James B. Close

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
July 22, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 524

JAMES B. CLOSE, of Parsons, is the efficient sheriff of
Tucker County, and is a representative of one of the old
and well known families of this section of the state. He
was born in the St. George District of Tucker County,
September 11, 1883, and is a son of Alexander Close, who
was born near the Village of St. George, this county, in
1857, and who here followed the trade of blacksmith for
many years, and who more recently became a successful
merchant at St. George, where he and his wife still reside.
He served twelve years as constable and two terms as county
commissioner, his political affiliation being with the repub-
lican party. He and his wife are members of the Methodist
Protestant Church. As a young man Alexander Close mar-
ried Miss Catherine Dumire, a daughter of Jacob and
Elizabeth (Piter) Dumire, of Tucker County. Jacob Du-
mire, of German ancestry, became one of the substantial
farmers of this county, served as county sheriff, was a
republican, and his eldest son, A. Loman, was a gallant
young soldier of the Union in the Civil war. The names of
the other children are here recorded: John Wesley Oliver,
George, Jane (Mrs. Frank Beavers, her husband having
been a Union soldier in the Civil war), Catherine (Mrs.
Alexander Close), and Florence, who became the wife of
P. W. Lipscomb and died in Tucker County. Of the chil-
dren of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Close the present sheriff
of Tucker County is the eldest; Edward resides at St.
George; Jacob is a resident of Parsons; William lives at
Elk Garden; “Tootie” died at the age of fourteen years;
and Duncan, Chester and Charles are still members of the
parental home circle.

David Close, grandfather of the sheriff of Tucker County,
was born in Scotland, came to the United States in the ’50s
and obtained public land near Lead Mine, Tucker County,
where he reclaimed and developed a productive farm and
passed the remainder of his life, secure in the high regard
of all who knew him. He and his wife were zealous mem-
bers of the Methodist Protestant Church. In his native
land he married Miss Agnes Ferguson, whose death occurred
in 1914, he having passed away about 1890. Of their chil-
dren the eldest is John, of Berkeley Springs, this state;
William died at Thomas, Tucker County; James resides at
Berkeley Springs; Alexander, father of Sheriff Close, was
the next in order of birth; Duncan died at the age of fifteen
years; Mrs. David Root resides at Thomas; Sarah, wife of
Lewis Shaffer, died at that place; and Isabel is the wife of
Grant James, of Thomas.

Sheriff Close gained his early education in the public
schools of St. George and there learned the blacksmith
trade under the effective direction of his father. At the
age of sixteen years he found employment as blacksmith
for the Burger Lumber Company, later was similarly em-
ployed two years by the Clover Run Lumber Company, and
for twelve years thereafter he was blacksmith for the
Chaffey Lumber Company at William, this county. He then
established at Parsons a custom blacksmith shop, which he
successfully conducted until he retired from the work of
his trade and became chief of police in this city in 1917.
The service which he gave in this position fortified him
greatly for the broader duties which became his upon his
election to the office of sheriff of the county in 1920, by a
majority of 234 votes. Concerning his candidacy for this
office the following statements have been made: “Despite
the fact that some of the Tucker County electors feared
that Mr. Close would not enforce the prohibition law, and
others feared that he would enforce it, his candidacy in the
primaries took on somewhat of the aspect of a forlorn hope.
However, the ‘wet’ element in the county has found that
Sheriff Close has rigidly enforced the prohibition law, as
well as all other laws, and his stand for law and order has
convinced all opposers that he is a real sheriff who is making
a record that has not been excelled in the history of the
county. He knows no favorites in his official work, and
has a high sense of his executive stewardship.”

Mr. Close is a republican and is affiliated with the
Knights of Pythias and the Junior Order of United Amer-
ican Mechanics.

At St. George, this county, July 4, 1903, Mr. Close mar-
ried Dora Hedrick, daughter of Solomon K. and Bettie
Judy Hedriek, the father being a farmer by vocation and
having been a resident of Pendleton County at the time of
the birth of his daughter Dora. Sheriff and Mrs. Close
have two children: Ruth and Earl.