Allen B. Dingess, Alleyne Dye, Appalachia, Ashland, Battle of Blair Mountain, Cabell County, Caroline Dingess, Cattaraugus County, Ceredo, coal, Democratic Party, genealogy, Hannah Mitchell, Henry Street Settlement, history, Huntington, Illinois, Kentucky, Leo Frank Drake, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Mollie Drake, New York, Republican Party, Springfield, Wayne County, West Virginia
Mollie (Dingess) Drake, daughter of Allen B. Dingess and Caroline (Jackson) Dingess, was born on June 30, 1881 in Logan County, WV. She was the wife of Leo Frank Drake, a salesman. She appears in the 1910 Wayne County Census (Ceredo District). Hannah Mitchell profiled her life in the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, on December 30, 1921. Her husband died in 1925. In 1930, Mollie lived at Springfield, IL. In 1940, she made her home in Cattaraugus County, NY. Mrs. Drake died on July 7, 1958 at a nursing home in Huntington, WV.
It would be easy enough to make a melodramatic start and give her some such extravagant title as “The Angel of the Hills” or “The Mother of the Mines” or “The Florence Nightingale of Blair Mountain.” But if you did and Molly Dingess Drake found it out she might laugh and she might make some sharp remark, but most certainly she would not be pleased.
How she escaped the “war correspondents” who were rushed to the front to cover West Virginia’s recent mine war is more than I can say, for the story is still told of how Molly, like “Sheridan twenty miles away,” when the armed miners were marching on Logan, made all haste not toward safety, as she might very wisely have done, but back to where the bullets were flying.
Her narrowest escape from the feature pages of newspapers was several years ago–two, in fact–when, a woman of some two score years, she was graduated from high school with her sixteen-year-old daughter. That graduation and the attendant high school diploma were in no sense honorary affairs given out of respect for Molly Dingess Drake. They had been earned by this very determined, ambitious woman of the hills after four years of high school work, in which she had enrolled along with her daughter and for which she had attended classes faithfully and with classmates half her age.
On pay day Mrs. Drake is a welfare worker for one of the coal companies operating in the Logan field. Having finished her high school course, she did not go on to college with her daughter. And, as she puts it, one of the coal producers “knew she wouldn’t sit at home and knit and crochet.” So he offered her the job of visiting nurses among the employees of his company. In this job Mollie mothers a large family. It is composed of men and women much older than she and of the children of these older children. True to the mother-type anywhere, she makes their individual troubles, their health, their happiness, a very personal matter.
There was the young Spaniard who lay in the hospital after a severe accident. No friends or relatives rallied to his bedside, and the doctors and nurses could not understand him when he moaned out a word or two in his native tongue. Mollie Drake scoured the hills for an interpreter and found one. She also dug up a cousin of the unfortunate boy. Moreover she made the lives of nurses and doctors miserable until the lad was out of danger, sometimes calling at the hospital late at night to see how the boy was getting on. Was not this foreign born lad one of her children?
It was not the Mollie Dingess Drake, ready to face danger along with other brave women of Logan county when armed miners were marching upon their homes, that interested me most, as you may have guessed already. The World War is too recent proof that American women are not afraid to risk their lives for a cause. It is Mollie Drake and the work of her hands when peace broods over her native hills that make her a woman among women.
Mrs. Drake is a mountain woman herself. She knows the desires, the needs and the hopes of the women and children who live in her hills; in a double sense she is working among her own people.
No serious-minded killjoy is Mrs. Drake, but a large motherly woman with a great capacity for fun and for seeing the human side of things.
It is a common statement among traveling salesmen that they live in a Pullman; Mollie Drake might say she lives in a day coach. Her headquarters are in Logan, and much of her time is spent in riding to and from the little mining towns along the branch lines out of Logan.
Her trips are taken to visit the homes of miners, and no place is too remote for her to visit. Her energy in tramping about and the speed with which she walks over the hills is enough to make a younger woman gasp for breath and all but beg for quarter. That from one who knows.
