1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/West Virginia
WEST VIRGINIA, the north-westernmost of the so-called Southern states of the United States of America, lying between latitudes 37° 10' and 40° 40' N., and longitudes 77° 40' and 82° 40' W. It is bounded on the north-west by Ohio, from which it is separated by the Ohio river, on the north by Pennsylvania and Maryland, the Potomac river dividing it from the latter state; on the east and south-east by Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, the boundary lines in the first two cases being meridians, in the last case a very irregular line following the crest of mountain ridges in places; and on the south-west by Virginia and Kentucky, the Big Sandy river separating it from the latter state. The extreme length of the state from north to south is about 240 m., the extreme breadth from east to west about 265 m. Area, 24,170 sq. m., of which 148 sq. m. is water surface.
Physical Features.—The state is divided into two distinct physiographic provinces; the Alleghany Plateau on the west, comprising perhaps two-thirds of the area of the state, and forming a part of the great Appalachian Plateau Province which extends from New York to Alabama; and the Newer Appalachians or Great Valley Region on the east, being a part of the large province of the same name which extends from Canada to Central Alabama. The Alleghany Plateau consists of nearly horizontal beds of limestone, sandstone and shales, including important seams of coal; inclines slightly toward the north-west, and is intricately dissected by extensively branching streams into a maze of narrow canyons and steep-sided hills. Along the Ohio river, these hills rise to an elevation of 800 to 1000 ft. above sea-level, while toward the south-east the elevation increases until 3500 and 4000 ft. are reached along the south-east margin of the plateau, which is known as the Alleghany Front. The entire plateau area is drained by the Ohio river and its tributaries. Along the flood-plains of the larger rivers are fertile “bottom lands,” but the ruggedness of the plateau country as a whole has retarded the development of the state, much of which is still sparsely populated. The coal beds are of enormous extent, and constitute an important element in the wealth of the state. Petroleum and natural gas also occur in the plateau rocks in great quantities.
In the Newer Appalachian region, the beds which still lie horizontal in the plateau province were long ago thrown into folds and planed off by erosion, alternate belts of hard and soft rock being left exposed. Uplift permitted renewed erosion to wear away the soft belts, leaving mountain ridges of hard rock separated by parallel valleys. Hence the region is variously known as the Ridge and Valley Belt, the Great Valley Region, or the Folded Appalachians. The mountain ridges vary in height up to 4000 ft. and more, the highest point in the state being Spruce Knob (4860 ft.). The parallel valleys are drained by north-east and south-west flowing streams, those in the north-east being tributary to the Potomac, those farther south tributary to the Great Kanawha. Although the valleys between the ridges are not always easy of access, they give broad areas of nearly level agricultural land.
Flora.—The plateau portion of West Virginia is largely covered by hardwood forests, but along the Ohio river and its principal tributaries the valuable timber has been removed and considerable areas have been wholly cleared for farming and pasture lands. Among the most important trees of this area are the white and chestnut oaks, the black walnut, the yellow poplar, and the cherry, the southern portion of the state containing the largest reserve supply. In the area of the Newer Appalachian Mountains, the eastern Panhandle region has a forest similar to that of the plateau district; but between these two areas of hardwood there is a long belt where spruce and white pine cover the mountain ridges. Other trees common in the state are the persimmon, sassafras, and, in the Ohio Valley region, the sycamore. Hickory, chestnut, locust, maple, beech, dogwood, and pawpaw are widely distributed. Among the shrubs and vines are the blackberry, black and red raspberry, gooseberry, huckleberry, hazel and grape. Ginseng is an important medicinal plant. Wild ginger, elder and sumach are common, and in the mountain areas, rhododendrons, mountain laurel and azaleas.
Climate.—Inasmuch as the state has a range of over 4000 ft. in altitude, the climate varies greatly in different districts. The mean annual temperatures for typical sections arc as follows: Ohio Valley north of the thirty-ninth parallel, 53° F.; south-western part of state, 56°; central plateau district, 52°; mountainous belt along south-eastern boundary of state, 48° to 50°. Wellsburg, in the northern Panhandle, has a mean winter temperature of 27°, a summer mean of 70°. Parkersburg, farther down the Ohio Valley, has a winter mean of 34° and a summer mean of 74°. Martinsburg, in the eastern Panhandle, has nearly the same means, 32° and 74°. Terra Alta, in the north-eastern mountains, has a winter mean of 26°, a summer mean of only 67°. The first killing frosts generally occur about the middle of October in the Ohio Valley region, and about the first of October in the higher plateau and mountain region; the average dates for the last killing frosts in the same localities are the middle and last of April respectively. In the Ohio Valley and eastern Panhandle the summer mean temperature is 74°, the winter mean 31° to 34°. The highest recorded temperature for the state is 107°, the lowest -35°. Temperatures above 100° and below -15° are rare. Precipitation is greatest in the mountains, over 50 in.; and least over the Ohio Valley, the eastern Panhandle and the extreme south-east, 35 to 40 in. Snows are frequent during the winter, and sometimes deep in the higher plateau and mountain districts. The prevailing winds are from south to west.
