Category Archives: Hancock

W. D. Johnston

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. 258-259
Hancock County

W. D. JOHNSTON is superintendent of schools at Weirton,
that interesting and thriving industrial and agricultural
community of which the town of Weirton and the Weirton
Steel Works are the central figure. For a century this
section of Hancock County was almost entirely agricultural
and pastoral. Therefore, while Mr. Johnston has been look-
ing after the schools only half a dozen years or so, his work
here has been largely coincident with the period of modern
growth and development.

It was in 1916 that the present Central High School
building was erected at Weirton, with Mr. Johnston as
superintendent. Prior to that time the educational activ-
ities of the Butler District had been centered at Holliday’s
Cove, while the high school had been maintained for sev-
eral years. The Central High School at Weirton and the
schools in that group enrolled about 800 pupils, with forty
in the high school, twenty-nine teachers all told, and three
in the high school. There were only seven schools altogether
in the Butler District in 1916. For 1922 the enrollment for
the district was 1,720, there were sixty-eight teachers, and
the high school had 110 scholars and ten teachers comprising
the faculty. Among the veteran teachers at Weirton, whose
work has been of the highest degree of usefulness, might
be mentioned Miss Nell Cox, Miss Catherine Conlon and Miss
Clara M. Smith.

Superintendent Johnston was born in Harrison County,
Ohio, graduated from Adrian College in Michigan in 1912,
took post graduate work in Ohio University at Athens and
at Columbia University in New York. For three years he
taught in the district schools of his native county, was
principal for three years at the high school of Jewett,
Ohio, for three years was principal of the Chester High
School in West Virginia, and then, in 1916, came to his
duties at Weirton as superintendent of the local schools.
He is an active member of the National Educational Asso-
ciation, the State Association, and is vice president of the
District Superintendents Association of the state. He has
been superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday School at
the Cove, and is county chairman of the Junior Bed Cross.

He married Dorothy Dennimore, of Jewett, Ohio. She is
a talented musician, graduated from Dana’s Musical In-
stitute at Warren, Ohio, and at Scio College, and for four
years was a teacher of music in the public schools of Ohio.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnston have one daughter, Lorraine.

The school system of the Butler District is a matter
of special pride to all local citizens. D. M. Weir, vice
president of the Weirton Steel Company, in an address he
delivered to the officers and executives of the Steel Com-
pany in January, 1922, had this to say concerning the school

“The school system in Weirton is one that we have every
reason to be proud of. The superintendent of schools in
the Butler District is a man of high ideals, is a credit to
the community and a very able and efficient director. And
I think that the results bespeak more for him that any word
of praise that I may say at this time. He has the support
of a very able school board, Mr. Shakley, Mr. Morris
and one of our own employes, Mr. Rowland. These men
give their time and thought to advancing educational fa-
cilities in the district, which is now taking care of 1,800 chil-
dren, having about sixty teachers for this work. In addi-
tion to that we have two colored schools, one in the north-
east part of Weirton, with about twenty pupils, and one on
Calico Hill, with about forty or fifty pupils. The teachers
of these schools are just as competent as any others.

“We are all justly proud of our High School and I think
it compares favorably with any other in the state. This
educational work is of the utmost importance. Boys and
girls in the schools today will be prime movers in tomor-
row’s Weirton, and we should encourage educational work
in every way.

“At the present time there is being considered and it
seems an absolute necessity a building for high school pur-
poses at a probable cost of from $150,000 to $200,0.00.
This bond issue will come before the people some time soon
and I am hopeful that it will be approved, because new
high school facilities are bady [sic] needed. About seventy-five
pupils are being enrolled each year in the freshman class,
and if past records for enrollment are any criterion it will
increase yearly.

“Mr. Johnston would like to have a high school which
will accommodate from 400 to 500 pupils. Naturally he is
looking ahead. He has vision. We think it will only be a
few years hence until we will have that many pupils in
our high school. Vocational training is being carried on
with much success in our present high school building. In
the wood work and machinery class there are some forty
boys enrolled, and the work they produce is most commend-
able. A recent exhibit of what they made was shown in
one of the local stores and proved most surprising to every
one who saw it. No one had any idea that such development
was taking place in this line of work. Domestic Science is
a very popular class in high school, some fifty girls being
enrolled. This branch teaches home economics and sewing.”

