West Virginia Governor A. B. Fleming was born in Fairmont on October 15, 1839. In the 1860s, he started a legal practice in his hometown and married Carrie Watson, the daughter of Fairmont’s richest man.
In the 1870s, he served in the legislature and was appointed as a circuit court judge. Fleming’s basic interest in politics came from his primary interest in life: the world of business. He invested in railroads, land, timber, oil, and coal.
In 1888, Democrats nominated Fleming for governor in what was, undoubtedly, the most bizarre election in state history. A post-election controversy dragged on for 15 months before Fleming was declared governor over his Republican opponent, Nathan Goff. As governor, Fleming helped establish a business-friendly environment that made West Virginia a haven for entrepreneurs.
After leaving office, Fleming resumed his legal practice and developed or bought a controlling interest in most of the coal mines in the Fairmont area. A massive explosion at one of his company’s mines in Monongah in 1907 was the deadliest mine disaster in American history. A. B. Fleming died in Fairmont in 1921, just before his 84th birthday.