Agriculture.—The state is primarily agricultural. In general the richer western part is devoted to crops, and the eastern part to raising live-stock. The crop of Indian corn in 1909 was 27,632,000 bushels, and the acreage 880,000. The wheat crop was 4,810,000 bushels, and the acreage 370,000. The crop of buckwheat was 499,000 bushels (grown on 22,000 acres). The rye crop was 148,000 bushels, and the acreage 11,000. The production of oats was 2,156,000 bushels (grown on 98,000 acres). In 1909 the acreage of hay alone was 675,000 acres, and the crop was 844,000 tons, valued at $11,225,000. Tobacco is grown throughout the state; in 1909 on 12,000 acres was grown a crop of 12,000,000 ℔, valued at $1,663,200.
Stock-raising is an important industry, especially in the eastern part of the state.
Mines and Quarries.—The state's great mineral wealth is in coals of various kinds, petroleum, and natural gas.
The coal deposits underlie about 17,000 sq. m. (more than 70% of the total) of the state's area, and bituminous coal has been found in 51 of the 55 counties; this is one of the largest continuous coal fields in the world. The principal districts are the Fairmont (or Upper Monongahela) and the Elk Garden (or Upper Potomac) in the northern, and the Pocahontas (or Flat Top) and the New and Kanawha rivers districts in the southern part of the state. The total output of the state was 44,648 tons in 1863, when the first shipments outside the state were made; and 41,897,843 tons (valued at $40,009,054) in 1908, when the output of West Virginia was third in quantity and in value among the states of the Union, being exceeded only by that of Pennsylvania and of Illinois. The seams are principally above water levels and in many cases have been laid bare by erosion; and the supply is varied—besides a “fat coking, gassy bituminous,” there are an excellent grade of splint coal (first mined in 1864 at Coalburg, Kanawha county) and (except that in Kentucky) the only important supply of cannel coal in the United States. Most of the mines are operated under “non-union” rules. The bituminous coal of West Virginia is a particularly good coking coal, and in 1905, 1906, 1907 and 1908 West Virginia ranked second (to Pennsylvania) among the states of the Union in the amount of coke manufactured; the Flat Top district is the principal coke-making region.
Petroleum ranks second to coal among the state's mineral resources. In 1771 Thomas Jefferson described a “burning spring” in the Kanawha Valley, and when wells were drilled for salt brine near Charleston petroleum and natural gas were found here before there was any drilling for oil in Pennsylvania. Immediately before the Civil War, petroleum was discovered in shallow wells near Parkersburg, and there was a great rush of prospectors and speculators to the Little Kanawha Valley. But the Civil War interrupted development. After the war, wells were drilled at Burning Springs, Oil Rock, California House, Volcano, Sandhill and Horseneck, and in the years 1865-1876 3,000,000 bbls. of oil, valued at $20,000,000, were taken out of these districts. A successful well in Marion county, near Mannington, far from the region of the earlier wells, was drilled in 1889, and the output of the state increased from 119,448 bbls. in 1888 to 544,113 in 1889, and to 2,406,218 in 1891; in 1893 it was first more than 8,000,000 bbls.; and in 1900 it was 16,195,675. After 1900 it gradually decreased—although new pools in Wetzel county were found in 1902—and in 1908 it was 9,523,176 bbls. (valued at $16,911,865).
Natural gas, like petroleum, was first heard of in West Virginia in connexion with a burning spring on the Kanawha, and there were gas springs on the Big Sandy and the Little Kanawha. In 1841 natural gas was found with salt brine in a well on the Kanawha, and was used as a fuel to evaporate the salt water. The production was not large until after 1895; it was valued at $1,334,023 in 1898, at $3,954,472 in 1901, at $10,075,804 in 1905, at $16,670,962 in 1907, and at $14,837,130 in 1908, when (as since 1904, when it first was greater than that of Indiana) it was second only in value to that of Pennsylvania. The principal field is in Wetzel county, but there are important supplies in Lewis, Harrison, Marion, Monongahela,
Lincoln and Wayne counties. Much of the natural gas is piped out of the state into Ohio (even into the northern parts), Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Maryland; within the state gas has been utilized as a fuel in carbon black and glass factories.