We started out of Logan one morning on the 10 o’clock train.
Before the train started we were part of the social gathering which greets the all-too-few passenger trains that come into Logan. Mollie Dingess knew everybody.
Arrived at the mining center, our first visit was to the schoolhouse, a substantial two-story building, in front of which were all the latest playground devices for amusing the modern child. The teachers were young and efficient in their schoolroom manners. In Logan county the schools have the advantage of extra good teachers because after the school board has voted what it can afford for salaries the coal companies make up the deficit needed to attract the best.
It was then I learned of Mrs. Drake’s unusual high school career.
“You know I have a high school education,” she remarked as we left the school and strode (at least Mrs. Drake strode) along the dirt road.
“As a girl I went to school till I was thirteen. In the teens I took up nursing and later was married. But I always wanted more education. Sometimes it is the persons who are denied education appreciate it most. Well, when my daughter was ready for high school I decided that I would get my high school education too–not by following her studies at home (I knew that wouldn’t do), but by enrolling in high school with her.
“Some of my friends thought it was an absurd idea. They said I could enroll in college for special courses or take correspondence courses. But the idea of my going to school right along with my daughter and the other young people seemed queer to them. I suppose it was unusual. But what I wanted was a regular education. So I enrolled and went through the four years of high school and was graduated in the same class with my daughter.”
“And how did your daughter feel about it?”
“Oh, she had her young friends and took part in school activities just the same.” Again the twinkle behind the glasses. “It may be that she studied harder than she would have.” I had no doubt of that.
“She is in college now,” continued Mrs. Drake. “When her grades aren’t has high as I think they ought to be she sends them to her father, but a man can’t keep such things secret, and I always find out. She knows I haven’t much patience with students who don’t keep up their grades.
“My daughter is going to be a physician. She didn’t make up her mind until after she entered college. I was rather anxious to know what she would choose. After she started studying biology she was so interested that she decided to go on and study medicine.”
It occurred to me that Mollie Drake was a feminist. I wondered if she had ever been a suffrage worker.
“No,” she answered. “I’ve always been a Democrat, though. My husband says I am what is called ‘a mean Democrat.'”
She paused and then laughed. “I made one rule when I was married. You see, Mr. Drake is a Republican. Well, I told him that if I married him he must keep just one rule. I knew our marriage would be a success if he did. And of course I promised to keep it too. The rule was that we should never talk politics. We never have and we’ve been very happy.
“Of course I voted at the last election, and much good it did so far as the Presidency was concerned. But someway I didn’t care so much for the voting. I’m old-fashioned in many ways. I was brought up in a strict way and I don’t like to hear about folks playing cards on Sunday. I suppose it isn’t wicked, but I can’t get over my bringing-up. And I never take a needle in my hand on a Sunday, only when I just have to mend something, that I don’t feel kind of guilty.”
Our conversation had been interspersed with visits to various miners’ homes, mostly where there were babies. Mrs. Drake’s philosophy had been punctuated by advice on babies and friendly comment upon the little interests of the women we visited. If we weren’t inspecting a baby we were talking with some elderly woman over a fence about her latest “misery.”
As we climbed the trails I was tired, but Mrs. Drake seemed as energetic as when the day began.
“I like the work,” she said, “but I want to study more. Last summer I took a course in New York, and I’d like to go back there for a second at the Henry Street Settlement. I want to study languages, too. There are so many things I want to do.”
Some day I have not a doubt she will do these things she wants to do. In the meantime I think of her in connection with the verse: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do.”
Source: “The Florence Nightingale of Blair Mountain,” Logan (WV) Banner, 30 December 1921.
