Weekly Features

Doddridge County’s 1st High School Graduating Class–Historically Speaking

With the 2020 Seniors graduating and beginning their lives either continuing their education or joining the nation’s workforce, did you ever think about the first group of high school seniors to graduate from Doddridge County’s newly established high school?  I decided to do a little research on the matter and wanted to share it with all of you.

   I went to the museum to do a little research and found an interesting photograph of the 1st Graduating Class in Doddridge County hanging on the wall in the hallway at the entry of our chapel room.  However, this was not the Doddridge County High School Graduating Class of 1904, but rather it was the West Union High School Graduating Class of 1904.    That’s correct.  There was a West Union High School before there was a Doddridge County High School.  

   We can see by the photograph that the Graduating Class of 1904 consisted of only 3 students, Minnie R. Shannon on the left, George Truman Twyford in the middle and Bess C. Trough was on the right.

   Alright… now we know who they were, and we know the year was 1904.  One might begin to wonder what became of these young adults who were on the precipice of an exciting new life.  I, too, wondered and did some research on each of them.

   Miss Minnie Rebecca Shannon was born on August 9, 1885.  She was the daughter of Lewis and Mariah Duckworth Shannon, who lived in West Union District of Doddridge County.  

   After graduating from West Union High School, Miss Shannon was a teacher in West Union.  She met, and married Tennessee born John T Moore.  However, the year of that marriage was not located.  We do know that she moved to Battle Creek, MI and was living there with her husband in 1912 where he worked as a laborer. By the year 1935, Minnie and her husband were living at 3805 Yuma St. NW, Washington DC. She was working for the government and John was an elevator operator in the building where she worked until joining the U.S. Army in 1942 and serving in WWII.  Minnie had remained working for the U.S. Government as an auditor.  There is no record located that she had any children.  She died on October 23, 1979.  Her husband John died less than 2 months later.  They both died in Alexandria, VA and are buried in the Cedar Hill Cemetery at Suitland, Prince George County, MD.

   George Truman Twyford in the center of the photograph was the son of local businessman, George W Twyford and his wife, Lenora Alena Smith Twyford.  The Twyford family owned the Twyford Clothing Store on Main Street in West Union and resided in the beautiful two-story home on the west end of Main St. near the RR track.  You may remember it as the Cottage Corner Restaurant.  Young George Truman was born on August 3, 1885 at Hebron, Pleasants County, WV.  

   After graduation, George attended West Virginia University majoring in electrical engineering.  He married Zelma Isabel Hayhurst in 1919 at Wood County, WV.  He was employed with the West Penn Power and Light Company, Pittsburgh.  After the couple moved to Hagerstown, MD, George gained employment with the Potomac Edison Company where he worked for 31 years.  George and Zelma Hayhurst Twyford had 2 children, George Truman Twyford II and Emma Lenora.  George died on December 6, 1948 at the age of 60.  He was returned to Doddridge County and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery near his parents.

    Our remaining student, Miss Bess C Trough, was born on August 14, 1887 in Doddridge County.  She was the daughter of William and Alice Carroll Trough.  After graduating from West Union High School in 1904, she married Thure Bennet Forsburg on June 16, 1907 here in Smithton (Smithburg), Doddridge County.  They had one daughter that we found on record.  In 1920 Bess lived with her daughter in Dade City, Pasco, FL.  She was still living in Florida when her husband, Thure died on July 22, 1966.  He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Bess lived a year and three months before her death on October 19, 1967.

   Each of these brave young souls chose to accomplish something that was not easily or regularly done in our county or other counties as well at the time.  They chose education over early employment.  

   The faculty members for that first year were Lawrence Freeman (far left, Assist. Principal), H.D. Snider (Doe Run School Teacher), Prof. Bruce Borror (Principal), Idell Nutter (3rd Assist.), James A. Freeman (1st Assist. 2nd half of term), Back Row, left: W.S. Heflin (1st Assist, 1st half of term), Chloie Davis (2nd Assist.), Maybelle Taylor (4th Assist.)

The first class to graduate from Doddridge County High School would have been the Senior Class of 1935 which I have included in this article.  The names of the 1935 Seniors were: Left to Right Top Row:  Ernest Hinter, Dana Hutson, Eugene Williams, Iris Greenwalt, Carl Sweeney, Allice Williams, Cecil Reed, James Smith, Velva Knight, Robert Rice, Berlin Davis, Willis Davison, Helen Kemper, Herbert Bussard, Hubert Hutson, Keith Smith – 2nd Row: Harold Day, Clarence Strader, Kermit Hill, Jacob Cottrill, Joseph Summers, Geraldine Scott, Gene Weekley, Beryl Smith, Mary Belle Henry, Harold Day, Pearline Smith, Charles Jones, Eleanor Quillen, David Tennant, William Cottrill, Geraldine Cox – 3rd Row: Gladys Cole, Mary Virginia Haynes, Marshall Villars, Cleo Dilworth, Summers Haught, Leora Hawkin, Arnold Curry, Evelyn Foughty, David Kehoe, Hazel McClain, Allen Ferrebee, Virgie Bumgardner, Carl Knight, Louella McIntyre, Walter Sutton, Rita Bode – 4th Row:  Drexal Wallace, Clarence Randolph, Theodore Holder, Cleora Smith, Harry McKinney, Virginia Jones, Paul Strickling (Teacher), Hugh Hurst (Teacher), Theodore Holden (Principal), Ernest Smith (Teacher), W.B. Vanscoy (Teacher), Daniel Harris, William Jones, Charter Stinespring, Doris Snyder, Mary Lou Yerkey – 5th Row:  Walter Fox, Ethel Lyons, Gale Bussard, Leota Dilly, Joe Johnson (Teacher), Olin Wetzel (Teacher), Ralph Wetzel, Alden Spencer (Teacher), Helen Wallace Cox (Teacher), James Thomas, Madeline Davis – 6th Row:  Gladine Hinter, Mary Margaret Devore, Willard Cork, Xenia Myer, Robert Murphy (Teacher), Lutie McCracken (Teacher), Bertha Flanigan Droppleman (Teacher), Edgar Summers, James Scott, Gladys Richards, Lawrence Greenwalt – 7th Row:  Ruby Chedester, Woodrow Broadwater, Frances Foley, Jack George, Emma Morris Goldchein (Teacher), Maurice K Wilcox (Teacher), Loretta Lane Knight (Teacher, Murray Davis (Teacher)Wayne Mason, Jean Hawkins, Roberta Boyce – 8th Row:  Olive McConnell, Anita Morris, Phillip Smith, Harold Whiteman, Mabel Smith, Ruby Gatrell, Lauren McKinney, Doris Lou Allen, Hayward Gray, Oria Williamson, Virginia Friend, John Raymond Vanscoy, Mabel Broadwater, William Gallian, Lona Batton, Herman Dotson.

   Much has been written regarding the first school as well as the West Union High School, but little has been written about the first graduating class.  I hope you found this article interesting.  If you should have anything to add, please contact the Historical Society at 304 873-1540 or email us at [email protected].

    Today a good education is so important to our seniors who are about to embark on that journey we call life.  May God guide them in their choices and decisions.  May He lead them to a happy and prosperous lifelong adventure.

God Bless and Stay Well

Patricia Richards Harris

Doddridge County Historical Society