Brine wells have been mentioned above; the salt industry is still carried on in Mason county, and in 1908 145,157 bbls. were produced with a value of $10,481; and there is a small output of bromine. Iron ore is found in the state in the coal hills (especially Laurel Hills and Beaver Lick Mountain), but the deposits have not been worked on a large scale. Pig iron is manufactured cheaply because of the low price of fuel; in 1907 the value of pig iron manufactured in the state was $6,454,000. There are deposits of excellent clay, especially for pottery, and in 1907 ($2,159,132) and 1908 ($2,083,821) the state ranked after Ohio and New Jersey in the value of pottery. The total value of all clay products in West Virginia was $3,261,736 in 1908. An excellent glass sand is procured from crushed sandstone near Berkeley Springs, Morgan county. Grindstones have been quarried in Wood and Jackson counties. There are black slate deposits near Martinsburg. There are mineral springs, mostly medicinal waters, in Greenbrier, Summers, Webster, Ohio and Preston counties. Among the more noted medicinal springs are: classed as calcareous and earthy, Sweet Springs, 74° F., in Monroe county, diuretic and diaphoretic; and Berkeley Springs, 74° F., in Morgan county, reputed restorative in neuralgic cases, and as containing sulphur; Salt Sulphur Springs, in Monroe county, of value in scrofula and skin diseases.
Manufactures.—Manufacturing is largely localized in the north-western part of the state along the Ohio river. The value of the factory product in 1905 was $99,040,676. The principal manufacture is iron and steel: in 1905 the product of steel works and rolling mills was $13,454,802. The iron mills are almost all in the vicinity of Wheeling. The first rolling mill west of the Alleghanies was probably one near Morgantown. Next in importance among the state's manufactures are lumber and timber, and flour and grist mills. The tanning, currying and finishing of leather, an industry largely dependent on the plentiful supply of oak and hemlock bark for tanning, is centralized in the northern and eastern parts of the state, near the forests. The glass industry began in Wheeling in 1821, and there a process was discovered by which in 1864 for soda ash bicarbonate of lime was substituted, and a lime glass was made which was as fine as lead glass; other factors contributing to the localization of the manufacture of glass here are the fine glass sand obtained in the state and the plentiful supply of natural gas for fuel.
Transportation and Commerce.—Railway development in West Virginia has been due largely to the exploitation of the coal and lumber resources of the state. The Baltimore & Ohio railway leads in trackage: it enters the state with several lines at its northern end; its main line crosses this portion of the state from east to west, striking the Ohio at Parkersburg, and one of its lines (Ohio River railway) extends nearly the length of the state from Wheeling in the north through Parkersburg to Kenova in the south. This road serves as a carrier for the northern coal producing districts. The Chesapeake & Ohio traverses the southern part of the state, from White Sulphur Springs in the east, through Charleston to the Ohio, serving the New and Kanawha rivers coal district as a freight carrier; the Norfolk & Western runs just within the south-western boundary along the valley of the Big Sandy, carrying coal both east and west from the Pocahontas coal-field; and the new Virginian railway entering at the south-east taps the coal-producing region (the Kanawha and Pocahontas districts) at Deepwater, serving in addition to the Norfolk & Western as a carrier of coal to Norfolk on the Virginia coast. The railway mileage of the state grew with great rapidity in the decade 1880-1890; it was 691 m. in 1880, 1,433.30 in 1890, 2,473.34 in 1900 and 3,215.32 in January 1909. Natural facilities for transportation, afforded by the Ohio river and its branches, the Monongahela, at the northern end of the state, and the Little Kanawha and the Great Kanawha, are of special value for the shipment of lumber and coal. The Monongahela has been improved by locks and dams to Fairmont. It is the carrier of a heavy tonnage of coal to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The Little Kanawha, which has also been improved, serves chiefly for the transportation of logs which are floated down to the Ohio.
