Livia Simpson Poffenbarger (March 12, 1862-January 27, 1937) is best remembered for her efforts to establish the Battle of Point Pleasant (1774) as the American Revolution’s opening salvo.
Born in Pomeroy, Ohio, Livia Nye Simpson grew up in nearby Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The daughter of a well-known lawyer and influential Democrat, Simpson made a name for herself when she demanded the right to speak in support of a candidate at the 1888 state Democratic convention. Simpson later bought Point Pleasant’s Republican newspaper, the State Gazette, and rescued it from financial ruin. Her commitment to Republican politics deepened with her 1894 marriage to George Poffenbarger, a lawyer and fellow party supporter.
Poffenbarger established a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1901 and quickly organized her Point Pleasant campaign. Despite arguments from historians that the battle was the last in the colonial frontier wars, Poffenbarger secured a congressional resolution naming Point Pleasant the first battle of the Revolution.
Poffenbarger sold the State Gazette in 1913 but continued her political and civic work. During World War I, she earned national acclaim for her efforts on behalf of Liberty Loans and was awarded an honorary law degree from West Virginia University. She served on a number of national Republican committees and directed the state women’s suffrage campaign, although she apparently had little affinity for the cause. At the age of 70, Poffenbarger became involved in an anti-temperance group, the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform. She died in Charleston.
This Article was written by Christine M. Kreiser
Last Revised on October 22, 2010
'Manufactured History': Re-Fighting the Battle of Point Pleasant. West Virginia History, (1997).
Whear, Nancy. Livia Simpson Poffenbarger, 1862-1937. Missing Chapters II: West Virginia Women in History. Charleston: West Virginia Women Commission, 1986.