Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cephas Benjamin Moomaw (1849-1915)

Portrait from "the History of Roanoke County", published in 1912.

  What isn't funny about a name like Cephas Moomaw? This funny named man was a resident of Virginia for the entirety of his life and was regarded as a leading legal figure in the counties of Botetourt and Roanoke, serving as a city solicitor and circuit judge in the latter county. In 1913 Moomaw was elected as Mayor of Roanoke and served in this capacity until his death two years later. 
   One of twelve children born to Joseph and Mary Stover Moomaw, Cephas Benjamin Moomaw was born on October 23, 1849 in Botetourt County, Virginia. He was afforded a fine education in the "private schools" of his native county and on December 24, 1873 married to Sarah Elizabeth Mangus (1850-1926), with whom he had four children: Edith Mae (1874-1953), Annie Lillie (died in infancy in 1883), Hugh Mangus (1885-1959) and Joseph Frank (1894-1941).
   Moomaw began reading law in the early 1880s and after being admitted to the bar in 1882 began a law practice in the Botetourt County town of Fincastle. During his residency here he served as a supervisor and county school board member, and in 1887 relocated to Roanoke, Virginia. Soon after his arrival he launched a law partnership with John W. Woods (1858-1912), whom he would succeed as Mayor upon the latter's death in 1912. This partnership would continue for several years and in 1897 Moomaw entered into the office of Roanoke City Solicitor, serving in that post until 1905. 
   In 1905 Moomaw was appointed by then Virginia Governor Andrew J. Montague to a vacancy on the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court of Virginia. At the expiration of that term Moomaw returned to practicing law, operating the firm of C.B. and H.M. Moomaw with his son Hugh Mangus, who would later become a distinguished attorney in his own right.
   On December 23, 1912 Moomaw's former law partner, Judge John William Woods, died at age 54. Woods had been elected as Mayor of Roanoke in September 1912 and served only three months in office before his death. In February 1913 Cephas Moomaw was elected "by the people" to succeed him, and, like Woods, would serve only a short period of time. Several months prior to his death Moomaw entered into a state of declining health and a day prior to his passing was admitted to a Roanoke hospital, afflicted with gallstones. Moomaw underwent surgery but failed to rally from his illness, dying on October 18, 1915, five days short of his 66th birthday. Following his passing the former mayor was interred at the Evergreen Burial Park in Roanoke and was survived by his wife Sarah and three of his children.

Mayor Moomaw, portrait courtesy of webcemeteries.com

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