DEHUE PAST AND PRESENT
Several proud residents who once lived at Dehue placed this sign twice at the entrance to
Dehue only to have it stolen.
Dehue had its beginning about 1916, and was named after D.E. Hewitt who operated a large bandmill in the vicinity. In 1923, the mine became part of Youngstown Sheet and Tube. Dehue resembleda little "United Nations," because our community was made up of European-born, Blacks, and men from neighboring states who were seeking better lifestyles. The Blacks had their own school and church, and I had never heard the word segregation. The bosses row had two-story houses with indoor plumbing. We lived in "Kentucky Row." It was named that because most everyone who lived in that row of houses were from Kentucky. My world was small inside the bubble where I lived . . . and I didn't think it would ever change. Dolores Riggs Davis
Left to right: Bill Schroder Mays, Frank Mariano, Johnny Patrick, Peter Cozmyk, Woodrow
Dillo, Gideon Dean, John Hatfield (son of Willis and grandson of Devil Anse Hatfield), Paul Bency,
George Lewis, Tony Lepetrone, Silas Mariano, ----Patrick,Sammy Lepetrone, Clarence Bailey, Bill
McCoy, Victor Vidovich, Fred Schroder, Louie Zeto, Millard "Dixie" Howell, Manuel Dillon, Jim
Bency. Scoutmaster, Adam Johnson not shown.
In the background of the Boy Scout's picture are our famous landmarks. To the left is the
Dehue Grade School which went from grade one to eight. The middle building housed the post
office and theater on the top level, and on the bottom level the Fountain, barber shop, and
poolroom. The building on the far right housed the grocery store and payroll office, and
upstairs was our Civic Club room where many get-togethers where held.
Dehue is located off Route 10 on Rum Creek, and is seven miles southeast of the city
of Logan. The mining towns of Dabney, Dehue, Macbeth, Cham, Orville, Argyle, Yolyn, and Slagle
on Rum Creek that once hummed with activity are all but ghost towns. The Dehue of my past is
onlyfaded photos in my album. I blinked . . . and it was all gone. Only a wide spot beside the road reminds us of where our homes once stood.
Sherla and John Peyton took care of the Nativity scene each year. Sherla drew the
life-sizepictures on plywood and painted them. John cut them out with a jigsaw, and attached
stakes to the backs of each one, so they could be displayed by driving the stakes into the
ground. On Christmas eve, many of the people who lived in the community gathered around the triangle and sang Christmas carols.
"Dehue was the hub of my world. It had a school that was safe, teachers who loved their
students .. . even those from other coal camps," Ed Ward told me recently. Dabney, Macbeth,
Cham, and Orville attended Dehue Grade School, and Ed lived at Macbeth. "Dehue had a movie house
where I learned to love Red Ryder and the Lone Ranger for only twelve-cents a show. I could buy
a milk shake at the Fountain, and get a haircut at the barber shop. Dehue was on the cutting
edge of my culture. The company store always smelled so good, and at Christmas the triangle was
decorated with bright lights and a nativity scene. (Ed is married to Sue Hunley also from
top row: Birdie Ingram, Gladys McCormick, Helen Ferguson, Mary Moore, Lena Adkins
front row: Jean Steele, Helen Pence, Stella Ferguson, Gladys Riggs, Shirley Peyton, Agnes
Canellas, Mrs. Hatfield, Beatrice Prichard, Maude Kitchen, Verde Gostovich, Mary Hatton
The photo was taken by Jane DeMarchi at the Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley where
the exhibit is now permanently housed.
Dr. Gay Bindocci of the Comer Museum at West Virginia University developed the Dehue Exhibit
which made its first appearance at the tenth annual Dehue Reunion on August 12, 1995. The
exhibit focuses on the social, cultural, and technical aspects of the development and demise of
Dehue. Photographs, personal memorabilia, and objects are displayed on the free standing,
nine-panel thirty-thousand dollar structure. The Dehue History Book was used as the focal point
of the exhibit, and all the information on the exhibit was edited by Dolores Riggs Davis.
The exhibit was built in Virginia by Jonathan Jager and his wife, Kathy Guest. They have
constructed many exhibits including several for the County Music Hall of Fame in Nashville,
Tennessee. For a year the Dehue Exhibit traveled to other area colleges and libraries to
educate the youth and instill a better understanding of our heritage. The exhibit was last
shown at the Dehue Reunion on August 8, 1998. Due to cost and wear and tear the exhibit no
The Dehue Exhibit finally found the way home on Wednesday, March 29, 2006. It had been
housed at the Beckley National Mine and Health and Safety Academy. It will be permanently
displayed at the Museum in the Park at Chief Logan in Logan County.
Several former Dehue residents gathered for the arrival of the exhibit. Those attending were
Melissa Perovich, Kay Perovich, John Perovich, Roger Ramey, Janie Ramey, Brenda Sipple, Donna
Burress, Florence Backus, John Owsley, Gay Owsley, John Zeke, Turner and Fred Hodges.
