Grand Pockets’s Blog

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Conaway Waitman Bio, Photo, Sources


Waitman H. Conaway

Mr. Conaway, son of William Sanford [from DC] and Mary A. (Arnett) Conaway, was born at
Barracksville, Marion County, West Virginia, March 5, 1871, and was educated in
the public schools of that section. He learned the trade of a brickmason in
which he became proficient, and when he reached his majority he decided to
become a lawyer. Indeed, for several years, while working at his trade, he
devoted all of his spare time to the study of legal textbooks, in which he had
already become quite proficient. He, therefore, through the school of experience
and hard knocks made his own way and has reached more than an average standing
in the greatest of all the learned professions. By years of diligent
self-culture and hard work he has built up a large and profitable clientage,
which is steadily increasing and becoming more and more profitable as the years
go by. He is a broad, thorough, conscientious lawyer, devoted to his profession,
in which he is now taking a leading part.

For many years he was the junior member of the law firm of Arnett & Conaway, of
Fairmont, West Virginia, he having been admitted to practice in July, 1805. They
represented the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company in Marion and Wetzel
Counties, and the various branches of the Standard Oil Company throughout West
Virginia. He is a superior trial lawyer, and has appeared as counsel in perhaps
half of the Circuit Courts of West Virginia, the Supreme Court of Appeals of the
State, and the Supreme Court of the United States. For several years he had a
large number of important cases in the United States Court of Claims at
Washington, D. C., against the United States, known as the Mississippi River
Overflow Cases in the Southern States, and also damage suits against the
Government for the construction of dams in the Monongahela River. Very few, if
any, lawyers of his age, have appeared in as large a number of courts as he.

[As an aside I offer this exceprt from The Bar (West Virginia) pg 354, volume 9, 1902 concerning the still primitive justice system of Waitman’s time.

Jeopardy In a Justice’s Court.

Bench and bar have laughed frequently over the story about the Irish justice who declared that he wouldn’t hear the other side of the case because it had “a tindency to confoose the coort,” but a prominent Fairmont lawyer, Mr. Wait Conaway, is regaling his friends with one that goes it better. Fairmont lawyers, and in particular Mr. Conaway, are fond of good stories, and the one just out is a fair sample of the brand. Mr. Conaway recently was called to assist in the trial before a justice, a son of the old sod, not far from Littleton, of some employees of a pipe line company or an oil company, operating in the community, who were charged with trespass. With an eye to securing as much safety as possible a jury was demanded. The trial resulted in a verdict of not guilty, whereupon the court revolutionized practice by declaring that the verdict was then and there set aside, and the state granted a new trial. In spite of the expostulations of the learned counsel that it was against the constitution which provides that a man shall not be placed in jeopardy twice for the same offense, the court set aside the jury’s finding. The second trial resulted in acquittal. The justice again set it aside, saying with all the judicial dignity possible :

“Misther Conaway, Oi hev been a justice of the pace in this deestrict for nigh onto thirty years, and the constytooshun has given me more throuble than any other wan thing. I have always been doubtful about it, an’ so far as it applies to this case, the coort is of the opinion that it is incorrect. Therefore I’ll set this verdict aside and grant the state another new trial.”

A Detroit millionaire who recently sat on a jury in justice court had only one criticism to offer, and in that he deplored the lack of dignity displayed by attorneys and officers of the law while in the court. The same criticism has been made before elsewhere, and the difficulty may be explained by an experience a stranger had in a Missouri temple of justice. He was struck by the same lack of dignity and an odor of bad tobacco when he entered the courtroom.

“Who is the man with his hat on?” he asked of a native.

“The sheriff,” replied the Missourlan.

“And the man with his feet on the table and his hands in his pocket

“The prosecuting attorney.”

” Now, who’s the old guy with the straw hat on and necktie, and the corncob furnace and the fumigating tobacco?”

“The judge.”]

[The Southeastern Reporter, Vol 108, Aug-Dec 1921, West Publ Co, pg 426-428  in law 89 WV 37: Waitman was involved in a complex case that went to the State Supreme Court for resolution. More interesting to genealogist’s is the information it gives about the business dealings of the Conaway family – in this case Waitman and Charles E. Conaway, principally. I have cut some of the legalese making this an abstract of an abstract.


(Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. Sept. 13, 1921.)

Certified from Circuit Court, Wetzel County.

Bill by Waitman H. Conaway against Raymond D. Overholt, executor, and others, for enforcement of vendor’s lien.

Waitman H. Conaway, of Fairmont, and T. M. Mclntire, of New Martinsville, for plaintiff.

