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James H. McGrew Bio


Monongalia Co. WV

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago and New York, Volume 11
pg. 173

James H. McGrew, cashier of the Bank of Monongahela Valley and who is recognized as one of the able bankers and progressive citizens of the City of Morgantown and of that part of the State of West Virginia, has been identified with this institution since 1891. During the more than thirty years that have passed he has not only worked his way to a substantial position with this concern, but has likewise been a prominent factor in the development of some of Morgantown's leading enterprises, and has also contributed materially to its civic progress and welfare.

Mr. McGrew was born at Morgantown, October 31, 1873, a son of William Clark and Julia E. (Willey) McGrew, and is descended from an old Scotch family which has been in America since prior to the War of the American Revolution and in West Virginia (then old Virginia) for over a century and a quarter. The American ancestors of this branch of the McGrew family came from Scotland in Colonial days and settled first in Virginia, removing thence to Pennsylvania. Patrick McGrew, son of the original immigrant, was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and in 1786 came to Preston County, now in West Virginia, settling near what is now Brandonville. His son, Col. James McGrew, was born in Preston County, where he spent practically his entire life. He commanded a regiment of Virginia Militia during War of 1812. Colonel McGrew married Isabella Clark, the daughter of James Clark, a native of Ireland, who became an early settler of Preston County. James Clark's first wife, who bore the maiden name of Mary Ramsey, died in 1770, and he returned to Ireland, where, in 1773, he married Eleanor Kirkpatrick, and later came back to America.

James Clark McGrew, son of Col. James and Isabella (Clark) McGrew, was born September 14,1813, near Brandonville. He began his business life at Kingwood, Preston County, as clerk in a general store, afterward becoming a successful merchant and prominent and influential man of his community. He was a delegate to the Virginia State Convention in 1861, in which body he vigorously opposed the ordinance of secession, and was one of the little band of about twenty men whose opposition to secession resulted ultimately in the erection of the new State of West Virginia. He served as a member of the house of Delegates of the first Legislature of West Virginia and later was elected a member of and served in the Forty-first and Forty-second sessions of the federal congress, but declined a renomination. He served as director of the West Virginia State Hospital for the Insane, and was one of the organizers and the first president of the National Bank of Kingwood, being likewise a trustee of the Ohio Wesleyan University. Mr. McGrew was an earnest Methodist and was a delegate to the Methodist Ecumenical Conference held at London, England, in 1881. In that and the following year he traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and Africa. In 1841 he married Persis Hagans, daughter of the Hon Harrison Hagans of Brandonville, West Virginia.

Hon. William Clark McGrew, son of James Clark and Persis (Hagans) McGrew, was born at Kingwood, Preston County, April 21, 1842, and was educated in select schools and at Preston Academy. He was engaged in the mercantile business at Kingwood from 1862 to 1870, and in the latter year removed to Morgantown, where he made his home until 1919. He was for many years prominent in the affairs of this part of West Virginia, and was frequently honored by election to political positions. He served five full terms as mayor of the City of Morgantown, and in 1878 and 1882 was sent as senator from the Eleventh District to the State Legislature. He was frequently called upon to preside over the deliberations of that body, and served as a member of various important committees. In 1907 he was elected a member of the House of Delegates. He also was active in the building of the Fairmont, Morgantown & Pittsburgh Railway, of which he was vice president and for fifteen years its agent at Morgantown; and was one of the organizers of the Economy Glass Company, and served as its treasure, vice president and president through a long term of years. In fact, Mr. McGrew was closely  identified with about every phase of the civic and business advancement of Morgantown for many years, and probably no other man did more for the development of that part of West Virginia. In 1864 he was united in marriage with Julia E. Willey, daughter of Hon. Waitman T. and Elizabeth E. (Ray) Willey. Mr. Willey was the first man sent to the United States Senate from West Virginia. William Clark McGrew died in 1919.

James H. McGrew was educated in the Morgantown public schools and at the University of West Virginia, and in 1891 entered the Bank of the Monongahela Valley as a clerk, having been continuously identified with that institution as boy and man for more than thirty years. He was made teller in 1893 and later promoted to assistant cashier, and in 1903 was elected to his present post of cashier. Mr. McGrew is president of the Monongahela Building Company, organized for the construction of the magnificent new home of the Bank of the Monongahela Valley, which is the largest and the only "sky-scraper" business block in this section of the state. He was one of the organizers and is vice president and treasure of the Monongahelia Building and Loan Association; was one of the organizers and is president of the Sesamine Coal Company; was one of the organizers and is treasure of the Chrisman Foundry Company; was one of the organizers and is treasure of the Liberty Investment Company; was one of the organizers and is president of the Morgantown Machinery and Supply Company; was one of the organizers and is treasure of the Dellslaw Coal Company; and is one of the owners of the Union Traction Company, the successor to the Smith Morgantown Traction Company. Mr. McGrew is reciever for the Monogalia County Circuit Court. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Morgantown Lodge No. 4, F and A.M., and the Morgantown Country Club, and is an old time member of the Old Colony Club of Everywhere.


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