CAPTAIN ISAIAH A. WELCH (1824 - 1902 )

Industrial promoter, land speculator, surveyor, railroad developer, and Confederate veteran. Captain Isaiah Arnold Welch promoted the development of the Pocahontas coalfield in southern West Virginia.

Captain Isaiah A. Welch was a surveyor for Pocohantas Mines. Some documents report that Captain Welch was born in Charleston, WV on November 3. 1824 . Other documents report that he was born in Doddridge County, Virginia–now part of West Virginia. I. A. Welch served as a captain in the Confederate Army. According to text on his tombstone Captain Welch died in Bramwell on Februrary 15, 1902. This death date is confirmed by the obituary listed below. The document is from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph dated February 16, 1902 at the age of 73. However, he died at the age of 78 from the writing on his tombstone. Some documents indicate that he was born in 1829 and not the tombstone date of Nov. 3, 1924. The two obituaries shown below have different death ages at 73 and 76. Captain Welch is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery near Historic Bramwell, WV in the community of Freeman,WV. He was the brother of Ms. Jemima Welch.

After the Civil War, Capt. Isaiah Welch, a Doddridge County, West Virginia, native, took a job as a surveyor with Maj. Jed Hotchkiss of Staunton, Virginia. Hotchkiss had served as Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's mapmaker and charted Jackson's famous Valley Campaign, and Welch had been an officer of the 13th Battalion, Virginia Light Artillery. 

Captain Welch had worked as a civil engineer before and after the Civil War. His writings indicate that during the Civil War, he served on the field staff as Assistant Quartermaster for the 13 th Battalion, Virginia Light Artillery.

Bramwell's namesake, Joseph H. Bramwell accompanied Captain I. A. Welch on his 1873 survey of the Pocahontas Coalfields. His work in the West Virginia coal fields insured that he would be remembered for his many years work there.

The town of Welch in McDowell County, WV was named after Captain Welch.   Incorporated as city in 1893, it is the county seat of McDowell County. Captain Welch is reported to have purchased the strategic site at the confluence of Elkhorn Creek and Tug Fork for $100 and his sorrel mare. He was instrumental in founding Welch, WV.

He died February 15, 1902, at St. Albans, Kanawha County, WV and his body was returned to Bramwell and buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery, Freemn, WV. Captain Hill's wife, Mary is also buried there.

The Bramwell Public Grade School was established in 1894 with Professor E.S. Baker becoming the first principal ( 1895 - 1900 ) of the school. With private donations from several local coal barons like John D. Hewitt, Jenkin Jones, Harry Bowen and Captain Isiash Welch the school term was extended from five to twelve months a year for the 200 students and five teachers.

Captain Isaiah Arnold Welch
BIRTH: 3 Nov 1824
DEATH: 15 Feb 1902 (aged 78)
BURIAL: FreemanMercer CountyWest Virginia

I. A. Welch's first wife - Mary Snyder Welch

BIRTH: 3 Mar 1823
DEATH: 3 Dec 1897 (aged 74)
BURIAL: FreemanMercer CountyWest Virginia

I. A. Welch & Mary Snyder Welch's daughter was Fannie Welch Heintze.

Following the death of Captain Welch's first wife, Fannie Snyder in 1897 he married Ada Thrasher of Pearsburg, Virginia in 1900. Years after Captain Welch's death in 1902, his second wife, Ada Thrasher married a well respected William Alexander Heslep, MD of the Saint Albans, WV in 1915. He was one of the best known and best loved men in that part of Kanawaha County, WV. He died on July 20, 1919.

The following text is from the book "Men of West Virginia".

1866 ISAIAH WELCH LETTER - I. A. WELCH , WV COAL MAGNATE TO THE FORMER CSA CAPTAIN OF THE RINGGOLD ARTILLERY- This is interesting reading on Captain Isaiah A. Welch. He was captain in the Confederate Army. Captain Welch died in February 1902 at St. Albans, WV.

Feb. 15, 1902: Confederate Veteran & WV Coal Magnate, Captain Isaiah Welch Dies at the age of 76 .

Isaiah Welch Tombstone .....And First Wife......Mary Snyder Welch Tombstone

Captain Isaiah A. Welch Obiturary
( Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 16 February 1902 )

Captain I. A. Welch:

Pioneer Passes to Eternal Rest - Capt. I.A. Welch Died at St. Albans Yesterday. Ripe in Years and Honors. Highly Esteemed Citizen, Identified with Coal Field's Development and Growth. Funeral Will be Tomorrow.

Capt. I.A. Welch, one of the pioneers of the Pocahontas Flat Top Coal Field, died at his residence in St. Albans, W.Va., yesterday morning, aged about 73 years.

Capt. Welch came to this section in 1873 to examine and report on the coal deposits. He became identified with the development of the section, and was probably the most widely known man in the field. The town of Welch was named in his honor.

Several years ago Capt. Welch was married to Miss Thrasher of Giles County, Va. He had moved from Bramwell to St. Albans, WV.

Four sons and three daughters, children of his first marriage, are all dead before him.

He was a man universally esteemed, and his death casts a gloom over the community.

His remains will be brought to Bramwell, where the last sad rites will be observed tomorrow afternoon at 3 o'clock.

He was buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery, Freeman, WV.

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


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 mapmaker Jedediah Hotchkiss, 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.