Wood photo donated to county commission

PARKERSBURG – A copy of the only known photo of a portrait of former Virginia Gov. James Wood, for whom Wood County was named, was presented to the Wood County Commission on Monday.

The photo, which was copied from a photo apparently taken of an original portrait, an engraving of the reproduced signature of Wood and a brief history was donated by former Wood County Commissioner Rick Modesitt and presented to the commission by Bob Enoch, president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society.

“In the 1790s pioneers in this part of western Virginia had to travel 70 grueling and at times dangerous miles for business involving Harrison County. The founding fathers of our county petitioned the Virginia General Assembly in 1798-1799 to pass a law dividing the county of Harrison.

That request was granted in December 1798 and the newly formed county was named in honor of then Gov. of Virginia, James Wood.

Though only governor for one term, he was well-known and respected by the inhabitants of western Virginia for his military and public service achievements,” Enoch said.

Enoch, who also was secretary of the Wood County Bicentennial Commission, said that group searched for a portrait of Wood, but had been unable to find one at the time of the bicentennial celebration.

“It is my pleasure to complete one item of unfinished business from that group. The main hall of the courthouse displays pictures of previous courthouses, plaques of dedication and photos of soldiers who are defending our principals of freedom. What is not seen in the hallway is an image of the man for whom this county is named…until today,” Enoch said unveiling the framed photograph for county officials.

Modesitt said as he watched the various activities planned to commemorate the state’s 150th birthday, and wanted to try one more time to find a likeness of Wood. After phone and Internet contacts to numerous entities, he found Dale Neighbors of the Library of Virginia who knew where a photo was in the archives.

“I purchased three copies: one for Wood County, one for the Blennerhassett Museum and one for Bob Enoch/Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. Mr. Neighbors was also able to secure a copy of the governor’s signature from the state archive, which I had duplicated onto a brass plate. I think it is remarkable to think that Gov. Wood was governor of Virginia 217 years ago. He served only one term as the 11th governor,” Modesitt said.

The former commissioner said one of the things he enjoyed and respected most during his service as a commissioner was “our history and preserving the history for the future. One of the people I most respected for all his volunteer work done over the years was Bob Enoch, so I asked Bob to present the framed photo to the county commission for the people of Wood County to enjoy. I wanted to do my little part to celebrate our state’s birthday and honor the past of Wood County,” Modesitt said.

Dave Nestor of WV Paint donated his time for the framing. Modesitt paid for the materials.

The commissioners thanked Enoch for the donation and said they will discuss a proper location to display the photograph.