A few of our Famous Local People

Many of Clarksburg's native sons and daughters have gained fame and renown outside their hometown. Some that come to mind are Stonewall Jackson, opera singer Phyllis Curtin, government official Cyrus Vance, and former US Senator Jennings Randolph.


Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson

Born Thomas Jonathan Jackson after his grandfather on January 21, 1824 in Clarksburg, WV and died May 10, 1863 in Guinea Station, Virginia. Jackson’s sister Elizabeth died of typhoid fever when he was just 2 years old and his father died of the same disease just 2 weeks later. The day after burying his father, his mother gave birth to his sister, Laura Ann. Widowed at 28, Julia Jackson took in sewing and taught school to support herself and her three children.

In 1830, she married an attorney, Blake Woodson who did not like the Jackson children. Mrs. Jackson died just a year after marrying Woodson of childbirth complications leaving her three older children orphaned. Jackson and his sister Laura went to live with his paternal uncle near present-day Weston in the adjacent Lewis County who owned a grist mill. With many duties around his uncle’s farm, young Stonewall attended school when and where he could; however, much of his education was self-taught.

In 1842, Jackson was accepted into the US Military Academy at West Point, New York. Because of his inadequate schooling, he had difficulty with the entrance examinations and began his studies at the bottom of his class. Through perseverance, he graduated 17th out of 59 students. He began his military career as a brevet second lieutenant in the 1st US artillery Regiment and was sent to fight in the Mexican-American War. It was in Mexico that Jackson first met Robert E. Lee.

In the spring of 1851, Jackson accepted a newly created teaching position at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. Stonewall Jackson was a Confederate general during American Civil War and was probably the most revered Confederate commander after General Robert E. Lee. He earned the nickname “Stonewall” at the Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Virginia. Many of Stonewall’s family including his father, Jonathan, are buried in the Jackson Family cemetery in Clarksburg – part of one of the city’s 17 parks.

 

Phyllis Curtin
Born December 3, 1921 in Clarksburg and already a star of the New York City Opera when she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1961, soprano Phyllis Curtin is remembered both for her creation of new parts (the title role of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, for example) and for her dedication to song recitals. Her many students from Yale and Boston Universities perpetuate her influence on the world of singing. She retired from opera singing in 1984.

 

 

Cyrus Vance
Born 1917 in Clarksburg, public official and lawyer who served under presidents Kennedy and Johnson as Secretary of the Army (1961-62), Deputy Secretary of Defense (1964-67), and U.S. negotiator to the Paris Peace Conference on the Vietnam War (1968-69). He resigned his post as President Carter's Secretary of State in protest of the President's attempt to rescue the American hostages in Iran. Vance then returned to his law career in the public sector but was frequently called upon to negotiate regional conflicts in such hot spots as South Africa, Croatia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Mr. Vance passed away in New York City January 12, 2002 at the age of 84.

 

 

Jennings Randolph
Former U.S. Senator J. Randolph was born in 1902 in Salem. He authored the 26th amendment to the constitution giving 18 year olds the right to vote. His family home that was built in 1900 was bought and moved onto the campus of Salem International University in 1985. The home is filled with memorabilia from the Senator’s days in Washington. Mr. Randolph passed away on May 8, 1998 at the age of 96

 

 

 

 

Additional Famous Faces

Kelly Lee Anderson: 4th runner-up Miss World 1984

Tony Anthony: Actor, producer, director and screenwriter

Rex Bumgardner: Pro football player Buffalo Bills (1948-1949) and Cleveland Browns (1950-1952)

John W. Davis: Democratic Party nominee for President 1924

Jimbo Fisher: American college coach and former player who was the NCAA Div. III National Player of the year as a senior. He served as the Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach for the LSU Tigers from 2000-2006 and is currently the head coach of the Florida State Seminoles football team.

Nathan Goff Jr.: Congressman and United States Secretary of the Navy

Howard Mason Gore: United States Secretary of Agriculture under President Coolidge

Louis A. Johnson: United States Secretary of Defense

Tuffy Knight: Former coach in Canadian university football and member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame

Frank Loria: Virginia Tech All-American and a coach of the Marshall University Football Team who were all killed in an airplane crash in 1970

Lloyd Lowndes Jr.: Governor of Maryland

Fredrick Mosteller: Founding chairman of Harvard’s Statistics department

Mike Patrick: ESPN sportscaster