John W. West


John W. West was born in 1844 and spent most of his life working at Central State Hospital, a facility for mentally ill African Americans in segregated Virginia. (Until 1894, it was called Central Lunatic Asylum, in the less-than-sensitive language of the day.) He married Elizabeth Holmes (ca. 1856–1935) around 1875—her headstone is propped against his—and had seven children, four of whom were living in 1900. If the census records are accurate, Mr. West also learned to read and write between 1880 and 1900. The notice of his memorial service made the front page of the 14 June 1902 edition of the Richmond Planet: “Brother West was endowed with all the instincts of an humble, true and devoted Christian; ever ready to obey the call of suffering and to strew flowers along the path of the troubled.”

John W. West
  • Born: 21 March 1844
  • Died: 21 May 1902
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  • Spouse: Elizabeth (Holmes) West
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  • Children: John H., William, Martha E. (West) Hewlett, Harry
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Contributors to this Record:
Erin Hollaway Palmer