XVI. BAKERTON (1922-1948) 


As previously mentioned, the early 1920's marked the end of Standard's operation by its founders (Joseph [5], William [3], and Daniel [6] Baker) and the assumption of authority by the next generation of the family J.H. Baker [8], William G. Baker II [9], Daniel Baker III [27], and Frank Thomas [17].  Since Standard Lime and Cement was owned by the Baker family, policies formulated at the corporate level were often not made public.  However, it seems fair to say that, when changes in corporate management were followed by changes in corporate and plant operations, Standard's Board of Directors had taken some action. 

About the same time that the second generation of the Baker family assumed control of the business interests, the conversion from steam to electric and gasoline power began at the Bakerton plant; mining and lime-burning operations also continued to expand.  The first tunnel was started at Bakerton on October 13, 1921.  In 1923, the steam-powered hoist that pulled the stone cars out of the quarry was replaced by an electric one, and the following year five new kilns and an electric hoist to the crusher were installed and the first rotary kiln went into production.  A larger rotary kiln was added in 1928.1 

Lowell Hetzel, who was an engineer for Standard Lime and Stone and Assistant Superintendent at Bakerton, explained the plant operation during this period: "Limestone, in place in the quarry face, was drilled vertically by steam or compressed air drills and blasted by dynamite down on the quarry floor, where the stone was further broken by men with sledge hammers.  One man-size stone, approximately the size of a one-foot cube, was loaded by hand into wooden cars on four steel wheels. These cars were pulled on railroad tracks by horses or mules to the bottom of the incline which ran from the quarry floor to the top of the kiln building." 

"The loaded cars were pulled by a steel cable up the incline to the level where the kilns were filled.  Power for the cable was supplied by a steam engine for years and later by electric motor.  At the top of the incline, the loaded cars were pulled by horse or mules, on railroad tracks, to the individual kilns where stone was dumped into the kilns.  Stone smaller than one-man size was loaded in the quarry into separate wooden cars, pulled to the top of the incline, and sent to the screen house for crushing and sizing.  Empty cars were lowered back to the quarry by cable for reloading.  The procedure was the same for filling either pot kilns or patent kilns."2  

Olin Knott, Sr., was one of the persons who supplied horses to the quarry before they were replaced by gasoline-powered vehicles.   (See Figure 16-1.)  The horses, like the workers, had their own time cards with their names on them and were paid by the hour.  Olin's son, Charles, worked with the draft horses at the quarry as a youth.  He recalled that he "pulled the horse along the dump on top of the kiln where they used to dump the stone in.  I would pull the stone up and they had a fella that would fill the kilns.  And then that horse would take the cart off and he'd go back and pull another one up.  Then you got up there so far, and they had two tracks, and he'd push this one back in empty, push it on that track, while I'd come up the other track."   3 

George Dozier, who worked at the Bakerton quarry from 1927 to 1957, noted that later "they had big Eukes and a shovel down in the mine.  They'd fill them and they'd bring it out on top, and dump it into the crusher.  And they had a place for people to break stone down to eight inches.  You'd put pads on your legs and go down, and you'd break the stone down till it would go down to the crusher.  And then the crusher would crush it."4  

Describing the operation of the kilns, Hetzel continued, "Pot kilns, one of the earliest types of lime kilns, were usually constructed in a solid stone structure made of blocks of limestone, approximately 50 feet high with each vertical kiln in the structure lined with firebrick.  To place a kiln in operation, alternate layers of wood and limestone were added from the top of the kiln until the internal chamber was filled.  Fire was applied to the bottom layer of wood and as it burned higher layers of wood were ignited and the heat turned the stone into lime which was drawn from the bottom of the kiln."5 


"Newer patent kilns were also vertical kilns but greatly improved over pot kilns," Hetzell said.  (See Figure 16-2.) 


"Usually patent kilns consisted of vertical steel cylinders, brick lined, with three furnaces at ground level.  Hot gases from the coal of burning furnaces passed up the kiln around the limestone lumps, turning the stone into lime which was drawn from the cylinder, one floor below the furnace floor.  Adding stone to the top of the kiln and drawing lime from the bottom of the kiln were intermittent operations." 

Hetzel noted that the Bakers introduced modern rotary kilns in 1928.  "The rotary kiln out here was only about 175 feet long.  And 9 feet wide.  That shell was bricklined with six-inch thick brick all the way through that kiln.  Otherwise, with all that heat running through there the shell would have been broken."  These kilns were gas fired and built at a slight incline so that stone gradually moved from the top to the bottom as it was burned.  A small coal gasification plant was built to provide fuel for this kiln.6  

"That lime was drawn from the bottom of the kilns and dumped on the floor in a large building.  In the process, not all of the stone was burned into lime.  So there were men called pickers who went over those lumps of lime, and they could tell by hitting it with a hammer whether it was good quality or unburned.  And they would throw out the unburned.  And that could be taken back up and fed through the kiln a second time. When it went through the second time, it was completely calcined." 

He continued, "later on they found that by grinding lime and adding water to it they could make hydrated lime.  And in the old days it was used in whitewash.  The company owned many houses here that were occupied by employees.  And most of those houses were whitewashed.  The company gave the occupant enough lime to whitewash his house or his fence or whatever they wanted."7  

Hetzel added, "At Bakerton, in the early '30's, an addition was made to the plant.  Up to that time, we burned only lime in one of the three major kilns.  In the '30's a magnesium carbonate plant was built.  And out here at that time until after the Second World War, magnesium oxide was produced for the rubber industry, and that's the only thing that created a market there.  Much of that stuff before the war, though, went into Phillips Milk of Magnesia."8 

"In the quarry, if there was a big deposit of dirt over the stone, it had to be removed.  So they had a stripping operation and a quarrying operation.  That's one of the reasons they went to an underground mine, so they wouldn't have to remove all that overburden on top.  And they just followed the vein.  Another reason was that the stone at first was on the surface, but then it began to dip.  It dipped down toward the river and it dipped in a westerly direction.  So they went down as the mining process followed the stone." 

During much of the history of the Bakerton plant, a cooper shop was located on company property.  Guy Moler got his first job there in 1930 while he was still going to school.  He recalled, "I got 27 1/2 cents an hour for 10 hours.  Nailing barrels.  When they had all these shaft kilns, they shipped a lot of lime in wooden barrels.  They had a cooper shop.  Staves would come in bundles, hoops would come in separately.  And they'd set the barrels up down on the ground floor and put the head hoops and the bull hoops on and they'd shoot them out a little conveyor and come up to what we called the loft.  We had one fellow up there who drove the hoops down tight and sent 'em up to two boys who were nailing barrels.  They put these little hoop nails over the bull hoops, and nailed about three or four around and put about six penny nails around the head.  They had hatchets, and they'd nail a spike on the blade, and they hit this hoop and punch a hole in it and set the nail in there and drive it in, and turn it around and punch a hole, and drive the heads in.  Then they'd go down on the floor.  They had a big lattice cart, two-wheel cart, and horse and the hauling fellow would roll 'em out and haul 'em down to the lime room.  Then they'd fill them up with lime shovel the lime in and take a big wooden maul, pound it down tight.  And then they'd put the head hoops in the head by hand.  And then they'd nail those down there.  Then take a whitewash brush and dip it in a bucket of paste and smear it all around on the head and put a label on there Company label."9 

In the 1920's and 30's, C.D. Carter, a constable in the Harper's Ferry District and resident of Bakerton, picked up the payroll at the Bank of Harpers Ferry and, accompanied by two guards, brought the money back to the Bakerton plant.10 

During much of its lifetime, the Bakerton plant operated two or three shifts, so that the plant and the area surrounding it was active day and night.  George Dozier, who worked the second shift during part of his career, remembered pleasant times after work "We would get off work at 11 o'clock at night and sometimes, we had a place we'd set out there on this rock, and talk until about 2 o'clock in the morning.  We'd just sit there and talk."11 

D.R. Houser was superintendent of the Bakerton plant from the time it opened in 1889 until he retired in the early 1930's.  He was replaced by Walt Flanagan.  Flanagan was followed by John Bean,  Sidney Mash,  and Jack Frost (1935); all three men worked only briefly in Bakerton.  Frost was succeeded by Brian Houser (1936), D.R. Houser's son, who was superintendent until the plant closed in 1957.12 

At the corporate level, the management of Standard Lime and Stone appears to have remained fairly stable until the mid-1940's.  J. H. Baker [8] retired from the position of president and was succeeded by vice-president Daniel Baker III [27] in 1944.  A double tragedy occurred to the company in 1948 with the deaths of Frank Thomas [17] and Henry Baker Triede in August and of J. H. Baker's brother William G. Baker, Jr. [9], in December.13 


Iron mining at the Orebank, under the ownership of Joseph E. Thropp, ceased in the early 1920's.  The property was sold to the Everett Saxton Company of Pennsylvania in 1925; it had been in the hands of a receiver for a year or more.  It had not been mined since.  The property containing Israel Friend's stone house was owned by Mrs. James C. Savory of Kenneth Square, Pennsylvania, from approximately 1940 to 1960.14

The parcel north of the Friend house was initially purchased by the power company and then by Robert Mason of Bakerton; this area is now a residential development known as Glen Haven.  Lumps of iron ore are still unearthed by local farmers.  An Indian graveyard uncovered on the Glen Haven site may be part of the one mentioned in the 1802 resurvey of the Moler-Friend patents. 

