Research in Clintwood, Virginia

Last week was the best week of research that I have had so far. I assume Victoria feels the same way but I won’t put words in her mouth. We were able to begin looking at some records in our college’s archive that did not prove very fruitful yet but will as we continue digging. We were able to look at ledgers and inventories from a local store and there was also a rent book from a nearby coal town that I found particularly interesting. What was much more exciting was discovering in a local county history book that the high school building in Clintwood, Virginia was commissioned as a memorial to the soldiers of Dickenson County that were killed in World War I. In the years after the war the money was earmarked for the project and Dickenson County Memorial & Industrial High School opened in 1921. The original school building is still in use today in Clintwood with an addition to the building that was added in the 1950s. The original inscription is still on the building even though the name of the high school was changed decades ago. There is also a large plaque still mounted in the old building commemorating the structure to those that died in the war and it also includes a list of those that were killed. We talked to the principal an he took us to the plaque and he wasn’t even aware what the memorial part of the original school name was for and he also told us that he hadn’t really looked at the memorial plaque to know that it was dedicated to World War I veterans. Both he and I have lived in that county our entire lives and neither of us knew that the school was built for that purpose and I asked my parents who are fellow Dickensonians and they were also unaware. It just seemed surprising to me that so many people who see that old inscription on an almost daily basis could be unaware of what it actually stood for. Victoria was also able to get some pictures from the local historical society of Dickenson County troops that were killed during the war. Each picture gave a name and rank as well a short description of each soldiers’ war experience. One interesting thing that I noticed when reading the short bios that came with the picture was that the majority of the soldiers were killed in the Argonne Forest in a relatively short span of time. That was also reflected on the memorial plaque at the high school as it showed well over half of the soldiers killed died in the first two weeks of October. All in all it was an exciting week and I look forward to continuing our research in the archives and finding a use for what we found in Clintwood.

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