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 a 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 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 his candidacy for 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 distinguished 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 in 1956. 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 and 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 an 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 was affiliated with until 1900. Kreider Stover married in Coburn, Pennsylvania on September 28, 1898, to Bertha Young (1876-1923), to who 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 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. 
   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 Morton was selected to serve as assistant prosecuting attorney for the neighboring county of Nicholas (serving 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 stint as house sergeant-at-arms, Eskridge Morton set his sights on a house seat for himself, and in the 1902 election year was elected 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, defeating 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, who was profiled a few days ago. While there is a dearth of resources mentioning Alltop, 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 name 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, except a 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), Aretas Ellsworth Kepford (1867-1930), Arretus Linton Sharpnack (1877-1960)

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 Brooks 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."
  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 the Civil War Fleming closed his practice and removed to Fairmont, where he resided until his death 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 re-elected to that post in 1865 for another two-year term and in September 1865 married Caroline Margaret "Carrie"  Watson (1844-1931), to who he was wed for nearly sixty years. The couple's 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, winning election to the West Virginia House of Delegates. 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 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 election 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, with both referred to as "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 Brooks 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.

From the Iowa Public Health Bulletin, 1914.

   A resident of both Iowa and Kansas during his life, Aretas Ellsworth Kepford gained wide distinction as a lecturer on tuberculosis and the methods to curb its spread. A Methodist Episcopal minister for over three decades, Kepford earns a spot here on the site due to his candidacy for Governor of Kansas on the Independent Prohibition ticket in 1896. Born near Independence, Iowa on June 18, 1867, Aretas Ellsworth Kepford was the son of the Rev. Joseph (1834-1921) and Anna Mary (Snavely) Kepford (1843-1931).
  Little is known of Kepford's formative years. As the son of a Methodist Episcopal minister, Kepford elected to follow his father into the ministry and was admitted to preach at an unknown date. The early 1890s saw him residing in Findlay, Ohio, and in 1892 removed to Kansas where he accepted a pastorate at the Church of God in East Fort Scott. His residency there saw him take part in the 1893 Bourbon County Sunday School Association convention and was a member of its committee on resolutions
  Following his resettlement Kepford gained press as an "eloquent young minister and platform speaker", eventually resigning his post in Fort Scott to focus on lecturing. By 1896 Kepford's name had grown so prominent in Kansas he was put forward as a candidate for Governor on the Independent Prohibition ticket in late 1896. In October Kepford accepted the nomination, succeeding the Rev. J.E. Brant, who had withdrawn his name from consideration. As a staunch temperance advocate, Kepford's platform highlighted the failures Governor Edmund Morrill's administration and its "policy of nullification of the prohibitory law", and further noted:
"No honest man can shut his eyes to the fact that the administration has pursued a policy of nullification to the prohibitory law. The truth of this statement is apparent when we remember the joints and saloons are now running in the many cities and towns of the state, and new ones are being added day by day. I know that it is urged by the jointists and saloon keepers are running in support of the opposition. But the absurdity of this assertion is shown by the fact that the joints and saloons are running, contrary to the oaths of executive authority and a constitutional law. That the present administration maintains by a nullification policy these joints and saloons in the interests of its opponents is to ridiculous to need contradiction. Should we longer submit to such pretentions?
From the Fort Scott Daily Tribune and Daily Monitor, Oct. 15, 1896.

   After accepting the gubernatorial nomination Kepford took to the stump, and in the fall of 1896 made "a canvass of the state as far as the limited time before election will permit." On election day Kepford and the prohibitionists went down to defeat, polling dead last in a field of five candidates. He polled just 703 votes to Populist candidate John W. Leedy's winning total of 167,941 but saw incumbent Governor Edmund Morrill lose in his bid for reelection. 
  In the year following his defeat, Aretas Kepford undertook a six-week tour of Europe, including a stop in Rome. Following his return stateside he would lecture on his travels, and in 1898 married Effie Elaine Emmert (1878-1954). The couple's thirty-two-year marriage produced two children, Vernon Francis (1899-1963) and Lucille (born 1904). Kepford and his wife resettled in Carroll County, Iowa following their marriage, where Kepford held the pastorate of the Church of God in Glidden. His ministry there extended several years, and in 1900 attended the Ministerial Association of the Churches of God Conference in Newburg, Iowa.

From the Ceder Rapids Times, 1930.

