Powers Coat of Arms Charles Wesley Powers

Charles Wesley Powers and Boys Photo BORN: SEP 1 1893 - Whitesburg, Ky.
DIED: 1964 - Bluefield, W. Va.
MARRIED: Susan Lawson
MARRIED: Naomi Ruth Money, MAY 4 1934 - Roderfield, W. Va.
(l-r): Wesley Powers (son, 19), Paul Powers (son, seated, 17), Dick Norvold (Ruth's husband, 22), Charles Wesley Powers (seated, 61), Aaron Powers (son, on ground, 11), Togo, Minn., 1955

Charlie Powers lived with his first wife, Susan Lawson, in the West Virginia / Virginia area and worked as a coal miner. He had a church he founded, the Spruce Grove Union Church, as a Methodist minister, and was a part-time traveling minister for other churches he helped founded, and held tent revival meetings. Charlie and Susan had seven children before they divorced. Charlie took his four sons of his seven children with him during the Depression and settled on an island in Dora Lake, Minn., where he joined his father, Henry Hobart, and brothers Bill and Melvin, and worked in pulp wood by cutting trees. He returned to West Virginia when his sons grew to be teenagers.

Charlie as a young man around 1918
Charlie Powers as a young man around 1918.
After Charlie moved back to West Virginia with his sons, he met Naomi Money, who was keeping house for his sister Martha (who married Frank Church). Naomiís father, William Clifford Money, was an auto mechanic and had palsy. Charlie's sister, Martha, was opposed at first to Charlie and Naomi courting, because Charlie was an older divorced single man with four sons. Charlie and Naomi did marry on May 4, 1934, in Roderfield, W. Virginia, and established a number of households in West Virginia. The family moved frequently wherever work could be found. They had seven children, all delivered at home. In Pineville, the family lived in a trailer where Rena was born. The coal stove didnít cook very well, and Charlie had indigestion all the time. The company doctor once told him, "Raw beans in the stomach, dough on the brain; thatís all thatís wrong with you, Charlie Powers." While in Pineville, Charlie returned to working as a minister. He preached at the church he founded, the Spruce Grove Union Church, and rode a traveling minister's circuit on a horse until he got a truck. He would be gone for a week at time, and would bring back food for the families in the area. A leading citizen, Charlie had a wooden key hanging next to the door that represented the keys to the City of Pineville, and it had "Charlie Powers, Civic Leader" carved into it.

Charlie worked in the high-yield low coal country of West Virginia, where miners would tunnel miles underground following a vein. They would drill and blow with dynamite, clean the coal out, timber up to reinforce the tunnel, and hope it wouldnít collapse. Miners spent all day crawling on their hands and knees and breathing in coal dust. When the family moved to Wilmore, W. Va., after the Pineville house burned down, Charlie began mining coal full-time because of the better economic opportunity, although he continued to setup tents for prayer meetings. He also continued find work wherever he could, including harvesting and hauling fruit in season, to support his family. He helped bring the unions into the coal mines, and got involved in politics. He and Naomi would run a poll booth, where voters would come by to vote during elections. They lived in Wilmore for a good five years.

Brothers Mel, Charlie and Bill Powers at Effie, Minn., around April 1935
From l-r: Brothers Mel,
Charlie and Bill Powers
at Effie, Minn.,
around April 1935

However, Charlie was getting too old to work in the coal mines, and the mines didn't need as many workers as before because they were becoming more mechanized. Charlie could always make a living by working in the woods. So, in the Fall of 1947, the family left Wilmore, W. Va., after the stone house they had built burned down, and settled in Togo, Minn. Luther and Melvin, Paulís older half brothers, drove a slat-sided Model A pickup truck, while the family huddled in the bed under blankets during the week-long journey. They joined Frank and Joe, also Paulís older half brothers, who were working pulp wood, in the dead of Winter in northern Minnesota. The men went down to the mill to get raw lumber, obtained tar paper and nails, and proceeded to build a house.

The family arrived to a house with one room that smelled of the fresh cut lumber. Eventually, Charlie would build four more rooms. There were three beds in three bedrooms: The four younger girls shared one, the two younger brothers shared another, and Naomi and Charlie shared the third. Charlie built the bunk beds himself, and would put hay on the beds in place of mattresses. They set the house two carsí width from the road (separated by a ditch) on 40 acres of land. They bought the land for $1 per acre, and the price included timber, water and mineral rights. The property taxes levied upon it would eventually go delinquent.

