Saturday, June 30, 2018

Montezuma White (1872-1945)

Portrait from the 1929 West Virginia Blue Book.

  Certainly one of the most unusually named public figures ever to grace the West Virginia political stage, Montezuma "M.Z." White indeed shares a name with that famed Mesoamerican emperor Montezuma (Moctezuma), the ruler of the Aztec empire during the early 16th century who met his end during the Spanish conquest of Mexico. A leading figure in the civic and political life of Mingo County, White served as mayor of Williamson (the Mingo County seat) and for four years was warden of the West Virginia State Penitentiary at Moundsville. A multi-term state senator, White's tenure in the Senate extended over fifteen years and his last two terms in that body saw him in the position of Senate president. White was also an unsuccessful aspirant for West Virginia Governor in 1932, losing out in that year's Republican primary. 
  A native of the Keystone State, Montezuma White was born in Greene County, Pennsylvania on September 6, 1872, the son of Stephen and Lucinda (Booher) WhiteWhite's formative years in Pennsylvania are unusual in the respect that he was self-educated, and was remarked by the 1913 work West Virginia and Its People as having "never attended public or private school in his life." Curiously, White's 1945 Beckley Times-Register obituary and his brief biography in the West Virginia Blue Book mention his receiving a "common school education" during his youth...all in all very confusing! 
   By age ten White had lost both his mother and father and in 1889 removed from Pennsylvania to Mingo County, West Virginia. Following his resettlement, White took work as a clerk in a "commissary store" operated by a lumber business in what would become the city of Williamson. In 1896 M.Z. White made his first run at public office, winning election as justice of the peace for the settlement of Thacker, and in the year following married to Dayton, Ohio native Emma Jeanette Spielman (1866-1921). The couple were wed for over twenty years and remained childless.
  At the conclusion of his four years of service as justice of the peace White advanced to the post of jailer for Mingo County, in which he served for four years. This office was followed by his election to the first of three terms as mayor of the city of Williamson (which had incorporated in 1892), his exact dates of service being unknown at this time.  In 1905 White branched out from politics into banking, helping to organize the Mingo County Bank, located in Williamson. He would subsequently be named as cashier of this bank, holding that post until 1911.

Portrait from the 1917 West Virginia Blue Book.

   White continued his rise in Republican party circles in the state in the early 1900s, serving a six-year stint as president judge of the Mingo County Court, and in 1910 launched his candidacy for the West Virginia State Senate. In November 1910 M.Z. White won out at the polls and took his seat as senator from West Virginia's 6th senatorial district in January 1911. His term in that body saw him serve on the committees on Attaches, Banks, and Corporations, Claims and Grievances, Finance, Privileges and Elections, the Public Library, and lastly Mines and Mining, of which he served as chairman.
  During his last full year in the Senate, White was appointed by Governor Henry D. Hatfield as Warden of the West Virginia State Penitentiary at Moundsville. White's appointment was confirmed by the Senate in the summer of 1914 and he officially entered into his duties on August 1st of that year. Despite having no previous experience in penology or in prison management White took to his new post with vigor, and within several months of assuming office had instituted a number of prison reforms, work that would see him profiled in a lengthy write-up in the Clarksburg Daily Telegraph in 1915, which noted:
"All punishment, except the waring of stripes, has been abolished, and the convicts disobeying the rules are no longer whipped as heretofore. The punishment of the men, by forcing them to stand up against a wall with their arms extended above their heads for certain lengths of time no longer exists either. Under Warden White the guards keep a very close watch on the men and very few breaches of rules, which are very strict in some instances, have been reported."
  Amongst other reforms adopted under White were the allowance of convicts to converse and mingle among themselves for a two hour period each evening in the corridors near their cells, and White was lauded for bringing about "changes for the betterment of life for those who had fallen." His tenure as warden concluded in 1918 and in that year returned to political life, assuming the chairmanship of the Republican State Executive Committee. After four years in that post, White again sought a seat in the state Senate and following his legislative win that November began what would become a twelve-year tenure in office, serving three consecutive terms in all (1923-1935)
  Midway through the 1923-27 Senate term Montezuma White was elected by his fellow senators as Senate president in 1925, continuing to be elected to that post through the terms of 1927-29, 1929-31 and 1931-33. White stepped down as Senate president in 1933 following the Democrats gaining a majority in the legislature and was succeeded by A.G. Mathews. White's four terms as Senate president were referred to as "precedent-shattering" by the Beckley Tribune, being the longest serving senate president up to that time. White's time in office also saw him as a member of several prominent West Virginia government organizations, serving on the state capitol building commission, the Yorktown Sesquicentennial commission (1931), and the George Washington Bicentennial commission of 1932.
  During his final Senate term, Montezuma White announced that he'd be seeking the Republican nomination for Governor of West Virginia in 1932. As one of several candidates vying for the nomination, White's main rival was Thomas Chasteene "T.C." Townsend (1877-1949), a Charleston-based attorney and state tax commissioner. As the primary race heated up, White hit the campaign trail, and in the spring of 1932, his candidacy was boomed in a truly remarkable fashion. As the Charleston Daily Mail related in its April 13 edition, a 
"Motorcade of 52 automobiles, all decorated and with banners announcing the candidacy of Mont Z. White for the Republican nomination for governor, paraded through the street of Charleston early Sunday afternoon. The motorists came from Williamson, the home city of the candidate. They drove through Logan and Boone counties and returned by way of Huntington, leaving Charleston over the Midland trail. In the automobiles were 300 men and women, residents of Mingo and McDowell counties."
Portrait courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

