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Biography of Col. William Leckie - McDowell Co. WV


Biography of Col. William Leckie - McDowell Co. WV


The History of West Virginia, Old and New 
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc. 
Chicago and New York, Volume II 
pg.62 & 63

COL. WILLIAM LECKIE was one of the big, strong, kindly and generous men of the West Virginia coal fields. A native of Scotland, son of a Scotch miner, he came to the United States when a young man, finished his education in American schools and by private study, worked in and around mines for a number of years, and rose from various positions of responsibility to be a leading mine operator. He developed some of the best coal openings in Southern West Virginia.

William Leckie was born in Ayreshire, Scotland, on October 4, 1857, a son of Samuel and Katherine McClellan Leckie. He was the oldest of fourteen children. As a boy he worked on a farm and in the coal mines of Scotland. At the age of twenty-one he came to America and located in Shenandoah, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. His father and mother brothers and sisters followed about six months later. William Leckie entered the mines as repairman, and by industry and economy he earned the money to enter Dickenson Seminary at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where he was a student for two and a half years. In 1882 he was appointed fire-boss for the Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron company; a year later he was with the Buck Mountain Coal Company as inside foreman; and as ambition and faithfulness won for him recognition and rapid advancement he became, successively, district superintendent for the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre Coal Company; general superintendent of the Lehigh Valley Coal, York Farm & Blackwood Collieries; general superintendent of the Webster Coal & Coke Company; and, finally, general manager of the Loyal Hanna Coal & Coke Company.

On November 26, 1881, William Leckie married Annie M. Kolb, daughter of the Rev. F. H. Kolb, a Presbyterian minister, of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. An interested sharer in his work and witness of his experiences was Mrs. Leckie, and the inspiration of his ambitions and best endeavors. She made it a rule always to be present at each opening, when the first car of coal was taken out.

In 1901 William Leckie came to the Pocahontas Coal Fields as superintendent of the Pocahontas Collieries Company, the pioneer mines of this famous field. He developed and built up these mines, which were later bought by the Pocahontas Consolidated Collieries Company. He remained in this position until 1907, when he went into business for himself and established the following operating companies, of which he was president and general manager: The West Virginia Pocahontas Coal Company, with mines at Leckie, West Virginia and general offices in New York, the Lathrop Coal Company and Panther Coal Company, mines at Panther, West Virginia, the Leckie Collieries Company, mines at Aflex, Kentucky, and Leckie Fire Creek Coal Company and Douglas Coal Company, with, mines at Fireco, West Virginia, the general office of the last four being at Welch, West Virginia, where Mr. Leckie lived for many years. He was also the chief incorporator and president of several land-holding companies, the Pond Creek Coal & Land Company, the Leckie-Ramsay Coal Company, the Cub Creek Coal Company, and the Leckie Smokeless Coal Company, the latter company owning a large acreage of undeveloped coal lands in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. The Leckie Coal Company, a selling agency, with offices at Norfolk, Virginia, and Columbus, Ohio, handles the output of the operating companies. Mr. Leckie was president of the First National Bank of Anawalt, West Virginia, of the Bluefield National Bank at Bluefield, and a director in the First National Bank of Welch.

Colonel Leckie was a life-long Presbyterian, and was an elder in the church at Welch. He was a member of all the Masonic orders, of the Bluefield Lodge of Elks, also of the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the Country Club of Bluefield. Only a few short weeks before his death Colonel and Mrs. Leckie moved to their new home on Oakhurst Avenue in Bluefield, and it was there that he died on November 16, 1920. Five of a family of six children survive him: Nellie, wife of Dr. S. J. Kell, of Bluefield; Andrew F., of Welch; and William S., of Williamson, who now have the management, of the coal properties; Douglas E., who is in the real estate business in Bluefield; and Miriam, who is the wife of Dr. M. B. Moore, of Huntington.

Colonel Leckie never forgot his own early struggles as a miner. He understood the miner's viewpoint, and he made the living and social conditions of his camps one of his first considerations in building up an operation. Much of his success is attributed to his capacity for leadership of the men in his employ. He was a disciplinarian, but not a whip-cracking task-master; he was easy to approach and his sense of justice and generosity won the loyal friendship of his employes and kept his operations free from labor troubles.

He was a broad-gauged, whole-souled man and a good citizen, thoroughly imbued with the highest spirit of Americanism.


Submitted by Kerry Armour <[email protected]>


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