Togo was a one-horse, one-stop town located in northern Minnesota with long, freezing winters. It had one general store combination post office at its center, the Gateway tavern one mile down the road, and a grade school (up to 8th Grade) one mile in the other direction. There was a handful of houses scattered in between, but no other businesses. Everyone else lived in the woods.

Naomi and Charlie Powers
Naomi (42) and
Charlie (61) Powers,
Togo, Minnesota, 1955

Most families were poor and worked hard to make ends meet. The men in the Powers family, like many others, worked in timber camps during the week and returned home for the weekend. Payday was Friday and they would bring home the groceries. The family subsisted for the most part on wild game. The men were good hunters and fishermen. They snared rabbits, shot small game with a .22, and deer with a lever-action 25/20 (Charlieís rifle). When the men werenít working timber, they would work any odd jobs they could find, including digging ditch and shoveling rock in the quarry.

Naomi didnít drive and couldnít socialize much because of her household duties. She cared for seven children, washed clothes and dishes by hand, tended a small garden, and cooked on a woodstove. They had no running water, and they would either have to haul water weekly from an artesian well two miles away, or melt snow from outside. Eventually, the family got a gas Maytag washer, but spent more time cranking it than washing. Later, they got an electric washer.

Charlie and Naomi gave their children a strict religious upbringing. Every Sunday, the family walked to church, which was 1,000 feet from the house. Cards were not allowed in the house, although a still was kept outside. The boys would make 180 proof moonshine from pig feed, oats and corn. Many of the men developed heavy drinking habits. Naomi never drank, nor cut her hair, and had a large birthmark on the side of her face. Charlie also taught his children that right was right and wrong was wrong. He taught them to respect their parents, protect the family and to fight for their country. The brothers didnít engage in athletics much with each other, because too much energy went into chopping wood and peeling pulp wood.

Pet Goat
Powers' pet goat,
Togo, Minn., 1955

Charlie once brought home a fawn, which the family raised as a pet. The game warden caught wind of it and told them it was illegal to keep such an animal, which caused a big ruckus. Finally, everyone agreed that the fawn would be taken to a state park and released. The girls also had a goat for a pet. The dogs would chase it to the top of the cars, where it would bleat.

Charlie had a talent for making things from simple tools. Paul was amazed at the sophistication of a drey used to haul logs that Charlie made from white birch and a bow saw and ax. Charlie went through third grade, and knew how to read, and he taught his children how to read from the Bible. On a visit to Togo in 1978, Earl Rumnus, ex-Togo postmaster/general storekeeper, and a long-time resident, told Paul with conviction that his dad "was in heaven because of Charlie Powers." One of Paulís earliest memories of his father as a child involved following him along a creek bed going fishing until they came to a boulder. Paul said, "What a yock, what a yock!," and Charlie picked him up and stood him on the boulder.

Charlie and Naomi in their kitchen
Charlie and Naomi Powers
in their kitchen,
Bemidji, Minn., 1958

During the course of their marriage, Naomi would threaten to leave Charlie after their children were grown. An uneven income did not help matters much, either. While Charlie was in Washington trying to earn some money working in the woods, Naomi went on welfare for food and survival. When Charlie returned, the welfare became a major point of contention because he was strongly opposed to it. After the house in Togo burned down a few months later on October 10, 1957, Charlie and Naomi went their separate ways, although they never divorced, because both did not believe in divorce. Naomi went to Bemidji, Minn., with Reba, and survived on state aid, and Aaron remained with Charlie in Togo. After the children left, Naomi remained in Bemidji until 1964, when she moved into an apartment in East Grand Forks, North Dakota, before entering a nursing home, because of advancing diabetes. She returned to Bemidji in 1993, and died on Nov. 17, 2000 at the Havenwood Care Center.

Charlie Powers headstoneCharlie lived briefly in Togo and Bemidji, where he stayed with Naomi for a short while, before returning to West Virginia. He lived with his first sons while his health failed. He died of complications from minerís black lung in Bluefield, W. Va., in 1964. He is buried near the church he helped build in Spruce Grove, W. Va.


