DeWitt Clinton DeVier

Jeweler and Civic Leader
9/6/1870 - 4/17/1924

Woodbine Cemetery, Harrisonburg, VA

DeWitt outside his home at 500 North Collicello Street in what is now downtown Harrisonburg

Born September 6, 1870, in West Rockingham; attended public schools of the county and city; studied the jewelry business with John W. Taliaferro; opened a jewelry store of his own in Harrisonburg about 1899; member of the Presbyterian Church, the Elks, and the Rotary Club; served for some time on the city council; was active in connection with Shenandoah Camp for Boys, and in working with the boys of Harrisonburg; died April 17, 1924.

Mr. DeVier was for many years a prominent business man of Harrisonburg, active in civic affairs and in fraternal organizations, and much interested in promoting the welfare of the under-privileged boys of the city. The founder of his branch of the family, it is said, came from Georgia, were DeViers had resided for years; however, it is tree that DeViers lived in Rockingham County from an early date. In 1784 James DeVier proposed to build a tobacco warehouse in Harrisonburg, and he, with Hugh, John and William DeVier, signed a petition, along with 95 other men, praying the General Assembly of the state for leave to establish the said warehouse. This petition is now on file in the archives department of the State Library in Richmond. DeWitt Clinton DeVier's grandparents were Allen and Nancy DeVier; his great-grandfather was also named Allen DeVier and the latter's wife was Nancy Turley, married August 18, 1813.  Turleytown was probably founded by Giles Turley who settled in the county in 1804, or about that time. On June 9 of that year he presented his letter from the Little River Church in Loudon County to the Linville Creek Baptist Church. For many years Giles DeVier was a prominent citizen of Rockingham. These several items indicate a close connection between the DeViers and the Turleys.

Early in life DeWitt Clinton DeVier studied and worked with John W. Taliaferro, who operated a jewelry store in connection with his shop for repairing clocks and watches in Harrisonburg, and about the year 1899 he set up in business for himself in the same line of work. He was successfully engaged in this field until a comparatively short time before his death, having in the meantime associated his sons Charles and Amiss with himself in his business. At the same time he participated in the civil, fraternal, and religious life of the community as a member of the Presbyterian Church, the Rotary Club, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and the city council. He devoted much time, along with others, to the camp for boys on the Shenandoah River. One of his associates said of him, " Clint DeVier had as big a heart as God ever gave a man - generous to a fault."  He was a Democrat in politics. For diversion and recreation he enjoyed hunting and fishing, and was a lover of nature.

On July 29, 1895, Mr. DeVier married Miss Ida F. Bell, a native of the county, born April 2, 1875, a sister of Henry Bell. The Bells were from Pennsylvania. Mr. and Mrs, DeVier had four children; Charles Walling, born September 4, 1896; Sheffy Lewis, born March 21, 1898; Amiss Clinton, born Novermber 13, 1900 - a jeweler until his death in January 1941; and Edythe Virginia, born December 16, 1904, now Mrs. R. E. Heatwole. Mrs. DeVier, still living, is a resident of Harrisonburg. Biographies of the sons, Charles W. and Sheffey L., appear on the following pages of this book.

Taken from - Men of Mark and Representative Citizens of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Virginia
Editor-In-Chief - John W. Wayland, The McClure Company, Inc. Staunton, VA 1943, pgs. 108-109

Per oral history from my father and his two elder brothers, DeWitt was illegitimate. His mother was Lucy French DeVier (b. March 7, 1851), the daughter of Allen DeVier, Jr. (b. 1825) and his wife Nancy Jane McDorman (b. 5/1/1825).  Allen's elder brother Giles is the one mentioned above. Lucy worked as a ladies maid in the home of the sheriff of Harrisonburg when she was apparently raped by his son. She would never reveal to anyone who DeWitt's father was except to her much younger sister Myrtie Bruce DeVier. "Aunt Bruce" as she was known by family, was born in 1869 and died in 1961. My father and his brothers remembered her well. She finally revealed to Charles DeVier, Jr.  who DeWitt's father was.  DeWitt was apparently ashamed of being illegitimate and when his mother died from burns sustained in a fire in 1911 (the stove in her kitchen blew up) she was buried in Woodbine Cemetery without a headstone on her grave. Edythe, her granddaughter, finally had one erected in the 90's which reads Lucy F. DeVier - mother of DeWitt Clinton DeVier.  DeWitt's great-grandfather was in fact, Allen DeVier, Sr. (b. October 20, 1787) and his great-grandmother was Nancy Turley (b. April 28, 1794), the daughter of Giles Turley. Both Allen Sr. and Nancy are buried in the Beaver Creek Cemetery near Bridgewater, VA. Allen, Sr. served in the Virginia militia following the War of 1812 and Allen, Jr. served in the Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War along with his brothers. He was captured near Rome, GA in 1864, perhaps this where the information regarding Georgia comes from. It is known that he traveled back to Georgia sometime after the war and is most likely buried there - his gravesite in unknown.



Site Content Dubhodhar 1/22/2009