Category Archives: Berkeley

Samuel Showalter Felker

BERKELEY COUNTY WEST VIRGINIA
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Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
vfcrook@trellis.net
November 26, 1999
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The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 330
Berkeley

SAMUEL SHOWALTER FELKER is a citizen of varied and
important interests in Berkeley County, a successful business
man, a democratic leader, and at all times cultivating the
best interests of the community.

Mr. Felker was born on a farm two and a half miles
west of Greencastle, Pennsylvania. His father, Jacob
Felker, was born on a farm near the line of Franklin
County, Pennsylvania, and Washington County, Maryland,
and at an early age was left an orphan. He then lived, until
he was grown, with his uncle, Abraham Felker, in Franklin
County. At the beginning of the Civil war he enlisted as a
Union soldier and served in a Pennsylvania regiment. In
1869 he moved to Berkeley County, West Virginia, buying a
farm in the Hedgesville District. He remained there work-
ing and prospering until his death at the age of seventy-
two. He married Mary Showalter, a native of Washington
County, Maryland, who died at the age of eighty-two. They
reared a family of nine children: Kate, who married James
Robinson; Annie, who married Moses Kilmer; Louise, who
became the wife of Calvin Zentmeyer; Charles H.; David,
who died at the age of thirty-three; John D.; Calvin G.;
Rebecca, who married George A. Mason; and Samuel S.

Samuel S. Felker attended school in the Hedgesville Dis-
trict, and at the age of seventeen began learning the trade
of miller in Brown’s Mill in Pennsylvania. After three
years there he returned to Berkeley County, and for two
years operated Kilmers Mill, for one year the Back Valley
Mill and for two years the Darkesville Mill. Ill health
compelling him to make a change of vocation, he then
became agent for the Cumberland Valley Railroad Com-
pany at Darkesville, and at the same time conducted a
general mercantile business there for three and a half years.
On leaving the railroad service Mr. Felker moved to Martins-
burg, and since then has been one of the progressive business
men of this city. For three and a half years he was in
business on West King Street, near the Square, following
which he bought property on West King, near the postoffice,
and continued his store in that location about three years.
Selling out, he entered the real estate business, and in
1904 was elected a justice of the peace, an office he filled
eight years. For three years Mr. Felker had a rather widely
extended business in the sale of coal rights and coal lands.
He and D. W. Shaffer were then partners in the real estate
business for two years, and since then Mr. Felker has con-
tinued alone, dealing in city and farm lands, and he makes
sales over the three states of West Virginia, Maryland and
Virginia.

At the age of twenty-two Mr. Felker married Alice
Virginia Shipper, a native of Berkeley County and daughter
of James B. and Hester (Stuckey) Shipper. Mr. and Mrs.
Felker had one son. Guy G., who was educated in the city
schools, prepared for college in Washington and Lee Uni-
versity and subsequently entered the University of West
Virginia. He graduated in the law department and had
already achieved a substantial place in his profession when
his early death occurred at the age of twenty-nine. For
some time prior to his death he had been in the service of
the income tax department of the Federal Government.
Guy G. Felker married Gertrude Manown. He is survived
by a son, Samuel Showalter Felker, who lives with his
paternal grandparents.

Mr. and Mrs. Felker are active members of the Presby-
terian Church, and he is president of the board of deacons.
Mr. Felker is prominent in the Masonic Order, being a past
master of Equality Lodge No. 44, A. F. and A. M., past
high priest of Lebanon Chapter No. 2, R. A. M., past
eminent commander of Palestine Commandery No. 2, K. T.,
was president of the class that took the Scottish Rite degrees
at Wheeling in 1920, and is a member of the Martinsburg
Masonic Club. He is also affiliated with Washington Lodge
No. 1, Knights of Pythias, and for six years was repre-
sentative to the State Lodge and is a past grand master of
the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He is also a mem-
ber of the Loyal Order of Moose.

Mr. Felker has had a deep interest in public affairs
throughout his active career, and has served as delegate
to numerous county, district and state conventions of the
democratic party and for ten years was chairman of the
county committee.

