Hugh S. Byrer

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
March 18, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 352

HUGH S. BYRER is a member of the Philippi bar, an
expert title lawyer, and has done a great deal of profes-
sional business with the coal interests of the state. His
grandfather and father were both men of prominence
in Barbour County, and the name is therefore one of long
and honorable standing here.

His grandfather was David Frederick Byrer, who was
born in Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and
from there came to West Virginia. He was in the tan-
ning business at Philippi, his old tanyard being located
on Main Street. He built and operated it long before
the Civil war, and he lived out his life in that city, where
he died in 1899, at the age of seventy-four. David F.
Byrer was a Union man in sentiment, and after the close
of the war became interested in the success of the re-
publican party. He was a Methodist, a pioneer in build-
ing up the organization of that church at Philippi, and
was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
He married Mary Lewis, of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, who
survived him for a number of years. Their children were:
Frederick Samuel, Arabella, wife of John C. Mayer, of
Terra Alta, West Virginia; John, who died unmarried;
Emma, who died as the wife of Dr. R. B. Rhoderick; and
Charles Marshall, who spent his life at Philippi, where he
died in 1916.

Frederick Samuel Byrer, father of the Philippi lawyer,
was born in that city May 25, 1848. His early youth
was spent in the vicinity of his father’s tanyard, and
he supplemented his public school education with a course
in a commercial school at Pittsburgh. As a young man
he was a merchant at Philippi, and he continued in that
business uninterruptedly until his death on August 29,
1911. He was not a citizen who sought the honors of
politics, was rather modest and retiring, but was active in
the Methodist Church and its Sunday school. He was a
republican and for many years affiliated with the Inde-
pendent Order of Odd Fellows. He was probably the
first in Barbour County to engage in the business of leas-
ing coal lands to prospective operators.

Frederick S. Byrer married Isabella Woods. Her father
was the late distinguished citizen and able jurist and
lawyer, Judge Samuel Woods. Isabella was born at Phil-
ippi, August 15, 1852, and survives her husband. Her
oldest son, Harry Hopkins Byrer, is a lawyer at Martins-
burg, West Virginia, is former assistant United States at-
torney of the Northern District of West Virginia, and
now a member of the law firm of Walker, Kilmer and
Byrer. Joseph Woods, the second son, is secretary and
treasurer of the Tri-State Surety Company at Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. The last son is Hugh S., and the only
daughter is Margaret Collins, wife of Frank F. Collins, of
Beaver, Pennsylvania.

Hugh S. Byrer, who is a native of Philippi, attended
the public schools there, graduated in 1903 from the West
Virginia Conference Seminary at Buckhannon, and in 1906
was given his LL. B. degree by the University of West
Virginia. In the same year he was admitted to the bar
at Philippi, but he soon located at Huntington, where he
practiced law until the early spring of 1917, when he re-
turned to his old home. While in Huntington he was for
two years in the coal fields of Northeastern Kentucky,
abstracting titles to coal properties in behalf of the Beaver
Creek Consolidated Coal Company. That service was a
valuable schooling to him in the matter of real estate

Mr. Byrer in politics differs from his father and has
always voted as a democrat. He was the democratic can-
didate in the Thirteenth Senatorial District for the State
Senate in 1920. He has been active in several campaigns.
He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and
has done much work in the Sunday school. He is affiliated
with Huntington Lodge of the Elks.

At Harrisonburg, Virginia, February 16, 1921, Mr.
Byrer married Miss Elizabeth Rothwell Ott, a native of
that locality, where she finished her high school educa-
tion. Her parents were Frank Campbell and Mary (Boyd)
Ott, also natives of that section of Virginia, farming peo-
ple. Mrs. Byrer, who is the oldest of a family of two sons
and two daughters, is the mother of one son, Frederick
Ott Byrer, born January 16, 1922.