Museum in the Park board members attending were Sherriee Adams, Ginger Baker and board
president Frankie Esposito. Assisting in erecting the exhibit was Adam Hodges, museum
coordinator, Clarence Craigo, technical advisor for the museum and Donal Bolyard of the
Royce J. & Caroline B. Watts Museum at the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at
WVU. WVU funded the transport of the exhibit to Chief Logan State Park. Martha Sparks, society
editor and webmaster of the Logan Banner covered the story.
The Dehue History Book debuted in December 1994. The 152-page book depicts the rise and
decline of the mining town of Dehue. Six hundred photos paint a vivid picture of the Logan
County and Dehue which was once owned by the Youngstown Mining Corporation. Included in the
book are 124 personal histories and 212 obituaries of people who once lived and worked there at
Dehue. Vintage pictures cover the organization of the UMWA local 5869, Black history, the Dehue
Reunion, clubs, sports, school, theater, company store, church, park, and Dehue and Macbeth
miners in their work clothes. A special section covers the 1935 and 1936 Macbeth Mine Disasters.
However, it would have been impossible to complete the project without the help of my childhood
friend, Mona Moore-Miller. Betty Wagner-Pozega, and Lillian Porter-Smith helped edit the book. Dolores Riggs-Davis
Violin lessons brought a touch of culture to Dehue students. Teacher: Adam Johnston with
students (back row-left to right) Ernest Sepessy, Olga Kukshtel, Ray Gordon Ross. Front row,
Elena Grinko, Johnny Black, and Tommy Lakin. Photo by Louis Grinko. ca 1940's.
DEATH IN A POTATO PATCH
All of my life I have heard that the Lord works in mysterious ways. At age twelve I found
out how that works. I lived in the mining town of Dehue, West Virginia, and had just entered
Mr. Otto Tabor's seventh grade class at Dehue Grade School. It was a warm September evening in
1949 when dad helped our neighbor, Wetzel Miller search for his father-in-law, Edward Evans.
Mr. Evans was late returning from his garden which was located on the mountainside up Magazine
Hollow. They found his body in his potato patch. Dad said he looked so peaceful laying there
you would have thought he just sat down to rest and fell asleep.
Mr. Evans and his wife Ida made their home with the Millers, and were the parents of Wetzel's wife, Maggie. Rev. Henry Miller, a relative of Wetzel's came from Lincoln County to preach the funeral. Mom and I kept the Miller children while dad went to the funeral.
When dad came home from the funeral, he said that Rev. Miller was starting a revival at the
Dehue Community Church that very Sunday night. "I heard that little man can preach, and I think
I'll just go down and see for myself," he announced. So our family went to church that night.
The only time I remembered going to church was in Kentucky to hear my Grandfather Brickey.
Grandpa preached one of those "hellfire and damnation sermons." I had planned to stay with my
Uncle Ira and Aunt Irene for a week. After listening to that sermon, I grabbed the paper sack
out of Uncle Ira's truck that held a few items of my clothing. And I went home with my folks.
It was a pitiful turnout with only four adults and five children in attendance. When the
altar call was made, I was the first to stand up and go kneel down. Dad said he felt like the
Lord shouted into his ear. "There you stand almost forty-years of age, and your daughter who
hardly knows sin is up there praying for forgiveness." He felt it would be his last call, so
he rushed to the altar. Everyone else followed him with the exception of my five-year-old
brother. Junior was swinging both fists at Rev. Miller. It was a funny sight watching the
preacher hold on to Junior's head and push him away to avoid his punches while he tried to help
everyone pray through. Dad asked my brother as we walked home that night why he acted that way.
"Well dad, he said . . . I didn't know they'd all be drunk and a dancin' down there." We all
laughed, but dad knew he had some explaining to do.
"I'm like Popeye the sailor man," dad would say. "I just yam what I yam and I ain't no yammer.
"It was dad's favorite line. He was one of those hard-drinking miners who nursed the bottle on
the weekend, but reported for work on Monday. So, dad "gettin' religion" was big news in our
community. They actually held a lottery on just how long he could hold out without a drink.
However, the tables turned when all the curious went to church to see if Riggs really got
religion and got a dose of their own. The revival lasted for six weeks with standing room only
attendance. They took them right down to the Guyandotte River at Rum Junction and baptized them
after church. People pulled their cars up close to the river bank and left their headlights on
to illuminate the way.
The death of Edward Evans was the direct result of many souls being saved that fall of 1949,
and Dehue was a changed community. Dad went on to become a Freewill Baptist minister, youth
leader, and the pastor of two churches in Logan County. I truly believe that the Lord does work
in mysterious ways. Dolores Riggs Davis
NOTE: When Edward Evans granddaughter, Joan read her grandfather's death guest book she ran
across our names on one of the pages. She had seen my name on the Logan Homepage often, and
sent me an e-mail asking if I could be that Dolores Riggs. And as they say . . . the rest is
history. She sent me this lovely picture of her grandparents, and I wrote the story.
He is in the middle with his hands up and doesn't look very happy. Mona Moore is one with
all the curls. She is standing second from the left.