Walter J. Lambert

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III, pg. 112-113

WALTER J. LAMBERT, first vice president of the Citizens
Bank of Martinsburg, Berkeley County, was born at Fred-
erick City, Maryland, on the 15th of July, 1850. He is a
son of Frederick Lambert, presumably a native of Vir-
ginia. The original American progenitors came from Eng-
land in an early day and settled in the historic Old
Dominion State. Frederick Lambert became a representa-
tive merchant at Frederick City, Maryland, his store and
residence having been at the west end of Patrick Street.
The maiden name of his wife was Catherine Lambright, she
having been born and reared in Frederick City, where she
and her husband continued to reside until their deaths.
They became the parents of the following sons and daugh-
ters: David, Michael, William H., Charles O. (served three
terms as mayor of Martinsburg, West Virginia), John C.,
Harriet A., George Dallas (served as a member of the city
council at Martinsburg, West Virginia, and was a soldier
in the Civil war three years), Thomas F., Lewis E., Walter
J., Franklin P. (died at the age of four years), and Emma
J. The daughter Harriet became the wife of Walter H.
Keedy, who served as a soldier of the Union in the Civil
war. Mr. and Mrs. Keedy became the parents of six chil-
dren, namely: Eugene, Mary, Laura, Naomi, Mabel and
Emma, the latter of whom died in infancy. Emma J.
Lambert became the wife of Charles E. Zieler, now deceased,
and she now presides over the domestic economies and social
regime of the home of her brother, Walter J., subject of
this review.

In his youth Walter J. Lambert attended the excellent
schools conducted by Professor James English at Frederick
City, Maryland, and he early manifested distinct native
talent as a trader, he having been a lad of twelve years
old when he entered the employ of Augustus Fraley, a
dealer in horses and other live stock, for whom he bought
and sold with remarkable judgment for a youth of that
immature age. Mr. Lambert was fourteen years old when
he came to Martinsburg, West Virginia, to enter the employ
of his brothers, George D. and Charles O., who had here
established themselves in the provision business. He con-
tinued to be thus associated with his brothers until they
dissolved their partnership. Thereafter he was for three
years in the employ of his brother George D., who then
consolidated his business with that of his father-in-law,
Andrew Grazier. After remaining for a time with this new
firm Walter J. Lambert engaged in the provision business in
an independent way. Three years later he turned his atten-
tion to the restaurant business, with which he continued to
be successfully identified a few years, in the meanwhile
having been successful also as a local buyer and shipper of
live stock. Mr. Lambert was one of the organizers of the
Citizens Bank of Martinsburg, and has been a member of
its directorate from the time of its incorporation, besides
which he has given effective executive service as its first
vice president, an office of which he is the incumbent at the
present time, his mature business judgment and effective
counsel having been a potent influence in connection with
the development of this substantial financial institution.
Mr. Lambert has made judicious investments in Martins-
burg real estate, and was the owner of the local operahouse,
which was destroyed by fire in 1920. He is a member of
Robert White Lodge No. 67, Ancient Free and Accepted
Masons, Martinsburg Lodge No. 778, Benevolent and Pro-
tective Order of Elks, and of Washington Lodge No. 1,
Knights of Pythias.

Mr. Lambert has taken deep and helpful interest in the
welfare of the fine little city that has long represented his
home, and while he has had no desire for public office he
has been at all times a liberal and progressive citizen-one
who has inviolable place in the esteem and good will of the
community. Mr. Lambert is a bachelor.

Submitted by: Valerie Crook

William Smith Snyder

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III, pg. 114-115

WILLIAM SMITH SNYDER is a native of Martinsburg, and
was an active business man of the city for twenty years or
more, but now gives his time chiefly to the management of
his private property interests. He is member of one of the
substantial old families of the Eastern Panhandle.

Mr. Snyder was born at Martinsburg, January 28, 1858.
His grandfather, John Snyder, at one time was a resident of
Chillicothe, Ohio, and from there came to Virginia, lived for
a time in Jefferson County, and then established his perma-
nent home at Martinsburg. He was a hatter by trade, and
he served as a constable in Martinsburg. He had three
sons. Two of them, John and Daniel, were shoemakers at
a time when shoe making was a manual trade and all boots
and shoes were made to order. John Snyder continued the
business of custom shoemaker in Martinsburg for many
years, and was also a member of the official board of the
Methodist Church. All business houses of the city were
closed during his funeral. Daniel Snyder specialized in the
making of women’s shoes. His son removed to Baltimore
and for many years was in business in that city.

