West Virginia ECV Lodge #1

Ephraim's Clamping Vipers

It is known to all brothers of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus that this organization was founded in the New World by Ephraim Bee of Lewisport, Doddridge County, (then) Virginia somewhere around 1845.  What is not known is that the old original Lodge is still alive, but barely.  From the days when Ephraim Bee formed this order in his own Beehive Tavern, it has lived on thru the years and still survives today through his third great grandson, Gregg Dulaney Smith and a few others who are in the twilight years of their lives.  Initiations have been few and far between over the years, since most of the West Virginia Clampers were passed from father to son.  The Lodge has been carried mostly by the Bee Family and their descendants.   In the case of Gregg, the line carried on from Ephraim, started with his son, Amos.  Amos' daughter, Genevra Bee, married Johnston Benjamin Smith in 1885 and Johnston was initiated into the Lodge.  Johnston's son, Paul Amos Smith was next to be enlightened by his Uncle, Amos Alonzo Bee and Paul in turn initiated his grandson, Gregg.  Gregg actually initiated his father, another Paul Amos, in recent years.  Gregg's father, Paul Amos Smith Jr. now lives in the Los Gatos, Ca. and owns land at Boulder Creek in Branciforte Territory.

Ephraim moved to Virginia when he was nineteen years old. He was a self made man, having but four months of schooling in all his life.  In 1828 Ephraim & Catherine Davis established a home on Meathouse Fork of Middle Island Creek, now West Union, West Virginia. At the age of 60 he became a candidate for the First West Virginia Legislature in 1863, at Wheeling, the first Capitol. His opponent was Joseph H. Diss Debar, a talented French Alsatian who had settled in the country previously an artist who drew caricature sketches of Ephraim Bee and these are now in the State Capitol at Charleston, WV.  Diss Debarr was apparently elected and presented himself at Wheeling on June 20, 1863 to take his seat.   Ephraim Bee also presented himself, filed his petition contesting the seat of Mr. Diss Debarr.   A committee of the house passed on the merits and the claims of each and reported in favor of Mr. Bee.  
Honorable Ephraim Bee of Doddridge County was a farmer, blacksmith,  proprietor of Beehive Tavern, land dealer, United States Postmaster for West Union and member of the 1st. Legislature, in 1863.
Also, Grand Gyascutus of the Ancient Order of E Clampus Vitus, a secret order for playing jokes, which he originated about 1845 and initiated all prominent people at Richmond, Virginia, when he was sent there on a political mission.  Diss Debarr was not entirely overlooked. Being an artist, he was commissioned to design the State Seal for The State of West Virginia, which is still being used without change.  Ephraim Bee was twice returned to the Capitol at Wheeling 1866 - 1867 and then retired from public life. He is buried under a beautiful monument at Cabin Run Cemetery, with his second wife, Mary Welch, near where they lived.


Stephen R. Myers, Clampbassador, Ephraim's Vipers #1

Dated this 28th Day of April in the Clamp year 6007


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