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First West Virginia Legislature

Biographical Sketches: William Crawford

Wheeling Intelligencer
July 25, 1863


Sketches Personal, Political and Biographical.

WM. L. CRAWFORD, of Hancock.

WILLIAM LEDLIE CRAWFORD, the member from Hancock, was born in the county e now represents, August 25, 1827. He is therefore nearly 36 years of age. His father, a native of Donegal county, Ireland, was descended from the Crawfords of Scotland. His grandfather, William Ledlie, of Ireland also, was an eminent christian, and one of the first scholars of his day; was educated in Dublin, Ireland, and on subsequently removing to America became one of the first settlers of Western Virginia. The patent for the land on which the subject of this sketch now resides, was procured by Mr. Ledlie and signed by Patrick Henry, then Governor of Virginia. This ancient document with Patrick Henry's signature attached, is still in Mr. Crawford's possession, and is esteemed a valuable heir-loom. Mr. Ledlie served in the Indian war, subsequent to the defeat and death by torture of Col. Crawford, and was often on scout with Capt. Brady, of "Brady's Leap" notoriety. Mr. Crawford's grandmother was sister of Col. Lusk of Pennsylvania, of Revolutionary fame. Mr. Crawford's father, John Crawford, died at the age of sixty-six. He was a most estimable man. For thirty years he was an elder in the church at Paris, Pa. The editor of the Philadelphia Christian Instructor said of him in noticing the announcement of his death: "He was one of the best men we ever knew:genial, sprightly, large hearted and unaffectedly pious, he was universally respected and loved." It may be reasonably inferred that one descended from such good stock [illegible] possess some of the family traits, and those who know Mr. Crawford say he does possess them in an eminent degree.

He was raised a farmer, and is yet a farmer, likes the occupation and would not exchange it for any other. During boyhood he had the advantages of education afforded by the common schools in his section of the country. At the age of nineteen he entered Richmond College (Ohio), where he remained something over two years, when he was called home by the illness of his father, at whose earnest solicitation he remained at home and took charge of his business. While at College he made rapid progress in classic studies, stood high in his classes, and distinguished himself in the literary contest of the institution. It was the design of Mr. Crawford, (as well as the wish of his father) to study for a profession; and he had chosen the law, but the circumstances which compelled him to leave College interfered with this arrangement and made him a farmer, then almost against his will, though he now congratulates himself that it happened as it did. He is a very successful farmer, and has thousands of sheep grazing on "broad ancestral acres," admirably adapted both in soil and climate to wool-growing.

He was elected Justice of the Peace at the youthful age of twenty five, and immediately afterwards was made Presiding Justice, and held the position some years. In 1856 he married, at the age of 20, thus barely escaping the reproach of old bachelorhood. In 1860 he was re-elected Presiding Justice of this county and held the position up to the time of his election to his present position.

In politics, he was, before the rebellion obliterated party lines an old line Whig. In 1860, he took the first active part in the matters of a political nature, and stumped the county for George Porter who had been brought out as the Union candidate for the Richmond Convention against his uncle who was running on the "peace" platform. The former was at Richmond attending to his duties as a member of the Legislature, the latter at home with many influential friends to aid in securing his election.:Mr. Crawford threw himself into the contest with his accustomed zeal and ability. Whether the result was due to the exertions of his friends or his own strength, George Porter, was handsomely elected, and was one of the few Western Virginians in that Convention who was neither bullied nor bought over into rebellion.:Ever since the rebellion, Mr. C. has been very active as a public speaker, addressing the people in every part of his county for the Union and the new State. He has been the leading spirit in organizing volunteer companies and the militia force of his county, and is now the commandant of the 163d militia regiment.

He was in the mass Convention of May '61, and was also a member of the Convention which reorganized the State. From that time to the present he has been an active worker for the success of the new State and the Federal Union, and has done at least one man's share in keeping the people of Hancock right on these great issues. He occupies his present position, simply because his fellow citizens in view of his abilities and services, decreed without opposition, that he should do so.

In view of the facts already stated it is scarcely necessary to add that Mr. Crawford is an anti-slavery man. He has always been moderate and practical in his views on this subject:running after no impracticable theories, but earnestly in favor of every effort to remove the institution by these who had the power to do so. It was on this principle that he so warmly advocated its removal from West Virginia.

Belonging to the Scotch-Irish race as Mr. Crawford does, he is of course a Presbyterian, and, it may be added, an elder in the Church. He carries just enough of his religion into his ideas of politics to make him earnest about it.

In person, he is of medium stature, and somewhat spare, but not lean. His face is one that exhibits character and attracts attention. His hair is dark, nearly black, has just eh slightest tinge of brown and is decidedly partial to curls and waves; wears it just long enough to be "bushy." Beard (which he wears full except the moutaches [sic]) reddish brown on the cheeks, and reddish without the brown on the chin. Eyes very dark; you take them to be black a little ways off, and they light up and sparkle brilliantly when he becomes animated in speech; observe them closely though, they are of a deep rich brown. Forehead full and square, rather than high. Nose nearly straight, not large, and not handsomely cut. Mouth indicating decisions, and general expression of nice that of face that of a live, energetic man.

Mr. Crawford had made but few speeches as yet, and no long ones. He infuses vim into what he has to say and says it "right but in meetin'." Has no difficulty in making himself understood and tries rather to point a moral than adorn a tale. Is a good member, and a man of promise.

Biographies of the First West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Archives and History