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John Camillus McWhorter


Judge and author John Camillus McWhorter (July 5, 1866-March 25, 1937) was born in Upshur County. His father was a medical doctor, and his grandfather was a Revolutionary War veteran and early settler. McWhorter was educated in the local public schools and at Fairmont State Normal School (now Fairmont State University). He received a law degree from West Virginia University law school in 1894 and entered the practice of law.

McWhorter served as judge of West Virginia’s 12th judicial circuit from 1904 to 1913. He was also an active prohibitionist, serving in 1912 as the chairman of the West Virginia Ratification Federation which succeeded that year in passing a prohibition amendment to the West Virginia constitution. McWhorter later drafted the 1913 Yost Law, providing for enforcement of state prohibition, which became effective in 1914.

McWhorter is best remembered for writing The Scout of the Buckongehanon. The 1927 novel helped to popularize the legend of Buckongehanon (or Buckongahelas) as the Indian namesake of the Buckhannon River and the town of Buckhannon. McWhorter wove the story of the Pringle brothers and their famous tree of refuge and other regional lore into his historical novel. He also wrote and spoke on the subject of local history and published numerous short stories.