by Walter P. Leonard
Kermit, a small community “South of the Mountain” (Clinch), is located about twelve miles west of Weber City, Virginia, on State Route 614. It was once a very thriving community. The town was laid out for future development. There was a post office, a general grocery store, a mission church, and train station all within less than the distance of a football field. These were located beside a railroad that featured a freight station and a building that served as a place for passengers to wait for the passenger trains.
In the early days there were four passenger trains passing through Kermit, two in the morning and two in the afternoons. The Post Office that served Kermit got its name from a Mr. Cassard who was president of the sand plant located nearby. We do not know where Kermit got its name.
The sand plant was located on Clinch Mountain above where the railroad enters the tunnel through the mountain. The tunnel exits at Speers Ferry on the opposite side of the mountain. This tunnel is 9/10 of a mile long. The railroad is presently owned by the CSX transportation company.
The sand quarry did not operate for many years due to the fact that much of the rock had iron in it. This made the sand that was produced unfit for fine glassware. The sand was shipped by rail to Pennsylvania, where it was used in the manufacture of glassware.
The general store was owned and operated by W. C. Bray, followed by John Pendleton and then Bill Williams. When the store closed, Mallie Carol and her husband opened a small store about one-half mile west of Kermit. L. D. Blessing operated a small store one-half mile east of Kermit.
The Kermit Mission was begun by Miss Ellen Bergen, aunt of the world-famous ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Among others who served at the Mission were: Miss Henry, Miss Breedlove, Miss Winfred Smith, Miss Martha Milander, Rev. Frank Beck, and Rev. Martin Perry. There were others whose names we cannot recall.
In addition to the mission house, the Mission owned a large dwelling house where the missionaries lived.
Rev. Ples Jenkins, a Primitive Baptist preacher, held a very Spirit-filled revival that inspired the people of the community to build a Primitive Baptist church. Mr. and Mrs. Roy Catron, along with Mr. and Mrs. N. C. Jones, donated land for the purpose of building a Primitive Baptist church. This gift of land was conveyed to the church in 1941.
As mentioned before, Cassard Post Office was near the Kermit freight station. Mail was delivered and collected by the passenger trains daily. Mr. Jacob “Jake” Hensley was the first postmaster and served until he was murdered on his way home as he traveled through a trestle under the railroad. He was succeeded by his wife, Lavada, for a short time. Lavada was followed by Lonza Gilliam Buchanan, who served from 1926 until 1937. She had as her assistant Callie Leonard Gilliam.* Maggie Leonard** succeeded her and served into the early 1940s. She was followed by Edna Bellamy Housewright, who served for a short period of time before the fourth-class post office was closed permanently.
Kermit has contributed to society: ministers, school teachers, and Internal Revenue officer, accountants, bookkeepers, secretaries, and other professional people, along with three people who gave their lives in World War II serving their country. Although many of the things that once made Kermit well-known are gone, Kermit is still a place dear to our hearts, and many fine people are still carrying on.
This article was published in the Scott County Virginia Star sometime in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
*My paternal aunt
**My paternal grandmother
My uncle, Robert Leonard, was the IRS agent mentioned in the last paragraph. My dad was a bookkeeper for many years at a small appliance store in Weber City. He worked for 18 years as a production clerk at the glass plant in Kingsport, TN (it was called American St. Gobain and then AFG Industries when he worked there). When Daddy retired in 1983, he had worked there for 18 years.
To learn more about Scott County, Virginia, visit https://www.worldatlas.com/na/us/va/c-scott-county-virginia.html