When I think of Man, West Virginia, I do not fancy my attention to the town of about 750 residents who live in just over a one-mile square area that consisted of 1,632 people in 1950. Instead, my thoughts of Man include all of the surrounding areas, from Buffalo Creek to Huff Creek and from Greenville to Bruno, and even Verner.
After all, when a former resident of the Triadelphia area who has been transplanted to another part of this nation is asked where he or she originates from, they do not typically answer, "I'm from Amherstdale" or Sandlick, Mallory or whatever little community in the surrounding coal mining area the person may have been raised at. Indeed, it is likely they will instead answer, "I'm from Man, West Virginia."
With the 100th-year anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Man coming up June 18, and with the town planning a four-day celebration, I thought it a good time to reflect on an area that once produced some of the finest timber ever floated on the Guyandotte River, many years before the railroad reached the Man area and before coal became "king."
Although it officially became a town in 1918, by 1924 a Logan Banner headline read "Man, Fastest Growing Town in Logan County." Even with that description being noted, the 1930 census for the town showed just 835 residents living there. Still, that was a vast improvement from 1910 when one could count on one hand the number of residents in the isolated area at the mouth of Buffalo Creek.
There was a time when space was abundant in what would become the town of Man. The first store was opened in 1910 by Ulysses Burgess, and another store was later operated by another early settler, Johnson Queen. As the community expanded toward the Guyandotte River, H.C. Avis opened another store that was located directly across the river from the site that would become Bruce McDonald Memorial Church in what is today known as South Man.
The thickly populated mining communities that would spring up along the banks of Buffalo Creek presented quite a contrast to the scene during the early days. The closest house to the Noah White home at Low Ash was that of Madison White, who lived on the right hand fork of Buffalo Creek. In those days, before the coal veins had been tapped, the timbering industry was the income source of most area residents. Over the years, there were thousands of logs hauled by horse teams from the three hollows that converge near Man, all of the logs of which were placed into the Guyandotte River and then floated all the way to the town of Guyandotte in Cabell County near the Ohio River.
The times, like the face of the town, have changed since a day's work - from dawn to dusk - was 75 cents. The first post office was opened in 1910, and the postmaster was M.G. Sumpter. Although, not likely, there is one newspaper account that implies that the town of Man was so named by what was called the U.S. government's official post office namer. A "namer," which was a person designated to name anywhere there was a need for a post office, reportedly chose the course of least resistance in scratching out on a map the name of Man, rather than Hinchman.
The town has long been reported to have derived its name from the last syllable of the last name of Ulysses Hinchman, who according to the founder of the Logan Banner and author of the "History of Logan County," Henry Clay Ragland, obtained about 2,000 acres between the years of 1840 and 1848 that included properties at what is today Madison Creek, Rich Creek, Sandlick, Laurel Fork and other communities, mostly along the Guyandotte River.
As a member of one of Logan County's earliest families, Hinchman was one of the early doctors of the area and was the county's census taker. According to Ragland, Hinchman represented Logan County in the legislature from 1840 until 1858, which meant he made the long trip annually to Virginia before West Virginia became its own state. In addition, Hinchman also served as a pastor in the area.
In an interview with a local historian, the late Bob Spence, Laura Hinchman, a direct descendant of Ulysses, stated that "They were going to call the place Hinchman, but they thought the name was too long."
The opening of the new road from Man to Logan has breathed new life into a community that sees its share of Hatfield-McCoy trail riders come and go to the area that once had only a dangerous and twisting road that connected it to its county seat at Logan. Time will tell, but the four-lane road may lead to better prosperity for Mayor Jim Blevins' Hillbillies community, which first saw the railroad from Logan reach Man in about 1920.
By 1924, Mayor A.A. Williams, then the mayor of Man, announced that the town had asked for bids for the grading, paving and curbing of Main Street between Doss Avenue and what the high school location was then. The work was described as "the town's first improvement" and was inspired by the brand new Chamber of Commerce, which consisted of F.M. Burgess, president; George Barrick, vice president; W.W. Goodwin, secretary; and J.L. Jones, proprietor of the Man Drug Co., treasurer.
