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Samuel Stephenson

Submitted by
Valerie Crook
September 16, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 236
Clay County

SAMUEL STEPHENSON. Owing to his connection with
numerous business enterprises of an important character,
his public spirit and his general activity along various
channels, Samuel Stephenson is acknowledged to be one of
the leading citizens of Charleston. He has been interested
in oil and coal production, was the erector of the Union
office building, now occupied by the Union Trust Company,
of which he was an incorporator and is a director, and is
one of the principal owners of the Coal Fork Lumber Com-
pany, one of the leading lumber manufacturing concerns
in the state.

Mr. Stephenson was born in Nicholas County, West Vir-
ginia, March 10, 1859, a son of Andrew J. Stephenson. His
father was also born in that county, and in 1864 moved
to Clay, Clay County, where he became a prominent figure
in public affairs. While he was a democrat in a republican
community, he was greatly popular with his fellow-citizens,
and for many years served as county and circuit clerk, and
at all times proved an able and accommodating official. His
death was caused by a fall, October 29, 1893, when he had
reached the age of seventy-four years.

Samuel Stephenson grew to manhood at Clay, where he
received a good practical education and as a young man
spent several years in teaching school. He then entered
the field of lumbering, in association with his brother
Forsythe, a manufacturer, who made a specialty of portable
mills and operated in various communities. Later Mr.
Stephenson formed a partnership with Gen.. James Avis
Holley in 1902, in coal and timber lands. Together they
bought land in Boone County, where Mr. Stephenson still
has extensive holdings. They also drilled the first gas wells
in the Putnam and Lincoln fields, and for ten years were
very active in this line of endeavor. During this time Mr.
Stephenson assisted in the organization of the Holley Oil
and Development Company and the Kanawha Valley De-
velopment Company, but later sold out to the Wayland Oil
Company of New York. He has also prospected in various
other fields in West Virginia, and still owns oil lands that
have not been developed. In 1911 Mr. Stephenson erected
what at the time was the leading office building of Charles-
ton, and which is still one of the finest, the Union Trust
Building, a thirteen-story structure, representing an invest-
ment of $385,000. This was sold by Mr. Stephenson to the
Union Trust Company, of which he was one of the original
incorporators. Mr. Stephenson was also a director in the
Charleston National Bank, and has taken stock in other
enterprises. In 1918 he was one of the ineorporators and
is still one of the principal owners of the Coal Fork Lumber
Company, one of the principal lumber manufacturing com-
panies of West Virginia, which owns some 40,000,000 feet
of timber, cuts about 40,000 per day, and gives employ-
ment to approximately 100 men. Mr. Stephenson has taken
an interest in political affairs and once was the democratic
nominee for state senator and once for sheriff, but met with
defeat on both occasions because of his party’s minority in
the county. During the mayoralty administration of
General Holley, Mr. Stephenson was a member of the city
council and assisted in making the city “dry.” While the
mayor was aligned with the “wet” forces, Mr. Stephen-
son’s long experience in handling large bodies of men had
confirmed him in the belief that prohibition was best, and
he was one of the main factors in making Charleston a
temperance city. He also served as deputy United States
revenue collector. He is a member of the Presbyterian
Church and always willing to give his support, moral and
financial, to any worthy movement. He has reached the
thirty-second degree in Masonry and is a member of the
Commandery, Consistory and Shrine, but has not made a
hobby of fraternalism. While essentially an out-of-doors
man, he is not a sportsman in the generally-accepted mean-
ing of the word.

Mr. Stephenson married Mrs. Cynthia Belle (Vickers)
Sayre, of Kanawha County, who had two children, by her
former marriage: Ira G., an oil and gas operator; and
Nona Belle, the wife of Dr. John T. Sharp, of Charleston.
Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Stephenson:
Byron Jackson and Ruby Dell.