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DR. CYRUS ALEXANDER RUPERT, 1810 - 1891

condensed from a longer article by Don M. Rupert (great-grandson of Dr. Cyrus A. Rupert) and W. T. Lawrence (Fayette County local historian)

From the West Virginia Historical Society Quarterly, 12:1(January 1998): 1- 2. Cyrus A. Rupert first came to Greenbrier County, West Virginia (Virginia) about 1829 when he was seventeen years old. Cyrus, the seventh of eleven children, was born at Point Pleasant, Virginia on October 7, 1812. His parents were Henry Rupert and Naomi Henkle Rupert. Apparently, Cyrus chose to go to Greenbrier County to be with his brothers, Gideon and Paul, who were running a general store at Clintonville. Cyrus' father, Henry, died in 1835 and most of the family, including Gideon, then migrated westward to Pekin, Illinois. Paul moved to Louisville, Kentucky, but Cyrus chose to stay in Greenbrier County. Why Cyrus and his brothers came to Greenbrier County is not known. However, there were Henkles in the area and were possibly related to their mother.

Cyrus became friends with Andrew McClung and it is probably through him that Cyrus began to acquire property near the mouth of Big Clear Creek. This property became the basis for a settlement that would later become Rupert, West Virginia.

Cyrus A. Rupert became the doctor for the western part of Greenbrier County and eastern Fayette County. He probably studied medicine first with his maternal uncle, Solomon Henkle, a doctor and druggist at New Market, Virginia. His wife to be was born to John and Hanna McMillion McClung, June 23, 1838 and tradition has it that Cyrus attended at her birth and at that time, stated that he would, in due time, make her his wife. Rupert sought more formal training in medicine and studied at Lynch's Lake, South Carolina in 1845. In a letter from Lynch's Lake, dated April 14, 1845, to the caretaker of his property, John Martin, he stated that his intended was "yet a school girl."

Rupert and Rachel McClung were married February 28, 1854. They had fifteen children during the next twenty-eight years. Each of the fifteen children's names began with "L" and each, except for Leonidas, contained six letters. This "quirk" has always been attributed to Cyrus, but as anyone studying the McClung genealogy will note, it was a prevalent habit to name the McClungs with such rare and outlandish names. So, to set the record straight, it was not Cyrus, but his wife Rachel, who should be given the credit for naming their fifteen children.

Dr. Rupert traveled through rugged mountainous terrain to serve the people of Fayette and Greenbrier counties. Part of his territory included Sewell Mountain.

In addition to providing medical care for the people of Greenbrier and Fayette counties, Cyrus A. Rupert was the owner of the Rupert General Store, was a lawyer and had been the Post Master. He apparently received land and goods in payment for services when cash was not available. He believed in being paid for services rendered. If a patient could not pay in cash, Rupert would draft a note with terms of payment, including interest, and was willing to take debtors to court if they didn't meet their obligations.

The Civil War affected all of Fayette and Greenbrier counties but people continued to become ill. Dr. Rupert traveled through both Union and Confederate lines on Sewell Mountain to treat patients. Nothing is written of Rupert's leanings in that conflict, but he owned slaves himself and ran a large farm on Big Clear Creek.

In 1869, Cyrus and Rachel Rupert bought a large tract of land above Sewell Station in Fayette County where Rupert named a town, Ledona (Ledonia), for his first-born child and another small village, Rupert. This property was adjacent to that owned by the Longdale Iron and Ore Company and was later purchased by that company. Both the village of Ledona and this Fayette County town of Rupert have ceased to exist.

Cyrus Rupert continued to practice medicine and deal in property until his death at his home in 1891.

Children of C. A. And Rachel Rupert


WEST VIRGINIA "FIRSTS"

Submitted by Kate Quinn
Wheeling, WV

>From the West Virginia Historical Society Quarterly, 12:1(January 1998): 3- 4. Among the many "firsts" for West Virginia were the first slaves freed by Abraham Lincoln, the first Federal soldier slain in the Civil War, and the first Memorial Day services ever held.

