Daniel Haymond Polsley Highway Historical Marker
Backstory and Context
Daniel Haymond Polsley was born near Fairmont, Virginia (now West Virginia) in November 1803. His father, Jacob Polsley, was of German ancestry and his mother, Margaret (Haymond) Polsley, was the aunt of Thomas Sherwood Haymond and the great-aunt of Judge Alpheus F. Haymond. As a young man, Polsley attended country schools before entering a preparatory school. He then read law and passed the bar in 1827. That same year, Polsley married Eliza V. Brown. She was the niece of English theologian Philip Doddridge and granddaughter of Captain Oliver Brown, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. The marriage would produce numerous children. After passing the bar, Polsley established a law practice in Wellsburg, Brooke County, Virginia (now West Virginia). Between 1833 and 1845, he became involved in the newspaper business, editing and publishing a Wellsburg Whig newspaper, the Western Transcript. In 1845, he sold the newspaper and shuttered his practice in Wellsburg and moved to Mason County, where he tended to a 1200-acre farm along the Ohio River and continued to practice law.
Unlike most people living in western Virginia during the antebellum era, Polsley was a slaveowner. While residing in Wellsburg in 1840, he owned an enslaved woman. Census returns for that year indicate that she was between ten and twenty-three years of age. In 1850, while living in Mason County, he owned two enslaved individuals, a woman and a young boy. By 1860, Polsley owned five, three of whom were eight years of age or younger.
In May 1861, Polsley was one of thirty men from Mason County who attended what became known as the First Wheeling Convention, which was organized in response to a Richmond convention’s decision to vote in favor of secession the previous month. In June, the people of Mason County elected him to be a member of a second convention to be held in Wheeling. At what became known as the Second Wheeling Convention, delegates elected Polsley lieutenant-governor of the Restored Government of Virginia, the unionist government of Virginia that remained loyal to the United States throughout the Civil War. In 1863, after West Virginia officially became a state, he was elected to serve as judge of the Seventh Judicial District of West Virginia. He occupied the position until 1866. In November of that year, the constituents of West Virginia’s Third Congressional District elected Polsley to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Republican would serve only one term, from 1867 to 1869, choosing not to stand for reelection.
Once his time in politics came to an end, Polsley returned to Mason County, where he resumed his law practice. He died in Point Pleasant on October 14, 1877 at the age of seventy-three. His remains are buried in Lone Oak Cemetery in Mason County.
In 2017, as part of its Civil War sesquicentennial project, the West Virginia Highway Historical Marker Program of the West Virginia Archives and History installed a marker dedicated to Daniel Haymond Polsley. It stands at the intersection of Viand (WV Route 62) and Seventh Streets in Point Pleasant, Mason County.
1840 United States Federal Census, Wellsburg, Brooke, Virginia.
1850 United States Federal Census, Slave Schedules, District 38, Mason, Virginia.
1860 United States Federal Census, Slave Schedules, District 2, Mason, Virginia.
Atkinson, George Wesley and Alvaro Franklin Gibbens. Prominent Men of West Virginia. Wheeling, WV: W.L. Callin, 1890.
"Delegates to the First Wheeling Convention." A State of Convenience: The Creation of West Virginia. West Virginia Archives & History. Web. 17 September 2020 <http://www.wvculture.org/history/statehood/delegateswc1.html>.
"Polsley, Daniel Haymond." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present. United States Congress. Web. 17 September 2020 <https://bioguideretro.congress.gov/Home/MemberDetails?memIndex=P000418>.