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Civic leader, financier, and philanthropist Morris Harvey (February 16, 1821-April 5, 1908) helped transform Fayette County into a leading coal producer. He was born near Prosperity in Raleigh County, and grew up in Cannelton, Fayette County. Educated in the local schools, he worked in his uncle’s store in Fayetteville where he learned county politics and land investing. Harvey served as county jailer in 1851; county sheriff from 1859 to June 1860; and sheriff again, 1865–69. He enlisted in Thurmond’s Rangers, C.S.A., during the Civil War, but rarely talked of his war experience.

Land ownership became the basis for Harvey’s wealth. In 1866, Harvey and his brother-in-law received a land grant from West Virginia of 1,000 acres on the west side of New River for $20. Boosting postwar industrialization, Harvey leased or sold his lands to rail or coal companies; the coal town named Harvey became part of the holdings of the New River Company. In 1900, he founded the Fayette National Bank.

Harvey became a devout member of the Methodist Church, South, after marrying Rosaltha Dickinson in 1871. He helped establish at least three churches in the county, and his gifts to the Barboursville Seminary led to its name being changed to Morris Harvey College in 1901. Morris Harvey died in Fayetteville.

The college moved to Charleston in 1935 and became the University of Charleston in 1978.

This Article was written by Lou Athey

Last Revised on February 16, 2017


Hill, Mildred Haptonstall. Morris Harvey. West Virginia History, (Jan. 1951).

Cite This Article

Athey, Lou "Morris Harvey." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 16 February 2017. Web. 20 May 2024.


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