George Washington Jones, one of the former workers at the Orebank, was still living in the stone house in 1952, at the age of 90; he continued to live there until his death approximately three years later.15  He was one of the last people to occupy the house.  The house is now owned by Mr. Sullivan of Bakerton, and the site of the washing plant is on adjoining property now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cool. 


Bakerton was a thriving village during most of this period, but life also had its somber side.  Several smallpox epidemics swept through the village early in this century.  The nearest doctor, Samuel T. Knott [17], lived at Moler's Crossroads, and his son-in-law, Dr. Johnson of Harpers Ferry, also served the area.16  In the winter, workers frequently drowned crossing the ice-covered Potomac River between Bakerton and their homes in Maryland.  Among those who met this fate were Raymond Hoffman and Kate Gross (December 3, 1926).17 

Although Bakerton had an aggressive safety program, mining accidents killed or seriously injured scores of workers.  Bill Flanagan recalled several incidents: "I guess the worst of the first accidents at the plant that I remember, even before working there, were loss of fingers, crushed hands, feet, flying objects, things in the eye, things like that.  But some of the worst accidents even after the plant was fully mechanized was, Mark Horn was one of them and Bill Williamson.  He was from Charles Town.  He went through the stone-sizing plant, and they were crushed between the wall and the side of the screen....  Bill Williamson and Mark Horn were doing some welding work and the electric control was tripped accidentally.  Of course, it beat these two men up beside the building.  And Mark Horn had I guess crushed forty or fifty bone breaks in his body, especially pelvic area.  And he laid in the hospital, I don't know how long.  And Bill Williamson was pronounced dead."18 

Flanagan continued, "a similar accident happened with Strother Lynch [1928].  Strother Lynch, somehow or other got in the stone sizing plant and they found him with the stone down on top of him.  I was in the room there, his scalp was split back over his head.  And he still talked to you and asked for something to drink and a cigarette.  And they hauled him into Charles Town and phoned the doctors down at Charles Town Hospital, and he lived a short time.  But he died the same day."19 

Electrification of the plant brought its own dangers.  One of the horses used to haul stone at Bakerton was killed by electricity in 1924, and Elmer Griffin, a driller in the mine, was electrocuted in 1932.20 

Almost one year after Elmer Griffin met his death by electrocution, his son Thomas Griffin was killed in an accident that also involved electricity.  Guy Moler remembered that "They usually did the drilling in the daytime and they would shoot around quarter of four or something like that.  It was the last thing.  They drilled, loaded the holes, hooked their wiring, and as they come out [of the mine] they'd pull the switch, which was a safe distance away from the shot....  And they had the shooter and his helper loading the holes.  They had just about finished up loading, and they had hooked up their lead wire from one hole to the other and cap wires, like that.  And hooked on to the main line and there was a storm outside, come up....  They had four saturators, which were heavy metal, just like silos, and they were sticking up there in the air about 35 or 40 feet....  And lightning struck on top of one of these saturators and went through the switch.  There was so much charge on it, it jumped the switch down in the mine, the switch they would have thrown to put the shot off.  It put the shot off and killed one boy [Thomas Griffin]....  And there were some fellows running the drift up beside the wall.  And they were in there, and it killed this one boy and hurt the other, Bill Johnson.  He was in the hospital, I don't know how long.  It pulled his ribs loose from his spine and mashed his nose in."21 

Bill Flanagan added that "Mr. Rion Trundle was killed walking along the narrow railroad track [1945].  And he was talking to two other people.  They don't know whether they were joking with one another and he accidentally stepped in front of it or whether he was in front of the train and the operator of the locomotive didn't see him."22  Flanagan continued, "Melvin Hoffmaster was injured by a runaway truck of stone that was running down an incline and pinned him up against the side of the mine entrance and broke his hip.  And he laid in the hospital for a year.  And Raymond Hoffman.  He was in the factory pressure room and an arm was caught in a fly wheel and came off.  And there were other bad accidents out there."23 

Before the advent of the union, workers at the Bakerton plant received compensation for job-related injuries but did not get sick pay for illness.  If you were sick and could not work you didn't get paid.  This policy, which was eventually abolished, may have contributed to on the job accidents. As George Dozier noted, "When you've got a bunch of children, you got to go."24 

Organized safety programs seem to have been developed in the late '20's or early 30's.  Daniel Baker III [27], then vice president, was instrumental in developing company-wide safety programs.  At the local level, the Bakerton Safety News was begun early in the 1930's by Joe Capriotti, one of the plant foremen and a graduate of the Buckingham School.  The paper carried articles written by both managers and foremen and included items on local social events, sports, and safety competitions.  Bill Flanagan remembered that "They were always interested in safety.  The safety programs were very competitive among the plants.  There was Millville, Bakerton, Martinsburg, Capon Road.  Some of the safety teams trained the children and their families in first aid."25 

In addition to the hazards associated with working in a mine, the village of Bakerton was undermined several times (apparently by mistake).  Guy Moler recalled the incident involving the house behind Millard's corner store: "Well, it's no secret now.  It used to be George Houser's house, Brian Houser's uncle, and they had four or five boys and Margaret.  She never got married.  She was living there and the mine come underground under that section of Bakerton.  Margaret died and a fellow bought it, and they were drilling a well and the bit went down into the mine.  They didn't know that the mine was under there."26 


Moler remembered that there used to be two houses next to the community center on the property now owned by the Church of God.  The one next to the community center "was a privately owned house for a long time till the Bakers bought it later on and began moving the mine around.  I lived in that house for 15 years, and the mine come around there and went under one corner of the house, between the two houses. And it went right between here's the two houses here and the mine come around in the chicken yard of the house that I rented. And there was a hole there that went clean down into the mine." 

Another problem existed at Lyle Moler's house.  Guy Moler continued, "There was a hole went through right in back of his house, right in the back yard.  You could look right down there and after the plant closed down and the mine filled up with water."27 

One of the most dramatic incidents happened at the home of Norman and Lena Clabaugh.  Their nephew Charles Knott recalled: 

It was practically a brand new house.  They had two boys and they were playing.  They had a right good sized tree in that yard there....  They was playing out there all evening long, and when they got up the next morning, you couldn't even see the tree.  Just covered it up completely.  My uncle [Brian] was Superintendent out there then.  Oh, my aunt [Lena], she really got shook up.  She thought the house was going in and everything else.  She gave my uncle a fit.  So he had to go to work down Harpers Ferry and buy a place down there and get her out of there.  She wouldn't stay there.  But they took that hole and hauled big rock in there and filled it up.28  

Another kind of disturbance, the 4 o'clock blasting at the mine, was something that the residents grew to take for granted, but it often gave visitors a considerable fright.  Charles Knott remembered one of these occasions:  

When my grandfather died, at that time they fixed you up in the home.  Well, my grandfather died in my house, and they had a fellow over here at Melvin Strider's by the name of Guy Davis.  And he done the embalming.  He was there in the upstairs room over my kitchen.  He was embalming my grandfather, round about 4 o'clock in the evening.  They let off one of them shots and he thought the world was coming to an end.  Man, it shook everything.  He come down and said "What's the trouble?  What's the trouble?"  And I said "Oh, that was just a blast out at the plant."  It scared him so bad, he talked about that for a long time.29 

Another business, located south of the Orebank on the property now known as Allen's Wonderland, added a distinctive aroma to the Bakerton area when the wind was blowing in the right direction.  This was the site of a rendering plant that processed the carcasses of dead cattle and horses.  Bakerton residents who lived here in the '20's and '30's when this plant was in operation say that the smell was unforgettable. 