   Despite the overwhelming support of the citizens of Mingo and McDowell counties, White came up short in the vote count on primary election day, polling 70, 334 votes to T.C. Townsend's winning total of 147, 210. Townsend, in turn, would go on to lose the general election in November to Democrat Herman Guy Kump, who held the governorship from 1933-37.
  Following his gubernatorial defeat, White served out the remainder of his Senate term and later returned to banking, holding the presidency of the First National Bank of Williamson until his death. Widowed in 1921, White remarried in 1922 to Pearl B. Criswell, who preceded him in death in 1930. He would marry for the third time in 1931 to Nell Clark Lynch (1884-1966), to whom he was wed until his death. White's final weeks of life were marred by ill health, and following his removal to a Williamson hospital his condition continued to fail, and on May 10, 1945, he died at age 72. He was later interred in the White family mausoleum at the Fairview Cemetery in Williamson.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Woodville Carthon Haythe (1905-1956)

Portrait from the West Virginia Blue Book, 1934.

   West Virginia attorney and state delegate Woodville Carthon Haythe is another Mountain State political figure who lacked length of years, dying at age 50 in 1956 following a business trip to Ohio. During his short life, Haythe rose to become a leading attorney in Charleston and in addition to his political doings was a veteran of WWII, serving two tours with the U.S. Marine Corps. Born on June 4, 1905, in Hinton, West Virginia, Woodville C. Haythe was the son of Woodville Vincent and Cora Lee (Mitchell) Haythe
   A student in the public schools of Summers County, Haythe would go on to study at the Concord State Teachers College as well as Washington and Lee University. Following his graduation from Washington and Lee in 1927 Haythe earned two law degrees from the University of Alabama (1930) and the West Virginia University in 1931. In the last named year, Haythe married to Alabama native Elizabeth Rousseau Bright (birthdate unknown), to whom he was wed until his death in 1956. The couple had no children.
  In 1932 Haythe began the practice of law in Hinton and in 1934 launched his candidacy for the West Virginia House of Delegates as a Democrat. He would defeat Republican nominee F.A. Martin that November by a vote of 3,932 to 2,834 and during the 1935-36 session sat on the house committees on Elections and Privileges, the Executive Offices and the Library, Judiciary, Railroads, and State Boundaries. Following his one term in the legislature Haythe unsuccessfully sought a seat in the state senate (running in the 1936 Democratic primary) and in December 1936 was selected as "West Virginia counsel" for the Legal Aid Service of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen of America. W. Carthon Haythe reentered the political field in 1938 when he announced he'd be seeking the Democratic nomination for state senator from the 10th senatorial district.  Unfortunately, his candidacy wouldn't advance past the primary season, losing out to Republican nominee William M. LaFon by nearly two-thousand votes
  After the dawn of American involvement in World War II Haythe signed on for service, and despite being well over thirty years of age at the time of his enlistment would distinguish himself in the Marine Corps, serving two tours of duty in "the South Pacific and Far East theaters". Following his return from service, W. Carthon Haythe recommenced with his law practice and is also acknowledged as having been "instrumental in the organization of the first Marine Corps League" in the city of Charleston. 

