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First West Virginia Legislature

Biographical Sketches: John Boggs


Wheeling Intelligencer
July 17, 1863

JOHN BOGGS, from Pendleton.

JOHN BOGGS, the delegate from Pendleton, was born in that county, October 15, 1815, and is near 48 years of age. His father was a native of Ireland. Mr. Boggs was trained a farmer and when he was old did not depart from it. He was married at the age of 25. Has lived a quiet, unpretending life. Has been magistrate several years, since the adoption of the amended constitution of ’50, but always refused to hold any kind of position previously, believing the old regimen aristocratic and anti-republican. Has always been at war with the eastern aristocracy and its oppressions. Opposed secession with all his efforts and influence, and voted against the ordinance along with nearly all the voters in his section of the county. When hostilities broke out, he raised a company for home protection, called the “Swamp Dragons,” or “Swampers,” and this little band of mountaineers has ever since ___ a sort of Swiss independence up there in the mountains of Pendleton, and defied John Letcher and the Southern Confederacy. No rebel can set his foot inside of the domain of the “Swampers” with any assurance of getting out alive. Mr. Boggs commanded the “Swampers,” and drilled and fed them from his own means, for about six months. The rebels have ever since had a special enmity against him. He has been frequently waylaid, and shot at; and they offer a standing reward of $2,000 and exemption from military ___ during the war to the man who will take him, dead or alive. He has been in a number of skirmishes with them, and has laid out for weeks at a time without ever changing his clothes. Mr. Boggs represented Pendleton in the second session of the Constitutional Convention, held last February. The county would have been represented here in the restored government, but being cut off from the rest of mankind, with seventy miles of hostile country between it and the federal outposts, the people there did not even know what was being done here or elsewhere. For this reason no election was held in Pendleton on the ordinance for a division of the State, submitted in October, 1861, but they voted on the adoption of the Constitution in April, ’62, and the amended Constitution last May. In politics Mr. Boggs has always been a Whig, and never voted for a Democrat in his life. Voted for Bell in ’60, but wouldn’t do it again. Up to the time of the rebellion he was not specially hostile to slavery but always favored its abolishment by gradual means. Now he is willing it should be extinguished by any means that may be found necessary to effect the object, and may be set down as a pretty thorough anti-slavery man. Religiously Mr. Boggs is not a member of any church. He was reared under Presbyterian influences; but, individually, is partial to the Dunkards. In person, he is six feet, rather sparely built, and stoops very slightly. His hair, which has been black, is quite gray; face smoothly shaven; eyes grayish blue; nose [Roman?]; general appearance of face shrewd and wide awake. In manners he is unobtrusive, but, possesses the openness and frankness peculiar to frontiersmen. Makes few speeches, brief and to the point. Is always in his seat and attentive to business and is a respected and useful member.


Biographies of the First West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Archives and History