Chapter XLII - Bar of Romney

History of Hampshire County West Virginia From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present
By Hu Maxwell and H. L. Swisher
Morgantown, West Virginia; A. Brown Boughner Printer; 1897

PART 2 County History
Pages 493-497

The bar of Hampshire is the oldest in West Virginia. For almost a century and a half advocates have expounded the law in the courts of justice of the county. They have he en men of ability, as a rule; and while in years of service they surpass all other bars of the state, in ability and learning they suffer in comparison with none. Attorneys who held their commissions under the crown of England pleaded causes in Hampshire almost a quarter of a century before the Revolutionary war. After the achievement of independence, the practice of law in Romney flourished under Virginia's first constitution for fifty years; then under the second constitution twenty years; and under the third ten years. West Virginia then took the place of the mother state and gave a constitution and a code of laws, following it later with a second. Under all of these the legal profession in Hampshire was recognized as in the front rank. Lawyers who began their work at that bar have risen to fame; and lawyers who have won laurels elsewhere have honored the old county's bar by giving it the benefit of their wisdom and long experience. Although the court is the oldest in the state, it cannot be claimed for it that it has had more litigation than the court of any other county of West Virginia. The people have been peaceful, and comparatively few of them have been brought into court for punishment. Land titles, often a source of long and expensive litigation, have never been much questioned or disturbed in Hampshire, probably because the first settlers were chiefly men of business who took pains to clear the titles to their lands very early in the county's history; by this means being able to bequeath their property to their children, unencumbered and clear of dispute. A person who will examine this county's court records, and compare them with the records of some of the other counties of the state, will be impressed with Hampshire's favorable showing. Suits at law to clear titles to real estate have been few.

The purpose of this chapter is not to give a history of the courts of this county, for that has been done elsewhere in this book, but to present a list of prominent attorneys who have practiced at the Romney bar, in order that future generations may have information concerning an important profession and its members. Extended notice of each lawyer has not been attempted. The biographies of many of them will be found elsewhere in this volume. Four members of the Kercheval family practiced at the Hampshire bar, Samuel, Robert C, Andrew W. and John B. William Naylor was well known in his day, and was a successful advocate early in the present century. Angus W. McDonald, sr., and Angus W. McDonald, jr., were known in the legal profession before they became noted as military men during the civil war. William B. Street and William Perry are names often met with in the court records. Thomas C. Green, as a lawyer, has been an honor to Hampshire. His father, John W. Green, was on the bench of the court of appeals of Virginia in 1822. Thomas C. Green was a son-in-law of Colonel Angus McDonald, and commenced the practice of law in Jefferson county. He was in the confederate army, and while in the field was elected to the Virginia legislature and served two terms. Governor Jacob, of Romney, appointed him a judge of the supreme court of appeals of West Virginia, and he was subsequently, twice elected to the same position. William C. Clayton, another lawyer which West Virginia takes pride in accrediting to Hampshire county, was born in 1831. He was a pupil in Dr. Foote's school at Romney, and was there prepared for the Virginia university which he entered m 1846 and remained three years. He was subsequently principal of Washington academy at Charlestown, Jefferson county. He commenced the practice of law in Romney in 1859, and in 1873 removed to Keyser. He was a member of the West Virginia senate 1875 and 1877. Alfred P. White, Robert White, John B. White and C. S. White were all active and influential members of the bar of the county. Judge James D. Armstrong, both at the bar and on the bench, won the confidence and the esteem of the people, not only of his county, but of the neighboring counties and of West Virginia.

