About the author:

William Sanders photograph

William Henry Sanders, II was born on Feburary 24, 1917 in Princeton, W.Va., the son of Ina Hylton Sanders and Hartley Poe Sanders.

He received his undergraduate degree from Randolph-Macon Men’s College and his law degree from University of Virginia in 1942. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the Marine Corp. He served as Line Officer in the First Battalion, Second Marine Division, decorated by Admiral Nimitz twice, the Purple Heart at Pearl Harbor Hospital and the Navy Cross, the highest medal given by the United States Navy. He later received the Bronze Star as “A” Company Commander and the only commissioned officer still standing after an attack on Saipan Island. He served 32 months in the Pacific Theater in the battles of Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa. He was discharged with the rank of Major in 1946.

After the war, he returned to University of Virginia Law School where, at his request, the University started an international law program, William being the first lawyer to graduate with a Masters of International Law. While at the University, he met and married the love of his life, Katherine Little Sanders. As of June 2009 they had been married for 63 years.

As part of his Masters program, he served two years as an Assistant Staff Secretary to the Staff of U. S. Military Governor General Lucius Clay in Berlin Germany until 1948. He then returned to Princeton where he joined his father’s law practice. During his years of practice, he championed human rights, fought for the injured and became the advocate for people who needed a champion of their cause. He served as President of the Mercer County Human Rights Council, worked tirelessly for the Shawnee Parkways, and taught a men’s bible class at the First Methodist Church.

After retiring from active practice of law, William dedicated his life to collecting the history of the town of Princeton, writing his first book about the town. He researched the first settlers of the Bluestone, the Clay and Lilly families, and several other books to preserve the history of the people of this region for future generations. He wrote and published 13 books. He had a profound love for Mercer County, its founders and their descendants.

(excerpted from his obituary printed in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph at 6:10 p.m. on 4 June 2009)


March 29, 2010

Legislature honors Mercer County hero, William Sanders, with highway

By BILL ARCHER Bluefield Daily Telegraph

A short section of U.S. Route 19 in Mercer County will be named for a hero who was long on courage, and stood for causes that often went against the grain at the time, but ultimately proved to be just and right. William H. Sanders II was born in Princeton in 1917, and entered the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942, after he graduated from the University of Virginia College of Law. While serving in the Marines, Sanders participated in the battle of Tarawa Atoll, where he was wounded while knocking out a machine gun nest. In addition to receiving a Purple Heart, Sanders received a Navy Cross — a medal that he received personally from Admiral Chester Nimitz, supreme commander of the U.S. Navy during World War II. “William was a true war hero,” State Delegate John R. Frazier, D-Mercer, said. Frazier and State Delegate John H. Shott, R-Mercer, joined together in jointly sponsoring House Concurrent Resolution No. 54, that officially names a short portion of U.S. Route 19, from the intersection near Andy Clark Ford to the Princeton City Limits, the William H. Sanders II, Memorial Highway.” “That’s where William traveled most,” Frazier said. “His home and his law office were both located on that road. William spent a lot of time on that road.” Sanders, who was 92 years old when he died in June of 2009, considered a post-military service career with the U.S. State Department, but instead, returned home to Princeton to assist his father in his law practice. Sanders quickly earned a reputation of serving clients that most people would consider underdogs. He fought for a variety of social causes and became an advocate for integration. He served as president of the Human Rights Commission in Mercer County for several years. Along with his law practice, Sanders developed his passion for writing history. He published 13 local history books including two books about his personal experiences. “As close as I was to William, I felt like I learned a lot more about him when his son, Henry, and I were putting this resolution together,” Frazier said. Henry Sanders said that the highway dedication ceremony will be at 1 p.m., on May 1, at the Mercer County War Memorial. “He wouldn’t have wanted anything,” Sanders said of his father. “He received several honors during his life, and he never really knew how to take all the attention. He didn’t do what he did for any other reason than it was the right thing to do.” As a result, Sanders said the event will probably last about 30 minutes with Tony Whitlow, Frazier, Mercer County Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope and J. Franklin Long each providing a few remarks. He added that there will be a reception at the History House, 908 Harrison St., in Princeton starting at 2 p.m. — Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com



For more information, or to order books, please call 304-425-8125. You can also send your questions/requests to wsanders@sapf-law.com . Payments can be arranged via PayPal or ...

Checks can be made payable to Katherine Sanders and sent to:

320 Courthouse Road
Princeton, WV 24740


Skirmish Line book coverOn the Skirmish Line

Autobiography, from 1917 to present.  Early childhood in Princeton, college years, Marine Corps World War II service fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific, General Staff service of the Occupation Government in Berlin, early Law practice in West Virginia, family life, Civil Rights and environmental concerns, as well as accounts of interesting cases and reflections upon the practice of Law based upon a life in court litigation of both criminal and civil cases throughout southern West Virginia and Virginia.  A story of Kind Providence prevailing throughout.
1997, 300 pages, with maps, photos and illustrations.
McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV

Price:  $18.00 ($16.98 plus $1.02 tax)



Story of survival and tough island warfare against the Japanese forces in World War II, and the realization that another - and final - world war must be avoided through worldwide racial integration and world international preemptive police action and government.  The post-War life, first in Military Government service in Germany, followed by nearly 50 years Law and public service at home, concludes the life story.

