John Byrne

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. 285
Braxton County

JOHN BYRNE. The most prominent, successful and ca-
pable men are not always those who started out in life
with the ambition to achieve something especially great or
famous, but almost invariably are found to be individuals
who at the outset placed a proper valuation upon indus-
try, integrity and determination. Possessing these quali-
ties as a capital, John Byrne, of Sutton, entered upon his
business career, and during the course of many years rose
to a position of independence and prominence in his local-
ity, where he is now living retired. For him the path to
success was not an easy one, for his youthful advantages
were limited and his earlier years were ones crowded with
labor, but these facts made his success all the more wel-
come and gratifying when it had been achieved.

Mr. Byrne was born at Sutton, February 9, 1848, a son
of John P. and Sabina C. (Sterrett) Byrne. He traces
his ancestry back to George Byrne, a native of Wicklow,
Ireland, who immigrated to America in the year 1720 and
settled near what is now the City of Washington, D. C.
He was the father of Samuel B. Byrne, whose son, Peyton
Byrne, was the first of the family to migrate westward, lo-
cating in what is now Preston County, West Virginia, in
1794. He was the father of John B. Byrne, whose son,
John P. Byrne, was the father of John Byrne. John P.
Byrne was born in Lewis County, West Virginia, July 6,
1817, and acquired his education in a private school. Dur-
ing the greater part of his life he applied himself to agri-
cultural pursuits, but was also prominent in public and
political affairs and was a leader of the whig party. When
Braxton County was organized, in 1836, he was made a
deputy sheriff under the first sheriff of the newly-organized
county, and later in life became county clerk, a position
which he held for eighteen years and which he was occu-
pying at the time of his death, February 2, 1860, when
he was but forty-three years of age. He first married
Sabina C. Sterrett, who was born in Missouri, in 1830, and
died August 29, 1853, in the faith of the Presbyterian
Church. They became the parents of three children, of
whom John Bryne is the only survivor. In 1854 John P.
Byrne took as his second wife Jane Hamilton.

John Byrne was but five years of age when his mother
died, and his youthful education was somewhat neglected,
although in later years he gained much practical knowl-
edge through reading, experience and observation, and
became a man of good education. When he was twelve
years of age his father died, and he went to live at the
home of his grandmother, Mrs. Sterrett, with whom he
remained until reaching the age of seventeen years, when
he began to be self-supporting. For some years he worked
as clerk in a store and saved his money carefully, so that
in 1871 he became a proprietor on his own account through
the purchase of a modest stock of goods. This business
he gradually built up from small proportions to become a
nourishing and successful enterprise, and continued as its
head until his retirement in 1916. Mr. Byrne gained suc-
cess solely through his own efforts, aided by a reputation
for fair and honorable dealing that has always been well-
merited. During his career he has also interested himself
to some extent in farming, and in this field, as in the other,
hard work and intelligent management served as the me-
dia through which prosperity was gained. Like his father,
Mr. Byrne has been active and influential in public and
political life. For several years he was one of the leaders
of the democratic party, and served as chairman of the
Braxton County Democratic Committee. In 1876 he was
elected sheriff of Braxton County, and acted in that capacity
for a period of four years, giving the people an excellent

Mr. Byrne was united in marriage with Miss Frances C.
Squires, who was born near Sutton, October 17, 1858, a
daughter of Norman B. Squires, a native of Braxton
County, who died of wounds received during the Civil war
while serving in the Federal Army. Mrs. Byrne is a faith-
ful member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Sutton.
She is the owner of farming land in Braxton County. To
Mr. and Mrs. Byrne there have been born fourteen chil-
dren, of whom ten are living: Sabina C., the widow of
Joel S. Berry; Norman, of Nicholas County, this state;
Ella, the wife of Dr. M. T. Morrison; John P., a farmer
near Sutton; Charles M., printer of the Braxton Central
newspaper; Robert E. and Ethel, at home; George C., a
traveling salesman; Mary A., the wife of John Newlon, of
Sutton; and Clarence, a resident of Sebring, Ohio.