Arthurdale Theatre Project
Undergraduate Research Grant for Arthurdale Theatre Project
J. D. Miller
What is this project?
Our goal is to create a museum quality theatre peice for the 75th anniversary of Arthurdale, a New Deal planned community, in Preston County West Virginia. For information about Arthurdale, see the following link. 
Performances - On Friday, July 10, we will present a theatre piece (no more than 20 minutes) for a dinner in Arthurdale. On Saturday, July 11, we will place characters in the musuem house in Arthurdale to serve as living history interpreters during tours.
Project bibliography []
Arthurdale Homestead Timeline [3 ]]
Manuscripts: Arthurdale Homestead Project, Correspondence 1933-39 (A&M 2178, Box 1)
-- Mr. Bushrod Grimes: Project Manager, Division of Subsistence Homesteads **LETS FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HIM**
-- M.L. Wilson: Director of Subsistence Homesteads, U.S. Dept. of the Interior
-- Mr. Black and Mr. Nolen – town planners/prepared first preliminary plans
-- Nov. 10, 1933: homesteaders housed in rented buildings, boarded by C.C. Corp and paid $3 for 8 hours (Board cost 35 cents a day to Civilian Corp, or $18/month). “Men in excellent spirit” – lots of work
-- Nov. 1933: blizzard – “did not deter work” – “men plug away” – “Washington wants results”
-- Aug. 11, 1934: furniture purchased from Mr. Arthur, used in mansion and other areas, cost came to $450. Mr. Arthur was put on as a historian and paid $10-day for 27 days to reimburse him. Mr. Smart did not feel Arthur did work to amount to $270 “deplorable to use subterfuge to pay honest debt”
-- Dec. 9, 1933: “not a ripple of disagreement or trouble” among the workers. Mr. Roosevelt coming with Colonel Howe to see the gardening and farming operations in the summer – Waldo Craig was paid $200-month.
-- Oct. 18, 1933: a letter to Mrs. Roosevelt from the miner’s wives at Scott’s Run who were “very much interested in your plan to give land and to build houses in Preston County so that families may go there, establish homes, plant vegetable gardens to supply their tables, and become at last, self-supporting citizens.” The women were “anxious to help you [Mrs. Roosevelt] in any way we can” and they “hope that you will accept a few suggestions about the houses that will make them more comfortable places to live and convenient for the women” because “our houses here are so uncomfortable and unsanitary…shacks without any conveniences”. The suggestions include: six room houses “for those of us with large families” including a living room, large kitchen, basement, place for storing preserves and canned goods, room for laundry work with laundry tub, rooms for coal, potatoes, and apples, and room for every member of the family to have his own bed. They also said “we consider it very important to have a school house…also a community house which could be used for a kindergarten, recreation, reading, and worship.” They “hope that you shall be able to build a happy and hardworking community.” The names I could read were: Mrs. Odell Henry, Pearl Trout, Eva Roman, Win McNelis, Mrs. James Grider, Mrs. Homer Mayfield, Mrs. Charles Hays, Mrs. Ray Hinehaugh, Mrs. Kay Federoff, Mrs. Julia McGettigan, and Mrs. Nora Piper
-- On Nov. 23, 1933 they were up to 6-700 applicants for homesteads
-- On Dec. 5, 1933, Mr. Albert Burditus of Bluefield wrote: “I have been out of work for a long time and it don’t seem like I can get any work to do. I have read a lot about the U.S. Government building small homes and selling them to people, and giving them work in the factory that is to make furniture for the Post Office Department in this state. I am very much interested…would appreciate all you can do in helping me to get one of these homes and a job, so I can make an independent living.”
-- Mrs. Roosevelt invited Mr. Grimes, Miss Hickok, Miss Davis, and Mr. Pickett to dine on Monday, December 18, 1933 to talk things over about the project.
-- Jan. 19, 1934: Mr. Grimes writes of an “intolerable situation” which is “getting worse” and includes “abusive language on the part of the Engineer in charge of construction to superintendents and foremen.” A “lack of cooperation” and he “belittles and abuses” Mr. Grimes. Grimes goes on to state that “house sites were changed and foundations started contrary to what we had decided upon…changes interfere with respective farming operations of the homesteaders” Grimes says that he has “constantly remonstrated and objected to the useless waste of money…7 architects…being paid salaries out of proportion to work they are doing….Republicans placed on payroll…salaries out of proportion to what older men have been paid.” He insists that there are “many excellent men on job and more than one of them has told me they will stand no more, even if it costs them their jobs” and that they are “going to resort to primitive methods” to solve the problem soon if nothing is done.
-- May 17, 1934: A letter to Grimes from O.B. Smart, General Manager about Alice Davis. Smart is “concerned at her attitude regarding the selection of homesteaders…only 50 finally approved…insists all the others to be selected not from this vicinity but from a wider range.” It seems that Mr. Pickett and Mr. Grimes agreed on 100 homesteaders “from this vicinity and 25 from wider range” and that they were “setting up farm operations for 100 homesteaders for this summer.” Also, “out of 50, only 28 [of Ms. Davis’ homesteaders] picked homesteads where houses have been built”
-- July 16, 1934: the idea surfaces for a “cooperative dairy instead of allowing homesteaders to keep their cows”
-- Aug. 1, 1934: this letter talks a lot about “government property” – apparently, the homesteads, and by extension “produce grown on subsistence homesteads project” belonged to the government, who could sell the excess or barter with other communities – in this example, taking extra potatoes grown in Arthurdale and trading them for excess vegetables from another homestead community
-- Aug. 9, 1934: farm budget. Originally, $13,534.16. At this point, an additional $17, 565.84 has been spent. **THEY MIS-MANAGED FUNDS ALL OVER THE PLACE…CONFLICT!**
-- some homesteaders prefer to purchase homesteads ‘in the rough’ and do their own clearing, grubbing, and farming preparation rather than paying extra for the government to hire people to do it
-- Aug. 17, 1934: extensive water seepage in cellars is ruining the canned food, plus water is dripping into the houses themselves as well. “You will appreciate not only the inconvenience of the homesteaders, but the opening it will give to the enemies of the administration” Also in this letter, apparently the stoves do not draw enough heat to boil water for canning
-- Sept. 25, 1934: bartering of surplus government property is prohibited. Instead, it should be sold to the highest bidder using standard government bid form #33 and compliance form #36. The Project managers can get permission to dispose of surplus food – there is not enough storage for food or a high enough canning capacity and it is going bad
-- Nov. 5, 1934: thoughts to reduce the homesteads from 5 to 2½ acres. The original plan was that the factory would slow during planting and harvesting seasons so the men could focus on their farms because otherwise it is hard to keep up 5 acres. But, the 5 acres is good insurance if the factory closes because the men would have enough land to keep a chicken or pig. None of the men want less than 5 acres. They also talk about 30 acres of experimental farming land.
-- Dec. 28, 1935: to Mr. Grimes from Mrs. Roosevelt: “I hope you will never hesitate at any time to write me anything which you feel would be of interest whether or not it is pleasant”
-- No Date. 1935? Mr. Arthur still not paid in full for donations.
