West Virginia was the only American state formed as a direct result of the American Civil War (1861-1865). It was originally part of the British Virginia Colony (1607-1776) and the western part of the state of Virginia (1776-1863), whose population became sharply divided over the issue of secession from the Union and in the separation from Virginia, formalized by admittance to the Union as a new state in 1863. West Virginia was one of the Civil War Border states.
West Virginia's history was profoundly impacted by its mountainous terrain, spectacular river valleys, and rich natural resources. These were all factors driving its economy and the lifestyles of residents, as well as drawing visitors to the "Mountain State" in the early 21st century.
- 1 Pre-history
- 2 European exploration and settlement
- 3 Trans-Allegheny Virginia, 1776-1861
- 4 Civil War and split
- 5 Hidden resources
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 See also
The area now known as West Virginia was a favorite hunting ground of numerous Native American peoples before the arrival of European settlers. Many ancient man-made earthen mounds from various mound builder cultures survive, especially in the areas of Moundsville, South Charleston, and Romney. Although little is known about these civilizations, the artifacts uncovered in these give evidence of a complex, stratified culture that practiced metallurgy.
European exploration and settlement
In 1671, General Abram Wood, at the direction of Royal Governor William Berkeley of the Virginia Colony, sent the party of Thomas Batts and Robert Fallum into the West Virginia area. During this expedition the pair followed the New River and discovered Kanawha Falls. 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. Also in 1725, Pearsall's Flats in the South Branch Potomac River valley, present-day Romney, was settled and later became the site of the French and Indian War stockade, Fort Pearsall. Morgan ap Morgan, a Welshman, built a cabin near present-day Bunker Hill in Berkeley County in 1727. The same year German settlers from Pennsylvania founded New Mecklenburg, the present Shepherdstown, on the Potomac River, and others soon followed.
In 1661, King Charles II of England granted a company of gentlemen the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, known as the Northern Neck. The grant eventually came into the possession of Thomas Fairfax and in 1746 a stone was erected at the source of the North Branch Potomac River to mark the western limit of the grant. A considerable part of this land was surveyed by George Washington, especially the South Branch Potomac River valley between 1748 and 1751. The diary kept by Washington indicates that there were already many squatters, largely of German origin, along the South Branch. Christopher Gist, a surveyor for the first Ohio Company, which was composed chiefly of Virginians, explored the country along the Ohio River north of the mouth of the Kanawha River in 1751 and 1752. The company sought to have a fourteenth colony established with the name Vandalia. Many settlers crossed the mountains after 1750, though they were hindered by Native American depredations. During the French and Indian War (1754-1763), the scattered settlements were almost destroyed. In 1774, the Crown Governor of Virginia, John Murray, led a force over the mountains, and a body of militia under Colonel Andrew Lewis dealt the Shawnee Indians under Cornstalk a crushing blow at the junction of the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, in the Battle of Point Pleasant, but Indian attacks continued until after the American Revolutionary War. During the war, the settlers in Western Virginia were generally active Whigs and many served in the Continental Army.
Trans-Allegheny Virginia, 1776-1861
- For more details on this topic, see Virginia.
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, Protestant Ulster-Scots, and settlers from the states farther north. During the American Revolution, the movement to create a state beyond the Alleghanies was revived and, in 1776, a petition for the establishment of "Westsylvania" was presented to Congress, on the grounds 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 Virginia.
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, 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 by the Virginia Board of Public Works in the East compared with the scanty proportion allotted to the West.
For the western areas, problems included the distance from the state seat of government in Richmond and the difference of common economic interests resultant from the tobacco and food crops farming, fishing, and coastal shipping to the east of the Eastern Continental Divide (waters which drain to the Atlantic Ocean) along the Allegheny Mountains, and the interests of the western portion which drained to the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and the Gulf of Mexico.
The western area focused its commerce on neighbors to the west, and many citizens felt that the more populous eastern areas were too dominant in the Virginia General Assembly and insensitive to their needs. Major crisis in the Virginia state government over these differences was adverted to on more than one occasion during the period before the American Civil War, but the underlying problems were fundamental and never well resolved.
Civil War and split
In 1861, as the United States itself became massively divided over regional issues, leading to the conflict best known now as the American Civil War (1861-1865), the western regions of Virginia split with the eastern portion politically, and the two were never reconciled as a single state again. In 1863, the western region was admitted to the Union as a new separate state, initially planned to be called the State of Kanawha, but ultimately named West Virginia.
