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Jim Comstock, Newspaper Editor and Collector, Papers

 Collection
Collection Number: A&M.2600

Scope and Contents

Papers of James ("Jim") Franklin Comstock of Richwood, West Virginia, whose position as editor of the West Virginia Hillbilly and avocation as collector and advocate of all things West Virginia led to the preservation of much of the state's physical, visual, and textual history. The collection includes materials Comstock collected about West Virginia history as well as his own personal and professional papers.

Materials include: general series of historical documents such as letters, deeds, and county court cases pertaining to a diverse range of subjects (1717, 1754-1988, undated [includes facsimiles]); letters of Lucy Prichard, former instructor at Marshall College (now Marshall University) (1925-1927, undated); clippings and typescripts of Wirt County resident and Atlantic Monthly writer Louis Eckert Reed (ca. 1960-1975, undated); account books concerning economic development and commercial activities in the northern part of the state in the 19th and early 20th centuries (1830-1938); printed material about West Virginia schools, businesses, and events as well as non-West Virginia books and pamphlets (1829-1995, undated); Comstock's personal and professional correspondence (1882-1995, undated); a wide variety of photographs, including images of West Virginia cities and towns, among many others (ca. 1850s-1995, undated); microfilmed records of the Civil War and Dunmore's War (undated); glass lantern slides, which include views of scenery and buildings in Wheeling and various other locations in Ohio County, WV (1871-1897, undated); Grand Army of the Republic and U.S. military history scrapbooks (1883-1918); broadsides, including advertisements for a circus in Moundsville (ca. 1827-1960 [includes facsimiles]); and maps and atlases of pre- and post-statehood West Virginia, counties, colonial North America, and other topics (1730-1976, undated [includes facsimiles]).

An addendum of 2013/05 includes additional personal and professional correspondence, publications, newspaper morgue files, photographs, audio-visual material, artifacts, scrapbooks, account books, and maps. For more information on Jim Comstock, see the Historical Note.

Series 1. Historical Documents; 1717, 1754-1988, undated (includes facsimiles); box 1 - box 3, folder 2.
Series 2. Lucy Prichard Papers; 1913-1936, undated; box 3, folders 3-8.
Series 3. Louis Reed Papers; ca. 1960-1975, undated; boxes 4-5.
Series 4. Account Books; 1830-1938; boxes 6-17.
Series 5. Printed Material; 1829-1995, undated; boxes 18-25.
Series 6. Comstock Correspondence; 1882-1995, undated (bulk 1950-1995); boxes 26-72.
Series 7. Photographs; ca. 1850s-1995, undated; boxes 73-81.
Series 8. Motion Pictures; undated; box 82.
Series 9. Microfilm; undated; box 82.
Series 10. Cassette Tapes; undated; box 82.
Series 11. Glass Lantern Slides; 1871-1897, undated; boxes 83-85.
Series 12. Scrapbooks; 1883-1918; boxes 86-91.
Series 13. Broadsides; ca. 1827-1960 (includes facsimiles); box 92.
Series 14. Maps; 1730-1976, undated (includes facsimiles); boxes 93-103, and map cabinet 1, drawer 12.
Series 15. Newspapers; ca. 1826-1924, 1976; box 104.
Series 16. Artifacts; 1952-1976, undated; boxes 105-109.
Series 17. Oversize; 1650-1671, 1720-1991, undated (includes facsimiles); boxes 110-118.

Addendum of 2013/05 includes material much like that in the initial acquisition, divided into the following series:

Series 18. Correspondence; 1838-2003, undated (bulk 1950-1995); box 119 - box 133 folder 4, and box 134 folders 1-11.*
Series 19. Publications; 1889-2002, undated; box 133, folders 5-6, box 134, folder 12, and boxes 135-136.*
Series 20. Subject Files; ca. 1851-1995, undated; boxes 137-146.
Series 21. Photographs; ca. 1870s-2003, undated; boxes 147-149.*
Series 22. Audio-Visual Material; 1990-1992, undated; box 150.
Series 23. Artifacts; undated; box 151, folders 1-2.
Series 24. Scrapbooks; ca. 1953-1984; box 151, folder 3 and scrapbook.
Series 25. Account Books; 1954-1960s; box 151 ledgers.
Series 26. Oversize Material; 1861-1866, 1893-1933, 1950-1998, undated; box 152 - box 156, folder 3, and loose folders 1-4.
Series 27. Maps; 1884-1891, 1920, 1957-1987; box 156, folders 4-10.

