February 16, 1821: Financier Morris Harvey Born in Raleigh County


Civic leader and financier Morris Harvey was born in Raleigh County on February 16, 1821. He worked at his uncle’s store in Fayetteville, where he learned the ins and outs of politics and business. When the Civil War began, he enlisted in Thurmond’s Rangers, a local Confederate unit. 

After the war, Harvey and his brother-in-law paid the new state of West Virginia $20 for 1,000 acres on the New River. They then leased the land to rail and coal companies. The timing was fortuitous because the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway was about to carve a path into southern West Virginia and launch the region’s coal industry. Much of Harvey’s mining land became part of the powerful New River Company. In addition, he founded the Fayette National Bank in Fayetteville. A devout Methodist, Harvey helped establish at least three churches. He also gave money to the Barboursville Seminary in Cabell County, which, in 1901, changed its name to Morris Harvey College. The college later moved to Charleston and is now the University of Charleston. Morris Harvey died in Fayetteville in 1908 at age 87.