William Banfield

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
September 23, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 255-256
Hancock County

WILLIAM BANFIELD. Prominent among the men who have
contributed to the business development of Follansbee may
be mentioned William Banfield, general manager of the
Follansbee Brothers Company Steel plant, who has numerous
other important business connections. Mr. Banfield was
born in Monmouthshire, England, in 1854, and at the age
of eighteen years immigrated with his father to the United

Upon their arrival in this country father and son secured
employment in the first tin plate mill erected in this country,
located at Leechburg, Pennsylvania, where William Banfield
was a heater and roller for seven years and was then made
manager, a position which he held for six years. In October,
1885, he removed to Irondale, Ohio, and with others estab-
lished the Irondale Boiling Mill Company, having purchased
the former plant of the Pioneer Iron Works. The above
company, under the name of Wallace, Banfield & Company,
Limited, made fine grades of black and galvanized iron
and soft sheet steel, and it became one of the leading in-
dustries of Jefferson County. In 1892 they converted part
of their plant into a tin mill, being the first to become
extensive manufacturers under the McKinley Tariff. In
1899 the American Tin Plate Company purchased and dis-
mantled the plant, and Mr. Banfleld, with others, erected
sheet mills at Chester, West Virginia, but these were also
acquired by the American Tin Plate Company at the time
of their completion. Mr. Banfleld was chosen and served
as district manager for this concern about five years, at
the end of which time he removed to Steubenville, in 1907,
subsequently becoming associated with the Follansbee
brothers in building the tin plate mills at Follansbee, of
which he has since been general manager.

The Follansbee Brothers Company, started to erect a mill
at Follansbee, West Virginia, in 1902, and the six tin plate
and two sheet mills were put into operation in 1904, with
600 employes. There were three buildings, about 200 x
40 feet, occupying approximately two acres of ground. In
1911 two sheet mills were added. In 1906 the company had
commenced the steel plant, having two twenty-five ton open
hearth furnaces, to which a third was added in 1911 and a
fourth in 1918. Three more sheet mills greatly increased
the company’s capacity in 1915, as well as a galvanizing
shop. There are about 1,200 men on the pay-roll, which in
1920 was over $2,000,000. The weekly output approximates
400 tons of tin plate and 1,000 tons of sheet steel. The
company has erected ninety houses, which it has sold to
its employes on reasonable terms, and the friendliest of
feelings exist between the corporation and its men. The
Follansbee brothers, of whom there were formerly four, but
now only three, were merchants of Pittsburgh prior to en-
tering their present line. They now have a similar mill at
Toronto, Ohio, with about the same capacity.

An auxiliary company of the Follansbee Brothers Com-
pany is the Sheet Metal Specialty Company, which was
established in 1906 on a small scale with about fifteen men
employed. In December, 1906, the plant was destroyed by
fire, but was rebuilt on a larger scale and since then has
been enlarged at different times, now having four two-story
buildings, 50 x 150 feet each, with from seventy to eighty
employes engaged in making sheet metal ovens and stovepipe
and elbows. In 1921 this company took over a two-story
building 180 x 130 feet, formerly operated by others for
several years in making metal specialties, and this is now
utilized for the manufacture of milk and garbage cans, with
some fifty employes. This latter acquisition added about an
additional half to the company’s output, sold to jobbers,
which is now about 350 cars. The buildings of this plant
have some 65,000 square feet of floor space, and the annual
pay-roll amounts to $105,000. The officers are: John Fol-
lansbee, president; L. A. Diller, secretary and manager; and
D. Reed, treasurer.

Mr. Banfield is also president of the East Ohio Sewer
Pipe Company at Irondale, Ohio, one of the important local
industries of that place, president of the Union Savings
Bank and Trust Company at Steubenville, and a director
of the Citizens Bank of that place. He likewise is an elder
of the Second Presbyterian Church at Follansbee, West
Virginia, and now makes his home at Follansbee.

