PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Rachel Perine, 100, of Parkersburg, the last surviving daughter of a Civil War veteran in West Virginia, passed away on Friday.
Perine was born on March 8, 1916 and grew up in Doddridge County. Her father, Harvey Smith, served in the Civil War, joining the Union Army in August 1862 in Wheeling, enlisting in Company A of the 14th (West) Virginia Volunteer Infantry.
The Wood County Commission issued a proclamation designating March 8 as “Rachel Perine Day” in honor of her 100th birthday. She received congratulatory letters from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the West Virginia State Senate, along with many birthday cards, including one from Parkersburg Mayor Jimmy Colombo.
Jim Miracle of Vienna, a captain with Carlin’s Battery D, Wood County Civil War re-enactors, was one of several people who attended Perine’s 100th birthday celebration on March 8 in her Parkersburg home. Miracle said it is a shame Perine passed away because she was such a good person. The history she carried in memory of her father also was important, he said.
Edelene Wood of Parkersburg, a longtime friend, described Perine as a delightful person. “Everyone loved her,” she said.
Wood helped to put together the party for Perine’s 100th birthday. Perine was delighted to be honored on her 100th birthday and for her father also to be recognized on that day, Wood said. “She (Perine) was proud of her father,” Wood said.
Patricia Harris, president of the Doddridge County Historical Society, said in March the historical organization sponsored the birthday celebration for Perine, with assistance from Miracle and Carlin’s Battery D. The Doddridge County Commission issued a proclamation honoring Perine on her 100th birthday.
Harris cleaned, colorized and framed a photo of Harvey Smith to give to Perine for her birthday. A cake had a photograph of Perine on it.
Perine received nearly 200 birthday cards from area residents and people across the country, Harris said in March.
“Rachel is a humble person,” Harris said in March. “She didn’t want the birthday to just be about her. It was also about her father and what he went through (in the Civil War),” Harris said.
Todd Heslep lived across the street from Perine and was a friend. “We would talk for hours. I miss her,” Heslep said Monday.
Perine would talk about her mother’s cooking and foraging for wild mushrooms with her, Heslep said. In her later years, Perine would request Heslep sing and play “Delta Dawn” on his guitar for her, he said.
Perine loved to watch the children in the neighborhood, where she lived in the same house for 68 years, ride their bicycles and skateboards, Heslep said.
Heslep said Perine knew everyone in her Parkersburg neighborhood and helped the people who lived there. “She collected money for flowers when someone died or got cancer,” he said.
He remembers people singing together at Perine’s 100th birthday party.
Less than two years after he enlisted, Harvey Smith was captured at Cloyd’s Mountain, Va., on May 9, 1864. He spent six months as a prisoner of war, including a 20-day stint at the infamous Andersonville Confederate prison in Georgia.
After the Civil War, Smith returned to Doddridge County and helped to raise 14 children until his death in 1929. The family lived in Arnold’s Creek in Doddridge County, where Smith ran a large farm that included gas and oil tracts.
Perine was 13 when her father died in 1929 at the age of 83.
Perine’s funeral service will be 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Lambert-Tatman Funeral Home at 400 Green St. in Parkersburg with burial at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Visitation will be noon to 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.