To see Mrs. Drake’s photo and entry at Find-A-Grave, follow this link: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=20145994
Mrs. Drake’s daughter, Alleyne Howell Dye, died of suicide in Ashland, KY, in 1944. For her death record, follow this link: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9YV-H7M5-H
To see Mrs. Dye’s photo and entry at Find-A-Grave, follow this link: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=20146072
Albert Cabell, Appalachia, Arnold Barker, Canna Creek, Chapmanville, Christian, Democratic Party, G.S. Chapman, genealogy, H.T. Butcher, history, Joker Dingess, Logan Banner, Logan County, Newt Munsey, Patty Ann Cabell, Pecks Mill, Route 10, Squire Barker, Walter Crislip, West Virginia, Yantus
An unknown correspondent from Chapmanville in Logan County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Logan Banner printed on July 16, 1926:
The grading is done, and the road from here to Peck’s Mill is open to traffic.
Mrs. Albert Cabell of Yantus died last Sunday morning after a lingering illness of several months.
H.T. Butcher destroyed some high powered mash near Canna Creek a few days ago. So far no one has appeared to claim it.
Young Joker Dingess was visiting at Squire Barker’s Sunday.
There is a movement on foot to incorporate this town again. This will test out how many tight-wads there are here.
Newt Munsey and Walter Crislip have formed a partnership to operate a hack line from here to Logan. They will do their own driving. It will be known as the Safety line.
Arnold Barker is now clerking in the retail department of the G.S. Chapman store. Arnold is right there when it comes to waiting on the ladies.
Since the new mines have started everybody is at work except the Sons of Rest.
A gentleman from Christian spent the night here Sunday night trying to get his car started, but it would not go, so the next morning he gave a mechanic $1 to tell him he had no has in the tank.
The Democrats here are exclaiming: “How wise we are when the chance is gone, And a glance we backward cast. We know just the thing we should have done, When the time for doing is past.”
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, we find the following story dated October 16, 1914:
THUGS AND OUTLAWS IN FORCE
MONITOR JUNCTION, NEAR THIS PLACE IS THE SCENE OF UNLAWFUL CARNAGE
TWO COLORED MEN ARE SHOT
Last Monday Night, Oct. 12, Was a Period of Unlawful Foray in Logan County.
Unlike the posse who ran to earth in a few hours the robbers and murderers so recently killed in Mingo County, the Logan County officers have turned not one stone to apprehend what seems to be the most dastardly and cowardly criminals now loose in any county. Rumor has it that the beginning of these depredations was the day of registration before the County Court on last Monday. Upon that day there were some colored men in Logan City for the purpose of registration, more than certain people thought were best, and these latter began to lay sneaking plots to drive the colored men away. On the evening of last Monday, certain men went over the bridge at the lower end of the town to some box cars used as shanties by colored laborers. These colored men were asked by their visitors if there were any strangers in the shanties and especially any who had come to Logan to get registered. The white men received a negative reply and went on up the creek. It seems very clear that the purpose of this visit was to ascertain just where these colored men were stopping for the night, so that a night attack could be made upon them and thus run them away. About 500 yards up the creek from the shanties above mentioned there stands an old two-story framed house. In the upper story of this house lives a family by the name of Spears; in the first floor lived some colored people. About midnight two men pushed open the back door of the colored people’s abode and began shooting: one going to a bed where with a revolver he beat up a colored fellow, while his partner thug proceeded further into the house, firing his pistol at the windows and furniture. Both colored men who were lying in the bed were shot several times and are in a precarious condition. During the melee, Hallie Wootson, a colored woman staying at the house, ran between the would-be murderers and pleaded with them to cease firing till she could get her baby from the room; with an oath the thug forced her from the room, not even allowing her to properly dress herself. This woman states that there were from 15 to 20 men on guard.
Mrs. Spears, the white woman living in the upstairs of this house, states that two of the men came upstairs to her room and knocked. She told them to come in, to which they replied, “No, you don’t want to see us, go to bed, we won’t hurt you.” However a bullet was fired into the very room in which Mr. and Mrs. Spears were sleeping. From the looks of the windows and doors of this house, one hundred shots must have been fired. Mrs. Spears also states that an automobile was in the vicinity and was driven away soon after the band of men left.