-- April 4, 1937: homesteaders growing grain to feed livestock, not food for themselves and others. A “monstrous cooperative poultry undertaking doomed to failure from the beginning…” It is depleting soil fertility, and this man believes, leading to $10/acre profit rather than $1,000-1,500 total (for 5 acres). He states the first year’s operation cooped a $3000 loss. “Washington is beseeching industry to take an interest in Arthurdale”. He says we had a factory for Arthurdale last January and “to date nothing has come of it thru no fault of ours.” Apparently, “many of the homesteaders…preparing to move out mainly because of intolerable conditions resulting from policies over which they had no control,” and if they objected, “they were given the hint, ‘if you don’t like it, move out.’” This is called “a truly stupid way to treat any group of men willing to [sic] anxious to make a project succeed, capable of contributing common-sense suggestions” There is also “no excuse for the tragic breakdown of the industrial development. I have always felt that what is needed…not one but several small factories.” The poultry and dairy industry “competes directly and irritable with all the farmers…truck crops would not” The “continued use of ‘army tactics…simply means more grief and a magnificent effort lands on the rocks.”
-- April 5, 1938: To Mrs. Roosevelt from Raymond Kenny – proposed strip mining operation near Arthurdale: Attached article from Morgantown Post, Feb. 28, 1938: operation undertaken by Leslie Larson…J.A. Christopher farm, about 70 acres, bought for $12000 “should not be permitted…will result in a beastly, ugly, depressing appearance…this farm adjoins the school grounds and lies opposite the present homestead poultry plant…you should know also, the Christopher property is good farming land, lying well and practically all tillable”
-- March 10, 1938: J.O. Walker to Kenny. “We agree with you that it would be most unfortunate if an unsightly strip mining operation should occur practically at the entrance to the community.”
-- Sept. 7, 1938: From Grimes: “Several things done at Arthurdale without my knowledge.” From Dec. 1933 to April 1934, authority was divided: Mr. Eric Gugler – construction and Mr. Grimes – farm and homestead **SEE EARLIER CONFLICT** “when Mr. Gugler saw anything he needed…he took it without consulting me”
-- April 5, 1939: HR4148 – bill by Representative Randolph. $906.39 to Mrs. Mary S. Arthur, executrix of Mr. Arthur’s estate. List of articles allegedly furnished and alleged to have been ignored by Washington authorities
-- May 6, 1940: to Mrs. Roosevelt from John Easton: “an extremely pitiful situation has arisen at Eleanor Homestead, WV…people placed in homes with firm impression that someday they would each be the proud possessor of their homes…administration changed several times…many thousands of dollars wasted and blame placed upon them…discrimination in employment, in that outsiders are employed at work homesteaders should be doing.” Everybody “wants to pay their rent and stay in these homes…8 or 10 ordered to evacuate…one man who has been injured for life working on the project and a widow who has just lost her husband and has several small children…” The “administration…insists that there is nothing wrong, and that they are going to throw everybody out of their homes who do not meet their rent payments.” **NOT ARTHURDALE, BUT DID SOMETHING SIMILAR HAPPEN THERE?**
-- Jan. 8, 1941: Bobby Bucklew, age 12, was skating with friend s on ice that formed at the strip mine between Arthurdale and Reedsville and drowned. He was in 7th grade at Arthurdale School. Mr. Kenny attaches this article and says, basically, I see you didn’t listen to me.
-- Locate an article about Arthurdale in Harper’s – Feb./March 1939 by Millard Rice
-- Nov. 20, 1939: Summary of Red House Homestead in Eleanor, WV **I didn’t realize this was a different homestead because it was in the folder with Arthurdale. I can put the information on here if wanted, but didn’t want to waste time typing it out if not.**
Research from FDR Library - Hyde Park NY
Roosevelt , Anna Eleanor Part I: 1877-April 12, 1945
Correspondence with Government Departments June- December 1938 Arthurdale Container 326
George W. Yeager: applied for a house in Arthurdale
“Dr. Alexander: This man is a very fine and capable person and I believe if he could be accepted in the Arthurdale Com. He would be an excellent influence. Can’t you have his case reconsidered? E.R.”
Letter to Mr. Yeager April 29,1940 (Container 326)
(he did not get a house)
“My former sister-in-law, Mrs. Dorothy Kemp Roosevelt, is very anxious to find some kind of work.” Letter to Mrs. Ellen S. Woodward January 31, 1940 (note the former sister-in-law??)
“Dear Mrs. Roosevelt,
Thank you for the interest you have shown in us as graduates of Arthurdale High School. We will come to Washington Sunday, June 29. We hope that our work will bring credit to Arthurdale. If we make good, we expect to attend night sessions of some business college to better prepare our selves for our work. Sincerely yours,
Betty Mae (?) Johnson
Mary Ellen Price
Mary Allsapp(?) Jr.”
Letter from Ms. Johnson, Ms. Price. And Ms. Allsapp June 26, 1941 (1941 Arthurdale folder)
-From looking at different employ reports for Arthurdale during 1941. It seems that more people worked at the Arthudale Assosiations and Resettlement Division) in the beginning January 4, 1941) (33 for Assosiations and 64 for Resettlement) and only 47 employed off project and other agencies, but by July 12, 1941 82 worked off project and 26 worked associations and 16 resettlement. Why? (sons, daughters, and wives not includes; Jan,4: AA- 20, RD: 12; July,12: AA-24, RD:16)
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers
White House Correspondence, 1933-1941
70. Govt. Dept. 1938 Wr-1939 Bel
“My dear Dr. Alexander:
The people on Scotts Run, West Virginia, who are having a desperately hard time, are working up a self-help cooperative and they have asked me to find out what I could about rammed dirt houses. They have some foreigners who have made houses in the old country and they are wondering if it would be possible to build them here. They would like to do this on a rather large scale, so they would need some government money and some government supervision. All of these people are on state relief. Is there any chance that they could get any help from the Farm Security Administrations
Very sincerely yours,
P.S. Even advice would be welcome! “
Letter to Dr. Will W. Alexander May 31, 1939
“My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
I have born in my mind what you told me about Scotts Run. Last week-end I went into the area and saw first had something of the dire condition of the people. It looks on the surface to be hopeless, but we can’t abandon people just because they are in a hopeless situations. We have been carrying on an experiment at Ravenscroft, Tennessee, with a community somewhat like this and we are encouraged with the results that we have been able to get. While we have no solved the problem, that help we have given the people has enables a number of them to improve their living standards and a few of them have made real progress toward permanent improvement and self support. The experiment at Ravenscroft has been under the directions of Mr. H. H. Gordon, our Regional Director at Raleigh. Scotts Run is also in that Region. I talked at length with Mr. Gordon this morning and he will immediately make an examination of the situations at Scotts Run with a view toward recommending first steps in alleviating some of the worst conditions. When he has made his recommendations I should like an opportunity to talk with you about them before we go ahead. It seems to me that we can at least send a small staff of sympathetic, intelligent people in there to symbolize the interest of the Government in this situation. Judging by out experience at Ravenscroft, I think something more than that can be accomplished.