*Please note: boxes 123, 133, and 149 could contain allergens. Masks and gloves will be provided for patrons wishing to use them.

Dates

  • 1650-1671, 1717-2003, undated
  • Majority of material found within ca. 1850-1995

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical / Historical

Lucy Elizabeth Prichard (October 26, 1876 - July 29, 1964) was born in Cattlettsburg, Kentucky. Daughter of Robert H. and Mary Prichard, she had a brother, Karl, and a sister-in-law, Elizabeth. Lucy taught at Huntington High School from 1899-1913, and taught Latin and Classical Studies at Marshall College (now Marshall University) from 1914-1941. Marshall's Prichard Hall was named in her honor.

Louis Eckert Reed (born October 1, 1899 in Wirt County, WV; died January 31, 1979 in Elizabeth, WV) served as a sergeant in the US Army during WWI, served as Administrative Assistant to Senator Chapman Revercomb, and worked as a prosecuting attorney in Wirt County, WV. He also wrote for Atlantic Monthly.

James Franklin "Jim" Comstock was born to Harry Clinton and Myrtle Blanche in Richwood, West Virginia on February 25, 1911. He married Miss Ola Stowers in Huntington, WV, on October 18, 1933; they would have two daughters, Sandra Ferguson and Elaine Nagy, and a son, Jay. In 1934, Comstock received B.A. from Marshall College (now Marshall University). From 1938-1942, he taught at Richwood High School and wrote for the Clarksburg Telegram. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1944-1946, and upon returning home he founded the Nicholas County News Leader (originally News Letter) with Bronson D. McClung (1920-2004), a former student of his. On December 25, 1963, the Nicholas County News Leader combined with Nicholas Republican; in 1984, it became the Richwood News Leader. Comstock remained an active part of the paper till his death on May 22, 1996. In 1957, Comstock founded the weekly West Virginia Hillbilly with McClung, and became its editor. The paper included feature articles, columns of special interest to West Virginians, book notes, and the "Comstock Load," the editor's own column on the back page. Comstock first tried to sell the Hillbilly in 1976. In 1981, he sold it to the South Charleston Publishing Company. On February 25, 1986, he repurchased and began resuscitating the Hillbilly. In 1992, he sold the Hillbilly to Sandy McCauley. In 2001, the Hillbilly ceased publication.

Comstock was involved in many endeavors in addition to his newspaper editing and reporting activities. In 1963, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress on the Republican ticket. He wrote, edited, and contributed to various books, including Pa and Ma and Mr. Kennedy, a 50-volume West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia, and a collection of newspaper highlights entitled Best of Hillbilly. He was also involved in republishing books by West Virginian authors. He campaigned to purchase and preserve author Pearl S. Buck's birthplace at Hillsboro, and he helped save the Cass Scenic Railroad. He also founded the University of Hard Knocks, a lighthearted honorary society that recognizes the accomplishments of people who have succeeded in life without a college degree.

Extent

64.9 Linear Feet (Summary: 64 ft. 11 1/4 in. (102 document cases, 5 in. each); (6 document cases, 2 1/2 in. each); (5 record cartons, 15 in. each); (2 record cartons, 17 in. each); (5 large flat storage boxes, 1 1/2 in. each); (2 flat storage boxes, 3 in. each); (8 large flat storage boxes, 3 in. each); (8 flat storage boxes, 3 1/2 in. each); (11 medium flat storage boxes, 3 1/2 in. each); (10 large flat storage boxes, 3 1/2 in. each); (1 large flat storage box, 5 in.); (5 oversize folders, 1 1/4 in. total))