In 1861, fifteen of the forty-seven 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 May 13, 1861.
When the 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 favored the immediate formation of a new state, while others argued that, as Virginia's secession had not yet been voted upon or become effective, such action would constitute revolution against the United States. It was decided that if the ordinance were adopted (of which there was little doubt) another convention including the members-elect of the legislature should meet at Wheeling in June.
At the election (May 23, 1861), secession was ratified by a large majority in the state as a whole, in the western counties that would form the state of West Virginia the vote was approximately 34,677 against and 19,121 for ratification of the Ordinance of Secession. Twenty-four counties, approximately two-thirds of the territory of the new state, approved the Ordinance of Secession.
The Second Wheeling Convention met as agreed on June 11 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 June 19. 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 May 23 and some of the holdover senators who had been elected in 1859, met at Wheeling on July 1, 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 governments claiming to represent all of Virginia, one owing allegiance to the United States and one to the Confederacy. The pro-northern government authorized the creation of the state of Kanawha, consisting of most of the counties that now comprise West Virginia. A little over one month later, Kanawha was renamed West Virginia. The Wheeling Convention, which had taken a recess until August 6, reassembled on August 20 and called for a popular vote on the formation of a new state and for a convention to frame a constitution if the vote should be favorable.
At the election (October 24, 1861), 18,489 votes were cast for the new state and only 781 against. At this time West Virginia had nearly 70,000 qualified voters, and the May 23 vote on secession had drawn nearly 54,000 voters.Though the new state's government was avowedly unionist, the secessionist counties consisted of nearly two-thirds the area of the state. Votes from the secessionist counties in the October 24 vote on statehood were mostly cast by refugees in the area around Wheeling, not in the counties themselves. In secessionist counties where a poll was conducted it was by military intervention. Even in some counties that had voted against secession, such as Wayne and Cabell, it was necessary to send in Union soldiers. Returns from some counties were as low as 5%, e.g. Raleigh County 32-0 in favor of statehood, Clay 76-0, Braxton 22-0, and some gave no returns at all. The Constitutional Convention began on November 26, 1861 and finished its work on February 18, 1862, and the instrument was ratified (18,162 for and 514 against) on April 11, 1862.
The composition of the members of all three Wheeling Conventions, the May (First) Convention, the June (Second) Convention, and the Constitutional Convention, was of an irregular nature. The members of the May Convention were chosen by groups of Unionists, mostly in the far Northwestern counties. Over one-third came from the counties around the northern panhandle.The May Convention resolved to meet again in June should the Ordinance of Secession be ratified by public poll on May 23, 1861, which it was. The June Convention consisted of 103 members, 33 of which had been elected on May 23 to the General Assembly in Richmond, though they chose instead to attend the Wheeling convention. Arthur Laidley, elected to the General Assembly from Cabell County, attended the June Convention but refused to take part and instead went to Richmond along with the remaining General Assembly members elected from western Virginia. The other delegates to the June Convention were "chosen even more irregularly-some in mass meetings, others by county committee, and still others were seemingly self-appointed". It was this June Convention which drafted the Statehood resolution. The Constitutional Convention met in November, 1861, and consisted of 61 members. Its composition was just as irregular. A delegate representing Logan County was accepted as a member of this body, though he did not live in Logan County, and his "credentials consisted of a petition signed by fifteen persons representing six families". The large number of Northerners at this convention caused great distrust over the new Constitution during Reconstruction years. In 1872, under the leadership of Samuel Price, former Lt. Governor of Virginia, the Wheeling constitution was discarded, and an entirely new one was written along ante-bellum principles. A Constitution of Our Own
The Wheeling politicians controlled only a small part of West Virginia. On September 20, 1862, Arthur Boreman wrote to Francis Pierpoint from Parkersburg: "The whole country South and East of us is abandoned to the Southern Confederacy--Men are here from the counties above named--[Wirt, Jackson, Roane] and indeed from Clay, Nicholas, &c &c,--who have been run off from their homes--Indeed the Ohio border is lined with refugees from Western Virginia. We are in worse condition than we were a year ago--These people come to me every day and say they can't stay at home...They must either have protection or abandon the country entirely... If they attempt to stay at home--they must keep their horses hid--and they dare not sleep at home but in the woods--and when at home in the day time they are in constant fear of their lives... The secessionists remain at home & are safe & now claim they are in the Southern Confederacy--which is practically the fact..."
