, again.  My dad told me a story about the names Odle and O'dell, and I noticed some even had O'dle.  He was great friends with the Odle boys when they were growing up and going to Conner school.  They didn't live far apart.  The Whites rented a log house from Conner for a few years, and the Odles lived on north of them a bit, I think.  Anyway, the story was that a teacher told the Odles that their name was spelled wrong, and really should be O'Dell, as an Irish name.  So some of them changed to O'Dell.

Of course, I don't know if my dad got that story right, and I don't know if I remember it right, but I believe that's what he said.  He didn't think much of the idea of them changing their name.  I have seen the name Odle as a Swiss name, where it would have been Germanic.

My aunt Ella Mae told me that our name was actually Weiss, and that when they came over to the US he changed the name to White, which is what Weiss is in German.  Apparently way back they had a house burn, I think somewhere around Covel, and lost the family Bible which was in Deutsch or German.  Nobody else in our family has heard that story, and I think they think I'm nuts when I mention it.

I was looking at the map of the King Coal Highway, linked from the Bluefield paper.  Is that road going on Conner Mountain by Weyanoke, or will it be one ridge over?

Danny White

Tue 4/12/2005 10:23 PM

Liked  your  web  site , went through  McComas  many times .

IOld Flying Clipper Bus drove  for  Consolidated Bus  Lines from 40s to 56 , it was changed to  Trailways around 54 We had a  run that turned around at Mc Comas  and  I ran  the run  from  Bluefield  to  Mullens by way  of  Mc comas  and  Matoka ( what a  road)  remember  Wardens  store  some  where  there. I live in  Beckley now  retired  from Sears

Keep up the good  work

Wilford  Shumate

Patty,                            Wed 5/30/2007 2:45 PM

A few weeks ago I was thinking about something of historical interest of the McComas area that would be something that faded into the past.  I remembered there was a bus that ran between Bluefield and McComas.  I talked with Marie Curran Howard, Jackie's sister, this morning and asked her about the bus.  She told me the bus started running when she was a teenager.  This would be around 1940 and I know that it was still running when Jackie and I moved from VA to CA in late 1955.  This bus was, for a lot of folks, their primary method of transportation between McComas and Bluefield.  She told me at some point in time the bus ran as far as Mullens in Wyoming County.  The last bus for the day left Bluefield changed a couple times.  She remembers when the last bus was at 9:00 pm and I remember in 1951, the last bus left Bluefield at 8:00 pm.  Marie also told me a Mr. Craft was either the owner or manager of the bus line.  Hopefully there is someone out there that may know more details of the bus line.  In fact, you may know more about it than I do.

Gordon Howard

Sat 1/3/2004 6:00 PM

John & Mabel Sanders were my grandparents's (Charles & Viola Bird)Charles & Viola Bird best friends.  They lived near us.  My earliest memories were visiting them.........people visited back then.  Mrs. Sanders had a large spinning wheel that I always looked at and wanted to touch but didn't dare.  I had to go with my grandparents and sit still while they talked. 

Please let me know when you do the makes me tear up to think of them.

Thanks.  Sandy (Bird Porterfield)

Sun 2/29/2004 11:06 PM

Well, Patty, I finally found a photo of the McComas Post Office!  It is a newspaper photo so it isn't great quality.  Also, in case you ever want to use it here is a photo of my grandparents, Charles Cromwell Bird and Viola Rose Scott Bird.  It was taken in their yard in Crane Creek.  The house in the background belonged to the Watkins.......I don't know their first names except that their daughter was Dana.

Well, I hope the photo is ok.



Sun 3/23/2003 11:42 PM

Hi Patricia,

My name is Diana and I live in Orlando.  I was born in Bluefield WV, and although I have lived in Orlando for way too long, my heart and soul will always belong to WV.  I was 'linking' to sites from the Bramwell site and came upon your web pages.  I have been sitting here for the past 3 hours literally reliving my fondest memories of where I lived until my parents moved us to Florida to try and provide a better life.

