Category Archives: Barbour

Willie J. Williams

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
November 10, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 309-310

WILLIE J. WILLIAMS. With the coal mining that con-
stitutes the principal industrial activity of the Junior local-
ity in Barbour County Willie J. Williams has been identified
nearly all the years since he attained his majority, first as a
practical miner and later as an operator. He is president
of the Mildred Coal Company there.

Mr. Williams was born in Valley District of Barbour
County, October 21, 1877. His father, Andrew Jackson
Williams, was born in Bath County, Virginia, and as a
young man accompanied his parents to West Virginia, the
family locating near Laurel Hill Mountain, where his father
spent the rest of his life as a farmer. Besides Andrew
J. the other children were Robert S., George and Benjamin,
all of whom went to the Western States; Mary, who mar-
ried Milton Curtis and lives at Rich Mountain in Randolph
County; Sarah, who became the wife of Mark Carter and
died at Coalton, West Virginia; Celia, who married Bud
Wright and both died near Belington; and Mrs. Noah Sluss,
who lives in California,

Andrew J. Williams had only a limited education during
his boyhood, and his working energies were bestowed almost
entirely upon the farm. He was a Union man during the
Civil war, and some of his brothers were in the Union Army.
He died at his old home in Valley District in 1898, at the
age of sixty-three. His wife was Julia Row, daughter of
Benjamin Row, and she died, the mother of the following
children: Mary, wife of S. B. Elbon, of Junior; Sarah, who
married John Shomo; Henrietta, who became Mrs. Peter
F. Ware; Lillie, who married Charles Shomo; Grant, twin
brother of Lillie, now deceased; Julia and Celia, twins, both
deceased, Celia, having been the wife of Warren Corley and
Julia, wife of I. D. Shomo; James M., who died at Junior;
Lorenzo, also deceased; Dora, wife of Samuel Ball, of
Kingsville, West Virginia; and Willie Jackson.

Willie J. Williams spent his early life on the home
farm in Valley District, and his education came from
the old German school in that locality. As a school
boy he became acquainted with systematic labor on the
farm, and on reaching his majority began his career in the
mines. His first employment was as a coal digger on
the property of the Miller Coal & Coke Company, which
subsequently was sold to the Gage Coal and Coke Com-
pany and finally to the West Virginia Coal and Coke
Company. He was in the employ of all these organizations.

The Williams Coal Company was organized in 1917 by
Willie J. and Grant L. Williams, Mittie Wiseman and
Loma Lipscomb. These owners had in partnership some
coal lands, and developed operations near those of the
Gage Coal and Coke Company. During the World war
the mine was operated first as a wagon mine and later
under an arrangement with the Gage Coal and Coke Com-
pany. Willie J. Williams was manager. In 1920 the
Mildred Coal Company opened its mine, and since No-
vember, 1921, Mr. Williams has been manager of the
property and president of the company. This is one of
the few coal mines in active production during the winter
of 1921-22.

Mr. Williams has been a regular republican since cast-
ing his first vote for McKinley in 1900. He is a mem-
ber and has served as steward of the Methodist Episcopal

At Junior, February 3, 1899, Mr. Williams married
Mrs. Lillie Williams, widow of his deceased brother Grant,
and daughter of Jacob Spotswood Thacker of Philippi.
By her first marriage she had three children: Grant L.,
Mrs. Mittie Wiseman and Mrs. Loma Lipscomb. Mr.
and Mrs. Williams have the following children: Pax, a
miner of Junior; J. Hop, J. Spotswood and Phletus.
Grant L. Williams, son of Mrs. Williams by her first
marriage, wag a soldier in the World war, and was on
the firing line ready to go over the top when the hour
of the armistice arrived. After returning home he took
up mining, and is now mine foreman of the Mildred

Winfield Scott Wilson

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
March 19, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 358-359

WINFIELD SCOTT WILSON. To Winfield Scott Wilson of
Philippi belongs the credit of a long and active business
career. For many years he was a traveling salesman over
West Virginia territory, was a merchant himself, and now,
when past three-score and ten, he finds congenial work in
looking after his interests as a farmer, a vocation to which
he was reared.

It is doubtful it in all West Virginia there is a family
tree with greater and more important ramifications than
that of the Wilsons. As commanded in the Scriptures,
they have multiplied and replenished the earth and have
sent their representatives to all parts of the United States.
If all the descendants of the first American ancestor could
be mobilized, an army of Wilsons would entrain. They
have been a family intellectually strong and physically
vigorous, and have proved themselves worthy of the name
“genuine Americans.”

The direct line of ancestry runs back to Scotland, where
David Wilson was born about 1650. His son, David, Jr.,
was born in the same country about 1685. The latter
joined the forces opposed to the Government in the Scotch
rebellion of 1715, and when his comrades were defeated
and the rebellion crushed he fled to Ireland. He was living
in Ireland when his son, William, the founder of this
branch of the family in America, was born.