Population.—The population of West Virginia at the various censuses since its organization as a state has been as follows: 1870, 442,014; 1880, 618,457; 1890, 762,794; 1900, 958,800; 1910, 1,221,119. In 1890-1900 and 1900-1910 the increase in population was more than one fourth. Of the total population in 1900, 97.7% was native-born, 892,854 were native whites, 43,499 were negroes, 56 were Chinese and 12 were Indians. Of the inhabitants born in the United States 61,508 were natives of Virginia, 40,301 of Ohio, 28,927 of Pennsylvania and 10,867 of Kentucky; and of the foreign-born there were 6537 Germans, 3342 Irish, 2921 Italians and 2622 English. Of the total population 71,388 were of foreign parentage—i.e. either one or both parents were foreign-born, and 18,232 were of German and 10,534 of Irish parentage, on both the father's and the mother's side.
In 1906 there were in the state 301,565 members of religious denominations, of whom 86.2% were Protestants. The Methodist bodies with 115,825 communicants (38.4% of the total communicants or members) were the strongest. There were 67,044 Baptists (2226 United Baptists, 2019 Primitive Baptists and 1513 Free Baptists); 40,011 Roman Catholics; 19,993 United Brethren, all of the “New Constitution”; 19,668 Presbyterians; 13,323 Disciples of Christ; 6506 Lutherans, and 5230 Protestant Episcopalians. The principal cities of the state are Wheeling, Huntington, Parkersburg, Charleston (the capital), Martinsburg, Fairmont and Grafton.
Administration.—The first constitution of 1863 was superseded by the present instrument which was adopted August 1872 and was amended in 1880, 1S83 and 1902. The constitution may be amended by either of two methods. A majority of the members elected to each house may submit the question of calling a convention to the people; and if a majority of the votes cast approve, an election for members of a convention shall be held, and all acts of the convention must be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection. On the other hand, a two-thirds majority of each house of the legislature may submit an amendment or amendments to popular vote at the next general election, when the approval of a majority of the qualified voters is necessary for ratification. All male citizens above twenty-one years of age have the right of suffrage, subject to a residence of one year in the state and sixty days in the county in which they offer to vote. Paupers, insane, and those convicted of treason, felony or bribery in an election are barred, “while the disability continues,” and no person in the military, naval or marine service of the United States is deemed a resident of the state by reason of being stationed therein. An official blanket ballot containing the names of the candidates arranged in columns according to party is provided at public expense.
Executive.—The executive department consists of the governor, secretary of state, superintendent of free schools, auditor, treasurer and attorney-general, all elected by the people at the time of the presidential election and serving for four years from the fourth of March following. The governor must have been a citizen for five years preceding this election, must have attained the age of thirty and is ineligible for re-election during the four years succeeding the expiration of his term. In case of the death, resignation or other disability of the governor, the president of the Senate acts as governor, and in case of his incapability the Speaker of the House of Delegates; and these two failing, the legislature on joint ballot elects an acting governor. A new election must be called to fill the vacancy unless the unexpired term is less than one year. The governor appoints, subject to the consent of a majority of the members elected to the Senate, all officers whose appointment or election is not otherwise provided for. In case of a vacancy in the court of appeals or in the circuit court the governor appoints until the next general election, or if the unexpired term is less than two years, until the end of the term. The governor sends a message at the beginning of each session of the legislature, and may convene the houses in extraordinary session when he deems it necessary. He may veto a bill, or in case of an appropriation bill, the separate items, but this veto may be overridden by a simple majority of the total membership of each house. Any bill not returned with objections within five days after presentation becomes a law. An appropriation bill cannot be vetoed after the legislature adjourns.
Legislative.—The legislature, consisting of the Senate and the House of Delegates, meets at the capital on the first Wednesday in January of the odd years. The Senate is composed (1910) of thirty members, chosen from fifteen districts for a term of four years, but one half the membership retires biennially. A senator must be twenty-five years of age, and must have been a citizen of the state for five years and a resident of the district for one year preceding his election The Senate elects a president, confirms or rejects the nominations of the governor, and acts as a court of impeachment for the trial of public officers, besides sharing in legislative functions. The House of Delegates is composed (1910) of eighty-six members, of whom each county chooses at least one. A delegate must be a citizen and have resided one year in the county from which he is chosen. No person holding a lucrative office under the state or the United States, no salaried officer of a railroad company, and no officer of any court of record is eligible for membership in either house. Besides its legislative functions the House prepares articles of impeachment and prosecutes the proceedings before the Senate. The length of the legislative session is forty-five days,
but it may be extended by a vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house. No act takes effect until ninety days after its passage unless two-thirds of the members of each house specifically order otherwise.
