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February 15, 1902: Confederate Veteran Isaiah Welch Dies at 76

A 1946 Saturday afternoon, Main Street, Welch.
Russell Lee via e-WV Encyclopedia

Industrial promoter, land speculator, and railroad developer Isaiah Welch died at St. Albans in Kanawha County on February 15, 1902. He was about 76.

Like scores of other Western Virginians, Isaiah Welch went west during the California Gold Rush in the late 1840s. He came home without striking it rich. That would come later.

During the Civil War, he reached the rank of captain in the Confederate Army. He also served in the legislature of Confederate Virginia throughout the war.

After the war, Welch teamed up with famed Confederate mapmakerJedediahHotchkiss, who was investing in the fledgling West Virginia coal industry. Welch surveyed the rich Pocahontas No. 3 coal seam in southern West Virginia and wrote about it in a journal published by Hotchkiss. In part, Welch's report led to a flood of investment in the region, including construction of the Norfolk and Western Railway.

The city of Welch, the county seat of McDowell, is named in Isaiah Welch's honor. He purchased the land where the town would be built supposedly for only $100 and his sorrel mare. Isaiah Welch is buried at Bramwell in Mercer County.

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