The Times West Virginian

Local News

June 21, 2014

Residents celebrate state’s birthday: PHOTOS

County holds ‘heart of West Virginia becoming a state’

FAIRMONT — West Virginia turned 151 years old Friday and residents celebrated with cake and music.

The Marion County Historical Society held a birthday party at the Marion County Museum in celebration of the state’s birthday. Dora Grubb, president of the Marion County Historical Society, said celebrating the state’s birthday in Marion County is very significant.

She said because Marion County was the home of Francis Pierpont, who is known as the “Father of West Virginia” and the first governor of Restored Virginia, it’s only right to celebrate when West Virginia became a state.

“We feel we hold the heart of West Virginia becoming a state, because if it had not been for Pierpont, we would not have been a state,” Grubb said.

Grubb said residents of the state have a lot to be thankful for by living in West Virginia. She said having events such as the one Friday helps show off the history of not only West Virginia, but also Marion County.

“I think we can learn from our past so that we don’t make the same mistakes,” she said.

On Friday, the historical society entertained guests with music, candle-making, tours and birthday cake. On the front porch of the historical society, We Three played all the songs they knew that mentioned West Virginia.

“They have looked up all the West Virginia songs and are playing them,” Grubb said.

Living interpreters dressed as Gov. Pierpont and first lady Julia Pierpont as well as Sen. John Carlile also joined in on the celebration.

Some of the special features of the day were documents from the Civil War that had never been seen by the public. Two letters from Gov. Pierpont to Perry West of Logansport were on display. In one letter, Pierpont asked West to travel the state and find out who were the Southern sympathizers and who were loyal to the North.

“It was so (Pierpont) could get the idea of who he can trust and who he can’t,” Grubb said.

In the other letter, Pierpont asked West to travel the state and form the Home Guard. Grubb said West then enrolled 63 men to be in the Home Guard in Wheeling.

“We also have the Mustering in Registry papers,” she said. “It’s probably one of the few documents that show who the men really were.”

As for West Virginia’s birthday cake, Grubb said the frosting was blue and gray to represent both sides of the Civil War.

“We do honor both the South and the North,” she said. “Many people gave their lives, and to think how sad it is that so many people lost their lives trying to keep this nation together.”

Grubb said celebrating West Virginia’s birthday is important.

“I think we need to remember all the important people that came from this area,” she said.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.

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