Wheeling Hall of Fame: H. C. Ogden
Business and Industry
When H. C. Ogden graduated Phi Beta Kappa from West Virginia University, his history professor, W. P. Willey, recommended him to the Wheeling Register as an "exceptionally able and progressive young man."
Thus, at age 18, he started his newspaper career as a reporter. However, Ogden possessed not only a keen news savvy, but had an amazing economic acuity. He and a group of supporters launched the Wheeling News in 1890 — just a few years after his arrival in town — and in 1904 his News Publishing Company bought the Wheeling Intelligencer. Newspaper after newspaper was acquired through the years as Ogden built the largest most influential newspaper chain ever in West Virginia. He was a charter member of the Associated Press.
Mr. Ogden took the lead in the great tax reform fight. His newspapers proved to be a deciding factor in carrying to the people of West Virginia the successful campaign for ratification of the Townsend Land Tax Amendment, considered one of the greatest tax reform measures in the history of any state. Passage of this important amendment provided relief for the property owner. Today West Virginia has one of the lowest tax rates for real estate in the United States.
The Ogden newspapers made their influence felt in the adoption of the Workman's Compensation Act. They led the way for the creation of a state health department and provisions for adequate factory and mine inspections. They also backed the West Virginia Child Labor Law.
Mr. Ogden was attentive, too, to the needs of his community. He campaigned vigorously for the establishment of the first public high school and then for a school for vocational education.
When the City of Wheeling hesitated in accepting Earl W. Oglebay's gift of Waddington Farm for a city park, Ogden waged a war of enlightenment to have the city accept the magnificent gift. Subsequently, he assisted in the creation of Oglebay Institute as the cultural arm of the parks system.
While Ogden's chief interest was in the newspaper field, the publishing business by no means represented the limit of his business activities. He was the guiding spirit of the Belle Alkali Company of Charleston and the United States Stamping Company of Moundsville. He was president of both theses companies. In Wheeling, he was president of the Half Dollar Trust and Savings Bank, Standard Realty Co., and Palace Furniture Company. He was a trustee of the Ohio Valley General Hospital, Linsly Institute and Bethany College. Mr. Ogden engaged in a quietly philanthropy and the extent of his charities never will be known. For a period of perhaps 40 years, Ogden was connected with virtually every civic movement in Wheeling and others of statewide and nationwide character. A native of Worthington, W. Va., he died in 1943 after a life which had left an indelible imprint upon his community and state.
Text and pictures provided by Wheeling Hall of Fame. Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and partially funded by Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.