Samuel Snyder, father of William Smith Snyder, learned
the trade of carpenter and followed that occupation. He
was a Union sympathizer when the war broke out between
the states, removed to Pennsylvania and was soon stricken
with diphtheria, and died in May, 1861, soon after return-
ing home. He married Mary A. P. Legg, who was born at
Annapolis, Maryland. Her father was a farmer in Mary-
land, and on leaving the farm lived with her at Annapolis.
Mrs. Mary Snyder was left a widow with three small
children, named Clara W., who subsequently married Wil-
liam Rouark, Maggie O. and William Smith. William
Smith was only three years old when his father died. The
mother kept her children together and carefully reared and
educated them, and she died at the age of sixty-two. She
and her husband were active members of the First Methodist
Episcopal Church.

William Smith Snyder attended the city schools, and
early sought a useful occupation that would provide his self-
support. He learned the tinner’s trade at the age of
twenty, established himself in business as a tinsmith, and
that was the active business line he followed. Mr. Snyder
has made numerous investments in local real estate, and
his accumulating interests in this field give him property
that requires much of his time.

At the age of twenty-five he married Emma Susan
Shaffer, who was born at Martinsburg, daughter of Jacob
and Isabelle (Burnett) Shaffer. Her grandfather, John
Shaffer, was born in 1795 and was a son of Peter Shaffer,
a Pennsylvania soldier in the American Revolution. John
Shaffer was an early settler of Martinsburg, and a wagon
manufacturer whose place of business was at the corner of
West King and South Raleigh streets. He married Sally
Curtis. The father of Mrs. Snyder was the first superin-
tendent of the Martinsburg Water Works, and continued in
that official capacity for forty years. The maternal grand-
parents of Mrs. Snyder were Archibald and Eve Burnett.

Mr. and Mrs. Snyder, who are members of the First Meth-
odist Episcopal Church, reared five children. Edith May,
the oldest, is the wife of A. D. Darby and has two children,
named Ruth May and Albert D., Jr. Roland Shaffer, the
oldest son, entered the United States service in the World
war, was first stationed at Kelly Field, near San Antonio,
Texas, and was at Chanute Field, near Champaign, Illinois,
until the close of the war. The third child is Hattie Webb.
The fourth, Mary Isabella, is the wife of Roy Harrison and
has two children, Isabella and Margaret. William Stanley,
the younger son, also is an ex-service man, and was stationed
at Camp Lee until the close of the war. He attended
Washington and Lee University and West Virginia Uni-
versity, and is now a clerk in the office of the Baltimore &
Ohio Railroad at Cumberland, Maryland.

Submitted by: Valerie Crook

Wilson Porterfield Sperow

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III, pg. 115-116

WILSON PORTERFIELD SPEROW. The Sperows were one of
the many families that moved down from Pennsylvania and
joined in the very early settlement of the Shenandoah
Valley in what is now Berkeley County. They were here
before the Indians had departed, and shared in the struggles
and vicissitudes of making the country habitable. Some five
or six generations of the family have lived here, and one of
the youngest is represented by Wilson Porterfield Sperow, a
prominent school man living in Martinsburg.

He was born at Bedington in Berkeley County, son of
John Wilson Sperow, grandson of George O. Sperow and
great-grandson of George Sperow, who died on the farm
which he owned and occupied in Hedgesville District. He
had a family of six sons and two daughters: Brown,
George O., Henry V., Cromwell S., James, Peter S., Kate
and Sallie. George O. Sperow was born in Hedgesville
District, acquired a farm in Falling Water District, and
when he finally left the farm he moved to Martinsburg,
where he died at the age of seventy-eight. His wife was
Mary S. Riner, who was born in Falling Waters District, a
daughter of Henry and Polly (Couchman) Riner. She died
at the age of sixty-nine, mother of four children: Henry
Riner, John Wilson, Anna May and Hester.

John Wilson Sperow is now a resident of Martinsburg.
He was born on a farm in Falling Waters District, grew up
there and received a rural school education, and at the age
of twenty-two bought the home farm and gave his time to
its management and cultivation until 1911, when he moved
to Martinsburg. Since then he has been a traveling sales-
man, though he still owns and manages the farm. He was
elected a member of the State Legislature in 1911, and was
a member of some of the important committees during his
term. He and his wife are members of Trinity Methodist
Episcopal Church, South, at Martinsburg. John Wilson
Sperow married Sallie A. Porterfield, who was born on a
farm in Falling Water District. Her father, Alexander
Robinson Porterfield, is now eighty-eight years of age,
sturdy and useful in spite of his long life, and is still
living on the farm where he was born December 24, 1833.
He was a son of William and Polly (Rush) Porterfield, and
both the Porterfield and Rush families were early settlers of
Berkeley County. Alexander R. Porterfield was an active
farmer before the Civil war, and had slaves to operate his
plantation. He married Susan B. Small, who was born In
Opequan District of Berkeley County, daughter of John and
Sallie Small. John Wilson Sperow and wife reared two
children, Wilson Porterfield and Dora Vivian. The latter
is the wife of Daniel Franklin Dennis and has a daughter,
named Margaret Katherine.

