James A. Purdy

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
September 26, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 256-257
Hancock County

JAMES A. PURDY. One of the most active and progressive
men of Holliday’s Cove, James A. Purdy, has contributed
to the growth and development of his community a sound
business ability, high principles of business practice and
commendable ideals of the responsibilities of good citizen-
ship. During his career he has risen from small beginnings
to a leading place among the men who have achievements
to their credit, and at this time is senior partner of the
prosperous general merchandise firm of Purdy & Marsh.

Mr. Purdy was born on a farm in the Holliday’s Cove
community, July 20, 1869, a son of James and Mary Jane
(Knox) Purdy, the latter a native of the same community.
James Purdy was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsyl-
vania, and at the age of four years was brought to West Vir-
ginia by his father, John Purdy, who was a cabinet-maker
by trade, but who in 1824 purchased a farm on which he
spent the remainder of his life in agricultural pursuits.
James Purdy early took charge of the home farm in partner-
ship with his brother, John Purdy, who later retired and
went to Iowa, but James continued as a farmer, cattle
grower and sheep breeder until his death at the age of
ninety-one years. He was an active democrat in politics,
was a great reader, and a man who was well and thoroughly
posted on all worth-while subjects of the day. He kept
open house, entertaining every traveler who visited the com-
munity, and became widely known for his generous and
kindly hospitality. His word was as good as his bond,
and he was a faithful member of the Presbyterian Church at
the Cove, of which his wife had become a charter member
in her girlhood. She died at the age of fifty-two years,
and was greatly mourned as a woman of many admirable
characteristics and qualities of both mind and heart.

James A. Purdy had to leave school as a lad in order to
take charge of the home farm. His father had married
very late in life, and as James was one of the younger
children he was little more than a boy when he accepted the
responsibilities of a man. With his younger sister, Saman-
tha, as his housekeeper, he remained on the home farm until
the death of his aged father, in the meantime having added
the breeding of swine to the other activities of the farm
and becoming widely known as a raiser of Berkshire hogs.
Farming, however, he felt was not his forte, and when the
elder man passed away and the estate was settled Mr. Purdy
left the farm and became a clerk in a grocery store for
one winter. Subsequently he spent a few months in North-
western Idaho and then went on to the Pacific Coast, bnt
in 1910 returned to Holliday’s Cove, where he rented a store
and installed a general stock of merchandise. His original
stock was valued at $1,700, bnt during the first year he had
sales of $25,000. At the present time he carries a stock of
$15,000, and does an annual business approximating
$160,000. He sells close and depends on the volume of
business for his profits, and this necessitates the employ-
ment of six assistants. In 1914 he built the present build-
ing, which he has since sold, being now a renter. In 1920
Mr. Purdy admitted to partnership G. H. Marsh, and the
business has since been conducted under the firm style of
Purdy & Marsh. Mr. Purdy was one of the original directors
of the Bank of Weirton, and still holds a place on the board.
>From young manhood he has been interested and active in
civic affairs. While still residing on the farm he served as
a member of the School Board of Bertha District. After
locating at Holliday’s Cove he was elected mayor, but re-
signed from that office to act as a member of the Draft
Board during the war period, having been appointed to
that position by Governor Cornwall. He has also served
several times as a member of the City Council. Fraternally
he affiliates with the Knights of Pythias, and as a means
of recreation enjoys the sports of fishing and horseback
riding. All in all, he is one of the most active and progres-
sive men of the community comprising Holliday’s Cove and

Mr. Purdy was united in marriage with Miss Lura Bux-
ton, who was born in Brooke County, West Virginia, daugh-
ter of J. H. Buxton, who is now deceased, and to this
union there were born two sons: John, in the fourth gene-
ration of the name; and James G., the third generation to
bear the name.