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Martin Luther Connelley

Martin Luther Connelley

In Liberty District, OhioCounty, ten miles northeast of the City of Wheeling issituated the fine homestead farm of Mr. Connelley, who isnow one of venerable native sons of this county and whohas stood representative of loyal and progressive citizenshipduring the course of a long, active and successful career.He was born in Richland District, this county, September29, 1842, a son of Elisha and Lorena (Eaton) Connelley.In the possession of the family is an antique arithmetic,published in 1816, and having entry of births in the Con-nelley family.

Elisha Connelley was born in Maryland, near the easterncoast, November 26, 1812, and he was nine years old whenhis father, William Connelley, there died. The widow andchildren later removed to Washington County, Pennsylvania,Elisha having been eighteen years old at the time. Soonafterward he came to what is now West Virginia and settled in Ohio County. He brought his mother and othermembers of the family to the new home, and the motherpassed the closing years of her life with one of her daughters, at Wheeling, where she died at the venerable age of ninety-three years. The son, Eli, became a farmer inMarshall County, and his death occurred at Moundsville,when he was eighty-eight years old, one of his sons havingmet his death while serving as a soldier in the Civil war.William, another of the children of the widowed mother,remained in Wheeling, was a tailor by trade but eventuallyengaged in the grocery business at North Wheeling, one ofhis sons, John W., being still a resident of Wheeling.

About the year 1834 Elisha Connelley married LoranaEdmonds, who was born in Pennsylvania, a daughter ofWilliam Edmonds, the date of her birth having been January 26, 1816. Elisha Connelley's death occurred April 4,1898, when he was in his eighty-sixth year, his wife havingpreceded him to the life eternal. After his marriage ElishaConnelley and his wife established their home in a modestcabin at Greggsville, and he became a teamster for Mr.Gregg, who was engaged in burning charcoal for the ironfurnaces of this district. Mr. Connelley later engaged infarming on shares, and from the returns from this line ofenterprise he purchased a small house at Greggsville. Withincreasing prosperity he erected buildings in that villageand also became the owner of four farms. He was anenergetic and able business man and became one of therepresentative exponents of agricultural and live-stock industry in this section of the state. He lived virtually retired during the last twenty years of his life, but continuedto give his attention to his live stock and farm interestsin a general way. He was originally a whig and later arepublican in politics, and was one of the few in RichlandDistrict who voted for Abraham Lincoln for president ofthe United States in 1860. He lived to see Richland District become a republican stronghold. He and his wifewere converted under the teachings of Alexander Campbelland became members of the Campbellite or Christian Churchat Wheeling. Of the children the eldest was William, bornat Wheeling, in 1836. He became a farmer and latera feed dealer. Benjamin, born in 1838, served through theCivil war as a member of the Fifteenth United States Regulars, and he was somewhat more than seventy years of ageat the time of his death. Rachel, born in 1840, is thewidow of George King and resides at Martins Ferry, Ohio.Martin Luther, of this review, was the next in order ofbirth. Eliza Jane, born in 1845, is the widow of GilbertHolmes and resides at Garden City, Kansas. Perry, whowas born in 1848, was a mere boy when he enlisted forservice as a soldier of the Union in the Civil war, but hisparents caused his release. At the age of eighteen yearshe enlisted in the United States Army and was assigned toservice on the plains of the West. After his dischargefrom the army he engaged in mining in the West, andfinally, with a companion, he started for the old home,nothing further having been heard of him by members ofthe family and the supposition being that he and hiscompanion lost their lives in a blizzard.

Martin L. Connelley was reared and educated in his nativecounty and has been actively identified with farm enterprisefrom the time of his boyhood. He has owned and residedon his present homestead farm since 1870, the same comprising 110 acres, one of the first cabins in this part ofOhio County having been erected on this farm, and thefine springs in the vicinity having led Mr. Connelley toerect his present house near the same. He has made thebest of improvement on his farm and has here specializedin the raising of sheep. He served fourteen years as amember of the school board of his district. In 1893 helost his left arm, below the elbow, while operating the firsthusking machine brought across the Ohio River into WestVirginia. He was associated with A. R. Jacob in organizingand developing the local Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, to the upbuilding of which he devoted many years,in the face of strenuous opposition on the part of old established companies, and he. has the satisfaction of knowing that this corporation has become one of substantial andimportant order and been of great benefit to the fannersof the locality. The company began operations with $150,000 insurance in force, and when the first loss was paidthere was in force $214,000. The business has been remarkably prospered, every loss has been adjusted without recourse to law, for a period of five years no assessmentswere made, and the corporation now has in force more than$5,000,000 of insurance, its field of operations in Ohio andMarshall counties, West Virginia. Mr. Connelley continuedas secretary and treasurer of the company from the timeof its incorporation until 1920. He has been for fiftyyears a zealous member of the United Presbyterian Churchat Roneys Point, the church having recently celebrated thesemi-centennial of its organization. His wife likewise wasan earnest member of this church. Mr. Connelley has beena supporter of the prohibition party forty years - fromthe time that St. John was its nominee for president. Mrs.Connelley, whose maiden name was Mary E. Giffin, wasborn and reared in Ohio County and her death occurredin 1884. Of the four children the eldest is Lena Jane,wife of William Holmes, of Garden City, Kansas; FrankE., who has active charge of his father's farm, marriedMrs. Elizabeth (Thiers) Blotzer, who has two children byher first marriage - William and Harry; Joseph L. B., whois associated with the Riverside Tube Works, at Wheeling,married Emma Summers, and they have one child, LauraJean; Laura L., youngest of the children, became the wifeof William Connelley. and was a young woman at the timeof her death.


from The History of West Virginia, Old and New, Chicago: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1923. Volume II, pg. 539-540.


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