Wilson Porterfield Sperow received his first educational
advantages in Bedington. He pursued a four-year course
in the Shepherd College State Normal, graduating in 1914
with the A. B. degree and in 1916 received the Master of
Arts degree. His career as a teacher has been in connection
with some of the larger schools of this section. He taught
in the Martinsburg High School until he answered the call
to the colors in 1918. He was a sergeant and remained at
Camp Meade until honorably discharged in December, 1918.
On returning home he was an employe of the old National
Bank at Martinsburg until the fall of 1919, when he began
his duties as principal of the Bunker Hill High School.

On March 20 1920, Mr. Sperow married Lillian Henrietta
Sites, who was born in Pendleton County, West Virginia,
daughter of Dr. Johnson McKee and Isabella (Kile) Sites.
Her father was a practicing physician in Martinsburg for
many years, and is now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Sperow are
members of the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
He is affiliated with Equality Lodge No. 44, A. F. and A.
M., Lebanon Chapter, R. A. M., Palestine Commandery No.
2, K. T., Washington Lodge No. 1, Knights of Pythias,
Azhar Temple No. 226, D. O. K. K. He is past moderator
of the Potomac Valley Bound Table, a teachers organiza-
tion, and is a member of the Rotary Club at Martinsburg.

Submitted by: Valerie Crook

Jonas Barrett Chamberlin

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III, pg. 18-19

REV. JONAS BARRETT CHAMBERLIN, who has given able
and successful service as a clergyman of the United Breth-
ren Church but who has been identified with business enter-
prises in the period of his residence at Martinsburg,
Berkeley County, was born at Winchester, Frederick
County, Virginia. His father, Abraham Chamberlain, was
born in Hampshire County, that state, August 11, 1822, a
son of Jonas Chamberlin, born in Frederick County, Vir-
ginia, January 13, 1774. The latter’s father, Jonas, Sr.,
was born in England and came to America in company with
two of his brothers, one brother, Joseph, having settled in
Pennsylvania and the other in Massachusetts, they having
been members of an old and prominent family in Birming-
ham, England. Jonas Chamberlin, Sr., settled in Frederick
County, Virginia, where he passed the remainder of his life,
his religious faith, that of the Society of Friends, which is
opposed to warfare, having prevented him entering military
service in the War of the Revolution. He was a graduate
of Oxford University, and after coming to America he en-
gaged in the manufacturing of silk hats for the gentry of
that period. Jonas Chamberlin, Jr., engaged in the manu-
facturing of scythes in Hampshire County, Virginia, where
he continued to reside until his death, February 20, 1853.
His wife (Ann Bane) was born in that county September
11, 1787, a daughter of English parents who were pioneers
of Mineral County. By marriage the Bane family was
connected with that of which General Morgan, the Revolu-
tionary patriot and officer, was a member. Jonas Chamber-
lin and his wife were members of the Society of Friends.
Mrs. Chamberlin died June 9, 1825. Their children were:
Margaret, Mary, Joseph Morgan and Abraham.

Abraham Chamberlin received his early education under
the direction of private tutors, and as a man of fine mental-
ity and mature judgment he became influential in com-
munity affairs and was called to various offices of public
trust. In the Civil war period he was sheriff of Hampshire
County, Virginia, a position which he held at the time of
the formation of the new state, of which he became one of
the first county sheriffs under the new regime. He was
interested in mercantile business, and he ever commanded
unqualified popular esteem. His death occurred June 15,
1907. He married Elizabeth Ann Barrett, who was born in
Frederick County, Virginia, where her parents, of English
lineage, passed their entire lives. The death of Mrs. Cham-
berlin occurred May 20, 1901. Her children were four in
number: Jonas Barrett, Mary (Mrs. Joseph Martin),
Nancy Jane (Mrs. C. E. Liller) and Joseph. The parents
wore birthright members of the Society of Friends, to the
gracious faith of which they adhered until the close of their
lives.

