{The following taken from, Aunt Mary, Remembrances of Mary Purdy McCune, author Mary W. McCune, published Jan. 2006. This complete family history book, which also includes many photos can be located from this website under family histories, the McCune surname in a pdf file format. Thanks to Duncan and Mary McCune for their kindness in sharing this wonderful part of history with our chapter for our newsletter and website. We hope many will benefit from their willingness to share.}
Mary was born May 24, 1892 in Brilliant, Ohio and died Feb. 2, 1975 in Beaver, PA. Mary’s father was Samuel James McCune (born Mar. 10, 1863). All the families, including the McCunes, Knoxes, Purdys and Medills lived on both sides of the Ohio River for several generations.

Mary was the middle child between two brothers in a family that stressed the value of learning and education. Samuel encouraged his children to pursue their interest in learning and sacrificed to see that they went to excellent colleges. Mary went to the Brilliant schools for the lower grades. The high school at that time was located in Steubenville so she would take the inter-urban train back and forth. 

From there Mary entered Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. This was a small woman’s college under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church. Surely this experience was one of the defining moments in her life. After college Mary got a job teaching at Stephenson Seminary in Charles Town (Wellsburg) West Virginia teaching English and Latin. After two years she started teaching at her alma mater, the Steubenville High School in 1917. She loved teaching Geometry and in the spring of 1921 she was offered employment at Wilson College as the Alumnae Secretary where she served three years. Her primary job was to raise money for an endowment.

Following that she went to New York working for one of the Boards of the Presbyterian Church and attended Columbia University.  By 1926 she was looking for a job and landed a job at the Journal of Commerce newspaper in New York. She worked there for fifteen years.

On April 3, 1942 her father died suddenly so Mary left New York and came back to care for her mother. She was 50 years old and of course she needed a job and teaching was obviously what it would be. Her teaching certificate from years earlier was still good so she went to work at the Brilliant High School teaching mathematics. When she retired from teaching in 1957 she became the librarian at the Brilliant Branch Library at the foot of the hill where she lived.

{Photo – Mary Purdy McCune – 1913}

{Taken from two sources, Souvenir of Brilliant, Ohio, founded 1819, and The History of Jefferson Co. by Caldwell.}

Jefferson County was organized in 1797 but histories of Ohio tell us that Wells Township, a part of Warren Township until 1823, was settled earlier. A blockhouse was built at the mouth of Blockhouse Run, near the present site of the Tidd Plant of the Ohio Power Company, about 1790. And from the early days of the county there was a ferry across the Ohio River to Wellsburg (now West Virginia),  then called Charles Town, Virginia. Several roads led to the ferry, the most important coming over the hills of Cadiz.

There were early schools in the township but the first records date back to Sept. 15, 1826, when the trustees met at the house of the clerk, Robert A. Sherrard and divided the township into seven districts: No. 1 Point Finley: No. 2 Middle; No. 3 Jefferson; No. 4 Adams; No. 5 Monroe; No. 6 Center; and No. 7 Franklin. On March 3, 1845, District No. 8 was formed from residents of No. 4 and called La Grange. No. 9 Pleasant Hill was formed from parts of Wells and Cross Creek by April 1858. Joint districts No. 10 and 11 was formed on Sept. 17, 1878. It was called Blue’s Run, and was formed from Districts 2 and 3 in Wells and District 2 of Warren Twp. Brilliant then had a neat three room school house and others located in Section 36 of Range 1 and the following sections of the second range: 9 (Tarr), 10 (Salt Run), 11 (Riddle’s), 21 (Merryman), 22 (Runyon), 23 (Cusick), 24 (McIntyre), 29 (Willard), 30 (Cole), 34 (Sixsmith), 35 (Scott), 36 (Rose). 

{Blues Run Class – Taken November 20, 1908}
Photo donated by Terry and Tammy Hosenfeld

Some of the teachers of the earlier period were F.A. Kimball, Miss Jennie West, Ellis Dalrymple, and Charles Oliver.  In 1888 a four-room brick schoolhouse was built on Prospect St. and named the Washington Building. Three teachers were employed J.E. Scamahorn, Miss Jessie E. McCune and Miss Margaret West. Miss McCune and Miss West each taught in this school for over thirty years. In 1891 Mr. Scamahorn offered the first high school courses and in 1895 the first commencement was held with two students being graduated.  By 1902, due to the efforts of Professor W.I. Everson, classified the school for the first time.