Sincerely, Will W. Alexander”
Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt June 28, 1939
“My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
Mr. Gordon has been giving consideration to a possible approach to the problem at Scotts Run. On the basis of our experience at Ravenscroft, it seems wise to select two of our very best people, a man and a woman, and send them into the area after having given them such instructions and preparation as will be possible. Since two people cannot cover the whole area immediately, it seems that it might be well to left them select an area containing perhaps 75 families and being to work with those families just where they are. In that way our workers would get an understanding of the problem, could try some experiments of a manageable size, and at the end of six or eight months would perhaps be able to recommend an expansion of these activities. Of course it will be necessary for us to provide a considerable amount of grant money and whatever extra help we can put in from time to time from the outside. I wonder if you have given any though to the possibility of some sort of self-help activity there? Our first task seems to be the selection of these workers with great care and we will proceed with that. In the meantime, I would like to have your reactions to the suggestions contained in this letter. If you would like to discuss this in more detail, I shall be glad to arrange my engagements to permit me to visit Hyde Park. However, I wanted to report to you our thinking date. I am (? Nothing else written)
Will W. Alexander “ Letter written to Mrs. Roosevelt on July 14, 1939
“My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
I know that you will be interested to learn that Supervisors have been selected and have already begun work on the Scotts Run project. Our State Director reports that these supervisors are making a good approach to the problem and that he is anticipating receiving loan dockets and plans from them beginning immediately. He seems to be very much encouraged over the prospects and believes that a constructive job can be done. I shall be glad to keep you informed as this work develops. Sincerely,
Will W. Alexander”
Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt November 29, 1939
“Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
Please don’t think me too bold for writing to you and asking for your help, but I have tried to find work at which I can earn a decent living and have searched in vain. So I am kindly asking you to see if you can help me find some sort of a job. My home is in Arthurdale, W.Va. and I have been living there with my parents until four months ago at which time I came here. I am twenty two years of age and I graduated from Arthurdale High School in 1938, the year the President delivered the Commencement Address. Before I came to Washington I was studying a course in Accountancy, but things being as they were I knew that I could not continue that way and decided right away to find work. I have been working at the Airport Hot Shoppe doing Curb Service at night ever since I came here. The only salary the boys receive is the tips they get. I find that I cannot work there and make a living. I find that in order to obtain a Gov. position one must pull from some one. I have never had a real break and want to find some thing to do very much. Please Mrs. Roosevelt I am in earnest and want to with every thing in me to get a start and to work as hard as I can so that I may continue my course and to help me parents. I am ready and willing to do anything that you can offer me, no matter what it may be. Heres hoping that you will not discard my letter and forget about me. Will you be so kind as to answer me letter and tell me what you can do for me? Thank you for your attention and time I will be waiting anxiously for your reply. Sincerely yours,
Frank Anderson Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt August 3, 1939
“Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
I received a letter from the Assistant Director in charge of the Employment Service Division starting that my letters to you had been referred to that Bureau for reply. They suggested that I register with the office of the District Employment Center. I did this as soon as I received the letter, which makes the third time I have registered there. I have no heard anything from them at any time. Mrs. Roosevelt I do not want you to think that I am an impatient person, for I am willing to wait until they have something to offer me. But what can I do in the meantime? I would like so very much to have at least a temporary position of some sort to get me started. Mrs. Roosevelt I am ambitious and ready to work. I am still working at the Hot Shoppe at night, but fall is approaching and business is so bad that I can not make a living. It seems that jobs of this sort are the only kind I am able to obtain without the help of some one. My next move will have to be to go back to live with my parents in Arthurdale. Please will you see if there isn’t some one who can help me?
Frank Anderson” Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt September 28,1939
- She sent letters to many people trying to find him a job, but the point I’m really seeing is the cling to this one person to help him. He says he’s ambitious, but has to have her to get him a job.*
1939 Arthurdale Folder
“…As you know, I had a definite feeling as to the desirability of having some capital return to the Government from Arthurdale, largely for the moral effect on the people themselves. While this is still important in my mind, it is more important to try to so set things up as to enable the people to have a reasonable possibility of continuing Arthurdale alone a line proving it is wrote while from an educational and social experiment… …I am, therefore, asking leagal approval of a contract for Arthurdale which will provide the following: Each homesteader will agree to pay an average of $120 a year for twent years, to the Arthurdale Association. As the end of that period they will receive a deed to their property. During the twenty-year period the amount of this annual payment may be increased by the Arthurdale Association, provided they have the written consent of at least 75% of homesteaders. The entire property would be conveyed to the Arthurdale Association subject to a commitment on its part that it would collect the $120 a year average from each homesteader and that this income would be annually budgeted for expenditure of taxes, insurance, education, health, and public property maintenance; such budget, to be approved by the Department of Agriculture and be subject to the Department’s audit. This proposal means that the major degree of responsibility will be placed on members of the Arthurdale Board and in turn on the people themselves.”
Selections from a letter to Mrs. Roosevelt from J. O. Walker (no date)
“Dear Dr. Alexander:
I understand from Mr. Pickett that Mrs. Roosevelt is interested in having a deed given the people at Arthurdale rather than a purchase contract. I wonder if she perhaps realizes what the deep implies, and should this question arise in your conversation, I would suggest the following be called to her attentions: 1. These properties being conveyed with no consideration except a very low monthly payment, which would be used entirely on the project for education, taxes, etc., would afford an excellent opportunity for speculative purchase by outside parties. 2. If the taxes were not paid, they would become a lien against the property and the property could be sold by the county in order to collect. 3. Judgments, as a result of unwise purchases, could be secured and these, in turn, could become a lien against the property. 4. In case it was deemed desirable to spend additional government funds on the property and such funds were available, it would be difficult to do so if the property were deeded to the individuals. My feeling is entirely one to retain some control in order to protect the homesteaders as much as possible in the next step, that of learning to operate their places and maintain themselves. With this thought in mind, I have figured on twenty years. However, this period is purely an arbitrary one and should be based entirely on the period of time one feels it desirable to insure rehabilitation.
J. O. Walker Letter to Dr. Alexander (no date)
- Resettlement Division when Arthurdale first began was where the most homesteaders worked*
“…A good working relationship has been established between the projects and the county welfare services. Mr. Frame, the County Supervisor, is agreeable to the plan of working closely with the Arthurdale community wherever family services are necessary. All the possibilities of securing Old Age, Assistance, Public Assistance, WPA, CCC, and NYA help were explored, and there is no question of the willingness of the county authorities to extend help wherever they fell justified in doing so. However, they are reluctant to issue more than a minimum of help to Arthurdale people as they feel that those in the surrounding county are more in need…” Taken from a letter to Major Walker, from Anne Savage May 10,1939
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers
White House Correspondence, 1933-45
70. Govt. Dept. 1943 Op- Pickett, Clarence
Folder: 1943 Clarence E Pickett
- Mrs. Morgenthau. Someone Mrs. Roosevelt took a trip to Arthurdale with January 12, 1943*
“Dear Mrs. Roosevelt, I have informed Mrs. Houghton at Arthurdale that in case they are able to raise funds necessary for securing a minister for Arthurdale we would contribute $250… …It was delightful to have a chance to visit with you a little while the otherday, and I felt that the meeting of the Arthurdale Committee was quiet helpful. I hope next time we go, however, that we can see more of the homesteaders.
Very sincerely yours,
Clarence E. Pickett” Letter from Clarence E. Pickett January 15, 1943
“Miss Thomas: Mr. Pickett called and wanted Mrs. Roosevelt given the following information: The factory at Arthurdale (all the buildings) are being leased to an airplane concern which is gong to manufacture small airplanes. Provisions are being made also for the NYA project down there and also for the other small factory. The present factory building will be used to full capacity.”
