Norman Festus Kendall

TAYLOR COUNTY WEST VIRGINIA
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Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
vfcrook@trellis.net
March 19, 2000
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The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 385
Taylor

NORMAN FESTUS KENDALL, one of the organizers and
cashier of the Taylor County Bank of Grafton, has been
a resident of Taylor County since 1891, and had put some
distinctive work to his credit as an educator before he
became a banker.

Mr. Kendall was born on a farm near Mannington in
Marion County, January 27, 1870. The family has been
in Marion County since pioneer times. His grandfather,
Elias Kendall, lived on a farm there to the venerable age
of ninety-eight. His vigor remained with him to the end,
and to the last day of his life he assisted in stacking hay.
He acquired a large body of land in the county, and was
a man of peace and industry and of considerable influence,
though never active in politics beyond voting as a demo-
crat. He married Isabelle Snodgrass, and their children
were Alva, John, Earner, William B. C., Vine and Mrs.
D. H. Davis, wife of Rev. D. H. Davis of Pullman, West
Virginia.

William B. C. Kendall, father of the Grafton banker,
is still living on his farm at Mannington, though he has
reached that age where he is practically retired from its
responsibilities. He was born near his present home, and,
his services being needed by his parents, he employed two
substitutes during the Civil war. He graduated from
Duff’s Business College at Pittsburg, and since then his
time and energies have been devoted to the farm. He has
served as a justice of the peace. In Marion County he
married Miss Rachel Cunningham, who was born there
seventy years ago, daughter of Nimrod Cunningham, a
farmer in that section. The children of this union were
eight in number, six sons and two daughters, Norman F.;
Porter, a schoolman, who died in 1888; Ross, Mrs. Fannie
Murray, Ward, Howard and Miss Bertha, all of Marion
County, and Everett, of Robinson, Illinois.

Norman P. Kendall spent the first eighteen years of his
life at the home farm, and in the meantime was educated
in the common schools and the Fairmont State Normal.
He did his first work as a teacher in the country schools
of Wetzel and Marion counties, later was assistant super-
intendent and principal of the State Reform School for
Boys at Pruntytown, near Grafton, over six years, and
then became principal of the Fetterman School in Taylor
County. He served as mayor of Fetterman two years.
Following that he was chosen and selected as editor and
manager of the Harrison County Herald and the Salem
Express, and did newspaper work on them for three years.
It was a period of some strenuous political battles in the
county, involving some of the leading old-guard politicians
in the republican party. The struggle to dislodge these
from control almost resulted in the county changing its
political complexion. Mr. Kendall in purchasing the Salem
Express turned all its power toward cleaning up the town,
and in that he had to combat all the active liquor inter-
ests, and the Express office was fired by its enemies, who
almost destroyed the town, and the owner of the office
narrowly escaped physical catastrophe at the hands of the
liquor men. Nevertheless the Express went on with its
publication and helped rout the “speakeasies” and made
the town the cleanest in the state. When these
issues were settled Mr. Kendall resigned from the papers
and resumed his educational work as principal of the West
Grafton schools. Later he was selected as a member of
the Grafton School Board. He was on this board six
years, and during that time the high school and the South
Side ward schools were erected and the West Side school
completed. During the same period the Grafton High
School was given rank among the first grade high schools
of the state.

In June, 1905, Mr. Kendall and associates completed
the organization of the Taylor County Bank, his chief as-
sociates being J. C. Lewellen, Martin L. Shields, John L.
Magill, V. T. Hanley, W. W. Tapp and George W. Low-
ther. The bank opened for business the 5th of June
with a capital stock of $50,000. The officers are J. C.
Lewellen of Grafton, Martin L. Shields of Rosemont, and
Hiram Linn, vice presidents, and Mr. Kendall, cashier.
The present board of directors are, F. M. Poe, W. S.
Phillips, George Neel, W. C. Frum and Dr. F. S. Suddarth.
This bank now has total resources of $700,000. In the
meantime Mr. Kendall has also assisted in the organiza-
tion and is a director of the Bank of Flemington, and has
some other interests in the coal mining industry at Astor.

Mr. Kendall was reared a democrat, but has not been a
strict partisan. His first presidential vote went to Mr.
Cleveland. He voted for Major McKinley in both cam-
paigns, having a personal acquaintance and a high admira-
tion for the Ohio republican. He also supported Colonel
Roosevelt in all his aspirations for office. He helped elect
Mr. Wilson both times. Mr. Kendall is a Mason and Odd
Fellow, is a past noble grand of the latter order and has
sat in the Grand Lodge. His father was a Baptist and his
mother a Southern Methodist, and he has long been identi-
fied with the Methodist Episcopal Church, serving on the
official board and in 1904 was a lay delegate from West
Virginia to the General Conference at Los Angeles. At
the age of seventeen he began active work in Sunday
school, and has been a Sunday school superintendent
thirty-two years. For eleven years he had charge of the
state work of the Epworth League, and during that time
the largest Young People’s State conventions were held.

In Taylor County, June 17, 1896, Mr. Kendall married
Miss Vesta B. Jones, daughter of Nathan H. Jones, a son
of the famous pioneer “Jones Family” of Taylor County,
and Jemimah R. (Robinson) Jones. She was the third
among their four daughters, the others being Mrs. Mary
Kelley, of Grafton, Mrs. A. J. Reynolds, of Fairmont, and
Mrs. Claud E. Vincent, of Fairmont.