James L. Mayhew

Submitted by
Valerie Crook
September 12, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 226-227
Hancock County

JAMES L. MAYHEW. The chief executive office in any
community is a responsible one, and the individual occupy-
ing it bears the responsibility on his shoulders not only
of handling the multitudinous details of municipal manage-
ment, but the accountability for its commercial and moral
integrity. As he is, so is generally his community, for it
soon reflects his character and manner of dealing with
large problems, and unless he keeps a firm grip upon
the reins of government and influences his associates to act
as he believes is right and just, his administration soon
shows the effect of lax principles. For this reason of
recent years the people of the enterprising communities
all over the country have been choosing their chief execu-
tives more and more from the sound business class, recog-
nizing the beneficial effect of example and action. Ex-
Mayor Mayhew, of Chester, West Virginia, is not only a
business man of proved ability and substantial standing,
but a man who has had former experience in public office
and who has shown his worth in securing the successful
bringing about of movements for the public welfare.

Mr. Mayhew was born at the old Mayhew farm home
at Pughtown, Hancock County, March 18, 1862, and is
a son of James N. and Mary Jane (Crawford) Mayhew.
James N. Mayhew was born near Florence, Washington
County, Pennsylvania, in 1827, and when seven years of
age was brought to West Virginia by his parents, John
and Elizabeth (Jackson) Mayhew, who settled adjoining the
village of Fairview, now Pughtown. John Mayhew owned
about 340 acres of land and lived in a brick house which
still forms a part of the residence on the property. He
followed farming until his death when eighty years old,
while his wife died when seventy-five or seventy-six years
of age. They had the following children: Rebecca, who
died as Mrs. Albaugh; Eliza, who became Mrs. Buchanan
and had a son, John Buchanan, an attorney at Beaver,
Pennsylvania; James N.; David Simeon, who died in Illi-
nois; Nancy, who became Mrs. Fulton and died at the
age of ninety-six years, being the mother of Rev. W. P.
Fulton, a noted Presbyterian divine of Philadelphia, Penn-
sylvania; John W., who died in Beaver County, that
state; William, who was last heard from in California;
Elizabeth who married a Mr. Travis; and Mary who
married a Mr. Custer.

After completing a public school education James N.
Mayhew turned his attention to agricultural operations,
in which he was engaged all his life, and became one
of the highly respected and esteemed men of his locality.
He was a democrat in politics, and he and his wife be-
longed to the Methodist Protestant Church. In Columbiana
County, Ohio, he married Mary Jane Crawford, and they
became the parents of thirteen children, all of whom are
still living in 1922, the youngest being now in middle life:
Thomas C., a resident of Nebraska; John H., of Chester;
David E., of Pughtown, who is engaged in farming the
old home place; William Lucas, a resident of Lisbon, Ohio;
Nancy Jane, the widow of Wesley Herron, of Pughtown,
who had thirty-two grandchildren in 1922; James L., of
this review; Charles C., his twin, who is a resident of
California; Ella, the widow of Howard Warren, of Cleve-
land; George, of Sebring, Ohio; Ira, residing on the
old home farm; Frank, of Salem, Ohio; Elizabeth, now
Mrs. Emanuel Thomas, of Salem, Ohio; and Noah, of
East Palestine, Ohio.

James L. Mayhew received a public school education
and remained on the home farm until reaching his twen-
tieth year, at which time he went to New Brighton, Penn-
sylvania, where he took up the trade of painting. He
followed that vocation for a long period, and was a
contractor in the same line for five years, following which
for twelve years he was the proprietor of a grocery and
meat market. In 1900, while residing at New Brighton,
he was elected one of the three county commissioners of
Beaver County, Pennsylvania. This proved to be the most
responsible position in the county, with court in session
all the time during the administration. At the time all
the bridges in the county were toll bridges, but in 1900
the commission of which Mr. Mayhew was a member
started the movement for free bridges by purchasing
the first bridge of this kind in the county. New Brighton
is located on the Beaver River, near its junction with the
Ohio, and there are bridges in every direction. The move-
ment for free bridges met with a turmoil of opposition
and the most strenuous objections, but later, after a start
had been made in this line, the enterprise met with grow-
ing favor, and finally became popular. Mr. Mayhew, how-
ever, met defeat for reelection by a small majority. Later
he conducted a hotel at New Brighton for about ten years,
and in 1915 disposed of his holdings and returned to Han-
cock County, settling at Chester, where he was elected mayor
in 1920 and served capably for two years his term expiring
April 1, 1922. He has been prominent in the ranks of
the democratic party and is a member of the committee
of his party for the congressional district, as well as a
jury commissioner, his associates being Capt. Harvey
Robb, of New Cumberland. As chairman of the congres-
sional committee he is one of the most active workers in
the conduct of campaigns and has frequently been a dele-
gate to conventions. At present, in a business way, Mr.
Mayhew is engaged in the handling of paints and wall
paper, and is contracting in work of this kind. He has
several fraternal connections and is accounted one of the
most energetic and public-spirited citizens of his com-

Mr. Mayhew married Miss Nannie E. Snowden, who was
born near Pughtown, daughter of the late W. D. Snowden,
who was engaged in agricultural pursuits in Hancock
County until his death. To Mr. and Mrs. Mayhew there
have been born two children: Ina, who is the wife of Theo-
dore McLain, of New Brighton, Pennsylvania; and William
A., who is associated in business with his father.