Joseph Barrett Chamberlin attended the rural schools, a
state normal school in Virginia and the Shenandoah Acad-
emy at Dayton, Virginia. In his youth he became a mem-
ber of the United Brethren Church, and after due prepara-
tion was ordained a clergyman in the same at Winchester,
Virginia, in 1893. Thereafter he held pastoral charges at
Winchester, Virginia, and Martinsburg, West Virginia, and
in Washington, D. C. In the meanwhile he took a special
course in Columbian University (now George Washington
University), at the national capital, with the intention of
engaging in foreign missionary work, but impaired health
frustrated his plans, and since establishing his permanent
home at Martinsburg he has been identified with various
business interests. He is treasurer of the Farmers & Me-
chanics Mutual Insurance Company, a director and a mem-
ber of the finance committee of the Old National Bank of
Martinsburg, and a trustee of the local Kiwanis Club.

At the age of twenty-five years Mr. Chamberlin was
united in marriage with Miss Maude C. Earmon, who was
born in Rockingham County, Virginia, a daughter of New-
ton and Corinne (Sheets) Earmon, the latter likewise a
native of Rockingham County. Her father, Strother Sheets,
was born in that county, March 10, 1821, and his wife
whose maiden name was Frances Shirley, was born in
Augusta County, Virginia, July 9, 1822, of Colonial an-
cestry. Mrs. Chamberlin passed to the life eternal on the
17th of November, 1917, and is survived by two daughters,
Minnie G. and Carrie E.

Submitted by: Valerie

John Nadenbousch Parks

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

Source:
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

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

744

PARKS, JOHN NADENBOUSCH. (Democrat.) Ad-
dress: Martinsburg, West Va. One of the members of
the House of Delegates from Berkeley county. Born in
Martinsburg, West Virginia; educated in the public
schools, the West Virginia University, Virginia Military
Institute and the University of Virginia; since leaving
school has been engaged in a general line of business, and
has occupied the position of cashier; elected to the legis-
lature in 1916, and served in the 1917 sessions, being
chairman of the committee on Roads and Internal Navi-
gation. He was also a member of the following com-
mittees: Taxation and Finance, Prohibition and Tem-
perance, Labor, and Executive Offices and Library.

Submitted by: Valerie Crook

Joseph Bosler

History of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania
Published 1886

Joseph Bosler was born March 23, 1838. He attended the common schools and
the academy at New Kingston and the grammar school of Dickinson College.
He also spent his early life on his father’s farm, with the exception of
several years passed with his brother James in Ohio. In 1863 he joined
said brother in Sioux City, Iowa, and engaged with him in merchandising
and Government contracting until 1866, when he returned to Carlisle and
formed a copartnership with his brother, J.H. Bosler. This partnership
lasted eight years, during which time they were interested in stock and
real estate in the West. Joseph still continues this business. November
4, 1868, he married Sarah E., daughter of Thomas Newton and Margaret
(Billmeyer) Lemen, of Berkeley County, W.Va. Mr. and Mrs. Bosler have had
seven children, five of whom are living: Margaret, Joseph, Jr., Eliza
Herman, Mary and Susan Lemen. Mrs. Bosler and a daughter, Margaret, are
members of the Second Presbyterian Church, of Carlisle.

Data entry by volunteer: Tina Hursh (frog158@juno.com)

Josiah Melvin Ripple

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III, pg. 66

JOSIAH MELVIN RIPPLE, JR., who is one of the progressive
merchants in the City of Martinsburg, Berkeley County,
was born at Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, October 11, 1883,
and is a son of Josiah Melvin Ripple, Sr., and Virginia
(Smeltz) Ripple. The father was born at Marlowe, Berk-
eley County, Virginia (now West Virginia), and was a son
of William Ripple, who is supposed to have been born in the
same county, where the family was founded when this sec-
tion of West Virginia represented the western frontier of
Virginia. William Ripple was a man of superior education
and was for many years a successful teacher in the schools
of Berkeley County, he having been a venerable and honored
citizen of Marlowe, this county, at the time of his death.
Josiah M. Ripple, Sr., gained much of his youthful educa-
tion under the effective tutorship of his father, and through
apprenticeship he became a skilled workman at the trade of
carriage maker. In connection with his trade he was for
several years foreman of the Thrush & Stoughs carriage
factory at Hagerstown, Maryland. He was successful in his
business activities, and from 1904 until his death, in 1910,
he lived virtually retired at Martinsburg., His marriage
to Miss Virginia Smeltz was solemnized in 1880, and Mrs.
Ripple still maintains her home at Martinsburg. She was
born in Rockingham County, Virginia, as were also her
parents, John and Susanna (Dinkle) Smeltz, the former of
whom died at the venerable age of eighty-eight years and
the latter of whom passed away at the age of sixty-nine
years. Their children were eight in number. John Smeltz,
whose father was a successful planter and slave-owner in
Rockingham County, Virginia, was there reared and edu-
cated, and after the close of the Civil war he came to
Berkeley County, West Virginia, where he became a sub-
stantial farmer and where he passed the remainder of his
life on his old homestead farm, not far distant from the
road leading from Marlowe to Williamsport.

