April 23, 1861: Unionists Elect Kellian Whaley to US House of Representatives

Kellian Whaley

On April 23, 1861, Union loyalists from Virginia’s 11th District elected Kellian Whaley to the U.S. House of Representatives, replacing former Congressman Albert Gallatin Jenkins, who’d stepped down to support the Confederacy.

The vote came just six days after Virginia had voted to secede from the Union at the start of the Civil War.

Whaley, a native of upstate New York, had moved to near the present site of Ceredo in Wayne County in 1842. A lumber dealer by trade, Whaley was one of five pro-Union congressmen who represented Virginia in the 37th Congress.

Under the direction of the pro-Union Reorganized Government of Virginia—led by Governor Francis Pierpont from the capital in Wheeling—Whaley organized Union military recruitment in his part of the state. As a Union officer, he fought, was captured, and made a daring escape during the Confederate raid on Guyandotte in Cabell County in November 1861.

Kellian Whaley was reelected to Congress in 1863 and 1865. At the end of his third term, he was appointed collector of customs in Texas. He died in Point Pleasant in 1876 at age 55.