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More Golden Galax Memories Recalled by W. S. Barbery

Galax Gazette, Thursday, August 2, 1956

(Editor’s Note: “That Golden Anniversary Jubilee Strikes A Golden Vein of Memories” is the subject of another reminiscent article from the pen of the Rev. Williard Saunders Barbery, former Gazette editor, and now pastor of the Methodist Church in Davy, W.Va. He is a native an former citizen and businessman of Independence, and later resided in Galax, where he moved the Gazette from Independence in 1923. An earlier article by the West Virginia minister concerning the old days in Galax and some of the pioneer citizens here was published in the Gazette a few weeks ago).

The closer you come to that Golden Anniversary Jubilee the richer my recollections. More and more faces are met as I walk along the pathway of memories. And the more I read The Gazette with its pages of facts, humor, recollections, and prophecies of a greater Galax, the more I appreciate the canes of a program such as that sponsored by the Golden Jubilee Committee, Chamber of Commerce. Let me congratulate your paper for the splendid job you are doing in this program. Galax will always owe you for your labors.

As I think about the Gazette there comes back to my mind some recollections that have to do with the town of Galax. There used to be a man living in Galax, in the hardware business, as I recall, who was once the editor of the Gazette at Independence. He was Greek D. Brown, and his original home was at Sparta, N.C., and he came to Independence high school. I attended school while he was the principal and his home was only two houses removed from my own home in Independence. After school hours I would go into the printing office and fold papers, run the job press, and learn how to set type by hand. Many were the days when I stood in a straight backed chair and worked at a type case as a type-setter. I learned to do the job pretty well, for there were days when I could set three or four galleys of type. That’s where I became interested in newspaper work.

And there was another man who came to Galax many years ago and left his footprints. He was the late J. Hicks Rhudy, attorney at law, who had an office over the bank in Galax. He was the father of Mrs. Horace Sutherland whose husband was judge of the courts prior to his death. Mr. Rhudy came to Galax from Independence. He had married a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Fulton who lived a short distance from Independence on the road down to Mallory’s mill where I used to go swimming in the dam in my boyhood days. It was Mr. Rhudy’s brother, Orville J. Rhudy who taught me more and more about the printing game. He owned the Gazette at Independence for several years. He married Miss Grace Lundy, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Lundy, the former cashier of the bank at Independence for many years. It was his father, Fielden J. Lundy, who was clerk of the court at Independence for many, many years as I recall, almost half a century. All of these are not gone, but memory lives on as I see their faces across the years.

Shortly after the death of O. J. Rhudy I came into the editorship of the Gazette and I look back on these years of association with the paper with a feeling of pride for I came to know many people whom I may have never have known, and many of whom are now my friends. And friendships are the most precious treasures of life.

J. Hicks Rhudy was a very close friend of mine in many ways. He was my Sunday School teacher for many years and taught the group of men in the Galax Methodist Church for a long time. He and his family will long be remembered by me. He helped to make Galax. So did many other persons whom I remember with fondest recollections. There’s J. Mc. Jones, a merchant at Independence before he moved to Galax years ago. He too, lingers with me in though as I think of those days of yore. He used to live just across the street from the Gazette office in Independence. And there is C. F. Carr, who married a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James, and who resides in Galax where he was formerly connected with the high school. All of these and many more come to me in thought as I race back across the years to Independence, the place of my birth and the place where I came to know the Gazette.

And thinking about Independence and the paper I am reminded that a recent book written by Robert S. Loving, connected with the Bristol paper, telling about the growth of the Tennessee – Virginia city records the fact that John Slack and William Jenkins of Abingdon, walked to Independence, Grayson County, Va., and there they purchased a hand-turned printing press and cases of type. This equipment was hauled to Bristol on a wagon. This was about 1865. So Independence has played a part in the growth and development of Bristol and Galax in so far as the newspaper game goes.

When I saw this paragraph in Loving’s book, Double Destiny, I wondered where those cases of type and the hand press happened to be in Independence. To whom did they belong? I wish I knew the answer. Does anybody in that section know the answer? I almost persuaded to believe that we are much closer together than we know. I know your paper is doing a wonderful job in the endeavoring to get people to see the 50 years of progress which have moved across that area since the first lots were sold in the center of the town many years ago.

When I took the census of that section in 1920 I had a sneaking feeling that the time would come when Galax would be a bustling city and handsome churches, lovely homes, an industrial section that would be a joy and pride to its citizens. My expectations are being fully realized in so many ways. Grayson and Carroll counties that were once pointed toward as rather backward in many respects are now peopled with a happy group of folks and they are proud to tell outsiders that their homes are close to the Blue Ridge mountains where there is beauty and a growing culture and development in so many directions.