My dad worked the coal mines at Sagamore, where we also lived for several years; my dad was born in Bluefield; my mom was born at Goodwill, one set of grandparents lived in Montcalm and the other set lived in Duhring; and the most treasured memories I have are of those years of living in WV.  

The best teacher that ever impacted my life was William A. Anderson, who taught me and 10 other 'students' for three consecutive years (4th through 6th grades). 

But I digress..the reason for this email was to ask if you had a contact email for Gina Brugnoli.  She and her father Gino knew my mom and dad (James "Jim" and Zola Davis) as they lived beside us on Lorton Lick Road prior to us moving to Florida.    I would love to get in touch with her if at all possible.

I want to thank you for the beautiful website you have created.  There are pictures there that brought tears to my eyes, places that I remember as if it was only yesterday that I was there. 

Although circumstances have prevented my returning to WV to live out my 'old' age, I will always forever live and die with her in my heart.  To me there is no beauty that can compare to that which is found in WV. 

Again, thank you for the journey back in time, May God Bless, Diana Lashmen

Mon 1/17/2005 2:39 PM  My name is Bob Sutherland and My brother is James Sutherland. You can't believe how happy I was to see the picture of Sue Cole and James on the web site. James passed away just last week (Jan 10th 2005) He would have really got a kick out of that picture. If Sue Cole has a web site please send it to me. Thanks for all your work.

Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2004 6:00 PM

Subject: McComas where I lived

I lived in McComas for the first 20 years of my life.  First I lived in Hoot Owl Hollow, then Red Hollow, then Pinnacle.

I attended grade school at Crane Creek, then Pinnacle School then Mora Grade School.  I graduated from McComas High School in l948.

I worked part of my senior year testing coal at Pinnacle, working for H. LeRoy Sale, a previous teacher at McComas.  He was a great gentleman.  I had two brothers, Joseph and James who were in WWII, seeing action in Africa and in Italy and Germany.  A sister, Margaret, was in the Army during the war and later was recalled during Korea.  Joe retired from the Air Force after 22 years.  I left McComas in l950 for good, having joined the Navy and served twenty years.  During that time and later, I lost contact with any acquaintances in WV.   My family served a total of 52 years active duty in the Military,  three brothers-in-law added another l0 years active service.  In reading the McComasWV article, I knew Agatha Hughes, my 8th grade English teacher, John McGann,  Wayne Bailey and others.  But with being away for so long, my memory slips.

My grandfather was a Purdy, who lived in Hoot Owl Hollow.  He had a son, James Philip Purdy. 

I did attend finally, a reunion in l996.  I was fortunate to learn about the reunions held.  We had a class (50th) reunion in l998.

It was a pleasure to see them again (at least those still living). 

After I retired from the Navy in l970, I made my home in Raleigh N.C.  I later retired altogether in l992.  I had moved 40 miles north of Raleigh to Henderson, N.C., and that is my location as of now.

You may or may not be interested in this.  I do have a photo of my l948 graduating class, if you want one, or you may already have a copy. 

I lived a short distance from Ann Sanders and also the Short family, some of which worked at the Pinnacle Store.

Hope this is of interest.             Bob Kingan

Sat 1/1/2005 9:43 PM  Pat - Reading your email brought back some memories that I believe I had forgotten.  I remember the names, Spicer, Harmon, Farrington (I could not remember that on my map).  I remember the Henry Warden house although I am not sure just which one it was.

My Dad may have been drawn to the coal mines by the advertisement in the l924 Bluefield.  He had lived in Virginia and arrived in WV about that time.

I saw the house on the map where I used to live in Pinnacle, the 3rd house.  I don't remember much about the GOB newspaper - there was a person that lived in Princeton that was doing McComas history.  I believe his name was Bailey.

