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H E R I T A G E (Inset) Huddleston Bolen power brokers Eustace Gibson and Herbert Fitzpatrick. (Below) Some of the current managing partners assembled in the Huntington of- fice. From left: Tom Murray, Richard Bolen, Fred Adkins and Bruce Stout. FIRM C o l l i s P. H u n t i n g t o n ’s Huddleston Bolen’s heritage can be traced back to the city’s roots A number of Huntington’s businesses have long, distinguished histories but how many can trace their origins directly to Collis P. Huntington? Huddleston, Bolen, Beatty, Porter & Copen, Huntington’s oldest and largest law firm, joins the C&O Railway and a scant few others as the oldest continuous business in the city, a distinction which goes back to 1871, the year the city was officially chartered by the West Virginia Legislature. That same year saw the arrival in Huntington of Eustace Gibson, a talented Virginia lawyer and former Confederate captain, who had been summoned by Collis P. Huntington to handle the legal affairs of his Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in the new town the rail tycoon was building to serve as the western terminus of the railroad on the banks of the Ohio River. Huddleston, Bolen, Beatty, Porter & Copen is the direct descendant of the legal practice Gibson established. And today, 128 years and more than a dozen name changes later, the firm still represents the C&O’s successor, CSX Transportation, in what is the longest continuing law firm/client relationship in West Virginia’s legal history. But the firm’s status in the legal community has grown far beyond that of the “railroad’s firm.” Today Huddleston Bolen is a modern law firm housed in a four story building on the corner of Seventh Street and Third Avenue in downtown Huntington. “We bought the building in 1988”, notes Tom Gilpin, the by JAMES E. CASTO “ For years we have been providing law service, while working hard t (Left) Jim Turner carries on a long standing tra- dition of defending the railroad industry. The firm has represented the C&O Railroad (now CSX Transportation) since 1871. (Below) At- torney Melissa Foster questions a witness re- garding a railroad acci- dent. firm’s managing partner. “It was formerly the headquarters of the next year his fellow Buckeye Insurance Company and when they moved out, we saw House members the opportunity to accommodate our growth and move from our elected him cramped building at Sixth Avenue and Tenth Street. We spent Speaker. He later several months redesigning the building and renovating it to served two terms serve as a state-of-the-art law office. We moved in June of 1989 (1883-87) in the and have continued to make improvements to meet the technol- U.S. House of Rep- ogy demands of our clients.” But while investing in technology resentatives. In his makes sense in this age of rapid change, the partners of Huddle- Cabell County An- ston Bolen also realize that the lawyers who comprise the firm’s nals and Families, rich history also account for its longstanding success. the late George For almost one hundred and thirty years, the law firm has Wallace described given the community many of its leading citizens, starting with Gibson as “an un- Eustace Gibson and continuing up to the present day. Born in usual character.” Culpepper County, Va. in 1842, Gibson had just started his law That, judging from some of his re- our clients with top-quality ported exploits, was a masterpiece of un- derstatement. In o to improve the community. one heated political campaign, when his — Richard J. Bolen, partner war record was questioned, he showed up at a public meeting to exhibit an old gray pair of uniform trousers. The front of the trousers — along with part of his belly — had been shot away by practice when the Civil War erupted. He enlisted in the Con- a cannon ball. Originally, Gibson practiced law on his own; later, federate Army and rose to the rank of captain before being forced he partnered with Henry C. Simms. Gibson died in 1900. to retire after being wounded in action. Arriving in Huntington The name Enslow has been a familiar one in Huntington since in answer to Collis P. Huntington’s summons, Gibson immedi- 1871, when railroad contractor Andrew Jackson Enslow arrived ately threw himself into the affairs of the new town. On January to help build the C&O. His son, Frank B. Enslow, grew up in 29, 1873, when ceremonies were held here welcoming the first Huntington, married here and entered the practice of law with C&O train to arrive from Richmond, it was Gibson who presided Gibson’s former partner, Simms. In addition to his law practice, as master of ceremonies. Active in politics, Gibson was elected Frank B. Enslow, who died in 1917, had extensive business in- to the House of Delegates from Cabell County in 1876 and the terests in oil and gas, banking and other fields. Local legend cred- its him with being the city’s first millionaire. Certainly his opu- The firm’s modern, up-to-date collection of nearly 30,000 lent 26-room mansion in the 1300 block of 3rd Avenue, with its volumes is the largest private law library in West Virginia. In this marble fireplaces, Tiffany chandeliers and stained-glass windows, collection are hundreds of antique volumes dating back to the was a local showplace. 1870s. “We’ve resisted the trend among law firms of getting rid During his amazingly full lifetime Herbert Fitzpatrick (1872- of bound volumes and replacing them with computers,” said 1962), was both a partner in the law firm and a corporate officer partner Jim Turner, a trial lawyer in the litigation group who of the C&O. After joining the firm, he quickly found himself specializes in railroad and toxic tort cases. busy in courtrooms all over West Virginia and before long his The firm’s current roster of clients, in addition to CSX Trans- impressive skills as a trial lawyer attracted the attention of the portation and The Greenbrier, includes Norfolk Southern Cor- C&O which in 1895 designated him as its state counsel. Fitz- poration, Amtrak, Bank One West Virginia, Genesis Affiliated patrick’s rise after he joined the C&O was meteoric. He became Health Services, Champion Industries, Ashland Inc., Marathon its vice president and general counsel in 1923 and served as the Ashland Petroleum, Exxon, Navistar, General Electric, BASF, C&O’s chairman of the board from 1937 to 1940, when he re- Western Pocahontas Properties Ltd., Corbin Ltd., and 3M. tired from the railroad and returned to practice with the firm. With its work for