Jeff Harvey

I’d like to thank all of you who have suggested ideas for columns/stories or just commented on them. It’s nice to be appreciated.

Picking up where we left off in Ella Holroyd’s notes on Athens circa 1969 as printed in the 1987 edition of the Mercer County Historical Society’s “History of Mercer County,” we come to the Harris home above Concord. Mary Harris wrote hymns, words and music and came to Athens with her family from Hinton to go to college. In fact, she graduated with her son, both with music degrees. Mr. Harris worked in the post office in Hinton. She died young.

In 1962, Jack and Leola Johnson came to Athens and bought the house. Jack taught mathematics at Concord, while Leola started out as a homemaker in Athens before becoming a reporter for the Princeton Times, then the Beckley Register-Herald.

Next up the street was the Basil Beckett home. Basil and Ruby Beckett, he a Baker and she a teacher, before they moved to Princeton. Later, Everett and Garnette White lived there with their two daughters.

Another Beckett, Tom, lived in the next cottage, with his wife Pauline, before moving to State Street in the late 1940s. Betty Sweeney Mays was living there as of 1969.

Dr. Frank and Rose Lee Stein lived in the next house. Rose Stein succeeded Ella in the Concord Music Department and also served as a piano teacher. Dr. Stein was the first Jewish professor hired at Concord, teaching speech and drama, when he wasn’t tending to his wife’s health due to illness.

George B. Beckett, a caretaker at Concord, built a big home for his family. The campus had one building before Dr. Marsh, Sr., began his expansion program and Jake Brown was also hired as a caretaker.

George Beckett and his wife Gertrude had 13 children, not all of whom survived to maturity. Bob Beckett, his second son, married and had a daughter, Mary Edna, who taught mathematics at Concord and lived at the family home until her death.

Other children included Bob and Tom Beckett whom we just met, Roy Beckett, who ran the gas station below the high school for decades, and Julia Wiley, Ella’s next door neighbor on State Street (her brother Tom lived across the street). Julia’s grandson Tim Pike is Athens’ current mayor.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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