Story of Shortridge Family

On Dry Fork, Reads Like Fiction But It's Not; Of Historic Value

By W.S. Barbery
[original spelling/punctuation intact--LK.]

"It shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light".

Those are the words of the prophet Zechariah who lived centuries ago, but they have found verification in the lives of a family out on Shortridge, down the Dry Fork way, and above what is known as the Garland community. I stood there on the ridge the other day and looked toward Bear Wallow mountain and the Paynesville community. I was near the Low Gap school house and the Mount Zion Primitive Baptist church; a church which was named by the head of this family when the building was erected many years ago.

This family is that of Henry Addair, born Feb. 27, 1860, and Mary Katherine (Katie) Short Addair, born March 10, 1861, ninety-three and ninety-two years of age. Both of them are remarkably active and their minds reach back into the past with amazing accuracy as they relate their experiences since they settled on the ridge more than seventy years ago for they were married on April 20, 1882, by Rev. James Payne, a Baptist preacher, at the old Short home place.


It's an interesting story about how this couple settled there on the ridge after buying a piece of land on Buddy Root branch, reaching out on to Ring's branch and down toward Dry Fork. The purchase was made through Marshall Atwell and the price was $25, a calf valued at $5, the building of rail fences and the splitting of rails paid for the land. The timber on the land and the coal deposits have never been touched. Atwell was a brother-in-law of Henry Addair having married Annie Short, a sister of Mrs. Addair, both daughters of Joseph Short who came from Wise County, Va., and it was from this family that the ridge got it's name - Shortridge, the place where the Addair and Shorts have reared their families.

Moses Addair was the father of Henry Addair, a member of the other Addair families who have lived on Dry Fork and Horse Creek, near to Iaeger, since the days of the Civil War. In fact, Moses Addair was a Confederate soldier. William Jones, a member of this family through marriage, was a captain in the Confederate army and is buried on Shortridge. There is a cemetery on the ridge known as the Shortridge cemetery and the first person buried there was Tommy Addair, and a bit later a woman named Baker. It is one of the oldest burial grounds in that area. Susie Mullins was the wife of Moses Addair, and her father's name was William Mullins. He was killed on Turkey branch, near Bradshaw. The Addairs, Moses, William, John and Sammy, came to McDowell county from over on Pigeon Creek in Mingo county. They settled close together and here the families have grown up across the years until they have become one of the largest family groups in the Sandy River district. Many of them have moved into other sections and cities and almost without exception have "made good" in their undertakings.


Henry Addair and his wife meet the sunset hours with a smile upon their faces and a song in their hearts. They like to talk about how good God has been to them and how they met the hardships of life as they reared their children in that hill country. They lived very near to the heart of nature. A few years ago they had a hundred or more hives of bees on the hillside above their home. And there were flowers everywhere. And they raised hogs and cattle and chickens and got a lot of joy out of life as they looked in the faces of their children. Their children are Thomas Marshall Addair, 63, Lex; Mrs. Lottie Pruitt, Avondale; Mrs. Susie Elizabeth Blankenship, Jolo. And they also reared a nephew, taking him when he was only one month old. To this family group thirty-two grandchildren were born, sixty-five great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren. An even one-hundred of these are living. Think of it! A couple, 93 and 92 years old, with 100 descendants living. I doubt if there is another case of this kind in the state, certainly not in this part of the state.

When Mr. and Mrs. Addair set up housekeeping in that part of McDowell county, roads were few and far between. The head of the house would pick up his ginseng bag and walk over to Perryville where he traded at the store of Gus Waldron. Sometimes he would have snake root or a bit of ------ which he traded to get his coffee and sugar and other necessary supplies. It was ten miles over and ten miles back and took and entire day, from early morning to late in the night to make the trip.


When ask about doctors Mrs. Addair said the nearest doctor was at Jeffersonville, now Tazewell. But no doctor was with her when the children were born, but her grandmother, Katie Payne Jones, acted as midwife. For a days work a sum of fifty cents was paid. But money was not needed too much in those days. It was how to live and rear a family that required all the time and energy of the head of the household. Mr. Addair recalls that he once went over on Knox creek and worked for a man buying a heifer and his brothers aided him in bringing the animal home.

The church on the mountain top was very largely erected through the efforts of Moses Addair and he is the man who named the church and that was about one hundred years ago. The first preaching in that section was on Bee branch and Slate Creek. The preacher was Rev. Gabriel Riffe, of Wyoming county. The singers were Taylor Payne, Albert Payne, David Muncey. There was preaching in that section before the Civil War, most of the time in the homes of widely scatter ed citizens. It was at a baptismal service at the mouth of Grapevine creek that Mr. and Mrs. Addair were baptized by Rev. Lex Evans, the same man who baptized John Hardy, at Welch in the nineties shortly before he was hanged.