William Wilson was born in Ireland November 16, 1722.
As a young man he came to the American colonies and
was one of the pioneers in the Alleghany Mountain Dis-
trict of Western Virginia. About 1746, after coming to
America, he married Elizabeth Blackburn, a daughter of
Archibald Blackburn. She was bom in Ulster Province
of Ireland February 22, 1725. After their marriage they
established their home on Trout Run, Hardy County, in
what is now West Virginia. William Wilson died Jan-
uary 12, 1801, and his wife, on May 2, 1806. They had
eleven children, and among them were some distinguished
characters, particularly John and Benjamin, both of whom
represented Randolph County as delegates to the Virginia
Convention of 1788 at Richmond, to ratify the Constitution
of the United States. John Wilson was the first county
clerk of Randolph County, in 1787, its first circuit clerk,
in 1809, and the first justice of the peace, in 1787, and
in the same year served as a major of the Virginia Militia,
was county assessor the next year and sheriff of the county
in 1798. His brother, Col. Benjamin Wilson, was in com-
mand of the militia in this part of West Virginia during
the Revolution, had charge of the defense of the frontier
against the Indians and had many encounters with them.
He was the first clerk of Harrison County, and that office
he held almost forty years. His chief service to his coun-
try was the contribution he made to its population of
good men and women. He was the father of twenty-nine

The representative of the second generation in whom
this sketch is particularly interested was William Wilson,
Jr., who was born in Hardy County, February 8, 1754. He
passed away after a long and useful life on January 1,
1851. For many years he was chairman of the Randolph
County Court, and was the county’s representative in the
Virginia Legislature. He married a sister of the old Indian
fighter and Revolutionary war veteran, Jonas Friend, whose
home was at the mouth of Leading Creek.

Their son, William F. Wilson, representing the third
generation of the American family, was born in Hamp-
shire County, West Virginia. He was a pioneer in Bar-
bour County and was associated with the first to lay the
foundations of economic prosperity in this region. He
owned the land upon which Philippi was located and much
other property besides. He perpetuated the reputation of
his family as a mill owner. His forebears were the pioneer
mill-builders of Barbour County. The second mill erected
in Randolph County was built by his uncle, Col. Benjamin
Wilson, and the first mill on Bill’s Creek was placed there
by Moses Wilson. William F. Wilson built the second
mill on that scene. His brother, John, erected a horse-
power mill six and a half miles southeast of Philippi. One
mill near Belington was built by William P. Wilson, and
he built the first mill and carding machine at Philippi,
about 1818. He did not stop public improvement and
internal development with mill building, since he is credited
with having constructed the first wagon road in Barbour
County east of the river, a road some seven miles long,
extending from Philippi to Bill’s Creek. This road was
built at a cost of about 75 cents a rod.

William F. Wilson married Jane Booth, daughter of
Daniel Booth, who lived on Bill’s Creek. Their children
were: Isaiah, Asher, Almond, Maria, Lewis, Albert, Daniel,
Granger, Alpheus, Sarah Jane, Rezin B. and Eugenus.
The daughter Sarah Jane was three times married, her
husbands being William M. Simpson, Henson L. Yoke and
Sabeus Maine.

The representative of the fourth generation was Isaiah
Wilson, who was born in what was then Randolph County,
now Barbour County, in 1810. He died there in 1891.
With only such educational advantages as could be acquired
at home by private study he equipped himself for the
profession of land surveyor, and did that work through
nearly all his active years. He was a democrat in politics.
Isaiah Wilson married Deborah Yoke, whose father, John
Yoke, was of German ancestry and a farmer. Deborah
Yoke was born near Belington in Barbour County and died
in 1885, at the age of sixty. Her children were: Exerxes,
who died in Butler County, Kansas, in 1873; Albert G.,
who was in business as a saddler at Philippi, where he
died; Winfield Scott; and Reason, who became a physician
and died at Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1895.

Winfield Scott Wilson was born March 12, 1849, four
miles from Philippi, in the Philippi District. From the age
of four years he lived in the town of Philippi, where he
attended the public schools. He was associated with his
father on the farm, later became a clerk, and as a com-
mercial traveler he represented the S. L. Delaplain Son
and Company of Wheeling four years. After he left the
road he was engaged in business on his own account as a
merchant from 1873 to 1901. After twenty-eight years in
directing his own business he again resumed work on the
road for Delaplain Son and Company and then with John
A. Horner of Baltimore, and covered a portion of West
Virginia as his territory four years. After severing his
connection with the Baltimore house, Mr. Wilson retired
from business and went back to the farm. At different
times he has handled some contracts for grading and ex-
cavating on public works.

