Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 12, 2014

Celebrating historic union

Local couple excited about 90th anniversary, marriage of the Bluefields

BLUEFIELD, Va. —  All prospective brides and grooms feel excited as the appointed hour for the exchange of their wedding vows moves ever closer, but for Stephanie Muncy of Nemours and Cody Woodall of Springville, Va., the excitement is almost mach one — the speed of sound.

“I will never tell another bride not to stress again,” Muncy, 22, said during an interview on Thursday. “I’m all stressed out. I thought I was used to it because I work part-time for photographer Steve Coleman and take quite a few wedding photos, but I’m not. This is just crazy.”

In addition to all of the excitement of their marriage and honeymoon at Emerald Isle, N.C. — it will be Stephanie’s first trip to the beach — the two kids from Mercer County, W.Va., and Tazewell County, Va., will be participating in a renewal wedding ceremony that took place 90 years to the day earlier joining Emma Smith of Bluefield, and Wingo Yost of Graham, Va., in holy matrimony. That wedding, as well as Stephanie and Cody’s wedding today at Bluefield City Park, are both part of history.

“I’m excited about being in the history books,” Woodall, 23, said. Woodall was born and raised in Abbs Valley, Va., but his family moved to Springville when he was starting his sophomore year in high school. He graduated from Graham High School in 2009, one of the institution names that was not changed when the town fathers of (then) Graham, Va., decided to throw their fortunes in with Bluefield to form a new entity called “Greater Bluefield.” The wedding of Emma and Wingo was the highlight of the “Greater Bluefield Day” celebration.

Back on July 12, 1924, the story was unique enough that a film crew from Pathé newsreels captured the excitement and distributed their report of the event to silent movie houses nationwide. That was in the days before talkies, but the event put Bluefield on the map so much so that when Jean Harlow quipped that she was raised at a “plantation in Bluefield, West Virginia” to Clark Gable in “Red Dust,” (1932), movie-goers were aware of the place she was talking about.

The Reverend W.E. Abrams, pastor of College Avenue Baptist Church presided over the Smith-Yost nuptials. The couple was flanked at the altar by (then) West Virginia Gov. Ephraim F. Morgan and Virginia Gov. E. Lee Trinkle. Later today, Pastor Shawn Boone of the Into the Light Prayer & Worship Center, will preside over Stephanie and Cody’s marriage.

“I’ve known Shawn since I was little, and Stephanie used to teach a Sunday School class at his church until we got involved in this,” Woodall said. Since the two were selected as the couple to represent the unique celebration, their days have been filled with activities in addition to their busy work schedules. Cody works at AT&T at the Mercer Mall and Stephanie has three jobs that include serving as a daycare worker at Kirk’s Blessings and works for the Bluefield State College Athletic Department.

“I’m used to being around kids all the time so I’m hyper active all the time,” Muncy said. “I’m not used to being around adults.” She said that her fiancé is more laid back. “We balance each other out.”

Woodall said that he and Stephanie enjoy spending time together. “Before we found out about this (Wedding of the two Virginias) we were trying to go to Sweet Frog every week,” he said. “Maybe we can get back to that soon.”

Both Stephanie and Cody have been very pleased with the efforts of the entire Marriage of the two Virginias committee.

“I love them,” Muncy said. “They’ve done a tremendous amount of work. We have met with Lesley (Catron) and Kim (Hernandez) a lot of times. I told them that we couldn’t have done all of this without them.”

“This is a lot more than I ever knew it would be,” Dustin Nogosky, Cody’s best man said. Nogosky, also an Abbs Valley native, came in from Lynchburg, Va., to be part of the wedding party, and tagged along with Cody and Stephanie as they traveled from place to place.

“My little babies (at Kirk’s Blessings) say: ‘Miss Stephanie famous.’ They’re so excited. Two of my babies are going to be in the wedding — Andon Musick and Jax Glass. They tried their tuxedos on and they didn’t like wearing ties. They said they were too tight. We’re getting the pictures made at 4 p.m. I don’t know how dressed up they’ll be at 6 p.m. for the ceremony.”

Since almost every moment has been filled with planning the big event, Cody and Stephanie have temporarily suspended their Sweet Frog visits, but they did manage to sneak off to Kentucky for a comic convention. “That was my birthday gift to Cody,” Muncy said.

“Just spending time together is what we like to do the most,” Woodall said.

Judge Joseph M. Sanders presided over the 1924 festivities that included a parade and attracted a crowd estimated at 10,000 people who gathered at the old fairgrounds where the Mitchell Stadium and Bowen Field parking lots are now located. The old Bluefield Airport was located on the Stadium Drive side of the present day of the city’s recreational area. Mayors W.H. Thomas of Bluefield, W.Va., and Mayor Henry C. Calloway of Bluefield, Va., introduced the two governors at the ceremony.

The name change didn’t take place without some degree of controversy. Only 518 voters in (then) Graham, Va., participated in the name-change election, and Bluefield won out with a 64-vote majority. Graham was named for Thomas Graham, a surveyor who led the initial crew that surveyed the Norfolk & Western railroad spur from Radford, Va., to Pocahontas in 1882. Graham also surveyed the town of Graham, Va., which was incorporated in 1884 — five years before the city of Bluefield was incorporated.

Bluefield, Va., Mayor Calloway, a railroad telegraph operator and a columnist for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, led the name-change effort through his popular “Old Timer” columns in the newspaper.

Woodall was a member of the GHS Marching Band and Muncy was the featured twirler in the MHS Band for six years. The two young people met through mutual friends and have been dating for some time now. They found out that they were selected by the 90th Anniversary Committee in March.

“If this hadn’t come up, we would already be married,” Muncy said.

Leslie Catron, Bluefield, Va., town clerk and a member of the 90th Anniversary Committee said the group has been working together for the past six months to put the event together.

“We took a little lunch break (on Friday) as we were getting everything ready in the tent, and we started talking about the fact that we have been working together so closely over the past six months and it’s all going to be over (today),” she said. “It has been a lot of work, but it has been a lot of fun.”

The committee never had a chair, but had regular meetings where they talked about the progress from previous meetings and discussed new ideas.

Cody is a self-described “night owl,” who enjoys working on home projects late at night while Stephanie turns in early. Both of them enjoy visiting with friends and spending time together.

“With the way our jobs are, we spend most of our time working, so we really just like being together,” Stephanie said. “I’m just worried about my babies Andon and Jax when were getting all of the makeup on before the wedding.”

“We’ll be fine,” Nogosky, the best man said. “We’re cool guys.”

Catron said that many people have been asking about the wedding and all of the other activities associated with the celebration.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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