Category Archives: Barbour

Charles A. Sinsel

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. 305-306

CHARLES A. SINSEL, M. D. A thoroughly trained and
educated physician and surgeon, Doctor Sinsel rendered
his first service with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and
this connection broadened into a permanent one. Por over
thirty years he has been medical examiner of this railroad
company at Grafton. In the choice of this line of service
there was doubtless exercised some influence from his
father, who for many years was a local official of the
Baltimore & Ohio.

Three Sinsel brothers came to America as British soldiers
to fight the colonists in their struggle for independence.
They were captured, and eventually found it congenial to
their interests to remain in America, where they found
useful employment in their trades as millwrights. They
settled in Virginia. Elijah, son of one of these soldiers,
was a native of Old Virginia and transplanted the family
over the mountains to West Virginia, settling near Web-
ster, in what is now Taylor County. There he obtained
a large tract of land, put some of it into cultivation dur-
ing his lifetime, and was buried at the family plot there.

John Sinsel, a son of Elijah and grandfather of Doctor
Sinsel, likewise spent his life on the homestead near Web-
ster and was laid to rest on the farm. His wife was Sarah
Curry, a native of Barbour County. Their children were:
Harmon, who became a civil engineer; William, Elijah and
James, who were farmers; Mrs. Mary Ann Newlon; and
Mrs. Williamson.

Arthur Sinsel, another of these children, was born on a
farm near Pruntytown, Taylor County, in August, 1838,
and was educated in the country schools and old Prunty-
town College. He then taught school and learned the trade
of cabinet-maker and carpenter with an uncle in Prunty-
town. When the Civil war came on he was commissioned
a lieutenant in the army, but he was soon detailed for
civilian service in the bridge-building department of the
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. This fixed him in the service
with which he remained to the close of his life. For many
years he was supervisor of buildings, bridges and water
stations. He. was killed by being run over by an engine
in the Wheeling yards January 25, 1889.

While never an applicant for the honors or offices, he
was active in republican polities, a member of the State
Republican Committee several years and also of the Ex-
ecutive Committee. For thirty years he was president of
the Board of Education of Grafton District, was a deacon
of the Baptist Church and a worker in the Sunday School,
and was an ardent Mason, being a past grand high priest
of the Royal Arch Chapter of the state.

Arthur Sinsel married Hannah B. See, who was born in
Randolph County, West Virginia, December 31, 1837, daugh-
ter of Charles and Harriet (Bosworth) See. The Bos-
worths, an old family of the state, were direct descendants
of the famous Warwicks of England. Mrs. Arthur Sinsel,
who died in August, 1893, was the mother of eight children,
the seven to reach mature years being: Columbia M., who
was the wife of the late Judge A. G. Dayton; Miss Abbie
T., of Grafton; Dr. Charles Arthur; Ada, wife of the dis-
tinguished Judge Ira E. Robinson, former judge of the
State Supreme Court of Appeals and now connected with
the Department of Justice at Washington; John W., who
was United States revenue agent at New York for years
and died at Philadelphia in 1919; Miss Mary H., of Graf-
ton; and Carrie S., wife of C. Frank Sellers, of Mansfield,

Charles Arthur Sinsel was born at Pruntytown, Taylor
County, June 5, 1864, and may be said to have grown up
in the atmosphere of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. While
attending school he worked during vacations at civil engi-
neering and at the machinist’s trade. Following his pub-
lic school course at Grafton came two years in West Vir-
ginia University and two years in Dennison University at
Granville, Ohio. For a year he studied medicine under
Dr. William L. Grant at Grafton, and then entered the
University of Maryland, at Baltimore, where he was grad-
uated in medicine in 1888.

His first duties after getting his medical diploma were
as Baltimore & Ohio medical examiner for the west end
of the Chicago division, including that city, his head-
quarters being at Garrett, Indiana. About a year later,
on the death of his father, he returned home, and in a
short time was inducted into the duties of medical exam-
iner for the Monongah division and part of the Charles-
ton division of the Baltimore & Ohio, and he has continued
faithful and efficient in the discharge of his duties at this
post for a third of a century. He is a member of the
county and state medical societies, the American Med-
ical Association, and the Railway Surgeons Association.

Doctor Sinsel is one of West Virginia’s prominent Ma-
sons. He has taken all the work of the York and Scottish
Kites and held offices in all the local bodies; is a K. C. C. H.,
a member of West Virginia Consistory at Wheeling, is a
Past Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of
Knights Templar, West Virginia, a life member of the
Grand Encampment of the United States, and is inner
guard of Osiris Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He is also
affiliated with the Odd Fellows and Elks, is a deacon of
the Baptist Church of Grafton and teacher of the Philathia
Bible Class.