Haythe as he appeared in the 1927 Washington and Lee Calyx yearbook.

   Political office would again beckon to Haythe in 1952 and in that year's Democratic primary entered into the race for state attorney general. He would lose out on primary election day in May, polling 95, 367 votes to winning candidate  Chauncey H. Browning's total of 176, 748. Browning (who had served as acting attorney general since the resignation of William C. Marland in January 1952) would later be succeeded by John G. Fox (1923-1992), who won election as attorney general in November of that year.
   Haythe continued to reside and practice law in Charleston until his death following a business trip to Warren, Ohio. While returning home, Haythe suffered a heart attack while driving, but managed to drive himself to a hospital in Gallipolis, Ohio, where he later died. Just fifty years old at the time of his passing, Haythe was survived by his wife and was later interred at the Sunset Memorial Park in South Charleston, West Virginia.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ludwell Ebersole Gaines Sr. (1894-1954)

Portrait from the Beckley Post Herald, April 17, 1954.

  A multi-term mayor of Fayetteville, West Virginia, state Senate candidate and delegate to the 1940 Republican National Convention, Ludwell Ebersole Gaines Sr. was long a leading figure in the coal industry in West Virginia, holding the presidency and vice-presidency of several major coal concerns in the state. While biographical material concerning Gaines remains scant, his obituary from the April 17th, 1954 Beckley Post Herald proved invaluable when it came to completing this profile! The son of Ludwell Graham and Martha (Ebersole) Gaines, Ludwell E. Gaines was born in Fayetteville on March 9, 1894. 
  During his youth, Gaines was a student at the Lawrence, New Jersey Preparatory School and following his graduation in 1912 enrolled at Princeton University, where he would receive his bachelor of literature and bachelor of laws degrees in 1916 and 1917. He soon established a law practice in Fayetteville but practiced only briefly, as he enlisted in the Navy in 1917. Gaines' service saw him amongst the ranks of the Navy Flying Corps, where he achieved the rank of ensign and was honorably discharged in 1918. Gaines married on April 25, 1925, to Betty Chilton (born 1905), with whom he had five children, Martha Gaines Werhle (1925-2007), L. Ebersole Jr. (1927-2012), Ludwell Graham (1931-2018), George Chilton, and Stanley.
  Following his return to Fayetteville Gaines recommenced with his law practice and made his first foray into the political life of his state in 1926 when he entered into the race for state senator from West Virginia's 9th senatorial district. Gaines' opponent that year was another oddly named man, Alois Bahlmann Abbott (1885-1951), a Fayetteville banker. In November 1926 Abbott bested Gaines at the polls, garnering 18, 311 votes to 16, 561. Despite his legislative loss, Gaines rebounded politically in 1929 when he was elected to the first of several terms as Mayor of Fayetteville, continuing in that office well into the 1930s. Further political honors were accorded to Gaines with his service as chairman of the Fayette County Republican Committee, and in 1940 was part of the West Virginia delegation to the Republican National Convention, serving as a member of the committee to Notify the Vice Presidential Nominee.
   A distinguished figure in the West Virginia coal industry for a number of years, Gaines held the vice presidency of both the Amherst Coal Company and the Logan County Coal Corporation during the 1930s and from 1947-48 was president of the National Coal Association. In addition to the preceding posts, Gaines held directorships in the Buffalo Creek Coal and Coke Co., the Campbell's Creek Railroad Co., the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co., and added the title of bank director to his resume with his affiliation with the Fayette County National Bank and the Merchant and Miner's Bank of Oak Hill.
   Prominent in several clubs both in West Virginia and elsewhere, Ebersole Gaines was a member of the White Oak Country Club, the Edgeworth Country Club, and remained connected to his alma mater, Princeton University, being a member of the Princeton University Cottage Club as well as serving on the university's graduate council. In May 1950 he testified in front of the U.S. Senate subcommittee on Labor and Public Welfare, where he extolled the benefits of the American coal industry, remarking:
"Fuel availability is the foundation and has made possible the development of the greatest industrial economy the world has ever seen in the United States the past 75 years. Until recent years almost the entire burden of supplying this fuel was carried by the coal industry. Not only has the fuel supply of coal furnished the energy for our industrial development, but in the period of 25 years it furnished the fuel that enabled us to fight and win two world wars, the loss of either of which would have spelled the end of our American freedom, if not the end of Christian civilization for the whole world."
 L. Ebersole Gaines Sr. continued prominence in the American coal and mining industry well into the twilight of his life, holding the presidency of the New River Mining Co. and the West Virginia Coal Association at the time of his appearance before the U.S. Senate. On April 16, 1954, Gaines suffered a fatal heart attack while speaking with New River Mining Co. vice president J.T. Hunt in the latter's office and "died before aid could be summoned." He was survived by his wife Betty and children and was subsequently interred at the Huse Memorial Park in Fayetteville.