Samuel G. Pomeroy

Submitted by
Valerie Crook
September 12, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 221-222
Hancock County

SAMUEL G. POMEROY. Some individuals are fortunate
enough to inherit the spirit of industry, financial sense
and business capability which help to make them suc-
cessful in their life work, while others are obliged to strive
against adverse circumstances and only attain prosperity
and position because they have developed winning charac-
teristics themselves. Pughtown numbers among its most
responsible and representative men some who have been
satisfied to work out their destiny along the even lines
of ordinary occupations. They have not sought the ap-
plause of admiring throngs, nor have they desired to wrest
wealth from speculative enterprises, but, doing the duty
that lay nearest at hand, have gained material advance-
ment and the respect of their fellows. In this category
may be included Samuel G. Pomeroy, who is engaged in
the general merchandise business at Pughtown, a commu-
nity in which he is well known and highly regarded.

Mr. Pomeroy was born at Pughtown, October 14, 1867,
a son of Rev. Joseph S. and Isabel (Griffith) Pomeroy.
Rev. Joseph S. Pomeroy was married in Mercer County,
Pennsylvania, in 1849, and came to Hancock County, West
Virginia, as pastor of the old Flats Presbyterian Church
near Pughtown, the only church of that denomination in
Hancock County, whose members were scattered for a
radius of twenty miles in every direction. He lived at
Pughtown, where he bought a home, which is now occu-
pied by his son. Reverend Pomeroy served the old Flats
Church until 1877, a period of twenty-eight years, during
which time he labored faithfully, zealously, cheerfully and
unselfishly in behalf of his flock and his church, and built
up a large and prosperous congregation. He then spent
nine years as pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Mounds-
ville, following which he returned to his old home at Pugh-
town and went into semi-retirement, although he continued
to visit various churches as the demand arose until within
two or three years prior to his death, when advanced years
caused his complete retirement to a life of rest after a
long and eminently useful career. He died in August,
1907, at the age of eighty-five years, being buried at the
Flats Cemetery, while his worthy wife survived him twelve
years, passing away when but one month and six days less
than ninety-five years old. After he had retired from regu-
lar active work as a minister Reverend Pomeroy was
called upon frequently to officiate at special events. He
was called upon to act at funerals, and was popular at
marriages. During his long career he married parents
and later their children, and buried several generations of
the same family. He was also a popular lecturer, being a
man of broad information on a number of interesting and
important topics, and his voice was frequently heard from
the platform. He and Mrs. Pomeroy were the parents
of the following children: John B., who became a minis-
ter of the Presbyterian faith, preached in North Dakota,
Illinois and Ohio, retired to his home at Findlay, Ohio,
and died there in 1920; Chester, who for a time operated
the store started by his father soon after the Civil war at
Fairview, now Pughtown, and later became a merchant at
East Liverpool, Ohio, where he died;; Samuel G., of this
record; Jennie, who died in Colorado as the wife of Boss
Carney; Clara, who married D. L. Evans and died at Pugh-
town; Myra, unmarried, formerly deputy postmistress at
Pughtown and with her brother, Samuel G., in the store,
and who has remained as his constant companion and
housekeeper; and Ella, who married Frank McClellan and
went to Colorado.

Samuel G. Pomeroy received a public school education
at Pughtown and as a youth entered the store of his
brother Chester, whose interest in the business he later
bought. He has continued in the same line to the present,
and this enterprise now has the distinction of being the
oldest continuous business in Northern West Virginia.
Mr. Pomeroy carries a full line of general merchandise
and has developed an excellent business, his customers
being drawn from all over the surrounding countryside.
His old establishment, the original one, was destroyed by
fire in 1906, but was replaced immediately with a more
modern structure, the present one. In business circles Mr.
Pomeroy is known as the man of the strictest integrity
and probity. He has never evinced other than a good citi-
zen’s interest in polities, although his father kept posted
on election returns and was able to recall the returns of
every county in the state, a mathematical talent that was
also possessed by his son Chester. Samuel G. Pomeroy is
unmarried and resides with his sister Myra, a capable
housekeeper and a woman of many virtues and numerous
friendships. They are faithful members of the old Flats
Presbyterian Church, to the movements of which they con-
tribute liberally. While he does not take an active part
in public life, Mr. Pomeroy is a friend of progressive
and constructive enterprises tending to advance his com-
munity, and such receive his unqualified support.

