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County Home Time Capsule Opened

By Randy Rutherford - Staff Writer | Jul 7, 2021

Grand Master Danny Garber Opening the Time Capsule

The Historic Tyler County Home, often referred as the Poor Farm, located outside of Middlebourne was opened on July 4, 1916. From the beginning until it stopped accepting new residents in 1951, the home supplied the citizens of Tyler County with a safety net of basic survival. The farm’s 190 acres provided pasture and hay for a herd of dairy cows, plus crops of potatoes and corn which were grown and consumed by residents. Livestock, chickens and hogs were also cared for by those finding safety on the farm. This was the early part of the 20th century before Social Security and welfare programs were put in place to assume a larger responsibility of those that were homeless or disabled.

A time capsule was placed in the historic building in the laying of the corner stone. The stone was laid by the Masonic Fraternity on July 4, 1916.

Presiding over the burying of the time capsule in 1916 and its contents was Masonic Grand Master T. Wilbur Hennen.

The names of then County Commissioners Sam Hissam, President; Commissioner G.C. Fletcher; Commissioner M.R. Ankrom; and J.E. Smith, Clerk were all inscribed on the stone, along with the architect S.W. Ford & Co and the contractors Johnson and Jemison.

Traditionally the corner stone stays in the building until the building is raised. At that time the capsule is removed from the corner stone and opened.

The opening of the Tyler County Home capsule was scheduled for last year, but due to COVID the ceremony was postponed. On July 4, 2021 the time capsule will turn 105 years old.

On Saturday, June 26, I attended the opening of the time capsule held on the front porch of the old Tyler County High School. Presiding over the opening were the Masons of Grand Lodge of WV and Masonic Grand Master Danny Garber from Parkersburg, West Virginia. Grand Master Garber told the audience this was the fourth opening of a capsule that he has overseen.

Although the capsule from the home was small, others that he has opened have been much larger. He also went on to say that many times the contents of the time capsule have been destroyed either by water or humidity, but on this particular day the items found in the time capsule were in very good condition.

All of the contents retrieved from the Tyler County Home time capsule were newspapers. They were: The Tyler County Star dated June 29, 1916, Sistersville Daily Review dated July 1, 1916, the Tyler County News dated June 29, 1916 and the Tyler County Journal dated June 29, 1916.