I am not sure you got all my emails.  About Frank Moses, about Billy Jean being first married to Carl Short, not Doug.  Other information.

I worked at the Crane Creek Tipple for a short time, it must have been in the fall of l949.  That was a recession period and I was laid off for the second time in a short period.  I saw the writing on the wall and soon left.  Life for us was tough and it was nice to be in a better life, although the memories are good (and bad).

Do you remember a man named Glenn Eanes?  He lived in your area but left McComas before me.  He was a relative.

And do you remember a Worley (preacher) in your area?  He had two kids.

Talk later.                          Bob Kingan

Sun 12/12/2004 4:59 PM

Patricia - To get pictures of my family that served in the military - go to - bring up Kingan, Joseph then Kingan, James P. - next Green, Margaret Kingan then her husband, Green Donald O.  My sister's husband was Hallagin, Chester.  Some of the photos may not be real good.  To get my picture go to and bring up Kingan, Robert M.  The only one who served but not listed was my other sister (Virginia)'s husband whose name was Roat, Donald.  He served after WWII in the Navy.

I am not too talented in using the computer yet, so you will have to give me an address to send the l948 graduation class photos.

If you want to have any other information I may have, maybe you can give me a hint as to what that may be.

The Joe Camerosi (sp) that you mentioned - if he is the same one I knew - we at one time double dated with some of the WV ladies.                         Bob Kingan

From: Patricia Smith

Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2005 1:30 PM


Subject: hello

Hi Gary:  I just found your website while searching on the web.

I'm Patricia "Spicer" Smith born and raised at McComas (Thomas), WV.  I attended school at Pinnacle, McComas, and my last 3 years at Bramwell.

I now maintain a website and I plan to link your site on mine.  Maybe you would like to link mine back. 

So happy to see someone has become innovative and generate a business in our old hometown area.  I wish you well.

My husband now owns his fathers farm at Beartown (Wyoming Co) and we get back there and reopen the house and stay several times a year.  Work ourselves to death cutting grass and general maintenance.  We still have many family members in the area.  I also correspond with many old-timers who once lived in and around McComas during its boom years - including many from the Windmill Gap area.  My aunt Elsie Bailey still lives at Pinnacle she was married to Charlie Bailey son of Levi Edward of Windmill Gap.  Gracie Walker Huffman was married to my uncle Troy Huffman - she grew up on Windmill Gap.  Also Bettie Cox (daughter of Charlie Cox) was married to my uncle Luther Huffman.  As a young child I use to come up and stay on the Cox farm with Bettie.

I correspond with Gordon Howard husband of Jackie Curran Howard (who passed away in Dec).  Seems like she was related to many of the folk on Windmill Gap and he talks of the McMillan Store.  He has submitted many articles & pictures for my website.

Again happy to see your site and good luck with your business!

Patty "Spicer" Smith

formerly of McComas now retired and recently relocated to Walkerton, VA (near Richmond)

Mon 1/17/2005 8:36 PM
Hi Mrs. Smith,

Good to hear from you!  I will add your link to the BDR web page.  I'm sure you know some of my family: Rita, Jerry, Jim,Sue,J.T.,Kaye,and Greg.  My parents were Joe and Ruth Bailey.  Bettie Cox is a good friend of the family.  Charlie was my Sunday School Teacher and a great American.  Please feel free to call.  304 920 7506 day and 304 384 7573 evemings.  Would like to chat about your site.  Thanks!


Gary Lionel Bailey


Sun 4/9/2006 10:34 AM

Dear Patty,

It is true that much activity is going on around the old mines. 

Unfortunately, this is not good news for the area.  The abandoned mines are not actually being reopened, though.  Instead, 4 new mines are in the works. 

One mine (Belcher Branch South) is currently in the prospect phase meaning that less than 250 tons of coal have been mined.  It is well on its way, though, to becoming fully functional.  In addition to that mine, three permits have been approved for another underground mine and two surface mines in the area.  They are the Godfrey Branch Prospect, McComas Point Surface, and McComas Surface Mine No. 1.  They will probably be up and running within the year.

