Jonathan Corbley Powell

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc. Chicago and New York,
Volume III pg 79.

Submitted by Gerald Bills.

JONATHAN CORBLEY POWELL, prosecuting attorney of Pleasants County, is now in
his second term, and his record is a most interesting and unusual one. He was
elected prosecuting attorney before he finished his law course in the State
University, and early in his first term turned over the responsibilities of
the office to his assistant and for practically two years was in the uniform
of an army officer, so that during more than half of his term he was
prosecuting attorney in name only.

Mr. Powell was born in Pleasants County November 9, 1892, and evidently his
range of experience for a man of thirty has been exceptional. His grandfather,
Jonathan Powell, was born in England in 1831, and as a young man came to
American and settled in Monongalia County, West Virginia. He was a farmer,
timberman and steamboatman. In 1867 he bought land in Pleasants County, and
two years later located on that land, near the mouth of Sugar Creek, making
his home on this place until his death, which occurred May 24, 1917. He owned
a large amount of land, carried on extensive operations as a farmer. and also
did a large business as a timberman. He was a democrat and a member of the
Methodist Protestant Church. Jonathan Powell married Minerva Summers at Little
Falls in Mononealia County, where she was born in 1840 and died at the old
homestead in Pleasants County in March, 1916. She was the mother of four
children: Alice, wife of Theodore Birkhimer, a merchant at Cloverdale,
Pleasants County; James B., a merchant at Federal, West Virginia; Thomas B., a
merchant at Parkersburg; and George B., a farmer and merchant at Sugar Valley,
West Virginia.

James B. Powell, father of Attorney Powell of St. Marys, was born in
Monongalia County August 23, 1857, and is still living at Federal, near the
old homestead in Pleasants County. He acquired a common school education in
Monongalia and Pleasants counties, was married in the latter county, and has
followed farming. He owns a farm in Lafayette District, and is also a merchant
there and a stockholder in the Pleasants County Bank of St. Marys. James
B. Powell is a democrat, and is a trustee and active supporter of the
Methodist Protestant Church. He married Miss Alice Jennie Lucas, who was born
in Pleasants County August 24, 1869 Two sons were born to their marriage. The
older, Edmond Perry, died September 14, 1913, at the home farm at the age of

Jonathan Corbley Powell was reared on the farm of his father, attended rural
schools, completed a business course in a business college at Marietta, Ohio,
in 1908, during 1909-10. was a student in the preparatory department of West
Virginia University at Morgantown. and finished his literary education in the
Fairmont State Normal School in 1912. In 1913 he entered West Virginia
University, law department, graduating LL. B. with the class of 1917.
Mr. Powell was first honored with the office of prosecuting attorney of
Pleasants County in November, 1916. He was inaugurated January 1, 1917, and at
once appointed an assistant to conduct the office until June 17, 1917, when.
having graduated. He took personal charge. In the meantime America had entered
the war with Germany, and, his application being accepted, he entered the
Second Officers Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, August 24,
1917. He was in training there and was commissioned second lieutenant November
23, 1917, being ordered to report to the Eighty-fourth Division at Camp
Taylor, Kentucky, and was assigned to Headquarters Company of the Three
Hundred and Thirty-sixth Infantry. April 22, 1918, he was transferred to Camp
Gordon at Atlanta, being made an instructor in the Infantry Replacement Troops
in the Manual of Courts Martial in the Smoke, Gas and Flame School, Second
Division. June 17, 1918, Lieutenant Powell was transferred to Camp Hancock,
Augusta, Georgia, school of machine gun fire, and on July 25, 1918, was
promoted to the rank of first lieutenant and assigned as a company commander
and instructor in the Fourth Officers Training School in Machine Gun work at
Camp Hancock. He also instructed in the branches of manual of court martial
and in the machine gun work and in the gas, flame and smoke school and was
instructor in hand grenades. His work at Camp Hancock was of a very arduous
nature, and he was exceptionally gifted for the varied duties to which he was

Lieutenant Powell received his honorable discharge February 6, 1919, and at
once returned to St. Marys and took over the duties of prosecuting attorney in
person. November 3, 1920, he was reelected for another term of four years, his
term running from January 1, 1921, to January 1, 1925. Mr. Powell is a
republican, and a member of the County and State Bar Associations. He is a
stockholder in the Archer Cord Tire & Rubber Company at Minneapolis. Among
other real estate he owns at St. Marys is a handsome stucco residence, which
he completed for his own family, in 1921. Mr. Powell is present noble grand of
St. Marys Lodge No. 22, Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

July 20, 1918, at Augusta, Georgia, he married Miss Lillian Grey Hackney,
daughter of James M. and Martha J. (Grey) Hackney, of Morgantown, where her
father is a contracting carpenter. Her father graduated A. B. from West
Virginia University in 1892. Mrs. Powell is a graduate of the Morgantown High
school and was in the junior class of West Virginia University when she was
married. She had also taught three terms in the Morgantown public schools.

Mr. and Mrs. Powell have two daughters, Rosemary, born April 27, 1919,
and Margaret Grey, born October 13, 1921.