On Sept. 21, 19611, the town of Oakland, Maryland (100 miles south of
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), celebrated the 100th birthday of Alonzo Drake Naylor.
A week-long slate of activities were arranged by townspeople. Four generations
of Naylors (Howard Naylor is a grandson) were on hand to help with the
festivities. The celebration included a dinner in AD Naylor's honor by the
Rotary club, a reception at the local Methodist church where he had sung in the
choir since 1894, and an exhibit of farm equipment. An operating blacksmith shop
similar to the one used by Mr. Naylor in 1860 was constructed, and he shoed a
pair of horses from the shop. He was on a radio station being interviewed during
the regular new's broadcast on the day of his birthday.
During this interview he talked of his early business and the economy.
Mr. Naylor recalled he got 90 cents for shoeing a horse, $6.00 for new steel
tires for four buggy wheels with 70 drilled holes and the same number of bolts.
He built wagons for a number of years with two assistants. At that time dressed
pork sold for $4 per hundred, hind quarters of beef at 5 cents a pound, butter 8
and 10 cents and eggs the same per dozen. Corn from a railroad car sold at 30
cents a bushel and oats 20 cents. Labor was 50 cents to $1 a day with mechanics
being paid $1.75 to $2.00.
In 1954, when he turned age 70, he offered every customer, aged 70, a dollar
in merchandise in his hardware store. Also, a set of horseshoes was given to
every horse in the area.
AD, as even his grandchildren called him, was born just as the Civil War was
getting under way. He was the son of Jacob and Eliza Ann Drake Naylor. His
father was a blacksmith, and AD began his apprenticeship as a blacksmith at the
age of 16. After four years he earned the title of blacksmith, stayed briefly in
Keyser, West Virginia and then went to Oakland, Maryland. He bought a blacksmith
shop from Leah Richardson Sincell. Later he bought a lot from Henry Weber on
which he built, in 1898, a structure that was enlarged over the years to a
store. For many years, his brother, Ellsworth Naylor, was in business with him.
Along with the blacksmith shop, they sold farm implements, horse drawn plows,
harrows, binders, and reapers
Mr. Naylor built his first home with lumber and supplies obtained by
bartering stock from his store. He was twice married: first to Artie Bartlett of
Newburg, West Virginia. They had two sons, Paul B. and Arthur E. . Artie died
March 4, 1890. AD later married Mary Odell Townshend of Oakland. They had five
children Playford Alonzo, S. Towhshend, Mary Drake Bennett, and Rebecca Davis
Wareham. A son, Justus Odell died in infancy. This second wife died just before
Mr. Naylor's, hundredth birthday.
A lifelong Republican, he served in the city council of Oakland, and also as
State Senator four years, two terms, for the Maryland House of Delegates. He was
a director of the First National Bank and its president from 1941 to the time of
this birthday. At that time he was the oldest bank president in the United
States. His first work in Oakland was to repair a three-seated wagon for a
George D. White. The first horse he shod was for Nathan Casteel. He did a
thriving business, especially with vacationers who came to the area for the
summer months where the cool mountain air was a respite from the hot cities with
no air conditioning.
Mr. Naylor attributed his good health and longevity to temperate habits. He
believed his business success was the result of a driving energy and respect for
an honest day's work. "There was an integrity and reliability about his business dealings that brought and held his customers," according to George Littman who directed the bank's daily services.
The above was largely taken from the Republican newspaper of September 21,
MEMORIES OF A. D from grandchildren and others:
From his oldest grandson, Howard Drake Naylor:
One of my earliest memories of grandpa was sitting on his lap at the store or
in his home playing with his short fingers. He had chopped them off just back of
the first joint dressing a chicken for Sunday dinner. I liked to feel the stumps
with my hand as he would playfully twitch it or pull it away. Before leaving he
would always give me a penny, later a a nickel; always gave me $5 or more for my
birthday. He got me a piggy bank and encouraged me to open a bank account at the
First National Bank. What a thrill when I took the piggy bank to the real bank
where they opened it with a key and counted the money. They gave me a deposit
slip, and I continued this all the way through school.
When I got my driver's license at age 16, I used to drive AD around the
country to look at properties. On one occasion, we stopped at a log cabin on
Glendale Road, owned by a hunchback dwarf named Mr. Loughry. He wanted to
mortgage the place. Grandpa said," Howard you should buy this place." I did with
$400 I had saved in my piggy bank, birthday gifts, and working at the store. I
earned $3.oo a week, later $5. I was only getting $15 when I married Audrey
during my senior year at West Virgina Wesleyan.
I was less than a model child, one of the less severe punishments was to stay
in our yard after school for a week. Nowadays, they call that grounding. In
athletics I always won my event in county track meets. This meant a trip to
Baltimore to compete for state where I always finished last. Another punishment
was to tell me there would be no trip to enter the track meet in Baltimore.
Grandpa would take my dad into the back shop and over a period of discussion, he
would convince my dad that I should be able to go to Baltimore. (The fun time in
Baltimore was the trip to Carlin's Park and my discovery of roller coasters. I
spent all the money Grandpa gave me on the roller coasters. We bunked on cots in
the gym at the YMCA. The first few years we rode down on a hay-filled open
bedded truck. Later, we took school buses.) On a country road, I asked Grandpa
if he would like to drive. He started out too far on the left, and I told him to
move over. He quickly turned the steering wheel to the right, and we ran into a
bank. The Model A truck turned on its side. We walked to town, and I fully
expected another belt session from my dad. When Grandpa told his sons, Arthur,
Townie and Paul, they had a good laugh.
AD bought and sold many farms, always keeping the mineral rights. When gas
was discovered in the county he made quite a bit of money.
Grandpa loved to entertain at his home. He would call his wife, Mary, in the
middle of the afternoon telling her he was bringing several people to dinner.
She never complained. Many times Townie would drive over and pick me up to be
included in these dinner parties. It was there that I learned about oysters on
the half shell, in stew, or fried. I never lost my lust for Chesapeake Bay Blue
Grandpa liked to entertain visitors at the store. After he turned over the
business to his sons, he went into the store to his office every day almost
until his death at age 103. He would sit at his roll-top desk, fitted with many
drawers and file slots. He worked on his ledgers, wrote letters, and payed
bills. He had many mortgages, but when times were tough, he was lenient, seldom
foreclosed. Many customers wanted to see AD. They would go back, take a chair
next to his and exchange news. One of his visitors was old lady Pysell who
arrived most Saturdays in a horse drawn buggy. She wore six ankle-length
petticoats with a white shirt front. She had the misfortune to have a
basketball-sized goiter in her neck and her chin was covered with whiskers. She
used snuff, and the spittle would dribble out the side of her mouth.!!!