Yes, I know, West Virginia's 137th birthday was last Tuesday, June 20. Still, I'd like to include a few facts today from a small paperback booklet written by Kyle McCormick titled "A Story of The Formation of West Virginia," for which a copyright was sought in 1961. Printing was done by Mathews Printing and Lithographing Company of Charleston.
First, I'd like to reprint a portion of the booklet regarding the naming of the state "West Virginia." It follows:
"Finally, Delegate Harmon Sinsel of Taylor County came forth with an eloquent speech: 'Mr. President, one reason I have is that I am a Virginian. I was born and raised in Virginia and I have ever been proud of that name. I admit that Virginians have been wrong and that many of them in this rebellion have disgraced themselves; but that has not weaned me from the name. When we look back in history and see the origin of the name Virginia, from the Virgin Queen, the Queen who swayed the scepter of England with so much glory and renown, we might go back to Virginia the Virgin."
McCormick went on, "'It makes me think of the Virgin Mother, the Mother of the Blessed Redeemer. It is a name I almost revere and I am utterly opposed to leaving it out and substituting the name of Kanawha in its stead.'
"To this argument, Mr. Brown replied: 'It has been said by the gentleman that he cherishes the name of Virginia from the source of the Virgin Queen after whom it was named. But sir, when this was mentioned I confess my mind reversed to the fact that the virgin was not above suspicion and that history tells the truth, tells of dalliances not to the credit of the virgin and we seek no honor nor pleasure in its recollection. I only regret that our old Mother State has been caught in dalliances from which we are trying to rid ourselves by division of our territory.'"
McCormick stated that the final vote was: For West Virginia, 30; for Kanawha, nine; for Western Virginia, two, and for Augusta, one.
The item continued, "A big factor in the State's formation was the Baltimore and Ohio Railway and its president, John W. Garrett. This railway ran from Baltimore to Wheeling and at Grafton there was a southern branch to Parkersburg. This railway was a tremendous influence in the operation of the war -- the first mass movement of troops took place on it in 1863 when 20,000 men were transported from the eastern armies to Chattanooga to aid the forces of (Union) General (William S.) Rosecrans. It took several days and 400 trains.
"All along the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway in northern West Virginia there was an apprehension that if any part of the railway remained in Virginia, it would be destroyed. In fact, Virginia had threatened to do so. The delegates, in order to protect themselves, added the three counties of Jefferson, Berkeley and Frederick to West Virginia -- all slave counties and all Valley of Virginia counties but the proviso was placed in this addition that an election must be held in these counties before the would be admitted.
"When the matter of admission of the state came before Congress there was a mixed opinion and the question was fought out along political lines. The Senate voted for the formation 23 to 17. There was but one Democratic vote for it -- Senator Rice of Minnesota. Six Republicans voted against it."
I hope this "West Virginia history lesson" proved enlightening and interesting to you, as it did to me. I'll have more from McCormick's booklet at a later time.
Here's hoping each of you will enjoy a healthy and prosperous week.
Exponent and Telegram Editor Bob Stealey can be reached at 626-1438.