Judiciary.—The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court of Appeals, the Circuit courts, such inferior courts as may be established, county courts, the powers and duties of which are, however, chiefly police and fiscal, and in justices of the peace. The Supreme Court of Appeals, consisting of live judges, elected for terms of twelve years, holds three terms annually, one at Wheeling, one at Charleston and one at Charles Town. It has original jurisdiction in cases of habeas corpus, mandamus and prohibition, and appellate jurisdiction in cases involving a greater amount than one hundred dollars; concerning title or boundary of lands, probate of wills; the appointment or qualification of personal representatives, guardians, curators, committees, &c.; concerning a mill, roadway, ferry or landing; the right of a corporation or county to levy tolls or taxes; in cases of quo warranto, habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari and prohibition, and all others involving freedom or the constitutionality of a law; in criminal cases where there has been a conviction for felony or misdemeanour in a circuit, criminal or intermediate court; and in cases relating to the public revenues. The court designates one of its members as president. Nineteen judges elected for terms of eight years in eighteen circuits compose the circuit court, the judges of which have original jurisdiction of matters involving more than $50; of all cases of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto and prohibition; of all cases in equity; and of all crimes and misdemeanours. The judges have appellate jurisdiction of cases civil and criminal coming up from the lower courts. In order to relieve the circuit judges the legislature has established by special acts inferior courts, generally with criminal jurisdiction only, in nine counties of the state. The judicial powers of the county court are confined to probate, the appointment of executors, administrators and other personal representatives, and the settlement of their accounts, matters relating to apprentices and to contested elections for county and district officers. (See below under Local Government.) One or two justices of the peace (depending on population) are elected from each magisterial district; there must be not less than three, nor more than ten, districts in each county.
Local Government.—As in Virginia, the county is the unit of government, though an unsuccessful attempt to introduce the township system was made in the first constitution. The county court, consisting of three commissioners elected for six years but with terms so arranged that one retires every two years, is the police and fiscal authority. Other officers are the clerk of the county court, elected for six years, the sheriff, who also acts as tax-collector and treasurer, the prosecuting attorney, one or two assessors, the surveyor of lands and the superintendent of free schools, all elected for the term of four years; the sheriff may not serve two consecutive full terms. In addition there are boards appointed or elected by various authorities and charged with specific duties. They include the local board of health and the board of jury commissioners. Each of the magisterial districts (of which, as has been said, there must be at least three and not more than ten in each county) elects one or two magistrates and constables, and a board of education of three members. The constitution provides that the legislature, on the request of any county, may establish a special form of county government, and several of the larger and more populous counties have special acts.
Miscellaneous Laws.—A woman's right to hold, manage and acquire property is not affected by marriage, except that unless she lives apart from her husband, she may not mortgage or convey real estate without his consent. A woman becomes of age at twenty-one. Rights of dower and courtesy both exist. When a husband dies intestate leaving a widow and issue, the widow is entitled to the life use of one-third of the real estate and to one-third of the personal estate absolutely. If there is no issue she takes the whole of the personal estate, while the real estate, subject to her dower, goes first to her husband's father and then to his mother, brothers and sisters. If the wife dies intestate the husband has a right to the use of her real estate for life, and to one-third of the personal estate if there is issue; otherwise to the whole. Neither can by will deprive the other of the right of dower or courtesy in the real estate and of the right to one-third of the personal estate. Children may be disinherited with or without cause. Any parent or infant children of deceased parents may set apart personal estate not exceeding $200 in value which shall be exempt from execution. A homestead not exceeding $1000 in value may be set apart, provided that it is recorded before the debt against which it was claimed was contracted. Marriages between whites and negroes, or where either party had a wife or husband living, or within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity, or where either was insane or physically incapable of marriage, or where the male was under eighteen or the female under sixteen may be annulled. No female or male under twelve may be employed in mines, and no child under twelve may be employed in a factory, and when school is in session none under fourteen.
Charities, &c.—The state charitable and penal institutions consist of the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane at Weston, the Second Hospital for the Insane at Spencer, three miners' hospitals—one at Welch, one at McKendree and one at Fairmont; the West Virginia Asylum for Incurables at Huntington, Schools for the Deaf and Blind at Romney, the West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville, the West Virginia Reform School at Grafton and the West Virginia Industrial Home for Girls near Salem. These are all under the supervision of a state board of control of three members, appointed by the governor, which was created in 1909, and also has control of the finances of the state educational system. There is also a state humane society, which was organized in 1899 for the protection of children and of the helpless aged, and for the prevention of cruelty to animals. The West Virginia Colored Orphans' Home near Huntington is not under state control, but has received appropriations from the legislature. In 1908 a law was enacted for establishing the West Virginia Children's Home to be under the control of the Humane Society.