John R. Plattenburg

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. 274
Hancock County

JOHN R. PLATTENBURG. Three generations of the Platten-
burg family have had as their chief business interest the
editing and publishing of the Hancock County Courier,
now published at New Cumberland by John B. Plattenburg,
the grandson of the original founder. This newspaper has
been in existence for more than a half a century, during
which time it has become a part of the daily lives of the
people of the county, whose opinions it largely moulds and
whose actions it greatly influences.

John E. Plattenburg was born at New Cumberland, Jan-
uary 28, 1888, a son of Jesse T. and Lou (Lockhart) Plat-
tenburg. His grandfather, J. W. Plattenburg, was born in
Illinois, where his parents had been pioneers, and in young
manhood adopted the vocation of teaching. This he fol-
lowed for several years, in the course of which he went
to Wellsburg, West Virginia, and there learned the printer ‘a
trade. Later, as a journeyman, he set the first line of
type on the old Wheeling Intelligencer, His first newspaper,
the Wellsburg News, was founded about 1859, and. was
still being published when Mr. Plattenburg joined the Union
Army during the war between the states as a captain of
West Virginia infantry. He was wounded during his serv-
ice, being shot through the shoulder, but continued in the
army until the close of the war, when he resumed the
printer’s trade. In 1869, at Pughtown, then the county
seat of Hancock County, he established the first newspaper
in the county, known then, as now, as the Hancock County
Courier. It was a four-page, six-column publication, demo-
cratic in its policies, and while its form and style have
changed to some extent during the fifty-three years of its
existence, its politics have remained unswervingly the same.
The paper continued to be published at Pughtown until
1895, with Mr. Plattenburg as editor and publisher, but in
that year the county seat was removed to New Cumberland,
and the paper went with the seat of government. The
founder continued as its active head until his death in 1907,
at the age of seventy-seven years. A good newspaper man
and a capable writer, he made the publication well known
and its articles and editorials were widely quoted by con-
temporaries in the journalistic field. His widow, who was
Sarah Wetheral, of Wellsburg, survives at an advanced age.

At the time of his death J. W. Plattenbnrg was suc-
ceeded in the ownership of the paper by his son Jesse T.
Plattenburg, who died five years later, in 1912, after a
career which had been devoted entirely to the paper. While
attending Bethany College he met Lou Lockhar, also a
student, and they did not wait until their graduation to
be married. They became the parents of four children:
Joseph L., who is identified with the Weirton (West Vir-
ginia) Steel Corporation; John B., of this notice; Julia,
who is the wife of T. T. Bambrick; and Mary, the wife of
A. O. Dorman.

John R. Plattenburg received his education in the public
schools of New Cumberland and practically grew up in the
office of his grandfather’s and father’s newspaper. From
early youth he has been perfectly familiar with its every
detail of preparation, make-up and production, and since
the death of his father has taken over the duties of editor
and publisher. He is now producing an attractive, inter-
esting and thoroughly reliable eight-page, seven-column
paper, which has a wide circulation throughout Hancock
and the surrounding counties in this part of the state, and
which wields a distinct influence in directing public opinion
and action. Mr. Plattenburg is a democrat. He has a
number of business and social connections and has taken an
active part in civic affairs. During the World war he
served for thirteen months in the adjutant general’s depart-
ment at Camp Johnson.

Mr. Plattenburg married Miss Mary McDonald, and they
have two children: John W. and Mary L.

John A. Watson

Submitted by
Valerie Crook
September 12, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 227-228
Hancock County

JOHN A. WATSON, whose fine homestead farm on the
Ohio River in Hancock County, is in close proximity to
Brownsdale, here occupies a house that was erected by his
maternal grandfather, John Arbuckle, he having built the
house in Hancock County in the early ’50s and his death
having occurred at the time when the Civil war was
in progress. His daughter Margaret was the mother of
him whose name introduces this paragraph. As a youth
he learned the machinist’s trade, and since 1878 he has
maintained his permanent home at the ancestral place
in Hancock County.

