Charles Stillion Story
Charles Story as written by him
Dedicated in loving memory to my Mom and Pop, Homer and Louise Stillion
The reason I am writing some of this history of our family is when I die this history will die with me. My prayer is that whoever is interested in this family will be able to get a copy. I am writing this to show how thankful I am that I was one of Homer and Louise Stillion’s family and to show what an interesting and exciting area and time we grew up in. I have only touched on a few of the highlights of our family growing up in the Ohio Valley. I could go on for days and days. I’m so proud that it seems like I just can’t say enough about the Stillion name. There was supposed to have been research made on the Stillion name because there were so few by that name; at one time there was only 141 families and the name has a crest. My son, Ron has it. This is supposed to go back to the Vikings Norseman in Norway, the first people to get to the America soil. It may sound like a little bragging, but so be it…
But, I think I have shown why I think like I do and I want to say any one that has any connection to the Homer and Louise Stillion Family can be very proud and honored to have some of that blood in their veins!
Just a few highlights of the lives of our Mom and Dad and the raising of their eight children, my five brothers and two sisters in the wonderful home of Homer and Louise Stillion. When one was glad, we were all glad. When one was sad, we were all sad.
Homer Maxwell Stillion (1882-1966), Louise Stuntz Stillion (1889-1962), George (1908-1991, Charles (1911), Elvin (1914-1984), Dorothy (1917), Ruth (1920), Robert (1922-1973), Homer, Jr. (1925), and William (1929).
I was the second oldest, so I know pretty much the whole story. Pop and Mom were married, I would guess in year 1907-1908. Mom was born in South Wheeling, West Virginia. Pop was born at Salesville, ohio, Guernsey County. He went to work for his Uncle as an apprentice carpenter at age fourteen. His Uncle was a well known contractor around the Columbus, Ohio area. His name was Roy Rogers and the company name was Rogers Construction. He was married to pop’s oldest sister, Aunt Min. When Aunt Min died, two sons, Roy (aged 7) and Edward (aged 5) stayed with us and Mom cared for them until their Dad moved to Texas around year 1915-1916.
Our pop was a self-made man, seems like he drifted into the Ohio Valley at an early age and built wood oil derricks. All derricks were built of wood in those days down in the mountains of West Virginia. Then he came to Wheeling and went to work for a large contractor doing work in Wheeling and all the towns along the Ohio River. About this time in early 1900 they were building a lot of the three story 24 to 30 room mansions out the pike at Woodsdale for the factories and business owners, the very rich of Wheeling. He played a big part in many of the very expensive ones. One that comes to mind was the I. M. Scott mansion. He was the owner of Scott Lumber Companies. It is a large brick mansion on a very large sloping landscape located just before you get to Greggsville. I would guess it had about forty rooms. It’s still there, and it was built in the very early 1900’s!
He use to tell and show me many of the homes he had a part of. He was the main man for the contractor I mentioned, seems like his name was Hicks. At that time they traveled from job to job in a horse and buggy. They built bank buildings and businesses, houses in town on both sides of the river. At one time they loaded their tools, caught a train and went to Cleveland, Ohio to build a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio towards New York. I guess that was about year 1915-1916. They would come home ever so often, then go back on the train. Mr. Hicks was living in Cleveland when he died and was 81 years old and crossing the street and a car hit him.
When Pop was eighteen he was one of the buyers to buy a lot in Warwood when there were just a few houses. Streets and avenues were layed out, but streets were not paved, they just used river gravel to keep out of the mud. Some streets were large, oblong stones and had (what you would call) cobble stone streets, large oblong stones taken out of the Ohio River about the size of two fists. When the big draft horses would pass by at night, the sparks would fly from their steel shoes striking the flint in the stones.
Pop helped build the Peninsula Foundry out in East Wheeling. They made tank bodies for the First World War. He was the Outside Superintendent for all the housing and anything pertaining to wood like housing, tipples, etc. for Richland Coal Company, one of the largest mines in that part of West Virginia. He used to take me with him down to the mine in a horse and buggy on weekends. I gained a great amount of knowledge by going to so many work locations with him. Sometimes I would stay with him all day when he was working on an air shaft for the mine or other important functions of the mine.
