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Wallace, W.Va., Put On The Map For An Evening

By Staff | Sep 30, 2009

Ohio US Representative Betty Sutton and Judy Hill

Recently I attended the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women’s Annual Convention. Wetzel County sent six delegates to the convention: Joyce Brown, Carla Wade, Elise McIntire, Sandra McBee, Carol Gorby, and me.

This year it was held in Weirton. It is meetings, speeches, classes, and fun.

I have always looked forward to attending this yearly event.

This year turned out to be a really special event for me.

Our main keynote speaker had not been announced much in advance. I really had not read anything about the speaker until the night before she was to speak. And then I didn’t recognize anything about her in advance. Being on the WVFDW State Board, I sit at the second head table.

US Representative Alan Mollohan introduced her as Ohio US Representative Betty Sutton and noted she has written the Cash for Clunker’s Bill. . . got it passed.

When Rep. Sutton started speaking she mentioned she had many family ties to West Virginia. Now that kind of caught my attention. The big shock came when she continued to say her mother grew up in Wallace. That really got my attention. Wallace is the small town in Harrison County I grew up in. Then added her maiden name was Smallwood.

I knew her grandparents well. They owned the only place to hang out in Wallace. A small restaurant, booths to hang out in, a juke box, and small dance floor. In the fifties we all hung out there. Her grandparents, Dick and Blanch Smallwood, were like family to us all.

Her mother attended school at Wallace and was in my sister’s class. Her aunt also attended the same school, which my dad was the principal of. Betty spent summers in Wallace. Her family moved to Ohio to find work, but she always spent summers in Wallace.

To say I was speechless would be putting it mildly. Ms. Sutton said she brought a guest with her, Ohio’s Federation of Democratic Women, who also was born in Wallace.

After Rep. Sutton’s talk, which also happened to be one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard, I could hardly wait to meet her. When she glanced down at my name tag and saw that my last name is Hill; she burst into smiles and remarked, I know your family.

The joy we shared in remembering Wallace; her grandparents, her mother, and my dad was simply amazing.

Then the Ohio President joined us in some photo taking. She left Wallace at an early age for her father to find work in Ohio.

In the course of the evening, six other women found me that had connections to that small town of Wallace.

This convention is attended by the women leaders of each county in the West Virginia Democratic Party and most elected state government officer holders.

Even though my dad was an avid Republican, as well as most of the Hill family, I knew he had to be smiling at the achievements of these women from Wallace. . . all of which had a connection to my dad. I am also sure this is just a small number of those who had reached goals set in their minds. One of the driving forces to succeed is the fact that most in Wallace worked in the coal mines. We all had seen so much tragic events in mine accidents, it encouraged us to find work in other fields.

What a delightful experience it was. What a small world.