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Berkeley County, West Virginia Biography of Harry Flood BYRD

         Harry Flood BYRD was born in Berkeley County, West Virginia, while his mother was on a visit to Martinsburg. He once wrote to a friend, “I was born at Martinsburg, West Virginia, at Dr. McSherry’s in the house next to Newton Baker’s.”

         He was State Senator of Virginia, 1915-23, and was elected without opposition. He was elected Chief Executive of the State in 1924. The Senator was one of the two patrons of a bill to appoint a commission of several members to establish a state highway system and he was a member of the commission. He was the patron of a bill establishing a State Highway Commission, which led to the establishment of a system of state roads. Harry F. Byrd was a member of the Senate Committee on Roads, the Finance Committee, the Steering Committee, the Committee on Privileges and Elections, and the Committee of Schools and Colleges. He advocated a tax on gasoline as a fair method of raising revenue for road construction.

         On February 2, 1923, Harry F. Byrd was sued by the Virginia Highway Contractors Association for $100,000 because he said their activities by combination and agreements may be very detrimental to the State. The court dismissed the suit, stating the criticism was legal, imposing all cost upon the association. The Highway Contractors Association then gave up its charter and dissolved the corporation.

         Byrd was fuel commissioner for the state of Virginia during World War I, having been appointed by President Wilson and serving without compensation.

         He was one of the largest individual orchardists east of the Mississippi, owning 60,000 trees that produced 225,000 bushels of apples in 1926, 500 car loads or one-twenty-fifth of the entire output of Virginia. He was president of the Winchester Cold Storage Company, the largest storage of apples in the world, with a capacity of 300,000 barrels. He was director of the Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Winchester, the National Fruit Products Company, manager of the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, and vestryman in the Episcopal Church.

         Harry Flood Byrd started working for a living at 15 when he managed the Winchester Star. He started the Martinsburg Evening Journal and sold the profitable newspaper after three years to Martinsburg interests.

    Submitted by Marilyn Gouge and extracted from History of Berkeley County, West Virginia, 1928.

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