L. Ebersole Gaines as he appeared late in life.

  While Ludwell Ebersole Gaines attained prominence in the realms of both business and politics, attention must also be paid to his son Ludwell Ebersole "Eb" Gaines Jr. (1927-2012), who, like his father, was a graduate of Princeton as well as a distinguished business figure. In 1989 Eb Gaines was appointed as U.S. Consul General to Bermuda, where he served until 1992. The Gaines family can also count amongst their ranks Martha Gaines Werhle (daughter of the man profiled here), who served in the West Virginia House of Delegates as a representative from Kanawha County from 1974-1984. She would subsequently serve several years in the state senate, holding her seat from 1989 to 1995.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Reavy Hawthorne Giles (1896-1936)

Portrait from the 1933 West Virginia Blue Book.

  The political star of Reavy Hawthorne Giles shone briefly during the early 1930s, as he served as both a state legislator and actuary of the state compensation department prior to his death at age 39 in February 1936. The son of Oscar and Mary Etta Giles, Reavy Hawthorne Giles was born in Myndus, Virginia on April 27, 1896. He would attend school in the state of his birth and during adolescence completed a "bookkeeping-secretarial course."
  A veteran of the First World War, Giles was a pilot with the 21st, 85th, and 284 Aero Squadrons. With a brief mention of his war service being given by the West Virginia Blue Book, no other source details the particulars of his military service or area of deployment in Europe. Following his return from the war, Giles married in June 1920 to Juanita Stella Shumate (1896-1981), with whom he had one son, Reavy Hawthorne Jr. (born 1921), who would later lose his life in an airplane crash in France in April 1946.
  A bookkeeper and accountant prior to his entering state politics, Giles won election to the West Virginia House of Delegates from Greenbrier County in November 1932, garnering 9,257 votes on election day. He took his seat in January 1933 and was named to the committees on Insurance, Labor, Medicine and Sanitation, Mines and Mining, Printing and Contingent Expenses, and Railroads. 
  Giles' tenure in the legislature proved to be brief, and just two months after taking his seat resigned in March 1933 to accept the post of actuary for the West Virginia Compensation Department. He would be succeeded by H.L. Van Sickler, who was appointed to his vacant seat. Giles continued to serve as actuary until his death at age 39 on February 28, 1936, at a veterans hospital in Huntington, West Virginia. Despite being in the prime of life, Giles is recorded as having been ill for more than a year and his death was attributed to "a complication of diseases." He was later interred at the Wildwood Cemetery in Beckley, West Virginia. Giles was survived by his wife Juanita, who later remarried to Fred Clark Hardman, who predeceased her in 1953

Giles' death notice from the Charleston Daily Mail.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Kreider Henry Stover (1873-1928)

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."
From the Baltimore and Ohio Magazine, April 1922.

   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, at the Hoffman Hospital in Keyser, eight days following his 55th birthday. His Mineral Daily news obituary lists a short bout of blood poisoning as his cause of death, and he was later interred alongside his wife Bertha at the Queens Meadow Point Cemetery in Keyser.

From the Mineral Daily News, July 21, 1928.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Eskridge Hampton Morton (1866-1940)

Portrait from the 1937 West Virginia Blue Book.

