Thomas E. Pownall

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
April 12, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 400-401

THOMAS E. POWNALL, who for nine years was postmaster
of Romney, is one of the active business men of the county
seat of Hampshire County, and is a member of one of the
older families of this section.

He was born at Rio in Hampshire County, April 10, 1875.
His parents were Frank and Virginia (Baker) Pownall,
his mother being a daughter of James Baker. Frank Pown-
all was born at Three Churches in Hampshire County in
1839, and as a boy on the farm had little opportunity to
attend school beyond two terms in the country district. At
the beginning of the Civil war he joined the Confederate
Army, with the regiment attached to Gen, Stonewall Jack-
son’s command, and saw some of the very heavy fighting
before he was taken prisoner. For about a year he was
confined at Camp Chase, Ohio. When the war was over
and when he was released he returned to -the farm, and that
remained his business the rest of his life. He died in 1906.
He was an active democrat and a member of local conven-
tions, but his only elective office was in his school district.
He was a Presbyterian. He survived his wife eleven years,
and their children were: Bettie E., the wife of Stewart
Zeiler, of Romney; Rebacca, wife of Charles Howard, liv-
ing near Martinsburg; and Thomas Edwin.

Thomas Edwin Pownall spent the first twenty-one years
of his life on the old farm, attended country schools, the
Normal School at Basic City, Virginia, and at Fairmont,
West Virginia, and for six years he taught school during
the winter months in Hampshire County. Mr. Pownall is
a lawyer by profession, having graduated from the law
school of the West Virginia University in 1900. He carried
on an active law practice at Eomney for five years, until he
was appointed postmaster, under the administration of
President Roosevelt. He was reappointed by President
Taft, and finally, after nine years, retired early in the ad-
ministration of President Wilson. During this period the
business of the Romney Post Office more than doubled.
When he left the office there were five routes radiating from
Romney, one to Moorefield, one to Glebe, one to Higgins-
ville, one to Capon Bridge and one to Rio, so that Eomney
has been an important distributing center for mail. When
he entered the post office all this mail from the outside of-
fices was brought in by horseback, but the method of trans-
portation now is entirely by auto. Since his administration
of the post office Mr. Pownall has been engaged in the re-
tail meat business at Romney. He has been active in other
business interests, and was one of the original stockholders
and is a director of the First National Bank.

Mr. Pownall did not follow his father’s example in the
choice of a political party, and has been a republican since
casting his first vote for Major McKinley for president.
He has attended local and congressional conventions, and
helped nominate George Sturgiss for Congress. He has
been chairman and is the present secretary of the Hampshire
County Republican Committee. Fraternally he is a past
noble grand of Eomney Lodge of Odd Fellows, and a past
district deputy grand, and Mrs. Pownall and their oldest
daughter are active members of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, South.

At Romney, June 29, 1904, Mr. Pownall married Miss
Grace Virginia Parker, daughter of William C. and Fannie
(Mytinger) Parker. Her father, a native son of Hamp-
shire County, was successively a railroad man, in the livery
business and finally a farmer. Mrs. Pownall was born at
Romney, January 14, 1881, was educated in the local pub-
lic schools and for six years taught school in Eomney. She
is one of a family of four daughters and one son, the others
being Mrs. Belle Griffin, Mrs. Maude Frye Miss Frances
and William Earl. Her brother is an ex-service man, went
overseas with the Sixth Division and was in the fighting in
the Argonne Forest. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Pow-
nall are: Virginia Hopkins, a student in the Romney High
School, Marion Parker, Thomas E., Jr., and William “Fran-
cis Bill” Frank.