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Biography: James Whitehead Paxton

▶ Birth: August 6th, 1821, Wheeling, Virginia
▶ Death: November 2,  1896, Ohio, West Virginia; buried in Greenwood Cemetery 
▶ Spouse: Catherine Mason Paull Paxton
▶ Marriage: February 4, 1845, Wheeling, West Virginia (view marriage certificate

- from History of the Pan-handle: Being Historical Collections of the Counties of Ohio, Brooke, Marshall and Hancock, West Virginia, Newton, J. H., 1879.


Is son of William Paxton, was born at Wheeling, August 6th, 1821. He was sent to Jefferson College, at Cannonsburgh, Pennsylvania, and afterwards to Bacon College at Georgetown, Kentucky, to study civil engineering, which was made a specialty at that institution. He qualified himself as a civil engineer, but never practiced the calling, and shortly after leaving college, was in the year 1839, (at the early age of eighteen,) taken into partnership with his father in the wholesale grocery business, the firm being Wm. Paxton & Son, After a few years his father retired and J. W. Paxton associated his cousin, E. W. Paxton, with himself, and continued the business successfully as J. W. Paxton & Company, until 1854, when at the age of thirty-three he retired from active business. He devoted himself for the succeeding two or three years to settling up the large iron estate of his father-in-law, Archibald Paull, then deceased, in Greenup county, Kentucky. During this time he became a director in the Northwestern Bank of Virginia, and a member of the city council, and was one of the commissioners who compromised the railroad debt of the city at that time.

He spent the summer of 1857 traveling in Europe. Was elected president of the. North Western Bunk of Virginia in 1860, and organized its conversion (in 1863) into the present National Bank of West Virginia, under the national banking law, and was elected president of it also. He continued to hold that position until in the spring of 1867, when impaired health decided him to seek a change of residence, and he resigned to move with his family to Philadelphia. Though a native Virginian and a slaveholder, he was an ardent Union man, and actively opposed the secession of Virginia in 1861. When his state seceded, he aided in organizing the Union element of western Virginia to uphold the authority of the United States, and resist the seceded authorities of Virginia. Was one of the Committee gf Safety appointed by the mass meeting of the Union men of north-west Virginia, which assembled in Wheeling in May, 1861. Was a member of the convention which afterward re-organized the state government of Virginia, and one of the Council of Five appointed to aid and advise Governor Pierpoint then just elected Governor of Virginia under the re-organized government. Was an ardent new state and a free state man, and took an active part in setting up and separating the new state of West Virginia from the old state. He was a member of the constitutional convention which framed the first constitution for West Virginia, and was chairman of the Committee on Finance and Taxation in that body, and was one of the commissioners appointed by the convention to go to Washington city and present the constitution to Congress for its approval, and urge the admission of the new state of West Virginia into the Union—which was accomplished. He returned from Philadelphia to take up his residence in Wheeling in 1872, where he now remains. In a communication to the city councils of Wheeling on the 10th of September, 1878, he presented the city with the fountain located on Capitol square, and known as the Paxton Fountain; which was formally unveiled and accepted by the city, with imposing ceremonies, November the 9th, following. Mr. Paxton has been twice married—first in 1845 to Catharine Mason Paull, third daughter of Archibald Paull, then living in Wheeling, but formerly of Greenup countv, Kentucky, by whom he had seven children, all now dead. His present wife, to whom he was married in 1872, at Philadelphia, her then residence, is Frances Joan, second daughter of Samuel Logan, deceased, of Washington county, Pennsylvania. They have three children, two sons and a daughter.

- from "The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography," White, J.T., 1897ewton, J. H., 1897, pg. 47


PAXTON, James Whitehead, banker, was born in Wheeling, Va. (now West Virginia), Aug. 6, 1821, son of William Paxton, a prominent merchant and influential citizen of that place. James was educated at Jefferson College, then located at Cannonsburgh, Pa. He had at first intended to become a civil engineer, but circumstances changed his plans, and at the early age of eighteen he became a partner with his father in the wholesale grocery business at Wheeling, under the firm-name of William Paxton & Son, and later the style became J. W. Paxton & Co., the father having retired from active business life. This was the foundation of an ample fortune afterwards accumulated by Mr. Paxton from real estate and other investments. About the year 1860 Mr. Paxton withdrew his personal supervision from his numerous business enterprises and devoted himself to the management of the old North Western Bank of Virginia, of which he was president, and which, in 1865, became, through his efforts, the National Bank of West Virginia at Wheeling. He continued his duties as president until impaired health admonished him to seek rest and change from business cares. Although Mr. Paxton was reared with slaves in the home of his father, and was a slaveholder himself, he was during the rebellion prominent as an uncompromising Union man in upholding the authority of the United States in Virginia, and took an active part during the secession period in all the measures adopted in the western portion of the state for organizing and maintaining a loyal government in Virginia. He was also an active participant in the organization of West Virginia, and was a member of the convention which framed its constitution; chairman of the committee on finance and taxation; and also one of the commissioners appointed by that convention to present the constitution to congress for its approval, and ask for the admission of West Virginia to the Union as an independent state. At the close of the war, and with the restoration of the Union, Mr. Paxton declined all further participation in public affairs, and having no desire for political life, has since de voted himself to his private affairs. A handsome public fountain, which stands in front of the city building in Wheeling, was the gift of Mr. Paxton to the city in 1878. Mr. Paxton continues his residence in Wheeling and his citizenship in West Virginia, but spends his winters at Thomasville, Ga., where for many years he has had a winter home for his family. He was twice married; first in 1845, to Catherine Mason, daughter of Archibald Paull, of Wheeling; and second, in 1872, to Frances Jean, daughter of Samuel Logan of Washington county, Pa. They have three children living, Charles Francis, Eliza and Gertrude.

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