The Sacred Heart Parish in Williamson was not established until 1911, however, the Catholic Church in this
area began with infrequent celebrations of Mass early in 1902, when the P. H. Byrne family moved from
Bristol, Virginia, to Williamson, West Virginia. At that time no Catholic Church existed in this area, however,
there were five Catholic families in the Community; among them were the families of John Wayman, James
McEvoy, Jim Barrie, Joe Barrie and Ethel Wiles. The Byrne family invited the Rev. Fr. Olives, Pastor of Bristol,
to visit them in Williamson. On June 4th 1902, he celebrated the first Mass in the Byrne home.
Ten persons attended. To commemorate the occasion, Mr. Byrne used Mrs. Byrne diamond ring to cut the
date on the front windowpane. The house is still standing at 210 Dickinson Street. Once a month, Rev. Fr. M.
J. Gilseman, pastor of the parish at Gary, WV came to Williamson and offered Mass in the Byrne residence.
Mass was offered periodically at the John Wyman home located at Fourth and Prichard Street. In1903-04 the
Catholic population increased by the arrival of several Catholic families. The new families included W. B.
Blottman, William McNamara, John Roche, McCurdy, Baldwin, T.P. Connelly, McGee Waddell, Dennie
Gilmartin, Frank Herrick, and Mrs. Charles Whitescarver. Father Olives said, When this Parish decides to
build a Church, it should be so located, that all who enter Williamson will see it. Bishop Donahue added, The
new church should be at the highest elevation possible, so that the cross will be above everything.
of Williamson, donated two lots on West Fourth Avenue Hill. Entering Williamson, the Catholic Church and
cross could be seen from many points. A house on one of the lots was used for a rectory. The building of the
first Catholic Church in Williamson was begun 1907 at 216 West Fourth Avenue. The edifice was completed in
One of the most successful fund raising projects for the first Catholic Church was the making and selling of sun
bonnets. Mrs. Samuel Finley rode trains from Williamson to Bluefield selling bonnets to the passengers. Mrs.
John Wayman is remembered for her comment, If the Church is ever paid for, we should hang a sun bonnet
from the steeple.
In 1911, Sacred Heart Parish was established. The Rev. Fr. J.M. Coghlan was the first pastor and Mass was
offered on the first and third Sundays of each month.
Missions listed at that time were Rawl, Chattaroy (this Mission Church is still standing), Red Jacket, and
Thacker. Mrs. John Roche, frequently called Mother Roche, was one of the driving forces in establishing the
first Catholic Church in Williamson. Mrs. Roche's large family, mostly girls, assisted in cleaning the church and
performing other altar duties. There is one surviving daughter, Mrs. C. O. Downey of Charleston, West Virginia.
Some of the members remembered during the teens and early twenties were the families of H.W. Finley, John
Roche, John Wayman, P.H. Byrne, Gus Sohaney, John Sohaney, Rudolf Sohaney, William McNamara, John
Marinack, G.F. Clefenburg, Dennie Gilmartin, E.R. Jones, T. P. Connelly, Frank Herrick, Charles
Whitescarver, McGee Waddell, W. B. Blottman Dr.L F. Boland, Mrs. Rosa Harmon, Herbert Ireson, Sr., E.
M. Bayer, and Joe B. Smith.
A hand pumped organ was purchase in 1914.Mrs. Herbert Ireson, Sr., organist, played for the first Solemn
High Mass offered by Rev. Fr. Coghlan. Sunday Massattendance averaged 20 people. The first altar boys
were John Roche, Bill and Charles Wiles, Vincent and Raymond McNamara, Eddie Sohaney, Eddie Gilmartin,
John, Bill, Pal, Mickey, and Benton Smith.
Two brothers, William and Michael Smith dedicated a large part of their lives to religious work; William was a
Sunday school teacher and youth leader until his death in 1965. Michael was a Sunday school teacher and
youth leader and later chose a religious vocation.
Rev. Fr. Paul Sikora succeeded Father Coghlan in 1918 and the Rev. John White became pastor in 1919.