From its founding, Bakerton had been plagued by a lack of adequate fire protection, not having its own fire department and being several miles from the nearest one.  Describing the fire that razed C.D. Carter's store, a reporter noted "As there is no water supply or fire apparatus at Bakerton, there was absolutely no chance to save the building or contents, and the whole thing went up in smoke, with no salvage whatever."  One year later in 1923, Babe Carter, a black employee at the Bakerton plant, was burned to death in a fire that consumed his shanty on Ten Row.30  Fire protection remains a problem in Bakerton today. 


The Bakerton plant was unionized in the mid-1940's.  Before the employees joined the union,  Standard had a grievance committee through which individual employees could attempt to resolves differences with the foremen. Opinions about the effectiveness of this system differ, some of pro-union men believing that the system was not really workable. Lowell Hetzel, Bill Flanagan, and Guy Moler held management or supervisory positions at the time and thus were not union members. 

Guy Moler recalled that "This fellow called Barr was a representative. He started coming in around the fringes of the plant. He wouldn't go into a plant, see. And he'd meet these guys in the evening after work and get a couple in his car and go on down the road someplace and pull off the road and talk to them."31 

Bill Flanagan said that "A union was formed but wasn't recognized for a good many years, and then they finally did recognize them.  Well, the company decided it better....  The reason they got the union in was because our customers were unionized, such as the steel companies.  Most of our business went into steel at that time ¾¾ United States Steel, Pittsburgh Steel....  We shipped to a lot of steel mills and paper mills, and they were all unionized, of course."32 

Flanagan went on, "The Bakers finally consented to the union coming in.  Well, the employees themselves had to vote the labor union in.  But it was a long time before the employees would recognize the fact that the Bakers wasn't being just as good and the union had nothing to offer to them that they were not already getting from the company." 

This view was shared by some of the union members.  Recalling the union, George Dozier said "I don't think it did us any good.  I believe that if they didn't have that union, the plant would still be going.  I might be wrong.  But they used to kick up all the time.  They'd kick up a row about this and the other, what's right.  They'd give a man a day's work and they'd claim that was that man's day, you see."33 

No strikes occurred at the Bakerton plant, although other operations of Standard had labor problems.  Frank Thomas [17] was involved in these disputes and quickly developed a reputation as a tough negotiator, a fact that probably influenced the activities of the union locals at Bakerton and other company locations.  Guy Moler recalled one incident: 

They had a plant down on Capon Road, just a stone crushing plant.  And the plant went out on strike.  A fellow by the name of Barr was union representative at that time.  He thought he was going to bluff Mr. Thomas into something, you know.  And Mr. Thomas had two or three meetings and at a meeting he said "Mr. Barr and you gentlemen, I've given you my final offer.  You either go back to work or we're going to close ... start moving equipment out at a certain date."  Well, Barr said "Ah, he's bluffing.  He's not going to close the plant down. They need the stone."  You know, business was pretty good.  "He's not going to close it down.  Don't let that worry you."  When the day came, he started moving equipment out.  He had a truck there and started moving equipment.  He closed the plant up.  Barr called him up and asked him if he would reconsider.  And he said "No.  I told you what I was going to do.   Now, when I tell you something, that's what I mean."  He closed the plant up and built a fence around the property. He was really something.34 


Agriculture continued to be a major economic force in this area throughout the period.  At Moler's Crossroads, a large portion of the Moler farmland was now in the possession of their relatives, the Donleys, and it continues to be worked to this day.  A similar situation existed at Engle, where the Gagebys and Kidwilers, relatives of the Engles, continued to farm much of the land. 

Standard Lime and Cement Co. was also involved in agriculture in the Engle, Millville, and Bakerton areas.  The company owned several hundred acres of farmland which was being reserved for future quarrying.  To keep the land and buildings in good condition and to try to get some return for their investment, Standard leased much of this farmland to tenant farmers.  David B. Baker, Sr. [28], had overall responsibility for farm management, and the operations in the Bakerton area were supervised by Heath Holden, a former agent of the Jefferson County Farm Bureau.35  At least from the company's point of view, tenant farming seems to have been more trouble than it was worth.  Remembering his father's experiences with tenant farmers, David B. Baker, Jr., remarked "Tenants were always a problem, because they would come and go.  And when they were all losers, it was a real interesting situation.  Dilapidated houses.  They were always running out of this or running out of that."36 

Other portions of the Baker limestone reserve were worked by local farmers.  In the case of D.R. Houser, superintendent of the Bakerton plant, he retained the right to farm the land he sold to the company as long as he lived.  His relatives farmed much of this land until his death. 


During the period from 1920 until the late 1940's, Bakerton had a fairly substantial business community for a village of its size. Several stores, restaurants, and boarding houses were located in the village as well as a car dealer, saloon, bowling alley, theater, two schools, five churches, and a community hall.  As the roads improved and automobiles reduced the time required to reach Harpers Ferry, Charles Town, and Shepherdstown, some of these businesses moved to the more populated areas.  Other businesses that served primarily black workers and their families disappeared in the 1930's when the Bakerton plant replaced hand-fired kilns with more automated ones.  This change eliminated many of the jobs that had been long held by black workers. 

Many of the employees lived in low-rent company housing and bought their supplies at the company store.  Several general stores were located in Bakerton, and employees were free to shop where they chose.  Bill Flanagan's first job was as a clerk in the company commissary run by M.S.R. Moler and Preston S. Millard, a brother-in-law of the Baker family.  Lowell Hetzel and Guy Moler also worked there as teenagers. 

Guy Moler recalled that the original store "was out there at the plant where the office later was.   Only it was a different building because Millard's store burned down.  And it was Millard and Moler at first.  He was in partners with John Moler who was a cousin of mine.  And Jake Moler lived down there on the farm right east of where the office was.  They did business as a partnership for a good while and then Mr. Millard evidently bought him out.  And then Jake Moler moved to Shepherdstown and Mr. Millard continued to operate the store."37 

Moler continued, "The store was facing west.  There was a little old porch there.  It wasn't very big.  And when you go in, there was your store part to the right.  Off to the left was a wareroom.  And you'd go in the door here and there was a desk.  And you'd come in here to the store part and there was counter all the way around.  There were things in back of the counter.  And there was a little swinging door there, and you went in and there was one of these big roll-top desks.  That's where they did their ordering.  Everything that was done paperwork all was done from there."  

Moler remembered that on one occasion "My mother was over there.  And in this wareroom here, they must have cleared it out or something, they had it packed with Christmas stuff Christmas toys and all hanging from the ceiling.  And I remember I fell in love with an air rifle.  I'd carry that thing around and I'd sight, you know.  And I wanted Santy Claus to bring me that thing.  I didn't get my air rifle....  And I don't know if the fire started in there or what.  But that night the thing burned down, and that was Christmas Eve [1922]." 

Among the persons working for Millard at the original wooden company store was Martin D. Welsh, Sr. [9], who lived over the store with his wife.  The two of them barely escaped from the 1922 fire with their lives, the floorboards of their apartment being so hot that Mrs. Welsh [11] burned her feet during their escape. 

The ruins of the store were quickly cleared away, and the company built a brick building on the site that was used by Millard as a store for several years.  Mr. Welsh continued to work as a clerk in the store during that period.  The building  was later converted into the plant laboratory.  It continued to stand until the early 1980's, when it was leveled by residents of the subdivision that now occupies the quarry property. 

Preston Millard's next store still stands on the corner across from the Bakerton Village Store.  This store, built while the brick store was still operating on the company property, was also staffed by Martin Welsh, Sr., when the company store closed.  Millard's daughter, Frances, remembered it as "a weatherboarded building with a cement porch.  The post office was on the left as you entered the store part.  The candy was on the right.  There was a door on the side that went into a sort of ware room.  The store had an upstairs apartment."38 

She continued, "We used to have a dog named Don.  A Newfoundland dog a big black dog.  Mama used to send him down to the store to get meat or something, with a note in the basket.  And he'd only give the basket to the clerk or Daddy.  And they would put in meat in the basket and he would return home.  And if another dog tried to get him, he'd put the basket down, go after the dog, and come on home with the basket." 