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On May 13, the state legislature of the reorganized government approved the formation of the new state. An application for admission to the Union was made to Congress, and on December 31, 1862 an enabling act was approved by President Lincoln admitting West Virginia on the condition that a provision for the gradual abolition of slavery be inserted in the Constitution. The Convention was reconvened on February 12, 1863, and the demand was met. The revised constitution was adopted on March 26, 1863, and on April 20, 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 moved his capital to Alexandria from which 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 eventually brought before the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Virginia v. West Virginia, 78 U.S. 39 (1870). 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 favor of annexation to West Virginia. Many voters absent in the Confederate army when the vote was taken refused to acknowledge the transfer upon their return. The Virginia General Assembly 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 March 10, 1866 passed a joint resolution recognizing the transfer. The Supreme Court decided in favor of West Virginia, and there has been no further question.
During the American Civil War, West Virginia suffered comparatively little. Union General George B. 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 Confederate General Robert E. Lee's attempt in the same year. In 1863, General John D. Imboden, with 5,000 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. Estimates of the numbers of soldiers from the state, Union and Confederate, have varied widely, but recent studies have placed the numbers about equal, from 22,000-25,000 each. The low vote turnout for the statehood referendum was due to many factors. On June 19, 1861 the Wheeling convention enacted a bill entitled "Ordinance to Authorize the Apprehending of Suspicious Persons in Time of War" which stated that anyone who supported Richmond or the Confederacy "shall be deemed...subjects or citizens of a foreign State or power at war with the United States.". Many private citizens were arrested by Federal authorities at the request of Wheeling and interred in prison camps, most notably Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio. Camp Chase Civil Prisoners. Soldiers were also stationed at the polls to discourage secessionists and their supporters. In addition, a large portion of the state was secessionist, and any polls there had to be conducted under military intervention. The vote was further compromised by the presence of an undetermined number of non-resident soldier votes.
At the Constitutional Convention on Dec. 14, 1861 the issue of slavery was raised by Rev. Gordon Battelle, an Ohio native, who wished to introduce a resolution for gradual emancipation. Granville Parker, originally from Massachusetts and a member of the convention, described the scene-"I discovered on that occasion as I never had before, the mysterious and over-powering influence 'the peculiar institution' had on men otherwise sane and reliable. Why, when Mr. Battelle submitted his resolutions, a kind of tremor-a holy horror, was visible throughout the house!" Instead of Rev. Battelle's resolution a policy of "Negro exclusion" for the new state was adopted to keep any new slaves, or freemen, from taking up residence, in the hope that this would satisfy abolitionist sentiment in Congress. When the statehood bill reached Congress, however, the lack of an emancipation clause prompted opposition from Senator Charles Sumner and Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio. A compromise was reached known as the Willey Amendment, which was approved by Unionist voters in the state on March 26, 1863. It called for the emancipation of slaves over the age of 21 and for younger slaves to be freed once they reached the age of 21. Slavery was officially abolished by West Virginia on February 3, 1865. (It took the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution accomplished on December 6, 1865 to abolish slavery nationwide).
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 United States Constitution caused a reaction, the Democratic Party secured control in 1870, and in 1871 the constitutional amendment of 1866 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).
Following the war, Virginia unsuccessfully brought a case to the Supreme Court challenging the secession of Berkeley County and Jefferson County to West Virginia. (Five more counties were formed later, to result in the current 55).
President Lincoln was in a close campaign when he won reelection in 1864. However, the act that allowed the state to be created was signed in 1862, two years before Lincoln's re-election would have been an issue in any real way.
Beginning in Reconstruction, and for several decades thereafter, the two states disputed the new state's share of the pre-war Virginia government's debt, which had mostly been incurred to finance public infrastructure improvements, such as canals, roads, and railroads under the Virginia Board of Public Works. Virginians led by former Confederate General William Mahone formed a political coalition based upon this theory, the Readjuster Party. Although West Virginia's 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 issue was finally settled in 1915, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that West Virginia owed Virginia $12,393,929.50. The final installment of this sum was paid off in 1939.
Disputes about the exact location of the border in some of the northern mountain reaches between Loudoun County and Jefferson County continued well into the 20th century. In 1991, both state legislatures appropriated money for a boundary commission to look into 15 miles of the border area.