In the year 1882 Mr. Watson here married a daughter
of the late John Brown, who was a member of one of the
most honored pioneer families of this county. Mrs. Wat-
son passed her entire life in Hancock County, and here
her death occurred in July, 1915. Of the two children
the elder is George, who is a bachelor and who has active
management of the home farm, while Miss Mary, the only
daughter, has had supervision of the domestic economies and
social affairs of the home since the death of the loved
wife and mother.

Joseph Nathan Finley

File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by
Valerie Crook
September 13, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 232
Hancock County

JOSEPH NATHAN FINLEY. The maintenance of a busi-
ness establishment for thirty years is ample proof of its
worth. Commercial ventures of the fly-by-night order may
pay their promoters for the time being, but they bring
their communities nothing: it is the firmly-established,
standardly-existing business that contributes to the lo-
cality’s prestige in commercial circles. The men who
stand behind such helpful enterprises are found to be of
sterling worth and solid integrity, and to be citizens in
whom a realization of the responsibilities of citizenship
is firmly grounded. A merchant of Chester since 1892,
Joseph Nathan Finley, president of the Finley Brothers
Lumber Company, has assisted in building this business
to a point where it is justly accounted a necessary com-
mercial adjunct. He has been a promoter, organizer and
official of movements which have made the city grow and
expand, and to his helpfulness in a civic way Chester
may give gratitude for much of its development.

Mr. Finley was born at the old family residence on the
hill, on the old farm which extended to the Ohio River at
the west end of the City of Chester, January 25, 1865,
a son of John R. and Louisa (Scott) Finley. John R.
Finley was born in 1824, in Washington County, Pennsyl-
vania, and at the age of four years was brought to the
Ohio Valley by his father, Thomas Finley, who passed the
rest of his life here in agricultural operations and died
when John E. was eighteen years of age. Of the four
sons of Thomas, three, Richard, James and William, served
as soldiers of the Union during the Civil war, all probably,
in Ohio infantry regiments. Richard later went to Ash-
land County, Ohio, where he died, while James and Wil-
liam remained in the Ohio Valley, where they passed away.
John R. Finley had charge of the farm with his mother
and maiden sister, Rebecca, who died on the farm. The
mother died at the age of eighty-four years. John R.
Finley after his mother’s death bought out the other heirs
and added to the property until he had 125 acres. In
addition to farming he was engaged in carpentry and made
a success of his affairs. He died in 1898, at the age
of seventy-four years, while Mrs. Finley passed away in
1914, aged eighty-two years, having survived him sixteen

The education of Joseph Nathan Finley was acquired in
the public schools of Hancock County, and, like his broth-
ers, while being reared on the home farm he learned the
trade of carpenter. This he followed somewhat independ-
ently until 1892, when, with his brothers, James William,
Richard Franklin and Robert Andrews Finley, he began
contracting and building, mainly at East Liverpool. In
1902 the brothers, with their brother-in-law, Joseph McCoy,
formed the Finley Brothers Lumber Company, which has
developed into the largest business of its kind in this
section. While ostensibly a lumber company, this enter-
prise also continued contracting and building, including
all manner of structures. Among the work accomplished
by this firm may be mentioned ten residences for the
Government, railroad stations, potteries, factories, schools,
court houses, churches, Y. M. C. A. buildings, garages,
etc. in fact anything in the contracting line. More than
one-half of the buildings at Chester have been erected by
this concern whose patronage has also extended to Newell,
Follansbee, Weirton and other communities. The company
now consists of the four brothers, Mrs. Joseph McCoy, now
a widow, and George Hasson. They own a well-equipped
mill utilized for mill work, stair work, etc., and the entire
plant is modern in every particular. Mr. Finley was one
of the original incorporators of the First National Bank
of Chester and has been its vice president since its incor-

He was a member of the first council of Chester, served
as a justice of the peace for some time, and in 1909 was
sent to the State Legislature as representative, being one
of the few democrats ever elected to that body from Han-
cock County. He formerly served for some time as chair-
man of the County Democratic Committee. He has a
number of civic and fraternal connections.

