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Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Mug Shot

West Virginia

I’ve been to West Virginia a few times, in fact, I have family from West Virginia. Yes, my Appalachian roots is where I come by my mutiny against footwear of any kind!

My great grandparents had the last name Sutton. Sutton, West Virginia is the county seat of Braxton county. My great grandparents were both BORN in Sutton, West Virginia too. Coincidence? Nuh-uh! Sutton was founded by John Sutton, from England in 1824. John Sutton is my several greats of a grandfather!

In the Sutton cemetery, a memorial was erected to John Sutton in the early 1990s. Not long after that, Mom, Dad and I paid a visit to the town of Mom’s and my ancestors.

Now, West Virginia is not a state with big four professional sports teams and huge metropolitan areas. The state itself is a result of Virginians who seceded to the North during the American Civil War. They were the people of Virginia who were too poor to own slaves and more likely to be indentured servants themselves, so the issue of a states’ rights in the area of anything to do with a higher economic level was not one on which they cared to side with the wealthier Virginians. So they claimed secession from Virginia and remained part of the USA. So remember that, but enjoy the story of Saturday night in the county seat!

We drove into Sutton late on an autumn Saturday afternoon. It was a small main street community and pretty much quiet. As we drove past the volunteer fire department’s building on that main street, you could have fired a gun down the street and hit nothing until the bullet was in Kentucky! No, it wasn’t a hot spot for reveling on Saturday night at all!

After leafing through maps and even West Virginia tourist brochures, we couldn’t find the cemetery. We knew the memorial was there because Grandma had been there with her Uncle right after it was dedicated. So, seeing a sign for the police office, I suggested we try asking there, since other shops and such were already closed.

Mom and I went into the building where the library and several other county offices were. We went down a hall of dark closed rooms until we came to the open door at the end. The room was labeled police office. We went in.

There was an officer sitting at the desk in the front room reading the newspaper. Mom asked him where the cemetery was. and she offered “We want to see the monument to John Sutton. He is a distant relative. My family is from here.”

The officer smiled and walked over to a map on the wall. He pointed to an area on the map. Then he asked where we were from.

“We’re from Michigan,” I told him.

“What kind of car are you driving?” the officer asked.

“My husband’s new Mountaineer.” Mom told him.

“How about I just drive up there and you follow me?”

We gratefully said “yes.”

Then the dialog gets to be fun. Remember, this is the county seat, Braxton county’s “big city.”

“Just a minute while I get the keys to the car.”

He reached in on the other side of the partition in the room and said to the other officer, “I’m going to take the car to show these ladies the monument. They’re kin!”

The two Metro-Detroiters in the room politely held in their amusement until we got back to the car.”

We told Dad the officer was going to escort us and once we were moving again, the giggles came out.

“The officer told the OTHER officer... He was taking THE car... to show us THE monument.”

We followed the cop car up a mountain. Well, okay, not really a mountain, just a huge hill, but all the roads are skinny, steep, dirt roads on huge hills. If a car was coming the other way, someone would have to back up. But, I don’t know, maybe there WEREN'T any other cars! We got to the top of the hill, where the cemetery was and the officer showed us THE monument. Seriously, compared to all the relatively flat stones, it was indeed a towering site.

We thanked the officer for his help and he turned THE car around to go back to the police ROOM.

It’s actually a nice monument and it was an especially nice opportunity to walk the streets where my great grandparents were born and touch the monument erected to my great-great great....grandfather. And it was a fun trip to the “big ole” county seat that was in so many ways missed by the passing of time.

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