The Rev. Fr. Francis Spillar succeeded him in 1920. The Rev. Fr .L. DeBruyere Litt. D. became pastor in
1921, followed by the Rev. Fr. Francis Dyczkowski.
Father Dyczkowski, who became pastor in 1922, had difficulty in keeping altar boys because his pet rooster
resented anyone on the altar. The rooster would enter the sanctuary, when he found the door of the sacristy
open, alight upon the servers back and peck him on the neck until Father would wave his hand, at which time
the pet rooster would leave. When Mary Jo Hammond was relating the story, she made a gesture that
indicated the rooster must have been about four feet tall. This caused her husband, Henry, to comment, Honey,
I know the difference between a rooster and a turkey.
The wooden church on the hill was not without its dangers. It was very common for parishioners to find snakes
on the steps and walks. One Sunday morning, during Mass, a commotion was heard over the confessional.
Abe Zando retrieved what many described as a bobcat, but Abe said, It was only a frightened tomcat. Rev. Fr.
Michael Gleason became pastor in 1924. He organized a Catholic Youth program in 1928. The first meetings
were held in the office of J.J. Ardigo.
In 1925, Mr. P.A. Richard, a newcomer from Quebec, Canada, became director of the adult and the children's
choirs. Some of the adult members were, Mrs. Merchant, Evangeline and Mary Jo Finley, Mr. Blottman, Elsie
and Tillie Bayer, Victoria (Venturino) Wade, John Frieze, Madelaine amarinack Mrs., Julia Sohaney, Victor
Thain, Mary Zando, and Mary Gentile. The children choir members included George, Florence, and Mary Jo
Harmon, Edith Price, Helen, Felicia and Victoria Girardi, Billy and Mickey Smith, Catherine and Hazel
Mr. Richard, on one occasion, became annoyed by the off-key voice of John Frieze. He said, John, you are off-
key. To which John replied, "I've sung in choirs for thirty-five years, Mr. Richard replies, Thats no credit to you.
Mr. Richard continued to direct the choir and had a small orchestra made up of the following members: first
violinist was H. Myette, organist was Rosa Harmon, second violinist was Dr. B.J. Ferrell, John Welther played
the cello, Pete Pirrotte the clarinet, and Santa Pasquale played the trumpet.
The church now had three organists, for the first may crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1926. Her son
George, not only served as alter boy, but also had to pump the organ. Once a month a Mission Mass was
offered at the home of Mrs. John Dunn, mother of the late John Dunn and Mary Ann Dunn, of Stone, Kentucky.
Surplice of Fire
The Rev. Fr. P.J. Keating came to serve as Pastor in 1934. He had a thick Irish brogue and was an out-
spoken person. He had a sense of humor, all his own. While baptizing a baby girl, his surplice caught fire. He
said,Well, this is the first time a woman ever set me on fire.
When the Newman Club was organized, William and Michael Smith took charge. The first meetings were held
in rooms above the National Bank of Commerce. Abe Zando renovated the rooms in the basement of the
church. These rooms were used for teaching catechism and preparing the children for receiving First Holy
Communion and Confirmation.
Some of the first Sunday School teachers were: Mrs. Helen Linkous, Mrs. Bell J. Richards, William and
Michael Smith, Miss Josephine Stanley, Miss Hazel Pasquale, Mrs.Felicia Caponite, Mrs. Helen Tully, Mrs.
Gus Sohaney, Mrs. William Brown, Mrs. Louise Varney, Bill
and Helen Gaal and Sophia Bozmoski.
Religious instructions, during this period, were conducted at the non-denominational Mission Church at
Chattaroy. Later these classes were held at the Chattaroy School. Volunteer Sunday school teachers
conducted these sessions. Throughout the years, flowers for the altar were donated by women from their
flower gardens. The women from Chattaroy, New Camp, and South Williamson were the main contributors.
Some of the contributors were Mrs.Anthony Gaal, Mrs. James Spano, Mrs., Julia Hegedus, Mrs. S. G. Zando,
Mrs. Andy Molnar, Mrs. E. M. Bayer, Mrs. Steve Merencies, Mrs. Paul and Andy Mayerchak.
