West Virginia 2006

Page 4


Near Stotesbury, West Virginia, is the African-American church at Tams.

On the Coal Camp USA website, they report that coal mining historian Mick V. says that the church is built on a Beaver Coal Company lease, and that if it is ever abandoned, it will be torn down, a terrible loss of a historic landmark.

Outside wall of the African-American church in Tams, WV, near Stotesbury.

St. John's Baptist Church was the black church in the Stotesbury coal mining camp in West Virginia.  

The church was built in 1918 by the E.E. White Coal Co. A large segment of the black population in the Raleigh County coalfields surrounding Stotesbury once attended church services here.

St. Johnís was abandoned in the early 1980s, when area coal mines played out and most of the churchís congregation moved to Beckley. 

The church is in a horrible state of disrepair, with nature taking back its land, leaving a part of West Virginia's fascinating legacy to the moss and the trees.

The interior of St. John's Baptist Church in Stotesbury, West Virginia, near Beckley.

The woods outside St. John's Baptist Church in Stotesbury, intent on swallowing the church back from whence it came.



Many former members of St. John's Baptist Church are buried in a cemetery behind the church, their names, birth dates, and dates of death chiseled on mossy, locally quarried sandstone markers.

St. John's Baptist Church church face, Stotesbury, West Virginia. I like this view of the church.  Looks like a face.

After returning from our Stotesbury / Beckley road trip, we rushed over to Rusty's house to do some recording for Spacehobbit.  Rusty is a band member of Under The Radar, a Charleston-based band.  

Rusty had also gotten married earlier in the afternoon, and celebrated by kickin' out the jams.

Here, Mark throws down the groove for Spacehobbit, a West Virginia/California recording collaboration.

Rusty a-pickin' and a-singin' new Spacehobbit material while Mark kicks out the jams.


West Coast Spacehobbit singer Lisa emotes.

Rusty on the acoustic guitar during the Spacehobbit recording session, where, as Rusty put it, we got all "Trinity Sessions", recording it all live with a stereo pair of mics.



Rusty's prize banjo, Charleston, West Virginia.

Throwin' down some banjo and vocals for a Spacehobbit version of "Orphan Girl" during our last night in West Virginia, August 2006 while celebrating his marriage earlier that afternoon.


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