David Earl Cuppett

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
July 23, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 523-524

DAVID EARL CUPPETT. A resident of Thomas, and one of
the leading members of the Tucker County bar, David Earl
Cuppett has in the course of a quarter of a century done
some good work as a teacher, but for nearly twenty years
his time has been fully taken up with a law practice that
has afforded opportunity for the exercise of his striking
abilities as a criminal lawyer.

The founder of the family in West Virginia was John
Cuppett, Sr., who lived in Pennsylvania during the Revolu-
tionary war and was one of the few men who escaped the
Wyoming Valley massacre. When he moved out of Bedford
County he settled at Glade Farms in Preston County, Vir-
ginia, and spent the rest of his life there as a farmer. His
son, Daniel Cuppett, was born in Bedford County, was a
child when brought to West Virginia, and his life work
also was identified with the farm. He married Mary Scott,
and their nine children were: William; Alpheus; Daniel;
Henry; David; Isaac; Lucy, who married Josiah Smith;
Miss Jane; and Mrs. Nancy Edwards. Of these brothers,
Henry was a Union soldier and captured a Confederate flag
when Fort Donelson was taken; while Isaac was in the
service as a member of General Custer’s command and died
in Andersonville Prison.

Alpheus Cuppett, father of David E. Cuppett, was born
in Preston County, had a country school education, and his
active years were spent as a farmer and stock dealer. He
was interested in the success of the republican party, and
was a prominent leader in the Methodist Church at Glade
Farms, being influential in building the church there. He
died June 15, 1900, at the age of seventy-four. Alpheus
Cuppett married Elizabeth Harned, daughter of Edward
and Sarah (Johnson) Harned. She died March 12, 1908.
Their children were: Milford H., of Uniontown, Pennsyl-
vania; Clark A., who died in Southern California; Ross,
deceased; Edward E., of Terra Alta; Mary, wife of Rufus
Augustine, of Confluence, Pennsylvania; Ella, who died at
Addison, Pennsylvania, wife of C. H. Bird; Charles H., a
school man of Bellvernon, Pennsylvania; Sylvia, who died
unmarried; and David Earl.

David Earl Cuppett was born in the Glade Farms locality
of Preston County, February 13, 1878. He lived there
through his boyhood and youth, shared in the labor of the
farm, attended the country schools, and several summer
normal courses prepared him for teaching. He took his first
school at the age of sixteen, being in charge of the North
Avenue School. For six terms he continued teaching in the
country, two terms being spent in Fayette County, Pennsyl-
vania. He left teaching to enroll as a student in the literary
department of West Virginia University, in which he did
three years of work and then finished with the law course,
graduating LL. B. in 1904. Immediately after qualifying
as a lawyer he located at Thomas in Tucker County, and
tried his first law suit in the courts of this county. He
has practiced alone, and while he has appeared in some
notable litigations in both the civil and criminal branches
his reputation has become fixed as a defense lawyer in
criminal practice. Up to the spring terms of 1922 he had
figured in twenty-nine murder cases, and several of the cases
in which he has appeared have gone before the Court of
Appeals, where he has won victories as well as in the lower
courts. Mr. Cuppett is a former president of the Tucker
County Bar Association and a member of the West Virginia
Bar Association.

His public service includes two terms as city recorder at
Thomas and fifteen years as city attorney, during which
time he handled the legal matters connected with bond
issues for street improvement and water supply. For twelve
years he was secretary of the Board of Education of Fair-
fax District, and in 1909 was elected member in the House
of Delegates from Tucker County, serving under speaker
James H. Strickling, and was a member of several com-
mittees. He was connected with the passage of the State
Board of Control Bill at that term. In 1919 he was again
elected to the Legislature, and Speaker L. J. Wolfe ap-
pointed him chairman of the committee on elections and
privileges and a member of the judiciary, education, Vir-
ginia debt, mines and mining, private corporations and joint
stock companies committees. In that session he was much
interested in securing the passage of the Amended Work-
men’s Compensation Law, in the passage of the New School
Code, the Child Labor Law and the amendment of the
Juvenile Court Law, all of which measures originated in
the judiciary committee. He also voted for the ratification
of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the Fed-
eral Constitution and was author of the Women’s Registra-
tion Law, which enlarged the field for political action for
women, carrying into effect the real purpose of the Nine-
teenth Amendment. Mr. Cuppett has participated in a
number of campaigns as a speaker in behalf of the repub-
lican candidates, is a member of the Tucker County Execu-
tive Committee, and has attended several congressional and
state conventions. Fraternally he is a member of the Sigma
Nu college fraternity, the Knights of Pythias, and is presi-
dent of the board of trustees of the Methodist Episcopal
Church. During the World war he was one of the Four-
Minute speakers and chairman of that body in Tucker
County, and was also a member of the County Council of

In a business way Mr. Cuppett is a director and attorney
for the Miners and Merchants Bank of Thomas and the
First National Bank of Bayard, and is local attorney for
the Davis Coal and Coke Company, the largest industry at
Thomas. He is a stockholder and director in the Black-
water Coal Company.

In Preston County, December 26, 1905, Mr. Cuppett mar-
ried Miss Vida Barnes, daughter of J. P. and Amanda
(Harshbarger) Barnes, both of whom lived in Preston
County, though her father was a native of Pennsylvania.
Mrs. Cuppett was reared at Brandonville in Preston County,
and is a graduate of Southwestern State Normal School of
Pennsylvania, and for five years taught in Charleroi, Penn-
sylvania. She and Mr. Cuppett have three children, named
Reardon S., David Earl, Jr., and Mary Elizabeth. Mrs.
Cuppett is one of the well known women in the republican
party, being a member of the Republican State Committee.
She came of a democratic family, but she cast her first vote
as a republican. She is a Methodist, helped organize and
has served as president of the Women’s Club of Thomas,
nd was one of the active workers in the Red Cross Chapter
during the war.