THE VESTS OF WHITE OAK MOUNTAIN, W.VA.
AND RELATED FAMILIES
Columbus Washington Vest and Malinda Jane Cochran
Columbus “Lum” Washington Vest was born 28 June 1856, Summers County, W.Va., a son of Jackson Vest and wife Nancy Lilly. Go to Vest Page 1 for more about his birth family. (Note: A Shady Spring history book erroneously lists his name as Christopher Columbus Vest. His birth record is for Columbia, a female.) Lum died 02 Jan 1935. Malinda Jane Cochran was born 30 Sept 1857 in Franklin County, Va., a daughter of Charles Cochran and Ruth Radford. She died 07 March 1933 in Summers County, W.Va. (Go the the Vest/Cochran page for more about her birth family.) Mr. and Mrs. Vest lived on White Oak Mountain in Raleigh County, W.Va., near the Summers County line. Their house was burned down in the 1980s, leaving only a chimney to mark the spot. But the land is still owned by Vest descendants. Columbus' death certificate. Malinda's death certificate. They are buried in the Anderson Vest Cemetery, Summers County, W.Va. Find a Grave.
Children of Columbus and Malinda
- Leonard Haliburton Vest, born 27 Nov 1880; died 20 March 1960 in his home on White Oak Mountain, W.Va. He married Clara Alice Plumley 05 Mar 1901. Clara (Jun 1884/29 Apr 1902) died a few months after their son Claude was born. Leonard married Emma Stella Gadd on 11 Jun 1907. Wedding announcement for Leonard Vest and Stella Farmer. Stella, widow of James A.E. Via, had divorced her second husband Charles Odey Farmer. Go to Gadd page 2 for more about Stella and her birth family. Leonard was a farmer by necessity but his real love was hunting. Family lore is that his Cochran ancestors had Indian blood and that accounted for his propensity for hunting rather than farming. Grandpa sure looked like he was part Indian, with his coarse black hair and high cheekbones. He got into mining through his son-in-law Earl Smith. Earl and Leonard worked outside the coal mines, hauling timber with a team of horses. When Earl decided to go inside and work as a miner, he gave his horses and old job to Leonard. From that work Leonard was able to draw a pension. Grandson Harold said there had been a problem with getting records from Grandpa’s previous work in the mines. Leonard was a believer in education and encouraged his daughters to finish high school and go to college. Leonard and Stella are buried in the Smith Cemetery on White Oak Mountain. Leonard and Stella’s daughter Nina wrote about her father:
The Gentleman of the Crowd
"Daddy (Leonard Vest) never did join a church. But he was saved. He was out in the field up somewhere near the grave yard & barn on the hill above the house (on White Oak Mountain, W.Va.)…he was meditating and then he started praying - a voice spoke to him and asked him what he wanted - he said good health and a long life. (Mother told me this.) I figure he was about 50…(When) the old men came to the casket when he was demised - I heard one say to another, 'He was always the gentleman of the crowd.' Knowing my daddy I knew it was true. (His parents) Grandmother & daddy, Malinda and Lum, for short, were never baptised. Grandmother (Malinda) told (her son) Uncle Sanford (Vest), she wasn't good enough to join a church. But they sat behind the cook stove and read the Bible to each other. I'm sure they were saved." (Nina Vest Bennett Worley, March 1992 letter)
Leonard Vest obituaries. Additional photos: Leonard 2, Leonard 3.
