At the Ronceverte City Council meeting on Feb. 1, the Ronceverte Historic Landmarks Commission held a dedication ceremony of two bronze markers commemorating the Townley family for over 70 years of retail leadership in Ronceverte.
The Townley family is an institution in the River City. Five brothers, William, Lawrence, Julian James, Walter and Earlie Townley came to Ronceverte in 1901 and started a dry goods business. The brothers were to have businesses in Ronceverte and Alderson and provided goods to other businesses throughout the area.
William and Earlie served on the city council in 1903-1904, and 1907-1908 respectively. Buying out the former Rodes and Company store on Main Street and Railroad Avenue, William was to manage the Ronceverte store until his death in 1907 when Julian James took over management of the location and created J. J. Townley and Company. In 1928, in keeping with the changes in the retail world, the store became a 5¢-10¢ and $1. J. J. Townley’s children, James, Mildred and J. Gordon were to continue the store until James closed the store in the late 1970s.
“There isn’t a person over the age of 40 who doesn’t remember fondly the Townley Five and Dime,” says Mayor David Smith. “We are excited tonight to have Townley and her son, Lawson, here to unveil these bronze plaques in honor of their family. These individuals were Lawson’s, great-great grandfather and great-great uncles, and we are so proud of what his family means to Ronceverte”
Townley Hamilton, granddaughter of James Townley, commented during the presentation, “I remember the best times when growing up were coming to Ronceverte and being in “Papa’s” store. I enjoyed going to Island Park to play Putt-Putt golf and swimming at the pool. Lawson and I greatly appreciate the honor the town is giving us today with the dedication of these wonderful markers.”
The Historic Marker program was created by the Ronceverte Historic Landmarks Commission as a way to pay homage to the business leaders who helped to create Ronceverte and made it the commercial center of the county during the last century. These markers are being placed along the sidewalk to indicate what businesses occupied the buildings and their importance to the community. Plans are to create a marker trail throughout the town for visitors to become informed of the historic significance of the businesses to Ronceverte and the county.