John L. Ellison

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
August 1, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 629

JOHN L. ELLISON, is one of the progressive and suc-
cessful merchants of Summers County, his well equipped
general store being at Avis, a tributary town to Hinton, the
judicial center of the county.

Mr. Ellison was born at the family home at Ellison Post
Office, in Jumping Branch District, Summers County, and
the date of his nativity was September 23, 1875. He is a
son of Lorenzo D. and Mary Jane (Wills) Ellison, and is
a descendant of Joseph Ellison, who, in company with a
brother, came from England to America about 1780 and
became one of the early settlers in what is now Monroe
County, West Virginia. He was captured by Indians and
taken to Flat Top, but contrived to escape, this capture
having been made in one of the last raids made by the
Indians in this section. The Ellison family has been
actively concerned in social and industrial development and
progress in Monroe, Summers and Randolph counties, and
the family name has been honored in the annals of West
Virginia since the early pioneer period.

Lorenzo D. Ellison was born in Jumping Branch Dis-
trict, Summers County, February 22, 1858, and he is now
engaged in the mercantile business at Avis. His father,
John F. Ellison, likewise was born and reared in Summers
County, where his death occurred July 27, 1899, he having
been a gallant soldier of the Union in the Civil war. His
father, John Franklin Ellison, was born in 1790, and died
in 1877, he having been a son of Joseph, the founder of the
family in the frontier wilds of what is now West Virginia.
The grandfather of the subject of this review had become
a man of substantial wealth prior to the Civil war, but
depredations made by Confederate soldiers, combined with
other war depressions entailed to him large property and
financial losses. Lorenzo D. Ellison conducted for two
years a general store in Jumping Branch District, and
February 5, 1907, he became associated with his son John
L. in the same line of enterprise at Avis, his interest in
the business having been sold to his son John L. in 1911,
and he later having engaged in business at this place, where
he still conducts a general store. He has served as a mem-
ber of the City Council of Avis, and is one of the influential
citizens of this place. The marriage of Lorenzo D. Ellison
and Miss Mary Jane Wills, daughter of Lee Wills, was
solemnized November 4, 1874, and of the eight sons and
two daughters of this union all are living except one son.
John L., the immediate subject of this sketch, is the eldest
of the number; W. L. is chief clerk for the Loup Creek
Coal Company at Page; W. H. is associated with his father
in the mercantile business at Avis; C. E. is a resident of
Avis and is a carpenter by trade and vocation; R. L. and
Edward M. are in the employ of the Chesapeake & Ohio
Railroad Company, as is also Fred, who is a conductor, his
twin brother, Lonnie B., having died at the age of eight
years; Viola is the wife of D. L. Lane, of Avis; and Anna
is the wife of Clay Shipp, who, like Mr. Lane, is in the
service of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad.

John L. Ellison so profited by the advantages of the
public schools of his native county that he made himself
eligible for pedagogic service. For five years he was num-
bered among the successful teachers in the rural schools of
Summers County, at a salary of twenty-five dollars a month,
and in the meanwhile he continued his association with
farm enterprise. He gave five years to successful work as
a traveling portrait salesman, and he then established him-
self in the general merchandise business at Avis, where he
has built up a substantial and prosperous enterprise, based
on fair and honorable dealings and effective service to an
appreciative patronage. He has served as a member of
the Republican County Committee, a member of the City
Council of Avis, and has been influential in the local
councils and work of his party since his early youth. In
1920 he was appointed a member of the Board of Equaliza-
tion for Summers County for a term of six years, and
he is serving also as a notary public. Both he and his wife
hold membership in the Missionary Baptist Church.

May 27, 1894, recorded the marriage of Mr. Ellison and
Miss Rosa E. Lilly, daughter of Samuel and Anna Lilly.
She was born November 20, 1875, and her death occurred
August 16, 1901. Of this union were born four children:
William C., now a conductor on the Chesapeake & Ohio
Railroad, with residence at Avis, was for fifteen months in
active service with the American Expeditionary Forces in
France in the World war, he having been assigned to the
medical department of the Sixth Division; Clara Mabel
died at the age of ten years; Mina Claire is the wife of
Frank A. Spades, a conductor on the Chesapeake & Ohio
Railroad, and they reside in the City of Charleston; and
Ola likewise is a conductor for that railroad, with residence
at Russell, Kentucky.

On the 17th of April, 1912, Mr. Ellison wedded Miss
Stella Barker, who was born in Summers County on the
17th of April, 1882. Mrs. Ellison is a daughter of John
W. and Mary Malissa (Meadows) Barker. His father, who
had been a prosperous farmer and also engaged in the
jewelry business, was a resident of Baltimore, Maryland,
at the time of his death, March 7, 1911, his widow being
now at the old homestead in Summers County. The Barker
family was founded in Virginia in the Colonial period, and
representatives of the same were pioneers in what is now
West Virginia. Prior to her marriage Mrs. Ellison had
been for five years a popular teacher in the schools of
Summers County. Mr. and Mrs. Ellison have two children,
John O. and Mary Pauline, aged respectively eight and six
years, in 1922.