CSX and Norfolk Southern, the firm main- In 1955, the lifelong bachelor donated the hillside property tains its close ties to the transportation industry. “We have the on McCoy Road where Huntington Galleries (now the Hunt- largest railroad practice in the country,” says Marc Williams, a ington Museum of Art) was built, and later he gave the museum partner who has done work for both railroads, in addition to local an extensive collection of English silver and Middle Eastern art. companies like Ashland Inc. and BASF. “But our firm is so much Douglas Walter Brown practiced law in the Mingo County more than that,” he notes. “Our litigation practice spans three coalfields before coming to Huntington and joining the firm in states and a myriad of areas from mass torts to product liability 1919. One of the leading lawyers in the state, he served as pres- to chemical exposure cases to professional malpractice defense.” ident of the Cabell County Bar Association and the West Vir- The unqualified respect of other lawyers in the region is noted ginia Bar Association. His son, Walter Brown, a Rhodes Scholar, by the firm’s “A” rating in Martindale-Hubbell, the nation’s pre- also joined the firm but left in 1941 to become general counsel mier legal directory, and its listing in Best’s Dictionary of Recom- and vice president of Western Electric. mended Insurance Attorneys. Harvard graduate and noted banking and real estate lawyer In recent years, the firm has been called upon to represent Jackson N. Huddleston (1908-1977) represented numerous some of the areas most respected businesses and individuals in Huntington families and businesses and was a personal friend of their times of need and growth. Partner Tom Murray has repre- former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell. sented Bank One and Champion Industries in their expansions Amos A. Bolen (1909-1996) made his mark in many fields. from local companies to regional heavyweights. As a conse- Long-time counsel for the C&O and The Greenbrier, he served quence, Murray has been recognized in the book Best Lawyers in as president of the West Virginia Board of Regents and was a Phi America for his expertise in banking law. Likewise, partners Marc Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Washington Williams and Robert Massie were instrumental in navigating & Lee College and School of Law. He was an All-American on Ashland Oil through the Catlettsburg Refinery Litigation in the the football team at W&L and in 1958 was named to Sports Il- early and mid 1990s. Williams and Massie are doing the same lustrated’s Silver Anniversary All-America team. Today, his son, for CSX Transportation in defending the lawsuits arising from Richard J. Bolen is a partner in the firm. the 1997 Scary Creek train derailment. William Beatty (1925-1994) served as president of both the Today, the firm’s remarkable heritage of public service con- West Virginia Bar Association and the West Virginia State Bar. tinues. Bolen, a former chairman of the Huntington Regional His academic achievements at Washington & Lee have not been Chamber of Commerce, played an instrumental role in the for- surpassed since his graduation from that law school. A nationally mation of the Huntington Area Development Council and renowned railroad and labor lawyer, he argued one of the semi- served as its first chairman. Noel C. Copen specializes in bank- nal labor cases of “The Steelworkers Trilogy” before the United ing, trusts, tax, will and estates and is one of only a handful of States Supreme Court. Beatty also was a noted expert on the First West Virginia lawyers chosen as a member of the exclusive Amendment and represented The Herald-Dispatch for many years. American College of Trusts & Estates. He is also a very active No discussion of the firm would be complete without noting supporter of Marshall University and has served on the Board of partner A. Michael Perry, a specialist in banking, mergers and the Marshall University Foundation. Firm managing partner acquisitions, who left the firm to join one of its largest clients as Tom Gilpin is Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of West Vir- president and CEO of the First Huntington National Bank, then ginia. Partner R. Kemp Morton is past president of the United Key Centurion, and later Bank One West Virginia. Today, he’s Way of the River Cities, past president of the West Virginia State wearing yet another hat, that of interim president of Marshall Bar and past chairman of the state Lawyer Disciplinary Board. University. Retired name partner James O. Porter has served as president of Today, the firm consists of more than 40 lawyers, has a staff of the Marshall University Alumni Association, the Marshall Foun- over 100 and maintains offices not just in Huntington, but also dation and the West Virginia State Bar. Partner Fred Adkins was in Charleston and Ashland, Ky. the founder and first President of the Defense Trial Counsel of The firm’s partners and associates engage in a broad practice, West Virginia and recently completed a term as President of the with emphasis in litigation, corporate, banking, tax, estate plan- National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel. Partner Bruce ning, probate, labor and employment, environmental, real estate, Stout is the youngest lawyer ever to be selected for membership insurance and mineral law. in the prestigious American College of Probate Counsel. Stout is also on the boards of the Huntington Museum of Art, the Ca- bell Huntington Hospital Foundation and the Friends of the Ca- bell County Public Library. Tom Murray has served as Chairman of the Marshall Artist Series as well as on the Board of the United Way of the River Cities. Two of the firm’s former partners joined then West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton’s administration as Tax Commissioner and Chief of Staff. The firm has also been recognized by the West Virginia Pro Bono Referral Project for its commitment to providing free legal services to indigent clients in the area. The list of contributions to the community by members of the firm, partners and associates alike, goes on and on. What, one wonders, will the 21st Century mean for Hunt- ington’s oldest law firm? “For years,” says Bolen, “we have been providing our clients with top-quality law service, while working hard to improve the community. And we intend to keep right on HQ doing that.” James E. Casto is associate editor of The Herald-Dispatch.
"HB article from Issue 36"