Bill Flanagan's brother Charles worked there as assistant postmaster before he got a job at the Bakerton plant.  Frances Millard also remembered her father "saying that 'Luke,' a black man who worked for him was such an honest person that he would trust him with anything.  Many times he would bank for him."  Miller Moler replaced Charles Flanagan when he went to work for Standard, and the Moler family lived upstairs over the corner store.39  This store, as well as the others in Bakerton, continued to serve people who lived on the Maryland side of the Potomac River in the Dargan-Frog Hollow area.40 

Although Standard discontinued the practice of paying employees through Millard's store during this period, many of the employees still bought their goods from Mr. Millard on credit.  Some of them still spent much more than they earned, including the "Charlie" mentioned in an earlier chapter.  Charles Knott recalled that when "Charlie" had run up a large bill and returned to get some more items, Mr. Millard found out that he wasn't working and cut off his credit until he returned to work.  Charlie, who had eight kids that kept on eating whether he worked or not, was left to his own wits to get out of his predicament.  Charles Knott continued, "Well, it wasn't but a couple of days went by, Charlie come out.  He couldn't get no work.  So he was dressed up a little bit, and he just got down in the lime and got lime all over him.  And he went out and he walked in, and Mr. Millard was so glad to see him 'cause he made a lot of money off of Charlie.  And he walked up and he says 'Charlie, what can I do for you '  Well, Charlie got a great big bag of groceries.  I mean as much as he could carry out of that place.  And when he walked out, Mr. Millard said, 'By the way, Charlie, you're working, aren't you?'  'No,' Charlie said, 'but I'm hoping to get back.'  'Wait a minute, I can't let you have that!' Charlie replied, 'Too late now, Mr. Millard,' and left the store."  According to Charles Knott, "Charlie" was an honest man and, like most of Millard's customers, eventually paid his bill.41 

Mr. Millard also served as a local money lender to people who needed more than credit for his merchandise.  Charles Knott recalled that "he'd loan them money and he charged them 10% interest.  You could go out there when we was boys, before I got married.  If I needed $5, you could go out there and he'd loan you $5, but he'd charge you 50 cents for it 10 cents on the dollar for 2 weeks."42 

Mr. Millard was one of the first postmasters of Bakerton, the postoffice originally being located in the company commissary and then in Millard's corner store across the street from the present site of the Bakerton Village Store.  Having the post office contract was a definite asset for a store owner, and Bill Flanagan observed that, when Mr. Millard sold his store in the 1940's, "there was quite a race for who was going to get that post office because it was up for appointment at that time.  And Roy Best, Martin Welsh, Sr. [9], and Jap Manuel [12] were all after the post office, and finally Martin, Sr., got the post office and moved it across the road."43  

A second store, run by Christian D. Carter, was in existence when Millard's wooden store on company property burned and was replaced by a brick one.  Carter's store also sold general merchandise and was composed of a one-story hollow tile building, an adjoining shed, and a refrigeration plant.  This building burned in August 1922.  The restaurant operated by Joe Capriotti was later built on the foundation of the Carter store.44 

The building recently occupied by the post office has been the site of several stores,  the first being run by Samuel Knott [24],  who operated it in the early 1920's.  Bill Flanagan recalled that "Sam Knott ran a store there, but there also was a company of Moler, Knott, Carter, and Rice.  The bowling alley was in the basement.  A movie and athletic floor was up on the second floor.  The house part was in the back.  He had a barber shop in the back that was run by a man by the name of Huckleberry."45  (See Figure 16-4.) 

In 1919, Samuel O. Knott sold his store to Preston Millard and moved to California.  Millard operated this store for 20 years until financial problems drove him out of business.  The store and the position of post master first came into the possession of Roy M. Best, who sold the business to W.L. "Jap" Manuel [12] in August 1939.  Manuel's store became one of the major places of business during this time.  Some time before 1939, the corner store formerly owned by Millard was also purchased by Manuel, who set his son Walter [16] up in business in the corner store and turned the management of Knott's old store over to his daughter Bertha [15].46 

The origin of the last surviving store in Bakerton grew out of the scramble for the post office after Mr. Millard retired.  Martin Welsh, Sr. [9], a long-time employee of Millard, constructed the present store building primarily to house the post office he hoped to get.  When he received the post office contract that "Jap" Manuel [12] and several other local residents had also sought, he used the extra space as a general store to supplement his income.  He continued to operate this store until the early '60's, when Martin "Skeeter" Welsh, Jr. [13], took over the store with the help of his wife Dottie. (See Figures 16-5 through 16-8.) 

During this period, the store at Engle Switch was run by B.E. Maddox, who lived upstairs.  The general store contained a post office, and mail for the Bakerton post office was picked up at this point.  The store at Moler's Cross Roads, run by Mr. Sager, also did a lot of business at this time, and it served as a social gathering place for members of the community.  After the store burned down and Sager moved away, a new store was built at Moler's Cross Roads and operated by Jack Donley.47 

For much of the history of Bakerton, coal was a major source of fuel for the village residents and for the plant.  An elevated coal tipple stood on the land now occupied by the Bakerton Village store.  The coal was brought in by rail and distributed by wagon; trucks were later used to make deliveries.48  

Bakerton had several places to eat.  Most were lunch counters in stores or tables at boarding houses, but the village had at least one restaurant.  Bill Flanagan observed that "The first restaurant in town was Starry's of Shepherdstown.  And then the Capriottis took over.  Miss Nichols served meals in her home.  Mostly Bakers ate there, Mr. Millard the store owner, and the superintendent."49  The Capriottis' restaurant, begun shortly after World War II, was operated out of the family home until about 1953.  Joe Capriotti's wife had the main responsibility for running it, although Joe had several specialty items that he prepared himself.  His recipe for chile was so popular that people would come from all over the county when he held one of his famous "chile feeds" in Bakerton.  Joe also became famous for his spaghetti sauce, but for another reason.  According to Charles Knott, "Joe was going to Shepherdstown one time, and he was running a little late, and he got over there where Wit used to have that restaurant, the Wit Club.  He hit that pole, and it didn't hurt him too much, but he had this spaghetti sauce that got all over him.  And they said 'My God,  the man's bleeding to death!' "50 


A lunch counter was built in Welsh's store during the 1950's.  Run by Dottie Welsh, it continued to operate for about a decade.  The blacksmith shop in Bakerton, as in many small towns, gradually evolved into a garage as more automobiles appeared.  Early in this century, Albert G. Rice operated a blacksmith shop across the street from the present home of Martin and Dotty Welsh in an area then known as "Poketown."  The name was given to the area because of the large numbers of poke berries that grew there.51  

The first automobile in the village appears to have been purchased by C.D. Carter, the owner of the livery stable and the local constable.  Lowell Hetzel remembered that "It was an Overland with the gearshift outside the body, out on the fender.  And there was a man up there around Kearneysville by the name of Marshall who came down here every weekend to visit on the Moler farm near the plant.  He'd come down by train to Engle, and Mr. Carter would go down and meet him and bring him out here on either Saturday evening or Sunday morning and take him back on Sunday evening.  Sometimes he'd allow us to ride down to Engle with him, and that was one of the earliest automobiles I recall in Bakerton."52 


Shortly after the end of World War I, Rice built a garage and began selling automobiles in Bakerton.  This business was located on the property now owned by the Church of God.  Guy Moler stated that Rice "started out with Maxwell cars and trucks.  And then later on he started selling Fords.  The first car I ever had was a 1923 Model T Ford Roadster that I bought there.  And I drove that for three years and I bought a 1926 Ford Roadster then.  They'd come in a boxcar all torn down.  The body was just a frame and engine, and the fenders and body was all strapped against the side of the wall.  And when they came in, you'd take two or three fellows and go around and unstrap these things and take a fender out at a time front fender and then a hind fender and then body and bring her down and set the body on.  Put on a few bolts (there were only a few bolts) and they were all together."53 

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Bill Flanagan observed that C.D. Carter and A.G. Rice were initially partners in the car business and that the operation was later taken over by Rice.  According to Flanagan, not all of the cars arrived by rail.  Rice had some of them "shipped into Baltimore by boat and he'd pick up a bunch of boys (I was one of them), and we'd go to Baltimore and drive cars back to Bakerton.   And we had all kinds of problems with those things.  Either they'd run out of gas or they'd get the engine too hot, or something would happen.  Of course, there wasn't too many hard surface roads back then."54  

Roy Best eventually took over the operation of the garage from A.G. Rice.  Lowell Hetzel, who used to work there during the summer when he was a boy, recalled, "They had an open pit for oil changes and it was just a plain old garage.  One end of it they had a little office.  Another room was a parts department.  They didn't carry very many parts.  My earliest recollection was working on Model T's.  And one of the worst jobs about that was changing bands in the transmission.  The low and the reverse and the brake band.   After you pulled the metal part out and put a new lining in, then you had to wind it.  I remember uncle had an old car there.  I don't know where he got the thing, but it wasn't anything but chassis.  There wasn't any body on it.  And the gas tank in those days was under the front seat.  So it had a gas tank, and he finally said 'If you can get that thing to run, you can drive it around here a little bit.'  So, finally, I don't think I ever went any further than the Orebank, but I was sitting on top of the gas tank without any body....  The Model T was the first one that I recall.  And of course the Model A came along."55  

Roy Best left the garage to take a job as a mechanic for Standard and was replaced by one of his assistants, Warren Demory.  Eventually, Demory also went to work for Standard.  Some time in the 1930's, the garage went out of business and the building was purchased by Standard and made into a community hall. 