I really love what you have done with your website.  I'm from this area and have been working the past few years to learn as much as I can about its history.  Your website has helped me out quite a bit with that.  The differences between the King Coal days of the past to today is astonishing. 

Time has literally stopped here in the mountains and those few that are still here seem to be forgotten by everyone else.

In May I will be receiving my Masters degree in Health Promotion from Virginia Tech.  The sole reason I pursued this is so I can help stop the relentless environmental damage done by those that take what they want from the Mercer

County coal fields and leave its people to pick up the pieces.   Your website

has provided me with a treasure chest of knowledge of the area, its people, and its past.  For that I would like to say thank you!


Tonya Hart

Tue 1/3/2006 6:03 PM


I love browsing your web-site, every time I LEARN SOMETHING NEW.   I see a lot of the graduating classes from McComas are missing.  I have a picture of the 1941 class if you are interested.  just tell me where to send it. Carl O'Donnell

March 13, 2006 2:28 PM

Hi Pat   

Just wanted to say thank you for adding my brother and his class as part of the history of McComas high school. my sister-in-law was very happy  to see him become part of McComas history.  Keep up the good work.  Carl O'Donnell


Carl:  I'm  happy that you supplied the new photos. 

Did I ask you if you know James O'Donnell.  I went to school with him there at McComas from around 1957-1960.  He lived at Crystal on the hillside above the train tracks where the road started up the Crystal Mtn.


Yes I knew james, I know him as Bud, he is the son of my first cousin Shannon, who incidentally was named after my father Shannon.  When we lived in Crystal in the 40's, we lived in the house beside Godfrey Church of Christ.   We then lived several places between Crystal and Montcalm, until my father died in1950, I then went to live with Ed who was married then, and we moved to Delaware, wher I attended High School and U of D.  I worked for Dupont in Marketing until 1986 when I took early retirement, and moved here in Florida.  End of bio. 


Wed 2/8/2006 7:32 PM Subject:  Moyer Martins Store

Hello James:  This is Patty "Spicer" Smith webmaster of  I don't know if you remember me or not but I grew up at Thomas(es) and my mother use to bring me into your parents store there in Thornhill lots before she died in 1957.  She was Helen Huffman married to Bill (Willie) Spicer.  I think you graduated there at McComas the year I was in the 7th or 8th grade.  Barbara Huffman and Roger Bailey were 2 of my cousins I know you knew them.  My younger brother Mickey went to school with your younger brother Darryl.  Such a tragedy with both our brothers.  Mine died of accidental carbon mionixide poisoning in 1970 while stationed with the AF at Osan Korea. 

Which store are you referring to the one at Thornhill or did Moyer have another one before that?  Was the one in Thronhill directly beside your parents store where your father later had his garage?  I was looking at the 1910 census last night and say Moyer and family there at McComas near my relatives. 

Did you see the listing on my website of a furniture receipt that my aunt Elsie Huffman and her husband Charlie Bailey still had where they bought their furniture to set up housekeeping.  Cecil Martin sold them the items from Moyer Martin's store. 

I think your granddaughter emailed me once upon a time when she located the website.  Since the late 90's when I first started the site I've received hundreds of emails from many who once lived there or are their offspring.  Not one negative email they all have fond memories to share and I've hearing from all of them. 


Wed 2/8/2006 7:32 PM


     Was so nice to hear from you.  I'm sorry I confused you, but I am Moyer's youngest son, Jim, and Cecil was my brother.  I have scanned all the information you have on your web site; however, the receipt that you refer to I could not get to come up on my computer.  In one of the pictures on the site, there is a picture of our store which was a general merchandise store started in 1918; it is the last building as you are going up the road, kind of elongated toward the railroad. 

