THE VESTS OF WHITE OAK MOUNTAIN, W.VA.
AND RELATED FAMILIES
Columbus Washington Vest and Malinda Jane Cochran
Updated Dec. 11, 2017
IMPORTANT NOTICE. The images on this site – photos and obituaries – were stored on Photobucket. I am transferring the images to Dropbox. If a link doesn’t work, please email me and I will send you the image.
Columbus “Lum” Washington Vest was born 28 June 1856, Summers County, W.Va., a son of Jackson Vest and wife Nancy Lilly. Go to Vest Page 1 for more about his birth family. (Note: A Shady Spring history book erroneously lists his name as Christopher Columbus Vest. His birth record is for Columbia, a female.) Lum died on 02 Jan 1935. Malinda Jane Cochran was born 0n 30 Sept 1857 in Franklin County, Va., a daughter of Charles Cochran and Ruth Radford. Malinda died 07 March 1933 in Summers County, W.Va. (Go the the Vest/Cochran Page 4 for more about her birth family.) Mr. and Mrs. Vest lived on White Oak Mountain in Raleigh County, W.Va., near the Summers County line. Their house was burned down in the 1980s, leaving only a chimney to mark the spot. But the land is still owned by Vest descendants. Columbus' death certificate. Malinda's death certificate. They are buried in the Anderson Vest Cemetery, Summers County, W.Va. Find a Grave. As far as I know, Columbus and Malinda had five children: Leonard, Ethiel, Sanford, Luther and Callie. There is a suggestion in some records that there may have been a sixth child. Here is my research: The Sixth Child?
Children of Columbus and Malinda Vest
- Leonard Haliburton Vest, born 27 Nov 1880; died 20 March 1960 in his home on White Oak Mountain, W.Va. Photos: Vest brothers and friends.Leonard Vest and friends Leonard married Clara Alice Plumley 05 Mar 1901. Marriage certificate. Clara (Jun 1884/29 Apr 1902) died a few months after their son Claude Raymond Vest. was born. Leonard married Emma Stella Gadd 11 Jun 1907. Photo of Stella. Wedding announcement for Leonard Vest and Stella Farmer. Photo: Stella and Leonard Vest -- this photo was taken in the White Oak Mountain, W.Va., home of their daughter and son-in-law Golda and Earl Smith. (Courtesy of Harold) Leonard Vest obituaries. Stella, widow of James A.E. Via, had divorced her abusive second husband Charles Odey Farmer. Go to Gadd page 2 for more about Stella and her birth family. Leonard was a farmer and a coal miner by necessity but his real love was hunting. Family lore is that his Cochran ancestors had Indian blood and that accounted for his propensity for hunting rather than farming. Grandpa sure looked like he was part Indian, with his coarse black hair and high cheekbones. Leonard was a believer in education and encouraged his daughters to finish high school and go to college. Leonard and Stella are buried in the Smith Cemetery on White Oak Mountain. Link to Smith Cemetery on Find a Grave. Leonard and Stella’s daughter Nina wrote about her father:
The Gentleman of the Crowd
"Daddy (Leonard Vest) never did join a church. But he was saved. He was out in the field up somewhere near the grave yard & barn on the hill above the house (on White Oak Mountain, W.Va.)…he was meditating and then he started praying - a voice spoke to him and asked him what he wanted - he said good health and a long life. (Mother told me this.) I figure he was about 50…(When) the old men came to the casket when he was demised - I heard one say to another, 'He was always the gentleman of the crowd.' Knowing my daddy I knew it was true. (His parents) Grandmother & daddy, Malinda and Lum, for short, were never baptised. Grandmother (Malinda) told (her son) Uncle Sanford (Vest), she wasn't good enough to join a church. But they sat behind the cook stove and read the Bible to each other. I'm sure they were saved." (Nina Vest Bennett Worley, March 1992 letter)