  A leading political figure in Webster County, West Virginia for the better part of four decades, Eskridge Hampton Morton began his political ascent early in his life, winning election as county school superintendent at the age of just 23. In the succeeding decades, Morton won election as county prosecuting attorney, served two terms in the state house of delegates, two terms in the state senate, was a delegate to the 1912 Democratic National Convention from West Virginia, and in 1908 and 1922 was an unsuccessful candidate for the offices of state attorney general and U.S. Representative from West Virginia. Truly a man of political distinction!
   The story of this now obscure West Virginian begins with his birth on a Webster County farm on June 16, 1866, the son of George Washington and Hannah (Kyer) Morton. Young Eskridge attended schools local to his home county of Webster and, after deciding to pursue a law degree, enrolled at the University of West Virginia in Morgantown. Graduating with his bachelor of laws degree in the class of 1891, Morton would return to Webster Springs to establish a law practice, forming a partnership with William C. Wooddell that would extend "throughout both men's lives." Morton married on December 24, 1890, to Mary McCray (1870-1947). The couple's near five-decade marriage would produce several children, including Ernest (born 1892, Meta (1894-1911), Mayme Edith (1896-1994), Abbie Dale, Mary Vivian, Eskridge McCray (1903-1984) and Nancy.
  "E.H." Morton (as most sources of the period refer to him) first entered the political life of his state in 1889 when he was elected as county superintendent of schools. He would serve one term in that post and in 1892 advanced to the post of Webster County prosecuting attorney, serving from 1893-97. At the conclusion of his term as prosecuting attorney Morton was selected to serve as assistant prosecuting attorney for the neighboring county of Nicholas (remaining in that post until 1902) and during his service pulled political double duty, as he had been named as Sergeant-at-Arms for the West Virginia House of Delegates for the 1899 session.
  Following his stints as house sergeant-at-arms, Eskridge Morton set his sights on a house seat for himself, and in the 1902 election year was elected to that body as a representative from Webster County. Serving during the session of 1903-04, Morton left office after one term and returned to his law practice, being retained as an attorney for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co

From the Men of West Virginia, Vol. II, 1903.

  In August 1908 Eskridge Morton returned to the political forum when he received the Democratic nomination for West Virginia state attorney general. Opposing Morton in that year's contest was Republican William Gustavus Conley (1866-1940), a newspaper editor and former mayor of Kingwood. When the votes were tallied in November 1908 it was Conley who emerged triumphant, besting Morton by a vote of 135, 389 to 113, 823. Conley continued to serve as attorney general until 1913, and in 1929 won election as Governor of West Virginia, holding that post until 1933.
  Despite his defeat in the race for attorney general, Morton refused to let a loss get the best of him, and in 1912 served as part of the West Virginia delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore that saw Woodrow Wilson nominated for the Presidency. In 1914 Morton entered into the race for state senator from West Virginia's 10th senatorial district and that November won election to that body, handily defeating his opponent, E.A. Barnes, by a vote of 7, 694 to 262. During the 1915-19 session Morton would on the committees on Education; Forfeited, Delinquent and Unappropriated Lands; the Judiciary; Privileges and Elections; Public Printing; and Roads and Navigation.
  In November 1918 Morton won his second term in the Senate, defeating oddly named Republican nominee Otho Hunter Kee by a vote of 6,390 to 5,355. This term (1919-23) saw Morton named to four new Senate committees, those being Federal Relations, Forestry and Conservation, Insurance and Virginia Debt.

Portrait from the 1919 West Virginia Blue Book.