People used to say, with his knowledge he could have been the richest man in the Ohio Valley, but he always wanted to be in the “thick of things” where he could use his skills. Some might think he could not hold a job – but far from that – If he was on a job and anybody crossed him, he would tell them to “stick it”, and there was always many, many others that were wanting to have him because of his abilities and getting things done. He could leave a job and go to work almost anywhere he wanted to and could do anything they might need him for. He could get mad, tell them to stick their job and go back anytime he wanted to, but like I stated before, he always enjoyed doing the work and let the other guy make the profit. In a way, he was one of a kind, you might say. He always said he was Scotch Irish. I remember when he had a few “shots” of white lightning in him and was in another room he would talk like an Irishman that had just come to this country, and you would have believed it was someone with an Irish brogue just arrived from Ireland!
The other side of his Irish make up was that he would fight at the drop of a hat! (As the old saying goes) Ask me, I know, I was there from about the age four to nineteen. Up to now, it may sound like he didn’t have many friends, but not so! He could go up and down either side of the Ohio River and he had more friends than any man I have ever known. Speaking of how he could use his fists, he bought a pair of boxing gloves for Christmas when I was nine or ten years old and George was about twelve or thirteen. He would have us (George and me) put them on and spar with him. He would let you get some pretty good licks to him, then when you thought your were doing pretty good, he would “give you one on the button” and your hind end would land in the corner on the floor! I’ve seen him take on men a lot larger than he was; he never looked for a scrap, but would never back off (again, I was there).
Pop was about 5’10”, and had a brother-in-law about 6’2″ or 6’3″. Pop would bring him down to size quite often when they would be drinking together. I know there were times when he would, as the saying goes, “beat the hell out of him”, and maybe the next week he would tell Mom to order them (brother-in-law) a load of coal to keep their kids warm, or tell Mom to buy his kids some shoes. It would be the start of winter, and his kids were still in bare feet. This is the reason I am writing this about him and Mom, I guess. I knew more about our Dad than any of the eight children (in the horse and buggy days). Then when we got our first auto, a Maxwell 1917, I went to work in a furniture factory at the age of fifteen and worked the farm from about eleven years to fourteen years when we were on the farm.
Getting back to younger days, five or six, I used to go with Pop in the horse and buggy on weekends, stop at friends houses. He would have a drink or two every place we stopped. Now here I go again, sounds like he was always drunk – but not so! When Monday morning came, he was up at daylight ready to go to work. I don’t know of any day he ever missed work because of drink. His kids and Mom were his main concern. I recall one time when George was twelve or thirteen years old and a big bully about nineteen or twenty hit him or did something to him. (I don’t recall just what.) Anyway, George told pop about what had happened and Pop went looking for the guy named John Beal. Anyway, George was never bothered by that guy again. He knew what would happen if he touched George again. Everybody in Warwood knew what he could do and he would do it if the occasion arose. He was very protective of his children! Again, don’t get the idea he was a bully or was always looking for trouble….not so!
I might say something else about him: The kind of father he was with we kids, especially we older ones at the table, he and Mom would talk, but for the kids to butt in…that was a no no! If the plate of food was passed to you and you did not like what it was, you did not voice your opinion that you did not like it…..you would just keep your mouth shut and pass it on. In other words, the kids at the table ate their food and kept their mouth shut. If not, he would stand up, take his belt off and it only took one time to know he meant what he said. I never saw him use his fist and strike a child like some fathers would do. He used a belt or a switch. Also, if you asked to be out after dark and he told you to be in at 9:00 P.M. That was what he meant and you learned to do as he told you…..he was never out of reason! We were taught to respect him and Mom and any one of our seniors by holding the doors open for them to enter first, “yes sir, yes mamn,” when spoken to by our seniors.
About his politics: He voted democrat and always said that party did more for working class people than the republicans, but I doubt it. He was very active on election day because he had so many friends. Just an added note: I was old enough to vote for President Roosevelt in his first run for president. I voted for him by proxy in Germany during the War. He was the greatest president this country ever had. Ackerman Press Steel Plant was paying 28 1/2 cents an hour when he was elected. In his first term wages went from 28 1/2 cents to $2.00 an hour. Enough said, you may get the idea I am also a democrat like my Pop. (Ha!)
