Richard A. Welch.

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Vivian Brinker
January 14, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume II.
pg. 182

RICHARD A. WELCH. For considerably more than half a century the
name Welch has been one of prominence in the Mineral County bar.
The record is not quite continuous, since Richard A. Welch was
not qualified to begin practice until about a year after the
death of his father, who was one of the ablest lawyers and men of
affairs in Keyser from about the close of the Civil war.

The first American of this name came to this country in the colony
of Lord Baltimore, and for several generations the family lived on
the eastern shore of Maryland. Many states and localities have
families descended from the original one in Eastern Maryland. The
family supplied a number of soldiers to the Revolutionary war, and
the ancestor of the branch of family in Mineral County was in the
struggle for independence. Shortly after the close of that war he
moved to Allegany County, Maryland. John Welch, grandfather of
Richard A. Welch, spent all his life in Allegany County, Maryland,
where he was a “gentleman farmer.”

William M. Welch, the pioneer lawyer of Mineral County, was born in
Allegany County, Maryland, January 10, 1841. He attended the old
Allegany County Academy and read law for a time under Judge Hunter
at Cumberland. He was admitted to practice there in the fall of
1862, but soon afterward left the law to join the army as a Union
man. He was commissioned a captain in the Quartermaster’s
Department, and for a time was stationed at New Creek, now Keyser,
then at Wheeling, and finished his service at Clarksburg. He was
mustered out soon after the surrender of General Lee.

At the close of the war Mr. Welch came into Eastern West Virginia,
about the same time as Judge Francis M. Reynolds, and both located
at Romney, county seat of Hampshire County, which then included
Mineral County, and they were together in practice. When the party
was divided and Mineral created both these young lawyers destined
for great prominence in the future, moved over to Keyser, the new
county seat, and they continued to be associated until 1872. After
that William M. Welch practiced law alone. He became widely known
for his masterful handling of cases at trial, and was undoubtedly
one of the best trial lawyers in Mineral County. His successful
career in this profession continued until his death on September 5,
1898. His name was also well known in democratic politics. For
seven different terms he represented Mineral County in the House of
Delegates and was twice Speaker of the House. He was a delegate to
two national conventions, that of 1876, when Samuel J. Tilden was
named for President, and that of 1884, when Grover Cleveland was
nominated. He was useful to his party and to his friends in a
number of campaigns, but had no ambition for more of the political
honors that were given him. He was not a member of any church, but
was a Master Mason.

William M. Welch married Virginia Adams, who was born at Clarksburg,
on the same day of the month and the same year as her husband. She
is now living at Keyser. Her parents were Josiah and Hannah (Moore)
Adams. The Adamses were a Massachusetts family and the Moores came
from Delaware. Josiah Adams settled at Clarksburg and secured a
patent from Virginia for from 26,000 to 28,000 acres. He was one of
the prominent farmers and land owners of that section. The Moore
family came into that region about the same time. William M. Welch
and wife had the following children: Mrs. T.P Smith, of Parkersburg;
Mrs. Louise B. Martine, of Chicago; Mrs. Ida V. Rathbone, of
Parkersburg; W.A., of Keyser; Richard A.; and Ralph P., of Holdenville,

Richard A. Welch was born at Keyser, April 17, 1878, and during his
boyhood and youth he profited from the public schools, and after
finishing high school took his academic work in the University of
Virginia. He left there at the end of his junior year and enrolled in
the law department of West Virginia, where he graduated LL. B. in 1899.
He at once returned to Keyser and began practice, and a considerable
part of his father’s law business drifted to him. He has continued
his professional work alone, and always in general practice. The law
has abundantly satisfied him and he has permitted himself no diversion
into the field of politics for the sake of office. However, he has
done considerable campaign work as a democrat, and until state
conventions were abolished he was one of the leaders of his party in
this section of the state. He was a delegate to the Denver National
Convention of 1908, and in 1912 was a member of the West Virginia
delegation pledged to the nomination of Champ Clark at Baltimore,
though personally he was a Woodrow Wilson man, and voted for Wilson
as soon as the West Virginia delegation was released from its
instructions. He also served as a member of the Democratic State
Committee for eight years. While a good and loyal democrat, Mr.
Welch cast his first presidential vote for Swallow, the prohibition
candidate, declining to support the nominee of his own party.

His practical public service has been given to his home town. He
consented to serve seven consecutive terms as mayor. During these
administrations a large amount of paving was done, sewers laid,
concrete walks built, water works installed, and when these
improvements had reached a satisfactory stage he felt that his
obligations to the community had been discharged and he was satisfied
to retire. During the World war he was chairman of the Legal Advisory
Committee for Mineral County, of all of the Liberty Loan drives at
Keyser, and member of the County Council of Defense.

At Martinsburg, West Virginia, August 16, 1911, Mr. Welch married
Miss Mary D. Edwards, a native of Martinsburg. her father, William G.
Edwards, was a business man of that city, and by his marriage to
Miss Roush had three children: William G. Edwards, Jr., of Chicago;
Mrs. Welch, who was born October 5, 1887; and Mrs. Nell Sherpick, of
New York City. Mr. and Mrs. Welch have a family of four young
children: Virginia, Mary, Louise and Richard A., Jr.

Outside of his profession Mr. Welch has been interested in some
business organizations that have contributed to Keyser’s advancement.
he was associated with Doctor Gerstell in the organization of the
Farmers and Merchants Bank, and is a director of and attorney for the
bank. For a time he was a director for the Keyser Electric Light
Company, and for many years was president and director of the Alkire
Orchard Company.