Call for Mrs. Roosevelt May 10,1943
“Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
The have a new minister at Arthurdale, Rev. Felix A. Robinson. He is their own choice, and I have a letter from Dan Houghton saying that, while his views of religion are not exactly like those of the Houghton family, it seems as if he will pretty well fit the needs of the Arthurdale community. Dr. Dawber of the Home Missions Council has asked us if we would contribute $250., and I should think it would be a good thing to do. I’d be interested to whether you approve. Poor man, they are only paying him $60. a month, but he is doing some other remunerative work. Sincerely yours,
Clarence E Pickett”
Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt October 18, 1943
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers
White House Correspondence, 1933-45
70. Govt. Dept. 1944 Pf-Ri
Folder: Clarence Pickett 1944
“Dear Dr. Dawber:
I should have written before but have been kept quite busy with my school work and outside activities. Since Rev. Robinson has located in our community he has been on the job continuously visiting and leading the activities of the church. He has been in every home at least once and this work has been supplemented by some lay visitation by members (adult). There has been a continuous increase in attendance especially of adults in the regular services. Our average attendance during the last eight weeks has been sixty five. We have a young people’s choir which averages at least thirty voices at rehearsal and only a few less at Sunday services. A special Installations Service was held on Thanksgiving evening with a large attendance Visiting preachers taking part were Rev. Fast of Rowlesburg, Methodist, Rev. McMillan, Retired Methodist of Reedsville, and Rev. Lee Klair, Presbyterian, of Morgantown. To date we are well satisfied with Rev. Robinson’s work. He is well like by both old and young people and his special talents in music are especially valuable here. The Women’s Auxiliary has been especially active in the social and financial activities of the church group. The Christian Endeavor is sponsoring a Christmas Pageant and musical program for the Christmas week and there is to be a special service on Christmas Eve. We are deeply grateful for the financial assistance of the H.M.C. and are working hard toward even greater self support. I must close now with sincere wishes for a happy Christmas seasons for you and yours.
G.H. Keck. Sect! y” Letter written to Mark A. Dawber (no date)
“Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
Work on the store room for clothes and shoes will begin tomorrow. This will be a real help to us in our efforts to supply clothing for the aged cold miner and their families. We will be happy to have you inspect this room when you next visit us. Thank you very kindly for your generous gift. Plans are being made to construct a swimming pool at Pursglove for the children of the Scotts Run-Maidsville area. That this is a needed project for their area I’m sure you will agree. At present it is especially needed to counteract the trend toward juvenile delinquency. I would like the opportunity to discuss this matter with you in the very future. Could you give me an appointment if I came to Washington? Respectfully yours,
Richard C. Smith. Director of The Shack” Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt February 15, 1944
“Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
Mrs. Clark of Morgantown has written me about a particularly pathetic case of a mother in Scotts Run who has two children that she would like very much to send to the Chestnut Ridge Camp (the special camp run by Lee Klair of the Presbyterian Church of Morgantown). It would cost $18. to send the two children for two weeks. I wonder whether you think it would be a good investiment of that much money from your fund which is in our care.
Clarence E. Pickett
Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt June 30, 1944
“Dear Mr. Pickett:
There is so little money in the fund that I am sending you an extra check for $18.00 so that the two children at Scott’s Run may go to camp. I do think it is a good investment and gladly send the money.
“ Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt July 4, 1944
- After 1944, there seemed to be nothing on Clarence Pickett, as before he had his own folder. Did something happen?*
Eleanore Roosevelt Papers
White House Correspondence, 1933-45
100. Personal Letters 1933 Wh-1934 Alt
Box 585 Folder 100 Wi 1933
“My dear Mr. Willard:
It was very kind indeed of you to be so generous in meeting my request to have the Mason jars sent from Hyde Park to Morgantown, W.Va. The Friends Service Committee, which is doing heroic work among these people, were overjoyed to have them. As you may know, I spent two or three days in the vicinity to see for myself just how badly off these people were and I was appalled. I want you to know that through your generosity many of them will be kept from being too hungry this winter. Many , many thanks. Very sincerely yours, “ Letter to Mr. Daniel Willard from Mrs. Roosevelt September 22, 1933
My dear Mr. Willard,
I want to thank the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for the lovely flowers they sent to me on my recent trip to West Virginia. The flowers helped to make my trip very pleasant, and I very much appreciate the thought.
Very sincerely yours, “Letter to Mr. Willard from Mrs. Roosevelt December 7, 1933
Reseacher - Dana Sayre
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers: White House Correspondence, 1933-45
70 Govt. Dept. 1937 Alexander, W.W. - Bri Box 308
Malvina T Scheider – Secretary to Mrs. Roosevelt
Dr. Will W. Alexander – Resettlement Administration
Letter to Eleanor Jan. 12, 1937
Both the Regional Director and the Project Manager have been aware of the Home Economist’s lack of diplomacy among the women, and have talked with her about it. However, it appears that she is not well adapted to the work at Arthurdale and arrangements are being made to replace her
Letter: to Eleanor from Mr. Alexander, Feb 6, 1937
…the latest report from Dr. George S. Mitchell, our Regional Director at Raleigh, concerning the home economist at Arthurdale…Dr. Mitchell reports that the opposition to Miss Stautz, the home economist, has virtually disappeared; that Mr. Nine, the principal of the school, and Mr. Flynn now feel that she should be allowed to remain at Arthurdale until the end of the school year, since the biggest job she has is supervising school lunch.
Letter to Eleanor from Mr. Alexandar May 13, 1937
Sometime ago you expressed an interest in the possibility of having refrigerators and washing machines for people who are to occupy the Resettlement communities and farms. You will we interested to know that through another government agency we have been able to secure ice boxes and washing machines in sufficient number to equip most of the houses where power is available.
Letter to Eleanor from Mr. Alexandar, June 23 1937
We are at this time in process of detaching Westmoreland, Arthurdale, and Tygart Valley from the regional offices and will hereafter administer them from Washington. This necessitates adjustments in budgets, etc., and it will therefore require a few weeks to complete the transfer. It is our thought that some one person will have responsibility for these communities and spend a great deal of time at the communities and in the field helping to develop the economic side. He will have at his disposal the staff of community and educational workers who can be called in to help with that side of the development.
Copy of Homesteader’s Wife – Liberty Magazine: January 2, 1937
- See Mr. Frank Tickner 100-1/25/37: Re: Books to be given for library
- See Allie S. Freed 100-2/10/37: Re: $1000 check for school
Memorandum of Arthurdale
The Government as a construction agency has finished its job at Arthurdale. All of the 165 houses are finished and ready for occupancy; the schools, roads, and other public facilities, are also completed. There would seem to be no reason for further services to Arthurdale of the Construction, Inspection, Architectural, and numerous other divisions of Government which have been actively engaged in constructing the community. Physically, the community is complete and finished, so far as the Government is concerned….The Government should continue to exercise a limited control over the operations of The Arthurdale Association, but it should be a relationship similar to that of banker and borrower….the time has at last arrived when the homesteaders (through their Association) must develop their own economy. The future success or failure of the community depends upon the manner of such development….Unless Government does release its detailed control, the Arthurdale Association cannot possibly succeed….Government can afford such multiple supervision and delay its own construction work; but The Arthurdale Association is using its own money, borrowed from the Government, and it cannot afford such expensive and unnecessary controls any more than a private business could afford them. [Basically, things have to go from the Arthurdale Association to the Regional Office in Raleigh, NC and then to Washington and it is ineffective – for example, a report showing that Arthurdale has negative $1000 profit in March didn’t reach Washington until May 6 and the Regional Office didn’t comment or seem to care that Arthurdale could not be sustained if this trend continued.]
