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James Paull (judge)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James Paull
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the Ohio County district
In office
Preceded byThomas M. Gally
Succeeded byAndrew P. Woods
Member of the Wheeling Convention
In office
May 13, 1861 – May 15, 1861
Judge West Virginia Court of Appeals
In office
1873 – May 11, 1875
Personal details
Born(1818-07-16)July 16, 1818
Belmont, Ohio, US
DiedMay 11, 1875(1875-05-11) (aged 56)
Wellsburg, Brooke County, West Virginia, US
Resting placeStone Church Cemetery, Elm Grove, Ohio County, West Virginia
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Jane A. Fry (d.1860)
Eliza J. Ott
RelativesJames Paull Jr. (grandson)
Alma materWashington College
University of Virginia School of Law
ProfessionPolitician, lawyer, judge

James Paull (July 16, 1818 – May 11, 1875) was a prominent lawyer, politician and judge in Wheeling in what became West Virginia during his lifetime. Before the American Civil War, Paull represented Ohio County in the Virginia General Assembly as a Whig, then attended the First Wheeling Convention, which led to the area's secession from Virginia and creation of the state of West Virginia. During his final years, Paull served as a judge of the West Virginia Court of Appeals, having won election as a Democrat.[1]

Early and family life

He was born in Belmont, Ohio to Col. George Paull (1784-1830) (a veteran of the War of 1812) and his wife Elizabeth (1790-1827). The family moved across the Ohio River to the growing town of Wheeling when this James was a boy. He had an older brother, Rev. Alfred Paull (1815-1872) (who until 1863 served as pastor of Wheeling's 4th Presbyterian Church) and a younger brother Archibald Woods Paul (1822-1844).[2] His paternal grandfather, Col. James Paull (1760-1841), had fought in the American Revolutionary War, including under William Crawford in his disastrous Crawford expedition and defeat on June 5, 1782, on the Sandusky River plains.

Paull attended school in Cross Creek, Pennsylvania, then entered Washington College in Washington, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in June 1835. He moved to Wheeling, Virginia and read law under Zechariah Jacob, as well as studied at the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville. During his legal studies, Paull taught at the Linsly Institute in Wheeling.

Paull was active in his Presbyterian Church and served as an elder for 18 years.[3] He married twice. His first wife, Jane A. Fry (1824-1860), was the daughter of Virginia Judge Joseph L. Fry, and great granddaughter of Col. Joshua Fry, an English civil engineer, professor at the College of William and Mary and commissioner of the British Crown, whose death during an expedition in 1754 led to the first military command of George Washington. They had three sons: Archibald W. Paull, Joseph F. Paull, and Alfred Paull. After her death, Paull married Eliza J. Ott (1837-1909), who bore three sons and two daughters: James Paull, Elizabeth, Harry W. Paull, Samuel O. Paull, and Margaret Susan.[4]


After admission to the Virginia bar, Paull practiced law in Wheeling (which had become Virginia's second largest city) with his mentor, as the law firm of Jacob and Paull. Paull became one of the counsel to the Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Company (under experienced attorney and company shareholder Morgan Nelson as well as Charles Wells Russell) in the litigation which began in 1849 after construction of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge.

Ohio County voters also elected Paull (who ran as a Whig) in 1855 to represent them in the Virginia House of Delegates. He served one term alongside John Brady and G.L. Crammer, all three having replaced John C. Campbell and Thomas M. Gally (who had themselves replaced Charles Wells Russell and two colleagues). In the tumultuous politics of the 1857 election, all three were in turn being replaced by Andrew P. Woods and Thomas Sweeney.[5]

During the American Civil War, the state of West Virginia was accepted into the Union after its secession from Virginia pursuant to several conventions in Wheeling, as well as a popular vote in the affected counties (to accept a new Constitution which forbad slavery, among other differences from the Virginia Constitution). James Paull was one of many prominent Unionist Virginians who gathered on May 13, 1861 in the first Wheeling Convention which prepared for the region's secession from Virginia.[6] However, the new state's creation was not fully resolved until litigation in the United States Supreme Court after the war ended.

After adoption of the West Virginia Constitution of 1872, Paull became one of four men elected as judges of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia (all ran as a Democrats and joined Charles P.T. Moore; none of the Republican judges under the state Constitution of 1863 won re-election).[7] However, Judge Paull served in that position for less than two years, due to health issues.

Death and legacy

Although Judge Paull avoided ostentation and spent most of his adult life in Wheeling, he moved to a newly built hilltop mansion in nearby Wellsburg in Brooke County about eighteen months before his demise on May 11, 1875.[8] He was survived by his second wife and children (his sons becoming prominent businessmen in the Wheeling region), and was buried at the Stone Church Cemetery in Elm Grove in Ohio County.[9] His grandson James Paull Jr. continued the family's political involvement and served in the West Virginia Senate, including as its Speaker 1943-1945. Thomas C. Green of Jefferson County; succeeded Judge Paull on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in December 1875.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Gibson Lamb Cranmer, History of Wheeling City and Ohio County, West Virginia and Representative Citizens (1902), available at
  3. ^ Sydney Russell Wrightington, Horace Williams Fuller, Thomas Tileston Baldwin, Arthur Weightman Spence, The Supreme Court of West Virginia in The Green Bag, vol 12, p.235 available at
  4. ^
  5. ^ Cynthia Miller Leonard, Virginia General Assembly 1619-1978 (Richmond: Virginia State Library 1978) p. 461
  6. ^ Granville Davisson Hall, The Rending of Virginia: A History (university of Tennessee Press 1902) p. 245, available at
  7. ^ West Virginia Legislative Hand Book and Manual and Official Register (1920) available at
  8. ^ George Wesley Atkinson, Bench and Bar of West Virginia, p. 70 available at
  9. ^
This page was last edited on 19 April 2020, at 04:23
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