History of West Virginia Secretaries of State

Jacob Edgar Boyers

Jacob Edgar Boyers

Served: 1863-1865

Governor:
Arthur I. Boreman

Political Party:
Republican

Boyers of Tyler County, who published the Virginia Plaindealer, was elected as the first Secretary of State of West Virginia.

He later served as president of the Board of Supervisors and was Free School Superintendent of Tyler County for six years.

Granville Davisson Hall

Granville Davisson Hall

Served: 1865-1867

Governor:
Arthur I. Boreman

Political Party:
Republican

Hall of Harrison County served as the second Secretary of State.

He was a chronicler, businessman, and state founder. He also served as private secretary to West Virginia’s first governor, Arthur I. Boreman.

John S. Witcher

John S. Witcher

Served: 1867-1869

Governor:
Arthur I. Boreman

Political Party:
Republican

Witcher of Harrison County served as the third Secretary of State.

He enrolled in the Union Army as a first lieutenant and went up through the ranks to lieutenant colonel before the end of the civil war. In 1869 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served until 1871.

James M. Pipes

James M. Pipes

Served: 1869-1871

Governor:
William E. Stevenson

Political Party:
Republican

Pipes was born in Green County, Pennsylvania and served as the fourth Secretary of State.

Pipes was a Captain in the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism at Gettysburg.

John M. Phelps

John M. Phelps

Served: 1871-1873

Governor:
John J. Jacob

Political Party:
Republican

Phelps was born in 1821 and served as the fifth Secretary of State.

He was elected as the first President of the West Virginia State Senate which first convened in Wheeling on June 20, 1863. He served in the State Senate until 1865 and again from 1869-1870.

Charles Hedrick

Charles Hedrick

Served: 1873-1877

Governor:
John J. Jacob

Political Party:
Democratic

Hedrick of Kanawha County served as the sixth Secretary of State

He was an able accomplished lawyer, being at one time a candidate for the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Sobieski Brady

Sobieski Brady

Served: 1877-1881

Governor:
Henry M. Mathews

Political Party:
Democratic

Sobieski Brady was born in 1816 in the state of Pennsylvania and served as the seventh Secretary of State.

With the election Hon. Henry M. Mathews, Mr. Brady received the appointment of Secretary of State, which office he ably occupied till the expiration of Governor Mathews' term.

Randolph Stalnaker

Randolph Stalnaker

Served: 1881-1885

Governor:
Jacob B. Jackson

Political Party:
Democratic

Randolph Stalnaker was born in what is known today as Greenbrier County in 1847 and served as the eight Secretary of State.

From 1868 until 1876 he was a merchant in Lewisburg. In 1877 he became private secretary to Governor H. M. Mathews, and served in that capacity four years.

Henry S. Walker

Henry S. Walker

Served: 1885-1890

Governor:
Emanuel Willis Wilson

Political Party:
Democratic

Walker served as the ninth Secretary of State.

He was the editor of the Charleston Courier.

William A. Ohley

William A. Ohley

Served: 1890-1893

Governor:
Aretas B. Fleming

Political Party:
Democratic

Ohley served as the tenth Secretary of State.

He only served for three years instead of the customary four-year term due to the close gubernatorial race in 1888. The state legislature was forced to determined the outcome.

William E. Chilton

William E. Chilton

Served: 1893-1897

Governor:
William A. MacCorkle

Political Party:
Democratic

William Chilton was born in what is known today as St. Albans and served as the eleventh Secretary of State.

He became involved in the newspaper business and was a very big part of what is today's Charleston Gazette.

William M.O. Dawson

William M.O. Dawson

Served: 1897-1905

Governor:
G. W. Atkinson - A. B. White

Political Party:
Republican

Dawson was born in Bloomington, Maryland and served as the twelfth Secretary of State

He served two terms as Secretary of State until 1905, at which time he was elected as the twelfth Governor of West Virginia and served until 1909.

Charles W. Swisher

Charles W. Swisher

Served: 1905-1909

Governor:
William M. O. Dawson

Political Party:
Republican

Swisher was born in Marion County and served as the thirteenth Secretary of State.

He started out in life as a mine boy in the employ the Fairmont Coal Company, driving mules.

Stuart F. Reed

Stuart F. Reed

Served: 1909-1917

Governor:
W. E. Glasscock - H. D. Hatfield

Political Party:
Republican

Reed was born near Philippi in Barbour County and served as the fourteenth Secretary of State

He was elected to WV's 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House and served there until 1925.

Houston G. Young

Houston G. Young

Served: 1917-1925

Governor:
J. J. Cornwell - E. F. Morgan

Political Party:
Republican

Young was born in Harrison County and served as the fifteenth Secretary of State.

He briefly served as Secretary of the Capitol Complex Planning Commission while serving as Secretary of State.

