Flushing celebrates 100th Christmas

FLUSHING – The year 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the village. On Dec. 8, the village held its annual Christmas parade. Dr. John Mattox, founder and curator of the Underground Railroad Museum, said that turning one’s eyes back to the Christmas parade of 1912 provides a mental snapshot rich with details of the community’s earliest days.

“100 years ago, this was a very, very busy community,” said Mattox, adding that more than 2,500 people called Flushing home. He said that his work with the museum has put him in touch with considerable material about the town’s history, as visitors often become contributors.

“When people come who used to live here, that’s where I get my greatest knowledge,” he said.

He presented a summation of life a century ago compiled by Tubby Wagner, one such visitor.

“The quietude that had for years been enjoyed by so many citizens had almost miraculously been disrupted, and no one seemed to be complaining about it either, for the town with its small populace had almost miraculously awakened to find prosperity had come to her very doors,” Wagner said.

“Gazing down into the deep valleys below, one could observe several of the largest coal mining enterprises of that day. The music of the hammer and saw as carpenters labored feverishly to build hundreds of dwellings for the huge inflow of immigrants that were magically being drawn to this fabulous mining area.”

Some of the early developments were the Kennon Buckeye Rose Mary Tunnel and Massillon and Belmont. They were soon producing anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 tons of coal per day.

“No amazement then that the population mushroomed from that of a village to an almost cosmopolitan section. Yes, the big all time high coal boom was on and everyone was very happy about it. More money was to flow here at this season than any time in the history of the small hamlet.”

Among the village businesses was Johnson’s Toy Land, which occupied a Morristown and Main Street basement. Opposite the Johnson home was Ed Cole’s Livery Stable, another important establishment of the time. Many would have known Bucky Muntz, the official driver of the hack that transported many people to the coal mining camps and B&O Depot.

There was a hospital in the village. Dr. Jink Kirk was the area dentist. The village was also home to two physicians.

Ed Shallcross and Henry Holzwarth were other businessmen of note. They operated a butcher shop with home cured meats high in demand. R.O. Betz, tailor, also owned an establishment. The C&MA Church occupies this site today. The village also had a hardware shop.

A center of community life and gossip was Andy Geller’s restaurant. Charlie Henderson’s barber shop would have been another hub of activity. It was said that Henderson seemed to keep tune with clippers and razor to the chirping of birds.

The horse and buggy industry also meant that the village leather shop did a high volume of business.

At the time, a room house on the corner of Spring Street was managed by the McFaddens, and Speck’s homely hotel was thriving thanks to a rush of boarders searching for employment in this rich and prosperous section of Belmont County.

The first piano player would have just arrived at the Holloway Music Store, just in time for the gift-buying season. Another place of interest for shoppers would have been Judkins Jewelry Store.

Postmaster Bob Wiley would have been ready for the Christmas rush. Wiley also served as funeral director and an official at the local Baptist Church.

In the spacious public square where some of the most beautiful band concerts in the county would have been performed, a popular band master of the day was Jim Bitenbender, another barber. Tome Harris was another musician and band instructor of note, along with musicians Kenneth Bowlin, Jim Moore, Sam Johnson, Jake Whiston and many others.

The main feature and attraction was the tall, stately pine in the Howell yard, which served as the community’s Christmas tree where townsfolk gathered to sing traditional carols. Later they would hear a message from the Rev. W.G. Todd of the Methodist Church about the importance of remembering unselfish love in this time of year.

“It was a wonderful Christmas in 1912, and this is 2012, so we remember those people here in Flushing,” said Mattox.