James Sloan Kuykendall

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James Sloan Kuykendall
James Sloan Kuykendall c1907.jpg
Portrait of James Sloan Kuykendall, c. 1907.
Member of the West Virginia House of Delegates
from the Hampshire County district
In office
Preceded by Garnett Kerr Kump
Succeeded by Henry Bell Gilkeson
In office
Preceded by William Warfield Carder
Succeeded by Joshua Soule Zimmerman
Personal details
Born (1878-12-09)December 9, 1878
Springfield Magisterial District, Hampshire County, West Virginia, United States
Died February 28, 1928(1928-02-28) (aged 49)
Resting place Indian Mound Cemetery, Romney, West Virginia, United States
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Bertha Ray Williams
Relations William Kuykendall (father)
Hannah Pierce Sloan Kuykendall (mother)
Children Alma Elizabeth Kuykendall
James Sloan Kuykendall, Jr.
Mary Kay Kuykendall
Residence Romney, West Virginia, United States
Alma mater Hampden–Sydney College
Washington and Lee University
Cumberland School of Law
University of North Carolina School of Law
Profession farmer, criminal defense lawyer, politician
Religion Presbyterian

James Sloan Kuykendall (December 9, 1878 – February 28, 1928) was an American farmer, lawyer, and Democratic politician in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Kuykendall was twice elected as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates representing Hampshire County (1907–1908 and 1919–1920). Kuykendall also served three terms as the mayor of Romney and later served as its city attorney.

Early life and family[edit]

James Sloan Kuykendall was born on December 9, 1878 in the Springfield Magisterial District of Hampshire County, West Virginia.[1][2][3][4][5] Kuykendall was the eldest child and son of William Kuykendall and his wife Hannah Pierce Sloan Kuykendall.[1][2][3][4][6] His family was of Dutch descent[4] and it was one of the oldest families residing in Hampshire County.[2] Kuykendall was likely named for his maternal grandfather, James Sloan.[2][6] Kuykendall had two younger brothers and one younger sister: Michael Blue Kuykendall, Richard Sloan Kuykendall, and Nellie Frank Kuykendall.[2][6] For the first 20 years of his life, Kuykendall resided on his family's farm, where he engaged in agricultural pursuits.[2]


Kuykendall was raised in Romney and received his primary education in Hampshire County's rural public schools.[2][4][5] He commenced his higher education studies at Hampden–Sydney College in Hampden Sydney, Virginia[2][5] and later attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.[2][5] Kuykendall subsequently engaged in the study of jurisprudence at the Cumberland School of Law of Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, from which he received a diploma in 1901.[2] He then completed a similar course in law at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.[2][5] Following the completion of his course at the University of North Carolina, Kuykendall passed his bar examination before the North Carolina Supreme Court and was afterward admitted to the bar in North Carolina.[2]

Law career[edit]

Following his admission to the North Carolina bar, Kuykendall commenced the practice of law in Greensboro, where he practiced for a little over a year before returning to West Virginia.[2] Kuykendall established his law practice in Romney, and made his permanent residence there.[2][4] Kuykendall's argued his first case before the Hampshire County Circuit Court in defense of a Mr. Miller who had been charged with petit larceny.[2] Kuykendall secured the acquittal of his client, which further encouraged the young lawyer.[2] Following this case, Kuykendall continued to perform as a criminal defense lawyer.[2] According to historian James Morton Callahan in his History of West Virginia, Old and New, Volume 3 (1923), Kuykendall "adhered to his rule to take part only on the side of the defense, and he has a merited reputation or skill and ability in that particular field."[2] By 1923, Kuykendall had served as the defense attorney in three murder cases: State v. Hetrick, State v. Averell, and State v. Gardner.[2] Kuykendall secured acquittals for his clients in State v. Hetrick and State v. Averell, however in State v. Gardner, his client was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.[2]

Political career[edit]

In 1906, Kuykendall was elected to his first term as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates representing Hampshire County from 1907 through 1908 in the Thirty-eighth West Virginia Legislative Session.[3][5][7][8][9] During his first term in the West Virginia House of Delegates, Kuykendall served on the following standing committees: Education; Counties, Districts, and Municipal Corporations; Private Corporations and Joint Stock Companies; Arts, Science, and General Improvement; and State Boundaries.[5][10][11][12] Kuykendall was elected to a second term in the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1918 and served in the Thirty-fourth West Virginia Legislative Session from 1919 through 1920.[3][7][9][13]