  Towards the end of his second Senate term in 1922, Eskridge Morton was selected by then Governor Ephraim Morgan as the chairman of the West Virginia Code Commission, a body responsible for modifying the West Virginia law code. In that same year, Morton launched a candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from his state's 3rd congressional district. His opponent that year was three-term incumbent Republican Stuart Felix Reed (1866-1935), a former member of the West Virginia Senate in the late 1890s. On November 7, 1922, Reed eked out a narrow win over Morton, garnering 32,066 votes to his opponent's 31, 382.
  Following this congressional loss, Morton returned to his law practice in Webster County, and in 1936 was returned to government service when he was elected to the house of delegates for a second term, thirty-two years following the conclusion of his first term in that body. Seventy years old at the time of his election, Morton's final term in the legislature saw him named to the committees on Arts, Science and General Improvements; the Judiciary; Medicine and Sanitation; Roads, and chaired the committee on Railroads. Morton wasn't a candidate for reelection in 1939 and for the remainder of his life practiced law in Webster County, dying there in 1940 at age 74. He was survived by his wife Mary, who, following her death in 1947, was interred alongside him at the Blacks Chapel Cemetery in Camden-on-Gauley, West Virginia. Far from a forgotten figure in Webster County, Morton's massive red brick mansion in Webster Springs (erected in 1912) was added to the National Register of Historic Places in April 1986.

One of many portraits located of Eskridge H. Morton (from the 1922 West Virginia Blue Book).

Friday, June 8, 2018

Haymond Alpheus Alltop (1892-1979)

Portrait from the West Virginia Blue Book, 1941.

  A three-term member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from Marion County, Haymond Alpheus Alltop resided in the same city as former West Virginia Governor Aretas Brooks Fleming (profiled a day or two ago.) While there is a dearth of resources mentioning Alltop at great length, enough has been located to compile a small profile on his life. Born in Gilmer County, West Virginia on June 14, 1892, Haymond Alpheus Alltop was the son of Alpheus and Rebecca (Miller) Alltop. Given the unusual names Haymond Alpheus upon his birth, Alltop's first and middle names may have a connection to Alpheus Forest Haymond (1823-1893), a Fairmont, West Virginia resident who had earlier served in the Virginia House of Delegates, the Virginia Secession Convention and for many years was a judge of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
  A student in the public schools, Alltop would go on to study at the West Virginia Business College and married on May 15, 1912, to Mona Ann Satterfield (1895-1966), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple would have at least four children, including Kenneth Alpheus (1913-1987), Kathleen (born ca. 1916), Theresa Mae (1917-2001) and Ruby (1919-2002).
  Following his marriage, Haymond A. Alltop was employed by the Fairmont Mining Machinery Co. in the mid-1910s and was a member of that company's baseball team, serving as a pitcher. He would later enter into a two-decade-long career as a machinist in the employ of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co. While little biographical material exists in regards to Alltop's life prior to his legislative service, the West Virginia Blue Book denotes his prominence in labor circles in the state, as he served five years as the president of the Monongahela Valley Trades and Labor Council, and was the vice president of both the West Virginia Industrial Union Council (serving 1937-40) and the West Virginia Federation of Labor. 
   In November 1938 Haymond Alltop was elected as one of three Marion County representatives to the West Virginia House of Delegates, garnering 12,889 votes on election day. Taking his seat at the start of the 1939-41 session, Alltop proved to be busy as a freshman legislator, being named to the committees on Elections and Privileges, Federal Relations, Forestry and Conservation, Insurance, Labor, and the Military. In November 1940 he won a second term in the legislature (receiving 20,039 votes) and in 1942 was elected to his third term with 8,981 votes.
  Little information could be found on the remainder of Alltop's life, excepting mention of his brief flirtation with a run for the state senate in 1952. Widowed in 1966, Alltop survived his wife Mona by thirteen years, dying at age 86 in April 1979. Both were interred at the Mount Zion Cemetery in Fairmont.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Aretas Brooks Fleming (1839-1923)