Another thought comes to my mind: he and I went one Saturday down to the Coal Company in the buggy and went to Lew Lias’s store (Of course, also a speak easy). He was Greek, and brother to Bill Lias, “king pin of the Vice” in Wheeling and Ohio Valley. Any way, Lew had a new utensil called a bread or dough mixer. Pop asked Lew to get it down from the shelf and said, “I’ll but it for my wife to mix her dough. It will make it easier for her” It was a large pot and had a spiral mixer. You would hook to a crank that was fastened on top, put all the flour and other ingredients in and turn the crank instead of having to mix it all by hand. Mom used it for years. Dot and Ruth should remember. This is to show how good he was to her, always looking for something to help her in her work. God only knows, she needed all the help she could get, no matter how small.
Now the other things he would buy for her: When he built the second new house in Horseshoe Bend on Riley Hill Road, he bought Mom a new player piano from C. A. House Company one Christmas. At the same home he bought our first auto, I think a 1917 Maxwell Touring car. New House # 2 was on two acres of ground for garden space, beautiful home, split level panoramic view of the Ohio River. Then he decided he wanted his boys to have some life on the farm. I remember hearing him tell us how he had plans for us on this farm, so he got Mom to agree to sell this house and move to Guernsey County Ohio, fourteen miles northwest of Cambridge, Ohio, a beautiful farm with a new large story and half home. New House #3: I spent a very happy boyhood growing up there, but after a period of time, Mom got homesick for her native Wheeling. Pop was always ready to do what would please Mom, so we moved back to Wheeling. Another factor was he could make so much more money in the Ohio Valley where there was much more work and better pay, so we rented a while in Wheeling. Then he bought some hillside property not far from house #2 and George and I were getting big enough to help him, so this would be New house #4. It had two stories, full basement, panoramic view of the Ohio River on Riley Hill Road. Mom had given him all eight children by this time, Bill was the last baby.
I was twenty three years old, still living in this house when I was married. If I’m not mistaken, George, Charles, Pete, Dot and Ruth were all married while living in this home. It was in this home where we first got our big Majestic Radio. Mom got her first electric washing machine, a Dexter double tub. We had running water, telephone, and Mom’s home was furnished with the best and she kept it up with the best. Eight children could have never had a better home life. After the married children began to leave, Pop was instrumental in building Mom three more new homes and maybe four. I don’t know about Oregon. But, Mom was not satisfied there, so Pop brought her back to Wheeling. He never forced her to live where she was not happy.
I remember in this house where most of us were growing up, Pop would work all day on his job and Mom would work all day washing, ironing, cooking and cleaning, then it seems like the whole year they were cold packing fruits, vegetables, meats, and whatever they could to feed us hungry kids the year round. They would work all day and be working till 10:00 and 11:00 P. M. at night. Pop always helped her, no matter what they were doing.
During the depression Pop worked at the black smith trade. He was not only good at doing carpenter work; he was a man of many talents and he was very good at all of them. During the great depression we were too proud to take charity. We worked for whatever we could get, labor exchange for meat, potatoes, anything to feed us. I can say there never was one time any of our kids ever went to bed hungry. He cut our hair, half-soled our shoes. Mom mended our clothes, clean home and home cooked meals. Mom made him a batch of home brew (twelve gallons each week). We older kids would wash the bottles and bottle it for her. I never once saw Mom ever taste the home brew she made for him. (Quite a change from women of today.) The making of the brew was just like part of her cooking to her. She supplied his every need.
Let’s talk about our Christmas: Pop had built a large platform six inches high, octagon shape with a white fence around it, metal sleeve in the center to hold the tree. He always bought a big tree that would almost reach the ceiling. Christmas night they would trim the tree and lay all the presents for each child on the platform. They made looking forward to Christmas a very important part of our lives. Before school age we would know Pop and Mom were Santa, but even the older ones would know we would never let It be known to the younger ones, so they could look forward to Santa and what he would bring them. To be able to enjoy growing up like we older ones did, all eight children were able to enjoy the same things at this wonderful time of the year. Mom would buy presents all year for the children. They would stand back and enjoy watching the children unwrapping their presents with glee…everything for the children and the family.