A Ladies Altar Society was formed and meetings were held in the homes of various members. Bake sales,
rummage sales, raffles, card parties, and the like were held and the proceeds were used to pay on the church
debt. Since there was no meeting hall, meetings were usually held at the home of Mrs. Joseph J. Ardigo. Mrs.
Helen Linkous was the first president. This organization continued to function until after the arrival of Father
Scanlon who changed the Altar Society in favor of the Guilds. Mrs. Irene Doka was the last president of the
Altar Society and Mrs. Ardigo the last treasure. The Altar Society women took care of the altars, cleaned the
church, laundered and ironed the linens and gave the rectory a regular cleaning. Father Keating usually
became disturbed after the ladies cleaned the rectory because, as he said, I can never find anything I need.
The ladies made the Altar linens and the altar boy cassocks. Some of the women who assisted were, Mrs.
Wm. McDonald Brown, Mrs. Anna Sohaney, Mrs. E .E. Bayer, Mrs. Julia Sohaney, Mrs. Alvin Sohaney, Mrs.
Charles Tully, Mrs. Elmer Cubine, Mrs. Harry Finley, Mrs. Joe B. Smith, Mrs. Gaal, Mrs. Hegedus, Mrs. Robert
A. Zando, Mrs. Sally Zando, Mrs. Herbert Ireson Sr., Mrs. Joseph J. Ardigo, Mrs. Paul Mayerchak, Mrs. Dan
Doka, Mrs. Steve Younger Sr., Mrs. Joe Payne, Mrs. James Spano Sr., and Mrs. Frank Corea.
Under the direction of Father Keating, the building program for a new church got under way. The first site
chosen was at 608 Harvey Street. Fund raising projects conducted by the Ladies Altar Society were very
successful, some of these netted over seven hundred dollars and when this money was turned over to Father
Keating, he said to Mr. Ardigo, I never realized the Ladies Alter Society had been so successful.
Remunerative projects, such as rummage sales, lawn parties, bazaars with handiworks, homemade baked
goods from the women, spaghetti suppers, bingo games, and card parties were held on the church grounds
and dances were held in the Cinderella Theater Building
basement, called the Dug Out. P. A. Richards small orchestra provided music. The ladies provided
When Rev. Fr. James Altmeyer became pastor in 1944, the Sacred Heart Altar Society meetings were held in
the evenings, since more women could attend. New members in the Ladies Altar Society included Mrs. Marino
Spinosi, Mrs. .Mike Jiunta, Mrs. Pete Girardi, Mrs. Anthony Caponite, Mrs. Pete Girardi Mrs. Anthony
Caponite, Mrs. Dom Gentile Sr., Mrs. Paul Quattro, Mrs. Helen Chambers, and Ann Gentile. Fund raising
projects for the new church continued. Spaghetti suppers were very successful with Mrs. Dom Gentile Sr.,
usually selling the largest number of
tickets. Mrs. Tom Brindis gave a good price on the vegetables and various members of the parish donated the
cakes and fruits.
Some of the ladies instrumental in making the spaghetti dinners a success were , Mrs. Dom Gentile Sr., Mrs.
Tom Brindis, Mrs. Andrew Giordano, Mrs. Mike Bucci, Catherine and Hazel Pasquale, Mrs. Santa Pasquale,
Mrs. Paul Quattro, Mrs. Marino Spinosi, Mrs. Mike Jiunta, Mrs. Attilio Nenni, Mrs. Roy Chambers, and Mrs.
Joe Payne. The first dinners sponsored by the Ladies Altar Society were held at the Memorial Building with
Mrs. D. Gentile Sr. as chairperson. This required a carryout service, because of a lack of space, in addition to
the dining in service. Sauce and meatballs were prepared the night before at the home of Mrs. Gentile.
Ladies who participated in other fund raising project were, Mrs. Juliette Crabtree, Miss Helen Gaal, Mrs. Henry
Hammond, Mrs. Lillian Harmon, Mrs. Roberta Hardebeck, Mrs. Mary Jones, Mrs. Rose Lipinski, Mrs. Agnes
Kearns, Mrs. Ruby Kearns McFarland, Mrs. Louise Varney, Mrs. Pearl Kimble, Mrs. Francell Piccolin, Miss
Josephine Stanley, Mrs. Victoria Wade, Mrs. Joseph Plaskey, Mrs. Frank Azzara, and Mrs. Belle Jay Richard.