Mr. Wilson comes of a democratic family. He partici-
pated in his first campaign as a voter in 1872, when he
gave his ballot to Horace Greeley, and for fifty years has
steadily supported the democratic nominees. Mr. Wilson
was twice a member of the City Council of Philippi, is
a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is a past
grand in the Lodge of Odd Fellows, and his membership
in that order dates back fifty years and he is entitled to
the Order’s Jewel for that honor. He is the only surviv-
ing member of the Philippi Encampment of the Odd Fel-
lows. He is a past chancellor and a member of thirty
years standing in the Knights of Pythias, and has sat in
the Grand Lodge of both these Orders.

In Barbour County in April, 1875, Mr. Wilson married
Miss Nannie Townsend, daughter of Isaac Baker Town-
send. She died in 1876, leaving two children. Zona is
the wife of Judge Warren B. Kittle of Philippi, and they
have three children: Virginia, who married Walter Metz,
and they have a son, Harry; Nellie, who married Sherman
Lindsay, cashier of the Peoples Bank at Philippi, and
George W. Kittle. Ernest is a civil engineer living at
Philippi. In April, 1878, Mr. Wilson married, also in
Barbour County, Miss Martha Zinn, daughter of Cornelius
Zinn, who married a Miss Rogers. Mrs. Wilson was born
in Barbour County, one of a family of three sons and five
daughters. The only child born to the second marriage
was Kemper, who died in 1881, at the age of two years.

Winfield Scott Smith

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

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 283
Barbour County

WINFIELD SCOTT SMITH, M. D. Graduated from medical
college in 1899, Doctor Smith has been a busy practitioner
ever since, chiefly in the community where he was born
and reared, Philippi. While in general practice, his suc-
cess as a surgeon has attracted attention. Doctor Smith
represents through his father and mother two of the old
and prominent families of West Virginia. He is a son
of J. R. Williamson Smith, whose record is given separately,
and Celia A. (Wilson) Smith, of the well known and his-
toric Wilson family.

Doctor Smith was born on the Philippi townsite, where
the Methodist Church now stands, September. 7, 1873. As
he grew to manhood he attended the public schools, worked
during vacations on the farm, and had plenty of physical
training to supplement the intellectual processes of school.
After completing his work in the Philippi schools he passed
the teachers examination, and for three terms had charge
of a country school as teacher.

In the meantime he had definitely determined upon medi-
cine as his life work, and he pursued the study in the
Medical College of Virginia at Richmond, where he was
graduated in 1899. Thus qualified for practice, he re-
turned to his birthplace and opened an office at Philippi.
His continuous practice here was interrupted in 1908 when
he removed to Huntington, and was a physician in that
city for seven years. For five years of that period he was
associated with Dr. E. E. Vickers, one of the ablest surgeons
of the state. For the past seven years Doctor Smith has
resumed his post of professional duty in Philippi. He is
a member of the Tri-county Medical Society, including
Randolph, Tucker and Barbour counties.

Doctor Smith is a member of the Kiwanis Club, the
Elks, Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows, has for a num-
ber of years been public school physician at Philippi. In
politics he is an uncompromising democrat, having cast
his first vote for Mr. Bryan in 1900. He served one term
as city health officer of Philippi.

By his first marriage he has a daughter, Beatrice, who
was educated in Marshall College at Huntington and Broad-
dus College, and is now a teacher of Elkins. On March
4, 1915, at Huntington, Doctor Smith married Dei Gratia
McWilliams. Her father, R. W. McWilliams, was one of
the best known men in the public life of Cabell County,
serving as circuit clerk for eighteen years. He was born
at Grafton, was orphaned in childhood, was crippled by
the railroad at Grafton while driving the village ears, and
in spite of these two handicaps secured a liberal education
and became a successful man, few citizens giving a better
account of themselves in the community. Mrs. Smith is
one of a family of four sons and four daughters, and she
completed her education in the Huntington High School
before going to college.

William Jackson Coontz

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. 331

WILLIAM JACKSON COONTZ has found satisfaction for
ambitions to be both useful and successful in the trade
and business of carpenter and builder, an occupation in
which his father also excelled. Mr. Coontz is one of the
honored residents of Belington, and has done some of
the most distinctive work in his line in that section of
Barbour County.

