GRANT COUNTY WEST VIRGINIA
Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
January 1, 2000
The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago and New York, Volume II,
Harry H. McNemar. In naming the representative business citizens of
Grant County more than passing mention is due the career and
accomplishments of Harry H. McNemar of Petersburg who although still a
young man has developed one of the leading industries of his community,
a produce business, the trade of which approximates a fifth of a million
dollars annually. This enterprise has been built up within a few years,
during which time Mr. McNemar has also found the opportunity in interest
himself in other business affairs, as well as in matters affecting the
public welfare of his community.
Mr. McNemar was born July 26, 1884 in Grant District, Grant County and
is a son of Samuel B. and Elizabeth (Harris) McNemar. He belongs to one
of the most ancient of the early settled families of West Virginia,
which was introduced into old Hardy County four generations back of
Harry H. McNemar, by his great-grandfather Martin McNemar. Martin
McNemar settled in Grant District, Grant County, as it is now
constituted, ten miles from the present town of Petersburg, and there
continued to be engaged in agricultural pursuits throughout a long,
active and useful life, being buried on his farm. Among his children
were Joseph McNemar, the grandfather of Harry H., of Petersburg. He
spent his life on the estate of his father, agriculture being his chief
vocation. He was one of the prominent and influential men of his day
and for forty years served in the office of sheriff of Hardy County, as
it was then. His official record was an excellent one, as was that also
of his business and private life, and he was held in high esteem by his
fellow-citizens. Mr. McNemar was buried at Lahmansville Cemetery, about
one mile below Petersburg. In the family of Joseph McNemar there were
two sets of children, he having been twice married and Samuel B.
McNemar, the father of Harry H. belonged to the second wife’s family.
Samuel B. McNemar was born in 1842, at the old family home in Grant
District, Grant County and was liberally educated. He early
demonstrated intellectual attainments that directed his career along the
line of the educator’s profession and throughout his life he was a
teacher in various parts of the state and never ceased to be a student.
He was one of the best-known educators in his part of West Virginia and
was popular as well as efficient, having the happy faculty of being able
to impart his own knowledge to others. At the outbreak of the war
between the states, while a strong supporter of and sympathizer with the
Confederacy, Mr. McNemar was found physically unfit to withstand the
rigors of participation in the hard and strenuous life of the soldier,
and his connection with the war activities therefore was limited to his
moral and financial support of the Southern cause. He was a well-known
democrat of Grant County and was frequently seated in conventions of his
party. Mr. McNemar was a devout member of the Southern Methodist
Episcopal Church and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the church
of that denomination at Williamsport.
Samuel B. McNemar married Miss Elizabeth Harris of Goodhope, Illinois,
where she was born although her parents were formerly West Virginia
people and agriculturists here. She is now a resident of Petersburg,
aged seventy-seven years and highly esteemed. Mr. McNemar after one
year of retirement from the schoolroom, died in September 1912 and his
community lost a reliable and worthy citizen. He and his wife were the
parents of the following children: Miss Daisy D., who holds a life
certificate to teach and was engaged in school work for some years, but
who for the past four years has occupied the position of postmistress of
Petersburg; Edward S., who is engaged in agricultural pursuits near
Williamsfield, Illinois; Harry Hennen of this review; W.V. and J.V.
twins, the former an attorney at law of Logan West Virginia and the
latter a resident of Akron Ohio.
Harry Hennan McNemar received his early education under the tuition of
his father, and later completed his training in the public schools. In
his young manhood he adopted his father’s vocation of teaching, being a
country school teacher when only sixteen years of age, and continued his
school work for eight years, terminating it as principal of the
Petersburg schools. When he left the schoolroom he was appointed the
first railway agent of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at Petersburg,
and served in that capacity for eleven years. When he resigned he did
so to embark in the produce business, establishing the first exclusive
business of that kind at Petersburg. This he has developed to
considerable proportions for the year 1921, an average one, showed a
business of $200,000 passing through the McNemar house alone.
Naturally, a man with the ability to build up an enterprise of this kind
is in demand by other enterprises and Mr. McNemar is a director of the
Central Tie and Lumber Company, a stockholder in the Grant County Bank
and a director in the Community Power Company, a hydro-electrical
company, organized to furnish electric power for Petersburg and
Moorefield. The organization of this project was effected in 1921, the
plant site being at the twenty-foot dam across the south branch of the
Potomac River above Petersburg.
Mr. McNemar’s politics is democratic and his first presidential ballot
was cast in favor of the candidacy of William Jennings Bryan in 1908.
He has been on his party’s ticket for the office of county
superintendent of schools, also later for that of sheriff, in which
latter campaign he reduced the republican majority of his opponent from
1500 to less than 500 votes. As a fraternalist he is a Master Mason and
a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen
of America and is popular in all three lodges.
On June 30, 1909 at Petersburg Mr. McNemar was united in marriage with
Miss Mary B. Clark, a daughter of William and Carrie (Baker) Clark, the
latter being a sister of Bernard J. Baker, the well known banker of
Petersburg. Mrs. McNemar is the youngest of three children, the others
being Mrs. D.G. Marshall and Mrs. Frances Stump both of Romney West