Before I forget, I have tried to show how smart Pop was, but have not said much about Mom in that respect, as though she was not very smart, but not so! She was a very intelligent person. She could cook a meal fit for a king, a superb housekeeper. You could eat off her floors. She was very smart when it came to managing money. Pop turned his paycheck over to her. I never saw him cash his check. Mom paid all the bills, did all the buying, bought all the groceries. I used to take her to the grocery store. The grocer was always glad to see her come. You can imagine the amount she would buy to feed her family. Pop always made top wages for the times, but she knew how to use his money and not waste it. She never got threatening letters about not paying her bills like some people did.
Our family Doctor was Dr. Webb. He would never send her a bill, but every so often she would stop in his office and give them what she could, and he doctored our family for years. I guess he helped bring all the babies into this world except George. He doctored us kids through our childhood illnesses. When Mom needed a Dr., she called Dr. Webb.
Getting back to Mom: I was twenty three years old when I left home married. She always cashed my checks and paid my bills. Boy, what a smart Mom! When her kids laughed, she laughed with them. When they cried, she cried with them. She was a very good singer and had a beautiful voice. When growing up I can remember hearing her quietly singing or humming a tune. In other respect, she was like Pop, she would give the last dollar she had to help someone else. Boy, what a mom we were blessed with!
Another added note: Some may not know, Pop and a friend named Brade Butler got a date with two girls; Louise Stuntz and Cora (maiden name unknown). Brade was a heavy person, weighed about 200 pounds. Cora was twice as big as Mom. So, on this date they decided to switch dates to even thing up (I guess). Anyway, Brade ended up marrying Cora and Pop married Mom. They were life long friends after they were married. Their older kids and ours were almost like brothers and sisters, our parents, the same. Anybody who knew our Mom would love her. She was that kind of person. About once each month, each family would exchange visits. Over the weekend, big dinners, chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, and on and on. They would make beds on the floor for the kids. Dads would eat, talk maybe work on cars, clean carbon grind valves, and oh yes, drink home brew!
Now more about Pop and the carpenter trade: As I said before, he was a self made man and could do whatever he put his hands to I. E. furniture, etc. When he and Mom were married he had made a beautiful three corner stand about 3′ high. I don’t know whatever happened to it, but Mom was always so proud of it and kept it in her bedroom. As I try to point out, he was gifted to know how to do things but he was not a good teacher. At times, I think his trouble was that he expected too much from others because it was so easy for him. George went to work with him when he was about seventeen. George used to tell me that he just could not please him, and would cry about it: like nailing one framing member to another, holding the framing member with one hand and starting a nail with the other. He could hold the member, take a 20 penny spike and put it up against the underside of the hammer close to the hammer head, strike the board hard enough so the nail would stick in the wood, then proceed to drive the nail home. If he told you to nail something to another member and maybe you were having trouble doing it, he would say, “get the hell down from there”. He would go up the ladder, and bang-bang it was done, so you can see what George had to put up with.
Just a note on Brother George: He was a superb craftsman. Wood was putty in his hands. He worked at the Fokker Air craft Company ( a German Co.) in Glendale, West Virginia, and transferred to Dundalk, Md. when the company moved. Planes were mostly wood at this time, and he worked on the struts and building the wings – very precise work. Wings were covered with canvas. He also worked at a furniture factory and made Fancy trim for furniture. Like his Dad, he could do anything.
Just an added note: Brother George bought one of the old farm houses in Warwood and added to it. He resided in it, completely remodeled it, and made a beautiful home. I would guess it’s one hundred fifty years old…more of the Stillion ingenuity by Brother George.
I never had to work with Pop, only in younger years. When I was fifteen years old I went out on my own at other jobs. I quit school in the seventh grade. it was not because our parents made us quit. We quit school on our own choosing.
Those days high school was about as high as kids would attend. I guess I grew up too fast at age fifteen. (Not bragging!) I could build a house and do many other kinds of work. I had been taught well by my Dad. So I guess I felt like a man and didn’t need to go to school any more. At age fifteen I got a job at Warwood Furniture Factory a ten-hour day and 15 cents per hour. After six months they raised me up to 18 cents per hour. The rest of my learning was what you might call “on the job training”.
Our Pop quit school in I think the fourth grade, but he could take college educated architects, and engineers and make a fool out of them showing them their mistakes on plans.