Overview

Papers of James ("Jim") Franklin Comstock of Richwood, West Virginia, whose position as editor of the West Virginia Hillbilly and avocation as collector and advocate of all things West Virginia led to the preservation of much of the state's physical, visual, and textual history. The collection includes materials Comstock collected about West Virginia history as well as his own personal and professional papers. Materials include: general series of historical documents such as letters, deeds, and county court cases pertaining to a diverse range of subjects (1717, 1754-1988, undated [includes facsimiles]); letters of Lucy Prichard, former instructor at Marshall College (now Marshall University) (1925-1927, undated); clippings and typescripts of Wirt County resident and Atlantic Monthly writer Louis Eckert Reed (ca. 1960-1975, undated); account books concerning economic development and commercial activities in the northern part of the state in the 19th and early 20th centuries (1830-1938); printed material about West Virginia schools, businesses, and events as well as non-West Virginia books and pamphlets (1829-1995, undated); Comstock's personal and professional correspondence (1882-1995, undated); a wide variety of photographs, including images of West Virginia cities and towns, among many others (ca. 1850s-1995, undated); microfilmed records of the Civil War and Dunmore's War (undated); glass lantern slides, which include views of scenery and buildings in Wheeling and various other locations in Ohio County, WV (1871-1897, undated); Grand Army of the Republic and U.S. military history scrapbooks (1883-1918); broadsides, including advertisements for a circus in Moundsville (ca. 1827-1960 [includes facsimiles]); and maps and atlases of pre- and post-statehood West Virginia, counties, colonial North America, and other topics (1730-1976, undated [includes facsimiles]). An addendum of 2013/05 includes additional personal and professional correspondence, publications, newspaper morgue files, photographs, audio-visual material, artifacts, scrapbooks, account books, and maps. For more information on Jim Comstock, see the Historical Note.

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/

Separated Materials

Separated to A&M collections:

Various autographed items have been moved to A&M 435.

Account book volumes 2, 2a, 3, 3a, 3b, and 3c, daybooks and ledgers from the Sistersville General Store run by Joshua and William Russell, were separated to A&M 3071, Russell, Joshua & William. Sistersville General Store. Daybooks and Ledgers.

Account book volumes 4, 4a, and 4b, daybooks of John Goshorn, were separated to A&M 2426, Goshorn Family. Papers.

Account book volumes 6-8, law records and accounts of Judge George A. Vincent, as well as Vincent's letters from the Historical Documents series, were separated to A&M 3068, Vincent, George A., Lawyer and Judge. Papers.

Separated to the Printed Ephemera Collection:

Articles, maps, and letters, 1582-1877 (includes selections relating to the South Seas during the colonial period), on 1 reel of microfilm, P13438

Articles, letters, maps, and speeches, 1808-1863 (16 items which are listed on a sheet in the box), 1 reel of microfilm, P13439

Burnett, Nancy S. Slovenes in Rural Appalachia: An Oral History (Richwood, W. Va.: News Leader Press, 1994).

Separated to Printed Ephemera (Pamphlets), Periodicals, etc.:

West Virginia Odd Fellow, 1919, Charleston (1 item)

West Virginia State Weekly, 1910-1911, Fairmont (several items)

Exponent, 1917-1918, Moundsville (4 items)

Oros, 1927, Moundsville (1 item)

Pedagogue's Pastime, 1885, Moundsville (3 items)

Princeton Observer, 1950 (1 item)

Searchlight, Summersville (32 items)

West Virginia Farm Journal, 1872, Union (1 item)

Church Calendar, 1917, Wheeling (1 item)

Church News, 1892, Wheeling (1 item)

English Lutheran, 1900, Wheeling (1 item)

Musical Monthly, 1896-1897, Wheeling (6 items)

The Saturday Review, 1912 August 10, Wheeling

State Fair News, 1910, Wheeling (1 item)

William's Courier, undated, Wheeling (1 item)

Valley News Echo, Hagerstown, MD; reprint of an 1861 paper

Haney's Journal, 1869 March-October except July, New York (several items)

Our Southern Home, 1893 November, Hamlet, NC

Books separated to the West Virginia Collection or the WVU Downtown Library stacks:

Donnelly, Shirley. Yesterday and Today: A Keepsake I, II, and III. Fayetteville, W. Va.: Fayette County Historical Society, no date.

