Annie Elizabeth Hill, Appalachia, Ashland, Big Creek, Big Ugly Creek, Billy Adkins, Boone County, Brandon Kirk, Chapmanville, dairy, education, Edward Hill, Ellis Fork, Frank Hill, genealogy, general store, Green McNeely, history, Kentucky, Logan, North Fork, notary public, Sandy Valley Grocery Company, tobacco, U.S. Army, West Virginia, World War II
On June 2, 2004, Billy Adkins and I visited Frank Hill. Mr. Hill, a retired farmer, bus driver, and store keeper, made his home on Ellis Fork of North Fork of Big Creek in Boone County, West Virginia. Born in 1923, he was the son of Edward W. and Annie Elizabeth (Stollings) Hill. Billy and I were interested in hearing about Mr. Hill’s Fowler ancestry and anything he wanted to share about his own life. We greatly enjoyed our visit. What follows is a partial transcript of our interview:
My brother started a store. There wasn’t no money in circulation when he started that store. He took a government loan for $100 and he got in touch with Sandy Valley Grocery Company in Ashland, Kentucky, and he invested that $100 and it give him enough stock to start with. Pinto beans at that time was $3.50 per hundred and he bagged them up in five pound bags and sold them for five cents. That was slow money but he made a go of it. Then he got drafted in the army and he turned it over to Mom and Dad and they took care of it for so many years. You know, my dad didn’t have a bit of education. He couldn’t even sign his name. But he clerked in that store and he could make change better than somebody with a calculator.
EARLY JOBS AND WAR
I started growing tobacco and when I was 19 I got drafted in the Army and I stayed a spell there. And the government was letting farmers that was pretty good producers go home. They needed food worse than they did soldiers at that time. That was about 1943. So I got to come home. I had an awful sick dad, too, and that was part of the reason. And I was the last one of three boys – two of them was already overseas. And all of that had a bearing on letting me out, I guess. I never went overseas. My company left about the time they released me.
Note: Electricity came about 1945.
I got married at Logan. We went in there and bought our license and the county clerk was Green McNeely. I said, “Could you tell me where there’s a preacher that would marry her and me?” He said, “Step around here behind the counter. I’m a preacher and also a clerk.”
We run it about fifteen years. We sold groceries. At one time, I had general merchandise. If you wanted any kind of hardware – wires, nails, anything like that – I could get it out of Huntington. People come there from Big Ugly across the mountain and carry their groceries back. That was the only store that was very close unless you went to Chapmanville or Madison.
That store was my wife’s project really. I worked away. I drove a bus 27 years, I think it was, in Boone County. I applied for a job to contract that hollow. I furnished my own bus, gas and everything. I done that for four year and a half and then they put me on the big yellow bus but I never got any credit for them four years and a half toward my pension. I thought they should have paid me for that because I met all the requirements that other drivers did and my bus had to be inspected, too.
I farmed and growed tobacco all them years. We had a dairy, too. We milked cows by hand and bottled it up and sold it in Chapmanville house by house. I’ve served as a notary public for Boone County for three terms – ten year each time under a different governor. And I’ve served on the farm committee for more than forty-seven years and I’ll not run no more as far as I know.