After the formation of Taylor County, January 19, 1844, Williamsport, now Pruntytown, was named as the county seat and a corner room in the home of Abraham Williams was leased by the county court for a dollar a month to be used as the county jail. When Sheriff William Rogers complained that the jail had "neither locks on the doors nor bars on the windows" and that prisoners could come and go as they pleased, reporting to the jail only at mealtimes, the court ordered the construction of a jail to be built behind the courthouse.

For $1,954, a brick jail with iron cells was built and it was here that Confederate slave owners, fearing that Union forces would release them, chained their slaves to the walls of the cells and left them.

President Lincoln heard of their plight and on November 22, 1862, ordered their release. He issued orders to General B. F. Butler, declaring the slaves "contraband of war" and demanding their release. General Butler wired this historic order to General Robert Milroy who, in turn, wired the order to Lieutenant Ephraim Chalfant, commander of Battery D at Grafton.

William Morris, jailer at the time, refused to open the cell doors without a written order from their masters. When Milroy heard of this refusal, he ordered Chalfant to proceed to Pruntytown and "liberate from confinement in the jail" and to "punish these who have unjustly and illegally imprisoned said contrabands and refused to yield obedience to 'Special Order No. 100' issued from these headquarters, November 22, 1862." The slaves were released and taken to Grafton. Some chose to stay there while others boarded a train to Ohio. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863.

The first Federal fatality occurred at Fetterman (now Grafton) on May 22, 1861. Lt. Daniel Wilson and Private Thornberry Bailey Brown were ordered to Fetterman to inspect the force and position of the enemy. At the point where the tracks of the B&O Railroad crossed the Northwestern Turnpike, Lt. Wilson encountered the enemy's pickets, who called on him to halt. Lt. Wilson ordered Brown to fire on the enemy, and Brown's shot nicked one of the pickets in the ear. A moment later, Brown fell mortally wounded with three breast wounds. Thus he was the first enlisted soldier in the United States to give up his life in the civil War to an organized force of Confederates.

Anna Maria Jarvis, mother of the founder of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, gave a moving prayer at the funeral service which attracted thousands to the town. Wilson and Brown were members of the Grafton Guards (later to become Company B of the Second West Virginia Infantry Volunteers) while the pickets were members of Lecther's Guards.

Another West Virginia first was the National Cemetery at Grafton which was in the process of being graded and terraced when George Latham met with Captain Daniel Wilson, who had served with him, and James Warren, present with him at the Wheeling convention which decided on statehood, to arrange a memorial service to commemorate the men, both living and dead, who had followed him (Latham) through the four years of the bloodiest war in American history. Latham had been appointed ambassador to Australia and left his two friends to make the arrangements, suggesting the date May 30 be chosen to commemorate the occupation of Grafton by Generals B. F. Kelley and Ebenezer Dumont who commanded the First Loyal Virginia regiment of Wheeling and three Ohio volunteer companies.

Acting on Latham's suggestion, General John A. Logan, then a member of Congress from Illinois, introduced a bill setting apart May 30th each year as a day on which tribute is paid to those who have served the nation.

Wilson and Warren, upon examining the new cemetery grounds, found it awash with mud and rough boxes of remains piled high. The first program was postponed until Sunday, June 14, 1868, but again on that date the ground was still a mire so the assembly moved to Handley's grove, just west of the grounds, and under the lofty and beautiful trees of this grove, held the first memorial services.

General Logan's wife, moved at the sight of a soldier's wife placing flowers on the grave of her husband, advocated the custom of decorating the graves, a ceremony which became known as "flower strewing." The next year, the mayor of Grafton, William Malloonee, and the town council were invited by the members of the Grand Army of the Republic to participate in "Flower Strewing Day." More than 1,200 Federal and Confederate soldiers are buried at the nation's first National Cemetery and each year school children dress in white and carry flowers in procession to the cemetery to honor them.


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