The owners of the early automobiles had to contend with dirt roads that were dusty in the summer and often impassable with mud during the winter.  Some time during the 1920's, the roads began to show some improvement.  According to Lowell Hetzel, "The farmers picked up stone out of the fields and piled it along the road, and the county had a crusher they would bring around when I was a teenager.  And they would crush the stone and scatter it along the road.  That was all the treatment it got."56  Bad weather and road conditions often isolated Bakerton from adjacent areas and emergency services.  When emergencies arose and people needed medical attention, Charles Knott and Lowell Hetzel remember crews of 40 to 50 men with three or four pickup trucks who shoveled the roads by hand so people could get treatment. 


The Baker family had long supported the cause of temperance, at least as far back as 1849, when Catherine Baker [2] was converted at a camp meeting.  Her three sons William [3], Joseph [5], and Daniel [6] and daughter Sarah [4] shared her conviction and passed it on to their children.  Sarah Baker Thomas, the mother of Frank Thomas [17], was president of her local Women's Christian Temperance Union for over 40 years and a member of the chapter in Frederick County Maryland for 27 years.57  Thus the passage of the Volsted Act was supported by the family and promoted by the officers of Standard. 

Throughout the prohibition era, residents of Bakerton and Engle lived next to temptation, for one of the most notorious centers of the moonshine industry was located in Frog Hollow across the Potomac River.  The river had never been a barrier to travel between West Virginia and Maryland, and during Prohibition it probably helped the transport of liquor into the Bakerton area.  Charles Knott vividly remembered one occasion: 

One day when I was about 14, Rion Trundle and I was hauling fodder out of the field right behind me there.  And we see this car running up and down the road with a bunch of colored people in it....  And I didn't think too much about it.  So they went up the road and come out at the plant to get some air in their spare tire.  Well, they figured they was hauling whiskey, so they called out here to get the game warden....  So in the mean time, after they got air in their tire, they went back down the river.  That's when they picked the whiskey up.  Finally they come up where that break is where Shepherd lives, and about that time those fellas jumped out of that car and started running. 

And I yelled "Mr. Rion, I need help!  Here they come again!  They're coming after me!"  And come to find out, the game warden had come out and backed up right there where Shuff's lane is, below Pete Daugherty's house.  And he backed in there and he was coming out to get 'em, and they seen him.  They jumped out of the car and the car run down.  That was full of whiskey....  But you talk about a scared boy.  I thought they were running after me.  I can remember the game warden was shooting up in the air, and those fellas was running clear on up where Mrs. Newton lives now....  I guess they had run it across the river, maybe that night, and then hid it.58 

Although many of the area residents disapproved of the use of alcohol, a large number of the local people had spent their lives where making moonshine was a skill passed down from father to son.  Men who lived in Maryland and worked at the Bakerton plant brought moonshine across the river in their lunchboxes during their daily commute. 

Engle had its own share of problems caused by moonshine.  One intoxicated man was struck and killed in 1926 by the B. & O. Capitol Limited as he sat on the railroad tracks, and a local reporter announced in the fall of 1928 that "folks of that neighborhood are greatly annoyed at the invasion of drunks who make Engle their headquarters."  On another occasion two drunks parked their car on the railroad tracks and went to sleep in a nearby yard; the car was struck by a train and thrown against the general store operated by B.E. Maddox.59 

This accessible supply of moonshine was probably responsible for the small number of illegal stills that operated in the Bakerton area.  However, at least one enterprising individual provided residents with some local booze.  Ironically, this still was located in the heart of prohibitionist territory -- on the grounds of the Bakerton plant.  George Dozier explained that "There was a fellow, he was a black guy, called Chester Jones in these houses up here, a little shanty.  It had a little building.  And any time you seen fire shooting out of the top, he was in there making his whiskey.  And the law got after him and he left.  They never did get him, but they got that still.  Yes indeed, we drank a lot of moonshine there in Bakerton."60  


Like many mining towns, Bakerton was hit hard by the Depression.  Bill Flanagan recalled that "They started laying off people from certain jobs, and then it got down to the point where they had laid off so many people and, since it was a town where each one owned their own home or the company owned the home, they split up the workday by one working three days a week instead of 5 days a week.  At that time, they were working on a 40-hour basis instead of a 7-day [week and an] 8-hour day.  They worked 40 hours and each person was allowed half the time."61 

Guy Moler agreed, "It was bad there during the Depression.  It was bad.  I mean, people were on hard luck.  That was before the union days, you know....  And every morning there'd be a group of people assembled down there around the plant office, looking for a day's work or something to do.  And you'd need three or four, or maybe five.  That was all you needed that day.  You'd look around and call out this man and that, and the others would turn around and go home.  I've seen them leaving with tears in their eyes.  There wasn't social security, no relief, no nothing."62 

Moler continued, "The Bakers tried to give them as much as they could.  I remember at one time they had a whole bunch of men out there going over the fence around the property, repairing fence, which wasn't necessary.  You didn't have to have that done.  But they did whatever they could do to get as much work as they could.  And they would start the plant up and run for a week until the silos were filled up.  And there wasn't much business.  That would last for three weeks." 

George Dozier remembered "It was awful.  A lot of people were out of work.  You might catch a few hours here or there, you know, and when the time came to get to Harper's Ferry, you walk all the way down there and bring it back in a little sack on your back.  Sometimes I'd get beans and flour.  And that was it."63 


During the next decade, there was almost more work than the employees could handle as Bakerton increased its production to support the war effort and men were called to service.  Women began working at the plant during this period. 

Lowell Hetzel stated that "From 1934 until after the Second World War, magnesium oxide was produced for the rubber industry....  And some of the ladies here worked in the magnesia plant during the Second World War.  It operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week....  Some of that was pretty rugged work, but they did a fine job."64 

Guy Moler recalled that "my wife worked there for about 18 months or so.  Bill Flanagan's wife worked there, and Eva Cox George Cox's wife and Bertie Jones I guess Dimmie Jones' niece and Helen Mills, she worked there a long time until the plant closed down, and my sister-in-law at that time lived in Bakerton and she worked there for a while.  And Jessie Houser, she worked there.  Dick Forsythe's wife."65 

Moler noted that there was some resistance at first to having women work at the plant "but it didn't amount to anything.  In fact, I got a letter an anonymous letter when my wife went to work out there.  Something about she ought to be home where she belonged....  And it all died down and nothing happened." 

The addition of women to the workforce was a temporary measure.  Bill Flanagan observed that "After the war, they furloughed them.  And the [magnesia] plant sort of failed after that because it was too expensive to manufacture."66  


The expansion of the mining operations at Standard and the arrival of new workers provided the local churches with the sources of potential members.  During the 1930's the number of local churches reached its peak, with Bakerton having five and Engle and Moler's Cross Roads one each. 

Several organizational changes occurred in the Methodist Church during this period.  In 1920, the newly erected church at Millville, W.Va., was added to the local circuit with Bakerton, Shenandoah Junction, and Halltown.  Halltown was dropped from this circuit in 1922, and the circuit continued to have three churches until 1942 when Keller Chapel at Engle, W.Va., was added (Figure 16-9).  On the national level, the Methodist Episcopal Church South became part of the Methodist Church in 1938,67 healing a division that had begun during the Civil War. 

The Bakerton Methodist Church appears to have had a strong, active congregation during this period, and church-related social activities were plentiful.  Duke's Woods was the site of numerous church picnics, festivals, and Chautauquas.  During the fall, there were Harvest Home Festivals at this site, and cooking apple butter in big copper kettles was a popular social event.  Margaret Daugherty recalled that "We would always have an entertainment in the fall, and the boys and girls would go out in the hills behind the plant and gather red berries to trim the church."68  At Christmas time, members of the congregation made house-to-house visitations. 

