Aretas Brooks Fleming was born in Fairmont, Marion County. After attending the University of Virginia, he established a law practice in Fairmont and was elected prosecuting attorney in 1863. He served in the House of Delegates from 1872 to 1875 and as a circuit judge from 1878 to 1888. During this time, he became a close legal advisor to industrialist and United States Senator Johnson N. Camden.
Fleming served only a three-year term, 1890-1893, due to a dispute over the results of the 1888 election. The legislature finally selected Fleming in January 1890. Bitter over the results, Republicans blocked most of Fleming's initiatives. One exception was the approval of the Australian ballot, which provided for uniformly printed ballots and was intended to discourage election fraud. Fleming actively supported the growth of industry, particularly coal, and was a founding incorporator of many businesses while in office.
After his term as governor, he returned to his Fairmont law practice and later served as president of the West Virginia Board of Trade. He died in Fairmont in 1923.
Gubernatorial Papers Finding Aid (1890-1893)
West Virginia's Governors
West Virginia History Center