W.Va. duo writes book on history of ‘Our Neck of the Woods’

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A retired pastor, William D. Moore met Laura Fink Sperratore at a memorial service for her uncle de ella, one that was held at the cemetery in Allensville roughly two years ago.

The pair spoke after the service, discussing something that would eventually come to life in the pair’s recent book, “Our Neck of the Woods: Life at North Mountain Depot and in Allensville, West Virginia.”

“Afterward, we were sitting across the table, having some refreshments, and we had this dialogue about generations and about how in one more generation, people won’t know anything about Allensville and they won’t know anything about North Mountain,” Moore said.

After Sperrratore proposed a book, the duo spent a few months before finally deciding to take the leap.

“If we didn’t, then (this history) would be lost,” Moore said. “The book is an outlet of desire so those communities’ identities and background and history would not be lost.”

The idea of ​​lost and forgotten history has struck Moore, recently, coming across document from 1835 about the Tomahawk Presbyterian Church, the dilemma of what to do when it had fallen into disrepair.

“Without that document, we would have no ideas of what went on or why,” Moore said. “It got me thinking about how long do memories last, how long are documents valuable?

“If a generation is 20 years long, then it does’t take too long, unless something is written down, that it is forgotten or not remembered. This book about the North Mountain and Allensville grew out of a realization that if we did not write something down, if we did not publish something about those two communities, in the short space of the next generation, there would be nothing left but memories.”

In a press release, Sperratore said: “There came a realization that with the passing of my parents’ generation, the stories of the people who lived in Allensville and at North Mountain would be lost. We recognized the need to breathe life into those who lived before us, to tell their stories of love and loss, successes and hardships and how they leaned on each other as a community. This book captures what life was like for the generations who came before us and puts into perspective the sacrifices made during the beginning of this community.”

Moore went into the project with a working knowledge of the history, having already written a few books on the history as well as having grown up in both areas. Sperratore had Moore systemize his knowledge of him in a way readers could follow along.

Moore said that at one time, North Mountain Depot was a thriving commercial center thanks to the B&O Railroad, the book highlighting the journey of the area.

“At one time, it had the brickyard,” he said. “It had a million. It had three grocery stores. It had a post office. It had a cold storage facility. It was a very active, vibrant community and continued that way until about the 1970s.”

Meanwhile, the part of the book focusing on Allensville covers more the matters of families and the people who lived in the area.

“The part of book about Allensville is about family structures and events and tragedies and life that occurred in that place,” Moore said. “The book for Allensville just tells stories of families that had a very difficult time. They’re tragedies of people that’s recorded.”

Moore explained that because Allensville was about a mile away from Hedgesville, it had its own school and church, unlike North Mountain Depot. It also has the cemetery where the whole idea of ​​the book began.

“There’s a map in the book of all the families that were living in Allensville at a certain time,” Moore said. “It was put together by a local historian, Ronnie Good, and his wife, Mary Beth. It is a detailed history in map form of everyone who lived and what little house they lived in. It’s just a fantastic bit of original research that we have in the book.”

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