July 19, 1937: direction, management, and control of Arthurdale would be transferred from Regional Office to the Resettlement Division, Washington, D.C.
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers: White House Correspondence 1933-1945
70 Govt. Dept. 1937 Woodward, E.S. – 1938 Ba Box 317
Letter to Eleanor from Mr. Alexander: Feb. 2 1938
The loss of Mr. Freed will be quite a blow to Arthurdale, particularly as it will probably mean our having to abandon the proposed metal-working plant, the starting of which was contingent on the continuing development of Mr. Freed’s Buckingham project…..we have felt that that success at Arthurdale has grown out of the fine educational program which has been carried on there. I am confident that, if we had funds to undertake similar comprehensive programs in our other communities, conditions would improve materially.
- July 18, 1938 letter about the Garfield family
The Arthurdale Association Resolution about Mr. Allie S Freed: for the past three years has been a highly valued guide, counselor, and friend of Arthurdale and its people, always ready to consider our problem, and to contribute to their solution his unbounded energy, sound common sense, good business judgement, and a warm feelingng of social responsibility.
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers: Speech and Article File, Sept. 1933 – May 1934 Box 1399
“They Keep Their Power to Dream” (Miner’s Wives). McNaught Syndicate: Dec. 1933
Subsistence Farmsteads – Reedsville. Forum: January 22, 1934
These projects financed under this particular fund, I considered were all to be more or less laboratory projects or experiments, but they would be provided with detailed information on many subjects by the experiment at Reedsville and therefore would not need to be to the same extent experimental and could therefore be considered more as an actual object lesson of what could be done by local funds on a larger scale where they proved successful. The Reedsville project from my point of view was an entirely different thing. It was from the start a laboratory in every way. First, in the matter of housing, different types of houses were to be tried out…water supplies were to be tested as to the cheapest form…Electricity would be tried out to find out what it would cost and how much could economically be used in rural communities of this kind; an electric plant to serve that community would be installed, not because of necessity it would be the cheapest thing for that particular community, but to find out how much it would cost and how big a community it could serve and whether it would actually be best to do it in rural communities in competition with the public utility corporation….The original idea of having a government factory as I understood it…was in order that one could be assured of the employment for one member of each family so that one could see how the whole scheme would work out under stable employment conditions…..Obviously these things could not be done without making a number of mistakes and without the cost being very much greater than it would be in any of the other places…..If, with the twenty-five million you are planning to put as many people as possible in as cheap houses as possible with as little beyond the bare necessities of life as possible, then I think the twenty-five million had much better be turned over to the relief administration which is planning to do this very thing….If, however, the twenty-five million are to be used to find out as far as we can in different parts of the country what is the highest level to which the family with an ordinary income can aspire, then I think we have a right to retain it in a separate department and to consider that we are doing a laboratory job which will be useful and far reaching perhaps in its ultimate results.….few farm families actually starve to death unless they raise none of their own food….Much will depend upon the individuals who make up the communities but I believe that this is one of the government’s plans which may lead to a more abundant life for many people in this country. Subsistence Farmsteads. The Forum: April 1934 It was a bright and sunny day…in a mining camp in West Virginia…The house was clean though the young woman who let us in apologized for the fact that her children were rather dirty and her kitchen full of the mess which canning creates, but it was easy to see that here was a young woman who was trying hard to bring up a healthy family and who had the standards of good and well planned farm living in her mind. Before we had talked ten minutes, she said anxiously to the relief worker “Is there any chance that we can get some land?” She knew that an effort was being made to get either the state or the mining companies to divide up some land amongst the unemployed miners and she was most anxious to get her children away from the danger of tuberculosis and the family across the way where the men spent a good deal of time drinking. ….In West Virginia a great many mines have closed down, some will probably never reopen…The government experiment near Reedsville, WV is planning for one hundred and twenty five families chosen from those miners who are permanently out of work. The land chosen is good land with hills and a certain amount of valley bottom which is typical of much of the WV farming land. The West Virginia College of Agriculture had made a study of unemployed miners’ families and found that many of them only came to the mines within the last few years attracted by the very high wages paid for a short time….The conditions in the mining villages were so bad that many of the families who had come from farms longed to return to the land. For the first experiment families will be carefully chosen…The houses, while very simple, are being planned to meet the needs and aspirations of the people who are going to live on them. they wanted certain very definite things, a chance to be clean, a shower or a bath tub in every house, a suitable tub in which to wash their clothes, enough room so that each member of the family might have a bed of his own….If this experiment succeeds it may be the model for many other such plans throughout the United States.
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers: Speech and Article file, undated 1934 – April 1935 Box 1401
Faith/Reedsville. The American Magazine. 1934
Every new movement must have a laboratory and experimental spot where things are tried and often found wanting. Many people will think of this time and the extra money spent as wasted but I do not think that it will prove to be so in the long run. Much valuable experience has been gained and the money which will not come back has been spent to train personnel which will be useful in other homestead projects and to gain experience and knowledge which will be invaluable in other places as well as in the further development of this place. For instance, the next one hundred and twenty-five houses will cost about half of what these original portable houses cost and they will meet the needs of the tenants rather better than the first ones….Three little girls stood around her, one six, one eight, and one ten years old. They were all very much of a size, the six-year-old was already a little taller than the eight-year-old. I could not help but wonder if conditions under which they had lived the last few years had not some thing to do with the eight-year-old’s small size and under-development. They all looked rosy and healthy and supremely happy now ! ....Someone asked her if she liked her new house and her response was, “It is paradise for us. Our house and all our belongings were swept away by a land slide and we moved to an old abandoned mining camp and had two rooms with no windows which we fixed as well as we could and lived there for a year before coming here.”…..One of the larger houses of five rooms seemed to me rather crowded as the family consisted of five children and the mother and father, but the mother…was just as enthusiastic as the first woman and recalled the fact to me that her boys had to tie their old mining camp house to the railroad tracks to prevent its being swept away during floods. It was sad to see how very few of these homesteaders had many of what we might call personal possessions, showing how long had been the period of unemployment. These personal possessions disappear one by one when food and clothing become the only cravings which must be satisfied in order to keep body and soul together…..It is true indeed that people can be given opportunities and then throw them away, but it seemed to me as I visited house after house, looking at the faces of the men and women and even the children, that here was determination to keep these small farms together and make them homes, to take advantage of this opportunity of security and to make the most of this chance to improvement in physical conditions…..I thought of the scrap book shown me on my first visit to the mining camp from which some of these people came. These scrap books…had pictures taken from old magazines to show what they would like to have in a home. One woman had done hers with extraordinary taste. The street she would like to live on had beautiful trees, she picked out a really charming interior and she named her scrap book “My House O’Dreams.” Out of the eyes of some of the women just moved into these little houses, shone a light which seemed to me to betoken the hope of the achievement of their “House of Dreams.”
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers: Speech and Article File, undated 1935- undated 1936 (Box 1403)
Homestead – West Virginia. Liberty: 1935
Official File OF 2696 – OF 2723
OF 2700: Arthurdale Project, 1933-40
April 27, 1937: Memorandum for the Secretary of Agriculture written by F.D.R.