     I would love to have a copy of that picture if you could tell me who supplied it to you. 

     Yes, seems like so many people lost loved ones in all these dreaded wars.  Aunt Ruth, Nina's sister, lost a grandson in Viet Nam.  He was getting ready to get on helicopter to come home and was shot by a sniper.

      Thanks for getting back to me and I don't know if you knew me or not, since I'm kinda getting to be an old codger, now.  I think you must be a good deal younger than me.

      Keep up the good work on the site and we'll keep in touch.


Mon 2/6/2006 9:12 PM


Wed 2/1/2006 7:35 PM

Hi Patty,

Thanks to Ward Cole looking for information on the Cox connection I was able to view your site...Very impressive. My brother in law, Doug Belcher is from McComas, His sister Janice who married JB Shelton was in my class at Bramwell 1961. I'm not sure if you have attended the Bramwell summer reunions but I hope to see you there July 28-30 this year. 

I was Linda Estep, lived in the house on the right hand side of the curve going up to the school from Rt. 52 (the house burned down after we were gone). My family all migrated to VA. in the 60's and 70's. My brother Ted, married to Charlotte Clark of Montcalm lives in Lynchburg as do Bobbie Lou and Doug Belcher. Our sister Pat, married to Buzzy Dawson lives in Richmond. My husband, Don Miles (BHS class of 1960 joined the AF so we traveled for 21 years after marrying in November 61 (after I graduated in May). We retired in Virginia Beach early 80's and I now travel about 100 days per year with my business started in 1978. ( an Sorry to know your brother (also AF) was killed at an early age. He was such a handsome young man.

I thought of all our friends and family in WV during that awful mine accident. My dad stripped coal out of the side of the mountains and it was equally dangerous that that heavy equipment did not plunge over the mountains they were mining. So very sad...but it made us all stronger because we come from hard-working stock!

Write back if you have time. I'm off to Michigan tomorrow to speak for 400 dentists and staff and home Friday night at midnight.

Much appreciation for keeping the Bramwell/McComas spirit alive on your site.

Linda Estep Miles

BHS Class of 1961           

Tue 10/11/2005 9:35 PM  My mother Daisy Burgess attended McComas High, she lived on Windmill Gap all her life, she passed away in Jan. and my father Bobby Burgess passed away in Feb. I think I saw her picture in the choir of McComas High . Thank you for all these great pictures and links to the area I also has some pictures of thier elementary school if you get this write back and I'll send them to you

                        Karen Burgess Friedberg

Tue 5/3/2005 7:26 AM



                                                                              THANK YOU FOR YOUR SIGHT.

                                                                                         JODY LAMBERT

Thu 11/4/2004 9:50 PM  From Terry Shinshock

Hi. I have a few photographs for you.  Please feel free to use them if you like.  The young man playing basketball is my father Jerry Shinshock.  He graduated in 1956.  The young boy and girl in the one photo is my father again and his younger sister Frances (Smith).  They both grew up in Crane Creek. The photo was taken in Thornhill at their grandparents.  The last picture is of the Reds baseball team from the 20's in Welch.  If you have any idea why they are wearing holsters with guns in their hands I would love to know as would the rest of the family.  That picture came from my uncle Sammy and I don't know where he got it or the story behind it.  I thought you may get a chuckle out of it. I think it is pretty funny.  My mother looked at your picture on your site and she knows she should know you but I can't seem to jog here memory.  I'll keep looking for some more pictures for you.  My grandmother would be the one who would have the most.  Also, I have one grandmother Irene Shinshock (Becorest) who grew up in McComas during W.W.II and she kept a scrap book of all the young men from McComas who went off to fight the war.  She kept all the old newspaper clippings.  She died back in the 80's from liver cancer.  I would be happy to scan some of them for you if you are interested in seeing them. Thanks, Terry.      