Another church, the Bethel Church of God, had its beginning in 1933 (Figure 16-10).  According to Louise Talley, Rev. Gardner Taylor of Samples Manor, Md., requested Rev. Samuel Kipe to assist him at a service to be held on Sunday, November 12th: 

They had a congregation of about 80 people.  A Bible school was inaugurated with an enrollment of 80 on the same day.  And that night at 7:30 Rev. Samuel Kipe took charge.  He conducted a revival meeting which resulted in the conversion of 38 persons.  [They] decided to build a church and held prayer meetings until the church was built, mostly in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Grim.  On the first Monday of April 1934 ground was broken for the building of Bethel.69 

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The building was finished that year.  A belfry containing the old bell from the Oak Grove School was later added to the building. 


The 1920's marked the closing of many one-room schoolhouses in Jefferson County.  This was brought about, in part, by the appearance of the automobile and the improvement of some of the County roads.  Many students from small rural schools began to be bussed to larger district schools located in Shepherdstown, Harpers Ferry, and Charles Town.  Occasionally, as in Bakerton, a new school was built to accommodate the growing school population. 

Plans for the construction of a new school at Bakerton began about 1920, and land was purchased from C.D. Carter for the purpose.  After visiting the schoolhouse at Shenandoah Junction, the School Board voted to erect a three-room school, noting that a fourth room could be added later if needed.  Although slated to open at the beginning of the 1921 fall term, the building was not ready until after Thanksgiving.  The school was officially opened on November 28, 1921, with the children marching from the Oak Grove School to their new classrooms.  The school appears to have been without an inside source of water until 1923. 70  

Rose Cockrell, who had taught at Oak Grove, was appointed the first principal of Bakerton Elementary School, and she was assisted by teachers Ellen Webb and Mrs. Bosell.  Other teachers at the school during the next decade included Beatrice McKinnon, Corine Houser (wife of Brian Houser), Bessie Henkle, Blanch Pine, Katherine Willis, Charlotte Horner, Audrey Engle, James M. Moler, and Christine Geary Shade.  Salaries ranged from $69 to $85 per month, based on the teacher's experience, and raises appear to have been rare. 71 

One classroom was converted to a lunchroom in 1944 because the enrollment was considered to be too small to utilize three classrooms.  Thereafter, the school contained only two classrooms, holding grades 1-3 and 4-6.  Total school enrollment was 50 students in 1949, with children being bussed to the school from a 1-mile radius.  The school was closed in 1965, and the students were bussed to Harpers Ferry Graded School.72 

Christine Geary Shade, one of the students at Oak Grove, went on to become a teacher and taught at Bakerton Elementary for most of her career.  Mrs. Shade recalled her love of learning began in Bakerton, "My first teachers were Miss Ethel Moler and Mr. Engle in the Oak Grove School.  Miss Ethel was the first teacher who influenced me to make up my mind that I wanted to become a teacher.  I think everybody loved her."73  She continued, "In 1922 I finished the ninth grade in the Shepherdstown Elementary School so I was on my way to becoming a teacher....  Shepherd College had a Short Course and Standard Normal at that time.  One of my friends sent an application to Harpers Ferry but they said they were hiring experienced teachers.  I didn't think I had a chance.  There was a vacancy in the third grade and the eighth grade.  I preferred the third.  The third grade teacher was getting married.  Mr. Preston Millard was on the District Board and he said the last time he saw me I wasn't any bigger than a cake of soap after a hard days wash and a few of the children were hard to manage but he agreed to let me try." 

Mrs. Shade recalled, "There were some problems with a few the first year but nothing I couldn't handle.  After five years I was asked to take the third and fourth grades in Bakerton for one year and if I didn't like it I could return to Harpers Ferry.  James Moler was the Principal and Audrey Engle the first and second grades.  Neither one had experience.  I taught there thirty years." 

She added, "Later one room was changed to a lunch room and I had the first three grades.  Miss Ethel Henkle had the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades.  The other grades were transported by bus to Harpers Ferry."  When the Bakerton plant closed, she said, "some people moved.  That's one reason they changed that into a two-room school.  We had enough, I had 15 in the first grade.  To really teach them, I could have spent the whole day with just 15."74 

Other schools in the Bakerton area were also facing problems with an expanding school population in the 1920's.  The black school in Bakerton, held in the black Methodist Church and taught primarily by Margaret Evans, appears to have closed in 1928.  Students were bussed to Harpers Ferry.  Black students continued to attend school in Harpers Ferry until the schools were desegregated.  Thereafter, they attended Bakerton Elementary School until it closed. 

In 1922, the Board of Education had plans drawn up for a one-room addition to the Elk Run School at Engle.  This addition was not made, and the overcrowding was apparently alleviated by bussing several grades to Harpers Ferry.  The Elk Run School, located across the road from Keller Chapel, closed around 1930 and the children were bussed to Harper's Ferry. The building later burned.  The Reinhart School at Moler's Crossroads was closed in 1928 and the children bussed to Shepherdstown.  The building was torn down a few years later.75 


The churches provided one of the major sources of social events in the Bakerton area.  Most of the Bakers were active supporters of the Methodist Protestant Church, and the land for the first Bakerton Methodist Church was donated by the Baker family.  Frances Millard noted that "They were pretty generous with their money.  However, if they thought you could make it on your own, you did it.  But if you needed help, they were there."76  

Although the Bakers' dislike of drinking and gambling was well known throughout the area, the family did not attempt to thwart these activities at Bakerton.  Inevitably, the differing moral values in the Bakerton community produced some conflicts. 

The saloon run by Bud Rowe opened after the end of Prohibition and remained part of Bakerton's social life for several years.  Charles Knott recalled that "He sold beer and made a lot of money."  But his prosperity in Bakerton was not to last.  When the saloon closed, it was not through the influence of the Bakers or their local advocates of temperance.  Knott continued,  "They had a fellow who used to work out here at the plant....  All of a sudden, one time they had a big to-do up there and he come in and set there.  I guess he didn't have too much money.  And somebody said something.  And he just cleaned the house out.  He just throwed everything out.  That was the talk of the town for  a while.   Well, he wasn't that kind of a fellow.  He went back and told Bud he was sorry.  But Bud, he closed up and went to Shepherdstown."77  No saloon has opened in Bakerton since that time. 

Bill Flanagan remembered one of the more amusing situations: "I lived at that time over where Martin D. Welsh, Jr., lives now....  We belonged to what was known as the Young Adult Sunday School class at the Methodist church, and we used to have meetings at different homes.  And this particular night was at my home, and they had a juke box over at this beer joint and while the meeting was going on.  Well, we said we were going to have a prayer now.  'Brother Lowell Hetzel, will you please lead us in prayer.'  And just as he started praying, the juke box started over at the beer joint and one of the records was 'Makes No Difference Now.' "78 

 On the topic of drinking, George Dozier believed that the Bakers "put up a big kick about it one time, but it didn't go through....  They couldn't do nothing about it.  It wasn't on company property.  We used to go out the Row and go out the track.  Cut across the field.  We used to have a big time out there in Bakerton.  They used to sell beer in a quart can called Eslingers.  And that was all the kind of beer they would drink.  The people would come out of there with it underneath their arm.  If they didn't want people to see them, they'd go around, say like through this woods.  They'd shoot through there."79 

Company sponsored picnics in Duke's Woods were frequent events.  George Dozier stated "it was Walt Flanagan, I think started having company picnics for them that worked over there at the plant.  And they could bring their families.  Had all kinds of food there for them.  And what was left, he would take it around on Ten Row and distribute it around for the people that had large families.  Johnny Moler and my daddy and Uncle Trav.  He'd bring it around in his car."80 

Local musicians often provided Bakerton residents with entertainment.  Dozier recalled that "those Jamison girls [Louise Talley, Dot Miller, and Lillian Lloyd] can sing too.  My father set up on the porch, and we used to play ball in front.  When we got through playing ball and it got too dark, he called me up on the porch.  And they were singing, and he called them 'the McGuire Sisters.' "81 

Carnivals, tent shows, and circuses came to the village for many years.  Lowell Hetzel remembers activities at the field across the road from the Methodist church: "That was an open lot back in those days 1916.  Hunt's show ... it was a big travelling show, and animals and all like that came to Bakerton by rail.  If we hadn't of had that railroad, I guess we wouldn't have had a show.  I don't remember the one in 1916, but I do remember a little later on.  We lived in the house where the Taylors lived....  And when a show came to town, they needed water.  We had a cistern up there, so they carried water from there and we had tickets to the show."82 

The second floor of Knott's store was used as an auditorium and hosted travelling shows as well as movies.  Frances Millard remembered "something coming where they had Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Little Eva died and I can remember crying.  That could have been the Chautauqua."83  After the company converted A. G. Rice's garage into a community center in the 1930's, much of the local entertainment took place in this building. 

