Princeton Times

Mercer County Memories

December 21, 2012

Mercer County Memories: Elected officials

PRINCETON — Resuming our look at the history of Mercer County, courtesy of Kyle McCormick’s “The Story of Mercer County,” (Charleston Publishing Co. 1957) and the signers of the Declaration of Independence, courtesy of Benson J. Lossing’s book “Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence,” which is a reprint of the 1848 original kindly provided on loan by Dr. O.J. Bailes, we now look at some of the Mercer Countians who held elected office.

G.H. Crumpecker, for whom Crumpecker Hill in Green Valley is named, of Princeton, was twice elected sheriff of Mercer County, in 1924 and 1936. In 1941, he was named Superintendent of the State Police by Gov. M.N. Neely.

Also in 1941, Don McClaugherty was appointed secretary of the state road commission and served until 1947, when he was named Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles. He was re-appointed in 1951.

Perry L. Dye from outside of Bluefield was also a two-time sheriff, from 1944-48 then from 1952-56.

Ernest L. Bailey, of Matoaka, was appointed director of the state bureau of mines, then state road commissioner in 1933. He also ran for Governor on the Democratic ticket in 1936 but was defeated in the primary by Homer A. Holt.

A. Clyde White of Athens was elected to the Mercer County Court three times in 1938, 1944 and 1950, then was elected sheriff in 1956.

Dr. Sam Holroyd, of Athens, served in the West Virginia Legislature and was appointed by Governor John J. Cornwell to be superintendent of Weston State Hospital.

Walter V. Ross, of Bluefield, served as prosecuting attorney, a member of the House of Delegates and a number of appointive positions. He also served as a Circuit Court Judge.

Turning to the Lossing book, we come to Thomas Hayward, who was born in St. Luke's Parish, S.C. in 1746. His father, Col. Dame Hayward, one of the wealthiest planters in the province, saw to it that Thomas was well-educated, placing him in the best classical school in the region. There, he learned Latin so well that he was able to read the Roman historians and poets in that language.

After finishing his education, Hayward began the study of law under Mr. Parsons, one of the leading barristers in the province. Having done that well, his father sent him to England at the age of 20 to finish his legal training. He entered one of the Inns of Court at the Temple and pursued his studies zealously, leaving a polished lawyer.

While in England,  Hayward became deeply impressed with the differences between native-born British and British subjects in perception among the public, including the British government's appointing natives of the British Islands to colonial posts and its carelessness towards the rights of the colonists. That served to alienate his affections towards England and a desire for independence.

Before returning home, Hayward toured Europe, where he noted the differences between rulers and their subjects and reinforced his patriotism.

Upon returning home, Hayward began his legal career and also got married to a young woman by the name of Matthews. He was an outspoken patriot from the Stamp Act onward, rejecting British terms of conciliation. He was appointed to the first General Assembly convened after the royal governor abdicated and a member of the first "Committee of Safety" formed.

In 1775, he was elected to the General Congress. After first trying to turn down the election, he went to Philadelphia , where he threw his support behind Richard Henry lee's motion for absolution from British rule. He voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence and remained in Congress until 1778 when he was appointed a judge of the criminal and civil courts of South Carolina.

His return home was eventful, due to the British military’s actions in South Carolina. He remained defiant, ordering the execution of people convicted of treason within sight of the British lines. While serving with the military with Edward Rutledge, he was wounded at the skirmish at Beaufort in 1780, a wound that affected him the rest of his life.

After Charleston fell to the British, Hayward, along with Rutlegde and others, was exiled to St. Augustine, Fla. British soldiers carried off his slaves and his wife died during his year of exile.

After returning home. Hayward resumed his judicial career, serving until 1798 and served in South Carolina's constitutional convention in 1790. He remarried and retired to private life. He died in March, 1809 at the age of 63.

 To comment on this column write to me care of Mercer County Memories at P.O. Box 1199, Princeton, WV 24740 or e-mail me at

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