Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Robert Sawrey

Second Advisor

Leonard Deutsch


On the eve of the American Civil War one of the most prominent politicians and businessmen in western Virginia was Judge William Lowther Jackson of Parkersburg, Wood County. Jackson, a native of Harrison County and a member of one of the wealthiest and most politically powerful dans in northwestern Virginia, represented his region In the Virginia Assembly for three consecutive terms in the 1850s. He served as Second Auditor for the State of Virginia and directed the Virginia Literary Fund for public education. He had been lieutenant governor of the state during the administration of Governor Henry A. Wise. He served two terms as prosecuting attorney for Pleasants County. He was the recognized leader of the Democratic Party in Wood, Pleasants, and Ritchie counties during the 1850s. In 1860 voters elected him judge of the nineteenth circuit of the Superior Court of Virginia. His judicial circuit covered the central section of western Virginia from Lewis County to the Ohio River. Jackson played a leading role in extending the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from Grafton to Parkersburg. He invested heavily in real estate in Wood and Pleasants counties. He owned three slaves. He acquired a share of the Burning Springs oil field in Wirt County and operated his own oil wells. His pre-war political and business associates included Johnson N. Camden, Arthur I. Boreman, John J. and Jacob Jackson, Jacob B. Blair, John C. Rathbone, William J. Bland, Matthew Edmiston, and William E. Stevenson. All of these men became prominent figures in the formation of West Virginia and post-war political and economic development of the new state.


Jackson, William Lowther, 1825-1890.

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865.

West Virginia – History – Civil War, 1861-1865.