Josiah M, Ripple, Jr., the only child of his parents, gained
his preliminary education in rural schools and thereafter
attended the public schools and also a business college at
Hagerstown, Maryland. Thereafter he made a record of
marked success as a traveling salesman for the Hess Car-
riage Company, which he represented in the states of Penn-
sylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.
After having been thus engaged five years he engaged in
the book and stationery business at Martinsburg, and in
1920 he purchased the building in which his well equipped
store is now established, on South Queen Street. The Mar-
tinsburg Bank formerly occupied a part of the building,
and since its removal to other quarters in 1922 Mr. Ripple
has utilized the entire ground floor of the building of his
substantial and constantly expanding business. He is a
director of the Shenandoah Valley Bank & Trust Company,
and is one of the loyal and progressive members of the
Martinsburg Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Ripple is a re-
publican in political allegiance, he and his wife are com-
municants of St. John’s Lutheran Church in their home
city, and he is affiliated with Martinsburg Lodge No. 778,
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; Washington
Lodge No. 1, Knights of Pythias; Aghar Temple No. 226,
Dramatic Order Knights of Khorassan; and the local camp
of the Woodmen of the World.

In 1910 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Ripple and
Miss Clandia May Schill, who was born and reared at Mar-
tinsburg, a daughter of George W. and Mary Ellen Sehill.
Mr. and Mrs. Ripple have one son, Melvin Harold.

Submitted by: Valerie Crook

John Robert Poland

BERKELEY COUNTY WEST VIRGINIA
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Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
vfcrook@trellis.net
November 26, 1999
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The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 340-341
Berkeley

JOHN ROBERT POLAND is one of the substantial and pro-
gressive business men of the City of Martinsburg, Berkeley
County. He was born on a farm on Black Oak Bottom,
bordering the Potomac River, in Allegany County, Mary-
land, and the date of his nativity was March 25, 1871. He
is a son of Guinn and Anna V. (Holt) Poland, both natives
of Maryland. The latter’s grandfather, L. O. Holt, repre-
sented Allegany County in the Maryland Legislature and
served also as county sheriff. The grandmother of John
R. Poland was Ruth Cresap, a daughter of Colonel Cresap,
who was the founder of the City of Cumberland, Maryland.
In memory of Colonel Cresap the Cresap Family Associa-
tion has erected a handsome monument in one of the parks
of Cumberland, Maryland. Colonel Cresap was a resident of
Allegany County, Maryland, at the time of his death. Guinn
Poland was born at Dawson, Maryland, in 1844. In his
native state he served several years as steward of the
Mineral County, West Virginia, Infirmary. Thereafter he
established his residence at Keyser, Mineral County, West
Virginia, and engaged in the transportation of merchandise
between that place and Burlington. He died at Keyser in
1902, at the age of fifty-eight years, and his widow now
resides at Clarksburg, this state. Of their two children,
John R., of this sketch, is the elder. Bessie Lynn married
L. P. Sonders, and they have two children, Lawrence and
Ruth Holt.

John R. Poland attended the public schools at Burlington
and thereafter became a clerk in a general store at Elk
Garden. He continued his service as a clerk ten years and
then engaged in an independent mercantile enterprise. In
1899 he became a merchant in the City of Richmond,
Indiana, where he remained until 1902, when he came to
Martinsburg, West Virginia, and with a partner established
the Perfection Garment Factory. From a small inception
the business has developed to one of substantial order, a
second factory having been established, in the City of
Charles Town, and a retail store, known as the Garment
Shop, at Martinsburg.

