Bringing dignity to the state’s first Poet Laureate
In the Jan. 19, 2013, edition of The Inter-Mountain, there appeared an article on Karl Dewey Myers, the first Poet Laureate of West Virginia. In the “History of Tucker County” by Homer Fansler, there is a biography of Karl Dewey Myers. My understanding is that he played a prominent role in setting things up for kids during the 1920s. He also wrote a tremendous amount of letters, sending them to prominent individuals, including presidents, writers and sports figures. In these letters, he would include copies of his poems. These were entered into two books that I had seen in 1971 at the Parsons Graded School Library. Where these books are or where the mass of his writings went seems to be anybody’s guess.
The reason I know about Karl Dewey Myers is that the Randolph County Historical Society and the Tucker County Historical Society in the late 1980s requested I do research on his life, which I did. His real nickname was not Duke, as presented in the article, but Deut, which people around Parsons elongated into Deuteronomy.
At the end of his life, Deut was not well liked. He had an irascible temper, often confronting people in the street or banging his crutches on wooden porches of hotels or businesses. He died at a family’s home in Leadsville, Randolph County. Since he had no money and since nobody fronted any money, he was buried in the indigent section of The International Order of Foresters cemetery at the bottom of a hillside, along with three other graves. This research is in the library of the Beverly Museum.
Anyway, the Randolph County Historical Society and the Tucker County Historical Society provided a marker on the grave we believe is his, according to the information we were given. Don Rice and Randy Allan spearheaded this opportunity to bring finality and dignity to our first Poet Laureate of West Virginia.
William Robert Riddle III