Mr. Finley married Miss Ella Rose, a sister-in-law of
John E. Newell, a sketch of whom appears in this work,
and to this union there have been born four children:
Claire C. in the engineering department of the Crucible
Steel Company at Midland, Pennsylvania; J. Paul, a stu-
dent at the University of Pittsburgh; and Mary Louise and
Martha Jane, twins, born seventeen years after J. Paul.

Mr. Finley is a charter member of Chester Lodge No.
142, A. F. and A. M., and also belongs to the Scottish
Rite bodies up to and including the thirty-second degree.
He also belows to Osiris Temple A. A. O. N. M. S. of
Wheeling, West Virginia.

————-OH-FOOTSTEPS Mailing List ———————-

J. Nessly Porter

File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by
Valerie Crook
September 13, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 233
Hancock County

HON. J. NESSLY PORTER. In business and public circles
of Hancock County few names are better or more favor-
ably known than that of J. Nessly Porter, secretary-treas-
urer of the Globe Brick Company and the present state
senator of the First District, comprising Hancock, Brooke
and Ohio counties, West Virginia.

Mr. Porter is a son of the late Capt. John Porter, one
of the best known figures in the paving brick industry in
this country, a sketch of whose career will be found on
another page of this work. Since boyhood he has been
identified with the brick business, and at the same time
has found the opportunity to interest himself in public
affairs, in which he has become prominent. Ever a promi-
nent worker in party conventions, in 1915 he was chosen
as the representative in the Lower House of the West
Virginia Legislature of Hancock County, a post to which
he was re-elected and established a splendid record. He
was then sent to the Upper House, where he is an influential
member of the judiciary committee and chairman of the
insurance committee. He is a prominent Mason and has
numerous business and civic connections. Mr. Porter mar-
ried Miss Margaret Rinehart, of East Liverpool, Ohio, and
they are the parents of two sons: James Nessly and Winston

J. S. D. Mercer

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie Crook
September 19, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 250-251
Hancock County

J. S. D. MERCER, sheriff of Hancock County, occupies his
present position because of his fearlessness as an officer,
his executive talents, and his courteous and pleasing per-
sonality. This is his second occupancy of the office, prior
to becoming the incumbent of which he had filled other
posts, and his entire record from the time that he started
out to make his own way in the world has been one of stead-
fast effort, marked industry and conscientious performance
of the duties of public and private life.

Sheriff Mercer was born in Grant District, in the north
end of Hancock County, on Mercer’s Run, where his great-
great-grandfather, William Mercer, had settled about 1800,
upon his arrival from Washington County, Pennsylvania.
One of his ancestors was General Mercer, a noted officer of
the Revolutionary war. The father of J. S. D. Mercer was
Robert Mercer, a school teacher in Hancock County for
some years, and later engaged in the furniture and under-
taking business at Hookstown, Pennsylvania, where he was
taken sick. Then he removed to Hancock County where he
died at the early age of thirty-five years. Robert Mercer
married Sarah Elizabeth Allison, a daughter of Jonathan
Allison, Jr., a descendant of James Allison, one of the ear-
liest settlers of the north end of Hancock County, the old
home being on a fork of Tomlin’s Run. There were two
children who reached maturity: J. S. D.; and J. W. F.,
a blacksmith of Chester, West Virginia.

J. S. D. Mercer was five years of age when his father
died, and he was taken into the home of his maternal grand-
father, Jonathan Allison, a large land owner. He attended
the public schools and was reared on the original Allison
homestead, where he remained until twenty-one years of
age, then learning the carpenter’s trade, at which .he worked
for about fourteen years, mainly at East Liverpool, Ohio.
His first public office was that of town clerk of Chester, in
which he served for one term, being then elected mayor
of Chester, an office in which he acted with excellent execu-
tive ability for two terms. When he left that office he was
chosen county assessor, and served one term, and in 1912
was first elected sheriff of Hancock County, and was the
incumbent of that office for four years. During the four
years that followed the expiration of his term he was
engaged in business successfully as a building contractor,
but again in 1920 re-entered public life when he was elected
sheriff as the nominee of the republican party. He ran
far ahead of his ticket. Sheriff Mercer devotes his entire
time to the duties of his office, and is one of the best offi-
cials the county has known. He requires only one deputy,
this being his son, M. D. Mercer, and the affairs of the
office are taken care of in an efficient and expeditious man-
ner, much to the satisfaction of the people of the county.
Sheriff Mercer is courageous in action, prompt and ener-
getic, and possesses more than the average detective ability,
which has assisted him in making the county a law-abiding
community. He has the support of all good citizens.

