One of the most noteworthy stories to ever come across the pages of the Alleghany Times News, now the Alleghany News, was the death of a local school girl in the Saddle Mountain community. Her name was Elva Brannock. Her story is unique in the sense that it was never solved, and no one was ever officially charged with her death.
Elva Brannock lived in the Saddle Mountain community with her family. Her father was a farmer, and her mother a homemaker having raised eight children. Elva attended Dividing Ridge School located just 2 miles from her home. It was only a matter of days before Elva was found and newspapers from around the state, and as far north as Massachusetts learned of the case.
A local resident Mrs. Dorothy Shaw told of her mother, Rosa Killian, remembering Elva. “I was born in 1936 and mama said she was afraid to stay there by herself. Daddy worked away on heavy equipment and she was there by herself with just me and her and she said she would lock the doors every day because there was so many strange people working on the Parkway. She was afraid someone might come to the house and her not know it. So, she kept the doors locked all the time when I was just a baby and a young child.”
Mrs. Shaw’s comments capture the sort of impact this young woman’s murder had on an entire community. It shook Alleghany County to the core, and proof of this can be found years later in the 1960s when Sheriff Joe Roberts questioned another suspect in the case. But, of this much I am certain, Elva Brannock and her family felt the outreaching of their community. 200 volunteers came to their aid, many leaving their Parkway jobs to help tend the search, and ten Sheriff’s in all attempted to solve the case.
Shaw, Dorothy, personal interview, February 9, 2010.
Zabriskie, H B. Alleghany Times-News, 1937