1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


FRW Memories
The Farm at the Prison
 John McCurdy  '09

Swope in his account concerning the establishment in Alderson of the Federal Reformatory for Women in the 1920's, mentions that the Nash farm of 300 acres was purchased in 1926 for the sum of $48,000.00. The Nash house and two other residences would have been included along with several other farm buildings.
 It is interesting that in the early 60's the same property with about the same acreage was sold at Public Auction in front of the Alderson Town Hall without, as far as anyone at the time knew, any advance notice! The property, with all improvements sold nearly 50 years after its purchase in 1926, for $100,000.00! There was only one bid, No public outcry resulted from the sale or the unusual manner in which it was conducted! James Kee of Bluefield was the Congressional Representative from our area, he was a good friend of Gladys Bowman, the Warden of the FRW at that time. The buyer of the property was a coal operator named Phillips who owned the property  called the "Roycrafter's Lodge" just across the river from the prison farm. He was a large campaign contributor of Congressman Kee!
 Although no public outcry resulted there was a great deal of talk that the sale of the property was a done deal! The farm has been divided into several smaller portions with each of the successive owners. The British United Turkeys of America purchased a block of about 20 acres, another approximately 40 -60 acres was sold to the Department of Agriculture as a Plant Experimental Facility. The Maples Cottage where the prisons farm and dairy inmates were housed along with the large barns and dairy processing houses and other buildings was sold to a local individual who at one time had dreams of making the Maples into a Bed and Breakfast, it is now very dilapidated. Individual lots between the river and the railroad have all been sold as has the Small cottage called "the Dairy Herdsman's House”
 The prison retained a portion of the farm property that abutted the institution to the South as well as a right of way from the rear of the property.
 Another Aldersonian and I met with the owner and a representative of the Bruce Hardwood Company some years ago. The proximity of the railroad and the ease of constructing a dedicated siding and the nearness of the river, as well as the 6 inch waterlines and already available 440 volt electrical service made us feel certain it was a done deal, As done deal often do, it did not happen!
 The Bureau of Prisons was also very interested in locating the men's prison, now at Beckley, on the farm property, it would have been an ideal location. However, according to my contacts with the Bureau, the owner asked an entirely unreasonable price for the property, Beckley, in turn, made a offer of property at very reasonable cost.