For the past 22 years, a group of people, some traveling for a distance, have gathered on a yearly basis to pay tribute to the community of Shaw, where memories of living in the small town continue to linger in their hearts and minds.


by JEAN BRAITHWAITE
Tribune Correspondent

For the past 22 years, a group of people, some traveling for a distance, have gathered on a yearly basis to pay tribute to the community of Shaw, where memories of living in the small town continue to linger in their hearts and minds.
The annual Shaw Reunion was recently held at the Jennings Randolph Lake Robert Craig Campground pavilion, where former residents spoke about their latest life happenings as they embraced each other, exchanged memories, and took the time to glance over the waters of the lake realizing that many, many feet below the surface is their beloved hometown.
Shaw, located about six miles below Elk Garden, on Route 46, originally began as a post-Civil War spot along the Potomac River when Luke Kitzmiller became the owner of 10 acres of land.
About the same time, Henry Gassaway Davis, a self-made millionaire with holdings in the coal, timber, and banking businesses, held a residence in Piedmont and founded the Potomac and Piedmont Coal Railway Company.
Starting his career as a brakeman on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Davis’ later ambition was to build a railway from Piedmont to Elkins, providing an easier way to transport coal and timber to markets.
Around 1881, the cross ties and rails were laid in the part of Mineral County on the downgrade from Elk Garden for the then named WV Central and Pittsburgh Railroad, formerly the Potomac Rail Co. and controlled by Davis.
He wanted his people involved with the building of the railway to become familiar with the small towns located along the path of where trains would be passing through.
Alexander P. Shaw, one of the directors for WV Central and Pittsburgh, stopped at the place along the Potomac River, and was well received by the few that made that spot their home.
From that time on, the community was known as Shaw, and it became a boom town with numerous families building homes, and noted for the thriving businesses of coal mines, wood cutting, and saw mills.
During the 1970s, economic struggles met Shaw face-to-face, causing families to move away to find employment.
By this time, rumors had spread throughout the valley that a dam would be built over the community, and it was not long before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials were visiting the homes in Shaw to tell the residents that indeed what they heard was true and offered a price for their properties.
The people of Shaw were told the dam would improve downstream water quality.
Such families as Hickey, Nelson, Pritts, Warnick, Helmick, McCauley, and others departed from Shaw for the last time with truck loads of their belongings and made new homes in surrounding areas.
On July 1, 1981, following the completion of the Jennings Randolph Dam, the water began to fill the valley and cover the town of Shaw.
Paul Murray has attended almost all the reunions, and he said he will continue to be present “as long as I can to give honor to Shaw.”
He also has a fond memory of learning to swim in the waters of the North Branch of the Potomac River that now comprises the lake.
Adding to this, Dale Brown was one who years ago moved from Shaw to seek employment, and as a young person remembers swimming at Flat Rocks, just up river from the community.
Telling about his good neighbors, he said, “I could go into any home in Shaw and be treated just like it was my house.”
Spending time as youngsters sitting on the pile of logs near Pritts Saw Mill was the entertainment for sisters Mary Nelson Jones and Betty Nelson Lewis, along with Betty Hickey Daugherty.
Daugherty said, “There was not too much to do except just sit on the logs and watch the traffic.”
Jones agreed with how time was spent and mentioned that few families in Shaw owned televisions.
“Our family was the first one in town to have a television, and we could only get one station, while most of the time it was blurry,” Jones said.
Those honored during the reunion event was Murray, who traveled the longest distance, at 212 miles from Charleston, West Virginia; Anica Warner, the youngest child, at age one-year-old; Les Daugherty, the oldest male present, at age 82; Lewis, the oldest female, at age 72; Dale and Shirley Brown, the couple married the longest time, at 46 years; and Leslie and Michelle Daugherty, the couple married the shortest time, at 16 years.
The Daugherty family was also recognized for having the most children present, with two, namely Dakota and Mercy.
The 23rd Shaw Reunion will be held on Aug. 6, 2011.