Remembrance of Myrtle Mae (Hockman) Shrader as the first baby born in Davis

Recently the family of Myrtle Mae (Hockman) Shrader gathered at the Davis Riverfront Park in Davis to dedicate the Myrtle Mae (Hockman) Shrader Rose Garden. The rose garden was dedicated in her memory as the first baby born in Davis, May 26, 1886.

In 1885, when (Hockman) Shrader’s parents decided to seek a new life for themselves on a rugged mountain top in Tucker County, there was no town of Davis. An endless number of stumps, left there from extensive logging, dotted the landscape. This spot in the wilderness had very few people and had become known as “Stump Town”.

Among the first settlers to arrive there, the Hockmans assisted in making their new home a thriving, modern town on the Blackwater River. It became a favorable location to start a business, put down roots and raise a family.

(Hockman) Shrader’s mother, Ida Florence (Wolford) Hockman, was the second woman to live in Stump Town before it became the incorporated town of Davis. In her care were the three young children of her husband, Dr. John Wesley Hockman, who was a widower. They had come to Tucker County from a farming area in Hampshire County. At twenty years old, (Wolford) Hockman had left all she knew—family, friends, and a familiar way of life—to come with her husband to the mountain.

Dr. John Wesley Hockman, Mae’s father, who had fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, quickly had a house built in the budding town for his growing family. Having uncles who practiced dentistry, he eventually became the first dentist in Davis. He also became one of the town’s more successful entrepreneurs, owning profitable buildings that provided a comfortable living for his family. Like other business men in the community, he had his own personalized mug in the local barber shop, and he took an active part in community affairs.

On a special Wednesday in mid-spring, May 26, 1886, a daughter was born to the Hockmans. They named her Myrtle Mae. She was the first baby born in the town that was named for stumps.

The baby girl had a ready-made family of three half siblings to dote on her: Albert Sidney, Hubert Brenton and Anna Laura. As the years passed, two brothers and two sisters were added to the family: Margaret Florence, Grover Cleveland, Pearl Lucille and Ernest Earl.

(Hockman) Shrader grew into a young woman in the town where she was born. In September, 1907 she married Charles Henry Shrader. Soon, she was raising a family that would eventually include eight children. By the age of thirty-five, she had become a busy mother of four daughters and four sons: Evelyn Pearl (Jones), Charles Vernon, Doris Virginia (Ponikvar, Jordan), Ettie Elizabeth (McCauley), Steward Luther, Geraldine Florence (Petrucci), John Wesley and Paul Sheldon.

The Shrader family remained in Davis, making their home on East Blackwater Avenue. The house was sided with clapboard and had a wraparound wooden walk. There was a swing on the porch and a wire fence out front. Passed down through the family is the story that, (Hockman) Shrader, who was a stickler for cleanliness, scrubbed the wooden walk on her hands and knees.

In March, 1926 she was enduring a difficult pregnancy, expecting twins. Strict bed rest had been ordered by her doctor. When she learned of the crib death of her first and only grandchild, the shock of the traumatic news weakened her. On that same day, April 8, 1926, she passed away. She and her granddaughter, Thelma Mae Jones, were laid to rest, side by side, in the Davis Cemetery.

With assistance from Tina Lipscomb and the Davis Parks and Recreation Commission, planning the rose garden and dedication were (Hockman) Shrader’s granddaughters, Patricia Mae (McCauley) Ware and Sandra Kaye (Jones) Lilja, both of Morgantown.

Lipscomb opened the dedication ceremony by welcoming the group and introduced Fred L. Ware, Jr. who offered a prayer.

Lilja also welcomed the family to the event, mentioning that it was one hundred thirty-two years since her grandmother’s birth. She also spoke of her mother’s scrapbooks and albums, full of family pictures and history, used on the family’s Facebook page. A serving spoon used in the kitchen of (Hockman) Shrader, kept by Lilja’s mother and now saved by Lilja, was passed around to the group.

Ware spoke of the historical events that occurred during her grandmother’s lifetime. West Virginia had been a state for only twenty-three years when she was born, and the Hatfields and McCoys were still feuding on the Kentucky/West Virginia border. Queen Victoria was still on her throne and Grover Cleveland had become the only President to be married in the White House.

Ware discussed the rose garden, explaining that some of the roses planted in the Myrtle Mae (Hockman) Shrader Rose Garden were the Canadian Parkland Series, zone 3 roses, suitable for the Davis climate. The Parkland roses chosen were Morden Blush, Morden Belle, and Morden Sunrise. Also planted in the garden were The Fairy Rose, hardy to zone 4. The roses had been planted in May by Fred L. Ware, Jr., Jeanette Tacovich Ware and Doug Martin.

When the speakers had concluded their messages, the Myrtle Mae (Hockman) Shrader Rose Garden monument was unveiled, and several family pictures were taken. The group then moved to Davis Town Hall for a reception of tea, punch and cookies provided by the town of Davis. A 132nd birthday cake for (Hockman) Shrader was also served to the group. Family members received gift bags containing keepsake mugs, a biography booklet and other remembrance items. A gift bag was also presented to Lipscomb for her help in organizing the event.

Dennis Hockman, great nephew of (Hockman) Shrader, grandson of her brother, Grover Cleveland Hockman, and co-author of the genealogy book, “A Hockman Family History:  Biographies of the Ancestors and Descendants of Jacob F. Hockman”, donated four of the books to be given away during the dedication event. Names were drawn and winners of the family history books were Michael Weddle, Keyser; Tes Ryan, Keyser; Olivia Ware, Clarksburg; and Ava Gardner, Blairsville, Pennsylvania.

After a tour, led by Robert and Joanne (Shrader) Hart, of the places in Davis where the Shrader family had lived, the family gathered at The Smokehouse at Blackwater Lodge to share a meal before returning home. They left with tentative plans to meet again for a gathering of area Hockman families.

Family attending the rose garden dedication were Dennis Hockman, North Carolina; Nancy (Petrucci) Olaharski, Pennsylvania; Ava Gardner, Pennsylvania; Ernie and Sue (Hockman) Gabler, Thomas; Robert and Joanne (Shrader) Hart, Petersburg; Michael and Christie (Ryan) Weddle, Keyser; Michael Weddle, Keyser; Tessa Graham, Keyser; TerynnGraham, Keyser; Tes (Shrader) Ryan, Keyser; Sandra (Jones) Lilja, Morgantown; Fred and Patricia (McCauley) Ware, Morgantown; Fred and Anitra Ware, Clarksburg; Olivia Ware, Clarksburg; Paul and Robin Ware, Morgantown; and Justin Ware, Franklin    

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