He represents an old family of West Virginia, his great-
grandfather having been the pioneer of the name in the
western region of old Virginia. His father is the ven-
erable Samuel Morgan Dallas Coontz, who was born in
Barbour County, and as a youth had only the advantages
of the subscription schools. His inclination for study
enabled him to realize a great deal of value out of that
limited education. He sympathized with the South in
its contest for independence, but did not serve in the
Confederate army, although he was in Virginia during
the war. After the war he took up the work of his life,
that of carpenter and millwright, and some of the mills
he built still stand, including the Johnny Booth Mill
on the head waters of Mill Run, several mills on the
waters of Laurel and Sugar Creek and the mill at Nestor-
ville on Teter Creek. He did his work chiefly in Taylor,
Barbour and Randolph counties, and continued his labors
with his favorite tools until recent years. Now, at the
age of seventy-eight, he is living in comfortable retire-
ment at Belington. He is a democrat, but never took a
serious interest in politics beyond voting for good men
for office. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, South. He is one of the occasional self made
men who can express themselves in public, and he has
proved an entertaining and instructive talker before an
audience as well as in general conversation.

Samuel M. D. Coontz married Isabel F. Poe, who was
born in Taylor County, December 14, 1851, daughter of
William D. and Mary (Davis) Poe. Her father was born,
reared and spent his life in Taylor County, dying at his
farm home on a hill overlooking Grafton. His father was
Jonathan Bore Poe of German ancestry and also a West
Virginia farmer. Samuel Coontz and wife had five chil-
dren: Zura May, who died in Barbour County, wife of
Frank Moore; Amanda, who lives in Belington, wife
of Riley Moore; William J.; A. Thayer, of Akron, Ohio;
and Grover C., of Belington.

William Jackson Coontz was born on a hill overlooking
the City of Grafton, August 24, 1877, but a short time
after his birth his parents moved to Barbonr County,
and he grew up near Belington. He attended the free
schools there, and as a youth learned his trade from his
father, beginning at the age of fourteen and working
as apprentice and journeyman under his father until he
was twenty-two. At that time he yielded to an ambi-
tion to see something of his own country, and he went
to the Pacific Coast, going out by the Southwestern
route, and spent three years in San Francisco in the employ
of the United Railroads, a street ear corporation. While
in San Francisco he learned the sensation of being in an
earthquake, and one year in the month of February there
were twenty-eight shocks, as many as four occurring in
one day. When he left California, he returned by way of
the Northwestern States, and soon after reaching home
he married and built a residence near Belington and re-
sumed work at his trade. Mr. Coontz has contributed
much to the development and growth of Belington, and
also the surrounding country. He has constructed some
of the tipples at the coal mines in this vicinity. Among
conspicuous examples of his work as a building contractor
are the residences of John W. Coontz. William Hill and
Charley Kittle, the Lambert Chappel Church and the
Shoekey and Laurel Hill school houses.

Mr. Coontz is also a painting contractor and has lent
beauty to the town through this art as well as through
his organization of carpentering. He was also the fore-
man in laying the base course over part of the Morgan-
town and Fairmont road improvement and the Fairmont-
Beverly Pike. In March, 1922. Mr. Coontz was elected a
member of the Belington Council, as representative of the
First Ward. He is a democrat, casting his first presiden-
tial vote for Judge Parker.

Mr. Coontz and family are members of the Methodist
Church. South, and he is a member of both branches of
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Rebekahs.

In Barbour County, September 30, 1905, he married Miss
Nettie J. Sturm. daughter of Henry J. and Frances (Pol-
ing) Sturm. Her mother was a daughter of Abraham
Poling, a Confederate soldier and member of one of the
real pioneer families in this section of West Virginia.
Mrs. Coontz, who was born June 6, 1885, third in a fam-
ily of twelve children, acquired a liberal education in the
public schools. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Coontz are:
Clark R., Maxine, Josephine and Arline.

Winfield Scott Simon

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. 340

WINFIELD SCOTT SIMON is serving his second term as
county assessor of Barbour County. He is one of the
leaders in county republican politics, and his earnest, hard-
working citizenship has won him a strong and loyal follow-
ing of friends who repose implicit confidence both in his
words and his actions.

His grandfather was Anthony Simon, a native of old
Virginia, who for many years conducted a farm on the
waters of Stewart’s Run in Barbour County. He married
Minerva Corder. They had three sons and one daughter:
Joseph B. A., Stephen, John and Helen, the latter of whom
married J. B. Dickenson. Joseph B. A. Simon, father of
the county assessor, was commissioned an officer in the
Union Army, but was never called to active duty. He has
been a farmer, is a member of the Baptist Church and is
affiliated with the Junior Order United American Mechanics.
Joseph B. A. Simon married Mildred McCoy, daughter of
Benjamin and Mathilda Johnson McCoy. Of their ten chil-
dren seven reached matured years: Winfield Scott; Tella,
wife of O. J. Paugh; Addie, wife of Clark Wood; Icie,
who is Mrs. Elbert McWhorter; John, of Junior, West Vir-
ginia, and there were also triplets in the family, named,
Dora, Cora and Ora, the two survivors being Dora, wife
of Albert McWhorter, and Cora, wife of James White.
J. B. A. Simon is now seventy-six years of age, and lives
with his son Scott. By a second marriage, to Miss Nettie
Russell, he has a daughter, Frasie, wife of John Woodford,
of Pittsburgh.

