Upping stone donated to Powhatan

AN UPPING STONE, like the proverbial buggy whip, no longer is in use, but one is projected as an attraction from the past in Powhatan Point.

The appearance of the upping stone will be possible because of a donation by Wilbur Stanley, who resides near Barnesville. Stanley, who delivered dairy products house-to-house in the Powhatan area for 40 years, asked Powhatan officials Tuesday to take formal ownership of the stone, and a motion was approved to accept it.

Upping stones once were used as aids in mounting or dismounting a horse or wagon.

Stanley said he obtained the upping stone from a widow whose husband had helped to tear the first school in the Powhatan Point area. Noting the school was built around 1805, he noted it was below the town up on a hillside and was built of logs.

The widow, who had the upping stone, was on the route where Stanley delivered milk products. She also had a bell from the old school, and she “very, very kindly offered me the school bell and the upping stone,” said Stanley, who had given the bell to Powhatan 10 or 12 years ago.

He explained the widow had sold her farm to a coal company, and the upping stone would have been buried during the mining operations.

Stanley said the company had offered her $3 for the bell, but nothing for the upping stone. “They didn’t value history,” he added.

The upping stone weighs 600-700 pounds, and basically is a square of stone about 6 feet long with steps cut into it. “It’s a chore to move one,” he said. “My son and I brought it up in a pick-up truck.”

Stanley explained that some students at the old log school in the 1800s went to the schools on horses or in a wagon. “They had to have an upping stone to get off the horses or off the wagons,” Stanley added.

Councilman Brady Dierkes suggested during the council session that a stand could be constructed for the bell, now housed in the former elementary school, and it could displayed beside the upping stone.

Mayor Mark McVey, who thanked Stanley during the meeting for the stone, later in the week noted he didn’t know when village workers would pick it up. Pointing out the village has limited manpower which is busy now with work such as pothole patching, McVey said, “It’s going to take a few healthy people to pick it up.”

The mayor when talking about Stanley’s contribution said, “We are more than happy to accept it.”

McVey intends to talk to school officials about the possibility of displaying the bell and upping stone at the Powhatan Elementary School on Mount Victory Road in York Township. He thinks the school would be the proper place as the two historic items originally were at the first grade school in that area.

The Powhatan Revitalization Association had been displaying the bell at the former school in the village, but that building now is closed.

McVey said he would like the bell and upping stone to be in a display where they could be “recognized and appreciated by people rather than behind closed doors.”

At one time, there probably were 1,000 upping stones in Belmont County, according to Stanley.

Some such stones still exist in Mount Pleasant and Wellsburg, W.Va. There also is an upping stone on Kelleys Island in Lake Erie.

According to the “waymarking” website, the stone in Mount Pleasant is at the David Updegraff House, which was built in 1858. “The upping stone,” according to the website, “appears to be original to the house.”

The stone in Wellsburg is at the side of old Brooke County Courthouse along the plaza that leads to City Hall.

Stanley said he wanted to get the upping stone in his possession down to the river in a safe place. “I’m kinda sentimental for history,” he added.

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.