Education.—Each magisterial district constitutes a school district and there are also a few independent school districts. For each school district there is a board of education consisting of a president and two commissioners, each elected for a term of four years, one commissioner every two years. This board is authorized to establish and alter sub-districts. A law enacted in 1908 requires that children between eight and fifteen years of age shall attend school twenty-four weeks each year, provided the public school in their district is in session that length of time. The county supervision of public schools is vested in a county superintendent, who is elected for a term of four years. The state supervision is vested in a state superintendent, who is elected for a term of four years. A state board of education, consisting of the state superintendent and five other persons appointed by him, constitutes a state board of examiners (for special primary, high school and professional certificates) and prescribes the course of study. There is also a state school book commission, consisting of the state superintendent and eight other members appointed by the governor. The state maintains six normal schools for whites (at Huntington, Fairmont, West Liberty, Glenville, Shepherdstown, Athens) and two for negroes (at Institute and at Bluefield). They are governed by a board of regents consisting of the state superintendent and six other members appointed by the governor. At the head of the educational system is the West Virginia University (1867) at Morgantown (q.v.). The principal institutions of higher learning not under state control are Bethany College (Christian, 1841), at Bethany; Morris Harvey College (Methodist Episcopal, Southern, 1888), at Barboursville; West Virginia Wesleyan College (Methodist Episcopal, 1890), at Buckhannon; and Davis and Elkins College (Presbyterian, 1904), at Elkins.
Finance.—The state revenue is derived mainly from a general property tax, licence taxes levied on various businesses and occupations, a collateral inheritance tax and a capitation tax. For the year ending on the 30th of September 1908 the receipts were $3,382,131.66 and the disbursements $3,482,317.03. West Virginia's share of the Virginia debt which existed when West Virginia was set off from Virginia has not yet been determined (see below, § History), but other than this the state has no debt, and the contraction of a state debt other than “to meet casual deficits in the revenue, to redeem a previous liability of the state, to suppress insurrection, repel invasion or defend the state in time of war” is forbidden by the constitution. The indebtedness of a county, municipality or school district is limited to 5% of the value of its taxable property.
History.—That part of Virginia beyond the Alleghany mountains was a favourite haunt of the Indians before the first coming of the whiles, and there are many Indian mounds, indicative of an early and high cultural development, within the present limits of the state, and especially in the neighbourhood of Moundsville (q.v.). The western part of Virginia was not explored until long after considerable settlements had been made in the east. In 1671 General Abram Wood, at the direction of Governor William Berkeley (c. 1610-1677), sent a party which discovered Kanawha Falls, and in 1716, Governor Alexander Spottswood with about thirty horsemen made an excursion into what is now Pendleton county. John Van Metre, an Indian trader, penetrated into the northern portion in 1725, and Morgan ap Morgan, a Welshman, built a cabin in the present Berkeley county in 1727. The same year German settlers from Pennsylvania founded New Mecklenburg, the present Shepherdstown, on the Potomac, and others soon followed. Charles II. of England, in 1661, granted to a company of gentlemen the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, commonly known as the “Northern Neck.” The grant finally came into the possession of Thomas, Lord Fairfax, and in 1746 a stone was erected at the source of the north branch of the Potomac to mark the western limit of the grant. A considerable part of this land was surveyed by George Washington between 1748 and 1751. The diary kept by the young surveyor indicates that there were already many squatters, largely of German origin, along the South Branch of the Potomac. Christopher Gist, a surveyor in the employ of the first Ohio Company (see Ohio Company), which was composed chiefly of Virginians, in 1751-1752 explored the country along the Ohio river north of the mouth of the Kanawha, and the company sought to have a fourteenth colony established with the name “Vandalia.” Many settlers crossed the mountains after 1750, though they were somewhat hindered by Indian depredations. Probably no Indians lived within the present limits of the state, but the region was a common hunting ground, crossed also by many war trails, and during the French and Indian war (1754-63) the scattered settlements were almost destroyed. In 1774 the governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, himself led a force over the mountains, and a body of militia under General Andrew Lewis dealt the Shawnee Indians under Cornstalk a crushing blow at Point Pleasant (q.v.) at the junction of the Kanawha and the Ohio rivers, but Indian attacks continued until after the War of Independence. During the war the settlers in Western Virginia were generally active Whigs and many served in the Continental army.