Sheriff Mercer married Miss Martha B. Allison, of the
same stock of Allisons from which he descends, her mother
being a Pugh of Pughtown. Five children have been born
to them: James Raymond, D. D. S., who is engaged in the
practice of dentistry at Akron, Ohio; Merwyn D., his
father’s deputy in the sheriff’s office; Thelma Elizabeth, a
teacher in the public schools of New Cumberland; and
Martha E. and Mary L., who graduated from the high school
at New Cumberland as members of the class of 1922. The
family was reared in the faith of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, to which Sheriff Mercer belonged until recently,
when he transferred his membership to the Presbyterian
Church at New Cumberland. As a fraternalist he belongs
to the Knights of Pythias; the Independent Order of Odd
Fellows, in which he has passed through the chairs and at
one tune sat in the Grand Lodge; and the Junior Order
United American Mechanics, in which he has also passed
through the chairs.

Lorenzo Franklin Mahan

HANCOCK COUNTY WEST VIRGINIA – BIOS: MAHAN, Lorenzo Franklin (published 1923)
Submitted by
Valerie Crook
September 12, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 231
Hancock County

LORENZO FRANKLIN MAHAN is one of the venerable native
sons of Hancock County, a representative of a sterling
pioneer family whose name has been one of prominence
in the history of this part of West Virginia, and he has
individually contributed his share to the civic and material
development and progress of the county that has repre-
sented his home from the time of his birth to the present.
This sterling citizen of the Arroyo neighborhood in Han-
cock County was born at Mahan’s Mills, on King’s Creek,
this county, November 17, 1838, and is the only surviving
son of John Mahan, the latter a son of William and Nancy
(Jones) Mahan. William Mahan had operated a line of
stage coaches out from the City of Baltimore, Maryland,
and upon coming to what is now the State of West Vir-
ginia he settled at Follansbee in Brooke County, his sons
John and Thomas later having established a grist mill on
King’s Creek in the present Hancock County. In 1842
John Mahan established his residence on the farm now
owned and occupied by his son Lorenzo P., of this review,
near the Village of Arroyo, and the saw and grist mill
which he here erected and operated was later used as a
vinegar manufactory. His landed estate here comprised
576 acres. He became one of the owners also of a line
of river boats, including barges and the steamboats “Oil
City” and “Iron City,” which were built in Hancock
County. Later he became one of the owners of the navi-
gation business conducted under the title of the Cumber-
land Tow Boat Company. He was one of the vigorous
and resourceful business men of his day and did much to
further the advancement of his home community and county.
He and his sons eventually converted the saw and planing
mill into a vinegar factory, which they operated suc-
cessfully. In 1852 Lorenzo F. Mahan assisted in setting
out the first orchard in a county that has since become
one of the foremost in the apple-growing industry of West
Virginia. Lorenzo F. Mahan married Mary H. Lowry,
whose father was mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, Penn-
sylvania, during the Civil war, and their ideal companion-
ship continued for thirty years, the gracious bonds being
severed by the death of the devoted wife and mother, who
is survived by two children, Grace and Frank Earl, the
latter of whom resides at Chester, this county, and is in
the employ of the Homer Laughlin China Company at
Newell. He is a republican in politics, as is also his ven-
erable father, who has been unfaltering in his allegiance
to the party during virtually the entire period of its exis-
tence. In 1897 was solemnized the marriage of Miss Grace
Mahan to William V. Powell, who is engaged in the gen-
eral insurance business in the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsyl-
vania. Mrs. Powell owns a part of the old homestead
estate, and after remaining eight years in Pittsburgh she
returned home to care for her venerable parents. She is
according to her father the utmost filial love and solicitude,
and resides with him in the fine old home-house which he
erected fully half a century ago and which, situated on a
slight elevation above the Ohio River, commands a fine
view of the valley for a distance of many miles, while
directly opposite, on the Ohio shore, is the beautiful Chil-
dren’s Home in Jefferson County, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs.
Powell became the parents of five children. Franklin,
eldest of the five, is now engaged in the insurance busi-
ness in Pittsburgh, and in connection with the World war
he was in the nation’s military service in France for a
period of eighteen months. The younger children are Ed-
ward Hewitt, Mary Elizabeth, William Thomas and Bar-
bara Brenneman.

