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The Spiker Gazette
Oxford, WVVolume  11Issue  4April 2017
In this Issue:The Ledger, the Lumber Company, and the Diary


The Ledger, the Lumber Company, and the Diary

Written by:  Bobbi Spiker-Conley

     Last February I met one of my fifth cousins on Facebook. At the time, I didn't know we were related nor did I anticipate how quickly we would bond over a purchase she'd made 15 years earlier. I'll let her tell you the beginning of our story.

     Hello. My name is Eva Johnson:


     "I grew up just outside of Harrisville, West Virginia, on a farm, one of 9 children born to Harold and Nellie Goff. I rarely went to Harrisville after my mom passed in 2002 but for some reason, I was there about a year later. It was probably just a trip down memory lane for me as I had no family there. I was leaving town on Main Street heading for the Interstate and I noticed a sign in a store that said "Antiques."  The place was a garage when I was a kid -- and still looked that way -- but I love old stuff and the sign prodded me to stop and explore.

     "As I was looking through the small selection of old tools and assorted items in cardboard boxes, I found what appeared to be a ledger. I opened it and began to read, soon discovering that it was a diary or journal written in the 1930s. I had to have it.

     "I don't remember what I paid for it, or much of anything else about the day, or even why I was there. I returned to my home in Falls Church, Virginia, and over the years I would read bits and pieces. I always wondered whose words I was reading. Who were Reed and Rhoda?

     "Fast forward 15 years and my nephew invited me to join the Ritchie County, West Virginia History and Genealogy Group on Facebook. After looking at some of the group's posts. I thought to myself maybe someone will know who the people are in the diary.  I posted a couple pictures and asked for help identifying them. Luckily for me, Bobbi Spiker Conley responded.

     "After several private messages between us, I decided to just send her the book. She had a connection to these people, I did not. I guess I will never know how the book ended up in a little shop mixed in with odds and ends, but I am happy I bought it and was able to pass it on to someone who would get so much pleasure reading it and preserving it for future generations."


     I'd like to imagine that the spirits of our common ancestors coordinated the steps that moved the ledger from their hands to Eva's to mine. 

     Eva is related to me through Grandma Gay's mother, Alice Bush. The authors of the ledger are related to me through Grandma Gay's father, Marion Bukey Zinn.

     The book Eva purchased (from what I believe may have been "Ben and Barb's" antique store) served three purposes:

  1. Beginning 1906 -- it originally started out as a bookkeeping ledger of an unnamed timber-related business (debits & credits for hauling different kinds of lumber, etc.) It also records milling exchanges, so it may have been a lumber mill and/or grist mill.
  2. Later on (1918-1939,) someone began recording farming activities such as cattle being bred and calves being born, notations about income and checks received.
  3. And finally, someone used it as a personal diary (1932-1938.) This person was Catherine/Cathern Zinn, Granville Preston Zinn's second wife, when she was living with her son, Reed, and his wife, Rhoda.

     I have scanned the book and am in the process of transcribing the handwritten entries. It isn't easy as I am not personally familiar with the area or the people. And don't get me started on Catherine Zinn's handwriting and spelling. But that's okay. I have you to help. That's right. You and I are going to  uncover the mysteries and histories in this ledger, page by page.  

     Let's begin by introducing our Main Cast of Characters -- the family of Granville Preston Zinn. 



(continued at right)


(continued from left)         


       Granville was the son of George Wesley and Sarah Gray Zinn (Note - George Wesley and Grandma Gay's grandfather, Quilly Manley, were brothers.) He married Elizabeth Shuckhart in 1864. They had 9 children. Six years after Elizabeth's death, 52-year-old Granville married 24-year-old Catherine Moats in 1893. The following year, Reed Army Zinn was born. Reed married Rhoda Gay Nutter in 1922.       


      Granville Preston Zinn   1840-1920

           Elizabeth Rufina/Rheufena Shuckhart   1844-1887
                 James Henry Zinn   1865-1949
                 Mary Ann T. Zinn   1866-
                 Nancy Cathrina Zinn   1868-1939
                 Fredrick Marion "Bukey"/"Buke" Zinn   1870-1950
                 Thomas Preston Zinn   1873-1927
                 John Washington Zinn   1875-1879
                 Felix Brigham Wood Zinn   1878-1969
                 Bessy Rufina/Rheufena Zinn   1882-1968
                 Ernest Erickson Zinn   1883-1979

           Catherine/Cathern Effie Moats   1868-1944
                 Reed Army Zinn   1894-1971


     As I stated earlier, Catherine wrote the diary. She mentions many people from Ritchie County, WV, including my father, his brother, Lynn, and our grandparents, Jacob and Gay. There are notations about farmers helping farmers, lots of details about daily weather, names and dates of births, marriages and deaths, and a few newspaper clippings (all of which I will be sharing in future editions.) 

     Prior to being used as a diary, it was a business ledger. But for what business? One clue is a paper stapled in the book titled "F. Zinn Lumber Co." of Toll Gate, WV (shown on ledger in photo at left.) Across the top of the paper are the initials of the business partners. I believe these initials represent four of Granville's sons, viz: TP-Secretary (Thomas Preston,) JH-General Mgr. (James Henry,) FB-Vice Pres. (Felix Brigham,) and F-President (Fredrick Marion "Bukey")  

     Unfortunately, no-one in my immediate family had any knowledge of a lumber company owned by any of the Zinns, so I widened my net. Cousin Yvonne Zinn Haines (granddaughter of Felix Brigham) said that many years ago she'd purchased a book from a five-and-dime store in Harrisburg -- The Photographic History of Ritchie County, WV -- which featured a section on Toll Gate. She sent me a copy of a photo from the book that identified a "Zinn planing mill." 

     That discovery, of course, led me to the authors -- The Ritchie County Historical Society, Inc. -- and specifically to Society President, David M. Scott. He did not recall a Zinn Lumber Company either but after some research, sent me the following quote from Toll Gate, compiled and written by Barr Wilson, 1936:

     "Zinn brothers operated a planeing [sic] mill and lumber business here, at one time. The mill was located in what was known as Marion Cochran's garden; now (1973) "Bud" Foster's back yard. The Zinns were from Oxford. Some of them were: Jim, Buke, Earnest and Granville. Minter Allender was a partner with them."

      I compared this new info to my notes and confirmed that Archie Minter Allender (husband of Nancy Cathrina Zinn) is mentioned in the ledger.

     Unless and until I have information to dispute my presumptions, I am concluding that the book was originally an accounting ledger for the F. Zinn Lumber Company of Toll Gate, WV

     Now I need your help. Please follow along as we explore more of this book over the next several months. If you come across a name or event that you recognize, please get in touch with me


(Hint -- scroll to the bottom of this page for a better view of these pics.)



The 2017 Spiker Family Reunion: 

  • Will be held on Sunday, May 28.  
  • Activities are also being planned for Saturday, the 27th.
  • Chicken will be grilled -- volunteers are needed to assist in the set-up, turning the racks, and tear-down.
  • Bring a covered dish and something to drink.
  • Don't forget to bring a chair, sunscreen, bug deterrent.
  • Please bring an item for the auction.
  • Take lots of pictures; upload them to Facebook or Shutterfly, etc. so the rest of us can enjoy them too.


Larger views of the images from our feature article.