Social conditions in western Virginia were entirely unlike those existing in the eastern portion of the state. The population was not homogeneous, as a considerable part of the immigration came by way of Pennsylvania and included Germans, the Protestant Scotch-Irish and settlers from the states farther north. During the War of Independence the movement to create another state beyond the Alleghanies was revived, and a petition (1776) for the establishment of “Westsylvania” was presented to Congress, on the ground that the mountains made an almost impassable barrier on the east. The rugged nature of the country made slavery unprofitable, and time only increased the social, political and economic differences between the two sections of the state. The convention which met in 1829 to form a new constitution for Virginia, against the protest of the counties beyond the mountains, required a property qualification for suffrage, and gave the slave-holding counties the benefit of three-fifths of their slave population in apportioning the state's representation in the lower Federal house. As a result every county beyond the Alleghanies except one voted to reject the constitution, which was nevertheless carried by eastern votes. Though the Virginia constitution of 1850 provided for white manhood suffrage, yet the distribution of representation among the counties was such as to give control to the section east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Another grievance of the West was the large expenditure for internal improvements at state expense in the East compared with the scanty proportion allotted to the West. For an account of the Virginia convention of 1861, which adopted the Ordinance of Secession, see Virginia. Here it is sufficient to say that only nine of the forty-six delegates from the present state of West Virginia voted to secede. Almost immediately after the adoption of the ordinance a mass meeting at Clarksburg recommended that each county in north-western Virginia send delegates to a convention to meet in Wheeling on the 13th of May 1861. When this “First Wheeling Convention” met, four hundred and twenty-five delegates from twenty-five counties were present, but soon there was a division of sentiment. Some delegates favoured the immediate formation of a new state, but the more far-sighted members argued that as the ordinance had not yet been voted upon by the people, and Virginia was still in the Union, such action would be revolutionary, since the United States Constitution provides that no state may be divided without its consent. Therefore it was voted that in case the ordinance should be adopted (of which there was little doubt) another convention including the members-elect of the legislature should meet at Wheeling on the 11th of June. At the election (23rd May 1861) the ordinance was ratified by a large majority in the state as a whole, but in the western counties 40,000 votes out of 44,000 were cast against it. The “Second Wheeling Convention” met according to agreement (11th June), and declared that, since the Secession Convention had been called without the consent of the people, all its acts were void, and that all who adhered to it had vacated their offices. An act for the “reorganization” of the government was passed on the 19th of June. The next day Francis H. Pierpont was chosen governor of Virginia, other officers were elected and the convention adjourned. The legislature, composed of the members from the western counties who had been elected on the 23rd of May and some of the holdover senators who had been elected in 1859, met at Wheeling on the 1st of July, filled the remainder of the state offices, organized a state government and elected two United States senators who were recognized at Washington. There were, therefore, two state governments in Virginia, one owning allegiance to the United States and one to the Confederacy. The Convention, which had taken a recess until the 6th of August, then reassembled and (August 20) adopted an ordinance providing for a popular vote on the formation of a new state, and for a convention to frame a constitution if the vote should be favourable. At the election (October 24, 1861) 18,489 votes were cast for the new state and only 781 against. The convention met on the 26th of November 1861, and finished its work on the 18th of February 1862, and the instrument was ratified by the people (18,162 for and 514 against) on the 11th of April 1862. Next the legislature of the “Reorganized” government on the 13th of May gave its consent to the formation of the new state. Application for admission to the Union was now made to Congress, and on the 31st of December 1862 an enabling act was approved by President Lincoln admitting the state on the condition that a provision for the gradual abolition of slavery be inserted in the Constitution. The Convention was reconvened on the 12th of February 1863, and the demand of Congress was met. The revised instrument was adopted by the people on the 26th of March 1863, and on the 20th of April 1863 President Lincoln issued a proclamation admitting the state at the end of sixty days (June 20, 1863). Meanwhile officers for the new state were chosen, and Governor Pierpont removed his capital to Alexandria where he asserted jurisdiction over the counties of Virginia within the Federal lines. The question of the constitutionality of the formation of the new state was brought before the Supreme Court of the United States in the following manner. Berkeley and Jefferson counties lying on the Potomac east of the mountains, in 1863, with the consent of the “Reorganized” government of Virginia voted in favour of annexation to West Virginia. Many voters absent in the Confederate army when the vote was taken refused to acknowledge the transfer on their return. The Virginia legislature repealed the act of cession and in 1866 brought suit against West Virginia asking the court to declare the counties a part of Virginia. Meanwhile Congress on the 10th of March 1866 passed a joint resolution recognizing the transfer. The Supreme Court in 1871 decided in favour of West Virginia, and there has been no further question. During the Civil War West Virginia suffered comparatively little. McClellan's forces gained possession of the greater part of the territory in the summer of 1861, and Union control was never seriously threatened, in spite of Lee's attempt in the same year. In 1863 General John D. Imboden, with 5000 Confederates, overran a considerable portion of the state. Bands of guerrillas burned and plundered in some sections, and were not entirely suppressed until after the war was ended. The state furnished about 36,000 soldiers to the Federal armies and somewhat less than 10,000 to the Confederate. The absence in the army of the Confederate sympathizers helps to explain the small vote against the formation of the new state. During the war and for years afterwards partisan feeling ran high. The property of Confederates might be confiscated, and in 1866 a constitutional amendment disfranchising all who had given aid and comfort to the Confederacy was adopted. The addition of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution caused a reaction, the Democratic party secured control in 1870, and in 1871 the constitutional amendment of 1S66 was abrogated. The first steps toward this change had been taken, however, by the Republicans in 1870. In 1872 an entirely new constitution was adopted (August 22).