Wed 10/20/2004 6:06 PM

Patty I talked to my parents and my grandmother, Anna Mae Barlow (King). My dad Jerry said all the names were familiar.  He said the girl he took to his high school prom was named June Eanes and thinks she lived right behind the Thomas Company Store; and he also remembers a Loraine Eanes.  My grandmother remembers everyone's name, she of course knew Charlie Bailey.  Actually, I remember the name because on one of our family trips back to Mercer County I can remember my grandmother mentioning the fact that he had passed away.  My mother Margaret can't seem to remember anyone specifically but she did say the names were familiar.  My mother lived in Thomas Hollow and at one time in one of those houses in the picture you have of the Pinnacle company houses.  She attended elementary school in Pinnacle, but when she was of age to attend high school her family had moved to Bluefield.  She used to pull tadpoles out of the creek than ran through Thomas Hollow.  She remembers all the adults use to tell the kids that "Bloody Bones" would get them if they played near the mine.  Terry.


Sat 9/11/2004 9:56 PM  Hi, my name is Jennifer East and I wanted to say thank you for the McComas website!  My dad grew up on Windmill Gap and he really enjoyed looking at all the old pictures.  He was even in one of them!  Thank you so much!  Jennifer East

Sat 8/14/2004 8:34 PM

  I'm sorry it took me so long to answer, but I work 10 hour days, and also take classes at the college.

  I am the youngest daughter of Alma Gills and  George Robert Mills. I noticed that on the 1930 census, they were living with my Grandparents, William Mack and Mattie Gills. They had her name as Elma.

  Yes my Grandparents use to live in a cabin, and I was born on the next hill.I was born in 1945. I don't remember them living there, but my brother and sister do.I remember them living in a big white house, on the hill above the train depot, in Montcalm.

  My mother died when I was eight years old. I went to live with my Mother's sister Ruby, who had moved to Arizona. When I was 11, I  was adopted by a family who also was from West Virginia. They knew both my Mills and Gills Grandparents.Even though I was adopted,  they always brought me to see my Grandparents.My Grandpa Mills is in the picture on your website of the 1937 Crane Creek Mine. He was the tipple foreman. He has on  bib overalls and is standing out in front.

  I remember going to my Aunt Jenny's house when I was little. I remember Mildred (who stayed with my Grandmother alot) and Juanita. I can't remember any of the other children. I have lost all contact with my cousins. I think my brother goes to see Juanita and her brother when he goes to W.Va. This is what I have on the children of William Mack Gills and Mattie Florence (Hubbard) Gills.

Dora Mae Gills b.1898 m. William Harv. Gillenwater

Virginia Belle Gills b. 1902 m. John Oswald Rogers

Louis Ramon Gills b.1906 unmarried

Mamie A. Gills b. 1908 m. Johnny Spicer

Lola Gills b. 1909 m. Johnny Spicer

Alma Gertrude Gills b. 1910 m. George Robert Mills

Robert Melvin Gills b. 1914 m. Minnie Perdue

Mable Corrine Gills b. 1918 (died at 13)

Ruby F. Gills b. 1919 m. Elbert Roberts.

This is all I have. I hope this helps in some way. Thanks for your information. I don't have a 1930 census, so it was nice seeing my Mom, Dad, and sister Helen on the information you sent me. My sister Helen died when she was 24. My sister died ,and my Mother died 45 minutes later. I have a sister Shelby Jean that lives in Tucson Arizona, and a brother Edward Earl Mills that lives in New Jersey for six months, and the other six months he lives up on Pipestem at Indian Meadows. Keep in touch.


Sat 7/31/2004 10:39 PM  Jeanne Holzmann
Thank you so much for doing the web site.  I heard about it today at the family reunion from my cousin, one of the daughters of Lois Helmandollar.  I am the daughter of Curtis Helmandollar and Frances Lawrence.  How excited I was to first find a picture of my grandfather, Abe Lawrence, playing rook, and then to be remembered myself after all these years by Cynthia.  Please forward this email to her since I am the one and only Jeannie Mae Helmandollar she speaks of.   My dad (Curtis) had a phenomenal memory.  He made a map of all the houses in McComas and listed the names of every person who lived in each house.  It's on a large piece of cardboard and I don't know what to do with it.  Any suggestions?  Jeanne Helmandollar Holzmann, Salem, Va.

