Blackburn Barrett Dovener – Captain, United States Army Member of Congress

HON. BLACKBURN BARRETT DOVENER, West Virginia's distinguished representative in Congress from the First Congressional District, whose portrait is herewith shown, was born April 20, 1842, at Hurricane Bridge, Teays Valley, in what was then part of Cabell county, Virginia, now Putnum county West Virginia.

He is son of Dr. R. G. Dovener, a native of Cherry Valley, New York. The mother of the subject of this sketch was the daughter of Andrew Barrett, of Cabell county, Virginia. During the infancy of their son the parents moved to Elizabeth, Wirt county, and when he was twelve years of age they changed their residence to Parkersburg, and there the childhood of young Dovener was spent. He attended the district schools, and was a pupil for several terms in the well-known Parkersburg Academy, conducted by Prof. John C. Nash. His educational course was abruptly terminated by his enlistment in the volunteer service of the Civil War, in 1861, at the age of nineteen years. He raised a company known as Company A, of the fifteenth Virginia Regiment (afterward designated as the fifteenth Regiment, W.Va. Vol. Inf., on the admission of West Virginia as a state), but on account of his youth he declined leadership. He served as first lieutenant until after the battle of Cedar Creek, when he was promoted to be captain of the company. His services throughout the war were distinguished and valuable to the national cause and won him an enviable record. At the close of the war Captain Dovener moved to Wheeling, where he married Margaret Lynch, daughter of the late William Lynch, of this city.

In 1867 he was appointed as chief clerk in the office of the secretary of State, after which he decided to pursue the profession of law. He was admitted to the bar in 1873, and began practice in Wheeling the same year. By patience, perseverance and industry he won for himself a position at the bar and in the courts of his native state and adjoining states an enviable and worthy distinction as an able and successful practitioner. As a counselor he is safe and wise, and ready in the comprehension of the salient features of a case. As an advocate he is earnest, making his cause his own. He is ready in debate and fluent in expression. As a man he is affable, courteous and polite. He was for a time the junior member of the law firm of Davenport & Dovener. Upon the death of the senior member, which occurred in 1880, he succeeded to the firm's practice, which under his auspices has been greatly increased until now his clientage is one of the largest and most lucrative in Wheeling. As a criminal lawyer he has had m8uch experience, and in this line of his profession has no peer.

In politics Mr. Dovener is a Republican, a stalwart of the stalwarts. He has championed the principles of the party in all parts of the state, and no one has accomplished more for the success of the Republican cause than Mr. Dovener. He represented Ohio in the legislature in 1883, and in 1894 he was elected to represent the First Congressional District of West Virginia in Congress, and is now serving his fourth term. As a member of the river and harbor c0mmitee he has made himself famous. No member of Congress from this state has accomplished so much for the improvement of our water courses as this brilliant and gifted man. In the Fifty-fourth and in the Fifty-fifth Congresses, unaided and alone, he secured appropriations of $7,000,000 for the permanent improvements of the rivers in which West Virginia is directly interested. Through his energy, influence and perseverance improvements on the Ohio river between Pittsburg and Marietta, which will cost the sum total of $10,200,00, have been entered upon by the general government to carry out that which was originated in the mind of Mr. Dovener, the improvement of our water courses, whereby navigation may be kept up all year round, and our commerce may be carried an distributed to the Southern markets, Whereby West Virginia will receive a lasting and permanent benefit. As Henry Clay achieved greatness and renown in building a national highway, so will the subject of this sketch, and his name will go down to posterity, honored and revered by grateful people.

Courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives:

Representative from West Virginia; born in Tays Valley, Cabell County, Virginia (now West Virginia), April 20, 1842; attended the common schools; taught school 1858-1861; at the age of nineteen raised a company and served as captain of Company A, Fifteenth Regiment, West Virginia Volunteer Infantry; became Captain of an Ohio River steamboat in 1867; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1873 and commenced practice in Wheeling, West Virginia; member of the State house of delegates in 1883 and 1884; unsuccessful Republican candidate for election to the Fifty-second Congress; elected as a Republican to the Fifty-fourth and to the five succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1895-March 3, 1907); unsuccessful candidate for renomination; resumed the practice of  law in Wheeling; lived in retirement at Glen Echo, Maryland, until his death on May 9, 1914; interment in Arlington National Cemetery.

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