"Civil War Schism" Top 5 Page for this destination West Virginia by grandmaR

West Virginia Travel Guide: 1,066 reviews and 2,797 photos

Early History

The settlement of West Virginia came about much later than that of the colonies nearer the coast.

It wasn't until 1669, that the expedition of John Lederer reached the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and become the first Europeans to see what is now West Virginia.

Early History (continued)

Morgan Morgan a Welshman who lived for many years in Delaware made the first permanent settlement at Bunker Hill on Mill Creek in Berkeley County in 1726. A year later, Germans from Pennsylvania establish a settlement at New Mecklenburg (now Shepherdstown.

Isaac and John Van Meter received the first recorded grands of land in West Virginia in 1730.

At that time, the area was included in with Virginia. However the needs and issues of the eastern planters were not the same as those of the mountaineers who lived in the western part of the state. This problem came to a head at the beginning of the Civil War.

West Virginia Becomes a Separate State

In 1861, Union victories drove the Confederate forces out of the Monongahela and Kanawha valleys, and throughout the remainder of the war the Union held the region west of the Alleghenies and controled the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the north.

When Viriginia voted to secede from the Union on April 17, 1861, the western counties repudiated the secession from the Union. The popular vote western counties of Virginia opposed the secession also.

In June, the western counties began the push to separate from Virginia and attain statehood on their own. The new state was to be called Kanawha. On Nov. 26 the Second Wheeling convention reconvened, and changed the name of new state to West Virginia, began to draft a constitution, and extended the boundaries of the new state.

In January of 1862, seven men meeting in Parkersburg formed the Colored School Board of Parkersburg, W. Va., and organized a day school for black children, the first public school for blacks in West Virginia [Wood County, W. Va., in Civil War Times by H. C. Matheny and Historical Hand Atlas...and Histories of Wood and Pleasants Counties, West Virginia (1882)]. A newspaper article in 1888 stated, "In effect, it was a free school, and the only one manned by colored men in the United States, except the Gaines High School in Cincinnati, O., at that time, and the first school established for colored youth south of the 'Mason and Dixon' line."

Voters approved the new Constitution for West Virginia and on May 13th the legislature of the "Restored Government of Virginia" petitioned the U. S. Congress for admission.

On July 14th the West Virginia Statehood bill is passed by the Senate, changing the slavery provision of the West Virginia Constitution to allow for the gradual emancipation of slavery and President Lincoln approved the act on December 31st.

June 20, 1863, West Virginia was admitted to the Union as 35th state and Arthur I. Boreman of Parkersburg is inaugurated at Wheeling as the first governor.

  • Last visit to West Virginia: May 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (10)

Comments (5)

  • Mar 31, 2008 at 7:21 PM

    Charleston was definitely named after Charles Clendenin, son of George Clendenin, officer in the American Revolutionary war.

  • Doctor38's Profile Photo
    Nov 5, 2007 at 2:02 AM

    Excellen work. I loved your page.

  • kevanrijn's Profile Photo
    Feb 8, 2007 at 1:46 AM

    Nice West Virginia pages--especially good on the history! So many don't realize West Virginia is a separate state from Virginia....

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Jul 13, 2005 at 8:27 PM

    Excellent intro to one of my favorite states - and one that needs more representation on VT.

  • american_tourister's Profile Photo
    Dec 9, 2004 at 5:08 AM

    You are correct about the driving. Except for Iraq, it is the most challenging place I ever drove.


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