Governor Francis H. Pierpont

Laid to Rest

Governor Pierpont's Funeral one of Great Interest

The City takes a Half Holiday to attend the Services.

The People were generally sad at the Death of The Grand Old Man Whom all were Proud to Honor.

Fairmont Free Press
March 30, 1899

Ex-Governor Francis H. Pierpont died at the home his daughter, Mrs. Nannie Pierpont Siviter in Pittsburg on last Friday evening at about eight o'clock. It was known that he was ill and his death was not Unexpected. A telegram reached this city the same night, giving the information and arrangements were at once commenced by the citizens to pay their respects to their deceased friend and neighbor, who had resided in Fairmont since his youth. Funeral services were held in Pittsburg on Sunday evening and on Monday morning they were started for this place arriving here at 12:30. Captain Tom Reed had charge of the arrangements for the reception of the remains. At the depot an escort was formed by the Meade Post No. 6 led by the drum corps, the male students and faculty of the Normal school and a large number of the citizens of the town, who acted as an escort to the corpse to the People's Temple where the remains were placed in the reception of the church and the casket opened to give all an Opportunity to view the body. Thousands of his fellow citizens and the little children which were always a delight to him were given an opportunity to look on his face for the last time. A guard of honor kept watch over the casket while it lay in state, and there was many a sad countenance and tear dimmed eye as they looked on the friend, neighbor, soldier and patriot. The people of this place had long ago learned to love and honor him, which affection was won through the Governor's kind and social disposition toward all.

At 3 o'clock the casket was moved to the front of the church alter where it rested during the services. After singing by the choir, Rev. Dr. of the First Baptist Church read the scripture lesson and Rev. Barr, pastor of the First Presbyterian church lead in prayer. Rev. Fletcher introduces the Hon. Waitman T. Wiley of Morgantown who spoke very feelingly and beautiful of his departed friend of many years. Mr. Wiley is in very feeble health and was assisted to his feet from his chair. The senator is about 87 years of age.

A large silk flag was entwined around the chair which the congregation had presented to the governor several years ago for his comfort in the church services. To the older persons present they readily comprehended the significance of the remarks, for the ex-senator and the ex-governor were most intimately connected in early formation of the restored and provisional government of Virginia and had many exciting experiences.

Rev. Young, pastor of the First Methodist Protestant Church of Pittsburg, next spoke concerning the death of the Governor and his message to his people here. The services throughout were beautiful, such as is deserving from a loving people to a true and faithful citizen, patriot, statesman, neighbor and Christian gentleman. Governor Pierpont is dead but his name will live on in the history of West Virginia and in Fairmont more especially.

The remains were interred in Woodlawn Cemetery. The old soldiers, the Fairmont Bar, the city council, the public schools, the Normal School, the Post office employees, and all stores and other places of business were closed in the afternoon until after the funeral. It was a half holiday for the people who mourn the death of its greatest and truest man.

The services at the grave were simple and very impressive, and attended by a large concourse of people, old friends and neighbors, being much affected during the services. At the grave Captain Thomas B. Reed of Meade Post No. 6, G. A. R. offered on behalf of the veterans the brief and eloquent tribute:

Ex-Governor Francis H. Pierpont

Peace to thy ashes and all honor
To thy memory, our neighbor, our townsman, our
Friend, father of our Mountain State of West Virginia
Patriot, statesman, farewell!

Since his retirement from public life years ago the surviving war governor and the father of West Virginia had been living a quiet life of retirement at his home in Fairmont. His advanced years told upon him.

However and on account of his enfeebled condition he was obliged to leave his old home in July last to spend his declining days with his children who live in Pittsburg. Those who survive are his daughter, Mrs. Siviter, and his two sons, Samuel R. and William Pierpont.

Governor Pierpont had been in failing health for several months past by reason of his advanced age and for some days has been quite ill. Tuesday evening, shortly after dinner, his condition grew suddenly serious, and he was seized with a fainting spell. His physician was summoned and he pronounced the attack fatal. Throughout the day yesterday the ex-governor received every attention possible, and was surrounded by the remaining members of his family until the end came at fifteen minutes before 9 0'clock last night. Death was peaceful and without pain.

Francis H. Pierpont was born in in Monongalia County, then Virginia, but now West Virginia, on the 25th day of June, 1814, and was therefore almost at the end of his eighty-fifth year at the time of his death.

His life had been spent at Fairmont except when his duties during the war required his presence elsewhere until quite recently when he went to spend his declining days at the home daughter, Mrs. William H. Siviter of Pittsburg.

As a boy he worked upon his father's farm and in the Tannery, until he arrived at his majority. In the meantime he attended school at intervals in the neighborhood where he resided. At twenty-two he Matriculated as a student at Allegheny College, and remained there, an earnest, industrious toiler, until June 1840 when he graduated. After graduation he went south and taught school in Mississippi. Having determined to enter the legal profession while a teacher he began a systematic course of reading. In a year or two he passed the required examination, and returning to Virginia, was admitted to the bar at Fairmont, Marion County. Being thoroughly educated and possessing a pleasant address, Which added to a higher order of talent as a public speaker, he was not long in attaining a rank as an attorney that brought reputation, clients and fees to his law office.

Educated in Northern ideas and among northern people, Mr. Pierpont naturally became an outspoken abolitionist. His convictions were so intense he rarely allowed an opportunity to pass with opposition to the doctrine of human slavery. He took an active part, even before graduation from college, in the political discussions of the times. In the differences which between the people of the Western and Eastern portions of the state, growing out of the grievances of the former on account of unequal taxation and other unjustness, Mr. Pierpont took a decided stand in favor of dividing the state and made active campaigns. When the war broke out the opportunity came.

At the June 11, 1861, convention held at Wheeling for the purpose of re-organizing the government of Virginia after the state had Seceded from the Union, Mr. Pierpont was almost unanimously elected governor by the representatives of the forty counties that had sent delegates to the convention. He held office under his election for about twelve months, and in the meantime was elected by the people to fill an unexpired term of two years. He was subsequently elected by the loyal People of the state for the full term of four years, and was recognized by President Lincoln as the legitimate governor of Virginia. He was one of the many war governors of the states Who stood by the government in its darkest hours, and contributed a noble part in sending troops to the front to defend the flag. He was a true as steel in those solemn times that try men's souls.


West Virginia Archives and History