I am not in the least bit satisfied with the electric light rates at the Arthurdale Community…It is an outrage for the Preston County Light and Power Company to charge three cents or even two cents. It would be interesting to know what their actual cost at the buss-bar is. I am inclined to the belief that they should sell this bulk power for less than one cent a KW….this would make a household rate of three cents which is no less than the rate charged in, for example, homes of the rural communities in the State of Georgia….Please press the situation with the electric light company, bringing suit if necessary.
Letter to John Walker Director of US Department of Agriculture, Resettlement Administration from Allie S Freed, Chairman of the Committee for Economic and Social Progress
I cannot tell you how badly I feel at the manner in which the problem of equitable electricity rates at Arthurdale has been handled….It is really pathetic for us, who are so vitally interested in Arhurdale, to realize that although summer is now almost upon us, valuable time has been wasted so that it is already impossible for the children in the community to get the advantage in the hot summer days of milk, eggs, and butter that should and could be properly refrigerated for them….Your department has, in my opinion, wasted four valuable months without even giving a coherent reason or argument why it cannot be done….all I can say is that I know of no greater violation of our responsibilities than to allow another summer to go by with my kids well taken care of in the necessities of life and the children at Arthurdale deprived of similar things which they could so easily have.
August 13, 1935 memorandum
Resolution signed by Leslie S Bucklew, Pres. at the Homesteader’s Club 8/1/35: asking that PWA wage be established on this project; under present wages, the men are unable adequately to provide for their families.
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers: White House Correspondence, 1933-45
70. Govt. Dept. 1934 Ci – Dailey, Vincent Box 263
March 13, 1934 – Letter from Floyd Cox sent to Clarence Pickett, Subsistence Homesteads 100. Personal Letters 1933 Am-Bl Box 572
Nov. 8, 1933 – Can you dine and spend night Tuesday November fourteenth? – ER to Baruch 100. Personal Letters 1934 Am - Bey Box 586
Baruch to ER – Dec. 4, 1934.
You know you told me to treat this as if it were my own matter and I propose to follow out your request until you tell me not to. with reference to your school at Reedsville, would you like to have some more money for it this year or for next year? I think I could manage it.
Baruch to ER – Dec. 6, 1934
Of course what we want are houses for these people but I know that you agree with me that it would be very unwise to get the people into them under conditions that would not permit them to retain the houses, and which would place unbearable burdens upon them. That is the real reason for getting these costs before we place a new burden upon the home owners.
Baruch to ER – Dec. 18, 1934 Of course you shall have the additional $3,000….I understand you do not want this now. When do you want the other money? You shall have it just as quickly as you want it. Now, in reference to the Pynchon letter, which I am returning to you, the cost of the original experiment will be $1,597,707.80. On the basis of the sales contract with each of the 190 homesteaders at $3,000 each….the crux of the whole matter is whether the homesteaders can be set up in a community, in a house costing $3,000 which will not load them down with a financial burden they will be unable to carry….they are about to get started on the construction of a small factory to assemble vacuum cleaners, which will employ at the start from fifty to sixty men and women....The question now is, can we get employment for these extra 140 families.
ER to Baruch – June 13, 1934
You can see the capital outlay for this year is for the interior fixings and for the extra buildings which would not go ordinarily into a rural community but which we feel will be a great demonstration of what can be done and should be done in rural communities. The running expenses for this year are less because I am taking care of Miss Clapp’s salary. Next year and the year after they will have to be included. The other items are the items which the state is not prepared to carry….We are not busy figuring out, as we decided that it was better to drop the effort of putting through a post office factory for fear of having a great deal of “hot air” in Congress and another attach on Reedsville written into the record, what shall be the industry down there. The important thing… is that a family shall have a sufficient [enough] livelihood and assurance of an ability to pay their expenses covering a standard which we hope to establish as something to shoot at in all rural industrial communities.
100. Personal Letters 1934 Buc – Cl Box 588
August 28, 1934 – Clapp to Scheider Some recent developments at Reedsville make me wish that Mr. Pickett could see Mrs. Roosevelt. Could you arrange for this?
Sep. 13, 1934 – Clapp to ER
I would very much like to see you next week to discuss with you the problems at Reedsville. I spoke to Miss Cook today of my wish and she suggested that I express it to you. Would this be possible for you? I would of course come to you. School opened Monday. We held a homesteaders parent meeting last night. The reaction to the school to the contributed teacher and to plans was very favorable. They brought me requests for leadership on community affairs. The nursery school opens the 17th. Everyone is relieved and happy by the actual beginning of school, the children radiant, the parents cooperative and friendly. Conditions exist that hamper our functioning and are detrimental to the welfare of the people and the purpose of the project. It is these which I would like to discuss with you, if I may.
Clapp to ER: November 8, 1934
Thank you for forwarding to us the check for $250.00 from Mrs. Morgenthais’ mother. Will you convey to her our deep appreciation? May I hold its use open until I know which we need most – a car or clothes and rubbers? I shall let you know. I cannot adequately thank you for the check you gave me the other day. It has enabled me to meet the care of an acute appendicitis case, a truss [?] that will enable one of our fathers to continue working and care for a serious puncture case. We are so grateful. I had a most satisfactory talk with Mr. Hopkins. He suggested the starting of several other cooperative units. A “restaurant unit” (the midday hot school lunches) a “dairy unit” (cows – milk for “”) a “poultry unit” (chickens – eggs for “”) a sewing room unit (cloth to be made by our mothers into coats, dresses, and boys suits) capital sum to be used for shots [?] and medical supplies….We are to pay for these by audit hours of work at the did projects. The women will work in the sewing room and lunch room. The men will build (out of working hours) the barn and poultry house. I put it up to both the men’s club and the newly formed :Eleanor Roosevelt Farm Women’s Association” and met a fine response…..The fathers and mothers are happy to do it….It is going to be just the kind of enterprise we want.
Nov. 13, 1934 – Clapp to ER
….Mr. Pickett asked me to tell you that I would very much like the $250.00 of which you spoke to him. Not for a bus, as I have met that need by putting seats in the trucks, but for shoes and underclothes for the older children and for musical instruments for use in our adult orchestra groups. I spoke to you of our need for $3000 for supplies…Mr. Schriver today told me as such provison requires an other interpretation of the Homestead Subsistence Act, this is unlikely and uncertain, and in any case, deferred. Meanwhile we lack any means except those provided by me personally for daily needs of carrying out the work we re doing….I wish very much that Clarence Pickett could have especial charge of Reedsville. He is the logical person and we could then develop a self-help program of cooperators. I venture to suggest that Reedsville be considered a part of the Monongahela Valley development – as it is….We could then develop the reciprocal relations between these projects and their cooperators. This might make real use of what we have [expeusurly] learned from Reedsville and make what we may do there of actual service in the larger region. I think Reedsville, so viewed, falls into its proper place. It can function helpfully and learn from other simpler projects. I have spoken to Mr. Chapman about this. He thought well of the plan.
Dec. 14, 1934 – Clapp to ER
I would be very glad to see Miss [Josephine] Roche here if possible, before Christmas. [The] need for a doctor, and a clinic, is urgent. The doctor who was to come January 1st was deterred by the difficulties of obtaining a West Virginia license. I shall look forward to the Thursday after Xmas. We will have our square dance on the night you are here. I would like, if it is possible, to talk to you quietly above about both the fundamental conception of this, and other homestead projects and the long-view plans of their development.
