West Virginians will be in a celebratory mood Thursday when the state’s sesquicentennial is marked in scores of events across the Mountain State.
What is now West Virginia was first created in Wheeling in 1861 when Francis Pierpont was made governor of the “Restored Virginia” government during the Wheeling Conventions. The Mountain State, though, did not officially become the 35th state until June 20, 1863, following a proclamation from President Abraham Lincoln. The proclamation was actually issued in April, but did not take effect until 60 days later.
June 20 will be marked by historical events, parades, musical performances and re-enactments throughout West Virginia.
In Charleston, a bell ringing will be held at the State Capitol at 1:50 p.m Thursday. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and others will lead the sesquicentennial ceremony, which will include a representative of the U.S. Postal Service since a new stamp marking West Virginia’s 150th birthday will go on sale on Thursday.
The Mineral County Democratic Executive Committee will sponsor a celebration at the Mineral County Court House on Thursday. Participants in the bi-partisan event will gather at 1 p.m. and the celebration will begin at 1:15 p.m. Attendees are urged to bring a lawn chair and a bell to ring.
The program will include Jay Courrier portraying Gov. Francis Pierpont reading the proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln declared making West Virginia a state.
A local artist will sing “Home Among the Hills” and lead the crowd in singing “West Virginia Hills.” Five Mineral Countians will tell why they are proud to be a West Virginian.
At 1:50 p.m., everyone will join in ringing bells with citizens all around West Virginia to commemorate the exact time the proclamation was read in 1863. The event is open to the public and birthday cake will be served.
The Interstate 68 Welcome Center near Hazleton will mark the occasion with a birthday cake. JC & the Boys & a Girl will perform. Crafts will be on display and refreshments served by Preston County Chamber of Commerce.
We join in offering a hearty congratulations to all West Virginians on this most memorable and historic occasion.