Salt, coal: the rock that burns
The new state benefited from development of its mineral resources more than any other single economic activity after Reconstruction. Much of the northern panhandle and north-central portion of the State are underlain by bedded salt deposits over 50-feet thick. Salt mining had been underway since the 18th century, though that which could be easily obtained had largely played out by the time of the American Civil War, when the red salt of Kanawha County was a valued commodity of first Confederate, and later Union forces. Newer technology has since proved that West Virginia has enough salt resources to supply the nation's needs for an estimated 2,000 years. During recent years, production has been about 600,000 to 1,000,000 tons per year. 
However, after the American Civil War, there was a greater treasure not yet developed, however, that would fuel much of the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. and steamships of many of the world's navies. The residents (both Native Americans and early European settlers) had long-known of the underlying coal, and the fact that it could be used for heating and fuel. However, very small "personal" mines were the only practical development.
In the 1850s, geologists such as Dr. David T. Ansted (1814-1880) surveyed potential coal fields and invested in land and early mining projects. After the War, with the new railroads came a practical method to transport large quantities of coal to expanding U.S. and export markets. As the anthracite mines of northwestern New Jersey and Pennsylvania began to play out during this same time period, investors and industrialists focused new interest in West Virginia.
Early railroads, shipping to East Coast and Great Lakes
The completion of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) westerly across the state from Richmond to the new city of Huntington on the Ohio River in 1872 opened access to the New River Coalfield. Soon, the C&O was building tracks east from Richmond down the Virginia Peninsula to reach its huge coal pier at the new city of Newport News on the large harbor of Hampton Roads. There, city founder Collis P. Huntington also developed what would become the largest shipbuilder in the world, Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. Among its many products, the shipyard began building ocean-going ships, known as colliers, to transport coal to other eastern ports (notably in New England) and overseas.
In 1881, the new Philadelphia-based owners of William Mahone's former Atlantic (AM&O) which stretched across Virginia's southern tier from Norfolk, had sights clearly set on the Mountain State, where the owners had large land holdings. Their railroad was renamed Norfolk and Western (N&W), and a new railroad city was developed at Roanoke to handle planned expansion. After its new President Frederick J. Kimball and a small party journeyed by horseback and saw firsthand the rich bituminous coal seam (which Kimball's wife named "Pocahontas," the N&W redirected its planned westward expansion to reach it. Soon, the N&W was also shipping from its own new coal piers on Hampton Roads at Lamberts Point outside Norfolk. In 1889, in the southern part of the state, along the Norfolk and Western rail lines, the important coal center of Bluefield was founded. The "capital" of the Pocahontas coalfield, this city would remain the largest city in the southern portion of the state for several decades. It shares a sister city with the same name, Bluefield, in Virginia.
In the northern portion of the state and elsewhere, the older Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and other lines also expanded to take advantage of coal opportunities as well. The B&O developed coal piers in Baltimore and at several points on the Great Lakes. Other significant rail carriers of coal were the Western Maryland Railway (WM), Southern Railway (SOU), and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N). Particularly notable was a latecomer, the Virginian Railway (VGN), built in an extraordinary manner to the latest and highest standards and completed in 1909.
New competitor helps open "Billion Dollar Coalfield"
By 1900, only a large area of the most rugged terrain of southern West Virginia was any distance from the existing railroads and mining activity. Within this area west of the New River Coalfield in Raleigh and Wyoming counties lay the Winding Gulf Coalfield, later promoted as the "Billion Dollar Coalfield."
A protégé of Dr. Ansted was William Nelson Page (1854-1932), a civil engineer and mining manager in Fayette County. Former West Virginia Governor William A. MacCorkle described him as a man who knew the land "as a farmer knows a field." Beginning in 1898, Page teamed with northern and European-based investors to take advantage of the undeveloped area. They acquired large tracts of land in the area, and Page began the Deepwater Railway, a short-line railroad which was chartered to stretch between the C&O at its line along the Kanawha River and the N&W at Matoaka, a distance of about 80 miles.
Although the Deepwater plan should have provided a competitive shipping market via either railroad, leaders of the two large railroads did not appreciate the scheme. In secret collusion, each declined to negotiate favorable rates with Page, nor did they offer to purchase his railroad, as they had many other short-lines. However, if the C&O and N&W presidents thought they could thus kill the Page project, they were to be proved mistaken. One of the silent partner investors Page had enlisted was millionaire industrialist Henry Huttleston Rogers, a principal in John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust and an old hand at developing natural resources, transportation. A master at competitive "warfare", Henry Rogers did not like to lose in his endeavors, and also had "deep pockets".