Winfleld Scott Simon was born in Elk District of Bar-
bour County June 4, 1867. His parents were poor. He was
fourteen years of age when his mother died, and he and
the other children were scattered and grew up chiefly
among strangers. Scott Simon had only the advantage of
the free schools in his neighborhool, and his environment
was the farming district. He had no capital by inheritance,
and his first means were supplied from farm labor and work
at the carpenter’s trade, which he learned and followed for
a number of years. During dull seasons at the trade he
worked at farming, and he continued in this way until he
was chosen superintendent of the county farm. His admin-
istration of the county farm for seven years was a very
efficient one, and during that time the farm became self
supporting. When he turned it over to his successor the
cash balance was greater than it had ever been at any
previous transfer of administration.

Mr. Simon left the superintendency of the county farm to
become candidate for county assessor. In the republican
primaries of 1916 there were five candidates, and he de-
feated his nearest opponent by 137 votes. In the election
he defeated Shaffer, the democrat, by 117 votes. He en-
tered the office as successor of C. E. Corder. In the primaries
of 1920 he was nominated over two competitors, and he
defeated his democratic opponent, Lloyd England, by a
majority of 1,756. This was a larger vote by 700 than was
given to President Harding in 1920 in Barbour County. His
reelection is a high testimony to the judgment and fair-
ness with which he has administered his office. Incidentally
it should be noted that the total assessed valuation of prop-
erty in Barbour County in 1916 was $13,000,000, while five
years later the valuation rose to $22,000,000.

So far as his financial means permitted Mr. Simon has
contributed generously to matters affecting the general wel-
fare of Philippi and Barbour County. He was one of the
contributing stockholders of the old woolen mill, which failed
under the first management, but is now one of the live
industries of the county. Mr. Simon has never voted any
other ticket than republican, and is one of the able and in-
fluential workers of the party in the county. He was a
delegate to the state convention at Huntington for the
naming of supreme judges. Fraternally he has served the
chairs in the Knights of Pythias Lodge, is a member of
the social branch of the order D. O. K. K., is a member
of both branches of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows
and the Junior Order United American Mechanics.

In Barbour County November 6, 1889, Mr. Simon mar-
ried Miss Cora Reed, daughter of Nathan and Sallie Reed.
She was born in Barbour County and died June 24, 1902.
Her two children are Otto Simon and Helen, the latter the
wife of Dellett Lanham. At Oakland, Maryland, October
13, 1909, Mr. Simon married Miss Alta West, a native
of Gilmer County, West Virginia, and daughter of S. W.
and Hanna (Wiseman) West, being one of their four sons
and four daughters. Mr. and Mrs. Simon have one child,
Paul, now eleven years of age.

William T. Ice

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. 339

JUDGE WILLIAM T. ICE. In the annals of pioneer settle-
ment in West Virginia one of the first family names to
appear is that of Ice. Many branches of the old family
have been conspicuous in different parts of the state. The
following is a brief sketch of the late Judge William T.
Ice, who conferred additional honors upon the name through
his long and active career as a lawyer and judge in Barbour

He was born in Marion County in March, 1840, one of the
several sons and daughters of Andrew Ice, who lived in
Marion County, where he was a farmer and surveyor. Wil-
liam T. Ice grew up on a farm, attended rural schools and
was mainly self educated. He probably taught in early
life, read law at Fairmont, and was admitted to the bar
at Philippi, where he established his practice and where
except for his official work he was continuously engaged in
his profession until his death.

Judge Ice was elected and served as prosecuting attorney
of Barbour County, was for several years a member of the
House of Delegates, and in 1880 was elected judge of the
Circuit Court, composed of Barbour, Tucker, Randolph,
Preston and Taylor counties. He was a judge with a wide
learning in the law and a sound knowledge of human nature.
He was dignified, impartial, and made a splendid record
on the bench. After retiring he resumed private practice,
and continued it until his death in February, 1908. Judge
Ice was a democrat, was affiliated with the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows and was a member of the Missionary
Baptist Church.

He married Miss Columbia Jarvis. They were the parents
of five daughters, and the only son is William T. Ice, Jr.