Mr. Morgan was a member of the board of education for several terms in the Sandy River district. It was during his tenure of office that the late Burrell Morgan started teaching, a career that reached across almost a half century. Mr. Addair recalls hearing Mr. Morgan make a speech on Woman Suffrage at Welch about the time he started teaching. Mr. Evans, mentioned above, was president of the board at the time Mr. Addair served on the board. The late George Williams of Iaeger was the secretary of the board.

From the small school on the ridge have come three doctors and a number of teachers and high school graduates. The Shortridge community can point with pride to the part it has played in the educational field. Look at this list. It will amaze you. Here they are: Noah Short, ---., Norton, VA; Richard Short, deceased, D.D.S., Huntington; John Muncy, M.D., and surgeon in a Joliet, ILL., hospital; Ira, Theo, and Ed Muncy, (dec'd) of Avondale; Mrs. Lottie Short, Lex; Mrs. Sallie Muncy, Los Angeles, Calif.; Mrs. Luemma Muncy, also of Los Angeles; Mrs. Zella Short Beavers, A.B. and Mrs. Daisy Short Kissinger, A.B., Jolo; Opha Short, M.S. and Ira Short, M.S., both of Lex; Mrs. Bonnie Short Goosman, A.B., Athens; Mrs. Lola Pruett Jones, teacher, Avondale; Mrs. Alice Addair Spitzer, teacher, Barnwell, S.C.; Henry Addair, A.B. teacher in Big Creek shool; Homer Addair, M.A., Iaeger High school; John H. Addair, teacher at Avondale, and here are some high school graduates attending the Shortridge school: Leola Edgell Harper (dec'd), Harry Edgell, Gerald Edgell, Evla Bean, Gleason Coleman. There may be others.

And from the same Addair family there is another amazing list of persons identified with the educational field. There is Dr. John Addair, the principal of the Ieager high school for a quarter of a century, and the first man in McDowell County to receive the Ph.D., degree; Brooks Addair, principal of Raleigh county school; Auburn Addair, principal of Carlos grades; Mrs. Chloe Addair Higginbotham, teacher Iaeger junior high; Mrs. Elizabeth Addair Hatfield, Mingo county school; Mrs. Mary Addair M-----(?), retired teacher; Harvey M-----(?), principal Iaeger Junior high; -----shel(?) Morgan, principal of (?) county schools, formerly of Williamson; Victor Morgan, teacher Iaeger high school; Arnold Morgan, former teacher, now dentist at Iaeger; Roscoe Morgan, former teacher, now lawyer at Iaeger. As you look at these list you can begin to appreciate the contributions that have been made to the educational life of this entire section by this family group.


I was intensely interested in the story of game in this area in those early days. There were bears, wild turkey, deer, and all kinds of small game. I was shown a shoulder blade of a bear killed by Wyatt Lambert and Mr. Addair in 1899 on Indian Creek. The bear, we were told, weighed about 400 pounds. I was also shown a clock which strikes every half hour and the spring has never broken in the 40 years the clock has been running. And there was a spinning wheel, owned by Mrs. Addair's mother, but used by the present Mrs. Addair in the long ago to make jeans, linsey, blankets, and other things about the home to make life a bit easier and proper clothing available to the family. And I sat in chairs that were made by Mr. Addair 63 years ago with a drawing knife and an auger. And he sawed the lumber that was still in use as flooring and ceiling with a whip saw. The legs of the chairs had worn off about an inch but they were still strong and being used by the family. Mr. Addair also made coffins for the people of the community and on over into Buchanan county. He would be sent for and go to the homes of the people when called. He recalled that some forty years ago he went to a home where the family said that the deceased had requested no nails be placed in his coffin when it was being made. That was on Elkhorn of Crane Creek. He followed out directions and the coffin was tied together. It was for Sol Mullins. Such a memory as this man, in spite of physical affliction, continues to enjoy! It's almost unbelievable.

Well, it's time to go, but NO. The good woman said, "You are to have dinner with us today", I said, "No I have an engagement at Pocahontas." But I ended up by staying and I wouldn't have missed that. I knew all the while that I would never again have the privilege of eating with a man and his wife who were 93 and 92 years old. And shall never forget because of the genuine spirit of hospitality shown at that home. I enjoyed every moment of the time spent about that table.

Just before I started to leave I asked this question, "Are you both Christians?". And the answer came quick as a flash from that good woman, "Yes, it's our faith in God that keeps and sustains us when we face the sunset hour." And I knew it was true statement because there was a smile of God's sunlight back of that utterance. "Goodbye," I said. "I'm so glad you came." And I was glad because I had found one of the richest places I have know in the West Virginia hills.

Contributed by: Lorrie Kelley

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