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This Week in CU History:

By Connie Shumate
On February 24, 2017

Photo Courtesy of Connie Shumate


Captain James Harvey French, the youngest of three brothers, became the first principal of

the new Concord Normal School in 1875. He was educated at Georgetown College, D.C. and

was also a graduate of Virginia University. French served as attorney for the Commonwealth of

Virginia before serving in the Confederate Army.


    According to history, he was a man of ‘splendid physique, scholarly attainments, tender and

sympathetic’. Captain French was one of the foremost scholars and active educators of the

newly formed state of West Virginia and his seventeen years of service as Principal of Concord

Normal School ‘has left an impress upon our educational system that will never be effaced’.

Captain French became ill in early December of 1891. After being confined to his room for

about five days, he died on December 11 after a case of La Grippe. Members of the faculty and

students buried him on school property. Today, an imposing marble obelisk marks his resting


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