George W. Sharp

George W. Sharp

Served: 1925-1933

Governor:
H. M. Gore - W. G. Conley

Political Party:
Republican

Sharp was from Pocahontas County and served as the sixteenth Secretary of State.

After leaving office he served as chair of the Pocahontas Republican Party from 1940-1945.

William S. O'Brien

William S. O'Brien

Served: 1933-1948

Governor:
Kump, Holt, Neely, Meadows

Political Party:
Democratic

O'Brien was born in Barbour County and served 4 terms as the seventeenth Secretary of State.

He was also elected to the 3rd West Virginia Congressional District to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1927 to 1929.

Daniel Pitt O'Brien

Daniel Pitt O'Brien

Served: 1948-1957

Governor:
O. L. Patteson - W. C Marland

Political Party:
Democratic

O'Brien was born in Buckhannon and served as the eighteenth Secretary of State.

He served in the U.S. Army during both World Wars and was the son of Secretary of State William O'Brien.

Helen F. Holt

Helen F. Holt

Served: 1957-1958

Governor:
Cecil H. Underwood

Political Party:
Republican

Holt was appointed as the nineteenth Secretary of State by Governor Cecil Underwood after the sudden passing of D. Pitt O'Brien.

She became the first female to serve as Secretary of State and the first female to serve on the West Virginia Board of Public Works.

Joe F. Burdett

Joe F. Burdett

Served: 1958-1965

Governor:
C. H. Underwood - W. W. Barron

Political Party:
Democratic

Burdett was born in Frankfort, Kentucky and served as the twentieth Secretary of State

He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Robert D. Bailey, Jr.

Robert D. Bailey, Jr.

Served: 1965-1969

Governor:
Hulett C. Smith

Political Party:
Democratic

Robert Bailey was born in Wyoming County and served as the twenty-first Secretary of State.

He was appointed in 1965 to fill an unexpired term and was elected to a full term in 1966.

John D. Rockefeller, IV

John D. Rockefeller, IV

Served: 1969-1972

Governor:
Arch A. Moore Jr.

Political Party:
Democratic

Rockefeller was born in New York City and served as the twenty-second Secretary of State.

He has served 2 terms as Governor and 5 terms as a U.S. Senator. He retired in 2014.

Edgar F. Heiskell, III

Edgar F. Heiskell, III

Served: 1972-1975

Governor:
Arch A. Moore Jr.

Political Party:
Republican

Heiskell was born in Morgantown and served as the twenty-third Secretary of State

He joined the USAF and became a combat-qualified F-102 fighter pilot with the North American Air Defense Command and Air National Guard.

James R. McCartney

James R. McCartney

Served: 1975-1977

Governor:
Arch A. Moore Jr.

Political Party:
Republican

McCartney was born in Meyersdale Somerset, Pennsylvania and served as the twenty-fourth Secretary of State.

He served 4 1/2 years in the U.S. Army as a tank company commander. He was awarded the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, French Croix de Guerre, Belgian Fougerre, and was cited for bravery by the British Army.

A. James Manchin

A. James Manchin

Served: 1977-1985

Governor:
Jay Rockefeller

Political Party:
Democratic

Manchin was born in Farmington and served as the twenty-fifth Secretary of State.

He was impeached as State Treasurer by the House of Delegates on March 30, 1989, amid a controversy over bad investments that lost the state $279 million.

Ken Hechler

Ken Hechler

Served: 1985-2001

Governor:
Moore, Caperton, Underwood

Political Party:
Democratic

Hechler was born in Roslyn, New York and served as the twenty-sixth Secretary of State.

During World War II he was awarded a Bronze Star and 5 battle stars as an Army Officer. He served 3 terms as Secretary of State.

Joe Manchin III

Joe Manchin III

Served: 2001-2005

Governor:
Bob Wise

Political Party:
Democratic

Manchin was born in Farmington and served as the twenty-seventh Secretary of State.

He went on to serve as Governor and is currently serving as a U.S. Senator.

Betty Ireland

Betty Ireland

Served: 2005-2009

Governor:
Joe Manchin III

Political Party:
Republican

Ireland was born in Charleston and served as the twenty-eight Secretary of State.

She was also the first woman elected to the executive branch of West Virginia state government.

Natalie E. Tennant

Natalie E. Tennant

Served: 2009-2017

Governor:
Earl Ray Tomblin

Political Party:
Democratic

Tennant was born in Fairview and served as the twenty-ninth Secretary of State.

While at WVU, she was selected in 1990 as the first woman to represent the university as the Mountaineers' mascot.

Andrew McCoy Warner

Mac Warner

Served: 2017 - Present

Governor:
Jim Justice

Political Party:
Republican

Warner is currently serving as the thirtieth Secretary of State.

He served as the Chief of International Law for the United States Army Europe, was an instructor at the Army Judge Advocate General's School, and served on the Staff at the U.S. Army War College.

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