Berkeley County, West Virginia Joseph T. HOKE


         Joseph T. HOKE was born in Berkeley County, Virginia, February 6, 1835, and attended school at Rock River Seminary, Illinois, at Oberlin College, Ohio, and Hillsdale College, Michigan, graduating with an A.B. degree from the latter in August 1860. He then took a course of legal studies in Michigan University at Ann Arbor, graduating LL.B., March 1864. That summer, he began the practice of law at Martinsburg, West Virginia. He was commissioned by Governor A.I. Boreman to organize the first loyal civil government of the Union people in Berkeley and Jefferson counties, under which the first election was held in October 1864 and the first officers for those counties were elected.

         Mr. Hoke was elected Prosecuting Attorney in 1864 and appointed Clerk of the Board of Supervisors of that county. In 1865, he established the Berkeley Union, a weekly newspaper at Martinsburg just before the surrender of General Lee. It was the first Republican newspaper in that section of the state. In 1876, shortly after he moved to Keyser, Mineral County, West Virginia, he started the Mountain Echo, another Republican newspaper. The Berkeley Union was consolidated in 1870 with the New Era and became the Independent.

         In 1866, Joseph T. Hoke was elected a State Senator from the 11th District, composed of the counties of Jefferson and Berkeley. He was a member of the Board of Visitors of the State Agricultural College and assisted in framing the act that located the same at Morgantown, West Virginia. He assisted in changing the name to the West Virginia University and for several years was a member and president of its Board of Regents and assisted in arranging its first curriculum of study and electing the first faculty. In that year, he also secured the first charter for Storer College, Harper’s Ferry, for the education of African-Americans in West Virginia.

         He was re-elected to the State Senate in 1868, served as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, was the Senate member of the Joint Commission that framed the Code of 1868, President pro tempore of the Senate in the spring of 1869, and was one of the leading factors in securing the ratification by the Legislature of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

         In 1869, Governor W.E. Stevenson appointed Joseph Hoke Judge of the Fifth Judicial Court, then composed of Mineral, Grant, Hardy and Pendleton counties for the unexpired term of 6 years; the new constitution on January 1, 1873, “legislated” him out of office. In 1870, his alma mater, Hillsdale College, conferred on him the honorary degree of LL.D.

         Judge Hoke was elected a delegate to the Republican National Convention at Philadelphia in 1872 and was chosen one of the vice presidents of that body. In 1880, he was the Republican candidate for Congress in the Second District of West Virginia, against Judge John Blair Hoge, Democrat, and Hon. D.D.T. Farnsworth, Greenbacker. In 1881, Judge Hoke moved from Keyser, Mineral County, to Kingwood, Preston County, because of his wife’s frail health.


    Submitted by Marilyn Gouge and extracted from Prominent Men of West Virginia, 1890

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