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                                              /-- Walter Powers (b. c. 1639)
                                       /--- Jacob Powers (b. DEC 15 1679-Littleton, Mass.)
                                       |      |
                                       |      |           /-- Isaac Shepard
                                       |      |           |
                                       |      |     /-- Deacon Ralph Shepard (b. JUN 3 1606-London, England)
                                       |      |     |
                                       |      \-- Trial Shepard (b. FEB 10 1641-Weymouth, Norfolk, Mass.)
                                       |            |
                                       |            |           /-- Richard Lord
                                       |            |           |
                                       |            |     /-- Thomas Lord (b. c. 1585-Towchester, England)
                                       |            |     |     |
                                       |            |     |     \-- Joan (Lord)
                                       |            |     |
                                       |            \-- Thanks Ye The Lord (b. c. 1612-London, England)
                                       |                  |
                                       |                  \-- Dorothy Bird (b. MAY 25 1588-Towchester, England)
                                /--- Jonas Powers, Sr. (b. JUL 19 1719-Littleton, Mass.)
                                |      |
                                |      |           /-- Thomas Adams
                                |      |           |
                                |      |     /-- Jonathan Adams (b. JUN 6 1646-Concord, Mass.)
                                |      |     |     |
                                |      |     |     \-- Mary Blackmore
                                |      |     |
                                |      \-- Edith Gould Adams (b. DEC 1 1683)
                                |            |
                                |            |     /-- Francis Gould
                                |            |     |
                                |            \-- Leah Gould
                                |                  |
                                |                  \-- Rose (Gould)
                          /-- Jonas Powers, Jr. (b. JUN 13 1742)
                          |     |
                          |     \-- Mary Tryon
                    /-- Jonas Harmon Powers (b. c. 1778-Vermont)
                    |     |
                    |     |     /-- Reuben Harmon
                    |     |     |
                    |     \-- Jerusha Harmon
                    |           |
                    |           \-- Eunice Parsons
              /-- Forrest Meaker Powers (b. SEP 24 1794-Scott Co., Va.)
              |     |
              |     \-- Lucy Sperry (b. c. 1773)