Cost:  $10.60 ($10.00 plus .60 tax)


Legacy of Homes and Families/Princeton-Athens Area/West Virginia

A history of the towns through its prominent early families and the homes they built.
1985, 132 pages, indexed, with maps, photos and illustrations.
Walsworth Publishing, Marceline, MO



Lilly on the Bluestone (Third Edition, Enlarged)

The story of the first two generations of the Lilly-Meador(ows) family settlement on the Bluestone - Pack, Farley and Neely connections in Flat Top/Bluestone hill country.
1989, 100 pages, indexed, with illustrations, photos and cemetery map.  (Revised 1997.)
McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV

Price:  $10.60 ($10 plus .60 tax)


A New River Heritage, Volume I

Exploration and first settlements along the River from George Pearis' settlement at Pearisburg to Island Creek, accounts of Indians, families, slaves, marriages and cemeteries.
1992, 298 pages, with index of family cemeteries, maps, photos and illustrations.
McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV

Price:  $31.80 ($30 plus $1.80 tax)  -  SOLD OUT


A New River Heritage, Volume II

The story of River settlement continued from Island Creek and Lick Creek and Crumps Bottom through the Pipestem area, Old Farley community and related families and cemeteries.
1992, 400 pages, with index of family cemeteries, maps, photos and illustrations.
McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV

Price:  $21.20 ($20 plus $1.20 tax)


A New River Heritage, Volume III

Details settlement along the River at Hinton, Madam's Creek and Jumping Branch, including Pack's Ferry and the creation of Summers County.  Lists all cemeteries of the first 200 families which were moved when the Bluestone Dam was constructed. Also contains name index for the first three A New River Heritage volumes.
1994, 332 pages, with index of cemeteries, maps, photos and illustrations.
McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV

Price:  $21.20 ($20 plus $1.20 tax)

A New River Heritage, Volume IV

Flat Top, Camp Creek and Bluestone settlements off the New River, including selected stories of the late Barty Wyatt, and an account of the early life of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, as well as Bailey-Davidson Bluestone headwater settlement.
1994, 429 pages, with name index, maps, photos and illustrations.
McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV

Price:  $21.20 ($20.00 plus $1.20 tax)


Early Princeton and the Episcopal Church

Early Princeton and the political battles with Athens and Bluefield over the seat of Mercer County Courthouse, and the origin of first churches.
1993, 87 pages, indexed, with maps, photos and reproduced original records.
McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV

Price:  $10.60 ($10 plus .60 tax)


A Fairfax County Hard Times Heritage 1872

Story of the author's line of descent from 1706 in Fairfax County, Virginia with emphasis on the year 1872 farming the Potomac River bottom and the organization of several Methodist churches in Fairfax County, Virginia.
1998, 100 pages (private, limited edition)
Sandrine Publishing Company, Princeton, WV


Pioneer Church in Mercer County, West Virginia 1840-1915

Story of the Baptist Church from England to Philadelphia, eastern Virginia and over the mountains to West Virginia, including splitting of churches and their associations and gradual evolution of paying preachers and missions in all forms.  Pastors, leaders and their hardships described, together with the background story of the first founding member families in the Bluestone-flat Top Mountain area congregating at Princeton, West Virginia.
1998, 133 pages with photos and early membership lists.
McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV

Price:  $10.60 ($10.00 plus .60 tax) 



Story of the first White settlement of the Bluestone River Valley in southern West Virginia, showing the migration of the eastern Virginia families of Clay, Farley, Shrewsbury, Belcher and Bailey to claim this area from both the British and the Shawnee Indians.  Descendants of these intermarried families constitute a majority of the citizenry of southern West Virginia today.  The Clay-Pearis and related family original settlement site and hillside cemetery where three of the children were massacred in 1783 is being preserved as a historic memorial park overlooking the Bluestone Clover Bottom settlement tract.  The book researches the persistent burial of Clay-Pearis descendants at this site where the murdered Clay children were buried. 
1999, 175 pages, with name index, maps, photos and illustrations.
McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV

Cost:  $12.72 ($12.00 plus .72 tax)


A NEW RIVER HERITAGE, VOL. V – Bluestone-New River Indian Frontier

Story of first Bluestone-New River families’ encounters with the Shawnee Indians and their perseverance on the western front of American independence and their interrelationship and genealogy.  The birth pangs of Mercer and surrounding counties detailed.
2004, 290 pages, with name index, maps, photos and illustrations.
Walsworth Publishing Company, Marceline, MO

Cost:  $21.20 ($20.00 plus $1.20 tax)



Portrays Princeton and Mercer County from Indian days to the present.
2006, 312 pages, with name index, maps, photos and illustrations.
Walsworth Publishing Company, Marceline, MO

Cost:  $21.20 ($20.00 plus $1.20 tax)

Please visit our friends at the Mercer County Historical Society