Wateman Turner Talbott

Biographical Sketches of Members of Congress, Members of the Legislature,
Officers of the State Governement and judges of the Supreme Court of Appeals,
West Virigina, 1917

West Virginia Legislative Hand Book and Manual and Official Register, 1917,
Compiled and Edited by John T. Harris, Clerk of the Senate,
The Tribune Printing Co., Charleston, West Va.
pgs. 719 – 770



Address: Webster Springs, West Va. Born near Philippi,
Barbour county; educated in the public schools, at Fair-
mont Normal and West Virginia University; took the
law course at the latter institution and received the degree
of L. L. B.; since then has been engaged in active practice;
has served as Mayor of Webster Springs; was elected to
the House of Delegates in 1899, again in 1909, again in
1914, and was re-elected in 1916; served on committees
as follows in 1917: Forfeited and Unappropriated Lands
(Chairman); Elections and Privileges, Judiciary, Pro-
hibition and Temperance, Rules, Forestry and Con-

Submitted by: Valerie Crook

William Janes

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. 333-334

HON. WILLIAM JANES, several times mayor of the City
of Philippi, is an able lawyer and business man, whose
activities have had much to do with the exploitation of
the material resources of the state. He is of English an-
cestry, but is the direct descendant of a young Englishman
who fought on the side of the colonists in the struggle
for independence, and the family has been in West Vir-
ginia for over a century.

His Revolutionary ancestor was his great-grandfather,
John Janes, who was born in Staffordshire, England, about
1752, and as a young man came to America. He enlisted
from Pennsylvania for the War of the Revolution, and was
with the American troops when General Cornwallis sur-
rendered to General Washington at Yorktown in 1781, that
being the concluding act of the war. John Janes lived
for many years in Barbour County, West Virginia, and is
believed to be the only soldier of the Revolution buried
there. He died in 1842, since in that year he drew his
last pension from the Government as a soldier. He was
about ninety years of age when he died.

His son, Alexander Janes, was a stone mason, and ex-
amples of his work were on the bridge abutment on the
Parkersburg and Staunton Pike and across Greenbrier
River and the steps and the foundation of the old Court
House of Randolph County at Beveriy. These old steps
are still in use. He spent his last days at Moatsville in
Barbour County, where he is buried. Alexander Janes
married Louisa Casteel, of the Casteel family of Preston
County. Their children were: William, who retained the
old English spelling of the name Jennings, and was a
prominent resident of Preston County and a member of
the County Court; Noah Janes, whose record follows:
Thomas Janes; Nancy, who became the wife of George
Nestor; Maria, who married James Isner; Margaret, who
was the wife of A. J. Cline; Alice, who married Winfield
Cox; and Calore, wife of Edward Freeman.

Noah J. Janes, father of Mayor Janes of Philippi, was
born in Barbour County, in Cove District, February 19,
1849, and spent his active life as a farmer and lumber-
man. He acquired a common school education, was elected
as president of the Board of Education of Cove District,
and spent his last days at Fox Hall in Pleasant District,
where he died August 13, 1911, at the age of sixty-two.
He was a republican. He was distinguished by certain
strong traits of character, he dealt in nothing but the
truth, despised shams and camouflage, but in spite of the
strength of his convictions was reasonable in his rela-
tions with all men. Noah Janes married Catherine England,
daughter of Archibald England. She died December 6,
1889, being the mother of William and Ida B., the latter
the wife of T. E. Phillips, of Fox Hall, West Virginia.

William Janes was born in Cove District of Barbour
County, spent his early life on the farm, and beyond
the advantages of his immediate home community he had
to depend on his own exertions for the higher education
which he craved. After completing the work of the com-
mon schools he taught school, his first school being in
the Bull Run District in Tucker County. While teaching
he attended the Fairmont Normal School, and in his senior
year was given a scholarship under the Peabody fund as a
student in the Peabody Normal College at Nashville, Ten-
nessee. This appointment was conferred by the state
superintendent of schools of West Virginia, and it paid
in addition to the railroad fare both ways $100 a year
toward the maintenance of a student in the Normal Col-
lege. Mr. Janes continued his studies there two and one
half years, and subsequently entered West Virginia Uni-
versity, where he graduated A.B. in 1900, and subsequently
received the law degree.

In the meantime he had done his duty as a volunteer
soldier at the time of the Spanish-American war. He
enlisted at Morgantown, and at Kanawha City was sworn
in as a member of Company D of the First West Virginia
Volunteers. The company was sent from Charleston to
Chickamauga Park, Georgia, thence to Knoxville, Tennes-
see, and to Columbus, Georgia, and be was in that camp
until discharged in the spring of 1899. After leaving the
army he returned to Morgantown to finish bis university
work. Mr. Janes tanght for a brief time, and then located
at Philippi, where for some time he was engaged in the
business of securing options on coal lands. Thus he be-
came interested in some of the companies that were or-
ganized for the opening of mines and the development
of the field. Although establishing himself in a business
way in the community, he entered the practice of law,
being admitted to the bar at Philippi. For a time he
practiced with Senator W. H. Carter, now of Middlebourne.
Mr. Janes has devoted his talent primarily to the business
side of law and as a counsel and adviser rather than in
court practice. Among other professional connections he
is attorney for the Peoples Bank at Philippi and one of
its directors.