Leonard Vest obituaries. CHILDREN OF LEONARD VEST: 1. Stepson DEWEY ABSHIRE ANDERSON VIA (17 Jan 1902-12 Sep 1936). Photos: Dewey and his dog. (Thank you, cousin Harold!) Dewey and family. Dewey was the son of Emma Stella Gadd and first husband James Anderson Elmer Via (04 Jan 1877/21 Nov 1902). Anderson was killed when a tree fell on him. Dewey was a baby when his father died. In 1926, Dewey was injured when a horse fell on the ice: article. Dewey, who never married, died from stomach ulcers when he was 34. Death certificate. Notes about his birth records: Due to an error in the original birth record, his birth is recorded under Dewey Gadd.There are also transcription errors, misspelling of his parents' names -- father should be J.A.E. Via and mother's maiden name Stella E. Gadd as it is in the original record. Also, in census records Dewey's name is mangled into "Lucy Vert." Dewey was buried in the Anderson Vest Cemetery, Summers County, W.Va.: Find a Grave
2. CLAUDE RAYMOND VEST, born 21 Nov 1901, to Leonard and first wife Clara Alice Plumley. Clara died a few months after Claude’s birth. Claude's delayed birth certificate says he was born in Jumping Branch, Summers Co., but his obituary says he was born in Raleigh County. Claude was a coal miner. Claude, 43, married Georgia Lee Vest, 25, on 26 Jan 1945 in Summers County, W.Va. Georgia was born 19 Oct 1919, daughter of Joseph Thomas and Izola Furrow Vest, and died 19 Jul 1998. Claude died 08 Dec 1961 in a Beckley, W.Va., hospital. Claude and Georgia had two sons, Joe Cephus Vest (1946-89), Joe's obituary, and Hubert Jackson Vest (1951-91), Hubert's obituary, Hubert died of a gunshot wound. Two 1991 articles: Police investigate Raleigh man's death; Death ruled suicide. Photos: Claude, Georgia and Joe. Joe and Hubert. Claude Vest family. Claude, Joe, Hubert and Georgia were buried in the Simmons Cemetery, Mt. View, W.Va. Link to Find a Grave. (Thank you, Hulda, for photos and documents relating to the Claude Vest family.) Dewey and Claude school picture: White Oak Mountain school
3. VERNA VEATRICE VEST (1908-80). Verna was a teacher. Leonard encouraged his children to get an education. Verna completed eighth grade and then waited a year for her sister Golda to catch up so they could board away from home together and attend Shady Spring High School. Photos: Verna, Verna's graduation picture. After high school, Verna and Golda attended Concord College (now Concord University) in Athens, W.Va. They both left college early to begin teaching and later earned their degrees by going to college classes in the summer. Verna married Fred Bennett, son of Samuel Adams Bennett and wife Nancy Victoria Plumley. Fred and Verna's first child Hazel Jeannette Bennett was injured by obstetric forceps and was either stillborn or died shortly after her birth, according to her family. There is a postumous photo of baby Hazel. Hazel was buried in the Anderson Vest Cemetery, Summers County. Find A Grave Memorial 44833500. Son Dewey Ralston Bennett, who was unarmed and on his mother's property, was shot and killed in 1974 by a man he had known all his life. Ralston was named after his uncle Dewey Via but was known to most by his middle name. He joked that he was Dr. (D.R.) Bennett. Ralston was married and had five children. Pictures of Ralston Bennett as a child. Fred, Verna and Ralston were buried in the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, Abraham, Find a Grave: Verna Fred Hazel Ralston.
