MARY JANE TRUST
JAMES HARRISON LAWSON
The parents of Mary Jane Trust and James Harrison Lawson were both born in slavery and owned by the Creig family of Virginia.
Their parents were: On mother's side, Ruth Jane and Peter Trust who were born during slavery. They were parents of 13 children - 9 girls and 4 boys. All were reared in Buffalo, West Virginia. They had 45 grandchildren. James Harrison Lawson was born in Richmond, Virginia, a slave. He left home at the age of 14 and settled in Buffalo, West Virginia, where he met Mary Jane Trust. They were married about 1882. They became the parents of 15 children, 5 of which are still living in West Virginia. The children: Katie Frances Thompson, Frank Edmond Lawson, Peter Lawson, Sarah Virginia Goodman, Hattie Edmonia Lawson, Bertha Mae Creech, Ruth Gertrude Lewis, James Clara Merriman, Maggie Lucinda Hicks, Joseph Eullan Lawson, Aaron McHenry Lawson, Mary Elizabeth Jackson, Minnie Gertrude Wade, John Isaac Lawson, and Talma Katherine Wynn. The five living children are Mrs. Bertha Creech, Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson, Mrs. Lucinda Hicks, Mrs. Minnie Wade, and Isaac Lawson. They had 41 grandchildren, and the great grandchildren are too numerous to count.
Thirty-one grandchildren still live in Charleston. Two of their fifteen children graduated from the old Garnet High School. Eleven grandchildren graduated from Garnet, and several grandchildren graduated from Charleston High School. Bertha and Clara graduated from Bluefield State College and John Isaac attended Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, and Elizabeth attended West Virginia State College.
James Harrison Lawson was the first Black Miller in Kanawha County, working at the old Elk Milling Company on Bullitt Street.
Mary Jane Trust Lawson was the first Black Licensed Midwife in Kanawha County, practicing her profession at the old Charleston General Hospital located then in City Park on Farnsworth Drive.
There are other firsts in the family. Granddaughter Mary L. Booker was the first Black Office Manager in a Department Store in the City of Charleston. Her son, Charles L. Booker, Jr., was the first Black Craft Supervisor at the South Charleston Plant of Union Carbide. Granddaughter Ruth L. Henderson, was the first Black Clerical employee at Chevrolet Division of General Motors Corporation in Charleston. Grandson William T. Lawson was the first Black Superintendent of Spring Hill Cemetery in Charleston.
Mary Jane and James Lawson moved to Charleston around 1883 and bought property on Piedmont Road in 1902. Most of the family have grown up on this property and many of the family members remain at the old home place at 1233 Piedmont Road except at the big family home that was taken by Interstate highway construction.
Both Mary Jane and James died at the old home place.
African-Americans in West Virginia
West Virginia History Center