John M. Phelps

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John M. Phelps
John phelps w virginia senate president.jpg
John M. Phelps, first President of the West Virginia Senate
Born 1821
Died August 26, 1884
Point Pleasant, Mason County, West Virginia
Resting place
Lone Oak Cemetery, Point Pleasant
Nationality American
Known for First President of the West Virginia Senate, later W. Virginia Secretary of State

John M. Phelps was the Republican President of the West Virginia Senate from Mason County and served from 1863 to 1864.

Political and military service[edit]

On May 13–15, 1861, John M. Phelps was a delegate from Mason County to the First Wheeling Convention held in Wheeling, West Virginia. The purpose was to separate themselves from the rest of Virginia who had voted to secede from the Union, an unpopular sentiment in western reaches of the state. They were particularly upset that many of their votes in the succession election had not been counted.[1]

John M. Phelps mustered in as Captain of Company "E" 9th West Virginia Infantry upon its organization on February 28, 1862. Three months later, on May 2, 1862, he became the chaplain. Less than a year later, he resigned on March 18, 1863[2]:269 "on account of business and family affairs."[3]

He was elected as the first President of the West Virginia State Senate which convened in Wheeling on June 20, 1863 and adjourned six months later on December 11.[4]:327, 344 He served in the Senate from 1863 to 1865 and again from 1869 to 1870.[3][4]:345, 350 On February 4, 1865 he voted for the abolishment of slavery in West Virginia.[5] He was elected as Secretary of State in 1870 and served 1871-1873.

Family life[edit]

John Phelps married Mary Loudin prior to 1845 in Gilmer County, West Virginia. they had three children all born in Virginia: Oliver (born 1845), Cordelia (born 1846), and William (born 1849). Mary died in February or March 1853 in Harrison County, West Virginia.[3] Oliver also served in the Civil War, and was promoted to commissioned a Captain of E Company on May 6, 1862, 1st Lieutenant on March 5, 1862,[2]:270 and was made Captain of B Company on February 1, 1864.[2]:304

Phelps then married Susan Jane Hagerman at Malden, Kanawha County, West Virginia. They had two more children: Charles (born 1857), and Thomas (born 1859). Phelps died August 26, 1884 at Point Pleasant, Mason County, West Virginia of a "chronic inflammation of the stomach and bowels and internal hemorrhoids," and illness he had contracted during the Civil War. He was buried at Lone Oak Cemetery, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.[3]


  1. ^ "Delegates to the First Wheeling Convention". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. 2008. Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c Lang, Theodore F. (1895). "XXXVII Ninth Regiment West Virginia Infantry Volunteers". Loyal West Virginia from 1861 to 1865: With an Introductory Chapter on the Status of Virginia for Thirty Years Prior to the War. Deutsch Publishing co.,. Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d Linda Fluharty. "John M. Phelps". Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b West Virginia Legislature (1917). West Virginia Legislature, Senate, ed. West Virginia Blue Book. The Tribune Company. Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Abolishment of Slavery in West Virginia". Extract from proceedings of the West Virginia House of Delegates, February 3, 1865. Wheeling Intelligencer. February 4, 1865. Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
Political offices
Preceded by
President of the WV Senate
Succeeded by
William E. Stevenson
Preceded by
James M. Pipes
West Virginia Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Charles Hedrick