Harman Frank Groves

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
March 18, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 346-347

HARMAN FRANK GROVES. The superintendent of schools
of Grant County, Harman Frank Groves, represents one of
the old and honored families of this region of West Vir-
ginia, his remote ancestor and the family founder here
being his great-grandfather, Noah Groves. Noah Groves
traced his genealogy back to the Saxons, where the name
seems to have started with the Groffs, then was corrupted or
changed to Graves, again changed to Grove, and finally to
its present spelling, Groves. They have been strictly farm-
ers and rural people through the generations to the present,
and have invariably followed rural pursuits until the present
generation of John Groves, some of whose children have
departed from family traditions and customs and allied
themselves with professional vocations.

Harman Frank Groves of this review was born in the
“Ridge country,” six miles northwest of Petersburg, Grant
County, and there resided until nearly reaching his major-
ity. His grandfather, Alex Groves, was born in 1814, in
Grant County, West Virginia, and followed farming
throughout his career in Grant County, where he was a
pioneer. His industry gained him independent means, and
in his daily life he so comported himself as to gain the
confidence and esteem of his associates. He died suddenly
when sixty-five years of age. Politically he was a repub-
lican. He and his worthy wife were the parents of the
following children: Ellen, who died of diphtheria when six
years of age; Ashford, a farmer in the “Ridge” section
of Grant County; George, who spent his life in the locality
of his birth and died there; Joseph, who spent his life as
a stockman and shipper, and died from an injury received
while following his daily occupations; Abel, who was a
farmer in the “Ridge” locality and there died; John, the
father of Harman F. Groves, and Annie, who married C. H.
Feaster and died in Grant County.

John Groves was born near the foothills of the Alle-
ghany Mountains in Grant County, March 4, 1865, and
has spent his entire life within a few miles of his birth-
place. He is a product of the country school, and during
his active years he applied himself industriously to the
cultivation of his acres, but is now in retirement and a
resident of Petersburg. He has demonstrated his good
citizenship in a number of ways and has acquired local
influence which he exerts in behalf of those he deems
worthy of support, and in politics is a stanch republican.
He has made no public avowal of membership in any re-
ligious body and has no fraternal affiliations. Mr. Groves
married Miss Mahala Jane Phares, who was born near
Spruce Mountain in Pendleton County, West Virginia, a
daughter of William Phares and his wife, who had been
a Miss Mallow. The Mallows were an old-time pioneer
family of Pendleton County, where members of the family
had resided since the days of Indian warfare. To Mr. and
Mrs. Groves there were born the following children: Myrtle
Alice, who is the wife of C. O. Turner, of Forman, Grant
County; Harman Prank, of this review; Bertha Susan, the
wife of Earl Trenton, of Keyser, West Virginia; Nellie,
who married H. C. Trenton, of Cumberland, Maryland;
Clarence B., who is identified with the “Ridge” community
as a farmer; Gracie, who was the wife of Jesse Idleman,
of Scherr, West Virginia; Thomas, who is engaged in agri-
cultural operations on the old home place; Edith, wife of
Olin Weese, now a resident farmer of Monticello, Indiana,
and Johnnie, who died in infancy.

Harman Frank Groves was born August 4, 1888, and
secured his education in the country schools and a normal
school in Grant County. He was only seventeen years of age
when he was given his first charge as a teacher, the Burgess
School, and for five years thereafter he continued in rural
school work. He then entered the Shepherdstown State
Normal School, where he took one year’s work, but the
constant confinement and too close application to his studies
caused his health to fail, and he was forced to spend two
years in recuperating his strength. At this time Mr.
Groves was elected county superintendent of schools, and
while engaged in the duties of the office, traveling about
the county and being in the open air, where he encountered
new scenes and had new experiences, he recovered normal
health, and still continues his supervision work over Grant
County. He has not given up the idea of the completion of
a college course for himself, as he is carrying on a corre-
spondence course, is a student at St. John’s Academy, and
is a teacher in its normal training course. He will have
attained his ambition and hold a diploma of the Shep-
herdstown Normal School by 1924.

Mr. Groves was elected county superintendent to com-
plete the unexpired term of Superintendent Slusher in 1912.
He was elected to the office in 1914, and again in 1918, his
present term expiring in July, 1923. His administration
has been characterized by an intense interest in the prog-
ress and effectiveness of the public schools, in the training
of teachers for better service and creating a higher spirit
of citizenship for the county than it has shown heretofore.
While he was filling the unexpired term of his predecessor
he carried through the latter’s plans and policies, which
included the building of country school libraries and the
improvement of teachers’ institutes. His own plans include
increasing the efficiency of the teaching force through such
means of professional growth as organized reading circle
work, and the reading of professional magazines and books
and papers on educational subjects. Also to change the
character of the local teachers’ institute work in order to
provide for the presentation of some of the most vital
local phases of the educational question, such as improving
school property with regard to the character and type of
buildings, better school attendance, increased efficiency on
the part of teachers and a closer intimacy and more vital
relationship between the public school and the home.

As proof of the practicability of his plans the results
worked out show the organizations are formed and doing
systematic reading circle work; that a large number of up-
to-date and approved school buildings have been erected;
that the character of institute work is attracting a wide
interest among the teachers; that educational meetings,
with special speakers, are arranged and carried out from
year to year; that unified action on the part of the school
boards has been brought about through county board con-
ferences, and that many teachers have been encouraged to
enroll in accredited schools and colleges.

At this time the main objective of Mr. Groves as county
superintendent of schools is the establishment of a perma-
nent teachers’ training school at the county seat, one within
easy reach of the teachers of Grant, Pendleton, Hardy and
Hampshire counties. A temporary school of this nature is
already in operation and is accomplishing gratifying re-
sults. Also, it is his ambition to equip teachers, first, pro-
fessionally for their work as such; second, to enable them
to meet the legal requirements of school legislation; and,
last but not least, to increase the efficiency of citizenship
as a means of the solution of the problems of our complex
rural social life. All of this tends to prepare the county for
rural school consolidation, the realization of which is in the
not far distant future.

In the matter of interesting pupils of the county in farm
club work Mr. Groves has not failed to give encouragement
and support to the establishment of many girls’ and boys’
clubs, and, likewise, community clubs for parents. While
this work is directed by the county agricultural agent, it
could not have accomplished the results shown to date
without the cooperation of the school superintendent. Grant
County has already sent prize-winning pupils to the prize-
winners’ course at West Virginia University, Morgantown,
and the interest in scientific farming and in the raising of
blooded live stock has been wonderfully stimulated thereby.
Mr. Groves was the prime mover in the establishment of
the farm bureau in Grant County. In company with the
state organizer of this movement he drove all over the
county, encouraging the farmers everywhere to subscribe
to the movement.

Mr. Groves’ active work as a citizen and community man
has not stopped with his labors in behalf of the schools.
He is identified with church and Sabbath school work, for
five years has been president of the Grant County Sunday
School Association, and has assisted actively in building
up the work of the Sunday school here to the point where
it is about to be a “front line” county, lacking only, at
this time, eight organized classes in as many additional
schools. In politics Mr. Groves is a republican by birth,
training and conviction, but has not engaged in professional
polities. He has been elected superintendent of schools
three times on his personal merits, and supports every good
measure and movement for the upbuilding of civic, moral
and educational life.

On December 25, 1916, Mr. Groves married at Riverton,
West Virginia, Miss Catherine Harman, who was born
February 21, 1891, a daughter of John A. and Izurna
(Dove) Harman, natives of Pendleton County. Mr. Harman
is a merchant and farmer of Riverton, and represents a
pioneer family of Pendleton County. His children are:
Bessie, the wife of Curtis Hammer, of Cumberland, Mary-
land; Fred D., of Elkins, West Virginia; Catherine, who
is now Mrs. Groves; Dr. Robert, who graduated from Mary-
land University in 1922 and is now engaged in the prac-
tice of medicine, and Curtis, who is interested in the mer-
cantile business with his father. Mr. and Mrs. Groves are
the parents of one son, John Harman, born April 13, 1918.