Third Diversity Day highlights Charles William Warfield I


BUCKHANNON — In the 100th year of the anniversary of Charles Warfield I coming to Buckhannon to become principal, a new street sign and placard was dedicated Sunday.

Warfield served as principal, teacher and even coach and custodian when necessary of The Victoria School which Upshur County built to educate black children during segregation.

Warfield Way was dedicated in 2004 in honor of Warfield I but overtime the sign had been removed due to construction, according to Mayor David McCauley. McCauley said when he noticed he decided to have a placard made to go along with the new sign which tells the story of Charles William Warfield I.

Through research at Buckhannon City Hall, McCauley made contact with the Warfield descendants and invited them to the dedication on Sunday.

Charles Warfield III now lives in Ohio but recalled he spent much of his childhood  in Pittsburgh and Buckhannon. One of his family’s neighbors was Kay Sienkiewicz, who attended Sunday’s ceremony.

“Kay not only was our next-door neighbor but she was and is a member of our family,” he said. “Especially, along towards the last when my aunts were declining in health. I was living in Columbus and burning up the roads going back and forth. There is no way in the world I could have done what I did had it not been for her mother, her husband Ed, her dog and Kay.”

Warfield, who is a cancer survivor, said he wasn’t sure he would ever make it back to Buckhannon so he said he was thankful to be able to come back and visit and take part in the dedication.

“My grandfather, Professor Charles William Warfield I was quite a man,” he said. “All seven of his children went into education for at least part of their career.

“Those of you who think your life is difficult, please allow me to tell you that unless you are a descendant of an English professor, your life is not difficult,” he joked. “Even as a tiny child, I could not make a grammatical error. Grandpapa would be snapping his fingers and I knew I would have to go back and correct something. If I couldn’t get it right, he would aid me.”

Warfield said he carried that on to his own children as they were learning to talk.

“Living around an English professor is another story all together,” he said. “He was an outstanding man, very formal from morning to night. There was never any informality about him at all. We had to come to dinner fully dressed and we had to listen to conversations that we knew nothing about, but we had to act like we did nonetheless.”

Warfield I graduated from Storer College in Harpers Ferry in 1894. He became an English professor at his alma matter, briefly taught at Bluefield State College and then returned to Storer where he was recruited in 1917 to come to Buckhannon and become principal of The Victoria School. During his tenure, Warfield I instituted a full, four-year college preparatory curriculum for high school students.

The plaque dedicated Sunday includes a quote from a former student: “Mr. Warfield wanted every student to learn. It was wonderful to have him as a teacher.”

Dr. Boyd Creasman, vice president of student affairs and Robert Quarles, director of multicultural affairs at WVWC, brought greetings from the college and recognized the accomplishments of the Warfield family.

Florence Warfield, daughter of Charles Warfield I, was only the second African-American to graduate from West Virginia Wesleyan College.

The dedication was part of the third annual Diversity Appreciation Day which has become a tradition on the Sunday of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s homecoming weekend. Previous dedications have been held at the Central Elementary School where a sign and rock have been dedicated.

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