Governor Aretas B. Fleming.
"As a legislator, judge and Governor he has served the state and his native country with fidelity and reflected credit upon himself and the people he served. Public spirited as a citizen, he carried his enthusiasm for righteousness and efficiency into the offices he has held. He has attracted the attention, especially while governor, of the whole country to the then almost underdeveloped mineral and timber resources of West Virginia, by public addresses and published articles in trade and other papers."   
   While the above description briefly touches on his career in the public forum, it can rightly be said that there were few men more prominent in late 19th century West Virginia than Aretas Brooks Fleming, a two-term member of the state house of delegates and circuit court judge who in 1890 was inaugurated as the Governor of his state. Undoubtedly one of the oddest named men ever to serve as the Governor of West Virginia, Fleming is referred to by me as an "old guard" strange name political figure, as I located his name way back in 2001 via a copy of the Who Was Who In America 1896-1942 edition, which contained biographies of a good majority of American governors elected up to that time.
   Aretas Brook Fleming was born near Fairmont, Virginia (now West Virginia) on October 15, 1839, the son of the Rev. Benjamin Franklin (1810-1876) and Rhoda (Brooks) Fleming. Raised on a farm, Fleming's youth saw him engaged in farm work, and would attend school during the winter months, being a student at "private and select schools" near the area of his birth.  Like many of the men profiled here in the past, Fleming decided to pursue a career in law early in his life, and in the late 1850s enrolled at the University of Virginia. After completing his studies in 1859 he taught school briefly and in 1860, after receiving his law degree, settled in Gilmer County.
  Fleming's stay in Gilmer County proved to be brief, and during his residency there operated a private school "while waiting for clients." This school was later headed by Aretas' brother Robert, and at the outbreak of Civil War Fleming closed his practice and removed to Fairmont, where he would reside until his death over sixty years later. After settling in Fairmont Fleming recommenced with his law practice and in 1863 was elected to his first political office, that of prosecuting attorney of Marion County, West Virginia, which had been admitted as a state in June of that year. He was reelected to that post in 1865 for another two-year term and in September 1865 married to Caroline Margaret "Carrie"  Watson (1844-1931), to whom he was wed for nearly sixty years. The couple's lengthy union saw the births of five children, Gypsy W. (1868-1954), Ida (1872-1906), twins George (1874-1935) and Virginia (born 1874), and Aretas Brooks Jr. (1882-1945)

Fleming as he appeared in the Prominent Men of West Virginia, 1890.

  During his second term as prosecuting attorney Fleming entered into a law practice with Alpheus Forest Haymond (1823-1893), a former member of the Virginia house of delegates, as well as a Confederate veteran. Their law practice extended until 1872 when Haymond was elected to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, and in that same year, Fleming advanced to higher office himself, being elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates from Marion County. He would be reelected in 1874 and during his two terms was a member of the house committees on the judiciary and finance and taxation (serving as chairman of the latter.)
   Further political honors came Fleming's way in February 1878, when, following the death of sitting judge Charles Lewis, he was appointed as judge of the West Virginia's 2nd judicial circuit court. He would be elected to a term of his own on that court in November 1878 and would continue to be reelected, serving until 1888. In August of that year, Fleming's name was brought forward at the state Democratic convention as a candidate for Governor, and following a unanimous motion from the delegates in attendance on August 17th, officially became the nominee. Fleming's opponent that year was Republican Nathan Goff (1843-1920), former U.S. Secretary of the Navy under Rutherford Hayes, as well as a U.S. Representative. 
  Through the fall of 1888, Fleming's upright character and previous government experience were boomed in Democratic-leaning papers of the state, with the Point Pleasant Weekly Register referring to the candidate as a man of "probity, temperance, and manliness," and further related that:
"As a gentleman we believe he will elevate the office; that he will not simply use it as a stepping stone to gratify his own personal ambition; that he will not be a mere political schemer; that he will not represent a clique or faction, but that he will have the courage to be governor of the whole state; that he will have that concientious regard for the common weal,  and that broad and enterprising spirit toward our public interests that will encourage and assist in the development of our resources and the general development of our state. In a word, Judge Fleming will make a governor of whom we shall not be ashamed, and who will command the respect and confidence of the whole people." 
Portrait from the Men of West Virginia, 1903.