Knights of Columbus
Over a period of years, final payment of all church indebtedness was completed by pledges of one hundred
fifty dollars per family together with voluntary donations from several coal companies and local merchants.
Under the direction of Father Altmeyer, some new organizations were established. The Holy Name Society,
the Blessed Virgin Mary Sodality with Josephine Stanley as the first president, and the Altmeyer Council of the
Knights of Columbus. First-degree initiation was held in the basement of the church on the hill.
Some of the first members of the Knights of Columbus were, Herbert Ireson Sr., Quirino Piccolin, Abe Zando,
Phillip Bucci, Adolph Hofstetter, Jim Kimble, Pete Girardi, Joe and Mike Momone, Lee, Pete, and Joe Spano ,
Robert Zando, John Sohaney, P.A. Richard, Andy and Paul Mayerchak, Dan Doka, Charles Tully, Frank Kerr,
Benton and John Smith, John Dunn, Jack Lipps, George Harmon, Joseph Ardigo, Joe Plaskey, Louie Jiunta,
George Stanley, Dr. S. G. Zando, Emmett Hardebeck, Joe Payne, and James Ireson. At the beginning of the
meeting, Fr. Altmeyer had the K of C members deposit 25cents in a pot and the member who answered the
religious question presented, walked away with the cash.
The Daughters of St. Anne was organized to share the workload of the Ladies Alter Society and Mrs. Belle Jay
Richard was selected as President for the first two years. The choir was updated to accompany High Masses
and other special services. Mr. P.A. Richard was director for the
adult choir with Mary Jane (Barley) Semento, Mrs. Herbert Ireson Sr., and Mrs. Lorayne (Gentile) Sherman as
organists for the childrens choir. Billy Smith, son of John and Josephine Smith, began as organist at the age of
eleven. Today he is a Director of Juilliard School of Music, in New York City.
With the onset of World War 11, the building of the new church was postponed, but the building program and
fund raising continued with the same enthusiasm.
Another well remembered project of the parish was sponsoring the appearance of the Tambouritzans, a well-
known musical group from Duquesne University, at the Cinderella Theater.
Through the influence of Emmett Hardebeck, the Parish obtained the booking of the engagement. Because of
the large success of their first appearance in this community, they agreed to a return performance the following
year. These appearances swelled the building fund considerably.
In 1942, the building committee decided to sell the property on Harvey Street and purchase property on West
Fourth Avenue. Parish members begin tearing down the three small cottages on West Fourth Avenue, the
future site of the new church. Father Altmeyer called them the Hammer and Nail Club. Some of the members
were, Robert and Abe Zando, Quirino Piccolin, James and Albert Venturino, Ralph and Joe Elia, George
Harmon, Bill Harmon, Emmett Hardebeck and Joe Payne.
The new church was built by Quirino Piccolin and his father Lorenzo Piccolin, Quirino Piccolin was the owner
of Piccolin Construstion Co. (*Thank you Mari Piccolin (Bill) for the updated infromation)
On May 20th. 1951, the first Mass was offered in Sacred Heart Church on West Fourth Avenue. The formal
dedication by, Bishop McDonnell, was held on May 27, 1951. The following month, June 30, 1951 the first
formal church wedding was performed uniting Mary Elia and Steve Walters. Following this wedding, the
reception was held in the new auditorium, which was equipped, by the Ladies Altar Society, with china, crystal,
and flatware. These items are available today for parish functions.
On the eve of the move to the new church, Fr. Altmeyer discovered the confessionals were not completed. Dr.
S.G. Zando in the process of building a new home for himself donated the wood and materials. John Sohaney
and he completed the confessionals. Mrs. Zando donated the drapery materials that she had purchased for
their new home for the confessionals When the church bell on the hill was rung for the last time by Frank
Kimble, the parishioners heard the creaking and cracking of the heavy rafters and timbers in the bell tower.