Thos. H. Cornett, of New Martinsville, for defendants.

The inquiry turns upon the language of the clause in a contract or deed, relied upon as having reserved such a Hon. W. H. Conaway, one of the plaintiffs, owning an undivided half of the equitable title to certain coal and mining privileges, sold and conveyed the same to his co-tenant, Charles E. Conaway, for and in consideration of the sum of $8,1OO, of which $1,100 was paid in cash. Of the residue, $2,000 was to be paid In a short time, without interest, and the residue of the purchase money in two interest-bearing installments of $2,500 each, one on or before December 1, 1907, and the other on or before December 1, 1908. As to security of payment, the contract contained this stipulation :

“It is also understood, covenanted, and agreed that said Waitman H. Conaway is to have a vendor’s lien upon said coal to the extent of said $7,000 remaining unpaid in any sale and conveyance thereof by said Charles E. Conaway. If said sum of $2,000 is paid on or before December, 1906 the said vendor’s lien shall only be for $5,000, instead of $7,000.”

Soon after this agreement or conveyance was made B. F. Overholt, with full notice thereof, and of the stipulation aforesaid, purchased of Charles E. Conaway an undivided one-half of said coal, and paid Waitman H. Conaway $1,000, one-half of the $2,000 aforesaid, by way of credit on what he was to pay Charles E. Conaway as purchase money. At the same time and as part of the same transaction he joined Charles E. Conaway in the execution of two $2,500 notes payable to Waitman H. Conaway, which represented the two $2,500 payments due from Charles E. to W. H. Conaway. He did not Join in a note for $1,000 representing the other half of the $2,000 Installment, because it had been assigned by W. H. Conaway to W. A. Weidebush, and by Weidebush to the Grafton Banking & Trust Company, after endorsement by John F. Phillips; but the bill alleges he assumed it and became personally liable therefor.

In February, 1907, David H. Cox, in whom the legal title to the coal still remained, and to whom only a small fraction of the original purchase money had been paid, conveyed it to Overholt and Charles E. Conaway, reserving a vendor’s lien thereon for more than $41,000. Later, and on a date not disclosed, Overholt died and Raymond D. Overholt qualified as the executor of his will. At a date not disclosed, Chas. E. Conaway also died. The estate of B. F. Overholt paid all the purchase money due Cox, and took an assignment of his vendor’s lien.

In a creditors’ suit against the estate of Chas. E. Conaway the Overholt estate set up this lien, and claimed the benefit thereof by subrogation, to the extent of the payment of Conaway’s half of the purchase money,. On the sale of the Conaway half of the coal, under a decree entered in said cause, the trustees of the Overholt estate purchased it for the sum of $35,000 which sum was not more than sufficient for reimbursement of said estate, after payment of costs, etc.

In that suit the three notes above described were also set up and asserted as liens on the Chas. E. Conaway half of the coal, and were decreed to be liens thereon next after the lien for the Cox debt Cox, B. F. Overholt, W. H. Conaway, Weidebush, the Grafton Banking & Trust Company, and Phillips were all parties defendant in that suit.

The two $2,500 notes were assigned by later paid by B. F. Overholt or his executor. The bank above mentioned obtained a judgment on the $1,000 note against W. H. Conaway, Weidebush, and Phillips which has been paid by Phillips.

(1,2) In said creditor’s suit, the bank, W. H. Conaway, Weidebush, and Phillips filed a petition by which they sought to charge the Overholt half of the coal with said $1,000 debt, as being secured by the stipulation in the contract between W. H. Conaway and Chas. E. Conaway, but their petition was rejected by an order saving to them any right they might have to charge that interest in the coal by a proper proceeding. This suit, in which all of them have joined as plaintiffs, is the means they have adopted for enforcement of their alleged right.]

[Waitman and Charles were also principals in the Fairmont & Southern RR Company: p54-56, Senate Documents Vol. 41 1915-1916, US Congressional Serial Set, USGPO


The Fairmont & Southern Railroad Company was organized on June 15, 1907, by John F. Williams, of Baltimore, Md.; Benjamin F. Overholt, of Scottsdale, Pa.; Ralph Overholt, of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Charles F. Teter and Samuel A. Moore, of Philippi, W. Va.; and Charles E. Conaway and Waitman H. Conaway, of Fairmont, W. Va., and duly incorporated under the laws of West Virginia on August 31,1907, for the purpose of building and operating a railroad in West Virginia.

The railroad which the corporation proposed to build was to commence at or near the town of Belington, in Barbour county, W. Va., and run thence by the most practicable route, along the Tygarts Valley and Monongahela rivers, via Grafton and Fairmont, to a point at or near the city of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania, and was to be operated by steam, electric, or other power.

