General John Hunt Oley was born in upstate New York on September 24, 1830. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, he was one of six New York National Guardsmen sent to Western Virginia to drill troops at the request of Francis Pierpont, governor of the Reorganized Government of Virginia. That fall, he organized the pro-Union 8th Virginia Infantry, which would later become the 7th West Virginia Cavalry. By the end of the war, he’d rise in rank to brevet brigadier general.
After the war, Oley lived in Charleston and became internal revenue collector for West Virginia. In 1871, he moved to the new town of Huntington, where he worked for railroad baron Collis P. Huntington as an agent for the Central Land Company. Oley became the first elected recorder and treasurer of Huntington. He also helped form the city’s Trinity Episcopal Church.
John Hunt Oley died in 1888 at age 57 and was buried in Huntington’s Spring Hill Cemetery. Oley was widely respected as one of Huntington’s founders. A monument marking his grave was paid for by the citizens of Huntington.