History of the Office: 1863-1905

History of the Office 1863-1905  

Jacob Edgar Boyers (R) 1863-1865

Jacob Boyers served as the first Secretary of State from 1863-1865.​

Graville D. Hall (R) 1865​-1867

Granville Hall served as the second Secretary of ​State from 1865-1867.

John S. Witcher (R) 1867-1869

John Seashoal Witcher was born in Cabell County on July 15, 1839. Witcher was elected to as Circuit Clerk in Cabell County in 1861 at the age of 22. After the start of the Civil War, Witcher enrolled in the Union Army as a first lieutenant and went up through the ranks to lieutenant colonel before the end of the war. Right after the closing of the war, he was elected to the House of Delegates in 1865. He became the third Secretary of State and served for two years until 1869 when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served until 1871.

James M. Pipes (R) 1869-1871

James Pipes served as the fourth Secretary of State from 1869-1871.

John M. Phelps (R) 1871-1873

John M. Phelps was born in 1821. In 1861, Phelps became a delegate to the First Wheeling Convention from Mason County. Phelps was a captain of the "E" 9th West Virginia Infantry company during the Civil War. 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. In 1870, Phelps was elected as the fifth Secretary of State and served until 1873.

Charles Hedrick (D) 1873-1877

Charles Hedrick served as the sixth Secretary of State from 1873-1877.

Sobieski Brady (D) 1877-1881

Sobieski Brady was born in 1816 in the state of Pennsylvania. Brady was appointed to State Treasurer on June 30th, 1876 in Wheeling by Governor Jacob. He replaced John Burdett who was impeached and filled the duties of the office until the close of term in 1877. In 1877, Brady was appointed by Governor Henery M. Matthews as the seventh Secretary of State. He occupied the office until expiration of Governor Matthew's term in 1881.

Randolph Stalnaker (D) 1881-1885

Randolph Stalnaker was born in what is known today as Greenbrier County in 1847. General A.W. Reynolds appointed Stalnaker as an aide to his staff and he served in that capacity until 1864 as he was made an adjutant of Hounsell's Calvary and served in that capacity until the end of the war. While a resident of Lewisburg he was appointed as private secretary to Governor Matthews in 1876. In 1880, Governor Jackson appointed Randolph Stalnaker as the eighth Secretary of State.mStalnaker held the position for four years.

Henry S. Walker (D) 1885-1890

Henry Walker served as the ninth Secretary of State from 1885-1890.

William A. Ohley (D) 1890-1893

William Ohley served as the tenth Secretary of State from 1890-1893.

William E. Chilton (D) 1893-1897

William Chilton was born in what is known today as St. Albans, West Virginia. He graduated from the former Shelton College in St. Albans. In 1882 he was selected as the chairman of the state Democratic Party executive committee. In 1883 he became the prosecuting attorney for Kanawha County. Chilton also became involved in the newspaper business and was a very big part of what is today's Charleston Gazette. Descendants of the family still have ownership of the Gazette. Chilton was elected to Secretary of State in 1893 and served until 1897.

William M.O. Dawson (R) 1897-1905

William Dawson was born in Bloomington, Maryland. Before becoming Secretary of State and a politician he served as editor of West Virginia's Preston County Journal. He soon purchased the paper and ran it for twenty years. Dawson was active with his local Republican executive committee and was elected to the State Senate in 1881 and served until 1889. He was the Clerk of the House of Delegates in 1894 and served as the Mayor of Kingwood in 1895. He was elected as the twelfth Secretary of State in 1897 and served two terms until 1905. Dawson became the twelfth Governor of West Virginia in 1905 and served until 1909.


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