The bell may be seen on the front lawn of James Venturino's home.
Father Altmeyer went to North Carolina to purchase stained glass windows for the church. On his return from
this trip, he commented to Miss Catherine Pasquale, I know what Santa Claus does after Christmas, He
makes stained glass windows. I found the man who makes these stained glass windows and he was such a
kind jolly old man with a long, white beard and he looked just like Santa Claus!
Since the Korean War prevented the delivery of these stained glass windows, Charles Glover painted scenes
on the plain glass windows depicting the sacraments, sacramental, and these remained until the delivery of the
stained glass windows. Mrs. John Zsoldas decorated the first Paschal Candle. Father Altmeyer told her to
pretend she was decorating one of her cakes. She followed his advice and the candle was beautiful.
When Sacred Heart Catholic School was built adjacent to the auditorium, the old rectory on the hill was
converted to temporary quarters for the Sisters of Saint Joseph who came to staff Sacred Heart School in
August 1957. With the coming of Rev. Father Michael Scanlon in 1957, the rectory that stood on the site of the
present convent and served as a meeting place for Knights of Columbus, was razed and the new convent was
erected. In the meantime, Fr. Scanlon had acquired the attic, over the sacristy, as his living quarters. As the
steps to the attic became increasingly difficult to negotiate, Fr. Scanlon moved his living quarters to the west
end of the auditorium and he remained there until
the Lawson property on West Fourth Avenue was purchased in 1964.
After the razing of the Rectory by volunteer members of the Parish, construction of the new convent began. The
Convent was completed and occupied by the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1962, and Mr. and Mrs. Carl Riggs
purchased the property on the hill. After the Lawson Property had been purchased at 110 West Fourth Avenue,
the large brick house was razed and the site leveled for a playground for the students of Sacred Heart School.
The servant quarters, adjacent to the large red brick house were converted to a rectory - a function it still
Emmett Hardebeck and Jim Drautz built the first podium in the Church, they erected baffle plates over the two
ventilators, and built the Altar of Repose after first paneling the wall behind the main Altar. Dr. S. G. Zando
made the tall, walnut candlesticks used on the altar for Easter, Christmas, and special occasions. He
personally selected and supervised the cutting of walnut trees at Cinderella. These logs were sent to North
Carolina for seasoning, dressing and cutting. He Constructed the Nativity Scene, which was painted by
Charles Glover and which still is used during the Christmas season. Many of his articles, such as doll beds,
cradles, two wheeled carts were donated to various organizations in the church for fund-raising projects.
Father Scanlon worked very closely with the youth. Sister Andrew became director and organist for the youth
choir. The choir was popular through out the community and received many invitations to perform at various
civic group meetings and on the radio. Some of the members in the youth choir that were remembered are,
Lola (Gratta) Brown, Barbara (Hardebeck) Adamson, Nancy (Jiunta) Shomo, Helen (Lipps) Ooten, Nancy
(Lipps) Ryan, Julia Miles, Rose and Andrew Pasquale, Carolyn Payne, Sally Smith, Robert Riggs, Rose
Marie (Spano) Ledger, Yolanda Spano, Debbie (Venturino) Bowen, Annette (Sherman) Bell, who later
became organist for the choir.
Under the direction of Glen Felty, Scoutmaster, and Abe Zando, Assistant Scoutmaster, Boy Scout Troop No.
318 of Sacred Heart was organized in the late fifties. A camp building was erected on Spruce Creek, a large
artificial lake. Five hundred feet or more was cleared for campsite. The site accommodated three Scout
troops of Sacred Heart Parish. One Sunday morning, Abe Zando found Glen Felty sitting near the campfire
looking at a copperhead that he had just killed. He found the snake coiled inside an armload of brush. The
scout troops continued until one October day, when against Father Scanlon's advice the boys went swimming
after that ,no more swimming and no more Sacred Heart Scouts. For the girls of the parish, Brownie Troop No.
