J. S. Pridemore
|J. S. Pridemore|
|Member of the West Virginia House of Delegates|
Hamlin, West Virginia
Pridemore Oil Company
John Samuel Pridemore was elected Sheriff of Lincoln County, West Virginia in 1920, and championed the fight against bootlegging, which was at the time prevalent throughout the region. Using his position of authority within the community as leverage, Pridemore embarked on a highly successful campaign to buy up mineral rights from farmers throughout Lincoln County inexpensively. When oil and gas was discovered in Lincoln County, Pridemore was one of the first to benefit. His drilling teams were known for their ruthless efficiency, and after a few years Pridemore found himself in control of the second largest fossil fuel conglomerate in oil-rich West Virginia. Pridemore amassed a considerable fortune diversified in oil, stocks and real estate. This diversification left Pridemore mostly unaffected by the economic climate of the 1930s, making him a major player in West Virginia politics, with Pridemore even loaning money to his home state on several occasions. During the Great Depression, Pridemore continued to develop his oil holdings, purchasing oil fields in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. These holdings were consolidated into The Pridemore Oil Company, portions of which were later acquired by Exxon, Phillips Petroleum Company, and Adkins Oil, though some are still privately held by Pridemore's descendants. It was at one time believed that Pridemore was deeply involved in Teapot Dome related business dealings, but was cleared of any connection during congressional hearings.
In 1934, Pridemore was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates. Pridemore was re-elected twice, but did not seek re-election after a Congressional win in 1940. Pridemore died after one term in office. His memory was honored with an endowment by the Pridemore Family to the political science and geology departments at Marshall University.
- Pridemore is the maternal great-grandfather of Emmy Award-winning composer Mark Frye.