"Memories you make along the way ... if you don't make the best of those memories every day of your life, when you're older you don't have those memories to dream about or pass on." - Maria Lambert
In the 10 mile stretch of Prenter Rd., there are roughly 300 households sitting in the nooks and crannies of the valley, with about 700 people residing in the dwellings. Most of these households are supported by the coal industry in some fashion or other, miners, coal truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, prep plant workers, and contractors just to name some of the occupations. Prenter was founded on coal, deep in one of the most mined counties in the country.
Based on the local graveyards, it is estimated that people settled in the area about 110 years ago. It is believed that Prenter grew into a fully fledged “camp” in large part due to the Red Parrot Coal Company, which opened a new tipple in 1938 creating 500 new jobs in the area. Up until the late 1950's Prenter area mining was exclusively underground. In the late 1950’s an auger mine, recognized as the beginning of strip mining, opened up, changing mining trends in the area. By the summer of 2001, Pine Ridge Coal, who had acquired the rights to mining operations around Prenter, was producing 9,000 tons of coal a day.
The communities in Prenter are very close knit and share a long history. The people are proud of their families, land, and occupations. There are numerous stories to be shared and we hope to have more soon. Here is an example of a Prenter Rd. family -- the Lamberts.
Rachel Chapman Lambert, b. April 18, 1918, and Clinton B. Lambert, b. May 1912, were the parents of 4 children, one of whom is Ralph Lambert, Maria’s husband.
Maria Lambert is a lifelong resident of the Laurel Creek Watershed and has lived in her home in Sandlick for the past 8 years surrounded by her family members and loved ones. The water quality issues affecting her family and community have led her to speak out for clean water for her community. Listen to an interview with Maria, and then learn about her family through the pictures that she shared with us.
Aulden Stewart (left) was Maria’s great grandfather. He moved to Logan County, West Virginia from Webbville, KY to work in the mines during the winter. He would travel back to Kentucky to work on his father’s farm during planting and harvesting time. Auldren was killed in the mines Feb 3, 1918 at Accoville in Logan county.
(Left) Robert L. Bradley & Martha J. Ester Bradley. (Right) Hensford Lee & Laura Bradley.
Robert L and Martha Jane Estep Bradley were Maria’s great grandparents, and the parents of Hansford, pictured on the right with his wife. Robert was a circuit preacher and Sunday school teacher. Martha Jane died from natural causes in January of 1959, and her husband followed her a few weeks later. In the picture on the right are Maria’s grandparents, Hansford Lee and Laura Pearl Jarrell Bradley. Hansford worked on the railroad and in the mines all of his life, and Laura was a community service worker. They had seven children, one of which was Maria’s mother, Melba.
Pictured here is Melba, Maria’s mother, at 4 years old, pictured on the Gordon side of Williams mountain. They later moved to the top of Williams mountain, to the south of where Maria currently lives.
Pictured here are Harry Gay and Mildred Caldwell Stewart, Maria’s grandparents on her father’s side, on their 50th wedding anniversary.
This picture shows five generations of the Stewart family: Jerry Stewart, Harry Gay, Maria, her daughter stacy, and her great grandmother Barbara Ann Carey.
Patty Sebok has lived in Prenter Hollow for 31 years with her husband Butch. In this interview, she talks about how she first found out about their contaminated well water, health concerns in her community, and the emergency water project for the communities of Prenter Road.
Pictured here is Maria’s husband of 34 years, Ralph Lambert. Ralph worked for 23 1/2 years as an underground union man. He was a continuous miner operator prior to becoming disabled due to a mine
injury in 2005.
Above are the parents of Patty's mother, James Thomas Cartwright (born in Lawrence County) and Elender Stamper (born Carter Co., KY) They were married at Grayson, Carter County, KY on November 18, 1907. The husband's job was listed as coal miner, but Patty says there is no place to write down the occupation for the wife! "Mom told me they came to WV from KY because they heard you could make a better living here. Ain't that a hoot?" Patty says.
They settled on Cabin Creek, WV, where Patty's mom was born in 1917. She lost her dad when she was 3 years old, when he went on the Blair Mountain march
and never returned. They told Patty's mom that he jumped off a train in the Big Sandy river and committed suicide, but the family has doubts. He was buried before she go
Above is Minnie Hale Scott Massery, the mother of Patty's father. She lived on White Oak Mtn, which they called it Scott Mtn because they bought the land at a court action and had almost 3,000 acres. Here is a story from Patty's family about the land (from Those Incredible Scotts):
Richard, Minnie's grandfather, made a land purchase located on Clear Creek, North of Coal River, which was further described as the “Rock House Survey”. There were 186 acres involved in that purchase.
That land purchase would become known as The Rock House, and a home for many of the Scott clan. Some time later Richard entered into an additional land purchase, forming a partnership with a man by the name of John F. Clay. They jointly negotiated a purchase of 2989 acres being sold on the Fayette County courthouse lawn for default in tax payments. The nearly 1,500 acres falling to Richard would bring into existence what is known until today as Scott Mountain, located at the headwaters of Little White Oak Creek. The water shed would direct water courses down Little White Oak Creek on the Boone County side to empty into Coal River, and into the Great Kanawha. However, the county line ran along the ridge of Scott Mountain, passing through the Scott properties. This meant that part of the property was situated in Kanawha County, and water shed from this part of the property flowed down Dawes Creek to empty into Cabin Creek, and into the Great Kanawha some 30 miles upstream from the junction of Coal and Kanawha Rivers.
The county line ran by the school house “out on the ridge”, and the kids of later years would many times have their pictures taken with one foot in Kanawha County, and the other in Boone County. It would become a favorite pose that would make history. The schoolhouse and community out on the ridge grew a strange mixture of Scott’s, Asbury’s, Carr’s, Cooper’s, Pettrey’s, Massey’s, Foster’s, Browning’s, Presley’s, Pruitt’s, and Greene’s.The area has been stripped now, and Patty says she has not been to the family cemetary since she was 8 years old.
Patty's mother and sister (more information coming)
Photos courtesy of Catherine Pancake
Here is Patty's husband, Butch. More information coming here soon!