Doddridge County Roots

A West Virginia Genealogy

Paul Edward CUMPSTON

Male 1906 - 1994  (88 years)


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  • Name Paul Edward CUMPSTON 
    Residence 1967, 73, 75, 79  West Union, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Born 15 May 1906  Blandville, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4, 5
    Gender Male 
    Census 1910  New Milton District, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Occupation track foreman at B&O Railroad (30 yrs), oil field worker, farmer  [3
    Residence Avondale (West Union), Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Residence 1990  Smithburg, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Died 8 Nov 1994  Clarksburg, Harrison Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 5
    Notes 
    • Smithburg, West Virginia, Flood of 1950, as witnessed by Phil Cooper
      Recounted by him in a letter to the Doddridge County Historical Society on the occasion of the Flood's 50th anniversary in June 2000.
      (with minor editing for readability)

      Saturday, June 24, 1950 was a normal Smithburg hot summer day. In the evening it started to rain hard. At the age of 18, rain was a minor thing, so I proceeded to the drive-in movie. I got back home at 10 p.m. and went to bed.

      My mother was always the last of the family to go to bed. At 11 p.m., she woke me and said that the water in Middle Island Creek was rising rapidly, and I'd better move the truck in front of the house facing Middle Island Creek. My brother Roger and I attempted to move the truck, but when we tried to cross the bridge across Middle Island Creek, the truck flooded out and stalled.

      At that point, we all went to bed thinking the creek would crest at another foot or two and be down by morning.

      At about midnight, we were awakened again with the realization that water was in the bottom floor of our two-story house. This had never happened before. So we went upstairs, but the water was rising so fast that in a short period of time, we were trapped.

      The force of the water tore off the rear single-story section of our house and forced the family into the attic of the two-story section.

      We realized that the house would break loose from the foundation and begin floating downstream once the chimneys broke loose. This was only a matter of time, as we heard the bricks cracking. And once the house started moving, it began to turn over on its side.

      My father, my brother Roger, and I kicked the gable end out of the house, and the family climbed onto what was the front of the house, as it started to float down Middle Island Creek.

      As we passed by the big elm tree by the Harley Moore residence, we talked about trying to swim over to a stalled train on the B & O railroad track adjacent to the tunnel. Dad said no, we can't do that, because Mother and my sisters couldn't swim. So we all stuck together on the house, not realizing what our destiny would be.

      As the house continued downstream, we could see the large body of water during flashes of lightning, and we could occasionally hear people yelling and screaming.

      The house impacted a B & O railroad bridge concrete buttress at a rapid rate of speed, and my complete family was thrown into the water as the house completely destructed in seconds.

      There were also many other houses destroyed on the bridge buttress.

      I was thrown into the water amid debris and fought desperately just to surface to stay afloat. After taking in water and thinking that I was gone, I caught onto part of an old sofa and continued downstream. I managed to grab onto the cable bridge at the mouth of Jockey Camp and gradually pulled myself up onto the boards and debris of the bridge.

      As daylight broke the next morning, I could get a visual of the debris on the cable bridge, and I eventually saw people on the bank alongside Highway 50.

      Sometime later, I handwalked the cable bridge to the Jockey Camp side, and someone kept yelling for me to try and swim, because there was danger of the cable bridge being destroyed by debris from the houses caught against the B & O railroad bridge.

      I jumped into the water and swam toward Jockey Camp, but the current was still strong and carried me downstream, until I could finally swim back to Paul Cumpston's farm. As I approached the bank, Paul pulled me out. I was shaking from hypothermia. Paul took me to his house, gave me a shot of whiskey, and told me to go to bed and get some rest.

      When I awoke at about 5 p.m., the water was almost down to normal, and we decided to drive to Smithburg. As we drove through the cut on Highway 50 and got a view of Smithburg, it looked devastated. Most of the houses along Middle Island Creek were gone.
    Person ID I17557  Doddridge County Roots
    Last Modified 4 May 2014 

    Father Charles Luther "Lou" CUMPSTON,   b. 16 Jan 1870, Waynesburg, Greene Co, PA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Jan 1967, Clarksburg, Harrison Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 96 years) 
    Mother Alice Melvina FRASHURE,   b. 10 Apr 1872, Lewis Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Jun 1961, West Union, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 89 years) 
    Married 22 May 1892  Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F6373  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Ruth Eleanor TATE,   b. 14 Aug 1909, Smithburg, Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Jul 2005, Parkersburg, Wood Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 95 years) 
    Married 9 Sep 1935  Doddridge Co, WV Find all individuals with events at this location  [7
    Children 
    +1. Living
    +2. Living
    Family ID F7164  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsResidence - 1967, 73, 75, 79 - West Union, Doddridge Co, WV Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 15 May 1906 - Blandville, Doddridge Co, WV Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - Avondale (West Union), Doddridge Co, WV Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - 1990 - Smithburg, Doddridge Co, WV Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 8 Nov 1994 - Clarksburg, Harrison Co, WV Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Sources 
    1. [S643] Obituary of father.

    2. [S1594] Obituary of brother.

    3. [S14] Obituary.

    4. [S1553] Doddridge County Birth Records, West Union, WV, BR Bk 4, p. 24.
      Original entry had only the middle initial "E." Correction to full middle name Edward made "by affidavit of father signed 4/25/66," recorded on Apr 28 1966.

    5. [S15] Social Security Death Index.

    6. [S1577] Obituary of sister.

    7. [S1774] Doddridge County WV Marriages 1845-1937, (Wes Cochran, 156 Gihon Meadows, Apt 150, Parkersburg, WV 26101 (Jan 1993)).