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William M. Fawcett


Bluemont Cemetery, Grafton

William M. Fawcett was born on Nov. 6, 1824 in Preston County, WV, the son of Charles B. and Phoebe (Miner) Fawcett.  He was a shoemaker of Independence, Preston County.

William entered into marriage with Naomi Fortney (1821-1905). He was three years younger than his bride. 

The Fawcetts together produced a family of at least nine children -- Charles Wesley Fawcett, John M. Fawcett, Daniel F. Fawcett, James F. Fawcett, David A. Fawcett, William "Henry" Harrison Fawcett, Sarah Rebecca Jenkins, Robert Patterson Fawcett and Mary Alice Turnley Walls. Two of their sons, Charles and Daniel, married women of the Herndon family. The fate of son John (1846- ? ) is lost to history. 

When the federal census was taken in 1860, the Fawcetts lived at Kingwood, where William labored in "milling."

At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Fawcett sons were too young to enlist in the military. But in February 1865, 16-year-old son Daniel made the decision to join the Army. He went to Grafton, Taylor County, WV, where he filled out paperwork and was assigned to the 17th West Virginia Infantry, Company I. Many years later, Naomi wrote this of her son: 

When my son ... enlisted he was living at home with me and when discharged he came home to his parents. When he returned [in 1865] he was very much ailing and was never again the stout hearty boy he was when he enlisted.... He was then unmarried, and made his home with his father and me in the country near Kingwood,... until some time in the fall of that year. After which he and his brother lived on a farm within a mile of us for nearly three years. During the first month that he lived with us I, of course saw him daily and during the time that he lived on the farm with his brother near us I saw him very frequently, every few days.


Preston County Journal, 1867

Sadly, on Feb. 13, 1867, 16-year-old son James died near Kingwood, of causes unknown. The death was reported in the Preston County Journal, and later the notice was reprinted in the book, Preston County West Virginia, Newspaper Marriage and Death Notices, by Mary K. Williams. 

A few months after son James' death, son Daniel returned to the family home, suffering terribly from his wartime disabilities. Naomi wrote this: 

In the said spring of 1867 he was taken down sick and came home to our house and was confined to his bed for five or six weeks. He was suffering so greatly that I sent for Dr. J.H. Manown ... who came and examined him. Dr. Manown pronounced it a gathering near the rectum and found it necessary to, and did open it. When he opened it it discharged a large quantity of puss or matter, I think at least a quart, and these discharges continued for a week or ten days, when the wound made by the operation healed up.

The Fawcetts moved to Independence, Preston County in about 1869, after their son Daniel recovered and got married and left home. The property where they lived may well have been the same that William inherited from his father in 1874, comprised of a 6.75-acre tract in the Lyon District of Preston County, one-half mile north of Independence. The land, according to the father's wishes, was "to be enjoyed and held during [William's] natural life and at his death to be the absolute property of his children then living." In 1890, William in turn sold the property to his wife Naomi. 

In 1879, William and Naomi endured the untimely death of daughter in law Malvina (Herndon) Fawcett from tuberculosis, or "consumption" as it was then known. She was only age 30 at the time, and left her husband, Daniel, a widower at age 30. Tragically, married daughter Sarah Rebecca Jenkins died in nearby Taylor County in October 1889, at the age of 30. The Fawcetts once again suffered the death of one of their adult children's spouses -- son in law Robert Lee Turnley -- in January 1890, at the age of 30, caused by typhoid fever, leaving a wife and two young children.

At the time the federal census was taken in 1880, the Fawcetts were living in the Lyon District, where William was a "Boot & Shoe Maker" and son William "Henry" was a coal miner. 


Preston County Journal, 1894

William died on Aug. 14, 1894, as he neared his 70th birthday. The Preston County Journal eulogized that he was "one of our oldest citizens [and] was a member of the M.P. church."

Naomi outlived her husband by 11 years. She moved to Independence, Preston County, where she is known to have made her home in August 1897. At that time said she had "been living near Independence for past twenty-eight years." She died there on Feb. 7, 1905, at the age of 84.

The Fawcetts are buried together at the Bluemont Cemetery in Grafton. Their graves are marked by an upright stone in the shape of a tree stump with an opened bible on the top. They rest in proximity to the graves of William's cousins, Charles F.W. and Robert Moses Hanshaw, and also of the final resting place of Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother's Day. 

In 1911,William and Naomi were mentioned in a chapter about their grandson in law, William Brewster Parkhurst, in the book History of Charleston and Kanawha County, West Virginia, authored by W.S. Laidley. Said the book, "William M. and Naomi (Fortney) Fawcett, were early settlers in Preston county.


Copyright 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008-2010, 2021 Mark A. Miner