4. GOLDA MAE VEST. Golda, a teacher, married Earl George Smith on 26 Dec 1934 in Summers County. He worked most of his live as a coal miner. Photo: Earl and Golda. For more about Earl's birth family, go to the George Smith Jr. page. Earl and Golda had four children -- two sons, Billy Lee and Bobby Earl, who died in childhood, (photo of Billy and Bobby) and two daughters, Emma Ellen and Eva Mae. Earl, who had black lung and silicosis, had a heart attack and died at the wheel of his car on 07 Apr 1986. Earl's obituary. Golda died on 23 Feb 1991 at her daughter's home in Ironton, Ohio. Golda's obituary. Golda and Earl and their sons are buried in the Smith Cemetery on their White Oak Mountain farm. Ellen Smith Lutz died in 2017 and is buried in the Calvary Cemetery Coal Grove, Lawrence County, Ohio. Find A Grave Memorial 181593795. 5. SYLVIA GLADYS VEST. (1913-21). Sylvia and sister Josephine died within a few hours of each other in 1921 of diphtheria. (Stella’s family Bible records the date as 02 Sept 1921, for both girls. However, their sister Nina remembers Sylvia dying at 9 p.m. and Josephine dying at 9 a.m. the next morning.) Photos: Sylvia as a baby. Sylvia and her siblings. Sylvia and sister Josephine were buried in the Anderson Vest Cemetery: Find a Grave
6. NINA ARABELLE VEST. (1916/2003). Nina, who worked as a school secretary, married Percy Bennett, a son of Samuel and Victoria, and brother to Fred. Percy and Nina had a daughter, Norma, and two foster sons. Foster son Omar Thomas "Terry" Plumley, 61, of Atlanta, Ga., died 12 Nov 2003 after a wreck. Vincent G. Plumley died in March 2010. After Percy's death, Nina married Lafon Reese Worley (1926-1995), a son of Robert C. Worley and wife Tessie Waugh. Percy was buried in the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church cemetery, Abraham, W.Va. Find A Grave Memorial 21382761. Nina and LaFon are buried in Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens, Beckley, W.Va. Find A Grave Memorial 63911826 7. JOSEPHINE VEST. (1920-21). Josephine and Sylvia Gladys died within a few hours of each other in 1921 of diphtheria. Find a Grave.
8. OLA PEARL VEST. (1922-86). Ola, a nurse, married Harold Alfred "Tex" Hinte (1920-1996), son of William Hinte and wife Rosie Trainer. Ola and Tex had a son, Harold L. Hinte. Harold A. Hinte and his eldest son. Tex got his nickname because he was a big man, Texas-sized, and, although West Virginia born, had a drawl. A visitor to this site contributed several photos and articles about Tex's sports career: Tex Hinte studio picture, Article from Beckley paper: Boxer-Teacher Was A 1955 Visitor. After a divorce, Ola married Johnnie Samuel Riffle (1919-2014) and had a second son, Steve Riffle. Johnnie was a son of Omer Calvin Riffle and wife Carrie Stewart. Photos: Ola in her nursing uniform; Ola and Johnnie; Ola and Johnnie and sons. Ola and Johnnie are buried in Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens, Raleigh County, W.Va. Find A Grave Memorial 38636541
- Luther Flemon Vest, born 26 Nov 1885 or, according to his death certificate, 1883. Died 04 Jan 1931. He died single. Photo: Luther and his brothers. Front, left to right: brothers Sanford Walter, Luther Flemon, Leonard Haliburton and Ethiel B. Vest. Back, left to right, Howard Vest, Edward Bennett, John Vest and unidentified man. (Identification of men in the back row is from A History of Shady Spring District, compiled by the Shady Spring District Woman's Club, 1979. Page 431. The caption says that Sanford was "inducted into the army at time of picture.") Note: the Vest brothers had a cousin Edward Bennett, son of Jacob Bennett and Rachael Cochran. I believe Luther is in the front row of this picture: Vest mystery photo.