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        /-- George Washington Powers (b. DEC 1831-Scott Co., Va.)
        |     |
        |     |           /-- James Alley
        |     |           |
        |     |     /-- Thomas Joseph Alley (b. c. 1755-Henrico Co., Va.)
        |     |     |     |
        |     |     |     \-- Frances (Alley)
        |     |     |
        |     \-- Mary (Polly) Alley (b. c. 1795)
        |           |
        |           \-- Mary (Alley)
  /-- Henry Hobart Powers (b. OCT 27 1861-Brestonbury, Ky.)
  |     |
  |     |     /-- James Kennedy (b. c. 1795-New York)
  |     |     |
  |     \-- Catherine Kennedy (b. MAR 1832-Grayson Co., Va.)
  |           |
  |           \-- Elizabeth Martin (b. Grayson Co., Va.)
Charles Wesley Powers (b. SEP 1 1893-Whitesburg, Ky.)
  |                 /-- Mary (Polly) Bevins (b. c. 1796)
  |                 |
  |           /-- George Washington Bevins (b. c. 1822, Virginia)
  |           |     |
  |           |     \-- Abraham Compton
  |           |
  |     /-- Charles (Dick) Wesley Bevins (b. MAR 1849-Russell County, Va.)
  |     |     |
  |     |     |     /-- Emanuel Hutchinson
  |     |     |     |
  |     |     \-- Elizabeth Hutchinson (b. c. 1828, Virginia)
  |     |           |
  |     |           \-- Nancy Carter
  |     |
  \-- Ida Belle Bevins (b. NOV 7 1872-Wise County, Va.)
        |           /-- Rawley Duncan Stallard
        |           |
        |     /-- Duncan Alan Stallard (b. JAN 11 1815, Clinch River, Scott Co., Va.)
        |     |     |
        |     |     \-- Mary Elizabeth Hutchinson
        |     |
        \-- Mary Louisa Stallard (b. NOV 1852-Russell County, Va.)
              |     /-- Tandy Welch
              |     |
              \-- Mary Elizabeth Addington (b. APR 5 1818, Virginia)
                    \-- Margaret Addington
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     George Powers                                Born:
     Melvin Patton Powers                         Born:  JUN 17 19??
       | William Powers                           Born:  
       | Barbara Powers                           Born:  
       | Pot Powers                               Born:  
       | Jody Powers                              Born:  
       | Bette Powers                             Born:  
       | Charles Powers                           Born:  
       | Peter Powers                             Born:  
     Joseph Powers                                Born:
     Frank Church Powers, Sr.                     Born:
     Luther Powers                                Born:  MAY 12 19??
       | Linda Powers                             Born:  
       | Mark Powers                              Born:  
       | Peggy Powers                             Born:  
       | Judy Powers                              Born:  
       | Freddie Powers                           Born:  
     Ruth Lena Powers                             Born:   MAR 4 1935 Hampton Roads, W. Va.
       | Carol Ruth (Norvold) Reuter              Born:  NOV 29 1956 Bemidji, Minn.
       | Steven Richard Norvold                   Born:  DEC 30 1958 Grand Forks, N. Dakota
       | Daniel Reinhart Norvold                  Born:  DEC 28 1963 Grand Forks, N. Dakota
     William Wesley Powers                        Born:  JUN 12 1936 Marytown, W. Va.
       | Lavonne Gay (Powers) Wooten              Born:  AUG 10 1963
       |   | Joshua William Connell Wooten        Born:  JUL 26 1990
       |   | Jacqueline Nicole Wooten             Born:  MAR 31 1993
       |   | Jillian Faye Wooten                  Born:  JAN  4 1995
       | Charlene Joy (Powers) Sharp              Born:  NOV 10 1964
       |   | Sarah Marie Sharp                    Born:  OCT 11 1991
       |   | Jared Daniel Sharp                   Born:  NOV 25 1997
       | Marvin Wesley Powers                     Born:  NOV 19 1968
     Paul Benjamin Powers, Sr.                    Born:  JAN 12 1938 Pineville, W. Va.
       | Charles Henry Powers                     Born:  AUG 29 1961 Long Beach, Calif.
       |   | Benjamin Patrick Powers              Born:  MAR 26 1989 Leiderdorp, Holland
       |   | Suzanne Elaine Powers                Born:   MAY 3 1992 Clackamas, Ore.
       |   |   | Johnathan Charles Powers         Born:  SEP 21 2010 Clackamas, Ore.
       | Kevin James Powers                       Born:  JAN 20 1963 National City, Calif.
       |   | Patrick Daniel Powers                Born:  NOV 21 1985 Portland, Ore.
       |   | Jennifer Carmen Powers               Born:   JUN 3 1988 Bad Kissingen, Germany
       |   | Melissa Stephanie Powers             Born:  JAN 26 1991 Bad Neustadt, Germany
       |   | Natasha Powers                       Born:  SEP 30 1996 Bad Brueckenau, Germany
       | Dorine Jeanette Powers                   Born:   FEB 8 1965 Pleasanton, Calif.
       |   | Rachael Cherie Sorrels               Born:  NOV 24 1994 Portland, Ore.
       |   |   | Landon Michael Foster            Born:  FEB 28 2016 Oregon City, Ore.
       | Benita Lynn Powers                       Born:  MAR 27 1966 Pleasanton, Calif.
       | Cynthia Rae Powers                       Born:   OCT 6 1968 Jacksonville, Fla.
       | Elena Rose Marie Powers                  Born:   SEP 6 1970 Jacksonville, Fla.
       | Paul Benjamin Powers, Jr.                Born:  OCT 17 1972 Jacksonville, Fla.
     Ruby Rachael Powers                          Born:  MAY 13 1941 Pineville, W. Va.
       | Lenora Wakeman                           Born:  JUN 17 1964
       | Dwaine Wakeman                           Born:  DEC 12 1969
     Rena Elizabeth Powers                        Born:  JUL 27 1942 Pineville, W. Va.
     Aaron Powers                                 Born:  MAR 10 1944 Wilmore, W. Va.
       | Matthew Aaron Powers                     Born:  MAR 19 1971 Bemidji, Minn.
       |   | Jasmine Bonnie Anne Powers           Born:  JUL 12 1994 Bemidji, Minn.
       | Mark Arnold Powers                       Born:  AUG 17 1975 Bemidji, Minn.
       |   | Faryn Powers                         Born:  NOV 10 1991 Bemidji, Minn.
       |   | Aaryn Powers                         Born:  MAR  3 1995 Bemidji, Minn.
       |   | Marcus Powers                        Born:  MAY 23 1996 Bemidji, Minn.
       |   | Cade Matthew Powers                  Born:  Jan  6 2003 Bemidji, Minn.
       | Anne Marie Powers                        Born:  JUN 12 1978 Bemidji, Minn.
     Reba LoJean Powers                           Born:  MAY 27 1946 Wilmore, W. Va.
       | Eunice Mackey                            Born:  APR 20 1972
       |   |   |  |

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