Mr. Janes is a republican, and has done a great deal
of work for the party, being acting secretary of the
County Committee in 1904, and has been a delegate to
congressional, judicial and other conventions. In polities
he is primarily interested in good government, and puts
the interest of the community and people above party.

The most notable era in the progressive administration
of the municipal affairs at Philippi coincides with his
term of mayor. He was elected mayor by the City Council
in 1918 as the successor of Brown Shafer. He then was
elected by popular vote for five successive terms, now in
1922, serving his fifth term. Among other outstanding
steps of his administration was the extension of the electric
light plant, the power for which is purchased from the
Monongahela Power Company. When he became mayor
the income of the light plant was about $200 a month,
and now the gross revenue from the same source is $1,400
a month. A sewerage system has been installed, providing
not only for present needs but for future growth. About
$20,000 bonded indebtedness has been discharged, and the
outstanding debt of the city at the present time is $33,500.
Altogether Philippi is on a sound financial basis, and is
working out a program of municipal improvements that
gives it rank among the best cities of its size in the state.

At the signing of the armistice closing the World war
Mayor Janes issued a proclamation to the citizens of
Philippi, and in the course of the proclamation he said:

“The war is over, the rights of man have been vindicated,
righteousness and the allied arms have triumphed. Despotic
and imperial Germany has been crushed. Downtrodden
man now stands erect on the broad plain of equal rights
to all. American principles and American ideals have
permeated the old world and the Declaration of Independ-
ence has become the political textbook of all countries.
It is right that we should be thankful and it is but
right that we should celebrate this great world triumph
with all that it means to humanity, and in order that we
may more effectually do so I, William Janes, Mayor of the
City of Philippi, call upon our citizens to take such steps
to recognize the importance of the event by such public
ceremonies as befit the occasion.”

October 2, 1901, Mr. Janes married Miss Jessie Lee
Semmelman, a native of Barbour County, who was reared
and educated there. Her father, Samuel L. Semmelman,
was born in Baltimore, has spent most of his life as a
merchant, coming to West Virginia when about twenty-
one years of age, and for some years lived in Grafton,
where he married and later was a mechant at Nestorville
in Barbour County. He married Mollie (DeHaven) Hub-
bard, widow of William Hubbard. Both of them now live
in Philippi. Mrs. Semmelman by her first marriage has
the following children: Granville Hubbard, of Delphi, In-
diana; Perdita, who died as Mrs. Mont Burley; Nettie,
Mrs. Howard Bailey, of Flemington; Mrs. Iva Marple,
of Hamilton, Ohio. The Semmelman children are: Alice M.,
wife of J. C. Annon, of Philippi; Charles, of Columbus,
Ohio; Mrs. William Janes; Mrs. Gay Murphy, of Philippi;
John Semmelman, of Moatsville; and Carrie, wife of
D. C. Gall of Philippi. Mr. and Mrs. Janes have one son,
Aubrey Howard Janes, born August 15, 1902.

Edgar H. Watson

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
March 18, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 354

EDGAR H. WATSON. In a busy and purposeful life of
more than threescore and ten, Edgar H. Watson has meas-
ured up to the responsibilities of manhood whether as a
home maker, citizen or in his private industry and busi-
ness. He retired from his farm several years ago and has
since resided in Philippi, where he is well and popularly

This branch of the Watson family has been in West Vir-
ginia for at least 125 years. Several generations of them
lived in Preston County, and Edgar H. Watson is a native
of that county, as was also his father, Rawley Watson, who
grew up in Valley District. Rawley Watson devoted all
his best years to his farm between Masontown and Reeds-
ville, and was never attracted into any form of public
service. He was a Methodist and a republican. Rawley
Watson, who died in 1890, survived by several years his
wife, whose maiden name was Sarah Ann Whipp. Her
father, Hezekiah Whipp, moved out of Frederick County,
Virginia, to Ohio just before the Civil war, and spent his
active life four miles from Middletown, Butler County,
Ohio. Rawley Watson and wife reared the following chil-
dren: Julia R., who married William F. Menear and died
at Kingwood; Sanford, who was a Union soldier and later
a farmer near Masontown; George, also a Union soldier,
who spent his civil life in Preston County and is buried
at Masontown; Daniel, who followed the trade of painter
and paper hanger, was a farmer, and is now president of
the Reedsville Bank at Reedsville, where he resides; Edgar
H.; Maxwell, a farmer at Masontown; Orville, a farmer
at Reedsville; and Mason, who was a merchant and post-
master of Reedsville when he died.