93 was formed with Miss Tilda C. Sepich as leader. Miss Sepich, a Social worker at the Miners Memorial
Hospital, (now the Appalachian Regional Hospital Inc...) came here from Illinois and later returned to that same
Rev. Father Eugene Klug pastured the parish for approximately two years, 1964-66. Rev. Father Frank
Brunner relieved him. During Father Brunner's time, a second Altar of Sacrifice built by Ralph and Joe Elia
was added so that the mass might be offered facing the congregation. Initial changes in the liturgy were
implemented during Father Brunner's time whenever the approved texts were received from the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops. Rev. Father Marcel A. Ballouz came to Williamson in 1972 to pastor Sacred
Heart Parish. A panning and Building Committee formed in 1973 included Lewis Jessie (Chairman), Louie
Juinta, Carl Riggs, Bill and George Harmon. An air conditioning and heating system was put in service August
1974. The Ruby Kerns McFarland Estate paid for Forty percent of the total cost of the renovation. It is
interesting to know that many of our Parish records prior to establishing Sacred Heart Parish in Williamson
may be found in Gary, West Virginia.
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Barrie moved to Williamson in 1900 from Portsmouth, Ohio. Mr. Barrie was associated
with the Norfolk and Western Railroad Company. They had a son, Raymond, who later became a dentist.
Raymond was born in Williamson in 1900. Rev. Father Emile Olives from Bluefield, West Virginia baptized
him in the kitchen of their home, because it was the warmest place. Likewise, Rev. Father Patrick Gilsenan
from Gary, West Virginia baptized a daughter, Alice, also born in Williamson, January 1903, in the kitchen of
their home. The first baptism recorded in the parish book of Sacred Heart was, Nov. 19, 1911: Lillian Maria
O'Connor and Zetta Butcher. (As recorded in Baptismal Record Book-page 1.)
The first marriage recorded in the Parish Book of Sacred Heart was: February 20, 1912, Charles F. Dace
married Mary Helena Birmingham. Witnesses: John E. Roche and Della Roche. Priest: Michael J. Coghlan.
Another note of interest, for the first six months of 1924, we find the following financial entry: Total receipts
$2,017.97; total expenses $2002.36; balance $15.61. Although small, the Parish can boast of four vocations
from its membership throughout the years. They are Miss Helen Blottman, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. W.
B. Blottman, pioneer members of the Church. She joined the Sisters of Notre Dame in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr.
Michael F. Smith, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Smith, joined the Xaverian Brothers. Miss Frances
Ragazzo, daughter of Mrs. Vito Ragazzo, Sr. joined the Ursulian Sisters of Cincinnati, Ohio. Miss Rosalie
Bucci, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Michael Bucci, joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wheeling,
Every Catholic child in a Catholic School was the aim of His Excellency, the late Archbishop John J. Swint,
Bishop of the Diocese Wheeling. Therefore, pastors were encouraged to establish a Catholic school in every
area where the parishioners were willing to accept the additional burden and responsibility for its up-keep.
Rev. James P. Altmeyer, at the time pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, felt that the time was ripe and that
sufficient numbers of Catholic families in the Williamson area existed for a school to be warranted.
For many years, a couple of Sisters of Wheeling had journeyed to Williamson each summer to conduct a
religious vacation school and to prepare the children to receive their First Holy Communion and to receive the
sacrament of Confirmation. There fore, when a new school was planned in Williamson for Sacred Heart
Parish, Rev. James Altmeyer requested of Sister Agnes Regina Roth, General Superior of the Sisters of St.
Joseph of Wheeling, that she send sisters to staff the school. With other pastors pleading for sister also, it
seemed an impossible task to fill all the
needs. The harvest was indeed great, but the laborers were scarce. Once again, a fertile field was readied
however, and the Sisters of St. Joseph accepted the challenge of another harvest. Mother Agnes Regina could
never refuse and God always provided. In August 1957, the first convent in the history of Mingo County was
established at 216 West Fourth Avenue, Williamson, WV.
3 R's & Faith
This dwelling had formerly been used as the parish rectory. Many willing worker set about to make the
necessary changes and among these was Emmett Hardback, who with hammer and paint brush, fashioned a
chapel in the renovated building. The first sisters to occupy the convent were Sister Marie Jeannette,
(Superior) Sister Maristelle and Sister Mary James. All were Sister of St. Joseph. Accompanying these sisters
for the first time to the new convent were Sister Agnes Regina, Superior General of the Congregation who
supervised the opening of the new mission and Sister Mary Clare Smith.