Instead of giving up, Page (and Rogers) quietly planned and then built their tracks all the way east across Virginia, using Rogers' private fortune to finance the $40 million cost. When the renamed Virginian Railway (VGN) was completed in 1909, no less than three railroads were shipping ever-increasing volumes of coal to export from Hampton Roads. West Virginia coal was also under high demand at Great Lakes ports as well. The VGN and the N&W) ultimately became parts of the modern Norfolk Southern system, and the VGN's well-engineered 20th century tracks continue to offer a favorable gradient to Hampton Roads.
Labor, ecology issues
As coal mining and related work became a major employment activities in the state, there was considerable labor strife as working conditions and safety issues, as well as economic ones arose. Even in the 21st century, mining safety and ecological concerns were challenging to the state whose coal continued to power electrical generating plants in many other states.
- ^ C. Ambler "History of West Virginia", pg. 309
- ^ The United States Constitution, in Article 4, Section 3, clause 1, provides that no state may be divided into multiple states without the consents of the state's legislature and of Congress.
- ^ Richard Curry, "A House Divided", pg. 149
- ^ ibid, pg. 147
- ^ Richard Curry, "A House Divided", map, pg. 49
- ^ Richard Curry, "A House Divided", pg. 86
- ^ "If it required a military force to hold an election, if Cabell County, which borders on the Ohio River, had to have a military force to hold an election there; if Boone had to have a military force to hold an election at two points; if a detachment went up and held an election there, and got into a corner of Raleigh and held an election there, with what difficulty are the counties represented?" Robert Hagar, Constitutional Convention delegate, quoted in "The Disruption of Virginia", by James McGregor, pg. 269
- ^ J. McGregor "The Disruption of Virginia", pgs. 192-93
- ^ V. Lewis "How West Virginia Was Made", pg. 79, note 1
- ^ C. Ambler "The History of West Virginia", pg. 318
- ^ McGregor, "Disruption of Virginia", pg. 271
- ^ R. Curry "A House Divided", pg. 8
- ^ Virginia v. West Virginia, 78 U.S. 39 (1870)
- ^ "Although early estimates noted that Union soldiers from the region outnumbered Confederates by more than three to one, more recent and detailed studies have concluded that there were nearly equal numbers of Union and Confederate soldiers." http://www.wvculture.org/HiStory/civwaran.html
- ^ Virgil Lewis "How West Virginia Was Made", pgs. 116-117
- ^ "Union troops were stationed outside polling places to intimidate those who might vote for Virginia. Despite local support for Virginia, residents who actually filled out ballots voted overwhelmingly to place both counties in West Virginia." http://www.wvculture.org/hiStory/statehoo.html
- ^ "If they proceeded now to direct a division of the State before a free expression of the people could be had, they would do a more despotic act than any ever done by the Richmond Convention itself. That Convention had offered the people of the State at least the form of a vote, and the Northwest at least had a full and free expression; and now they proposed to cut off Eastern Virginia without even the form of a vote. They now proposed a division when it was impossible for one-fourth of even the counties included in the boundaries proposed to give even an expression upon the proposition." Daniel Polsley, Lt. Governor of the Restored Government of Virginia, Second Wheeling Convention, August 16, 1861, quoted in Virgil Lewis, "How West Virginia Was Made", pg. 230
- ^ "Mr. Lamb, of Ohio County...declared that out of 2000 voters in Hampshire County, one hundred and ninety-five votes had been cast and he had heard that of these one hundred were cast by soldiers. Mr. Carskadon confirmed this and added that only thirty-nine were the votes of citizens of the state." James McGregor "The Disruption of Virginia", pg. 270
- ^ Richard Curry "A House Divided", pg. 90.
- ^ http://www.wvculture.org/hiStory/statehoo.html West Virginia Statehood
- ^ How Virginia Split Into "East" and West Virginia (But With Only Three Shenandoah Valley Counties, and Without Southwest Virginia)
- Charles H. Ambler, Sectionalism in Virginia from 1776 to 1861 (1910)
- Charles H. Ambler, A History of Education in West Virginia From Early Colonial Times to 1949 (1951), 1000 pages
- Charles H. Ambler and Festus P. Summers. West Virginia, the Mountain State (1958) a standard history
- Jane S. Becker, Inventing Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930-1940 1998.
- Richard A. Brisbin, et al. West Virginia Politics and Government (1996)
- James Morton Callahan, History of West Virginia (1923) 3 vol
- John C. Campbell, The Southern Highlander and His Homeland (1921)reissued 1969.
