Historically Speaking




The postcard reads, “The Orphan Shelter, New Milton, W.Va., June 4, 1913, Mrs. L. F. Randolph, Manager”.  Luther F Randolph and wife, Missouri with possible adopted daughters, Gertie, Audrey, and Violet; Gertie’s daughter, Lorena Gertrude, her sons, Aldo Willis, and Allen Randolph.  Audrey’s son, Luther Smith Day.  The 2 men are possibly Gertie’s husband, Rev. Berkley Hanes, and Audrey’s husband, John A Day.

 As I stated last week, I was able to discern from U. S. Census Records that in 1870, Luther F. Randolph was listed as a schoolteacher who was still residing at his father, Jepthah Randolph’s, house at the age of 23.  Like his father, he was of the Seventh-Day Baptist faith.  

After researching Doddridge County deeds, I found that he had purchased a one-acre piece of property which appears to possibly be the location of the store in 1876.  By 1880, he was listed in the U.S. Census as the head of household, married to Jennie Ehret (daughter of Wm. And Sarah Prichard Ehret. (They were married on April 2, 1873, in Ritchie County.) He was listed as a merchant.  

      Luther and Jennie never had children of their own, but according to the 1880 U.S. Census, they adopted a young girl named Gertrude Allen from an orphanage in Wheeling, WV prior to 1880. (Biological parents listed in birth record as George Allen and Sarena, surname unlisted.) 

Dick Ash wrote in April 2017, “I believe she was an orphan adopted from the WV Children’s Home by the Randolph family that includes former U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph so there’s probably little available on her besides that.”  He does not give proof of his claims, however.

Tragedy struck when Luther’s wife, Jennie Virginia, died of Consumption (Tuberculosis) on September 4, 1886, at the age of 32 yrs. 11 months and 2 days).  

The following year on August 18, 1887, Luther married Missouri “Zura” Davis.  Unfortunately, they too had a barren, childless marriage and soon adopted Audrey Ford from an orphanage in Cincinnati, OH (Biological parents listed as Stephen and Jane Ellen Ford).  

At some point, a little girl named Violet comes to live with them (Luther refers to her as a little girl in his 1921Will below, however, she is not listed in the 1920 U.S. Census as living with them at that time.  This tells us that Violet came to live with them from the Davis Child Shelter between the taking of the U.S. Census on January 21, 1920, and the writing of Luther’s Will in March of 1921. I have found nothing more on this child at this writing (still researching).

Luther Randolph’s Last Will and Testament, dated March 1, 1921, reads in part:

“Should there be anything left after the death of my widow, that she has not disposed of, then let that remainder be divided equally between Gertie Hanes and Audrey Day.  (Gertie Hanes, I got from the Children’s Home of Wheeling, West Va. And Audrey Day I got from the Children’s Home of Cincinnati, O.).  

And further, the little girl that we call “Viole (Violet)” that is now staying with us, I got her from the Davis child’s Shelter.  If she stays with Mrs. Randolph (Zura) until she is considered a woman, and my widow, thinks Violet has been good enough to be an equal heir with Gertie and Audrey, then let the three girls be equal heirs to my estate.  If my widow has more than she wishes to use or control while she lives, she may divide it among the three girls as she may choose.  What is not given to the three girls while my widow lives, then let it be divided equally between the three girls as above stated.

If for any cause, my widow should think best that Violet should not have any portion of my estate, then let her make a will showing that Violet is not entitled to anything after the death of my widow.

When I was a boy, I joined the Seventh Day Baptist church at Salem, West Va. And remained a member of the said church until, I think, about the 188t, at which time the said church gave me a letter of recommendation stating that I was in good standing and took that letter and joined the Ritchie church of the same faith and order.  Then after I had joined the Ritchie Church, the Salem church went back and their date of the letter of recommendation and manufactured a charge against me that was false.  I appeared before the Salem church at its next regular meeting, after making the charge against me and denied the charge that the church had of record against me, and demanded a trial, and the said Salem church failed and refused to grant me a trial.  Uncle Sammy or Elder S. D. Davis, as he is called, was the chairman of that meeting and he asked what kind of trial I wanted, I told him that I wanted the matter properly tried and a verdict of guilty or not guilty fetched in as the evidence demanded; and he (Uncle Sammy) said: “We will not give you that kind of a trial.”  That was one time he told the truth.  Well, this conduct of the Salem Church caused discord between the Ritchie Church and the Salem Church.  I feel that the two churches saw what a tangle they had gotten into and feared that I would give them trouble for their crookedness, and to get me out of their way, the Ritchie Church called a special church meeting and manufactured a false charge and turned me out of the church without letting me offer any defense.  At the time that the churches manufactured 3 false charges against me I was holding an office for the U.S. Government, and an office for the county in which I lived, and I felt that the charges were very detrimental to me and my business.  I felt that I was obliged to defend myself against the false charges of the church and to do this took much of my time and money that could have been used to help support the orphans that my wife and I was trying to care for.  It is sad to think that churches would do crooked things that would help to rob an orphans home.

   Now the facts are, as I understand them, is that the church books of the said two churches, show that I am charged with certain things, and nothing to show that I have denied the charges.  For this reason, I want this record to show that I denied the charges.  Both churches have been notified of what my will shows in the matter, and have had ample opportunity to correct their errors, and had they done this, then this matter would not have been mentioned in this will.  The facts are such that They cannot prove up and they are too corrupt to confess up, at least this is my understanding.  This part of my Will will not be a surprise to the two churches…” 

Luther Randolph home.  Missouri and Luther are sitting, and the ladies are listed as clerks.  We now know that at least one of the adopted girls was listed in the U.S. Census as a “clerk”.

   If you should have any information or questions regarding this article, please feel free to contact me at this newspaper, email me directly at: [email protected] or call me at 304-873-1540.

God Bless.

Patricia Richards Harris

Doddridge County Historical Society