Though the first constitution provided for the assumption of a part of the Virginia debt, negotiations opened by Virginia in 1870 were fruitless, and in 1871 that state funded two-thirds of the debt and arbitrarily assigned the remainder to West Virginia. The legislature of the latter state in 1873 adopted a report declaring that between 1822 and 1861, during which period the debt had been incurred, the western counties had paid an excess of taxes, more than equal to the amount which had been expended in the west for the purposes for which the debt had been incurred, and concluded with the statement: “West Virginia owes no debt, has no bonds for sale and asks no credit.” In 1906 Virginia entered suit in the U.S. Supreme Court to compel West Virginia to assume a portion of the debt. West Virginia demurred, but was overruled, and on the 4th of May 1908 a master was appointed to take testimony. The state rejected decisively the overtures made by Virginia in 1866, looking towards a reunion of the commonwealths.
|Governors of West Virginia.|
|Arthur I. Boreman||Republican||1863-1869|
|D. D. T. Farnsworth (acting)||”||1869|
|Wm. E. Stevenson||”||1869-1871|
|John J. Jacobs||Democrat||1871-1877|
|Henry M. Mathews||”||1877-1881|
|Jacob B. Jackson||”||1881-1885|
|E. Willis Wilson||”||1885-1890|
|A. Brooks Fleming||”||1890-1893|
|Wm. A. MacCorkle||”||1893-1897|
|George W. Atkinson||Republican||1897-1901|
|Albert B. White||”||1901-1905|
|Wm. M. O. Dawson||”||1905-1909|
|Wm. E. Glasscock||”||1909-|
Bibliography.—For general description see Henry Gannett, Gazetteer of West Virginia (Washington, 1904), being Bulletin 233 of the U.S. Geological Survey; the Reports, and the Bulletins of the Geological Survey of West Virginia (Morgantown, 1901 sqq.). Bulletin 1 is a Bibliography of Works upon the Geology and Natural Resources of West Virginia, by S. S. Brown; folios 26, 28, 32, 34, 44, 69, 72, 77 and 160 of the Geologic Atlas of the United States; M. F. Maury and W. M. Fontaine, Resources of West Virginia (Charleston, 1876); and George W. Summers, The Mountain State (ibid. 1893). For administration and history see the Manual of West Virginia (Charleston, 1907), issued by the Secretary of State; West Virginia Public Documents (ibid. 1902 sqq.); The Code of West Virginia (St Paul, 1906); A. R. Whitehill, History of Education in West Virginia (Washington, 1902), a Circular of Information of the U.S. Bureau of Education; a History of Education in West Virginia (Charleston, 1904), by the State Superintendent of Free Schools; V. A. Lewis, History of West Virginia (new ed., New York, 1904), and History and Government of West Virginia (Chicago, 1896); R. E. Fast and Hu Maxwell, History and Government of West Virginia (Morgantown, 1901; new edition, 1908); A. S. Withers, Chronicles of Border Warfare (1831, reprinted Cincinnati, 1905); J. P. Hale, Trans-Alleghany Pioneers (Cincinnati, 1887); W. P. Willey, Formation of West Virginia (Wheeling, 1901); and M. F. Callahan, Evolution of the Constitution of West Virginia (Morgantown, 1909).
|Carl Hentschel Ltd. sc.|
- Title contested by Nathan Goff. Contest settled by legislature Feb. 4, 1890, until which time Governor Wilson held over.