Some more of his God given abilities: He had a way of calculating numbers you would never believe. Brother Homer, Jr. has one of his report cards. He had very high grades. In those days kids would only have to go to school three or four months if they needed to work.
While I am thinking about it, I want to say something that doesn’t always turn out this way. Neither Pop or Mom had to go through the agony and sorrow of losing one of their eight children, even though they had five sons in Governmental service during the war years.
Just another thought along these lines: Their sons, grandsons, great grandsons, granddaughters, etc. have contributed, I would guess close to one hundred years of military service to the U. S. A. Quite an impressive record!
Another thought came to my mind. Mom had all her sons in during World War Two except George, who was too old. This is about Pete who was badly wounded, shrapnel throughout his head, also wounded in his back. He was the only one that got hit bad, It happened about thirteen miles from the city of Rome, Italy, but I want to tell this little story:
He was three years younger than me and he and I were very close to each other. He and I met at the foot of Riley Hill road after dark the night before he was to leave the next day for his outfit and then overseas to the battle front (first) to North Africa. So you know how we both felt not knowing if we would ever see each other again. I was working as an inspector at Blaw Knox on anti aircraft guns so I had made a pretty ring out of monel metal (that will never rust). So I slipped the ring off my finger and gave it to him and said, “here, Pete, wear this ring.” (His fingers were the same size as mine.) He slipped it on and held out his hand and said, “I’ll show you this ring when I get back.”, a sad parting.
I was in Fort Mead, Md. and we were getting ready to go over when I received word that he was wounded and they flew him back to the Vets hospital in Richmond, Virginia. Even though we were restricted to camp, my C. O. said he would give me a pass for Saturday and Sunday to go by train to see him, which I did. When I walked in his room, he held out his hand an said, “See, Charles, I told you I would let you see this ring when I got back.” What a brother! Another thing Pop and Mom taught their family was to always love one another and we did! If anyone did something to one of us they would have to deal with all. (I saw this happen.) About Pete’s wounds, I think they were later on the cause of his death (A Long Story)
I want to say this, Pop and Mom brought us into this world and fed, clothed, housed and taught us to be honest and hard workers and to help others less fortunate than we were. Even though I think we all had a little ornery streak in us, I guess that could be expected, guess we can’t blame that on them!
To show more of how Pop cared for Mom: When she would have one of her babies, he would make her stay in bed at least two weeks and not work much for at least a month. He would hire someone to stay with her and help her for that time. He was always concerned about her health. Maybe I said it before, but all her babies were born at home. Pop’s life was Mom and her eight children, his love for carpentry work and to provide for his family and to give them everything he could.
Just a note: He never called her Mom like we kids; he always called her Louise. The kids called her Mom. Some of the relatives on her side of the family called her Weese. They would drop- the (L) in her name. It seems like everyone looked to her with love and respect, relatives and others, I guess because the kind of person she was. Now from all that I’ve said, please don’t get the idea that I am trying to show our family as the perfect family because I am not. We were like other families. God knows, we had our ups and downs. There were arguments and disagreements, but in all my twenty three years at home our Pop never laid a hand on our Mom in anger. As far as I know, never in all their married life; more to his credit as a wonderful father to his family.
Pop’s dad was George W. Stillion and lived in Salesville, Ohio, Guernsey County. His Mother was Rachel Long Stillion (From Louisiana) from the Long family Huey, and others. He had three sisters, Aunt Minnie, Aunt Rose, Aunt Nellie, in that order, all very pretty women. Grandad Stillion died when I was born, December 1911. Mom was in bed with me when the funeral was held. Just an added note: He was very fond of Mom.
Now, about Mom’s immediate family: Her Dad, Charles Stuntz, came from Germany when he was six years old and was a very talented man. Her Mom, Mary Riebold Stuntz, (I think) was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. She had a couple of Uncles and Aunts. One Uncle was pretty high up in Weirton Steel Mill. One Aunt was married to the owner of a taxi cab company in Wheeling, Burns Cab Company. She had two sisters, Helen and Clara and four brothers Will, Edward, Harold And Howard. One sister, Mary died in infancy. Mom was the oldest child.
Some more about Mom’s family and their talents: Musical, piano, accordion, needlework, cartoonist, fancy art work, etc. Her uncle was a main officer in one of President Roosevelt Programs. Our Mom and Pop came from very hard working, aggressive families.
