February 2009

The Spikers' & the DeBrulers' Connection (Excerpt from Spiker Gazette)

Bobbi Spiker Conley

An excerpt from the February 2009 edition of the Spiker Gazette discussing the connection between these two families.

The introduction to Bradford Spiker’s manuscript titled “The Good-Will Community, A History of Holbrook, W.Va., 1814-1945” (Compiled by Barr Wilson and Printed by John M. DeBrular March 21, 1997) reads:

“The following local history was found by the late Charles Porter DeBrular and his son Robert, in a old abandoned house near Holbrook. It was written by Bradford Spiker, when he taught the local school and resided in this house. As far as is known he never made copies of this history. When he left this area he left the History behind.”

Intrigued, I wanted to learn more. Once I began asking questions, the surprising community connections between the Spiker family and the DeBrular family began to unfold…

Armed with the name “John M. DeBrular”, I scoured the Internet to find a way to contact the man that had printed the document. After several false leads, I finally found a current e-mail address. He responded to my numerous questions about the manuscript as follows:

“What I know of the article is shown in the article itself. My uncle who was one of the discoverers of this treasure is still living. Some criticized him for removing the writing from the home and I understand their feelings. I asked my uncle and he said that they felt that it was an old writing in an old house and their desire was to make sure that it got to a place where it would be preserved. Barr Wilson was probably the most well-known and respected historical person in the county, and a good friend of the family, and they thought that it would be safe with him. It was Barr that took it to the next level and I believe that Barr transcribed exactly as it was written. I believe that it was written sometime around 1937 - 1940 period and at that time there was a program that encouraged people to write about their communities and that this writing is a response to that. Now that is my opinion and I have nothing to back this up at all. Barr Wilson had possession of this writing and the Ritchie County Historical Society received all of his historical documents so it might be in their possession.”

He went on to say, “The Spiker family lived at the entrance of Bear Run and my Great Grandfather and his family lived about 1/2 mile up Bear Run. Jean Haught and my father were very close and played together as children when they both lived there. The Spiker family and my family were always very close and maintained a wonderful relationship. It is only the variances of time and distances that separate us today.”

Thinking my mother may recognize the DeBrular name, I called to tell her I’d been in contact with John Maxwell DeBrular. Did she know him? No. But she informed me that she and Daddy had purchased their first home from a man named “Port” DeBrular. Is there any relation? Yes. John confirmed to me that Charles Porter “Port” DeBrular was his grandfather.

John also mentioned that his father, John Kenneth “Scotty” DeBrular, was born in that home. He asked if I could provide any details or photos of the farm. A call back to Mother resulted in her narrating a fascinating tale about her and Daddy’s life at the former DeBrular homestead. (Click here to read Dean’s story.)

In the meantime, Mr. DeBrular forwarded to me a copy of his own family history. The contents revealed that he had once worked at Wright Wholesale Grocery for Orville and Gerry Bonnell. I promptly informed John that Orville is my mother’s brother. And, according to my mother’s story, John’s former employer had helped my father run the electric wiring in their home on Bear Run.

Mr. DeBruler then revealed that his mother, Mary Grace Maxwell-Debrular was related to Aunt Jean’s husband, Ed Haught. Of course, this also means that John and his mother are distantly related to Sue Ann Spiker.

I then shared a couple photos with Mr. DeBruler: one of Civil War Vet “John DeBrular” at the 1920 Zinn Family Reunion (shown below), and one of my grandmother Gay Spiker wearing a necklace she received at age 16 from John’s grandfather, Porter DeBrular (shown on Gay’s profile page). We had no idea there were so many connections between our families!

1920 Zinn Family Reunion