Leonard had eight children:
1. Stepson Dewey Abshire Anderson Via (17 Jan 1902-12 Sep 1936). He was the son of Emma Stella Gadd and her first husband James Anderson Elmer Via (04 Jan 1877/21 Nov 1902) who was killed when a tree fell on him. Dewey never married. He died at 34 from stomach ulcers. Death certificate. Notes about his birth records: Due to an error in the original birth record, his birth is recorded under Dewey Gadd.There are also transcription errors, misspelling of his parents' names -- father should be J.A.E. Via and mother's maiden name Stella E. Gadd as it is in the original record. Dewey was buried in the Anderson Vest Cemetery, Summers County, W.Va.: Find a Grave
2. Claude (Claudie) Raymond Vest (1901-61), child of Leonard and first wife Clara Alice Plumley. Claude, a coal miner, married Georgia Vest (19 Oct 1919, daughter of Joseph T. and Izola Vest/died 19 Jul 1998). Claude's obituary Claude and Georgia had two sons, Joe Cephus Vest (1946-89), Joe's obituary Funeral card, and Hubert Jackson Vest (1951-91), Hubert's obituary, Funeral card. Hubert died of a gunshot wound. Claude, Joe, Hubert and Georgia were buried in the Simmons Cemetery, Mt. View, W.Va.
3. Verna Veatrice (1908-80). Verna was a teacher. Leonard encouraged his children to get an education. Verna completed eighth grade and then waited a year for her sister Golda to catch up so they could board away from home together and attend Shady Spring High School. After high school, Verna and Golda attended Concord College (now Concord University) in Athens, W.Va. They both left college early to begin teaching and later earned their degrees by going to college classes in the summer. Verna married Fred Bennett. Their first child Hazel Jeannette Bennett was injured by obstetric forceps and was either stillborn or died shortly after her birth, according to her family. Hazel was buried in the Anderson Vest Cemetery, Summers County.. Son Dewey Ralston Bennett was shot and killed in 1974 by a man he had known all his life. Ralston was named after his uncle Dewey Via but was known to most by his middle name. Ralston was married and had five children. Fred, Verna and Ralston were buried in the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, Abraham, W.Va. Find a Grave: Verna Fred Ralston.
4. Golda Mae (died 1991 in Ironton, Ohio). Golda, a teacher, married Earl George Smith. He worked most of his live as a coal miner. A short biography of the couple is on Earl's Find a Grave page. For more about Earl's birth family, go to the Smith page. Earl and Golda had four children -- two sons, Billy Lee and Bobby Earl, who died in childhood, and two daughters who are still living. Golda and Earl and their sons were buried in the Smith Cemetery on their White Oak Mountain farm.
5. Sylvia Gladys (1913-21). Sylvia and sister Josephine died within a few hours of each other in 1921 of diphtheria. (Stella’s family Bible records the date as 02 Sept 1921, for both girls. However, their sister Nina remembers Sylvia dying at 9 p.m. and Josephine dying at 9 a.m. the next morning.) Sylvia and sister Josephine were buried in the Anderson Vest Cemetery: Find a Grave
6. Nina Arabelle (1916/2003). Nina, who worked as a school secretary, married Percy Bennett, Fred's brother. They had a daughter and two foster sons. Foster son Omar Terry Plumley died in 2003. After Percy's death, Nina married Lafon Reese Worley.
7. Josephine (1920-21). Find a Grave.
8. Ola Pearl (1922-86). Ola, a nurse, married Harold Hinte and had a son. After a divorce, she married Johnnie Riffle and had a second son. She is buried in the Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens, Prosperity, W.Va.
- Luther Flemon Vest, born 26 Nov 1885 or, according to his death certificate, 1883. Died 04 Jan 1931. He died single. Photo: Luther and his brothers. Front, left to right: brothers Sanford Walter, Luther Flemon, Leonard Haliburton and Ethiel B. Vest. Back, left to right, Howard Vest, Edward Bennett, John Vest and unidentified man. (Identification of men in the back row is from A History of Shady Spring District, compiled by the Shady Spring District Woman's Club, 1979. Page 431. The caption says that Sanford was "inducted into the army at time of picture.") Note: the Vest brothers had a cousin Edward Bennett, son of Jacob Bennett and Rachael Cochran.
