1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



 James Daniel Beckett
Mary Margaret Steele

 My 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."