JOHN JEREMIAH JACOB was born in Hampshire County, Virginia (now West Virginia). He graduated from Dickinson College in 1849 and went on to study law. He was a professor at the University of Missouri from 1853 to 1860, after which he practiced law in Romney, West Virginia. He was elected to the State House of Delegates in 1869 and to the governorship in 1870—the first Democrat to hold the office in West Virginia. At the first election under the state Constitution of 1872, a split in the Democratic Party prompted Jacob to run as an Independent. He went on to win reelection, serving his second term during the period when the state capital was temporarily relocated from Charleston to Wheeling. After leaving the governorship, he was elected again to the State House of Delegates in 1879 and was appointed Judge of the First Circuit of West Virginia in 1881 to fill a vacancy. He was elected to the judgeship in 1882, serving until 1888, when he returned to his law practice. Jacob died at his home in Wheeling.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 12. New York: James T. White & Company.