July 2008

Generations of Understanding

Editor requests copies of old family letters.

Generations of Understanding

Written by: Bobbi Spiker-Conley

I recently stumbled across an old postcard written to Gay Spiker. The card indicated the postage rate was only a penny. (How times have changed!) Looking over the worn edges and perfect script, I wondered whether Mr. and Mrs. Spiker sent letters to my father when he was in the service of his country (and, if so, how often). One thought led to another and I was intrigued to know more about how the postal system affected their lives during WWII. How long did it take for a letter to arrive at its destination? How much did it cost? Was this their primary, or only, method of communication? What modes of transportation were used to get a letter from the U.S. to another country? Were envelopes placed in a box that was situated close to home or did one have to travel many miles to a Post Office to post their letters?

A quick internet search of postal rates revealed that a first class stamp cost a mere three cents in 1863. And a more in-depth search provided fascinating details of the history of the Postal Service from its creation to present. But I wanted to know more about how my grandparents’ and my aunts’ and uncles’ lives were directly affected by what we now consider an almost passé means of communication. So I decided to ask our readers.

Do you have old letters in your possession that you will share with us? If so, scan it and send it to me along with your personal insight or thoughts on the sender, the recipient, and the purpose behind the mailing.

Can you read the postmark? How much did the stamp cost? Do you know when it was written? To whom? From whom?

And let’s get our children and grandchildren involved in recording our family history. The next time one of them has a History writing assignment, encourage them to take a look at how their topic may have influenced the times and lives of their ancestors. Then ask them to share their written report with us so that we can publish it here.

Although Gay and Jake cannot tell me whether they wrote to my father, perhaps we can get a glimpse into how vitally important letters from home were to the morale of “our boys” overseas by revisiting the history of that time and attempting to bridge the generations through understanding.


  • Submitted by John Bob Spiker – Announcing the 2nd Annual Championship Bull Riding event to be held at John and Sue Spiker’s farm in Jane Lew, West Virginia on Saturday, July 26, 2008. Gates open at 6:00 PM.
  • As reported to Cathy Gregis: Briana returned to Japan after 26 years. In 1982, she went as an International 4-H Youth Exchange (IFYE) Student. (In April) she returned there and visited her 1982 families. She saw seven of her families and was there April 30 through May 21. The return trip was a dream come true. It was truly blessed. Now she is back at work both at WVU in Morgantown and Potomac State College in Keyser, WV. (Son) Pete is 21 years old and enrolled at WVU. (Daughter) Kari is 19 years old and attends WVU. Both are happy, healthy and well.
  • Submitted by Paula Nolan: Camden Blair Thrush (son of Ryan and Barbara Thrush) named his favorite stuffed animal, “Spiker”. Camden is four years old, lives in western Colorado and unfortunately, has not met many of his Spiker relatives. However, of all the names on the planet, he somehow chose this particular name with no direction from anyone. To his grandmother, Paula, this seemed like some type of miracle!
  • Submitted by Bobbi Spiker-Conley: A new recipe has been added to our cookbook. We think everyone will love Marty Spiker’s “Potatoes-on-the-Grill”. Hmmm…sounds like something I’ll try this weekend.
  • Submitted by Dean Spiker: Cathy’s grandchildren have had a bit of bad luck recently. First it was Shelly’s oldest son, Clayton, who is experiencing pain due to a trampoline spring that broke off and lodged into the white portion of his eye. It was successfully removed and we do not anticipate any long-term damage. Then it was Keri’s youngest daughter, Phoebe, who had to be hospitalized with a fever of 107 due to an infection. Thankfully, both of our kids are improving and are expected to be fully recovered very soon.
  • Submitted by Mark Spiker: The annual Spiker Reunion was held Sunday, May 25, 2008 at the Spiker Family Farm on Holbrook Road in Ritchie County. The following attended the reunion:
Name Location
Paula Nolan Columbia, MO
Marilyn Spiker Pennsboro, WV
Jeana Spiker Pennsboro, WV
Marty Spiker Ripley, WV
Ann King Bunner Harrisville, WV
Briana Spiker Morgantown, WV
Larry Gregis Jane Lew, WV
Devon Yeager Salem, WV
Sarah Smith Charleston, WV
Kate Smith Charleston, WV
Jonelle Swiger Jane Lew, WV
Sawyer Swiger Jane Lew, WV
Robby Benson Hurricane, WV
Byron Spiker Jane Lew, WV
Melanie Fouse Kearneysville, WV
Cameron Hess Kearneysville, WV
Tyler Weidlic Kearneysville, WV
Alison Spiker Ripley, WV
Ruth Burnside Jane Lew, WV
Gene Burnside Jane Lew, WV
Kelly Hicks and sons Romney, WV
Renee Chambers Keyser, WV
Byron Chambers Romney, WV
Shelly Curry Salem, WV
Robby Curry Salem, WV
Lauren Hart Morgantown, WV
Dana Hurst West Union, WV
Morgan Hurst West Union, WV
Dean Spiker Lost Creek, WV
Brock Stotts Evans, WV
Mark Spiker Pennsboro, WV
Katie Spiker Pennsboro, WV
Mike Spiker Ripley, WV
Drew Spiker Arlington, VA
Kari Deremer Morgantown, WV
Cathy Gregis Jane Lew, WV
Clayton Yeager Salem, WV
Mikayla Yeager Salem, WV
Connor Smith Charleston, WV
Chris Swiger Jane Lew, WV
Slate Swiger Jane Lew, WV
Angie Benson Hurricane, WV
Sue Spiker Jane Lew, WV
Alice Spiker Marietta, OH
Rheanna Hess Kearneysville, WV
Adreanna Hess Kearneysville, WV
Taylor Weidlic Kearneysville, WV
Adelene Spiker Jane Lew, WV
John Spiker Jane Lew, WV
John Hicks Romney, WV
Chris Chambers Keyser, WV
Ella Chambers Keyser, WV
Melinda Chambers Romney, WV
Rob Currey Salem, WV
Pete Deremer Morgantown, WV
Zach Chaplin Morgantown, WV
Keri Hurst West Union, WV
Phoebe Hurst West Union, WV