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First West Virginia Legislature

Biographical Sketches: Thomas Copley

Wheeling Intelligencer
July 20, 1863

THOMAS COPLEY, from Wayne.

THOMAS COPLEY, the member from Wayne, is a native of Giles county, Virginia, was born on June 9, 1802, and is therefore a trifle over sixty-one years of age. His father was a native Virginian, of English descent; was a farmer, and reared his son to the same useful and honorable calling. When Mr. Copley was eight years of age his father removed from Giles to near the Kentucky border into what was then Cabell county, but has since been formed into Wayne; and there the residue of his life was spent. He was engaged for many years in the business of lumberman, running timber down the Sandy to the Ohio, and thence to Cincinnati. His main reliance, however, has been the business of a farmer. He has been for several years acting magistrate of his county, was magistrate under the old regime before '50. Wayne has been represented in the government here from the beginning, in the June Convention and in the Legislature by Mr. Ratcliffe, and the Constitutional Convention by Mr. Brumfield. When Mr. Copley was elected to the body of which he is a member the county was in a state of comparative quiet. An election was held without protection of soldiers at about half the precincts.

Politically, Mr. Copley has always been a Whig. He not did go to the polls in 1860, but would have voted for Bell if he had done so. He did not vote on the ordinance of secession, there being no opportunity to do so, but he was utterly opposed to it, and in the election of a member to the Richmond Convention was active in support of the Union candidate, who was defeated. He has been greatly harassed since the breaking out of hostilities, and has been obliged to undergo much exposure and hardship. Is quite a radical anti-slavery man, and always has been so inclined.

Religiously, Mr. Copley has been a member of of the Methodist Episcopal Church for a number of years, and has at present local deacon's orders.

In person he is about six feet in height, and for a man of his age is quite erect and vigorous. Features that have been handsome, eyes dark brown, and mild in their expression; face smoothly shaven and somewhat careworn; hair once jet black deeply streaked with gray. He is retiring and modest in demeanor. Has been a silent member thus far. Is, however, free and communicative in conversation. The impression one gets is that of an earnest, honest, straightforward man, who would always be true to his convictions and pledges let what might happen; who will do his whole duty, but do it very quietly. Is always in his seat, never misses a vote, and is an undemonstrative but useful and respected member.

Biographies of the First West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Archives and History