For decades, baseball was a passion in Bakerton, and competition between the local team and other teams in the Bi-County Industrial League was often fierce (Figure 16-2).  The playing fields and uniforms were furnished by the company, and the fate of the team was closely followed in the plant newspaper, The Bakerton Safety News, which also covered church and social events as well as company news.  Safety competitions also became a local sport, with each plant training teams of employees and often family members.  

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For many years, probably until the late 1930's, Bakerton had two baseball teams one black and one white.  George Dozier recalled "Blacks had a baseball team there, too.  They played down over the dump, in the flat down over there.  They were all out of Virginia.  Then after they moved away, they just gave up playing ball....  [The Shepherdstown Red Sox] came down and played in Bakerton, too.  And then the whites got up a team and they played out next to the schoolhouse in the flat.  I've walked out there many a Sunday and set in the shade and looked at them play ball.  And they would play the black team out of Shepherdstown on that diamond.  They had a big time out there at Bakerton."84 


The black community in Bakerton, like its white counterpart, depended for its livelihood upon the quarry and related operations.  Although blacks eventually moved into some of the skilled labor positions at the Bakerton plant, many of the black workers from the beginning of the operation until the 1930's worked primarily as kiln tenders.  The kilns generated intense heat; they were hand-fired by coal, and the hot ashes and burned limestone were removed the same way.85  Putting finished lime into bags and barrels and loading trucks and freight cars were also operations performed primarily by black employees. 

Most of the black families lived on Ten Row, a line of 10 company houses located northwest of the original quarry.  George Dozier, who lived there 54 years, recalled "There was no water inside the house.  No bathrooms, nothing like that.  It had outside toilets.  And the rent that we used to pay on Ten Row was only $6.30 a month."86 

While the men worked as baggers, kiln tenders, and laborers, some of the women did domestic work in the community.  Frances Millard recalled that two black women worked for her family "Kate [Burrell] took care of the cooking and when she would not come, her sister Rose would.  Annie Grim was our housekeeper.  Kate would take care of me sometimes.  I loved her."87  

 George Dozier added that "there was a lot of black folks out there when I was a boy coming along.  From Virginia and around like that, you know.  Strasburg, Virginia, and all.  There used to be a lady called Dolly Butler who used to run a boarding house on down we called 'in the field.'  And she would cook lunches and all for these men that worked at the plant.  And my grandmother used to live up this way from us, and she would clean clothes and press suits and things for the men that worked in the plant down there."88 


A man named Grigsby also ran a boardinghouse for blacks.  Bill Flanagan recalled that "He would buy so much food and the company built him a place out back, near the end of Ten Row, and built him a place where he served meals.  And he served breakfast, lunch, and even dinner to the employees that wanted to deal with him or didn't carry their own lunch."89  Guy Moler remembered the same place, "There was two or three of those Grigsby boys, and I've forgotten which one had the boarding house.  At that time there was a whole bunch of colored fellows there that fired these kilns.  A lot of them from down in Rapahannock, Virginia.  And they'd come up here and live in these little shanties and places like that. And this guy run a boarding house down there.  And they'd take their meals there, down over the hill from the plant, on the north side of the plant."90 

George Dozier, who was born and reared on Ten Row, stated "I went to work on the plant when I was 13 years old.  Because it was a large family.  There was 11 of us on my side.  So Walt Flanagan Bill Flanagan's uncle he was superintendent at the plant.  He told me one day, he said "You know, your father's not getting enough to take care of you all.  You come out and I'll give you a job."  He gave me a job filling water coolers and carrying [them].  They fixed me a hook to carry these buckets and keep the coolers clean and put water in them at different places for the men on the plant.  That's how I got started at the plant there."91 

While Dozier was growing up, the black Zion Baptist Church was built across the road from his father's house.  Dozier recalled "it was built by the congregation ... on the plant property.  [The Company] gave them that piece of land so they could put up a church right there at Bakerton.  My daddy helped put that church up.  That's the way they got started there in Bakerton.  They used to have all-day meetings.  People would come from all different places, preachers and all, and they would have a big day there on Sunday.  And all the people around there would help donate money for the church and the preacher."92 

The black Methodist Church, according to Charles Knott, was "right across from Brian Hoffmaster's house.  That was a right good size church.  I guess it was 30 by 40 or maybe 50.  It was just a building where you went in, and had windows on it.  But they had just an aisle and pews on each side.  And in the summer time, they'd open it up.  They had some real good colored preachers and my daddy would go up.  And we were just kids, and didn't have no business doing it, but we could look in the window and see our daddy in there.  We'd peep our heads up and then we'd run because we didn't want anybody to see us." 93 

The black school, begun in the black Methodist church in 1917, continued to operate until 1928.  It was taught by Flora Walker, Margaret Evans, Mary Page, Katherine Kent, Mrs. R.E. McDaniel, and Richard Jackson.  When the school was closed, black children were bussed to Harpers Ferry.  They continued to attend school there until integration took place.  They were then able to attend Bakerton Elementary School.94 

Both the black and white residents of Bakerton recalled that the black section had a reputation for being rough.  George Dozier noted "I've seen them down there in the field.  Them guys would get all drunk and they'd get to fighting.  I seen a guy pull a gun on a man when I was a boy.  His name was Jack Johnson.  This guy told him, 'I don't believe you'll shoot that gun.'  He didn't shoot it, and that guy took that gun away from him and like to beat him to death.  They had to call the law.  And down in the field below us, they used to get drunk and carry on.  And if they would have a meeting at the church, them guys would get all drunk up there and raise Sam..., they'd have them arrested.  They'd have to go to town or out at Bakerton, to pay a fine for disturbing the peace at the church.  Oh yes, there used to be a rough bunch out there."95 

Recalling Shorty Evans, one of the roughest characters in town, Dozier said "He shot a boy called Buster Tinley.  He was a bad one.  And he got killed in Martinsburg over three cents.  Gambling rolling dice."  Bill Flanagan agreed, "He was a pretty rough character.  I worked over at the laboratory and he had a little shanty right near there.  And I guess he practically ran things among the colored race....  But he had everybody afraid of him, or he thought he did.  He would take and pull a gun out and shoot at their feet.  You had to dance for him.  He did it one night there in the store."96 

Bill Flanagan remembered that "on the beginning of Saturday evening, you didn't dare go out that way.  At least, my family wouldn't let Charles or me go out because you could hear gunshots clear over until midnight Sunday.  It was some kind of shooting going on or some kind of fighting."97  

Although much of the publicity relating to the black community in Bakerton tended to focus on the violent aspects of the area, the black community, like the white one, contained its share of hard-working, church-going residents.  George Dozier noted "I'm 71 years old, and I never gave my daddy and mother a bit of trouble.  Never was in trouble in my life.  And I raised nine of my own.  And all of them growed up and got away from me.  I didn't have to have the law pull them out the door and say, 'I'm after your son or daughter.'  That's the way we raised them....  I always told my children, just like my dad told me, he said, 'Son, if you see trouble, walk away from it.  Don't you stay there.'  And that's the way I raised my children."98  

One of the most sensational events in Bakerton's history occurred in the black community in the spring of 1928.  The body of a murdered black man was found in the Company pond.  Bill Flanagan recounted his memories of the murder: "A pretty large-sized pond was across from the store and restaurant.  The whole area in there, clear to the edge of the quarry, was one big artificial pond.  And two boys from school were in the same class with me.  And we carried water from the plant out there.  That's where the water tower was.  There was a well there.  And they carried water to the Oak Grove School down on the corner.  And that was the route they would come by the pond.  They'd come over the hill there, down to the school.  And this object was seen on the surface of the water, and they started picking up stones and throwing them at this object.  When the waves started, why it showed it was a person's head.  And it hadn't been reported, I don't think.  He was a married man, Ralph Beckwith.  And it was finally reported because they thought this William Grey was after Beckwith's wife.  At least it proved out in court."99 


Flanagan continued, "My brother Charles was one of the witnesses.  And the reason he was called as a witness is because this Grey had borrowed a .38 handgun from Charles.  And the bullet that was found in Beckwith's body matched the gun.  So that's the reason they called Charles to Charles Town to be a witness.  And Grey had threatened Charles because he thought he was instrumental in being brought to trial for the murder.  Naturally, he was right, but apparently he contested Charles' statements and reported around, and it got back to Charles that when he got out of the penitentiary he would get even with Charles, or he threatened to kill him.  So Charles was part of this also, and in the meantime Will Grey died in prison and soon after Charles died also.  So that's the way it happened." 

