This site has photographs and genealogical information about southern West Virginia families including the Vest family of White Oak Mountain, Smith family of Abraham in Richmond District, the Gadd and Cochran families, and the Biars family of West Virginia and Ohio. A whole bunch of cousins contributed to this site. Thank you! The aerial photo above, taken in 1985, is my childhood home, the Earl and Golda Smith farm on Route 3, Hinton Road, White Oak Mountain, Raleigh County, W.Va. The yellow house was built by my grandparents, Leonard H. Vest and Stella Gadd Vest.

Giving credit where credit is due
If you've shared a photo or information and I haven't given you credit, please e-mail me and I'll add your name. If you use photos or information from West Virginia Memories, please make note and include this site address: http://wva.homestead.com I want more cousins to find their way here. If you have photos or information to share or corrections/suggestions or if you just want to say hello, I am always glad to get e-mail.

Cousin Katherine shared these 2015 photos with me. The photographer is James Plumley. Photo 1  Photo 2  Photo 3. New Salem at night. (At least one visitor told me he was having problems accessing photos on this site which are linked to Photobucket. If you're having problems, e-mail me and I will try and sort it out.)

West Virginia photos by James Plumley. New River  Thurmond  Thurmond 2
West Virginia Talk. Added an article -- Lad Lost in Woods/Found on Batoff Mountain (1939) under Bad Off Mountain entry. (09 Jun 2015)
Random quotations. Added new quotes under Advice. (15 Jun 2015) Added a quote on "Churchillian drift." (10 Apr 2015)
Cemeteries. A quote on the importance of church cemeteries. (07 Mar 2015)

A page with links to obituaries of those with a connection to the families on West Virginia Memories. Recent entries: Ruby Ann Harvey, 63, of Beckley died on 19 Sep 2015. Richard Vest Sr., 82,of Lenoir City, Tenn., passed away Thursday, July 30, 2015.  Dorothy Jean Smith, 87, died on Friday, May 8, 2015, at Plateau Medical Center in Oak Hill, W.Va. Gilda Pearl Vest Hudson, 84, died on March 17, 2015, in Fayetteville, N.C. Rhonda Renae Shoemaker, March 1, 1961-March 6, 2015. Rhonda was from the Kentucky branch of the Gadd family. Find A Grave Memorial# 143436394. Glema Blanche Cochran Wills, 98, of Jumping Branch, W.Va., died on Feb. 27, 2015, in Summers County, W.Va. Martha Frances Harvey Headington of Michigan passed away surrounded by her loving family on July 15, 2014. Lyle Douglas Fox, 75, of Beckley, Raleigh County, W.Va., passed away Saturday, July 5, 2014, at his home. Clara Annette Richmond, 56, of Meadow Bridge, W.Va., died on 14 June 2014 in Bowers Hospice House in Beckley, W.Va. She  was a daughter of the late Erville Elmore and Dorothy Marie Runyan Richmond. Rachel Marie Smith Richmond, 96, of The Villages of Greystone, formerly of Russell Street, Beckley, W.Va., died Thursday, 02 Jan 2014. Dianna Lottie Harvey, 65, of White Oak Mountain, W.Va., died on 31 Dec 2013 in Hinton, W.Va. (GO TO In Memory FOR MORE INFORMATION AND OTHER ENTRIES.)

In addition to West Virginia Talk, I have put together a page of Random Quotations, selected just because I like them.

  • PHOTOGRAPHER ON HORSEBACK – JOHN C. WIKEL 1885-1983. This book is dedicated to the memory of John C. Wikel, to the people he photographed in the early 1900s, and to their ancestors who continue to perpetuate their history and heritage today in the community of Buck, along Little Wolf Creek, in the County of Summers, in the state of West Virginia in the United States of America. A new publication by Phyllis Campbell Whitley, author of "Barns of Summers County: West Virginia Heritage." Information on ordering the book ($24) is online: http://www.photographeronhorseback.com/
  • You Tube video created by Dennis Chadra about his grandfather, Frank Hadra, who survived the 1914 Eccles mine disaster. There are articles about the disaster on the Shoebox page.
  • Bonnie Sue Bennett Pishner, Swell Mountain Memories, “…documents life in the West Virginia hills from oral family histories, photographs, newspaper articles, hospital documents and personal diaries from her extended family and friends.”
  • Happy birthday, Mr. Cartoon! From the WSAZ page on Facebook: "Honoring WSAZ Legend Jule Huffman aka Mr. Cartoon! Jule Huffman is 90 years old & people have come to celebrate. Check out the basket of cards; it's a testament to his longevity & popularity!" (31 Mar 2014) From West Virginia Talk: Mr. Cartoon – Host of a children’s show on WSAZ-TV, Huntington. George Lewis was the original Mr. Cartoon. Jule Huffman took over the role in 1969 when Lewis left WSAZ to take a job with a Maryland television station. A 2009 update on Mr. Huffman 
  • Come Back Home To Beckley by Del Shatley. A "must listen" for anyone who grew up in the Beckley, W.Va., area. Mr. Shatley hits all the locales on memory lane: G.C. Murphy's, King Tut's Drive-In and so forth.  You Tube. Amazon.com
  • CNN: Inside Man. Hosted by Morgan Spurlock, born in Parkersburg, W.Va., and raised in Beckley, W.Va.

Appalachian Lifestyles -- Stories, tales, lies, musings and daily life in the mountains of central Appalachia. Dedicated to the education of the American public on the unique culture of Appalachia. Site owned by Matthew Burns. A good place to browse. An entry from 2008: MURDERED I SAY -- George Bible Bennett (1831-1864) of Pendleton County, was killed by the Swamp Dragons, a Yankee unit. His father Elijah Bennett carved this on his son’s tombstone: "Here lies GBB/Killed by the Swamps/Murdered I Say."

While researching my folks, occasionally I come across an interesting, but unrelated, article, and place it on my Shoebox page. The number of articles about former slaves grew, so I created the Slave Articles page. The articles are about slaves from several states, not just from Virginia or West Virginia. (Updated 05 Apr 2014 -- Added Jack Johnson Riddle of Ga. and Ala.)

Smith Farm on White Oak Mountain, W.Va.