Edgar H. Watson was born November 30, 1849. He
was about twelve years of age when the Civil war broke
out, and consequently his education terminated about that
time. He learned the trade of blacksmith under E. J.
Miller at Terra Alta, and for fifteen years followed the
trade at Flemington. When he abandoned his shop he
bought a farm in Barbour County, on Stewarts Run, and
to this place he devoted his best energies from 1888 to
1917. In the latter year he moved to his town home at
Philippi, but he still oversees his farm and looks after
some other business interests.

Mr. Watson is a republican, and in 1872 cast his first
vote for General Grant, voted for Rutherford B. Hayes
in 1876 and for Gen. James A. Garfield in 1880, and has
voted for every republican presidential nominee since then.
While living on his farm he was president one term of
the Board of Education of Elk District.

In Taylor County, April 26, 1884, Mr. Watson married
Mrs. Julia E. Fleming, widow of Goff J. Fleming and
daughter of H. W. LaFollette, who came to Taylor County
from Eastern Virginia a few months after the outbreak
of the Civil war. He died at the home of Mrs. Watson
in Barbour County. His wife was Amy McKee. Mrs.
Watson was the oldest of four children, the others being
Felicia A., who died at Philippi, wife of James Wood-
ford; L. M. LaFollette, former state auditor of West
Virginia and a resident of Charleston; and Elery B., who
died in Lewis County, West Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Wat-
son have four children. Hazel B. is the wife of Arch Mc-
Coy, of Belington; Nellie B. lives at Philippi; Herman B.
is assistant cashier of the Citizens National Bank of Phil-
ippi; and the youngest child is Miss Mattie B.

W. Bruce Talbott

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. 337-338

W. BRUCE TALBOTT had to pay his way while preparing
himself for the bar, and that experience brought him to
the practice with considerable more than the qualifications
of the young law graduate, so that his subsequent advance-
ment was rapid. Most of the time since his admission to
the bar has been devoted to his duties as prosecuting at-
torney of Barbour County.

Mr. Talbott was born in Pleasant District, Barbour
County June 7, 1888. His people have lived in that sec-
tion of the county for several generations, and farming has
been their chief vocation. His grandparents were Silas and
Sarah (McKinney) Talbott. The father of the prosecuting
attorney was the youngest of the twelve children of his
parents and was born on a farm in Pleasant District in
1853. Farming has been the work of his life. He was
educated in the country schools, and his success on the
farm and elsewhere has shown him to be a man of good
business judgment. He helped organize the Citizens
National Bank of Philippi, and is a director of the People’s
Bank of that city. In politics he has been satisfied to
cast his vote as a democrat, and is a member of the Mis-
sionary Baptist Church, though his parents were old-school
Baptists. Mr. Talbott married Edith Bartlett, daughter of
Judson Bartlett. Their children are: Iva, wife of W. D.
Corder, of Philippi; W. Bruce; Hazel, who died in infancy;
Ruby, a teacher in Barbour County; E. Wayne, who grad-
uated A. B. from the University of West Virginia and is
now taking his law course there; and Ralph, a student
in the Philippi High School.

Mr. Bruce Talbott had the old home farm as his environ-
ment until he was about twenty years of age. He knows
more about the practical side of farming than perhaps
many other lawyers. The public schools near the old home
gave him the foundation of his education, and subsequently
he attended West Virginia Wesleyan College at Buckhan-
non, where he graduated in 1908. He taught two terms of
school before graduating and another term afterward, and
then for three years worked as office man for the Con-
solidation Coal Company. Through this employment he
earned the money to complete his law course. Mr. Talbott
graduated LL. B. from West Virginia University in 1915,
was admitted to the bar at Philippi the same year, and
began practice alone. He won his first case, though an
unimportant one, in the Circuit Court, and he was soon
in possession of a growing law practice. He had practiced
about a year before he was elected to the important duties
of prosecuting attorney.

His election to this office occurred in 1916. He had
to contest his nomination in the primaries, but in 1920 he
had no competition in the primaries. A distinction that
is something out of the ordinary is the fact that Mr. Talbott
is the first prosecuting attorney of Barbour County to be
elected for two consecutive terms during the past thirty
years. The basis of his hold upon the people at the time
of his second candidacy was his strong enforcement of the
law during his first term.

Mr. Talbott cast his first vote for president in 1912 for
Mr. Taft, and was a delegate from Barbour County to
the Judicial Convention at Huntington in 1916. He is a
member of the College Fraternity Beta Theta Pi and in
Masonry has taken both the York and Scottish Rite degrees
and is a member of Osiris Temple of the Mystic Shrine
at Wheeling. He is a member of the Baptist Church.

In Barbour County July 9, 1909, he married Miss Mabel
Right, who was born at Belington, March 13, 1893, daugh-
ter of James and Martha (Bennett) Right. She was one
of ten children. Mr. and Mrs. Talbott have a family of
four children, named Lucille, Rex, Robert and William.