John Washington Fortney

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. 277
Harrison County

JOHN WASHINGTON FORTNEY, a former member of the
House of Delegates from Harrison County, has been promi-
nently identified with the business and agricultural affairs
of the Lumberport vicinity for a number of years, and
on April 5, 1922 he was appointed postmaster of the Lum-
berport office, beginning his duties on April 15.

He was born on a farm in Eagle District of Harrison
County, July 2, 1865, son of Joshua D. and Mary J.
(Gifford) Fortney. The Fortneys were a very early family
in Harrison County, moving there from Preston County. His
paternal grandparents were Jacob D. and Mary (Shreve)
Fortney, the former also a native of West Virginia. Mr.
Fortney’s parents were born and reared and spent all
their lives in Harrison County. Jacob Fortney, who was
a farmer, enlisted in the Union army in 1861, and served
eighteen months in Captain Moffett’s company, until hon-
orably discharged on account of ill health. Mary J. Gifford
was a daughter of John and Malinda (Harbert) Gifford.

John Washington Fortney was one of eleven children.
He grew up on the farm, and finished the eighth grade in
the public schools at Lumberport. He engaged in farm-
ing, and about 1906 became a merchant and meat dealer
in Meadowbrook and later at Lumberport. This business
he sold in 1916, and then returned to the farm. In Sep-
tember, 1921, he again entered commercial affairs at Lum-
berport; as a merchant dealing in dry goods, groceries,
hats, caps and shoes.

Mr. Fortney has been one of the active republicans of
his county. He served several terms in the council of
Lumberport, and in 1918 was elected to the House of
Delegates and served one term with credit. In the session
of 1919 he was a member of the committee on railroads
and military affairs. Mr. Portney is a Baptist and is
affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

In 1888 he married Miss Minerva J. Bates, daughter
of Notley S. Bates of Harrison County. Mr. and Mrs.
Fortney became the parents of thirteen children, ten of
whom are living.