About one hour after the above mentioned attack, another attack was made on Senator E.T. England’s offices. Cobble rocks were thrown through the front windows breaking them into countless pieces. Someone who knew a little more than the ordinary along certain lines was present either in person or by advice since certain well known gases were inserted under the two outside office doors. This last ruse did not avail the highwaymen of anything since their purpose was in no wise accomplished.
The question that naturally comes to us is, “Why have not the officers of Logan County–and there are over 100 in number we understand–taken up the Monitor Junction matter and attempted to bring the guilty ones before the bar of justice?” Is it because some of them know more than they care to tell? We will say this, that the circumstances surrounding this trouble are, to say the least, very suspicious, as far as some of the officers of Logan County are concerned. The antagonism which the colored people of this County meet when they attempt to register for the purpose of voting is extreme and even unlawful. The Federal Constitution gives them the right to vote providing they can properly qualify themselves. Therefore we ask: How can they qualify themselves when they are not allowed the right to go before the proper tribunal which the law establishes for that purpose? There is not a single fact concerning the trouble that occurred at Monitor Junction and in the city of Logan but what points to the fact that there is an unlawful conspiracy on the part of certain persons to intimidate the colored voter, and to kill him if necessary if that is the only way to keep him from voting.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 16 October 1914.
A.L. Samson, America, Appalachia, Big Creek, board of education, Cap Adkins, Chapmanville, constable, county clerk, Edgwright, Ferrell Hill, Ferrellsburg, Fisher B. Adkins, genealogy, history, Jim Bryant, John Dingess, Ku Klux Klan, Lincoln County, Logan Banner, Logan County, Lumbago, O.J. Phipps, Republican Party, Route 10, The Old Rugged Cross, West Virginia
An unknown correspondent from Chapmanville in Logan County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Logan Banner printed on July 9, 1926:
O.J. Phipps is now on his vacation.
Cap Adkins of Kentucky has been visiting his grand children on Big Creek this week.
Grading on our new road is being finished this week.
Several of our citizens motored to Big Creek Monday evening to get their part of the hot air dispensed by John (Corn) and others.
A white-robed crowd of men of mystery assembled on the Ferrell Hill last Monday night and burned a very beautiful cross and sang “America” and “The Old Rugged Cross.”
Mrs. Jim Bryant is visiting her parents at Edgwright this week.
Fisher B. Adkins of Ferrellsburg was attending the meeting of the Board of Education here Monday. Fisher is a candidate for Clerk of the County Court of Lincoln county.
John Dingess is confined to the house with Lumbago this week.
A.L. Samson is a candidate here for constable on the Republican ticket. He says he served seven years in Lincoln county and never took any one with him to arrest a man in his life. We say hurrah for Abe.
From the Huntington Advertiser of Huntington, WV, we find the following story dated October 31, 1899:
Tonight is Halloween and the small boy, as well as many of the larger ones, are happy. Girls ditto.
The lads and lassies, particularly of Scotland and Ireland, and the young people of Wales and England, as well as the youth of this and other countries, have for centuries hailed the night of Halloween, the last night in October, as prophetic.
The first ceremony of Halloween among the Scotch is the pulling of a stock or plant of kale. All the company go out and with eyes closed each pulls the first plant of this kind he or she is able to lay hold of. It being big or little, straight or crooked, is prophetic of the size, shape, and other characteristic of the grand object of all the Halloween spells–the husband or wife. If any earth remains clinging to the root, that signifies fortune, and the state of the heart of the stem, as perceptible to the taste, is indicative of the natural temper and disposition of a future spouse.
Burning nuts is a famous Caledonian charm. Two hazel nuts, sacred to the witches, one bearing the name of the lad and the other the lass, are laid in the fire side by side and accordingly as they burn quietly together or start away from one another so will be the progress and issue of the courtship.
Certain forms must be observed to insure the success of a given spell and in the following one there must be no departure from the formula: A maiden should steal out, entirely alone to the kiln, and throw into the pot a ball of blue yarn, holding fast to the end. She should then begin winding the yarn until it resists, whereupon she should demand, “Who holds this yarn?” An answer will be returned from the kiln-pot, naming the Christian and surname of her future spouse.
