TALCOTT W.Va. (Hinton News) – Editor’s Note: Each week, local history collector William Jones shares items from his collection and information about their historical significance. In this edition of A Peek into Summers County’s Past, he discusses when the Trinity Methodist Church building was moved.
The photo of a church building being moved is Trinity United Methodist Church in Talcott, which was built in 1885. It originally sat perpendicular to the way it is now on the corner of the lot. It also sat farther down on the lot towards the river.
The photo with the number over the top of the buildings is a cropped version of a photo I had previously written about. I brought the photograph into this article to draw attention to the area where the church used to sit. Trinity is the church with “5” written over it.
The other photo in black and white is a newspaper clipping from the Hinton Newspaper. The church was either moved in 1957 or 1958 and was bricked by The Masonic Fraternity. I found conflicting dates for the church’s relocation. A man named Fred Cook was the pastor at that time. In June of 1957, it was reported to have 130 members.
It was relocated to an adjacent lot, which was quite a bit larger. This move was brought about by one of the huge fires that ravaged Talcott. The town saw several fires during its early days that burned many homes and businesses. One of which burned the Dunn Clark and Perry Store (no. 8) and the house directly to its right. This fire left a large vacant lot adjacent to the growing church.
The parishioners voted and decided to move the church to this space. One reason for the change included adding two rooms onto the rear of the building and constructing a basement under it. Additionally, it changed orientation to face the opposite direction from how it originally sat to its current position facing the railroad tracks. Moving the church also fixed an issue the building had to deal with since its construction.
As I said, it sat lower in the field, closer to the river. It flooded several times while it was there. Granted, the Greenbrier has seen its three highest crests within the last 39 years. But there have been other very high crests. Records only started being kept in the 1960s. The highest flood prior to this was the flood of 1918, which was basically the equivalent of the flood of 2016.
My Great-grandfather, O.D. Thompson was a member of this church. I have a book of his, “A Church Using Its Sunday School,” from Trinity that is signed “Orice D. Thompson Talcott, West Va. March 6, 1953.”
While speaking of him, I recently found a newspaper article dated Dec. 23, 1961, titled “Indian Raids, Disastrous Fires Have Plagued Talcott Residents.” In it, the author talks about one of these disastrous fires and says that one Sunday evening in 1926, while the preacher was praying, O.D. Thompson walked up to him.
He then whispered to him that the Talcott Hardware Store was on fire. The hardware store was across the road from L.G. Rhodes’ Store (which now serves as the John Henry Museum). It was not long until the entire congregation had heard about what was going on and abandoned the services to take their part in the firefighting efforts.
Another family connection I have to this church is that my Great-Great-Grandfather, L.W. Thompson, was contracted to put a new roof on the building sometime during the 1940s and paint the steeple. He then subcontracted the job of painting the steeple to my grandfather Bernard Thompson and his cousin Gene Wallace, both of whom lived in Talcott. They were only 14 or 15 at the time. They stretched as far as they felt safe and painted it all but about a foot or so of the very top of the steeple. You may have noticed a faint line and a lighter color of brown around the top of it until it was repainted last year. That is because my grandfather was scared of heights and couldn’t complete the job.
Oddly enough, my brother and his company, JC Construction, reroofed the church and painted the steeple last year. My mother has L.W.’s wooden paint ladder that my grandfather had used to paint the church.
One final bit of my family history with this church, again involving L.W., is that on top of all of his many traits, he was also a stone mason. He built stone posts in front of his home that sits to the right of the church and is still in front of this white two-story house with the green tin roof. He also built the stone steps that were in front of the church before it was moved. Summers County Historian John Kessler told me that after the church was moved, the steps were pushed over the river bank into the river. They still reside there to this day.
This is the end of another edition of A Peek into Summers County’s Past. Did you know the church building had been moved? If you have a story from the area’s history to share, send an email to email@example.com.
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