R. W. Varder, Robert N. Harper and Powell Conrad are names well remembered as members of the bar. Alexander Monroe, a man whose ability has attracted attention in both peace and war, was enjoying a lucrative practice in Hampshire before many of the lawyers of today were born. He was born in 1817, and read law with Alfred P. White of Romney, and was admitted to the bar at the age of forty-one. He was a member of the Virginia legislature of 1849; again in 1862 to 1865; a member of the constitutional convention of West Virginia, 1872; a member of the legislature of Hampshire, 1875, and was elected speaker; also in the legislature 1879, 1881, 1882. John J. Jacob, the first democratic governor of West Virginia, was a partner of Colonel Robert White in the practice of law in Romney. A full account of Governor Jacob's public services is given in another chapter. He practiced law in Romney about six years, from 1865 to 1871. George A. Tucker, F. M. Reynolds, William M. Welch, won their way into prominence as members of the Hampshire bar. Robert W. Dailey, born and reared in Romney, early gave evidence that he was destined to achieve success beyond that of a successful practitioner at the bar. The people of this county were not slow in appreciating his worth, and when the opportunity to recognize his ability in a substantial way presented itself, they did it by electing him judge of the circuit court. Not only did Hampshire his native county, confer this honor upon him, but he was given a handsome majority by the twelfth judicial circuit, composed of Hampshire, Hardy, Grant, Pendleton and Mineral counties. C. Wood Dailey, brother of Judge Dailey, began his career as a lawyer in Romney, afterwards removing to Keyser, and subsequently to Randolph county.

Samuel Lightfoot Flournoy, now of Charleston, West Virginia, studied his profession in Romney, and began practicing in 1873, when twenty-seven years of age. His life had been a busy one, and having spent part of it in the confederate army when a youth, he did not have an opportunity to acquire the classical education which he was determined to have, until after the war closed. He graduated from Hampden Sydney college with honors, and then took up the study of law. He is given additional mention in this book. Henry B. Gilkeson, by his example, has show that industry, hard work, and close application to business are the surest and safest roads to success. Having served the people, first as a school teacher, then as county superintendent of Hampshire, he took up the study of law, and has the good fortune to acquire a substantial reputation, not only in his county but in the state at large. Robert W. Monroe, brother of Alexander Monroe began the practice of law in Romney, but he has extended his practice to other fields. He was appointed by President Cleveland Indian agent in Idaho, and removed to that territory. But becoming tired of the place he returned to Romney, and subsequently made his home in Preston county. William B. Cornwell studied law in the West Virginia university, and after practicing his profession a short time, was elected prosecuting attorney of Hampshire. John J. Cornwell, brother of the forgoing, is a member of the bar. dividing his time between his profession and editing his newspaper. J. S. Zimmerman, a young man, has made a success at the bar of Hampshire, and A. J. Welton's name, although the last to be mentioned on the roll of resident attorneys, should not be classed as of the least importance.

A number of lawyers of note have practiced at the Romney bar who have never resided in the county, and it is due them and the Hampshire bar that mention be made of them. The list contains names well known throughout the state. James M. Mason, Robert Y. Conrad, Philip Williams, David W. Barton, Charles J. Faulkner, sr., James W. Green, J. Randolph Tucker, William Seymour, Andrew Hunter, J. W. F. Allen, Richard E. Byrd, General Thomas McKaig, L. T. Moore, Richard Parker, Josiah H. Gordon, Holmes Conrad, A. Hunter Boyd, A. R. Pendleton, Joseph Sprigg, Edmund P. Dandridge, Benjamin Dailey, George E. Price, W. R. Alexander.

No place more appropriate than in the history of the Hampshire county bar can be found for the mention of a lawyer of profound learning and national reputation, who was born in Romney about 1830, but who left the county early in life to achieve fame elsewhere. Creed Haymond, son of William Calder Haymond, was a native of this county. While yet young, he removed with his parents to Fairmont, in Marion county, where he resided several years. When gold was discovered in California he was among the first upon the scene. Having cast his lot on the Pacific coast, he took up the study of law, and rose to the head of his profession. He yielded first place to none, even when matched with the best lawyers of the west, such as General Barnes, Deuprey, Delmas and Foote. He was for years attorney for the Southern Pacific railroad. He was president of the commission which codified the laws of California and produced a work seldom equaled and never surpassed. He was attorney for several of California's millionaires, and he drew up the papers for the founding of Stanford university. He died in 1894.


photograph - Bar of Romney

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