- Callie Matilda Vest, born 25 May 1887. Callie married Wriston Richmond (obituary), son of Elizabeth Richmond. Wriston Richmond and grandmother Mary Plumley Richmond, Wriston Richmond as a youth Children of Callie and Wriston: Jessie, Iva, Arthur, William (WWII newsclip, 2009 obituary) Edward and Earl Richmond. Wriston and sons Arthur, William, Jessie. Wriston and first wife Nicky Belle Brunty had Oral Hobart, Vinesie (Niece, who married Virgil Gwinn, Niece and Virgil anniversary newsclip), Lola M. and Dolphus. Wriston, first wife Nickey Brunty Richmond, daughters Lola and (standing) Vinesie “Niece,” and mother Elizabeth Richmond. Additional photos: Niece Richmond and husband Virgil Gwinn. Stamped on the back is: W.J.B. Gwinn Railroad & Trolley Photos, 650 Main Street, Bridgeport, Ohio. July 2, 1957. The photographer was Virgil's brother, Summers County native William J. B. GwinnInformation and photos courtesy of Cousin Iva.
- Sanford Walter Vest, born 01 March 1890/died May 13, 1961. Sanford's obituary Sanford never married. Additional photos: Sanford 2 Sanford 3 His grandniece writes about Uncle Samp:
A Man of God
"We all remember Uncle Sanford Gadd as a man with a deep personal relationship with God. He lived with my family when I was a tiny girl and I still have the impression 40 some years later that this was the only true saint I will ever meet. It wasn’t what he said or even what he did. Sanford just had this 'aura' that even a little girl picked up on. He was a devoted member of the Bluestone Primitive Baptist Church. At one point in his old age, he lived with my parents. I remember that he would take a walk each evening. I wanted to tag along but Uncle Sanford would not let me go with him. He would walk fast and leave me behind. One winter day when the snow was very deep, he only walked a short way into the wood. I followed and saw him kneeling in prayer. That's why he wouldn't let his little niece come with him on his walks. These were his private times with God." (E.M. Smith)
- Ethiel Barah Vest, born March 28, 1897, died 21 Jan 1965. He was also known by his initials E.B., pronounced eeeb. Ethiel married Sarah Justice, daughter of Wayne Justice and wife Ida Hatcher. They had four children: son Ethiel Wayne and three daughters, Gilda Pearl, Ilda and Ida. There are articles about Mrs. Vest's grandparents -- Austin J. and Sarah C. Hatcher, on the Shoebox page. Ethiel's WWI draft card. Ethiel's obituary.
Making Music on the Mountain
Nina Vest Bennett Worley, daughter of Leonard Haliburton Vest and wife Emma Stella Gadd of White Oak Mountain, W.Va., shared memories of her family. She recalled that her grandmother Malinda Cochran Vest loved to read. Nina also said the Vests were a musical family. In March 1992, Nina wrote about her half brother, Claudie Raymond Vest, (21 Nov 1901/08 Dec 1961) who was raised by his grandparents Columbus and Malinda. Claude's mother Clara, first wife of their son Leonard, died in childbirth. Jim and John Vest were probably sons of Edward Anderson Vest and wife Virginia Frances Farley.
"Your Uncle Claude (Vest) could play the harmonica, any string instrument. They used to gather at my Grandmother's (Malinda Cochran Vest, White Oak Mountain) and play at night (Saturday nite). How they could play. James Vest, Dad (Leonard Vest) and brothers were always there. Jim played guitar and John the accordian. (Dwight Quesenberry) would be there too. When I hear a train whistle blow, I can just hear Claude, play on the harmonica the train blues. I cry & cry -- your mother (Nina's sister Golda Vest Smith) could play string music. I loved for her to play the violin. Your great uncle Albert Vest, brother to my grandaddy Vest (Columbus Washington Vest) could make...violins and play them. Wonderful. Verna (Nina's sister Verna Vest Bennett) could play strings too. I couldn't - I play just a little piano..." (Nina Vest Bennett Worley)