The Times West Virginian

Local News

February 4, 2013

‘Father of W.Va.’

Francis Pierpont played major role in state’s development

FAIRMONT — Fairmont’s Francis “Frank” H. Pierpont was a vital part in the making of West Virginia.

Pierpont, known as the “Father of West Virginia,” was born Jan. 25, 1814 in Easton, Va., which was about five miles south of present-day Morgantown.

JoAnn Lough, a retired Fairmont State speech communication and theater professor, wrote a timeline of Pierpont’s life. She said after Pierpont graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., in 1839, he was a teacher in Watson, Va., then in Pontotoc and Aberdeen, Miss.

He returned to Middletown, Va., in newly formed Marion County in 1842 to practice law. In 1843, Middletown, Va., became Fairmont, Va.

In 1854, Pierpont married Julia Robertson, a native of Gloversville, N.Y.

Lough said the Pierponts had four children, Samuel, Anna and twins, Mary Augusta and Francis William, between 1855 and 1860.

Five days after the Civil War began in April 1861, Virginia was leaving the Union to join the Confederacy. Pierpont was a delegate at both Wheeling conventions in 1861 and did not want to join the Confederacy.

May 13, 1861 was the first convention. On May 23, 1861, Virginia approved the Ordinance of Secession. Of the 44,000 votes cast, 40,000 in western Virginia were against secession from the Union.

There were some people in western Virginia who disagreed with Pierpont on remaining part of the Union and tried to kill him.

“He was just walking down Adams Street and somebody shot at him,” Lough said.

 

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