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William B. Irvine

National Bank of West Virginia

-- from History of West Virgina, Old and New. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1923. (v. 2, p. 390)

WILLIAM BURRISS IRVINE is managing vice president of the National Bank of West Virginia, the oldest banking institution at Wheeling and the first to be established in Western Virginia.

William B. Irvine, National Bank of West Virginia

It was organized as the Northwestern Bank of Virginia in 1817, and it is interesting to note that the first clerk of the bank was John List, a family and name that had not been without some interest in Wheeling's financial affairs for more than a century. The old Northwestern Bank was converted under the national banking law into the National Bank of West Virginia in 1865, and under that title is continued the history of the oldest bank in the state, and its resources and services have likewise made it one of the most substantial banks of West Virginia.

William Burriss Irvine has spent the greater part of his active lifetime in this institution, and is justly regarded as one of the financial authorities of the state. He was born at Smithfield, Jefferson County, Ohio, June 7, 1866. His grandfather, John Irvine, was born in Ireland in 1804 and on coming to America settled at Smithfield with his mother. After reaching manhood he studied law, and practiced his profession for many years at Smithfield, where he died in 1877. He married Rebecca Lemasters. George Fleming Irvine, father of the Wheeling banker, was born at Smithfield in April, 1835, was reared and married in his native town, studied law but never practiced, and was a merchant until the outbreak of the Civil war. In 1861 he joined an Ohio regiment of Infantry and was all through the period of hostilities, being with Sherman on the march to the sea. After the war he remained in Washington for several years, an employee in a Government department. George F. Irvine came to Wheeling in the early seventies, and for a time was connected with the Bank of the Ohio Valley. In 1891 he removed to Pittsburgh, where he was in the wholesale produce business. He died at Pittsburgh in the fall of 1914. He was a republican, a very active member of the Christian Church, was a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. His first wife, Rachel Burris, was born at Smithfield, Ohio, in 1835 and died at Wheeling in 1871. She was the mother of three children: Mary Rebecca, now of Pittsburgh; John Charles, who is in the coal business at Smithfield, Ohio; and William B. The second wife of George F. Irvine was Sylvia Laughlin, who is now living at Pittsburgh.

William B. Irvine was a child when his parents moved to Wheeling, and in this city he acquired his public-school education. He is a graduate of Linsly Institute with the class of 1884. Soon after leaving school he became a messenger boy with the Bank of the Ohio Valley, and remained with that institution three years. He then entered the Exchange Bank of Wheeling as correspondence and collection clerk, was promoted to assistant cashier and was in the service of that institution until 1901, when he went with the old Bank of Wheeling as cashier. The Bank of Wheeling was consolidated with the National Bank of West Virginia in 1907, and since that consolidation Mr. Irvine has been managing vice president of the latter.

He is also president of the Farmers National Bank of Claysville, Pennsylvania, a trustee of the Mutual Savings Bank of Wheeling, a director in the Bank of Fulton, near Wheeling, is treasurer of the Industrial Savings & Loan Company, Morris Plan, of Wheeling, and president of the Fidelity Investment Association of Wheeling.

During and since the World war Mr. Irvine has been treasurer of the Wheeling Chapter of the American Red Cross. He was also chairman of the Banking Committee in all the Liberty Loan drives and his time and means were full at the disposal of the Government at all times. He is a republican in politics, has been a member of the official board of the Fourth Street Methodist Episcopal Church for twenty years, is a past master of Bates Lodge No. 33, F. and A. M., a member of Wheeling Union Chapter No. 1, R. A. M., Cyrene Commandery No. 7, K. T., Wheeling Lodge No. 28, B. P. O. E., and is a member of the Old Colony Club and of the Twilight Club of Wheeling.

Mr. Irvine, whose home is in the suburb of Elmwood, married at Wheeling February 25, 1886, Miss Eva A. Drake, daughter of David M. and Virginia (Lindsey) Drake, both deceased. Her father was a Wheeling banker. Mr. and Mrs. Irvine have one son, Russell Drake, born December 27, 1890. During the war he enlisted, was stationed at Camp Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan, being army field clerk. He is now secretary-treasurer of the Fidelity Investment Association of Wheeling.

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