"I am Cynthia Lou Tanner Harper, first child of Ann and Richard Tanner. My mother was John and Mabel Sanders second daughter, Ann. I spent so much time with my grandparents my Papaw said I was the “fifth daughter.” ................A lot of my early childhood memories are from my time in McComas. Waiting for the train to go by and blow the whistle, playing on the front porch and hoping Jeannie Mae Helmandollar. or Judy Cole could come and play dolls with me."

Dear Pat       Thu 11/27/2003 8:08 PM

I just discovered your website.  Great job!  I was born in McComas and graduated from    Mc Comas High School in 1949. Everything on your website is very familiar to me.  I have a lot of old pictures and wonderful memories of life and old friends. 

I am in the class picture of  1949 submitted by Jackie Curran Howard. She identified me as Betty Horney.  My maiden name was Betty Harvey. I would appreciate it if you could correct the error.  I married Robert H. Young , who was from Princeton in 1951.  We moved to Orlando in 1957.  We now live in Eustis, Fl.

Thanks for all the work you did on the history of McComas.

Betty Harvey Young

Wed 11/19/2003 2:54 AM     I will probably not be much help to you and your research but I am going to tell you some things I know about my family and maybe we can help each other. First, my name is Bernard Earl Foy Jr.. My great great grandfather was Henry Hall. Apparently he owned a great deal of land. I saw his name mentioned on the page discussing the old cabin (Conner). Also my great great great grandfather may have been Sampson Taylor. My grandfather was name after his grandfather Lorenzo Taylor Minnick. I am unsure of the connection at this time, but am looking into it. In addition my parents both tell me they are 4th cousins(don't laugh), apparently the connection is Bailey.  

I know very little of the area. I am just now starting my research. This much I do know. Both of my great grand fathers were killed in mining accidents (Samuel Foy, and Rober Minnick) Both of my grandfathers contracted black lung from working in the mines and both survived awful accidents in the mines

Hi Patty:     Thu 10/9/2003 7:25 AM

    My dad grew up in McComas and attended McComas High.  My grandfather just recently passed away and still lived in McComas just beyond the location of the old school I think.  My grandparents were Eli and Bea Poore; I am the daughter of Linda and Roland Poore-Michelle Poore-Steele.

    I probably could get you lots of memorabilia from McComas to post because grandpa worked in the mines and used the company store for all there purchases.  I still go to McComas occasionally but looking at some of the photos posted it is hard to believe what it looks like now

Let me know if you would like for me to ask my dad about some of the McComas photos.  I do have a photo of one of my dad's elementary class photos that we enlarged for him many years ago.  I think my dad must have been in the 2nd or 3rd grade.  I would be glad to help... Do you live in the McComas area. My parents still live in Montcalm.    Michelle Poore-Steele

Maxine Bird on MHS stepsHi, Patty,         Wed 10/1/2003 3:22 PM

I was enjoying your site once again and noticed that you had a picture taken not too long ago of the steps of McComas High School.  I thought you might like to see this picture of my mother, Maxine Bird Brugnoli, taken on those steps when she was 18 in 1940.

Keep up the good work.

Gina Bocock

Pat:       Thu 9/11/2003 3:06 PM

    I only remember Larry Wellman. I know he had brothers and sisters but don't remember them.

    I am half way sure that it is Wayne Belcher that is in the picture.

    I started the Web Site for Princeton Speedway cause My Wife is a racing fan and I am not. That way we have something to enjoy together. My oldest son also races there.

