Hostelry

Mountain Statesman | The history of Taylor County Chapter Three Hundred-Fifteen


The Record Stock company, a new repertoire organization to Grafton came to the Opera House for the week of March 27,1905 and did an ordinary business during the engagement. The box office statement reveals that only some 2,100 persons paid to witness the performances during the week.

A corporation known as the Grafton Hotel Company, of which Colonel John T. McGraw was the moving spirit, petitioned the town council and mayor for a permit to erect, equip and maintain a modern fire-proof hotel in the town of Grafton at an estimated cost of $100,000, the construction of the hostelry to commence during the present season provided the mayor and council in consideration of this investment which would prove of incalculable benefit to the town, the people and the county, would release the building and contents at its completion from taxation for a period of ten years beginning July 1, 1905. The mayor and council being without the power to exempt any property from taxation which are fixed by the state, were compelled to refuse the petition. Astute attorney as Colonel McGraw was, it is surprising that he would ask for the abatement of taxation for any kind of property for a period of ten years when he knew without a doubt that any municipality was without power in exempting taxes on property.

John W. Leuthke, who for some years was employed in the sheet metal shop of Henry C. Compton on St. John Street, established his own shop on Beech street at the south end of the county bridge and asked for a share of the patronage of the people desiring work in his line.

The play, “An Orphan’s Prayer,” came to the Opera House for a return engagement April 5,1905, but unlike the previous engagement the business on this date was far below the former date. Just why, it is difficult to explain as the company carried the same complement of scenery, livestock and cast. 

The Grafton Street Railway and Light company was granted a franchise by the town council to erect, equip and operate a line of street cares on the Main Street in the town of Grafton for the transportation of passengers and merchandise and to furnish electricity for lighting and power to the business houses, homes and shops and all industries that require unseen power for driving machinery, which was coming into use for operating elevators and other machinery in the homes and factories in the town.

The question of widening Latrobe Street to prevent much of the traffic jams on that important and narrow lane over which much of the merchandise coming into the town was carted, and in times past the town council sought widening this narrow street, was taken up by the council when rumors were heard the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was going to erect a new passenger station on this street. The town offered Mrs. Ann Burns and S.J. Willhide the sum of $125 per front foot for their properties, should the railroad decide to build the station, but the offer of the council was refused and to this day the old street maintains the same width as when first laid out and is little travelled in these days. 

William Henry Sandsbury, one of the best-known citizens of the town and county, died at his home north of town April 9,1905. For many years he was employed in railroad transportation and retired after the death of his first wife to his farm. He formed a partnership with Gottlieb Wotthlie under the firm name of G. Wotthlie and Company and this firm was engaged in the mercantile business for ten years. Mr. Sandsbury withdrew from the firm to return and take up farming on his land. He married Miss Clara Zotts, of Grafton, for his second wife. He was prominent in fraternal circles and an active member of Hiawatha Tribe No. 9, Independent Order of Red Men, and the society known as the Shield of Honor. A member of the Christian church which at the time had no organization in Grafton, the obsequies was conducted by Reverend John Beddow, pastor of Andrews Methodist Episcopal church, and the members of the fraternal order which he belonged, who conducted the rites at the graveside in Bluemont cemetery.

Dr. John H. Doyle, of Fall River, Massachusetts, located at Grafton to practice medicine and opened an office in the McGraw building on West Main Street. He came highly recommended and his pleasant and affable manner soon won him a host of friends in Grafton, especially among the members of the Catholic families of which faith he was a member.

The classical production “Faust,” came to the Opera House April 14,1905, and drew fairly well. This being one of those productions that had no appeal to the habituates of the gallery, but appealed to those classically minded, the downstairs floor was well filled with spectators who appreciated the fine acting of the principals and cast.

Charles Haffner, the locomotive driver who drove the first train to the scene of the celebration at Rosbys Rock at the completion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on Christmas Day, 1852, came to visit his brother-in-law, Ambrose Sniveley, in Grafton, on his eighty0eighth birthday which was celebrated in the home of Mr. Sniveley. Hale and hearty despite his advanced age, he related many incidents of the days of early railroading at the time the road was being constructed through this section of Virginia and his partnership in the little brewery he and Sniveley established in East Grafton at the foot of Brewery Alley to which the good folks of Grafton who were a most sociable lot, came to enjoy a glass of beer to which they were welcome. He told of the good times he enjoyed while a resident and often expressed his sorrow at leaving his position for other parts where new railroad projects were in the making. HE told of engaging Anton Reymann, of Wheeling, as the first brew master in this little brewery who later became the wealthy patron of the city of Wheeling and who did so much for the city of his adoption.