Dallas E. Boggs, PhD

The future becomes more meaningful when the past is illuminated.


I was born on April 20, 1932 in our country home at Porter (now Bomont), West Virginia—the second child of Ira and Nellie (McCune) Boggs. My older brother, Norris, was born on July 11, 1930. Porter—best described as a village or a hamlet—was a whistle stop on the B & O Railroad. We had a post office (in a little country store), a one room school, a railway depot, a natural gas compressor station, and a saw-mill. (Population: about 45 or 50 within a two square mile area). The nearest town is Clendenin (about 12 miles), and our county seat is Clay (about 20 miles). Clendenin is on Elk River about 25 miles North of Charleston (The State Capitol), and Clay (the county seat of Clay County) is about 25 miles (via State Rt. 4) from Clendenin.

The Boggses derived from our Scotch Irish Ancestors, who arrived in Delaware in 1710 and migrated to what is now Central West Virginia in the 1750’s (prior to the American Revolution). They mixed—to some extent—with Native Americans, mostly Cherokees. On my mother’s side, we are Scotch Irish and Black Irish. “Black Irish” is also a moniker for Appalachian peoples of mixed race (European, Native American, Middle Eastern, and [possibly] African American), often referred to as “Melungeons”. Mother’s maternal grandmother was a Deel, and her maternal great grandmother was a Gibson. (Both of these names are familiar in Melungeon family trees.) Her paternal grandmother was a Reed, whose father was said to have been “full-blooded German”.

My mother said that her maternal grandfather, William Conley, came to see me when I was an infant; that he was 110 years old; that he was a veteran of the Civil War; and that he could jump and click his heels twice before landing. (Evidently, she mistook her grandfather for her great grandfather, who served in the Virginia Cavalry and died from war wounds in 1866.) My mother did not know that side of the family well. Grandma McCune disowned them because they “cussed, drank and gambled”. She did not want her children exposed to that.

My father was 13 years older than my mother. His late marriage is explained by his being “Shell Shocked” in World War I. He spent several years in and out of rehab after the war. (While in his 70’s, he wrote his memories about the war and his life experiences.) He was employed full-time by the Hope Natural Gas Company at Corton, W.Va.; and he worked on our one-horse farm most of his free time. My mother was a full-time house-keeper and parent. She was 24 yrs. old (b. April 18, 1908) when I was born, and my father turned 37 that year (b. May 1, 1895).

I was born in 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, but I didn’t know that our country (or the World) was in such a Financial Crunch. Our father had a steady job throughout most of the depression; and we were much better off than most of our neighbors. How could I have ever thought our family was amongst the Poor?