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Congressman and Civil War officer Kellian Van Rensalear Whaley (May 6, 1821-May 20, 1876) was born in Utica, New York. His family moved to Ohio, where he attended public schools, and in 1842 moved to Wayne County, near the present site of Ceredo. As an adult Whaley was engaged in the lumber business.

In keeping with his Northern roots, Whaley held strong pro-Union beliefs in the traumatic period before and after the 1860 presidential election. After Virginia adopted the secession ordinance on April 17, 1861, Whaley was elected as a Unionist to the U.S. House of Representatives on April 23, 1861, by the vote of Union loyalists from the 11th District of Virginia, replacing Albert Gallatin Jenkins, who supported the Confederacy. Whaley and four other Virginia congressmen served in the House of Representatives in the 37th Congress, representing the Reorganized Government of Virginia, which remained loyal to the United States. Under the direction of Governor Francis Harrison Pierpont of the Reorganized Government, Whaley organized Union military recruitment in his region of the state. As a Union officer, he fought, was captured, and made a remarkable escape during the Confederate raid on Guyandotte in November 1861.

Whaley was reelected to Congress in 1863 and 1865 from West Virginia as an Unconditional Unionist but no doubt showed his true political affiliation by attending the 1864 Republican National Convention as a delegate. After his three terms, Whaley, as a loyal Union Republican, received a political appointment to serve as collector of customs in Texas. He died in Point Pleasant.

This Article was written by Kenneth C. Martis

Last Revised on January 12, 2023

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Cite This Article

Martis, Kenneth C. "Kellian V. Rensalear Whaley." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 12 January 2023. Web. 25 July 2024.


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