With the New Year comes the year of the bicentennial, and the Tyler County Planning Commission (TCPC) is continuing its community outreach to generate ideas and welcome participation. Their next public meeting will be held Jan. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Tyler County Courthouse.
"We welcome ideas from the public so that we can make this celebration a big success in 2014," said TCPC President Barb Vincent. "We encourage people to come to our scheduled meetings so we can discuss their ideas and go forward with them."
She explained that right now they are getting price quotes on banners. She also mentioned the possibility of commemorative coins, t-shirts, and hats.
Due to the turn of the century oil boom, Alvy was once the second most populated area in Tyler County
Although Tyler County's exact birthday falls on an unspecified date in December, they are hoping that the county's annual events will incorporate the two century milestone into their plans. The main celebration will occur this summer.
"We are anticipating a countywide celebration on June 21," said Vincent.
The members of the TCPC are interested in more than celebrating history. They also intend to further preserve it. Executive Director Eric Peters explained their goals to uncover and maintain more events from the county's past.
One way to both protect and share history would be the building of a digital library to make available countywide. For that purpose they are encouraging those with historic photos, albums, or records to come forward. They will scan the items and return them immediately, giving credit to contributors.
"I'm hoping that we can begin to archive those," he said. "We would even scan them in their presence so they can take them right away."
Peters spoke of amassing a large database, asking those who already have digital copies of historic materials to share them electronically.
"I'm sure there are people throughout the county that have very interesting things they might be willing to share," he said. "If someone has an ancestor with a particular note they'd like to put in the collection or on display and explain how the ancestor was important to the county, that would give us an opportunity to do that."
When it comes to history, they are willing to hear all sorts of accounts, including anecdotes passed down through generations, personal experiences, and even hauntings or legends.
"Somebody may have had an ancestor that was in attendance at the last hanging in the county," he said.
Along with setting up public displays featuring historic pictures and text, they also intend to digitize as much as they can of the Walter McCoy and Roy Thistle collections. Those collections are available in the Sistersville Public Library.
While libraries offer a great insight into the past, Peters shed light on other places where history can be found and appreciated. Although the Tyler County Museum is closed for the season and will not officially open until May 1, it features a variety of historic materials such as the Henderson Photos Studio Portrait Collection. Those wanting to view the museum in the meantime can make an appointment by calling Becky Ferrebee at 304-758-4288 or Shirley Neff at 304-758-2257. Anyone who wishes to donate materials is asked to contact either Ferrebee or Neff in order to fill out a donation slip.
The digitization of courthouse records should also make researching deeds simpler for those interested in finding out who used to own their properties. The W.Va. Division of Culture and History also offers a great deal of information.
Peters explained that bringing forward information can help to highlight older areas of the county that get little exposure.
To his understanding, the community of Alvy out Indian Creek had the second largest population in Tyler County in 1900, largely due to the oil boom. Although the current population of Alvy is only in the double digits, he said the area has once again become an epicenter of natural gas drilling and activity.
Anyone wanting to contribute historical information and artifacts or to help with the bicentennial celebration is encouraged to contact Eric Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-652-1760.