CHARLES TRIPLETT O’FERRALL was born near Brucetown in Frederick County, Virginia, the son of a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and Clerk of the County and Circuit Courts. After his father’s death, O’Ferrall was appointed Clerk Pro Tempore of the Circuit Court of Morgan County, Virginia (now West Virginia), and was elected Clerk of the County Court in 1857, serving in that position until the outbreak of the Civil War. He joined the Virginia Cavalry, rising to the rank of Colonel and suffering severe wounds at the battle of Upperville. After the war ended, he started a business career and studied law at Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. He was then elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, serving for three sessions from 1871 to 1873. He was subsequently elected to six terms in Congress, resigning in 1893 to run for governor. O’Ferrall’s gubernatorial administration saw a dramatic decline in the number of lynchings in the state. At the same time, O’Ferrall faced a strike in the state’s southwestern coal mines, in response to which he dispatched state militia to protect non-strikers. After leaving office, he settled in Richmond and practiced law. In 1904, he authored Forty Years of Active Service.
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