The area Rev Donnelly describes in this article is a familiar tract of land for me. There may have been a number of occasions, in my younger day, that I would sneak out of one friend’s house in the middle of the night and run across the field to another friend’s house. Once there was a crop of corn growing. I remember stopping and helping myself to one of the ears, I devoured it right there, uncooked. Oh, the days of stupid youth.
Yesterday And Today-
Story Of White Oak Country Club
By SHIRLEY DONNELLY
While I was on the banquet circuit last week, three trips were made to White Oak Country Club where the retired Col. Bill Miller is the high muckity-muck of the popular Fayette County social center.
As milady and I were headed there she was regaled with the history of some of the spots and places we passed.
ADJOINING the White Oak Country Club golf range, as one goes there from Oak Hill, is a fine tract of land known locally as ” The Brenneman Field.” That field is part of the Lundale Farm of proprietor Herbert E. Jones Sr.
It is the most valuable piece of farm land in Fayette County. Each year the broad acres are tilled. Its yield annually is a rich one. Crops and roughage raised on that “Brenneman Field” are fed to the world champion Holstein dairy cows on the noted Lundale Farm, one of the oldest and best in all this area of West Virginia.
RECENTLY when Charles A. Brenneman Sr. of Chapmanville was interviewed for data to go into this column, I asked him about the valuable Brenneman field.
Now 87 and chock full of local history, the erstwhile Fayette man told me: “That section across the highway from our old home, whereon the graveyard is located quite a distance back in that field, was a section which we referred to as the 80-acre field.
“Then adjoining that, at a corner, was a 30-acre tract. On that 30-acre tract was built our newer home. It stood on the extreme southern part of this smaller tract. That property was sold to one of the United Mine Workers of America, L. C. Rogers, who was a district manager. That house was built out of the best lumber available. It was all hardwood lumber without a knot in it. Floors in the house were quarter – sawed oak with the exception of the dining room floor which was clear maple.
“MOST OF our farm was across the road from the 80-acre tract. South and back of our farm there lay an enormous acreage which was owned by the Davis heirs. I am not sure but think the country club layout was a part of the Davis land. Beyond that, Hugh Legg owned a place that comprised between 50 and 100 acres.
“That 80-acre tract was disposed of to the Jones family mentioned.”
BRENNEMAN’S mother moved to California in the summer of 1912.
He started to work in the mines when he was 13 years old. He worked in the mines between school terms. After finishing high school at the age of 14, he attended Concord Nornal School four years. Following his graduation at Concord, Charles Brenneman worked in the mines full time for five years.
At that time at Parral mine — now called Summerlee — he drove the first mine mule in that shaft operation. He also worked in the Stuart mine -now called Lochgelly.
While working in the Stuart mine he had a narrow brush with death. On Jan. 29, 1907, he missed getting killed by five minutes. He told me that he “had just stepped off the shaft cage and walked about 1,000 feet when the Stuart mine exploded.” On that fateful day, 85 miners were killed.
One miner killed that day Frank Loving who was a little over 13 years old. After the notable disaster the name of the Stuart mine was changed to Lochgelly.
REGARDING the graveyard in the Brenneman field, it is forlorn today, neglected and grown up in briers, brush, and brambles. Years ago I officiated at a funeral with interment that followed in that cemetery. It was requested that a hymn sung at the burial, “If you raise a tune,” as I was asked. An effort followed, but to tell the truth the tune was only about half – raised, I thought!
Clippings re: Stuart Mine Disaster 29 Jan 1907: