"Thelma Skeeter"


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The Poca Post is pleased to announce a commemorative issue in honor of Miss Thelma Skeeter.

Thelma Skeeter, the daughter of a Hardshell Baptist preacher, grew up in the Poca River Valley near what is now Pocatalico, West Virginia. There were two books in her childhood home: the Bible and Edmund Drake’s “Animal Husbandry in Norfolk.” These two books fostered an undying love for books of all kinds. Upon the completion of her studies in the local one-room schoolhouse, Thelma began to dream about a community library. Between the years 1822 and 1825, she traveled to distant points such as Ripley and Charleston in search of books for her library.

Her ardent efforts were rewarded by gifts of numerous books. These were transported back to Pocatalico, and stored in the back room of her father’s church. She made her books available to anybody who wished to borrow them for a very small rental fee. In time, her father came to see that the book rental was bringing in more money than the Sunday offering, so he allowed Thelma to convert the Pocatalico Hardshell Baptist Church into the Pocatalico Public Library in 1829. This was the first public library west of the Appalachian Mountains.

Spinster Skeeter, as she had come to be called, continued to develop her library for over 50 years. In late June, 1876, lightning hit the steeple of the library, causing a most destructive fire. Spinster Skeeter was never able to recover from the shock of the loss, and died in February of 1877 holding to her bosom a well worn copy of “Animal Husbandry in Norfolk.”. She is fondly remembered in the area for her great contribution to the early culture of the Poca River Valley.

The stamps is issued in a pane of 12 stamps in the denomination of 19 pu.

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