MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) dedicated what leaders are calling the most important piece of infrastructure after former slave and African-American entrepreneur John Edwards.

More than 20 family members from all over the country came to the dedication ceremony on Don Knotts Boulevard on Thursday.

The four-mile, 30-inch raw water line from the Flegal Reservoir to the MUB Water Treatment Plant on Don Knotts Boulevard now carries his name. MUB General Manager Mike McNulty explained the line is the link to 30-days of fresh water for the community if there were ever a disaster similar to the 2014 Elk River chemical spill. McNulty said the line is in use and is currently delivering 10 million gallons of fresh water to the system each day.

“He started a water business, McNulty said. “He hauled water from the Monongahela River and Deckers Creek to customers and charged a little more for the Deckers Creek because it was a little harder to do.”

Great-great-grandson Ed Bolden is a Bronze Star recipient from the Vietnam War and is currently retired after a 40-year career with FedEx. When Bolden returned home from Vietnam in 1969, he said his first stop was the Edwards family home on White Avenue to see his great-grandmother. He said the lessons he learned from both of them have been key to his successes in life.

Mr. Edwards operated the water service from 1865 to around 1885, when the city started a water utility. His son then started a garbage business that thrived for more than three decades before the city went into the sanitation business.

“If you fall, get up and try it again until you succeed,” Bolden said. “Give advice to young people and try to help people when you see they’re a little wobbly on their feet.”

Greenmont resident Adelheid Schaupp now owns the property that belonged to James Edwards, John’s son, and was built next to the original family home on White Avenue. During school segregation, the large Edwards family home was also used as a school for African-American children. The home has been renovated by Schaupp, and the artifacts that were found are now at the West Virginia Regional History Center at West Virginia University.

“There was an old desk; I found an old chalkboard and lots of ledgers from where James kept records of the garbage business,” Schaupp said.

Pamela Bellamy is a great-great-granddaughter who remembers visiting the family on White Avenue as she was growing up. From Arlington, Virginia, and now living in Indianapolis, she said she always stops in Morgantown on the way home.

“It was wonderful, and it brought back a lot of memories,” Bellamy said. “On White Avenue, there were a lot of family members, and we would go from house to house and see everybody; it was a lot of fun.”

Bolden said the home on White Avenue, which was once a segregated school, was also a hub for activities in the community.

“They had movies there at one time,” Bolden said. “I remember going to the movies and playing up there at the school when I was a child.”