- David Alan Corbin, Life, Work, and Rebellion in the Coal Fields: The Southern West Virginia Miners, 1880-1922 (1981)
- Phil Conley, History of West Virginia Coal Industry (Charleston: Education Foundation, 1960)
- Richard Orr Curry, A House Divided: A Study of Statehood Politics and Copperhead Movement in West Virginia (1964)
- Richard Orr Curry, "A Reappraisal of Statehood Politics in West Virginia", Journal of Southern History 28 ( November 1962): 403-21. in JSTOR
- Donald Edward Davis. Where There Are Mountains: An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians 2000.
- Keith Dix, What's a Coal Miner to Do? The Mechanization of Coal Mining (1988), changeS in the coal industry prior to 1940
- Ronald D, Eller. Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South, 1880–1930 1982.
- Carl E. Feather, Mountain People in a Flat Land: A Popular History of Appalachian Migration to Northeast Ohio, 1940–1965. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1998.
- Thomas R. Ford ed. The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1967.
- Horace Kephart, Our Southern Highlanders. Rev. ed. New York: Macmillan, 1922. Reprinted as Our Southern Highlanders: A Narrative of Adventure in the Southern Appalachians and a Study of Life among the Mountaineers . With an Introduction by George Ellison. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976.
- Ronald L. Lewis. Black Coal Miners in America: Race, Class, and Community Conflict. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1987.
- Richard D. Lunt, Law and Order vs. the Miners: West Virginia, 1907-1933 (Hamden CT: Archon Books, 1979), On labor conflicts of the early twentieth century.
- James C. McGregor, The Disruption of Virginia. Macmillan, 1922
- Gerald Milnes, Play of a Fiddle: Traditional Music, Dance, and Folklore in West Virginia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1999.
- Kenneth W. Noe. "Exterminating Savages: The Union Army and Mountain Guerrillas in Southern West Virginia, 1861–186." In Noe and Shannon H. Wilson, Civil War in Appalachia (1997), 104–30.
- Mary Beth Pudup, Dwight B. Billings, and Altina L. Waller, eds. Appalachia in the Making: The Mountain South in the Nineteenth Century. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
- Otis K. Rice, The Allegheny Frontier: West Virginia Beginnings, 1730-1830 (1970),
- Michael P. Riccards, "Lincoln and the Political Question: The Creation of the State of West Virginia" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, 1997
- Otis K. Rice and Stephen W. Brown, West Virginia: A History, 2d ed. ( Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993), standard
- Dan Rottenberg, In the Kingdom of Coal: An American Family and the Rock That Changed the World (2003), owners' perspective
- Curtis Seltzer, Fire in the Hole: Miners and Managers in the American Coal Industry (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1985), conflict in the coal industry to the 1980s.
- William G. Shade, Democratizing the Old Dominion: Virginia and the Second American Party System, 1824–1861. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996.
- Festus P. Summers, William L. Wilson and Tariff Reform, a Biography (1953)
- Joe William Trotter Jr., Coal, Class, and Color: Blacks in Southern West Virginia, 1915-32 (1990)
- John Alexander Williams, West Virginia: A History for Beginners. 2nd ed. Charleston, W.Va.: Appalachian Editions, 1997.
- John Alexander Williams. West Virginia: A Bicentennial History (1976)
- John Alexander Williams. West Virginia and the Captains of Industry 1976.
- John Alexander Williams. Appalachia: A History (2002)
- WV, An Archaeological Treasure Online Gallery, Fort Ancients
- THE OHIO VALLEY-GREAT LAKES ETHNOHISTORY ARCHIVES: THE MIAMI COLLECTION
- Compact History Geographic Overview by Lee Sultzman
- Classics of American Colonial History, Dinsmore Documentation
- "THE DISCOVERY, SETTLEMENT And present State of KENTUCKE"(Page 100-103)--1784 Mr John Filson (1747-1788)
- The Appalachian Indian Frontier; "The Edmond Atkin Report and Plan of 1755", edited by Wilbur R. Jacobs, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1967
- Elizabeth Cometti, and Festus P. Summers. The Thirty-fifth State: A Documentary History of West Virginia. Morgantown: West Virginia University Library, 1966.
- History of Virginia
- Lost counties
- Readjuster Party
- Wheeling Convention
- List of Registered Historic Places in West Virginia
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