Reprinted from The Calhoun Chronicle

Altizer is remembered by older residents



By ELIZABETH SCHELPER
Historian, Calhoun County Library

In a former article there was a story about the Elihue Morgan family that lived at Altizer in the old George Lynch, Jr., house. This was the beginning of an investigation into the community of Altizer, part of a series of inquiries being made into the county's present and former centers of activity.

There were, I discovered, two Altizers, both of which were nestled in the charming lower West Fork valley along Rt. 18, and around which post offices were established for better mail services. Some of the county's oldest families lived and worked around Altizer - old and new - including the Starchers, the Lynches, the Whytsells, and Gibsons. Information on Altizer for this article were kindly given by Esther Gibson and Irene Lynch, two Altizer residents who by marriage inherited a fine tradition of these two old families.

The old Altizer was named after Henry Altizer, a prominent citizen and lawyer of Arnoldsburg who arranged the formalities for the post office to be established at the home of George Lynch, Jr., where Edgar Lynch now lives. The post office site has a long history of habitation, which according to "Dewees' Recollections of a Life Time" began with Philip Starcher. Philip apparently lived most of his life on the place which at one time was a one-fourth part of 5,000 acres originally owned by John Moyland and first surveyed in the 1780's. A good deal of controversy about where Philip was buried remains today at Altizer, since he was one of the county's earliest settlers, about 1820.


From a map of Calhoun County West Virginia, copyright 1930.

1. The area of Pine Creek, the location of Claria, a short lived post office around the 1900s, which was the address of many of the Starcher of that time. This was the homeplace of T.J. Starcher.

2. Homeplace of Allen B. Starcher, at the fork in the road.

3. Altizer.

4. Adam, named for Adam Starcher.

5. Richardson, sometimes referred to as Richardsonville.



George Lynch, Jr., occupied the land shortly after Philip's death, I am led to believe, in the 1850's. By 1860, George had a water grist mill running by his home that became the nucleus of the community. A small school began there in later years, being first known as the Lynch school. Later the Whytsell school was built across the river. The mill site at the home of George L. Lynch, son of George, Jr., also had a store where all the inhabitants coming for their mail also came to buy their groceries. In later years the mill and store were run by Elizabeth and John McCoy, according to our 91-year old informant, Esther Gibson.

In 1913, another store and mill were built around the home of Amos Gibson, and this became the nucleus of the new Altizer in latter years. The grist mill was gasoline motor operated and had come, it is rumored, from an old gasoline boat that ran the West Fork in its heyday. The Craddock school replaced the Whytsell school for convenience since the old school across the river posed problems of crossing in high water. The new Altizer with school, mill and store became a post office as well, all conveniently located just down river from the Stoney Point church. The new post office served an area that extended for three to five miles around, and constituted the community of Altizer.

The community began to decline when the modern world offered better conditions for life elsewhere. Electricity, plumbing and gas heating were slow to come to Altizer, and may have made some people leave. The first telephone service began in October 1923, says Esther Gibson, who remembers swtichboard operators working out of Arnoldsburg and Hur.

All that remains of Altizer to suggest the old community's existence is the abandoned post office building and the Stony Point church. The church sets gracefully on the rocky point dividing Rt. 18 and the Daniels Run road, and is worth the drive to see. The church land was first donated by Adam Starcher in 1873, and a log church was built shortly thereafter. The old log structure was replaced in 1923, the year that Civil War veteran George Gibson died, and on whose land the church was built.


Work in progress
tmiller@mountain.net



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