- Callie R. Matilda Vest was born 25 May 1887. She married Wriston Richmond. Photo of Callie and sons William and Edward. Callie died of pneumonia at age 48 on 08 Dec 1935. Death certificate. (Thanks to Callie's daughter Iva for pictures and information.) Wriston Richmond (obituary) was a son of Elizabeth Richmond. Wriston Richmond and grandmother Mary Plumley Richmond, Wriston Richmond as a youth. Wriston's first wife was Nickie Belle Brunty. Photo of Nickie and her family. Wriston had 11 children:
Children of Nickie and Wriston
1. ORAL HOBART RICHMOND, born 24 Mar 1902, Pluto, Raleigh County, W.Va.; died 15 Feb 1995. (Source: Social Security Death Index.) Obituary: Hobart O. Richmond. Birth record. He married Elsie Mae Bennett, born 19 Jan 1912, at Jumping Branch, Summers County, W.Va., a daughter of William Asa Bennett and wife Lena Ruth Cochran. Elsie died 05 May 1986 in Beckley, W.Va. Elsie's obituary. Photo of Hobart and Elsie Richmond. 2. VINESIE "NIECE" RICHMOND, known to most as Niece. Born 25 Oct 1898 at Madam's Creek, W.Va; died 10 Aug 1986, Beckley, W.Va. Niece in 1929. Niece (tintype) She married Virgil Franklin Cooper Gwinn (07 Oct 1901, Summers County, W.Va./May 1975, Raleigh County), son of Fannie Alice Richmond and husband William A. Gwinn. Niece's obituary. Virgil's obituary. Niece and Virgil anniversary newsclip Niece and Virgil. (Stamped on the back is: W.J.B. Gwinn Railroad & Trolley Photos, 650 Main Street, Bridgeport, Ohio. July 2, 1957. The photographer was Virgil's brother, William J.B. Gwinn. Page dedicated to William J. B. Gwinn.) Niece and Virgil and unidentified couple. Niece on a shopping trip.
3. LOLA MAE RICHMOND. Born in 09 Oct 1899. Lola and Niece. Lola died 04 Jan 1996 in Virginia, according to the Social Security Death Index. She married David Levi Hamilton, who was born in Buena Vista, Va., in 1925 in Raleigh County. Marriage record.
4. DOLPHUS RICHMOND. Born 16 Mar 1904 in Raleigh County (birth record) and died 08 Feb 1923 in Hinton, W.Va. Dolphus, 17, died in a hunting accident. He dropped his gun and it discharged. (Pluto Boy Dies From Gun Wound, Hinton Daily News, Thursday, 08 Feb 1923, Page 1, Column 1.) Death record online.Children of Callie and Wriston 5. RICHARD RICHMOND. Callie and Wriston's first son Richard died, according to their daughter Iva.6. JESSE JAMES RICHMOND. (17 Nov 1909/1992). Jesse married Minnie Bennett (1912/1985), daughter of Samuel Adams Bennett and wife Nancy Victoria Plumley. (Minnie's sister Maye married Jessie's brother Earl.) Birth record. Jesse Richmond at Abraham. Jesse's obituary.
7. IVA MARIE RICHMOND. She married Harold Fortner. Iva died on Dec. 4, 2017. (Thank you, Iva, for the photographs and information.)
8. ARTHUR HESTON RICHMOND, born 06 Apr 1924; died 21 Mar 1999. (Source: U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006. Quantico National Cemetery, Va.) Funeral card. Arthur married Helen Elenora Coffman, born 08 Feb 1914, a daughter of Cal and Ida Pearl Coffman in 1950 in Wyoming County, W.Va. Marriage record. Helen, divorced at the time of her marriage to Arthur, had married John Marshall in 1929 in Fayette County, W.Va. Marriage record. Helen died 23 Dec 1951 in Raleigh County, W.Va., from injuries sustained in a wreck. Death certificate.
9. WILLIAM RICHMOND. (13 May 1920/15 Dec 1969). He married Dorothy Lanham. (WWII newsclip, 2009 obituary) Entombment was at Kanawha Valley Memorial Gardens at Glasgow, W.Va.
10. EDWARD L. RICHMOND. born 27 Jul 1917 at Pluto, Raleigh County, W.Va.; died 09 Mar 1995, Beckley, W.Va. Obituary. Edward as a child.
11. EARL VERNAL RICHMOND. (02 Aug 1913/18 Feb 1999, Raleigh County, W.Va.) Earl married Maye Bennett (30 May 1917/06 May 1982, Raleigh County), daughter of Samuel and Victoria Bennett. Mr. and Mrs. Richmond are buried in the Meador Cemetery at Pluto, Raleigh County. Maye and Earl Richmond, probably 1979. Find a Grave link.