According to the Shepherdstown Register,100  "The tragedy created a considerable stir in Bakerton....  Bakerton doesn't pay much attention to ordinary shooting scrapes, but when the same man is killed three times it becomes a sensation.  Uncle Bob Wilkinson is the authority for the statement that Beckwith was killed three times.  He was hanged, he was shot to death and he was drowned said Uncle Bob, which was certainly making an effective job of it."  Other papers, such as the Spirit of Jefferson and the Martinsburg Journal viewed the murder in a more serious light, calling it "one of the most cold-blooded ever recorded in Jefferson County" and "one of the most fiendishly brutal murders ever to have disgraced this county."101  Although the evidence against Grey was said to be completely circumstantial, a Charles Town jury found Grey guilty of second degree murder after only 10 minutes of deliberation.  


Some time during the 1920's an Italian community began to develop in Bakerton.  Some of the residents of the section of town called "Little Italy" are said to have been skilled quarrymen and blacksmiths who immigrated to this country seeking work. 

Frances Millard remembered that "there was a Four Row.  There was a group of four houses on the left side of the road behind the [Oak Grove] school house between there and Daddy's old store.  And there were also some Italian people there.  Although in school I never went with any Italians.  There were never any in my classes."102 

Guy Moler remembered that "Little Italy was up here on the west side of the quarry.  You run along in there where the church was but on the left.  Right on out that property line, between the quarry and that farm line.  There were six or eight one-or two-room shanties right out along that fence.  Most of them in Little Italy were Italian.  They had a fellow there by the name of Flatigo who had two boys that come to grade school the same time I was there ... Joe and Leonard Flatigo.  He was a blacksmith out there at the plant big robust fellow.  Then later on there was enough of those families in there that they got the nickname 'Little Italy.'  And in later years they moved on and then several colored families moved in."103 


The years immediately following World War II marked the high point in the development of the Bakerton plant and community.  Bakerton appeared to have everything it needed to continue growing.  Everything except an inexhaustible supply of limestone.  The limestone and the Baker family's traditional support of the community were the two factors that had sustained the village for the past 70 years.  The time was coming when the community would have neither.  Then it would face a problem of survival even more severe than that encountered during the Depression. 


1. Shepherdstown Register, August 11, 1921; Martinsburg Journal, September 15, 1922.  Diary of John Welsh, in the possession of grandson Lowell Hetzel of Lutherville, Md.  A detailed description of the quality of the limestone and the variety of equipment used in the Standard operations at Bakerton and Millville can be found in the West Virginia Geological Survey (1919), pp. 302, 303, 396, 404-405, and 49 

2. Lowell Hetzel, Bakerton History Presentation, January 1985. 

3. Interview with Charles Knott, September 23, 1986. 

4. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

5. Lowell Hetzel, Bakerton History Presentation, January 1985. 

6. Lowell Hetzel, Bakerton History Presentation, January 1985. 

7. Lowell Hetzel, Bakerton History Presentation, September 1980. 

8. Lowell Hetzel, Bakerton History Presentation, January 1985. 

9. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

10. Interview with J. William Flanagan, July 23, 1985. 

11. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

12. Interview with J. William Flanagan, July 23, 1985; Bakerton Safety News, December 1935 and January 1939. 

13. "Accident Round Table," Standard Lime and Cement Co., October 31, 1956; Martinsburg Journal, August 3, 4, and 5, 1948; New York Times, December 29, 1948. 

14. Shepherdstown Register, December 10, 1925; Interview with Juanita Moore Horn, April, 23 1984. 

15. Spirit of Jefferson Advocate, February 21, 1952. 

16. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

17. Spirit of Jefferson, December 8, 1926. 

18. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

19. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985; Diary of John Welsh.  

20. Diary of John Welsh; Shepherdstown Register, August 11, 1932. 

21. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985; Shepherdstown Register, August 3, 1933. 

22. Shepherdstown Register, May 24, 1945. 

23. Interview with J. William Flanagan,  April 14, 1985.  Railroad accidents on the plant grounds, the spur to Bakerton, and the Engle Switch area also claimed several lives, including Benjamin Myers (5/26/27) and Samuel Potts and Thomas Sutherland (9/28/27); Diary of John Welsh; Shepherdstown Register, June 2 and September 28, 1927.  Engle, being directly on the main line of the B & O Railroad, was always a hazardous area and was the site of at least one major train wreck.  The accident that occurred at this location in November 1928 involved both a freight and a passenger train and caused the death of the engineer and fireman on the freight; see Shepherdstown Register, November 29, 1928. 

23. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

24. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

25. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

26. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

27. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

28. Interview with Charles Knott, September 23, 1986. 

29. Interview with Charles Knott, September 23, 1986. 

30. Shepherdstown Register, August 27, 1922; Diary of John Welsh. 

31. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

32. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

33. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

34. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

35. Interview with Charles Knott, December 18, 1986. 

36. Interview with David B. Baker, Jr., September 15, 1986. 

37. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

38. Interview with Frances Millard, April 13, 1986. 

39. Interview with Charles Knott, September 23, 1986. 

40. Lowell Hetzel, Bakerton History Presentation, January 1985. 

41. Interview with Charles Knott, September 23, 1986. 

42. Interview with Charles Knott, September 23, 1986. 

43. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

44. Shepherdstown Register, August 27, 1922. 

45. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

46. Interview with Charles Knott, September 23, 1986; Deed Book 150, pp. 270-271, 307, Charles Town, W. Va.; Shepherdstown Register, August 31, 1939. 

47. Interview with Charles Knott, December 18, 1986. 

48. Lowell Hetzel, Bakerton History Presentation, January 1985. 

49. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

50. Interview with Charles Knott, September 23, 1986. 

51. Interview with Lowell Hetzel, June 1, 1985. 

52. Interview with Lowell Hetzel, June 1, 1985. 

53. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

54. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

55. Interview with Lowell Hetzel, June 1, 1985. 

56. Lowell Hetzel, Bakerton History Presentation, January 1985. 

57. Carrie H. Thomas, Baker Family History, undated typescript. 

58. Interview with Charles Knott, December 18, 1986. 

59. Shepherdstown Register, August 5, 1926, and October 25, 1928. 

60. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

61. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

62. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

63. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

64. Lowell Hetzel, Bakerton History Presentation, January 1985. 

65. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

66. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

67. Helen H. Mills, History of the Bakerton Methodist Church, manuscript, 1985. 

68. Margaret Geary Daugherty, in Helen Mills, History

69. Louise Talley, manuscript, September 2, 1985. 

70. Board of Education Minutes, Harpers Ferry District, 1913-1933, pp. 139-139, 141-145, 151; Spirit of Jefferson, August 21, 1921. 

71. Diary of John Welsh; Board of Education Minutes, Harpers Ferry District, 1913-1933, pp. 166, 202, 233, 258, 280, 297, 348, 367, 394, 439. 

72. Jefferson Republican, November 10, 1949; Jefferson County, WV, School News, February 1976, p. 6. 

73. Christine Geary Shade, Autobiographical Sketch, June 25, 1985. 

74. Interview with Christine Geary Shade, May 1985. 

75. Board of Education Minutes, Harpers Ferry District, 1913-1933, January 24, 1922; Jefferson County, WV, School News, February 1976, p. 6 and May 1976, p. 6. 

76. Interview with Frances Millard, April 13, 1986. 

77. Interview with Charles Knott, September 23, 1986. 

78. Interview with J. William Flanagan, July 23, 1985. 

79. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

80. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

81. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

82. Interview with Lowell Hetzel, June 1, 1985. 

83. Interview with Frances Millard, April 13, 1986. 

84. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

85. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

86. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

87. Interview with Frances Millard, April 13, 1986. 

88. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

89. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

90. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985. 

91. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

92. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

93. Interview with Charles Knott, September 23, 1986. 

94. Board of Education Minutes, Harpers Ferry District, 1913-1933, pp. 148-149, 166, 183, 202, 233, 258, 280; Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

95. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

96. Interview with J. William Flanagan, July 23, 1985. 

97. Interview with J. William Flanagan, July 23, 1985. 

98. Interview with George W. Dozier, May 19, 1986. 

99. Interview with J. William Flanagan, April 14, 1985. 

100. Shepherdstown Register, May 10, 1928. 

101. Spirit of Jefferson, May 10 and October 4, 1928; Farmer's Advocate, May 12, 1928; Martinsburg Journal, October 3 and October 4, 1928; Shepherdstown Register, October 11, 1928. 

102. Interview with Frances Millard, April 13, 1986. 

103. Interview with Guy M. Moler, July 8, 1985.