GLEN ALUM by Dorsey Taylor




Dorsey Taylor Sitting On Company Store Porch

The Earl and Ruth Taylor Family

My father and mother, Earl C. and Ruth Rife Taylor, were born and reared in the area of Roanoke, VA. My father was a carpenter and worked in the building trades form the end of World War I to the beginning of the depression (1929). In 1930, when I was born, Dad lost his job and was unable to find work. Faced with the problem of supporting a family, he searched for work in many areas of the country.

Dad's mother, Ethel, married William (Will) Faries who had migrated from Virginia to the southern coal fields around 1921 and found work in Glen Alum. Will Faries also found work for his two sons, Raymond and Gerald. When they heard that Dad was out of work, they encouraged him to come to Glen Alum. Dad was offered a job as carpenter and was hired to maintain the 155 houses and other property owned by the company. In 1933, my family moved to the southern coal fields of West Virginia.

The Earl Taylor House

Dad worked in Glen Alum from early 1933 until the coal mining operation at Glen Alum was discontinued around 1962. Approximately two years later, all the company houses were torn down. When the mines closed, Dad retired and my parents moved back to Roanoke. They purchased a home in the community where Mom was reared and thoroughly enjoyed their retirement years. Dad died in 1972 and Mom died in 1981.

Will Faries was killed in a mining accident around 1926. Like my father, Gerald and Raymond worked in Glen Alum until the mining operation was discontinued. Gerald and Raymond married local girls and raised their families in Glen Alum. Gerald married Bessie Hatfield, daughter of Ale and Lucinda Browning Hatfield of Ben's Creek. They had three children: Morris, Lois and Warren, all graduates of Gilbert High School. Raymond married Katherine Kennedy, daughter of Henry and Bertha Kennedy of Glen Alum. They had eight children: Teddy, Harold, Lowell, Henry, Doris, Gary, Carol and Donald.

My sister, Eleanor, was born in 1937. Eleanor and I graduated from Gilbert High School. I graduated in 1948 and Eleanor graduated in 1956. Our parents insisted that we go to college. I graduated from Marshall University in 1952 with a BS degree in business, with a major in accounting. Eleanor also graduated form Marshall in 1960 with a degree in elementary education. She later earned a master of arts degree from Western Michigan University in library science.

Dorsey, Ruth, Eleanor and Earl Taylor

After graduating from Marshall, two major events happened in my life. I married my college sweetheart, Margaret Wills, and I joined the Air Force. Bill Aker, who lived in Glen Alum, and I joined and went through basic training together at Sampson Air Force Base in New York. I had two "foreign" assignments. I spent two and one-half years at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas, and one and one-half years at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. Both of these areas were very "foreign" to me and after spending most of my life in a coal mining community. Margaret and I thoroughly enjoyed living in San Antonio and Honolulu.

After I was discharged from the Air Force, I returned to West Virginia and found employment as an accountant with the Colombia Gas System in Charleston. I worked for Columbia for thirty years and retired in 1986. Margaret taught school in Charleston and retired in 1988. We have three children and four grandchildren who live in the Charleston area.

Eleanor, my sister, lived and taught school in the area of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for many years. In 1976, she returned to Roanoke, where she works as a library media specialist in a middle school.

Reflecting on my early childhood in Glen Alum, I have many fond memories of wonderful people who helped to influence my adult life. Our community was like one big family; everyone had a strong desire to help and befriend each other. I still find it hard to forget the hard times that my family and everyone else had during the post-depression years. I remember the difficulty of keeping warm in the cold winters, of not having indoor plumbing and water, having very little or no money, having only the basic clothing necessities, having very little access to transportation, and I remember the dirt and muddy roads that were common place. Despite those hard times, the fond memories and the good times we had in Glen Alum will always be remembered.