History of the Office: 1905-2001

History of the Office 1905-2001  

Charles W. Swisher (R) 1905-1909

Charles Swisher was born in Marion County in 1856. He was a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1901-1902 and served in the 11 District seat of the State Senate from 1903-1905. In 1905 he became the thirteenth Secretary of State. He served until 1909.

Stuart F. Reed (R) 1909-1917

Stuart Reed was born near Philippi in Barbour County in 1866. Upon graduation Reed was editor of the Telegram in Clarksburg; served as Postmaster of Clarksburg and served in the State Senate from 1895-1898. He was also the president on the board of trustees at what is today, Alderson Broaddus College from 1901-1908. Stuart Reed served as the fourteenth Secretary of State from 1909-1917. Reed served as the first president of the National Association of Secretaries of State from 1915-1917. After serving as Secretary of State, Reed was elected to West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and served there until 1925.

Houston G. Young (R) 1917-1925

Houston Young was born in Harrison County. He served as the fifteenth Secretary of State from 1917-1925. Young briefly served as Secretary of the Capitol Complex Planning Commission while serving as Secretary of State.

George W. Sharp (R) 1925-1933

George Sharp served as the sixteenth Secretary of State from 1925-1933. Sharp was from Pocahontas County. After leaving office Sharp served as chair of the Pocahontas Republican Party from 1940-1945.

William S. O'Brien (D) 1933-1948

William O'Brien was born in 1862 at Audra in Philippi in Barbour County and resided in Upshur County. He served as a captain in the West Virginia National Guard in 1894 and 1895. O'Brien was elected to serve as a state circuit judge for the 12th circuit district from 1913-1920. He was also elected to the 3rd West Virginia Congressional District to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1927 to 1929. William O'Brien was elected as the seventeenth Secretary of State in 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944. He served in that capacity until his death.

Daniel Pitt O'Brien (D) 1948-1957

Daniel O'Brien was born in Buckhannon, West Virginia in 1900. He was the son of the seventeenth Secretary of State William O'Brien. D. Pitt O'Brien served in the U.S. Army during both World Wars, was a school teacher, and served as an assistant under his father in the Secretary of State's office. O'Brien was elected as the eighteenth Secretary of State in 1948 and again in 1956. He died suddenly in 1957 during the first year of his second term.

Helen F. Holt (R) 1957-1958

Helen 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. Before being appointed as Secretary of State, Holt was previously appointed to fill her husband's House of Delegates seat for his unexpired term in the West Virginia Legislature shortly after his death in 1955. She was the widow to the late Rush Holt Sr., a former state legislator, U.S. Congressman and was one of the youngest individuals elected to the U.S. Senate at age twenty nine.

Joe F. Burdett (D) 1958-1965

Joe Burdett was elected as the twentieth Secretary of State in 1958 and served until 1965.

Robert D. Bailey, Jr. (D) 1965-1969

Robert Bailey was born in Baileysville, Wyoming County in 1912. During World War II, Bailey served in the U.S. Army in the European Theater. His first stint in public office came when he was elected as the Prosecutor of Wyoming County in 1941 and served until 1961. He was appointed as the twenty-first Secretary of State on May 17th, 1965 to fill an unexpired term and was elected to a full term in 1966. He served until 1969.

John D. Rockefeller, IV (D) 1969-1972

John D. Rockefeller was born in New York City in 1937. He moved to West Virginia in 1964 as a VISTA volunteer. Rockefeller was first elected to public office in 1966 to the West Virginia House of Delegates. He was elected as the twenty-second Secretary of State in 1969 and served in the capacity until 1972. In 1976 Rockefeller was elected as the Governor of West Virginia and was re-elected in 1980. Rockefeller was elected to the United States Senate in 1984, 1990, 1996, 2002 and most recently in 2008. He retired in 2014.

Edgar F. Heiskell, III (R) 1972-1975

Edgar Heiskell was elected as the twenty-third Secretary of State in 1972 and served until 1975.

James R. McCartney (R) 1975-1977

James McCartney was appointed as the twenty-fourth Secretary of State in 1975 and served until 1977.

A. James Manchin (D) 1977-1985

A. James Manchin was elected as the twenty-fifth Secretary of State in 1976 and served until 1985.

Ken Hechler (D) 1985-2001

Ken Hechler was elected as the twenty-sixth Secretary of State in 1984 and served until 2001.


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