Portrait from the History of West Virginia, Old and New, 1923.
We continue our month-long trek through West Virginia and today focus on the life of Kreider Henry Stover, a longtime railway official in that state. In addition to a lengthy service as agent for both the West Maryland Railway and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Stover served one term in his state's house of delegates and in 1922 was an unsuccessful aspirant for the U.S. House of Representatives from West Virginia's 2nd congressional district. A native of the Keystone State, Kreider Henry Stover was born in Coburn, Pennsylvania on July 12, 1873, the son of George Washington and Malinda (Kreider) Stover. Stover's early life was spent on his family's farm and in the late 1880s attended the Palatinate College in Myerstown, Pennsylvania.
Kreider Stover first entered the workforce at age seventeen, accepting an office post in the A. Pardee & Company, a coal mining outfit in Luzerne County. He remained in their employ until his resignation in 1893, whereafter he returned to his studies, enrolling at the Franklin Marshall College in Lancaster. He would leave school in 1896 to begin a career in railroad work, first joining the Pennsylvania Railway Company, with which he would be affiliated with until 1900. Kreider Stover married in Coburn, Pennsylvania on September 28, 1898, to Bertha Young (1876-1923), to whom he was wed for nearly twenty-five years. The couple had no children of their own, but would later adopt a son, Allen Graham Stover (1910-1958).
In 1900 Kreider Stover and his wife left Pennsylvania for West Virginia, and, seeing lucrative opportunities in that state's lumber industry, Stover sought out work in that field, eventually becoming the manager for the Hosterman Lumber Company in Pocahontas County. He remained here until 1904, and during his residency in that county served as a delegate to the Republican County Convention of 1902 and was named as U.S. Postmaster at Collins in March 1903. Following his removal to Elkins, West Virginia in 1904 Stover continued his rise through the ranks of the lumber business, founding the Stover Lumber Company. His time in Elkins also saw him publish the West Virginia Lumberman and National Wholesaler newsletter, and from 1904 to 1908 held the presidency of the West Virginia Sawmill Association.
In 1908, Stover resumed railroad work, joining the Western Maryland Railway Company as its agent at Rolling Creek Junction. Stover would subsequently be posted in several other West Virginia towns during his decade-long tenure with that railway and held additional posts, including telegrapher, operator, and yardmaster. In the late 1910s Stover resettled in Mineral County, West Virginia, and in November 1918 was elected as a Republican to the state house of delegates, defeating Democrat J.O. Lantz by a vote of 1,429 to 527. During the 1919-21 session, Stover chaired the committee on Labor and held seats on the committees on Railroads, and Printing and Contingent Expenses. Remarked as having had an "unusual record of useful service" during his one term in office, Stover introduced the bill that would become the West Virginia Child Labor Law and supported both prohibition and the right for women to vote.
Towards the end of his legislative term, Stover resigned from the Western Maryland Railway and in 1920 entered into the post of agent for the Baltimore and Ohio Railway at Keyser. He returned to political life in 1922 when he announced that he'd be seeking the nomination for U.S. Representative from West Virginia's 2nd congressional district. In that year's primary season Stover's candidacy (along with his previous experience in the legislature and railroading) were touted in the Railroad Telegrapher, which noted:
"Brother Stover is a member of the O.R.T. and has proven his ability, faithfulness and integrity as a member of the State Legislature. He is no "new hand" at the job of fighting labor's battles, and fighting them ably and well. His experience and ability fit him for the office of Congressman, and his well-known fealty to the cause of the people; his fearlessness and knowledge prove that when you elect him he will serve YOU and not your enemies....If Wall Street desires representation in Congress, let Wall Street vote for Mr. Bower. If you want to be represented vote for Brother Stover, and get all your friends and acquaintences to do likewise."Stover's opponent in the 1922 primary was George Meade Bowers (1863-1925), the three-term Republican incumbent. On primary election day in August of that year, it was Bowers who won out in the vote count, polling over 8,000 votes, nearly five thousand more than Stover. Despite his primary victory, Bowers would go on to lose the general election that November to Democrat Robert E.L. Allen, a former city judge in Morgantown.
Following his congressional defeat, Stover would be elected as the Mayor of Keyser, West Virginia (serving from 1925-27) and also maintained memberships in the Masonic order and the Knights of Pythias. Widowed in 1923, Kreider Henry Stover died on July 20, 1928, in Keyser, eight days following his 55th birthday. He was later interred alongside his wife Bertha at the Queens Meadow Point Cemetery in Keyser.
From the Baltimore and Ohio Magazine, April 1922.