   The West Virginia gubernatorial election of 1888 proved to be an electoral quagmire when the votes were tallied in November, with Republican Nathan Goff's vote total being a small margin (just 106 votes) ahead of Fleming. The Democrats of West Virginia could not be swayed, however, and after contesting the electoral results issued a call for an investigation. With then-incumbent Governor Emanuel Wilson declining to step down from office until a clear winner had been decided upon, this investigation would be headed up by a joint committee of members of both houses of the West Virginia legislature. This fact-finding investigation lasted more than a year and in January 1890 the legislature (then heavily democratic), voted along party lines to declare Fleming the duly elected Governor by 237 votes. Despite the brouhaha surrounding votes and rightful claim to the governorship, "no personal animosity" developed between Fleming and Goff, who were referred to as having been "personal friends long before the contest and have been ever since."
   Aretas Fleming officially took the governor's chair on February 6, 1890, and served until 1893. With Republican legislators still bitter over losing the governorship, Fleming's legislative successes proved to be minimal, excepting the successful adoption of the "Australian ballot", which limited the possibility of election fraud. While hampered legislatively, Fleming's administration did much good to encourage future investment in the natural resources of the state, including mineral and timber, mining operations, petroleum fields, and railroad construction.
  After leaving office in 1893 Fleming returned to the practice of law and was affiliated with various coal mining interests in the state, and in 1901 became a director and attorney for the Fairmont Coal Co., which had been organized that year. This company would later develop into the Consolidation Coal Company, with Fleming continuing to serve on its board of directors, and he would also hold the post of general counsel for that company's properties in West Virginia. Other business accolades that came Fleming's way following his governorship include service as a director for both the Cumberland and Pennsylvania and Monongahela railroads, being a stockholder and director for the Watson Company in Fairmont, and also held a directorship in the National Bank of Fairmont.
  Aretas B. Fleming died in Fairmont on October 13, 1923, two days short of his 84th birthday. He was survived by his wife Carrie, who, following her death in 1931 at age 87, was interred alongside him at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Fairmont.

From "West Virginia and Its People", 1913.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Jettes Mollohan (1869-1947)

Portrait from the 1920 West Virginia Blue Book.

   A one-term member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from Nicholas County, Jettes Mollohan served as Nicholas County sheriff and chairman of the Nicholas County Democratic committee prior to his legislative victory in 1918. Late in his life, Mollohan would return to politics, being elected as the mayor of Summersville, West Virginia on the Citizens Party ticket. One of twelve children born to Anson and Anna (Riffle) Mollohan, Jettes Mollohan was born (depending on the source) on either May 28, 1869, or June 20, 1871, in West Virginia. Despite these varying dates of birth, Mollohan's obituary in the Charleston Daily Mail (posted below) lists it as occurring on June 20, 1869, "near Frametown."
   Little information could be located on Mollohan's early life or schooling, excepting note of his marriage on December 29, 1892, to Nancy Elizabeth Tinnel (1874-1941). The couple were wed for nearly fifty years and would have a total of seven children, listed as follows in order of birth: Exie (1893-1905), Ethel Lee (1895-1961), Bertha Maude (1897-1978), Esker Ray (1899-1965), Clara (died in infancy), Thelma Louise (1912-2007) and Russell Dale (1913-2001).
  Residing at Birch River, West Virginia following his marriage, Mollohan and his family later removed to Summersville, where they would reside for the remainder of their lives. Following his resettlement in that city, Mollohan became active in civic affairs of Nicholas County, eventually rising to become Vice President of the Nicholas County Bank. He would enter the political life of that county in the late 1900s, taking office as County Assessor in 1908, and following a four-year term in that post served as Sheriff of Nicholas County from 1913-17. Sources also relate to Mollohan being a farmer and "manufacturer of staves and lumber."
  In 1917 Mollohan was elected chairman of the Nicholas County Democratic Executive Committee and continued in that post even after receiving the Democratic nomination for the West Virginia House of Delegates in the summer of 1918. In November of that year, Mollohan would defeat Republican nominee J.T. Burdette by a vote of 1,609 to 1,400 and took his seat at the start of the 1919-21 session. This term would see Mollohan sit on the house committees on Forestry and Conservation, Immigration and Agriculture, and Medicine and Sanitation, and he wasn't a candidate for renomination in 1920
  Following his term, Mollohan continued residency in Summersville, where he was a member of the Baptist church and the Summersville Lodge No. 76 of Free and Accepted Masons. Late in his life, Mollohan returned to politics when he was elected to the first of six terms as Mayor of Summersville, winning his last term in July 1947, just four months prior to his death. Widowed in 1942, Mollohan would later reside with his daughter Ethel and son-in-law Okey Mearns until his death at their home on November 2, 1947. The 78-year old former legislator and his wife are interred at the Tinnel-Mollohan Cemetery in Birch River, West Virginia.

Mollohan's obituary from the November 3, 1947 Charleston Daily Mail