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James Preston Fizer

James was my great, great grandfather. He was born May 19th 1860, in Hurricane West Virginia. One saving grace about being so young during the Civil War was he did not have to fight in such a horrible war. His father did have to serve, so that meant that Margaret had to stay home with three of the children. Margaret also had to watch a few of her own boys go to war.

When he turned 18 he married Mariah Gordon Persinger…there is a town story about her.



James Preston Fizer – Mariah Gordon Persinger and Warper Willow


It is reported that James came from Petersburg, Virginia and that his kinfolk came from Danville, Virginia but there is no proof of this. James was born May 19, 1860 to Peter and Margaret Fizer in Putnam County, West Virginia. His mother’s maiden name may have been Roberts. (it was)


He married Mariah Gordon Persinger on November 23, 1878 at the age of 18. Their children were John Washington, George Leonard, Ephraim Ezra, and Emma, who married Matthew Lovejoy. Most of all his people, it seems, and red hair.


James was a tobacco farmer in Virginia and loved music.


When Mariah died, he married a second time. The second wife’s name was Mary Arthur and they were divorced. He married a third time to a woman with the last name of Craft. They had one girl, Marie.


James died in March 1942 and is supposed to be buried at Persinger Cemetery in Hurricane West Virginia.


Mariah Gordon Persinger was born in Craig County, Virginia about the year 1862. The name of her parents is unknown. Her mother’s maiden name may have been Tingler and her father may have been S W Persinger. She Had three brothers – Jake, Joan, and Russell. (Her dad was George Washington Persinger Sparrowhawk and her mother was Mary Tingler.)



Mariah was lost when her family was crossing the Alleghenies. The family didn’t notice her missing until they had traveled a considerable distance.They went back looking for Mariah but didn’t find her at first. While they were looking for her, the family was attacked by the Indians. During the fight, the Indians captured Jake later to be known as or per Willow. Mariah was found in the family had to run for their lives and let the Indians take Jake.


Mariah married James Preston Fizer on November 23, 1878 in Cabell County West Virginia by C. E. Harbour. She was 16 years old when she was married.


She died when she was 32 in either Putnam or Cabell County’s while the family was moving to cocoa, Kanawha County, WV.


Walker tried to escape from the Indians. It was winter and there was snow on the ground. The Indians had no problem tracking him through the snow. Or per head to get a good lead, so he took off running down the hill and in front of him was a large pile of brush that was covered by a layer of snow. He took a leap into the pile of brush and then, using the brush as a springboard, he jumped a long way down the hillside. The Indians came to the spot where the track sanded on the pile of brush and raise their hands and arms haven’t said the great white spirit and taken him. Later, he was captured again. The white folks went to Recapture Jake and somehow they did. Some men were bringing him back to the family and they came to a place where there was a big barn dance being held. They stopped at the dance and tied up their horses and Warper. Some curious boys were watching warper and they untied him some curious boys were watching warper and they untied him. Warper took off like a shot. A man en garde saw him running away and took off after him on horseback. Warper outran the horse for a short distance and would have got away if it had not been for the rope still tied around his neck. The rope flew up and the horsemen called it. He got warper under control and returned with him.


Warper was nine years old when the Indians first captured him. When his own people recaptured him, he was 19 years old. From the time he was first captured by the Indians until the time he was returned to his people, he hadn’t grown an inch. After about three years, he was to his normal size.


Submitted by: Reese Ross

The above information was posted on

I added the photos for reference, and additional information.



2 Comments Post a comment
  1. How cool is that. The 1860’s is one of my favorite periods of history. Not because of the war, although I have studied it a lot, but because of the simplicity of family during a hugh time of change with the railway system being an example.

    March 8, 2013
    • I love all history. The civil war period is a favorite as well. Although, I believe it was an interesting time in the history of United States it was also very tumultuous. Could you imagine? I think it would be most difficult for the poorer southern people. The ones that were just living on a farm. 1.6 Million people lived in the south, and 384,000 owned slaves. People had no choice to send your children as young as 12 off to a war that was believed to benefit the rich crop growers. Some poor were killed just because they did not want to fight or send their children to war. Crops were stolen from the hungry, animals were slaughter as the Yankees came into town. No regard was given to the families that had to come back to the farm. Women that were alone were raped by the guards that made sure they were no deserters, or by the Yankees. The rich southern crop growers that owned slaves thought that war was going to last a few months. It was really a devastating war. 620,000 Americans died, and 50K would return home as an amputee.

      Freedom came at a very high price. Our county would have been better off to have started with equality. Then again there is nothing that could be done to change the dynamics of how it happened. White men became greedy, black women suffered the most. When pondering how ALL of our ancestors made it through wars, slavery, and just day to day living I am in awe. The lives they lived make our lives possible. So often we people think about how demanding our lives are today, yet they pail in comparison to those of our ancestors. We have much to be grateful for everyday!

      March 11, 2013

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