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Mini Bios of People of Scots Descent
Biography of JAMES LAING.

This biography was submitted by Sandy Spradling, E-mail address: <>

History of Greenbrier County 
J. R. Cole 
Lewisburg, WV 1917 
p. 130-132


James Laing, son of John and Margaret Bowie Laing, was born at Slamanan, near  the city of Glasgow, Scotland, January 2, 1846.

Mr. Laing's parents, realizing the larger possibilities that the United  States offered, emigrated with their family to America in 1866, settling in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, where they engaged in farming and mining. On December 31, 1872, Mr. Laing was married to Susanna Kay, second daughter  of Thomas and Janet Kerr Kay. Miss Kay was a Scotch lady, born at Lanark, Scotland, April 29, 1851, and came to America with her parents in 1870. The Kay family settled first in Sharon, Pa., and later in West Virginia.

Mr. Laing bought a large tract of coal land in West Virginia and moved with his family of two children to Quinnimont, Fayette county, in 1878. At this time the New River coal fields were just beginning to be developed. Mr. Laing organized the Royal Coal and Coke Company in 1891 and opened up the Royal mine, which was the first mine to be operated in Raleigh county, and was managed by Mr. Laing until 1896, when he organized the Sun Coal and Coke Company and sank the first shaft ever used in the New River coal field, at Sun, which he managed with remarkable effectiveness and success. Mr. Laing continued the management of these mines until 1904, when he retired from active service in mining operations, though he continued his interest in other activities, and until the time of his death was president of the Laing Mining Company, the McKinley Land Company, the Craig-Giles Iron Company and the Mountain Lake Land Company.

Mr. Laing had long dreamed of spending his declining years in a quiet country community, and selecting the small but well-known town of Lewisburg, purchased property and built a large and handsome stone house, "Canipsie Glen," into which he moved his family from Fayette county, in 1904.Mr. Laing was a trustee of the Lewisburg Seminary, from which institution his daughters received their education. This school was dear to his heart and he labored zealously for its development and power. His interest in Christian education was felt over the entire church, and in 1907, shortly before his death, he was appointed a trustee of Hampden-Sidney College, where two of his sons had been educated.

He was just realizing the ambition of his boyhood comfort and quietness for himself and his loyal and saintly wife and having a constructive part in the education of the youth of his beloved State and church-when his death occurred, after a brief illness, at his home in Lewisburg, October 31, 1907. Surviving him are his widow and seven children: Janet Kerr, John Bowie, Thomas Kay, Annie Jean, James Kay, Susanna Kay (Mrs. R. L. Speas), and Bessie Belle.

Like most of his Scotch countrymen, Mr. Laing was an ardent Presbyterian, devoted to his church and liberal in its support. While at Quinnimont, in 1882, he was ordained a ruling elder in the church, and with a fidelity and fitness realized by few, he served in that sacred capacity wherever he lived.

Mr. Laing lived in Lewisburg only three short years, but it was long enough to win an enviable place in the esteem and friendship of the people of the town and community. In politics, he was a Republican, believing firmly in the McKinley principles of protection. As a man and citizen his life and conduct were ever above reproach, modest and unassuming, true to his convictions and firm in his stand for right as he saw it; he held the respect and confidence of those who knew him best and was admired and honored by his many business associates and employees. In his death his family lost one of the truest and best husbands and fathers, the schools of which he was a trustee a wise and trusted counsellor, his town and State a constructive and loyal citizen, and the church, his choicest pride, a most faithful member and officer.

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