100. Personal Letters 1934 Coa – Cu Box 589
January 15, 1934 – Cox (co. superintendent of schools) to ER After our conference Friday regarding the school situation at Arthurdale, we had another conference with Mr. Clarence Pickett relative to the curriculum which should be corporate in the school set-up. I heartily concur in the suggestions which you made for including the nursery school, Vocational education including Agriculture, Home Economics, Shop Work, Auto Mechanics, and possibly some industrial study in connection with the factory to be estimated…..I might say that I have discussed the matter informally with some of the people mentioned above [Dr. JN Deahl, Dr. LB Hill, Earl Hudelson, Mr. RB Marston, Dr. Robert Clark, Miss Mary Jo Barrett, Mr. Justice Deahl, Miss Ruth Wells, Miss Alice Davis, Mr. George Colebank] and they will be very glad to lend every assistance possible in making the school set-up at Arthurdale a real contribution to modern education…..I think we are all agreed that a traditional type of school will not fet the Arthurdale project. I believe that school people who know the background of these boys and girls and understand the life situations into which these boys and girls must fit, would probably do better than other who do not understand local conditions.
100. Personal Letters 1935 Ab – Be Box 607
Baruch to ER (date ?) ….And your gift of the automons is a sentimental one to me, also, coming from those people who are trying so hard to care for themselves and I can never get out of my mind the faces of those people I saw the day we went to Reedsville.
- Article in January 1935 Atlantic Monthly by Dr. Brooks referenced
May 18, 1935 – ER to Baruch
I have a letter from Miss Clapp begging me to have you reach Reedsville on the 29th in time to see the school really in operation….someone will meet you and take you to breakfast and then over to Arthurdale. I will try to be there by one or two o’clock, so that we can have the afternoon and evening together. I hope you will plan to stay that evening as I am suggesting a general homestead meeting and I particularly want you to see the group as I have seen it and get an idea of the spirit that is growing up, which I think is one of the valuable contributions that is being made by the school and the money which you are giving….I am taking the liberty of allowing $1100 of your money to be put into a revolving fund to which I have added $1000 which I received as a gift. This money will be used for medical purposes…there is no free clinic anywhere in West Virginia. The homesteaders will pay back this money as they are able to do so, but the doctors and hospitals have to be paid in lump sums.
August 9, 1935, ER to Baruch
….I am very anxious to talk over with you our joint enterprise in Reedsville. Things seem to be going pretty well from the human side down there and I think we could not ask for better development or a more remarkable ability to meet their problems than they are showing.
August 14, 1935 – Baruch to ER
….it will do no good helping people unless they can help themselves. Placing people in homes or in circumstances in which they cannot carry on, would be tragedy. The blame would rest entirely upon our shoulders. That is one thing I fear in connection with many of the things we are trying to do for people – that they may be left in circumstances where we have not helped them but have hurt them. However, if our hearts are in the right place and we use our heads, I am sure everything can be worked out.
September 26, 1935 – ER to Baruch
….With the extra money that you gave us last year, we did some really remarkable health work. Three women who the Doctor thought would die within a year are apparently going to be spared to their families, and a number of children have had various essential things done, which, I hope, will mean future health and strength. This work was necessary because of conditions under which they lived for a number of year so I think we can look upon it as a real rehabilitation physically.
100. Personal Letters. 1935 Calder – Cox Box 609
Clapp to Roosevelt (Dec. 27, 1934)
Such joy. I wish you could have seen it. The toys you gave reached every boy, girl, child, baby. And best of all, out of their abundance, the homesteaders on their own initiative made up several Christmas boxes for some people near us who are very poor and miserable. Your box of clothes contributed, and a committee went among the homesteaders seeking gifts of food. The toys you sent I have to Nadja in a moment of carefree sharing, not knowing of these last boxes. I am so glad the homesteader’s impulse was to think of others. Several weeks ago I organized Xmas committees and every one of the fathers and mothers of the 81 families served on them. we cut our great tree, brought it in, and decked it. We gathered our Xmas greens from the woods. Others made wreaths and garlands. Two groups solicited corn, popped it, and spent a long, jolly evening in the Arthur House kitchen, making it into popcorn balls – and boxes of fresh popcorn for Santa Claus to give the children. We sent some of it to mothers with babies to string for the tree. Another group made toys for baby children in the Nursery school. It took four groups to check and choose the toys you gave, so that the right gift went to the right child. All the gifts for our family were tied together and so distributed at the tree. Christmas Eve at seven thirty we gathered in the Assembly Hall. Carols which the children acted out – orally the old bible story – presented by everyone. (at the last “singing school” one hundred men and women came out to practice the carols. I staged it as an old Nativity play and it was surpassingly beautiful.)….The whole Christmas drew the community together…..The High school and Night school older boys and girls built the manger, managed the lights loaned us by a Morgantown movie house, decorated the costumes. I was needed only to help. It was theirs entirely. “I ain’t never had so much fun for five years,” one woman told me. “I tell you, Miss Clapp, there’ll never be another first Xmas in Arthurdale. Ain’t it wonderful? I ain’t never seen a tree like that. It’s like one I dreamed. And the bible story, real as if I’d been there myself.”….Thank you and the President for your Christmas message. It means everything to these people for they love you.
Jan. 16, 1935, Clapp to ER
Mr. Charles Tichenor’s wife is ill. She has, it is said, a stomach ulcer. They have four small children. Everyone, literally, on the project, has tried to help them. the men voluntarily collected over fifteen dollars and gave it to them and also bought Mr. Tichenor a pair of shoes. The women have repeatedly done her house work…..I helped them several times with outright gifts from the Emergency Fund. The project nurse cared for Mrs. Tichenor. We went the children clothing. It was Mrs. Tichenor that got up at the Women’s Meeting and complained that no one had given them any assistance. It hurt the other women very much that she should say this especially after they had helped her so much….The Tichenors have been threatening to leave the project for some time….The third time that they told me they were going I said that I thought that they would have to decide for themselves about it. Mr. Tichenor announced to me and Mr. Flynn that he had work elsewhere….Mr. Tichenor went off presumably to do the other job he had. After two men had been sent off to investigate, we finally found that he was enrolled as number 17 on the waiting list at a mine in a town where his wife’s people live….His family he left here. We of course included them in the Christmas gifts at Arthurdale. Mr. Tichenor went in to see Miss Davis apparently to get a mattress from her. He abused Mr. Flynn and myself to her and told her he was being forced off the project. Finally Mr. Flynn and I sought Miss Davis’ help…..Alice arranged for storage of their possessions in Morgantown and they are now, as Mr. Tichenor says, staying with her father who owns a general store in the town where the mine is located to which he has made application for work….It was obviously impossible to have the family living rent free on the property while all their neighbors worked hard to pay their rentals…I am sorry that he troubled you with it.
Dec. 15, 1934 – Tichenor to Flynn
This is to advise you that owning to the condition o my wife’s health and the additional expenses it has caused me thereby, it is not possible for me to maintain my family on the amount of money which I earn on the Reedsville project. In view of this fact, I have secured other work and desire to resign as a Homesteader and surrender my lease….If it is possible to have any money repaid to me from the payments which I have already made on the house, which is F-11, I shall be very grateful….I am making this decision and surrender of this lease of my own free will.