My Mom and Pop are buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Wheeling, West Virginia, and I think most all of the Stuntz’s family are buried there too. Mom’s parents lived to be an old age and Pop’s parents the same. Grandma Stillion, I think, lived to be 96 years old.
Why am I telling all this? Because it may be of interest to some of the grandchildren and great grandchildren. Also, the other main reason is: I had probably lived with Mom and Pop longer than any of the eight children, (23 years) and being the second oldest, I know more about our family than any other. I want whoever wants a copy of this to know about where they started from and to be proud of their roots. Oh, I could give many reasons for doing this. Don’t get me wrong….our family was not a perfect family. We had our problems as all families do. But, the main reason for writing this is after all these years, I am so thankful to God that my parents were Homer and Louise Stillion and to express my appreciation to them for the great job they did to bring us into this world and care and nurture us all for all those years.
Just stop and think: How many families like ours had as many and as nice new homes to live in like we did? Another thing, to give Pop credit for when he and Mom moved away from Warwood, Guernsey County, Ohio and Oregon. Mom would get homesick. He was always so good to her, he would bring her back home.
In my boyhood years I would see things I did not approve of, but to me our Pop and Mom were the greatest two parents eight children could ever have.
Other times I recall we mostly lived where we could raise some hogs, beef, chickens, etc. When butchering time came, he would have some of his “hunkey” friends (that’s what we called them if they were foreigners) to come and help him butcher and mainly just to have some of his friends around. Anyway, when they would go home they would all have a good share of fresh meat to take home. He loved to give to others to share what ever he had. Mom was the same way. During the depression people used to borrow from one another. Of course, the proper thing to do was if you borrow, when you could you should pay it back. We had some neighbors who knew when they needed something, they could always get it from our Mom and many of them never paid it back, but they could always get it again and again from Louise if they and when they needed something.
Another thing I remember so well: When I was five or six years old the railroad ran along the Ohio river. Our home was on the Second Avenue back from the railroad, and what we called “Bums” at that time used to walk the railroads or catch or get off a freight train passing through. Of course they would hit the houses for something to eat. They were good, honest men just hard luck. They would not steal or bother no one, would even offer to do chores for a sandwich or bowl of soup. I remember if they came to our house and Pop was home he would have them come in and give them soap and basin water to wash and have Mom fix them a plate, just like we were eating and have them to sit down at the table. You can imagine how you and kids like me, Pete, Dot, would stare at them in their old dirty ragged clothes. Pop would strike up a conversation with them. Of course, if they came in the time when Pop was not there, Mom would make them sit on the porch and make them a sandwich or something to eat. They used to say when someone would give them something to eat they had a way to put a mark someplace to let the next guy know these people would give you something to eat. Not everyone…like today…would not help the other guy, especially if he was a “Bum”. But not so with the Stillion family!
When I was sixteen years old I worked at a furniture store in Wheeling and when I would get off the street car at Tenth Street, the bums used to hit me up for a nickel for a bowl of bean soup. Of course, Mom’s and Pop’s goodness rubbed off on all of their kids,
Another thing about Pop: He was a lover of dogs and animals. I just have to relate this story about one of our dogs. I was very young at the time, but can remember very well. I was about four or five years old. We had a Shepard mix dog only he was black and white with very long silky hair. Now the story, some friends of ours lived in Martins Ferry, a town on the Ohio side of the river. To get from Warwood to Martins Ferry you had to go south to Wheeling Tenth Street to the suspension bridge. More than four miles cross the bridge onto Wheeling Island across the island about two miles then across the steel bridge to Bridgeport then go north about three miles to Martins Ferry. I don’t know why, but Pop gave this dog to these people. They were visiting us and were in a one horse wagon with sides and top and a canvas to close the rear of the wagon. Anyway, they took this dog and left for home on the route I described. They probably got home after dark. But to Pop’s and all of our surprise, the next morning here lay that dog on our back porch, ringing wet. He had swam the Ohio River and come back home. So, Pop said he would never give that dog away again! He must of been quite old at this time, maybe that was the reason he had given him to these people. He knew we kids would grieve over him if he died, but if I remember it was not too long and he did die.