Mr. Poland served as the first president of the Martins-
burg Chamber of Commerce, and he is a former vice presi-
dent of the local Rotary Club, in both of which progressive
organizations he takes deep interest. He east his first
presidential vote for Benjamin Harrison, and has continued
an independent in politics. He served one term as a mem-
ber of the city council of Martinsburg, is a member of the
board of directors of the local Young Men’s Christian Asso-
ciation, and he has twice served as vice president of the
West Virginia State Sunday School Association, of the
executive committee of which he is now a member. Both
he and his wife are zealous members of Trinity Methodist
Episcopal Church, South, in their home city. In the Masonic
fraternity Mr. Poland’s affiliations are with Equality Lodge
No. 44, A. F. and A. M.; Lebanon Chapter No. 2, R. A. M.;
Palestine Commandery No. 2, Knights Templars; Scottish
Rite Lodge of Perfection at Martinsburg; and Osiris
Temple of the Mystic Shrine in the City of Wheeling.

In 1908 Mr. Poland married Miss May Supples, who was
born at Baltimore, Maryland, a daughter of Thomas A. and
Mary E. Supples. Mr. and Mrs. Poland have three children:
John E., Jr., Anna Mary and James Lloyd.

Lewis H. Thompson

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III, pg. 113

LEWIS H. THOMPSON. It is possible to characterize justly
Mr. Thompson’s position in Martinsburg as that of a man
of affairs. In private business he has prosecuted his in-
terests with a vigor and judgment that have earned some-
thing more than ordinary success. At the same time he has
recognized the claims of citizenship, and has been efficient
and competent in public office. Organized movements and
institutions which are the source of Martinsburg’s best
fame before the world have profited from his wise leader-
ship and influence.

Mr. Thompson is a native of Martinsburg. His great-
grandfather, Joseph Thompson, was born in County Down,
Ireland, but of Scotch ancestry, and brought his family to
America and became a pioneer in Berkeley County. He
served as a soldier in the War of 1812, and for these serv-
ices was granted land in Iowa. He died at the age of
seventy-eight, transmitting the vigor of his mind and body
to his descendants. His son James Thompson was twelve
years of age when brought to America. He possessed the
essential talents of the scholar, and it is said that before
he came to America he had read the Bible through three
times. He learned the trade of weaver, and that was his
chief occupation during his active life. He died at the age
of eighty.

Samuel J. Thompson, father of the Martinsburg business
man, was a soldier in the Confederate army, being with
J. E. B. Stuart’s command until wounded. Following the
war he entered the service of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
Company and was a passenger conductor until late in years
he resigned and lived retired until his death at the age of
eighty-three. He married Sally Reed, whose father, James
P. Reed, was born in Martinsburg in 1818, and was the
son of a weaver who owned and operated a mill on East
John Street. James P. Reed succeeded to the ownership
of the mill, and also operated another mill a mile and a
half west of Martinsburg. James P. Reed married Ann
Snyder. Sally Reed Thompson died at the age of sixty-
seven, after rearing a family of ten sons and three
daughters.

In this last family Lewis H. Thompson was next to the
youngest son. While growing up at Martinsburg he at-
tended the city school, and at the age of seventeen became
a clerk in the store of Thompson & Tabler, remaining with
that firm five years, and for three years was with his
brother James F. He then engaged in business with his
brother Benjamin, and subsequently became sole proprietor
and still conducts a high class men’s furnishing store.
However, that business is only one of several important
affairs in which he is interested as a stockholder and execu-
tive. He is vice president of the Shenandoah Bank and
Trust Company, was for a number of years a director of
the Bank of Martinsburg, is president of the Cherry Run
Orchard Company, is president of the Martinsburg Fruit
Exchange and for several years was president of the
Business Men’s Association and is a director of the Cham-
ber of Commerce.

Mr. Thompson was for six years a member of the City
Board of Affairs and for six years a member of the City
Council, and during that time was also city treasurer. A
prominent democrat, he has been chairman of the County
Democratic Committee, a member of the Congregational
District Committee and has attended as a delegate a number
of local, district and state conventions.

At the age of twenty-one Mr. Thompson married Alice A.
Grimes, a native of Martinsburg, and daughter of Harry
and Julia Grimes. They have two children, -Ethel Amelia
and LaGarde Jones. Ethel Amelia is the wife of Capt.
Hugh C. Parker, of the United States Army. Mr. and Mrs.
Thompson are members of the Baptist Church, and for
twenty-two years he served as superintendent of the Sun-
day school.

Submitted by: Valerie Crook