Wriston Richmond, first wife Nickie Brunty Richmond, daughters Lola and (standing) Vinesie “Niece,” and mother Elizabeth Richmond. Wriston Richmond and sons Arthur, William, Jessie.
- Sanford Walter Vest, born 01 March 1890/died May 13, 1961. Sanford's obituary Sanford never married. Photos: Sanford 1 Sanford 2 Sanford and Eva 3 His grandniece Eva Smith writes about Uncle Samp:
A Man of God
"We all remember Uncle Sanford Gadd as a man with a deep personal relationship with God. He lived with my family when I was a tiny girl and I still have the impression 40 some years later that this was the only true saint I will ever meet. It wasn’t what he said or even what he did. Sanford just had this 'aura' that even a little girl picked up on. He was a devoted member of the Bluestone Primitive Baptist Church. At one point in his old age, he lived with my parents. I remember that he would take a walk each evening. I wanted to tag along but Uncle Sanford would not let me go with him. He would walk fast and leave me behind. One winter day when the snow was very deep, he only walked a short way into the wood. I followed and saw him kneeling in prayer. That's why he wouldn't let his little niece come with him on his walks. These were his private times with God." Sanford is buried in the E.B. Vest Cemetery on White Oak Mountain, W.Va. Find A Grave Memorial 53319449.
- Ethiel Barah Vest, 28 March 1897/21 Jan 1965. He was also known by his initials E.B., pronounced eeeb. Obituary. Ethiel married Sarah Catherine Justice, born 24 May 1904 at Egeria, W.Va., a daughter of Wayne Justice and wife Ida Hatcher. Obituary. Vest family photo shared by the Hudson family. Mr. and Mrs. Vest had five children: 1. ETHIEL WAYNE VEST. (06 Feb 1925/10 Sep 1995), known to all as Wayne. Obituary. 2. GILDA PEARL VEST HUDSON. 3. ILDA MELINDA VEST (30 Mar 1929/05 May 1984). Obituary. 4. IDA CATHERINE VEST FAKESS (16 Sep 1926/13 Sep 2009). and 5. ROSELLA VEST, who died in infancy. Ethiel, Sarah and their children are buried in the E.B. Vest Cemetery on White Oak Mountain, W.Va.
Making Music on White Oak Mountain
Nina Vest Bennett Worley, daughter of Leonard Haliburton Vest and wife Emma Stella Gadd of White Oak Mountain, W.Va., shared memories of her family. She recalled that her grandmother Malinda Cochran Vest loved to read. Nina also said the Vests were a musical family. I remember my mother Golda saying they would gather sometimes at the Claiborne house because they had the only piano on the mountain. In March 1992, Nina wrote about her half brother, Claudie Raymond Vest, (21 Nov 1901/08 Dec 1961) who was raised by his grandparents Columbus and Malinda. Claude's mother Clara, first wife of their son Leonard, died in childbirth. Jim and John Vest were probably sons of Edward Anderson Vest and wife Virginia Frances Farley.
"Your Uncle Claude (Vest) could play the harmonica, any string instrument. They used to gather at my Grandmother's (Malinda Cochran Vest, White Oak Mountain) and play at night (Saturday nite). How they could play. James Vest, Dad (Leonard Vest) and brothers were always there. Jim played guitar and John the accordian. (Dwight Quesenberry) would be there too. When I hear a train whistle blow, I can just hear Claude, play on the harmonica the train blues. I cry & cry -- your mother (Nina's sister Golda Vest Smith) could play string music. I loved for her to play the violin. Your great uncle Albert Vest, brother to my grandaddy Vest (Columbus Washington Vest) could make...violins and play them. Wonderful. Verna (Nina's sister Verna Vest Bennett) could play strings too. I couldn't - I play just a little piano..." (Nina Vest Bennett Worley)