The capital stock authorized was $25,000, divided into shares of $100 each. Each of the corporators subscribed for one share.

On the 4th day of September. 1907, the corporation filed a map and profile of the proposed location of the Fairmont & Southern Railroad from a point about 4 miles north of Belington, in Barbour county, down the Tygarts Valley and Monongahela rivers, to a point near Rivesville, in Marion county, all in West Virginia, which map and profile was -dated August 1, 1907, and signed by C. F. Teter, vice president, and N. D. Linger, chief engineer.

On August 31, 1907, the stockholders elected as directors John F. Williams, B. F. Overholt, Ralph Overholt, Charles F. Teter, Charles E. Conaway, Waitman H. Conaway, and S. A. Moore.

At a directors’ meeting held August 31, 1907, officers were elected as follows: Charles E. Conaway, president; Charles F. Teter, vice president; S. A. Moore, treasurer; W. H. Conaway, secretary; John F. Williams, general attorney; N. D. Linger, chief engineer.

At a meeting held September 17, 1907, the board of directors of the company took under consideration the advisability of obtaining rights of way for the construction of its road, of contesting the rights of way of the Buckhannon & Northern Railroad Company for the construction of a railroad on its survey along the Tygarts Valley and Monongahela rivers in Barbour, Taylor, and Marion counties, in West Virginia, and of bringing about the cancellation of the charter and certificate of incorporation of the Buckhannon & Northern Railroad Company, because of ownership by the Pennsylvania and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad companies of a one-half interest in the property and franchises of the Buckhannon & Northern Railroad which would parallel the present line of railroad of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, in West Virginia, contrary to the laws thereof. A committee was appointed to employ counsel to institute suits, take steps to secure rights of way, and conduct any other necessary legal proceedings in connection therewith. V. B. Archer was employed as counsel on September 23, 1907.

At a directors’ meeting held March 27, 1908, John F. Williams was elected president to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Charles E. Conaway. At this meeting the committee to employ counsel reported that V. B. Archer, attorney, was paid $500 as counsel to investigate and to prepare and render an opinion relative to the legal status of the claim of the Fairmont & Southern Railroad Company against the Buckhannon & Northern Railroad Company and its affiliated companies.]

He was never a candidate for a public office of any sort, and never held an
office of any kind. [That was later changed as he became Commissioner for School Lands and a Chancery Commissioner for Harrison County, WV. see “WV Blue Book” 1922 pg 895]

His great grandfather, John Span Conaway, and Rachel
Willison, his wife, located on Buffalo Creek, Marion County, Virginia, in 1780,
after the Revolutionary War, in which he was a Captain and connected with the
Judge Advocate’s Department, coming here from Somerset County, Maryland. He is
buried on what is believed to be the Old Homestead, a photograph of which may be
found in a County History entitled “Marion County in the Making,” compiled and
edited by the members of the James O. Watson, Jr., High School Class.

His grandfather, William Willison Conaway, lived and died on this farm. His wife
(Waitman’s grandmother), Rhoda Hendrix Conaway, and Waitman’s father, William
Sanford Conaway, and mother, Mary Arnett Conaway, are buried in the
Barracksville Cemetery. His father was a member of the 6th W. Va. Volunteers in
the Union Army. His grandmother being married the second time, was a widow
pensioner of a soldier of the war of 1812, whose name was James Everly. Since
1789 his family has never lived outside of Fairmont Magisterial District, except
Alpheus Conaway, a brother of his father, who moved up on Whetstone, near
Mannington, in Mannington District, Marion County.

He is very proud of his ancestry, family record and loyalty to his native
country. Some one of the family has been in every war since 1776.

He married Miss Mary Willa Cavender. December 26, 1898, and has one son,
Harrison, fifteen years of age. Waitman died 26 Nov 1929 at 109 Virginia Avenue, in Fairmont of Myocarditis & uremia. He had suffered heart problems for several years prior to death. He was buried November 29th at Barrackville Cemetery. [death certificateconaway_waitman_dc]

p 478, 479, 480

Bench and Bar of West Virginia,

George Wesley Atkinson

1919 Virginia Law Book Co, Charleston, WV

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1 Comment »

  1. To whom it may be a concern:

    Waitman H. Conaway was my grandfather
    Harrison Conaway, his son, was my father
    My brother was Harrison (Soupy) Conaway, Jr.
    My sister is Mary Elizabeth (Missie) Conaway Craven

    Comment by Russell Johnson Conaway | July 19, 2010 | Reply

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