grandfather, my mother's father, James Daniel Beckett, farmer, former
Monroe County School Superintendent, former Confederate Soldier and
member of The Monroe County Court (now Commission?) for many terms, was
in office at the time the bridge was being considered. It may be that
that year he was President of the Court. He was very much in favor of
building a new bridge and traveled, probably on horseback, all over the
county trying to persuade the citizen taxpayers to fund it. As I was
told he supposedly knew every family who lived in Monroe County like a
good politician should. It was not an easy sell--farmers never had much
of an income and land taxes always seemed to hit them the hardest
whether or not their acreage was profitable.
There must have been some kind of favorable vote--that is for some
genuine historian to document--and then came the decision as to what
kind of a bridge. I have heard that it came down to an angular, iron
bridge and the beautifully arched, concrete bridge which cost a little
more. The people chose to dig a little deeper and gain the beauty. That
is the story I want to believe.
Grandfather Beckett, age 72, attended the dedication and along with many
others saw that the metal plaque on the Monroe end of the bridge was in
error. The order had been placed by telephone, quickly and or
carelessly, and J.D. Beckett had been heard as J. D. Beckwith, the name
that has been there lo, these many years.
He seemed to accept it as it was and never made a fuss over it. He had
expended a great deal of political capital to get the bridge built and
he could accept not being correctly named. When we grandchildren visited
him he would always ask me, "How is my bridge? Does it carry you safely
over the Greenbrier River?" My father had to explain to me why he asked
such an obviously unnecessary question. Grandfather Beckett considered
it his greatest civic achievement.
My late sister, Virginia Steele, the family historian, was not so
acquiescent. She offered to pay for a new metal plate with the correct
spelling of our grandfather's name. But that effort got lost in the more
serious effort of saving the deteriorating bridge itself.
I thank and commend everyone who lobbied, "politicked", petitioned,
raised money and contributed to saving this rare, beautiful artifact
from a bygone era. Recently a friend visiting me, surveyed the numerous
pictures of this arched bridge, many from the magnificent Wolf Creek
Calendars, then asked me, "What is it with this bridge that's all over
your house?" "Oh," I casually answered as I turned my mist filled eyes
away from her gaze, "that's just the bridge that carried me safely over
the Greenbrier River."