Another test is for her to take a candle and going, alone by its light only stand before a mirror and eat an apple. Some traditions say one should comb one’s hair instead of eating the apple. The conditions of the spell being perfect, a shadowy face supposed to be that of the maiden’s future husband will be seen in the glass, as if peeping over her shoulder.
Another Scotch ceremony into which the uncanny largely enters as an element is described as follows: One or more go out, as the case may be (for this is a social spell), to a south running spring or rivulet where “three lairds’ lands meet” and dip the left shirt sleeve. Go to bed in sight of a fire and bang the wet sleeve before it to dry. Lie awake watching carefully, and about midnight an apparition having the exact figure of the grand object in question will come and turn the sleeve as if to dry the other side of it.
An interesting Halloween divination that solves matrimonial doubt and banishes uncertainty is accomplished by arranging three dishes upon the hearth. Into the first is put clean water, into second clouded or muddy water, while the third is left empty. The candidate is securely blindfolded and led to the hearth where the dishes are. The left hand is dipped and if by chance it be in the clean water the wife that is to be will come to the bar of matrimony a maid; if in the muddy water, a widow; but if in the empty dish it foretells with equal certainty no marriage at all. This ceremony is three times repeated, the arrangement of the dishes being each time changed.
Ducking for apples and the attempt to secure by means of the mouth only an apple balanced upon a stick suspended from the ceiling upon the end of which is placed a lighted candle provokes much laughter and no little spirited competition.
For a girl to know if she will marry within the year she must obtain a green pea pod in which are exactly nine peas, hang it over the door, and if the next man guest entering be a bachelor her own marriage will follow within twelve months. This spell is sometimes tried at other times than Halloween, but the conditions then are generally considered less favorable.
Three small rings should be purchased by a maiden during the period of a new moon, each at a different place. She should tie them together with her left garter and place them in her left glove with a scrap of paper cut heart-shaped on which her sweetheart’s name has been written in blue ink. The whole should be placed under her pillow when retiring Halloween and she will dream of her sweetheart if she is to marry him.
The future is sometimes prognosticate on Halloween by candle omens. If a candle burns with an azure tint it signifies the presence or near approach of a spirit or gnome. A collection of tallow rising against the candlestick is styled a winding sheet and is deemed an omen of death in the family. A spark in the candle denotes that the observer will shortly receive a letter.
Two cambric needles are named on Halloween and skillfully placed in a vessel of water. If they float, swimming side by side, the course of true love runs smooth for those they represent. If they sink both together, or if one sinks and the other floats, the persons named will not marry each other.
A printed alphabet is cut into its individual letters, which are placed in water faces downward. On the morrow the initial letters of the favored opposite will be found reversed.
Peel an apple so that the skin remains in unbroken sequence. Whirl this skin three times around the head so that when released it passes over the left shoulder and falls to the floor, assuming the initial letter of the chosen one’s name.
Many young girls fill their mouth with water on Halloween and walk or run around the block, being careful not to swallow the water or suffer it to escape from the mouth. If a girl succeeds in doing this the first man met on returning home will be her husband.
To ascertain one’s standing with a sweetheart select at random an apple and quarter it, carefully gathering the seeds from the core. According to the number found, the following formula is used: 1. I love; 2. I love; 3. I love, I say; 4. I love with all my heart; 5. I cast away; 6. He loves; 7. She loves; 8. They both love; 9. He comes; 10. He tarries; 11. He courts; 12. He marries; 13. Honor; 14. Riches.
At some of the American colleges for women it is customary to celebrate Halloween with straw rides, games, and an annual sheet and pillowcase party, where the illuminations are grotesque pumpkins containing candles, and where cakes containing mystic rings, beans, and a coin are served with the refreshments.
Source: “Hallowe’en Is Now Here,” Huntington (WV) Advertiser, 31 October 1899.