The long anticipated joy of a fulfilled in the erection of a Catholic school for the parish was not to be for Father
Altmeyer, as within the year he was reassigned to St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Weirton, West Virginia.
Father Michael Scanlon, his successor, inherited the task of completing the structure. September 3, 1957
marked a significant milestone in the history of the Williamson Community and the Sacred Heart Parish as for
the first time, Sacred Heart Parochial School opened its doors to gather Christ's little ones to be instructed not
only in the three Rs but in a knowledge of their faith and its vital role in daily living. Sacred Heart School was to
mark another first-the first parochial school in Mingo County. The completely new structure with modern
equipment would provide classrooms for children of grade one through six. The capacity of the three room
addition is about 120 students. Sister Marie Jeannette recorded the actual enrollment as 54 students that first
day. Sister also taught first, second and third grades. Sister Maristelle, music instructor, taught fourth, fifth, and
sixth grades. Sister Mary James assisted these sisters.
The first executive board meeting was held on September 16, 1957 to plan for the organizational meeting of
the Sacred Heart School Parent- Teacher Association. The following Wednesday, September 25th. The
organization meeting was held. Officers elected were President, Dr. Norman Johnson; Vice President, Mrs. E.
H. Hardebeck; Secretary, Mrs. C. L. Bartram; and Treasurer; Mrs. Mary Jo Hammond. Father Michael Scanlon
served as spiritual director, and Sister Marie Jeannette, as honorary president.
On December 15. 1957 following the 11a.m. Mass celebrated by His Excellency, the late Thomas J.
McDonnell, Co-adjuator Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling, the new school was dedicated. The Rev. Michael
Scanlon assisted the Bishop; Pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Present also was thee Rev. Carl Richmond,
deacon in charge of St. Pauls Episcopal Church. For two succeeding years, a grade was added in 1959,
when for the first time the school had eight grades, a total enrollment of seventy students was reached. This
has been the latest enrollment in the school's span. Ground was broken for a new convent on October 1, 1961.
Abe Zando was the contractor who laid the outside stone
of the new building. On the outside wall of the Chapel, a large mosaic of the Sacred Heart of Christ bears
witness to passersby of its purpose for existence. In Holy Week of 1962, the sisters moved unto the new
convent, which had been readied for occupancy on April 18.
Sister Marie Jeannette's six-year term as principal and superior being completed, Sister Sheila Marie
Flanagan was assigned. Sister Sheila Marie remained as principal from 1963-69, Sister also taught first and
second grades. In 1965, the first class of students to have completed eight grades at Sacred Heart School
was honored at a special graduation dinner at the Mountaineer Hotel on Thursday, June 3.
The minutes of the Home School Association provided several items of interest for that same year. One such
instance was the 100% perfect attendance at P.T.A. for the fifth grade class. Steve Bartram was the sole
student and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Bartram were both present. Previous to 1966, numerous card
parties and projects were sponsored by the Ways and Means Committee to help finance the school. However,
at this time, it was noted that for the tremendous amount of work, profits were relatively small. Therefore, many
of the more laborious tasks of by-gone years were abandoned as new and easier projects were sought and
On June 7, 1956, the Rev. James P. Altmeyer had negotiated for a $57,000 school building to be built
adjoining the church and parish hall. In fact, a garage built at the end of the parish hall for use by the pastor had
been found to be too difficult to enter, therefore, during the construction of the school, the garage was turned
over to the construction workers for conversion into a furnace and boiler room. A service it still performs today.
Raymond Zando, an architect of the Martens and Sons firm of Charleston, designed the building. Contractors
were J. C. Johnson And Company of Welch. J. D. Westcott and Sons in Williamson completed the final tasks,
such as laying the tile floors and installing wardrobes prior to the opening. The school building was competed
in February, 1957.
|Sacred Heart Catholic Church 110 West Fourth Ave. Williamson, WV 25661 (304) 235-3027
|Sacred Heart Catholic Church