Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 19, 2014

Removing tin siding from old one-room Mullins School attracts more interest

MONTCALM — A story appeared in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph on Monday concerning the demolition of an old one-room log schoolhouse that had been converted into a barn nearly a century ago. Nelson Pigg said that he is “about 98 percent sure” that the logs used to construct the old schoolhouse are from a chestnut tree.

“In the newspaper article where Jack Johnson said there was the remains of an old American chestnut tree stump in this area, I’d almost be willing to bet that the logs in this old schoolhouse came from that tree,” Pigg said. “I can’t imagine how long it would have taken to have hewn just one of those logs out by hand.”

Pigg said that he had some inquiries after the initial report of the discovery, and even more after a reporter from WVNS-TV aired a story about the 19th Century log structure on Thursday.

“I received a message on Facebook from someone who said she had a book that was written in 1900 by a lady who recalled going to school there,” Pigg said. “We received a couple inquiries from the Beckley area after the TV news story ran and we have heard from the Mercer County Historical Society. A newspaper from Charleston contacted us and they’re coming down (today) to do a story.”

Pigg brought his Kubota tractor with a front-end loader around to the rear of the structure to support his son, Brian Pigg and Tommy Shrewsbury as they removed the tin siding from the rear of the structure.

“That’s a huge log right there,” Brian Pigg said as he pulled tin off the structure to reveal a log that was 18-20 inches in height. “The weather has got to a couple of the logs, but the old tin appears to have protected most of the logs.”

Brian and Nelson Pigg also visited the farm of a neighbor where Mrs. Mullins, the person for whom the school was named is buried.

“The person who lives there wondered why we wanted to go up to the cemetery. She said nobody had visited it as long as she had lived there,” Pigg said. “We found one headstone for a James H. Mullins, but the bottom of it was gone where the date of death was. We found another headstone that we believe belonged to Mrs. Mullins that said she was born in Pike County, Ky., on July 17, 1819 and died in 1889. The top of her stone is missing. The other stones there didn’t have names on them.”

Nelson Pigg still hasn’t decided what to do with the structure. “I know that old American chestnut logs are worth a lot,” Pigg said. “I also know that old structures like that have value too. I just haven’t decided what to do with it yet.”

The removal of the tin siding revealed another interesting side to the saga of the old Mullins School.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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