Kuykendall served as the mayor of Romney for three terms before 1907[2][3][5] and by 1922, he was serving as Romney's city attorney.[2][14] Kuykendall took interest in the Hampshire County Schools and served three terms as a member of the Hampshire County Board of Education.[2] Kuykendall served alongside Robert White and Joshua Soule Zimmerman as a Chancery Commissioner for Hampshire County.[15]

Kuykendall was a lifelong Democrat[2] and he cast his first vote for Democratic Party presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan in the United States presidential election of 1900.[2] Kuykendall served one term as the chairman of the Executive Committee of West Virginia's 2nd congressional district,[2] and served three terms as the chairman of the Hampshire County Democratic Party Central Committee.[2] In 1916, Kuykendall served as a delegate to the West Virginia Democratic Party State Convention at Parkersburg that nominated John J. Cornwell as the party's gubernatorial candidate.[2] He also served as a delegate and chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party's Congressional Convention that nominated William Gay Brown, Jr. as a candidate for the United States House of Representatives.[2] Kuykendall was a strong proponent of Brown, whom he supported in subsequent conventions and elections.[2] He also served as a presidential elector in the Electoral College during the reelection of Woodrow Wilson.[16]

During World War I, Kuykendall served as a member of the Legal Advisory Board of Hampshire County, during which time he assisted in producing several hundred questionnaires for the county's prospective soldiers.[2] Kuykendall also participated in Liberty bond drives and directed sales to raise funds for the American Red Cross.[2]

Agricultural pursuits[edit]

According to The Census of the Peach Crop of 1907 in West Virginia published by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Kuykendall was engaged in the management of a commercial peach orchard near Romney known as Sherman Orchard.[17] In 1907, Kuykendall's orchard produced Carman, Champion, Elberta, Salways, Bilyeu, and Heath Cling peach varieties, totaling 5,800 baskets in all.[17]

Later life and death[edit]

Kuykendall died on February 28, 1928[18] and he was interred at Indian Mound Cemetery in Romney.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Marriage and issue[edit]

Kuykendall married on April 5, 1905 to Bertha Ray Williams, daughter of Reverend James P. Williams and his wife Mary S. Williams.[2][3][19] Williams's father was the presiding elder of the Moorefield District of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.[2] Kuykendall and his wife Mary had three children together including two daughters and one son:[2]

  • Alma Elizabeth Kuykendall (born January 6, 1906)[2]
  • James Sloan Kuykendall, Jr. (born December 11, 1906 in Hampshire County)[2][20][21]
  • Mary Ray Kuykendall (born January 15, 1909)[2]

While Kuykendall's wife belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, he was raised as a Presbyterian and for five years, he was superintendent of the Presbyterian Church's Sunday school.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Birth Record Detail: James Sloan Kuykendall", West Virginia Vital Research Records (West Virginia Division of Culture and History), retrieved November 22, 2013 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am Callahan 1923, p. 599.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Munske & Kerns 2004, p. 178.
  4. ^ a b c d e Kuykendall 1919, p. 113.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h West Virginia Secretary of State 1907, p. 139.
  6. ^ a b c Maxwell & Swisher 1897, p. 715.
  7. ^ a b Munske & Kerns 2004, p. 180.
  8. ^ West Virginia Legislature 1922, p. 260.
  9. ^ a b West Virginia Legislature 1922, p. 299.
  10. ^ West Virginia Secretary of State 1907, p. 182.
  11. ^ West Virginia Secretary of State 1907, p. 183.
  12. ^ West Virginia Secretary of State 1907, p. 184.
  13. ^ West Virginia Legislature 1922, p. 267.
  14. ^ West Virginia Legislature 1922, p. 1023.
  15. ^ West Virginia Legislature 1922, p. 814.
  16. ^ Kuykendall 1919, p. 114.
  17. ^ a b West Virginia Department of Agriculture 1907, p. 18.
  18. ^ a b "Indian Mound Cemetery: Hampshire County's Most Historic Cemetery - List of Interments", HistoricHampshire.org (HistoricHampshire.org, Charles C. Hall), retrieved November 22, 2013 
  19. ^ "Marriage Record Detail: James Sloan Kuykendall", West Virginia Vital Research Records (West Virginia Division of Culture and History), retrieved November 22, 2013 
  20. ^ Couper 1952, p. 137.
  21. ^ "Birth Record Detail: James Sloan Kuykendall, Jr.", West Virginia Vital Research Records (West Virginia Division of Culture and History), retrieved November 22, 2013 


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