Jeff Harvey

Before we continue with our look at what William Sanders II had to say in his book “A New River Heritage, Volume IV”, (McClain Publishing, 1994), I want to say thanks again to the people who have commented either face-to-face or via e-mail about the column. The compliments are welcome and I’ll do my best to address any specific questions you may have.

We now turn to the Beartown/Arista Mountain area in Mercer County, which produced the late Claude Blankenship of Matoaka, who served on the Mercer County Commission for six years and on the Princeton Bank & Trust Board. He married his World War II girlfriend, “Toni” Reitz from Nebraska.

During Blankenship’s tenure on the County Commission, the county acquired the Stafford Drive property in 1963 later annexed by the City of Princeton and was able to trade properties at the Gardner Interchange and around the courthouse and on Stafford Drive and Route 20 (New Hope Road) to great advantage, which set the stage for development at Gardner, created parking room at the courthouse and enabling the county to greatly increase its solvency.

Claude had two brothers, Paul and Charles and one sister Eva. They were the children of Howard Blankenship and Lora Cole Blankenship and the grandchildren of John B. and mary Settle Blankenship from the Mercer-Wyoming County border area.

The Blankenships of Beartown had strong connections to the Bailey family. Brothers Harry and Lomas Blankenship married Bailey sisters Pauline and Thelma. Harry and Pauline Blankenship still were living at the respective ages of 80 and 78 in Beartown. Harry was a son of C.D. (Cager) Blankenship and Martha Bailey Blankenship from the A. Pent and Polly Bailey line. Cager was a son of Eli and Jane Blankenship..

That Bailey line goes also through Christopher Columbus Bailey to John Pendleton Bailey. The line includes Patton Bailey, who was shot and killed by Confederate recruiters for refusing to register with the Confederate Army. He was dragged back to the front porch of his cabin near the present Bailey Cemetery where his four-year-old son wept over his body.

That’s all for this week.

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