This week I am happy to present you with a picture that I think you will find most interesting especially, if you are like most Clay County people, knowing that in your background you may have Native American blood still running in your veins.
I would love for some of you to write some stories that you have been told about this subject! This week’s picture was given to me by a prominent family that spent many years in Clay. I know that there are Clay County people pictured in this photograph but we do not know who they are. Can anyone tell us about this picture, where it was taken, where, and who is in this picture? If this picture was taken in 1920 then we know that the group was founded 50 years before. On this photograph is written, “50 ANNIVERSARY SESSION, IMP. ORDER OF RED MEN AND DAUGHTERS OF POCAHONTAS, CHARLESTON, WEST VA. MAY 11 – 12, 1920.” I would like to thank Karen Burdette for her help in getting this picture professionally scanned so that it could be included in this week’s paper. The original picture is 6 inches X 24 inches.
I had never heard of this order until I received this picture and in doing research I found it on the web-site of the Fraternal Order of Daughters of Pocahontas. “The Daughters of Pocahontas (DOP) was the ladies auxiliary of the Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal/patriotic society.
The Improved Order of Red Men claims to have been founded in 1765 and that it is a continuation of the Sons of Liberty. The aim of the Red Men is “to perpetuate the beautiful legends and traditions of a vanishing race and to keep alive its customs, ceremonies and philosophies.” (Axelrod, Alan. The International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders, p. 207.)
Note: In Boston in early summer of 1765 a group of shopkeepers and artisans who called themselves The Loyal Nine, began preparing for agitation against the Stamp Act. As that group grew, it came to be known as the Sons of Liberty. This is wonderful reading and was part of American history that I knew very little about. What a story! If you are interested in reading more you can find it at: The Sons of Liberty – USHistory.org
“The Daughters of Pocahontas was authorized by the Improved Order of the Red Men in 1885 in Elmira, New York. The first council, or local chapter, was established in Philadelphia in 1887. Among the principal objectives of the DOP were to embody love and respect for the American flag; preserve the American way of life; keep alive American Indian traditions; and provide organized charity for the needy.” (Schmidt, Alvin. Fraternal Organizations. p. 261)
In doing more research, on the website I found the following information: “The name of the Degree of Pocahontas is taken from the celebrated character in Native American history, Pocahontas, whose brief life presents a touching and beautiful picture of grace, beauty, and virtue as well as constant friendship to the palefaces.
All the information that comes down to us describes Pocahontas as being a woman of remarkable grace, beauty, and kindness of heart. Of the character of Pocahontas, it is remarked that considering all circumstances it is not surpassed by any in the whole range of history and that for those qualities which do honor to our nature — a humane and feeling heart, and an unshaken constancy in her attachments — she stands almost without a rival.
The Degree of Pocahontas (D of P) patterns itself after the virtues of this Native American princess — those virtues of teaching kindness, love, charity, and loyalty to one’s nation.
The Degree of Pocahontas is the Women’s Auxiliary of The Improved Order of Red Men. IORM is a national fraternal organization that believes in…
Love and Respect for the American Flag.
The American Way of Life.
Keeping alive the customs and legends of a once-vanishing race.
Creating and inspiring a greater love for the United States of America.
Linking our members together in a common bond of Friendship and Love.
Helping those in need with organized charitable programs.”
I am not the best researcher but if any of you find the history of the beginning of “Imperial Order of Red Men and Daughters of Pocahontas,” I would like to hear from you.
I told you that after putting the picture in the paper on August 14, 2014 of G. W. Williams that Helen Morris Gray was going to write more information on him. The following is what she has submitted:
The G. W. Williams Family
The picture of G. W. Williams in last week’s paper with the little boy, the boy I could not identify, but I was told that it was of one of his sons. He had five sons and I do not know which one this was.
G. W. Williams was called “Grey” Williams but his name was George Washington Williams. He was the son of Sennett Williams. Sennett was born in 1820 in Greenbrier Co. Virginia. He died in 1906 and is buried in the Williams Cemetery on Twenty-Mile Creek, Nicholas County. Sennett was the son of William Williams born 1794 in Wale. He was married to Elinor “Nellie” Nutter in 1841. They had eleven children; Mary Catherine “Bine”, Randolph “Doss”, David “Amos”, Rev. Lewis “Mack”, Algenora, Virginia, Rev. Jefferson “Jeff and Martha Anne. Anne married John Osborn of Bickmore and G. W. George Washington “Grey” Williams who is my grandfather.
G. W. Williams was born on March 1, 1866 in Greenbrier County, West Virginia and he died in April 1938 and is buried in the Williams Cemetery on Twenty Mile. He was a school teacher in Nicholas and Clay County. He taught at Twenty Mile, Nicholas County, and at Leatherwood Grade School, and at one time he taught at Lilly Grade School on Lilly. He also taught at Lone star and Cove Hollow schools. He had to walk three or four miles to get to the schools, sometimes he rode a horse. His first marriage was to Rose Elizabeth Samples in March 1889. They had two children, Florida and Georgia and their mother died when they were two and four years old.
George W’s second marriage was to Mary Agnes Jones on January 8, 1896 in Nicholas County. Mary was born July 27, 1877 and she died on August 10, 1927. Mary Agnes was my Grandma. Mary and G. W. had nine children: Dudley, Lacy Albert “Mack”, Patrick “Pat” and Hubert who died in WWII., Hattie, Beatrice, Hazel, and Ida “Gladys” which was my Mom. Gladys married Alvis Morris and they had eight children: Othel, Pauline “Polly”, Dencil, Bob, Hilda, Helen, Don and Chub.
Florida was married to John Jones and they had five sons and two daughters; Ozro, Johnnie, Burman, Eugene, and William Lawson, Alice and Kathleen. Florida lost four of her son’s in World War II. The first to die was Ozro, in 1943 at 27 years of age; Johnnie in 1945 at 27 years of age; Burman in 1945 at 24 years of age and Eugene in 1950 at 25 years old.
The only son that Florida had left was William Lawson. Secretary of Defense tried to discharge the fifth son from the Air Force but he refused even after having experienced the tragic and bitter loss of his brothers. The Jones brothers are buried at the Reed Cemetery at Clay. Three of the brothers were buried side by side in one large grave. Eugene was buried in 1950.
The Jones Brothers Memorial Bridge” celebration was attended by Delegates Perry, Staggers, Pino and Walker. They requested that bridge number 8-16-14.75 in the Community of Hartland in Clay County, West Virginia be named the: “Jones Brothers Memorial Bridge” on May 19, 2012. Signs were erected at both ends of the bridge in their honor and will be moved to the new bridge when it is completed. The Jones Brothers were G. W. Williams Grandson’s. Written by Helen Morris Gray
I want to thank Helen and everyone who submits pictures and information to help save our history and to make this column possible. If any of our readers can provide any pictures, stories, or family histories about any present or past Clay County residents would you please send us a copy for our library and for possible publication? If you are posting any photographs on any of the social web- sights would you please send us a copy also? Please send your comments to Jerry D. Stover, PO Box 523, Clay, WV 25043 or contact me at email@example.com. We again thank the Clay County Free Press for allowing us to publish these pictures and those wonderful people who continue to donate and who have worked so hard to help in our efforts to preserve what belongs to all of us: Our Mountain Heritage.