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First West Virginia Legislature

Biographical Sketches: Daniel D. T. Farnsworth

Wheeling Intelligencer
August 4, 1863

The First West Va. Legislature.


Sketches Personal, Political and Biographical.



The personal appearance of Mr. Farnsworth is prepossessing; he is tall and somewhat sparely built; active and rapid in his movements. He wears thin sandy whiskers all over his face, and has not used the razor for some time, his hair is thick and black and does not correspond very well with the color of the aforesaid whiskers; his head is round and well developed; he has bright, twinkling intelligent grey eyes, which when he is engaged in animated debate sparkle like diamonds and rivet the attention; his features are regular and when dressed in his elaborate and almost "exquisite" style, as he usually is, he is sure to attract attention, and is really, laying all jokes aside, one of the handsomest men in the Legislature.

He is a rapid and sensible speaker; occupies the floor very frequently; expresses himself with great force and freedom, never lacking a work and generally getting the one which expresses exactly what he means. If he desires to say that a man is a butternut, copperhead, viper, or traitor he does so in just that many words, without any squeamishness upon the subject; if he desires to flatter the "elderly gentleman" on his right, (Mr. Haymond) who loves to annoy Mr. Farnsworth, he does it in a very fascinating way, but with very little effect:Mr. Haymond can't be won over in that way.

Mr. Farnsworth was a member of the Convention which re-organized the State Government of Virginia, in June 1861, by virtue of his election to the House of Delegates, which occurred at the regular May election in 1861. His opponent was Ben. Bassell, a former member of the Legislature from Upshur county, and a noted and influential rebel leader. They stumped the county, Mr. Farnsworth being the only man of any prominence who had the boldness to beard the lion in his den. His efforts against the ordinance were unceasing, and he was gloriously rewarded in seeing the county of Upshur give more than 400 majority against that ordinance, and was himself triumphantly elected to the House of Delegates.

On the first day of July, 1861, he took his seat in the Legislature at Wheeling, where he remained a useful and laborious member up to the time of the organization of the new State. He was elected to the Senate as one of the representatives of the 6th District, by a large majority over his opponents. He has been an ardent and untiring worker in behalf of the new State all the time, and was Chairman of the Committee which reported the ordinance for the division of the State in August 1861.

Of his efforts in behalf of the Union it is almost needless to speak, for they are a part of the history of the State. I may say that his devotion to the Union is unconditional,--has been, -- will be, if I am not greatly mistaken. He was an old style Democrat, and voted with that party in 1860, for Mr. Douglas. Since then, he has been unqualifiedly "for Lincoln and the Union." First, because Mr. Lincoln was constitutionally elected. Second, because the Union is always right. He was pro slavery in his feelings before the rebellion, does not care now what becomes of it, nor of anything else that stands in the way of the Union. He endorses the President's Emancipation Proclamation, and hopes it will bury slavery so deep that its resurrection will never come to pass; is opposed to every man that favors the patching up of slavery in any form in this Government, to break out again like a smothered volcano in coming years, as he thinks, in another stream of blood and desolation.

Mr. Farnsworth is the author of the resolution introduced into the Legislature, proposing to ask the candidates for the United States Senate how far they will go in support of the administration, in the conduct of the war, &c., which passed the Senate, but has not yet passed the House.

Mr. Farnsworth was born on Staten Island, in New York, and is about 43 years of age, though his appearance would indicate that he was not more than 30 or 35. Some of the ladies have indeed taken him for a much younger man than that, supposing him to be about 25, and what is more unfortunate for them, unmarried. His ancestors removed at an early day to Upshur county, and settled near the town of Buckhannon, when "Dan" was about a dozen and a half months old. His parents and grand parents were wealthy, and he has a fair portion of this world's goods. In early life "Dan" learned the trade of tailor, but having by industry and perseverance demonstrated that it did not take seven tailors to constitute a man, he engaged in the mercantile business, which he follows at present. He, however, is not ashamed to be known as a mechanic, and feels proud of that class. By reason of rebel raids, and especially Jenkins' and Jones', he has been a great sufferer. The former broke open his store and stole about a thousand dollars worth of goods, and the latter about three thousand dollars worth.

He has been a member of the Baptist Church for many years and hopes to live and die in the faith; and the writer believes he is, as he appears to be, a man of correct moral principles and of exemplary habits.

He is a member of the Committee on Townships, and several other committees.

Biographies of the First West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Archives and History