Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 20, 1972 · Page 73
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 73

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 20, 1972
Page 73
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Page 73 article text (OCR)

Lay him low, lay him low, In the clover or the snou; What cares he? he cannot know! Dirge for a Soldier, by G. H. Boker Drawdy Cemetery on Coal River in Boone County, has all the qualifications of a regional historic shrine--plus natural beauty, peace and obscurity. Within the sprawling boundary of this lovely, woodland setting are the graves of many war veterans, who once served this region, state and nation in at least seven major wars: the Revolutionary War (177585), Civil War (1861-65), Spanish American (1898-), World War I, World War II, Korean War, and the present Vietnam conflict. There may be other "unknown soldier" graves hidden in obscurity beneath .the forest growth in Drawdy Cemetery. The grave of the old Revolutionary War Indian spy, Philip 0. Harless, might well have been one such, were it not for a tall family-erected grave headstone, and a slab marker by the Daughters of the American Revolution--and the dedicated labor and patriotic concern of Russel Clendenen of nearby Racine, who wages a vigorous hoe-and-sickle battle against the ever invading forest. "Sometimes I think it's a losing fight," said Clendenen, stooping to clear the DAR marker of dead leaves, grass and poison ivy that he had previously cut down." It would be impossible at this late date to determine how many unmarked graves are under the trees and brush on this hillside." Clendenen, who is himself a war veteran, wishes there were more community pride and concern for this revered landmark. Once he clears the markers the following letters and dates emerge: Philip 0. Harless B. 1780 D. 1849 Served as Revolutionary War Spy Under Capt. Lucas Pension Claim No. 4613 According to these dates Philip Harless was a young man in his teens when the War for American Independence began. He, no doubt, grew up under the ever- present menace of frontier warfare--first the Indians, then the British, and always the fight for survival in a cruel and savage land. The daughter of Philip Harless, Mamie Davis, deeded the land for the Drawdy Cemetery. The deed is on record in Richmond, Va. This was done before "West" was added to Virginia. But in spite of his chances for swift and violent death, Harless lived to the ripe old age of 89. Living, no doubt, to see the region's rich beds of coal mined and sent down the river to world markets, An interesting, but not unusual, part of Drawdy Cemetery are the native stone grave markers like the one at the grave of Tom Jarrell, a Confederate Civil War veteran, who was born March 10,1840, and died Aug. 1, 1935. This particular kind of hard sandstone is common in this region of Boone County. Although it cannot be said to have the same meritorious qualities of traditional granite and marble, it somehow adds a distinguishable note of "belonging" here in this native setting. Like Frank Lloyd Wright's houses, they are "of the hill, belonging to i t . . . ". They are also lasting symbols of the ingenious talents and capabilities of these mountaineer ancestors who used nature's bounties to serve their needs. These native stone markers are skillfully done, and the engraving is in the best craftsmanship manner. According to unconfirmed information, these grave markers were the work of one man: a Mr. Jeffery, of the small town of Jeffery in Boone County. It is said that the itonemasonry skill of Jeffery included the expert making of millstones that found ready market far beyond the mountain region of Boone. The grave of the Spanish American War veteran, Charles A. Steele, is inside a wire-enclosed family burial plot on th« lower slope of the hill. A recently placed floral wreath added a bright, gone-but-not- STATE MAGAZINE, August 20,1972 forgotten, touch to the otherwise somber scene. Charles A. Steele Co. M. 2Regt. Infantry SpAmWar Jan. 28,1877 Jan. 20,1959 These dates tell that Charles Steele was 21 when the Spanish American War .was declared on April 25,1898. This is the war in which more American soldiers died from disease than from the weapons of warfare; a war in which the United States won - recognition as a major seapower, strong enough to destroy the great Spanish fleet in Manila Bay; Cuba became an independent territory under U.S. protection; and Teddy Roosevelt, and his Rough Riders won fame and glory in a daring cavalry charge up San Juan Hill. In his 82 years of life, Charles Steele lived through four wars: Spanish American in which he participated; World War I, World War II, and Korea. The small white headstone on the grave of World War I veteran, Mathew L. Spencer, Pvt. 2, W. Va., Inf., gives no date of his birth. He died, according to the marker date on Sept. 20, 1939. Spencer, and many thousands like him, was part of a war with greater loss of human life than any previous conflict in history. They fought, and many died, in what was called a "noble purpose"--the war to end all war. The fact that it didn't work out that way is no reflection on those who marched so bravely away to make the "World Safe for Democracy"! It is a strange, sorry twist of fate to note that 21 years later many of these same World War I veterans, even their sons and daughters, were back fighting World War II! Veteran Nile C. Ballard was another Boone County youth who answered his country's call in World War II. He was one-year-old when World War I ended, and 22 when World War II was declared. Nile C. Ballard West Virginia Pfc-168 Infantry 34-Infantry Div. B. June 5,1917 D. April 15,1945 A World War II nurse, Edith K. Booker Cunningham, is buried among the dogwood and redbud trees in Drawdy Cemetery. As is Benjamin F. Kinder, of the Canadian Forestry Corps, who died Feb. 12, 1934. Lillian, the wife of Russel Clendenen, remarked about the vernal beauty of the cemetery in the spring when the white dogwood and redbud, and countless species of native wild flowers, were all in bloom. A leisurely drive up Rt. 119 to Drawdy Cemetery is an interesting and refreshing journey. A stop at Peytons Picnic grounds is like a step into a world of peace and harmony--a tranquil world of nature, far from realities of modern day warfare. A roadside marker calls attention tc an old Indian campsite just across the highway under a huge overhanging rock. A few more miles of driving Rt. 119 and a sharp right cut on to a narrow bridge brings you to Drawdy Cemetery. One is apt to note the comparative freshness of two graves--veterans of Korea and the Vietnam War, The older grave of the two is inscribed: Clifford Edward Clark West Virginia Pfc.-Co.G19Inf.24 Inf. Div. Korea PH Feb. 12,1928 Nov. 5,1950 The newer, fresher, flower-strewn, grave is that of young Chester A. Mollett, West Virginia, Sgt. 3, Marine Div. FMF, Vietnam Nam-Ph. Born, July 27,1943, Died Feb. 16, 1970 From the weed-grown grave of the old Indian spy, Philip Harless, to the flower- bedecked^ 1970 grave of young Marine Sgt., Chester A. Mollett is a long, long journey in U.S. history. Here the rich heritage of a region, a state and a nation lies buried in honorable obscurity: "Lay him low, lay him low, In the clover or the snow . . . " PHILIP 1760 Spanish American War, Civil War, War of 1«12, The Revolutionary War. DOWNSTAIRS STORE LOW. LOW PRICES-.- EVERY OAV NYLON STRETCH PANTS of 5.99 It's the new look in nylon pants from Orbit. They are 100% Phillips 66 nylon and they feature the trim stretch waist band, stitched crease and the slightly flared leg that the ladies love. So stop in and stock that fall sportswear wardrobe with colors of Green, Berry, Brown, Camel or Navy. Sizes: Average 10 to 18 and Tall 12 to 18. FEW SIZES 32 to 36 in assorted colors at 4.M Stone and Thomas, Charleston, W. Va. 25326 8/20/72 Pleas* send me the Nylon Stretch Panti. I have enclosed 3% W. Va. State Sales Tax. Total Ouan. Address City . . . 1st Color 2nd Color S Size ate Price Zio . Charge [J Check Q Money Order Q New Account If New Account Mease Include Correct Credit Information. CHARLESTON, W.VA.

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