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First West Virginia Legislature

Biographical Sketches: Aaron Bechtol


Wheeling Intelligencer
July 21, 1863

SENATE

Sketches Personal, Political and Biographical.

BY AN OBSERVER

AARON BECHTOL.

Mr. BECHTOL was 52 years of age on the 4th day of last October; is a native of Morgan county, Virginia, as were all his parents; his father is dead but his mother is living in the State of Indiana. The subject of this sketch had seven brothers and five sisters, all of whom are living except two sisters. He was married at the age of 24 to a Miss Rosch of Morgan county, and is the father of six children – three sons and three daughters, two of whom are dead. Two of the sons and his son-in-law are in Maryland regiments of the national Army.

Mr. Bechtol lives at “Berkley Springs” in Morgan County, when at home, a privilege, however, that he has not been permitted to enjoy for the space of two months at any time since the rebellion began. On the 3d day of July 1861, he; with five others, was arrested by Col. Edmundson, late member of Congress, and confined for a short time. Col. Edmundson was drunk all the time he was in that section. Col. John Strother, the proprietor of “Berkely Springs,” [sic] was a staunch union man and was one of the six persons arrested at the time stated. The old man, tottering in the feebleness of sixty odd years, was marched by the relentless mob of Southern traitors, under the lead of a drunken, perjured thief, to a large carriage in waiting, and when the prisoners had all taken their places, and the driver was about to start the old man, with a voice slow, clam, trembling with age, but firma nd clear, waved his hat in the air, and exclaimed with thrilling emphasis:

“The star-spangled banner, oh, long may it wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

And thus he went to prison, in the land for which he fought in 1812. Col. Strother, afterwards in January, 1863, was robbed, by Stonewall Jackson’s men, of 500 blankets, a large number of mattrasses,[sic] and other things; and in defense of his property and life on this occasion, he took a violent cold, which soon terminated fatally. Verily, he that shall “lose his life” in such a cause “shall save it.”

Mr. Bechtol is well acquainted with David H. Strother, ( son of the above named Col. Strother), who is “Port Crayon,” the author and artist who is well known to the readers of Harper’s Magazine, as the writer and sketcher of some of the most delightful scenes in the English language or on the American Continent. “Port Crayon” was for a time on M’Clelan’s [sic] staff; is now on Banks’ staff, and is Lt. Col. Of the 15th Virginia regiment.

Mr. Bechtol is an old line Clay Whig; at the last Presidential election voted for Mr. Bell; is now an ardent friend of the Union and the new State, having voted for the latter through all its stages.

He is a member of no religious denomination, but inclines to the M. E. church.

He was engaged for a number of years in the coach business at the “Buckley Springs,” and carried on a small farm near that place; but since the rebellion has been unable to do anything. His family he left at the Springs when he came to the Senate, but how they are getting along he can’t tell.

Mr. Bechtol is a large man, gray headed, grey eyes, rather full face; nose large and inclined to the Roman style; mouth large; open, honest countenance; he speaks none at all, having the extraordinary merit of not opening his mouth since the Senate convened, except to vote. He is a sensible man, and when approached can talk well and to the point. He well attends to the interests of his constituents.


Biographies of the First West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Archives and History