Zebedee Warner, D.D.
The first contribution to
biographical literature, made by a West Virginian after the
admission of the State into the Union, was the works of Zebedee
Warner, D.D. It was entitled "The Life and Labors of
Reverend Jacob Bachtel," and was published at Dayton, Ohio,
in 1868. It is an interesting detail of the labors and
privations experienced by those engaged in ministerial work in
West Virginia, long years ago.
William Henry Foote, D.D.
Among the most voluminous writers
of the State was William Henry Foote, D. D., of Romney,
Hampshire county. He was born at Colcheser, Connecticut,
December 20th 1794, and graduated from Yale College in
1816. In 1824, he came to Romney as a minister, where he
remained nine years, when he went to Philadelphia, at which
place ten years were spent. Then he returned to Hampshire
county, never more to leave it. He died at Romney,
November 22d, 1869. He was the author of several published
works, among them being, "Sketches of Virginia,"
"Sketches of North Carolina," and the "Huguenots,
or Reformed Dutch Church." The first named is of
great value to all students of our history.
Daniel B. Lucas and Virginia
In 1860, "The Wreathe of
Eglantine" was published at Baltimore. It was a
volume of poems, the joint work of Daniel B. Lucas and his
sister, Virginia Lucas, of Jefferson County. The work of
the latter consisted of pastoral poems, illustrated by David
Henderson, a pupil of Porte Crayon. This was doubtless the
first attempt at Southern pastoral poetry illustrated by a
Southern artist, and the publication of the book will mark an
epoch in this branch of Southern Literature. Other
literary works of Daniel B. Lucas, are: "Memoirs of
John Yates Beale"; "Ballads and Madrigals," and
joint authorship of "Fisher Ames and Henry Clay."
George W. Atkinson
"History of Kanawha
County" was published in 1876, the author being George W.
Atkinson. It is one of the best local histories that has
appeared relating to the region west of the Alleghanies. It contains an account of the early settlements of the Great
Kanawha Valley, as derived from records and aged citizens.
The book also contains much valuable biography. In 1890,
the same author having associated with himself Alvaro F.
Gibbons, published "Prominent Men of West Virginia, "
a work of much value.
J. H. Newton and George A.
In 1879, an extensive and
valuable historical work, entitled "The History of the
Pan-Handle" was published at Wheeling. It was edited
by J. H. Newton, and in addition to full histories of the
counties of Marshall, Ohio, Brooke and Hancock, it contained
much general history of the upper Ohio Valley. In the same
year, George A. Dunnington published a work of much interest to
the student of our history. It was entitled, "History
and Progress of the County of Marion, West Virginia, from its
Earliest Settlement by Whites down to the Present." The author was aided by notes and memoranda left by Richard P.
Samuel T. Wiley
In the year 1882, Samuel T.
Wiley's "History of Preston County" was published at
Kingwood, West Virginia. These records of that county from
1796 to 1869 were destroyed by fire in the latter year; the written history of the county was very brief, and the
unwritten, rapidly passing from the memory of man, and the
author's publication was a timely one, for in it much has been
preserved that would soon have been lost forever. The
following year the same author performed a similar work for the
people of Monongalia county. Historians have been called
"the bookkeepers of the nations," and Samuel T. Wiley
has compiled the books for an important part of this
Hu Maxwell and Charles
In the year 1884 Hu Maxwell's
"History of Tucker county, West Virginia," was
published at Kingwood. It was the first work that treated
in detail of the early history of the Cheat River Valley,
together with its connection with the annals of the South Branch
Valley on the one hand, and that of the Monongahela Valley on
the other. In addition to the pioneer history the book
contains much of the educational history of the people of a
later date. Within a year thereafter, a volume of poems
written by a West Virginian was published at Huntington, West
Virginia. It was entitled "The Mountain Bard,"
and was the work of Charles Russell Christian, of Logan county, who said "My honest endeavor has been to sow the
seeds of literature in this hitherto barren land." The
author died June 3d, 1889, aged twenty-nine years.
John P. Hale and Danske
Two books were added to the
literature of the State in 1887. The first was a work of
great historical interest and value, entitled "Trans-Alleghany
Pioneers," the author being John P. Hale of Kanawha
county. Pioneer history does not repeat itself. The
discovery, exploration, conquest, settlement and civilization of
a takes place but once and for all time. The second book
was a volume of poetry, entitled "Joy and other
Poems," the production of Danske Dandridge, of Jefferson
county; this was followed later by "Rosebrake,"
another volume. Both have been widely read; the author
sees beauty in everything around her.
One of the most widely known
literary men of the United States was David H. Strother. He was born at Martinsburg, now West Virginia, September 26th,
1816, and died at Charles Town, Jefferson county, March
8th,1888. One of his early teachers was Samuel F. B.
Morse, afterwards famous as the inventor of the electric
telegraph. Young Strother spent two years as an art
student at Rome and was four years an artist and writer in New
York City. Returning to the scenes of his childhood he
adopted the non-de-plume of "Port Cayon," and
gave to American literature "The Virginia Canaan,"
which made his name famous. He served in the Federal army
during the Civil War and arose to the rank of
brigadier-general. In 1877, President Hayes appointed him
Consul-General to Mexico, and in this position he served seven
years in the capital city of that country.
Source: Lewis, Virgil A.
A.M. State Historian and Archivist, "History and Government
of West Virginia", American Book Company, 1912