He has rather strengthened the ties that bound him by
inheritance to the republican party. His first public serv-
ice was as school commissioner for four years, then a sim-
ilar time as president of the Board of Education. In 1914
he was elected to the House of Delegates for one term, and
then elected a member of the State Senate. He entered
that body under Lieutenant Governor Goodykoontz, and in
the second session appeared as an eleventh hour candidate
for president of the Senate, and after an interesting eon-
test was elected. He went to the Senate as successor of a
democrat who for eight years had represented the Eleventh
District composed of Marion, Monongalia and Taylor coun-
ties. He gave a studious and impartial attention to the
program of legislation before that body, and at the special
session was active in behalf of woman’s suffrage. Doctor
Sinsel was a spectator in the national convention at Chi-
cago in 1884 when James G. Blaine was nominated, and
he has been a delegate to a number of state, judicial and
congressional conventions. He did much to defeat the as-
pirations of such well-known democrats as William L. Wil-
son and William G. Brown to represent the Second District
in Congress.

April 4, 1889, Doctor Sinsel married in Taylor County
Miss Bertie Creel, daughter of J. W. and Mary (Whites-
carver) Creel. She died in February, 1897, the mother of
two children: Charles A., Jr., connected with the Cambria
Coal Company; and Lila, wife of D. L. Gather, of Fleming-
ton. On June 19; 1901, Doctor Sinsel married May David-
son, daughter of C. L. and Mary M. (Johnson) Davidson.
Doctor and Mrs. Sinsel have twin sons, Rupert Austin and
Richard Claudius, aged seventeen, and graduates of the
Grafton High School in 1922.

Charles Kenna Switzer

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
November 8, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 293-294

CHARLES KENNA SWITZER. A special aptitude for me-
chanics manifested in boyhood has been turned to the ac-
count of useful service in the world by Mr. Switzer through
his veteran relations with the grain milling industry. He
has operated mills in several sections of his native state,
and for many years has been one of the most active of
the group of citizens in the Philippi locality in the promo-
tion of local manufacturing and industry.

Mr. Switzer, who is manager of the Switzer Mill Com-
pany of Philippi, was born at Petersburg, Hardy County,
April 8, 1853, son of David Nicholas and Frances Switzer.
A more complete history of the Switzer family is given in
another article in this work under the name P. A. Switzer.
Charles K. Switzer spent his boyhood at Upper Tract in
Pendleton County, where he remained nntil he was about
eighteen years of age. He acquired his education in a
country district, and when he left home he went to Fort
Seybert and for five years operated the Jacob Cowger mill.
Then moving to Kline Cross Roads in the same county, he
took charge of and for some five or six years had the
responsibility of managing the J. H. Harmon mill. Thus
with a total of more than ten years in the milling industry
he came to Philippi and was for several years located at
the suburban town of Mansfield, where he was a member
of the mercantile and milling firm of Dyer and Switzer,
his partner being Mr. E. R. Dyer.

In 1902 Mr. Switzer resumed his active business as n
miller at Philippi, taking over the Haller Mill Company
property and becoming its manager. It was conducted
as the Philippi Mill Company until October 21, 1915, when
the business waa reorganized as the Switzer Mill Company,
with C. C. Boyles as a partner. This mill is an important
local industry and furnishes a market for the grain prod-
ucts raised in the county.

Mr. Switzer has carried a liberal share of community
work since coming to Philippi. His chief enthusiasm,
thought and study in a public way are devoted to educa-
tion. For several years he was a regular contributor to
the West Virginia Wesleyan College at Buckhannon, the
Methodist School there. He was also one of the citizens
of Philippi who joined their effort and money in securing
the location of Broaddus College here. In 1916 Mr. Switzer
became a member of the Philippi Board of Education,
and is still in service. This board has set a fine example
of progressiveness in the matter of securing thoroughly up-
to-date schools for Philippi. In 1922 was completed a
splendid new high school building at a cost of about
$120,000. This is one of the best school houses in Bar-
hour County. It is the culmination of a long and active
campaign carried on by the advocates of improved school
facilities, and it was only after three efforts had been
made that the people of the district secured an overwhelm-
ing majority for the bond issue required to put up the

Mr. Switzer is a democrat; having cast his first vote for
Samuel J. Tilden, and only once has failed to vote for the
democratic presidential candidate. He was reared a Metho-
dist, is a member of the Official Board of the church of
Philippi and a trustee. Fraternally he is a member of
the Odd Fellows Lodge and the Maccabees.

At Port Seybert, Pendleton County, May 29, 1879, Mr.
Switzer married Miss Minnie M. Dyer. She is a daughter
of Mr. Alien Dyer and a sister of his former business
associate at Philippi, and the history of the Dyer family
is given elsewhere. Mrs. Switzer was born December 25,
1853. She and Mr. Switzer have three daughters: Ola,
wife of W. G. Riley, of Gary, Indiana, and the mother
of a daughter, named Jannis Irene; Fannie, who is the
wife of W. H. Carter, of Middlebourne, “West Virginia, and
their children are Kenwood, Mary Frances and. Ann; and
Miss Neva, a graduate of Broaddus College and a teacher
in the public schools of Fairmont.