    I went to Mora till the Sixth grade and then we moved away. We came back and I remember going to the High School when I was in the 8th or 9th grade. I also remember going to Wade and Ramsey Jr. High in Bluefield. My memory of the schools after we moved from McComas is a little hazy. I went to about 8 or 9 schools between 6th and 9th grade. We lived in one of the 2 houses right below the High School next to the tracks and the ball field, also called the Play Ground. Roops lived on the left and we lived on the right. My older Brother Wayne went to the High School and also my older Sister Norma Jean who also Married the Science and Shop Teacher Jack Graham, went there also. My Younger Sister Judy went to Mora but I don't think she went to the High School. I know she went to Montcalm High. Writing this sure brings back memories.

    I'm glad you marked some of the names on the photo. I thought that the one you marked as Judy Huffman was Anita Hundley from Thornhill. I have marked all of the ones that I remember right now. If I keep writing I may remember more.LOL

As Bob Hope Always Said Thanks For The Memories

Ted Black

From: Rodney Hedrick
Sent: Saturday, June 14, 2003 4:47 PM

Subject: Crane Creek

Do you have any pictures of the Elementary School at Crane Creek, it sat directly across from the Mariotta's house.  I lived there in Red Hollow and went to school there until we moved to Montcalm in 1952.  I have been back there a few times, I still have relatives that live on Wind Mill Gap, the Hodges family.  These stories and pictures sure bring back memories, I can remember when the Old Theater burned down in McComas.  I am 60 now, some of the names of places like Pinnacle I can't place, I think it was the upper road at Crane Creek.  Thanks for all you have done, I accidentally ran across this by Just typing McComas in the search bar.

From: Matt McComas
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 1:06 AM

Subject: Mrs. Smith

         To inform you on the little I know. Passed down through the generations of my family. I'd like to help and share my information on McComas, West Virginia. My father has always told how my great grandmother was the best at telling the story but I'll try my best to recant as much as possible. Rufus Allen McComas who you believe was the reason the town was changed to McComas in 1904 is true.

         His grandfather?! traveled with two other brothers from Scotland. Part of the McThomas clan. I may be a generation off on that one. But one brother went out west to what once was the new mexico territory and now is the current states of Arizona and New Mexico. That side of the family actually had some tragic incidents. Such as a run in with the Apaches in the early 1880's. (Interesting story if you can ever find any information on it) The other two brothers stayed in what is now west virginia. Rufus is a direct descendant of these two brothers left in the east. Once again I'm not sure on the exact details. Now my great grandparents who are now deceased were coal miners in the Kentucky / West Virginia region. They always talked on how they had a town named after my great grandfathers great great grandfather. If you understood that. We have the genealogy traced back and just recently (*within the past 2 years) have actually proven these stories we once thought as myths. If you need any other information just write back Id love to help. I just don't want to keep writing about something that may not interest you.

              Thank you for your time

                   Matthew McComas

Sent: Wednesday, March 19, 2003 7:28 PM

Subject: McComas Web Page

Dear Patty,

I wanted to let you know that I've been visiting and enjoying your web page.

I can tell you have a lot of work in this project and just wanted you to know that I've appreciated the information.

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself. I'm Tammy Martin Thomas, daughter of James Martin and Judy Clyburn Martin, son of Cecil and Bernice Martin.

I've had an interest in tracing my roots and today started pulling some web sites and was very shocked to see my Grandparents Store here along with my Grandfather's Memorial from the Paper

I live near Columbia, South Carolina, so it's hard for me to do much leg work so I was hoping to find valuable information through the internet. And of course I was surprised to find all your hard work.

I am going to look through some old pictures I have to see if I can find some of the old store the way it was when I was a little girl. Hopefully, I can find some that would fit and  I'll send them to you.

I have just started this hunt and know little to nothing past Moyer Martin, but hopefully I'll be able to find some interesting facts.

Once again, let me say you have made my day!!!!

Thanks,  Tammy Thomas