West Virginia’s first black legislator, Christopher Payne, was born in Monroe County on September 7, 1848. He was raised near Hinton, where he worked as a farmhand. Although he was born a free person of color, he was forced as a teenager to serve as a servant in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
After the war, Payne attended night school in Charleston and taught school in Monroe, Mercer, and Summers counties. He became a Baptist minister and earned a doctor of divinity degree from the State University in Louisville.