Mom’s Aunt Lizzie’s husband, Uncle Andy Thieroff, an old German, was a tanner, had something to do with the Wheeling Tannery. He really knew the tanning business, so he skinned this dog and gave this hide a soft tan. I think it was a new process at this time, and not too many could do that kind of tanning, so when it was finished it was soft almost like a glove. Mom laid it on the floor, and it would almost look like that dog was lying there asleep, but after a few years of three guys and two girls fighting over it by pulling and tugging it began to tear apart. I don’t know just how long it lasted before Mom had to get rid of the pieces. The long hair never did come out. Pop had Uncle Andy to (tan not soft) hides of Holstein, cattle, black and white. Mom had them on the floor in the bedroom. The floors in our houses were oak with what they called throw rugs, never wall to wall like now, maybe 9 x 12.
Getting back to the dogs: Pop owned some very good dogs while we were growing up. Some had very impressive pedigrees. We had one big Airedale, and had a harness for her. Pete and I use to hitch her up to a sled and she was a wonderful watchdog. He had a dog someone got it to take it to the Smokey Mountains to hunt bear. Oh, I could go on and on. Guess the love of dogs cropped out in my son Ron. He worked dogs in Vietnam and can tell many stories about those dogs.
Another important event I want to mention: I don’t want to take the focus off of Mom and Pop, but this will show how hard it was for families like ours to make it back in those trying times during the great depression. We were living in a big, two story house on 24th Street and Warwood Avenue across the street from Colemans Grocery Store. When needed, this store would extend us credit on groceries for two weeks at a time. This helped us to always get what we needed. Lou Coleman always knew we would have the money to pay every two weeks. Our credit was good at any store we would need it.
Now getting back to about February 1919: I was working at Palace Furniture Store. When business got bad, I got laid off. I came home and Mom was in bed with her eighth and last baby, Bill. I can see her lying there with him cuddled in her arm. I said to her, “Mom, I got laid off today”. She started to cry, and she said, “Charles, what are we going to do?” I, just a seventeen year boy looking down at his Mom crying, said, “Don’t worry Mom, I’ll find another job”, trying to console my Mom. I think I was making ten or twelve dollars a week, but it helped a lot. It was up to Pop, George and me.
So, the boy I grew up with lived across the alley from us when we lived on Hess Avenue. His home was on Vance Avenue. He and his sisters were like brother and sisters to me. Any way, he was looking for a job too, so he and I decided one Sunday evening to go up to Ackerman Mfg. We told them we came to see about a job. Just a note: At that time you could just walk into a factory or mill and talk to the Boss or whoever a far cry from this day and age of mistrust. Those were hard times but in many ways they had their good points, too.
Anyway, the Boss on night shift looked us over and saw we were pretty husky looking boys and said, “Yes, I can use two good men.” He asked Johnnie Boring how old he was and Johnnie said eighteen, he was about a year older than me, so he asked me the same question, Mom and Pop had always taught us not to lie and we were punished if we did, but God only knew I had to have that job. I had promised my Mom, so I swallowed hard and said “eighteen”. You had to be at least eighteen to work in a steel mill like that at that time, so anyway, I had a long career-thirteen years! I became foreman at the age of nineteen, and was charter member when we organized with the C.I.O. Union. Enough of that about me, this is about our Mom and Dad! By the way, Johnnie died at age twenty two from T.B. (At Terra Alta West Virginia Sanitarium)
Talking to my sister Dorothy on the phone, she remembered that she, Pete and I all had pneumonia when we were very young. She was telling me she was very bad sick and Pop was working close by where he could see our house from the job he was working on. Warwood did not have many houses at this time (before 1920). So, knowing her sick condition before going to work that morning he told Mom that if she turned for the worse for Mom to hang a white rag on the clothes line pole and he would be right there. Boy, what a Dad, a far cry from some of the fathers we have today!
Warwood built up very fast by early 1950’s. You could not hardly find an empty lot in Warwood to build on. When we were growing up Warwood was a nice little town to live in with two grade schools, one north where we lived and one south close to the big coal mine, a company Store for the miners and three grocery stores, two north, one center, two stations or garages, as we called them, one lumber mill, foundry, box factory, can factory, tool works, and Ackerman Mfg. Co. Large presses made large shells in the First World War. They did government work in the Second World War, also a furniture factory that made beautiful bedroom furniture and a factory to assemble planes for First World War.