Other personal sketches in this publication offer much
additional data concerning the Mahan family, and the
general history of the county likewise makes proper recogni-
tion of the splendid part this family has played in con-
nection with the development and progress of Hancock


Lowry M. Stoops

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. 272-273
Hancock County

LOWRY M. STOOPS. Among the younger generation of
educators who have made rapid strides in their calling with-
in recent years and who have contributed through their
labors to the advancement of the cause of education in
Hancock County, one who is well and popularly known
is Lowry M. Stoops, superintendent of schools of the New
Cumberland Independent District. Since the start of his
career Mr. Stoops has applied himself to educational work
with the exception of the period when he was serving in
the United States Army in the World war, in which he saw
much overseas service.

Lowry M. Stoops was born at Tustin, California, April
5, 1892, and is a son of Rev. J. P. Stoops, a minister of
the Presbyterian Church. Reverend Stoops came orig-
inally from Pennsylvania and has filled pulpits in various
parts of the country, including his native state, California,
Ohio and West Virginia. In the last named he served
eight years, at West Liberty and Warwood, and at the
latter place organized the congregation and erected the
present church edifice. At the present time he is filling
a charge at Wooster, Ohio.

The early education of Lowry M. Stoops was acquired
in the public schools, following which he pursued a course
in the normal school at West Liberty and was graduated
from that institution in 1909. In that year he became
principal of the Ward School at Benwood, and remained
in that capacity for five years, or until 1914, when, feeling
the need of further preparation, he enrolled as a student
at the West Virginia University. While he was engaged
in his collegiate work he conducted an extension course.
Mr. Stoops had a brilliant college career and was duly
graduated in 1917, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
At this time his career was interrupted when the United
States became involved in the World war, and he enlisted
in the Fifteenth United States Engineers, with which unit
he saw two years of service, twenty-one months being in
France. This was a railroad organization, in which Mr.
Stoops held the rank of sergeant, and its work, principally
the building of railroad yards, new roads, bridges, etc.,
frequently brought them within range of the enemy’s
fire. Sergeant Stoops was with the Headquarters Com-
pany, and his record was one of conscientious attention to
duty. On his return, and after he had received his honor-
able discharge from the army, he again took up the pro-
fession of teaching, and during 1919 and a part of 1920
was principal of the Weirton High School. In the latter
year he was elected superintendent of the New Cumberland
Independent School District, which includes seventeen
teachers and a student enrollment of 500. Of these ninety
pupils are in the high school, and in 1921 the graduating
class consisted of twenty graduates. Mr. Stoops is greatly
interested in his work and is indefatigable in his efforts
to improve the system and elevate the standards. In his
labors he is being assisted by the teachers and pupils, with
whom he has become greatly popular, and his work is also
receiving the sanction and appreciation of his fellow-
citizens at New Cumberland. Mr. Stoops stands high in
the esteem of his fellow educators and is a valued member
of the West Virginia Educational Association and the
National Educational Association. He is partial to all
forms of out-door and indoor exercise, particularly basket-
ball and baseball, but primarily the latter. While a stu-
dent at West Virginia University he was a member of the
varsity team, and at present acts as coach for the local
school team at New Cumberland, which under his instruc-
tion and guidance has won several county championships
in contests with other Hancock County School clubs.

Mr. Stoops was united in marriage with Miss Mary L.
Williamson, of Ben’s Run, Tyler County, West Virginia,
whom he met as a fellow-educator at Weirton. Mrs. Stoops
has taken an active and helpful part in all work of local
progress and has been a leading figure in several move-