The Times West Virginian

Local News

June 16, 2014

Celebration of history

Never-before-seen letters part of event to mark state’s birthday

FAIRMONT — West Virginia will be celebrating its 151st birthday as a state this week.

On June 20, 1863, the Mountain State was officially admitted into the Union as a state. West Virginia began its statehood as a form of the reformed state of Virginia.

West Virginia’s founding father, Francis H. Pierpont, lived in Fairmont during part of the Civil War. He also served as the first governor of the reformed Virginia government and helped make West Virginia its own state.

Though West Virginia celebrated a larger 150th year anniversary last year, the Marion County Historical Society is holding a celebration of history.

The historical society will be holding a six-day-long celebration beginning today with a display of historical documents. The documents include two never-before-seen letters involving Pierpont and Capt. P.G. West.

“What Pierpont asked West to do (were) two things. One, he wanted (West) to do a reconnaissance through the state of Virginia to see who was pro-Union and who might have Confederate sympathizers,” explained historical society president Dora Grubb.

Grubb said this reconnaissance occurred in 1861.

“Then (Pierpont) asked (West) to go throughout the state and get loyal sympathizers to go to Wheeling to be the home guard to protect Gov. Pierpont and to guard the prisoners that were in Wheeling,” she said.

These documents will be on display until Saturday, according to Grubb.

The historical society also has other celebrations beginning Friday. Grubb said at the historical society, actors will be portraying Pierpont and first lady Julia beginning at 11 a.m.

“Their attire is completely correct ... to that era,” Grubb said.

JoAnn Lough will also be attending the event to answer questions while dressed in authentic 1840s clothing, Grubb said.

Music from the Civil War time period will also be played during the celebration.

At noon, the historical society will be cutting the 151st birthday cake for the state.

Grubbs said the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The Marion County Historical Museum is located next to the Marion County Courthouse on Fairmont Avenue. Free parking will be made available Friday, and free tours will be given that day.

Email Richard Babich at or follow him on Twitter @rbabichTWV.

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