WILLIAM GUSTAVUS CONLEY was born near Kingwood, Preston County, West Virginia. After teaching in public schools, he became Superintendent of Schools for Preston County. With an LL.B. from West Virginia University, he went on to practice law in Parsons, Tucker County, West Virginia and served as Prosecuting Attorney of Tucker County. He was also a member of the Parsons City Council and Mayor of Parsons, as well as editor and part owner of the Parsons Advocate. Later, he became a member of the Kingwood City Council and Mayor of Kingwood. Appointed State Attorney General to fill a vacancy, he was subsequently elected to the position. He was also a member of the State Board of Education. Prior to being elected governor, he served as special attorney for the Pennsylvania Railroad System in West Virginia; vice president, director, and general attorney for the Scottish Rite Educational Association and the West Virginia University Student Loan Association; and president and director of the West Virginia Eagle Coal Company and the Coalfield Fuel Company. During Conley’s term as governor, legislation was enacted to encourage water power development throughout West Virginia, as well as to consolidate a number of offices into a Department of Public Welfare. Conley retired to private life and was a member of numerous associations, including the advisory council of the U.S. Law Review, the International Law Association, the American Law Institute, the American Judiciary Society, and the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
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. C. New York: James T. White & Company.