  Beginning in the 1900s Aretas Kepford began a career on the lecture circuit warning of the dangers of tuberculosis, work that would gain him statewide prominence. Through the early part of the 20th century, Kepford packed churches and lecture halls educating the citizenry of the dangers of the spread of the "white plague." As a representative of the Iowa Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, Kepford worked under former Governor William Larrabee, and in 1908 headed the move to develop an "out-camp" in Dubuque. This outdoor "tented city" was formulated by Kepford and a committee of physicians to treat tuberculosis patients outdoors in a "tented colony", an idea that was received with enthusiasm.
  Kepford's work in the field of tuberculosis prevention eventually led to his appointment to the Iowa State Board of Control, being designated as the state lecturer on tuberculosis. He would serve fifteen years in that post, and his time in office saw improvements in disease prevention and sanitation, including the construction of public drinking fountains. Kepford also advocated for an early form of tuberculosis inoculation in children, using the living germs of the disease. This treatment, then in its infancy, had been pioneered in Colorado and though not perfect, had "precisely the same effect that vaccination has in preventing smallpox."
  In 1913 Kepford briefly returned to ministerial work before resuming his duties as state lecturer. In October 1920 he was appointed as director of the State Juvenile Home in Toledo, Iowa, a recently established institution developed to house "dependent, neglected, and delinquent children." He served eight years as its director before returning to the ministry in 1929, being named as pastor of the English Methodist Church in Gladbrook, Iowa. He reemerged on the political stage in early 1930 when he entered into the race for state representative from Tama County. He was defeated in the June Republican primary by incumbent W. Walter Wilson, who, in turn, would be defeated in the general election that November.
  On August 16, 1930, Aretas Ellsworth Kepford died unexpectedly at his Gladbrook, Iowa home, succumbing to a heart attack following an attack of acute indigestion. He was survived by his wife and children and was interred at the Wilson Cemetery in Independence, Iowa

From the Traer Star Clipper, August 22, 1930.

From the Uniontown Evening Standard, Sept. 16, 1935.

  A leading citizen in Fayette County, Pennsylvania for the better part of six decades, Arretus Linton Sharpnack earns placement here on the site due to his 1926 candidacy for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. A lifelong resident of Fayette County, Sharpnack was born in the neighboring town of Cumberland on April 9, 1877, the son of Levi Antrim and Elizabeth Jane (Armstrong) Sharpnack.
  Sharpnack's early education was obtained in schools local to Fayette County, as well as the California Normal school. During this time he is noted as having worked the family farm and also worked in a coal mine. He began a teaching career in Cumberland township early in his life, which was followed by his service as principal of the German township schools. He married on August 15, 1900, to Bertha Arnold, to who he was wed until she died in 1915. The couple had three children, Donald Leroy (1901-1950), John Glenn (1903-1925), and Elizabeth (1904-1943). A year after his wife's death Sharpnack remarried to Norma (Long) Zimmerman who predeceased him in 1927. In 1933 he wed Elizabeth Frank, who survived him upon his death in 1960.
   Sharpnack entered the public life of his state in 1926 when he announced his candidacy for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In November he was defeated by Republican candidate Frank L. Bowers, who polled 4,546 votes to his own 1,559. Following his loss, Sharpnack was elected as a member of the German Township Road Board, where he served for twenty-five years. Around 1919 he began service as secretary of the Fayette County Supervisors, Auditors, and Good Roads Association, serving until his death in 1960. He also held the secretaryship of the Fayette County Tax Collectors, Auditors, and Assessors Association, his full dates of service being unknown at this time.
   Active in the civic life of his county, Sharpnack held memberships in the Fayette County Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Golden Age Club of Uniontown, the Uniontown Motor Club, the McClellandtown Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution, and chaired the Boy Scout Directors of McClellandtown. A longstanding member of the McClellandtown Volunteer Fire Department, Sharpnack heavily invested his time in fire-related groups, including service as chaplain of the Fayette County Fireman's Association and the Western Pennsylvania Fireman's Association. Additionally, Sharpnack served as secretary of the Fire Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

From the Uniontown Morning Herald, January 27, 1958.

   In 1931 Sharpneck reentered politics when he became a Democratic candidate for Fayette County commissioner. Though unsuccessful at the polls, he launched another campaign for that office in 1935 but failed to make it past the September primary. Sharpnack also ran another candidacy for the state assembly in 1938, but again went down to defeat. 
  Sharpnack continued prominence in his region through the 1940s and 50s, winning election to the executive committee of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors. Several weeks prior to his death Sharpnack's health began to fail, necessitating a stay at the Weimer Nursing Home in Uniontown. On February 18, 1960, he died at a Uniontown hospital at age 82. He was survived by his third wife Elizabeth and was interred at the McClellandtown Presbyterian Cemetery.

From the Uniontown Evening Standard, Feb. 20, 1960.