Keepsake Stories of the Ozarks. Cassville, Mo.: Litho Printers, 1978.

Norton, Andre. Catseye. London: Gollancz, 1974.

Deacon, William A. The Four Jameses. Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada, 1974.

Haslip, Joan. Catherine the Great: A Biography. New York: Putnam, 1977.

Separated to the Maps Collection:

Virginie [Virginia], Maryland en 2 Feuilles par Fry et Jefferson, 1777

Bird's Eye View of the City of Wheeling, West Virginia

Sistersville, West Virginia

Bird's Eye View of Philippi, West Virginia

Elkins, Randolph County, West Virginia

Fairmont and Palatine, West Virginia

Mannington, West Virginia

Morgantown, West Virginia

Clarksburg, West Virginia

Davis, Tucker County, West Virginia

Grafton, West Virginia

Cairo, West Virginia

Cameron, West Virginia

Harrisville, Ritchie County, West Virginia

Moundsville, West Virginia

New Martinsville, West Virginia

Parkersburg, Blennerhasset Island, West Virginia

Pennsboro, West Virginia

Salem, West Virginia

St. Mary's, West Virginia

Wellsburg, West Virginia

Buckhannon, West Virginia

Weston, West Virginia

Bird's Eye View of Keyser, West Virginia

View of Parsons, West Virginia

Aero View of Bluefield, West Virginia

Aero View of Keystone, West Virginia

Aero View of North Fork and Town of Clark, West Virginia

West Virginia Agricultural Society on Wheeling Island

Note: A spreadsheet with more details regarding the separated maps can be found in the control folder.

The majority of the newspapers in this collection have been separated into the West Virginia Collection's newspaper holdings. Lists of the newspapers originally inventoried for this collection can be found in the control folder. Most of the West Virginia newspapers were microfilmed; see Miscellaneous Reel 113. For a list of the contents of this reel, please see the "W.Va. Newspapers from Comstock Collection" three-page packet in the control folder. On the third page is a list of items separated from the Comstock Collection to printed ephemera (pamphlets), periodicals, etc.

Sheet music separated to A&M 723, Sheet Music:

Americans, Together.

Back to West Virginia.

Battle of Port Royal.

Brave Boys Are They.

Canoeing on the Kanawha.

Capt. Linch March.

Cherry.

Cotton Field Dance.

Down in the Lonely Dell.

Dynamite Twist.

Fair West Virginia.

Fire Fly Polka.

Glory Hallelujah.

Going Back to West Virginia.

Home Alone in West Virginia.

I Have Something Sweet to Tell You.

Imagine Me.

In Flanders' Fields.

I Want to Go Back to Michigan Down On the Farm.

J'aime Mon Amour.

Just Before the Battle, Mother.

Kingdom Coming.

La Violette de Carafa.

Love and Devotion.

Memory's Dream.

Men of West Augusta.

Mountain Land West Virginia.

On, On, On, the Boys Came Marching!

Our Grateful Heart Save Singing.

Reminiscing at Cass or the Greenbrier Shay.

Something Tells Me You're the Girl.

Song of a Woman.

Sweet Kitty Wells.

The Ballad of Oakland.

The Battle Cry of Freedom.

The Last Hope.

The Self Service Chain Store.

The Sunny Hours of Childhood.

The Vacant Chair.

The West Virginia Singer.

There's a Little Spark of Love Still Burning.

Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! The Prisoners Hope.

We Are Mountaineers.

West Virginia.

West Virginia! And My Home.

West Virginia University Songs.

What a Lovely Day!

Who Will Care For Mother Now?

Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.

William Tell Overture.

Willie My Brave.

Transferred to A&M 727, Pearl S. Buck, Author. Papers: Correspondence, manuscripts, articles, photographs and clippings by and about Pearl S. Buck and her birthplace collected by Jim Comstock (1938-1973; 6 in.)
Title
Jim Comstock, Newspaper Editor and Collector, Papers, 1650-1671, 1717-2003, undated
Author
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

Contact:
1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US
304-293-3536