The first school in the vicinity of Man was located at where Mutters Service Station formerly operated, and its first school master was Emmett Scaggs, who would later figure prominently in Logan County politics and in 1924 win a hotly and disputed election for sheriff over Tennis Hatfield. Nearly two years later, following an election appeal to the state supreme court, Hatfield would oust Scaggs as sheriff, which would lead to Hatfield in time squandering the Hatfield fortune. Scaggs, who owned property at Man and three homes in Logan, filed for bankruptcy in 1929.
When it comes to its mark in history, the Buffalo Creek flood tragedy of 1972 takes precedence for the community of Man. The tragedy brought the loss of 125 lives and 1,121 others injured, as well as 4,000 people left homeless following a break in a coal slurry pond. Sixteen Buffalo Creek communities were virtually wiped out, bringing national attention to the Man area.
Sometimes forgotten are the names of former professional athletes Albert "Max" Butcher, Lionel Taylor and Charlie Cowan.
Butcher, who died at Man in 1957 at the age of 47, was born at Holden, but lived at Man. Butcher pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates from 1936 through 1945. In 1941, Butcher had a 17-12 record for the Pirates and in 1944 hurled five shutouts for Pittsburgh.
Cowan and Taylor, both from Buffalo Creek, were all-pro football players for their respective clubs. Taylor first played eight games as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears before moving to the Denver Broncos for the 1960 season. After switching positions to a receiver, Taylor was named the Broncos' MVP in 1963, 1964 and 1965. In addition, he was an all-star in 1961, '62 and '65.
Cowan, who was named to three pro bowl NFL squads as an offensive lineman for the Los Angeles Rams, played 15 seasons from 1961 until 1975 and was considered one of the best offensive linemen ever to play the game. He died in Los Angeles in 1998.
Another sports name who hails from Man is widely renowned James "Bus" Cook. Cook, after receiving his law degree from the University of Mississippi in 1974, became the sports agent for Green Bay Packers star Brett Favre and also has had as clients the likes of Randy Moss, Russell Wilson, Jay Cutler, Calvin Thomas and Cam Newton, as well as other professional athletes.
It wasn't that long ago that Cook and Brett Favre were the talk of the town of Man when the two of them visited Triadelphia Country Club near Bruno for a round of golf. Unfortunately, the country club has since been disbanded and the once-beautiful rolling fairways are now unrecognizable. After a two-year search, here is the information I recovered from a 1949 Logan Banner article that announced the opening of the Triadelphia Country Club.
An unrecorded lease was signed with McDonald Land Company in March of 1949 and just three months later the course was opened. N.W. Byers, president of the greens committee, said the greens and fairways were temporarily designed only for play during the rest of the 1949 season. He said the greens were to be worked on for permanent use during the fall.
The nine-hole course was reported to be about 2,500 feet in length with par for the course being set at 33. A dwelling at the site was to be remodeled the following year as club house. A group sponsored by the Man Rotary Club was said to be behind the golf course's development, and a board of directors for the Triadelphia Country Club was formed.
The officers included Herbert E. Jones Jr., president; Ralph M. Lamb, vice president; and D.E. Hensley, secretary and treasurer. Named to the board of directors were John E. Davis, G.J. Stollings, Dr. R.W. Roberts, Thompson Cook, Fred McClain, N.W. Byers and Alfred Newland.
Members of the club were said to have donated on a cooperative basis their time, labor and equipment in creating a golf course out of what basically was a mountainside, according to the newspaper account.
For well over 60 years, residents of the Triadelphia area and elsewhere enjoyed the well-kept golf course that served as the home course of the Man High School golf squads for many years. Numerous young talents were first developed at the Bruno location that could at the very least boast that it hosted the likes of Brett Favre.
Man's Archie Weldon "Buddy" Cook developed his skills at the course and became a member of the PGA tour during the 1950s and the senior tour in the 1980s. Cook won the West Virginia Open in 1985 at the age of 59.
On a much smaller scale, players, including myself, enjoyed hacking our way around the course that produced several good golfers and one heck of a lot of pleasant memories.
Today, passersby cannot tell a golf course ever existed there; the club house now even demolished. But, just as sure as there exists a community called Man, West Virginia, there was once a golf course near the Man locale that for whatever reason has recently been returned to nature.
Someday, when historians are speaking of exactly where that links course was located, I'm sure some individual will simply say, "It was located at Man."
Here's hoping the town of Man will be around for at least another 100 years or more.
Dwight Williamson is a former writer for the Logan Banner. He is now a magistrate for Logan County. He writes a weekly column for HD Media.