Jan. 15, 1935 – Bushrod Grimes: Relative to Help Given to Charles Tichenor
…..Most all of us regret Tichenor’s unfortunate situation for the past six months, yet we feel that if we could have given them all the help that they thought was due them, difficulties and dissatisfaction on their part would have come up again at some future time. It is the general feeling amongst all the Homesteaders that no one is to blame for their situation except their own inability to manage and live in a practical manner. Theirs was no more difficult than many others who got through a trying period very well.
Clapp to ER, Jan. 31, 1935
You have by now received the homesteader men’s letter stating that the sentiments quoted in the newspaper article did not express their ideas or feelings and signed by all but 5 of the men – 3 who did not wish to sign and the two, Bucklew and Corley, directly implicated and quoted in the newspaper. The majority of the men felt very seriously about this. To them it was a reflection upon the homesteaders and seemed most ungrateful to you. They wanted to write to you and I encouraged them to do so. This expression of the large majority is right as it should be. Bucklew some weeks ago engineered himself into the position of President of the Men’s club and Corley is a member of its executive committee….Their meeting with the newspaper men was not an accident, but an arranged meeting and in one case at least, money was paid for information…..Mr. Pickett will tell you, too, of the plans for a school bus. I wish I could picture for your our striving with this, our first responsibility. The discontinuance of the use of trucks for the children involves 46 families – about 130 children…17 families off the project…with children of all sizes, who lived too far away to walk in. all the big children on the project walk to school….quite voluntarily they votes it was a school bus and to be handled – used, by me for the school. Always on the project there will be baby children too little to walk to school…...Last night we held our “President’s Ball” using the assembly hall for a square dance and the nursery school for refreshments, and to entertain the children. A committee of homesteaders and teacher homesteaders put thru all the plans – admirably. Everyone had a fine time and although the money is not yet all “counted” it will be a large sum – for us.
The Research Grant Draft
I. Student Researchers
239 Watson Ave
Fairmont, WV 26554
James D. Miller
1 Upland Drive
Fairmont WV 26554
1093 Blairton Rd.
Martinsburg WV 25404
Prichard Hall Rm. 207
300 Falcon Crest Drive
1700 Reunion Corner Rd
Gerrardstown WV 25420
Pritchard Hall 227
300 Falcon Crest Drive
R.R.3 Box 95
Fairmont WV, 26554
3370 Goldmiller Rd
Bunker Hill WV 25413
Campus - Bryant Place 506 A
239 Watson Avenue, Apartment 1
Fairmont, WV 26554
Rt. 7 Box 209A
Fairmont, WV 26554
II. The goal of this museum theatre project is to create historically accurate theatre celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of Arthurdale, West Virginia, a planned New Deal homestead community. Researchers, Crystal Conner and Dana Sayre, along with their mentor Dr. Francene Kirk, met with Ms. Marilee Hall of Arthurdale Heritage, Inc. in the fall of 2008 to discuss how student researchers from the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts can aid the organization in their efforts to preserve and promote Arthurdale’s history. Research methodologies for the project include interviews from previous residents of Arthurdale during its creation, local newspaper clippings from the Depression era, the Arthurdale website, and the town of Arthurdale itself, including interviews from local residents descended from the original townspeople, visits to the local museum, and investigation of primary documents preserved since the creation of Arthurdale. The culmination of this project will manifest itself in a twenty-minute museum theatre performance about the history of Arthurdale, based on our research. Students will also serve as live historical characters spread throughout the town during the 75th Anniversary events, aiding the understanding of all involved in this historical celebration, and making the past real to the inhabitants of Arthurdale in a new way. In addition to this, we plan to provide copies of all museum-quality pieces both to the Arthurdale Historical Society and the West Virginia Folklife Center so that this time in history will be better preserved for the years to come. We also plan to share our methodology in this project and our understanding of its importance to other theatre practitioners in the surrounding areas who may be interested in producing museum-quality theatre. Finally, we plan to share our discoveries as a part of the Celebration of Student Scholarship this spring.
III. Many benefits to the students involved will be gleaned from participation in this project. For example, many of the students participating in this research endeavor were born and raised in West Virginia, and this project will allow them to connect with their heritage in a new and deeper way. The citizens of Arthurdale take pride in their history despite the negative view that the world at large can take with regard to West Virginia, and we can learn much from their positive attitude and strong sense of identity. We will also become much more versed in Depression Era history; in a time of current economic crisis in the United States, we will be able to utilize the information discovered as a result of this research project to make meaningful connections for ourselves and the community, providing the hope that mankind has prevailed the seemingly darkest moments of the past, and that we can (and will) do so again in our present time of crisis.
Possessing a background in research will make students more versatile, which will enhance their chances of getting into graduate school. Students will also become more familiar with the concept of museum theatre, gaining an appreciation of an area of their discipline to which they otherwise might not be exposed. As a result, students will leave this project more diversified in their chosen field of study and better able to understand their individual callings within the framework of theatre practice. This will make students more attractive to theatre companies and institutions because they will have a skill other applicants for a school or job may not. Students who plan to become theatre educators will be able to utilize this kind of work at the schools where they teach. By creating museum-quality historical works with their students, these individuals can add a new level of education and understanding to their curriculum, as well as showing the importance of history to their students in a new way.
One of the greatest benefits to be gained from this project is connection with the community. Theatre is a community event which would not be able to exist without contribution and support from its audience. This project allows us to give back to the community while at the same time gaining more experience and confidence as developing artists. The mutual relationship between Fairmont State University and Arthurdale begun with this project could have untold benefits to both parties, perhaps leading to more collaboration and development of projects down the road. The citizens of Arthurdale will see that Fairmont State University values community outreach and is willing to take time and energy to help with projects that are of importance to those outside our walls. Further, the relationships created as a result of this project may be of service to students in the future, perhaps providing more opportunities for work in a field known for its unpredictability. We will be able to see first-hand how the community of Arthurdale has kept its history alive and the level of dedication required to do so. This may lead to similar projects involving the history of Fairmont, which will be of untold benefit to both the students and the community. The students involved in this project will be setting an example for future generations of theatre practitioners at Fairmont State University. They will demonstrate that initiative is rewarded at this university and that exploration outside of the limited classes offered in a small theatre program expands one's capacity to learn and grow as an artist.
IV. A detailed, task-specific timeline for the proposed project, including completion dates for each major task.
- Meet with Greg Hardison of Kentucky Historical Society to learn how to produce museum quality documents.
- Make several trips to the WVU library and begin investigation of primary documents interred there.
- Trip to Arthurdale including tour of town, visit to museum, and research involving primary documents kept on-site.
- Begin formulating pieces
April-May - Continued work on museum theatre pieces
- More trips to WVU/Arthurdale to fill in any gaps in research
- Choose students who will perform work in July
- Present work at Celebration of Student Scholarship
July - Present 20-min museum theatre piece at Arthurdale's 75th Anniversary Celebration
- Research utilized in live performances based on historical individuals
V. A statement of support from faculty.
VI. Budget that fully explains how and when the requested funds will be used. All budgets must include a $60 poster prep expense.
Exploring Museum Theatre by Tessa Bridal ($27.95 plus shipping)
Museum Theatre: Communicating with Visitors through Drama ($17.95 plus shipping)
Past to Present: Effective Techniques for First Person Historical Interpretation by Stacy F. Roth (
Mini Van - $53.99 per day
15 Passenger Van - $ 85.99 per day