Tool works made picks and other items used in the First and Second World War. I used one of their picks in Second World War to dig fox holes. Stamped on such pick, “Made in Warwood, West Virginia”. The first time I saw it on my pick, it made tears come to my eyes and brought back many memories of home. I forgot to mention that the Pennsylvania Railroad Depo and service for all the factories and mines in Warwood were a very industrialized town and the older Stillions saw it grow. Wheeling homes to the south were the same, only on a very much larger scale. Every kind of industry you could think of was pioneered in Wheeling. The main mode of transportation for people was the trolley car: north, south, east and west from Wheeling.
I might mention that the first fort the pioneers built on the Ohio River was at Pittsburgh (Fort Pitt). They made log rafts and floated down the Ohio. The second fort was Fort Henry at Tenth Street in Wheeling. Wheeling started to grow from that small beginning. There’s very interesting history about Fort Henry, and I would suggest to get books on its beginning and early families such as the Wetzels, Zane McCullogh families.
Here I am on another different subject and forgot to mention about the Ohio River, one of the greatest transportation routes in the U.S. Steam Boats and Barges. I could write a book on this subject.
Now about the work the six Stillion boys did:
George: Home builder 35 years, Press Steel Shop, Press operator, Top Die Setter
Charles: Home builder, Press operator, Plant Construction along Ohio River, WW II Army.
Elvin: Home builder, Welder, Cabinet Maker, Elevator Cab Builder, Construction Work, WW II Army (Head injury)
Homer Jr.: Navy Career 32 Years, Home builder, Worked on Ohio River dams, WW II
Bob: Home builder, big Construction along Ohio River and Wheeling area, Sheet metal, WW II Air Corp.
Bill: Home Builder, Built Plywood Mills in Oregon and Deep South, WW II Navy.
After Pop died, the carpentry and construction training continued by brother training brother. All six boys built new homes and remodeled some for their families.. I am saying all this to show how we followed the lives of our Mom and Pop. It was like this: We all built houses for other people, but we all built homes for our own families. Never forget, “A house does not a Home make”! I have built a lot of beautiful, expensive houses for other people, but not all turned out to be homes. So, you can see why I have tried to show in these writings how great it was to grow up in a home to be loved and cared for like we were.
I have been talking mostly about the six boys, but the two girls were always in the middle of everything, in other words, a chip of the same old blocks: Mom and Pop. Both are wonderful home makers and have wonderful families and husbands. I almost forgot, all the boys had talents to complete their houses such as finish work, tile work, electrical, sheet metal, heating, concrete, plumbing, anything to complete the project.
Now, a few words about the wonder girl who put this all together for me: Brother Bill’s wife, Alice. I could never have done this without her. She has helped me in many other ways, so think of her when you read this history. She is a sister-in-law, but to me she is like a sister.
It may look like I wrote a lot about the eight Stillion children, but I wanted to show how the things Mom and Pop taught us and the example they set before us came out in our lives. To me, they did a very impressive job. If you like what I have tried to say in my crude West Virginia way, please write and tell me.
Hopefully, someday the highlights of the history of what kind of People our fathers and mothers were will be shared with your family members. Were they strong and healthy, were they smart? Did they provide well for their children? Did they love their children and did their eight children love them? Yes, they all did !
I could go on like this for a long, long time, but tried to hit some of the high points. I hope if we can get copies made of this the children of Homer and Louise can see that the great grandchildren and even the great great or whoever may want a copy. I hope I have not been boring in what I have said, but this is the way I feel and may it be of interest to those who read it. Please let me know what you think of it….good or bad……
WE ARE ALL PROUD TO BE A STILLION !! BY CHARLES R. STILLION
I am very proud to say I have enjoyed reading Charles’s story and I am also proud to say I am a Stillion. I wanted to put this on here so other’s who are interested in reading it, will be able to do so. I am very glad it was shared with me, hope you feel the same. The sad part is, Charles has passed away on January 15, 1996 and I can not tell him how I enjoyed his story. This is Charles’s picture below. Be sure and see George W. Stillion’s picture on the photo page.