Wells Goodykoontz

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
November 26, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 317

HON. WELLS GOODYKOONTZ began the practice of law at
Williamson in 1894. The range and importance of his law
practice, his substantial interests in the community, were
the solid foundation for his public and political career, and
for all his varied and active service in the State Legislature
and in the halls of Congress he is still actively connected
with his profession and his business at Williamson.

Mr. Goodykoontz was born near Newbern, Pulaski County,
Virginia, June 3, 1872, son of William M. and Lucinda K.
(Woolwine) Goodykoontz. His paternal ancestor, Hans
Georg Gutekunsh, immigrated to this country in 1750 and
fought through the Revolution. His grandfather on his
mother’s side, Robert McCrum Woolwine, was born near
Beverly in Randolph County. He attended good schools and
had the fortune of coming under the supervision of some
very able educators. At Oxford Academy in Virginia he
was under John K. Harris, a graduate of Williams College
and a Presbyterian minister. At Floyd, Virginia, he read
law under Judge Z. T. Dobyns, and in Washington and Lee
University he came under the instruction of John Randolph
Tucker and Charles A. Graves. Mr. Goodykoontz was licensed
to practice June 9,1893, and established himself at William-
son February 23, 1894. He began his career as a lawyer at
Williamson when the great coal industry of that section
was just being developed. At the present time he is a
senior member of the law firm of Goodykoontz, Scherr &
Slaven. Mr. Goodykoontz became a member of the bar of
the Supreme Court of West Virginia on April 1, 1896, and
was admitted to practice as “an attorney and counsellor”
in the Supreme Court of the United States, December 13,
1909. His standing and popularity with the profession are
indicated by the fact that he was chosen president of the
West Virginia Bar Association in July, 1917.

Since its founding he has been president of the National
Bank of Commerce of Williamson. It was one of the first
banking institutions founded in that region. It was started
as a state bank. Since 1911 the same has operated under
a national charter and under the above name. The pros-
perity of this section is reflected in the comparative bank
deposits. Its deposits aggregated about $450,000 in 1915
and at the beginning of 1921 were over $1,400,000. Mr.
Goodykoontz is the president of the Kimberling Land Com-
pany and the Burning Creek Land Company, and a director
in several other corporations engaged in local enterprises.

Mr. Goodykoontz had been a successful lawyer nearly
twenty years before he became a candidate for public office.
Mingo County sent him to the House of Delegates in the
sessions of 1911-12, and in 1914 he was nominated without
opposition by the republican party for the State Senate.
He was chosen to represent the Sixth Senatorial District,
comprising McDowell, Mingo, Wayne and Wyoming coun-
ties, and led the ticket in each of these counties by a plur-
ality of 3,009. In the session of 1915-16 in the Senate, Mr.
Goodykoontz was majority floor leader, and January 10,
1917, was elected president of the Senate, thus becoming
ex-officio lieutenant governor of the state. He held that
office until December 1, 1918. Harris’ Legislative Hand-
book, 1918, gives him the distinction of being the first presi-
dent of the Senate from whose rulings no appeal was ever

November 5, 1918, as candidate of the republican party,
he was elected to the Sixty-sixth Congress, over W. M.
McNeal, democrat, by 2,936 majority. November 2, 1920,
he was reelected as a member of the Sixty-seventh Congress
—again over Mr. McNeal—by a majority of 6,799. The
Fifth District, which he represents covers the Pocahontas
coal field and is composed of the nine counties of Lincoln,
Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Summers,
Wayne and Wyoming. Mr. Goodykoontz entered Congress
when the republicans resumed control of the House, and he
has been one of the active members during the protracted
sessions of that body. He is a member of the Judiciary
Committee, the lawyers committee of the House, having been
assigned to this committee upon his entering Congress. It
is seldom that a new member is permitted a membership on
this major committee.

During the World war, Mr. Goodykoontz was chairman of
the Central Committee of Lawyers that headed the West
Virginia bar in assisting registrants and aiding, by advice
and otherwise, soldiers and sailors, their families and de-
pendents. In this connection Mr. Goodykoontz was author
of the “Legal Booklet,” of which 30,000 copies were dis-
tributed, giving information as to the more important laws,
State and Federal, affecting soldiers and sailors.

Mr. Goodykoontz is a past master of the Williamson
Masonic Lodge. On December 22, 1898, he married Miss
Irene Hooper, of New Orleans.