West Virginia is a state located in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States. It is bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the north (and, slightly, east), and Maryland to the northeast. West Virginia is the 41st largest by area and the 38th most populous of the 50 United States. The capital and largest city is Charleston.
West Virginia became a state following the Wheeling Conventions of 1861, in which 50 northwestern counties of Virginia decided to break away from Virginia during the American Civil War. The new state was admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863, and was a key Civil War border state. West Virginia was the only state to form by seceding from a Confederate state and was one of two states formed during the American Civil War (the other being Nevada, which separated from Utah Territory).
The Census Bureau and the Association of American Geographers classify West Virginia as part of the South. The northern panhandle extends adjacent to Pennsylvania and Ohio, with the West Virginia cities of Wheeling and Weirton just across the border from the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, while Bluefield is less than from North Carolina. Huntington in the southwest is close to the states of Ohio and Kentucky, while Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry in the Eastern Panhandle region are considered part of the Washington metropolitan area, in between the states of Maryland and Virginia. The unique position of West Virginia means that it is often included in several geographical regions, including the Mid-Atlantic, the Upland South, and the Southeastern United States. It is the only state that is entirely within the area served by the Appalachian Regional Commission; the area is commonly defined as "Appalachia".
The state is noted for its mountains and rolling hills, its historically significant logging and coal mining industries, and its political and labor history. It is one of the most densely karstic areas in the world, making it a choice area for recreational caving and scientific research. The karst lands contribute to much of the state's cool trout waters. It is also known for a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, including skiing, whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and hunting.
Many ancient man-made earthen mounds from various prehistoric mound builder cultures survive, especially in the areas of Moundsville, South Charleston, and Romney. The artifacts uncovered in these give evidence of village societies. They had a tribal trade system culture that crafted cold worked copper pieces.
The Iroquois drove out other American Indian tribes from the region to reserve the upper Ohio Valley as a hunting ground in the 1670s, during the Beaver Wars. Siouan language tribes such as the Moneton had also been recorded in the area previously.
The area now occupied by West Virginia was contested territory among European Americans as well, with the colonies of Pennsylvania and Virginia claiming territorial rights before the American Revolutionary War. Some speculative land companies, such as the Vandalia Company, and later the Ohio Company and Indiana Company, tried to legitimize their claims to land in parts of West Virginia and Kentucky, but failed. With the settlement of the Pennsylvania and Virginia border dispute, which resulted in the creation of Kentucky, Kentuckians "were satisfied [...], and the inhabitants of a large part of West Virginia were grateful."
West Virginia was originally part of the British Virginia Colony from 1607 to 1776 and the western part of the state of Virginia (which was commonly referred as Trans-Allegheny Virginia prior to the formation of West Virginia) from 1776 to 1863. Long discontented with electoral malapportionment and underrepresentation in the state legislature, its residents became sharply divided over the issue of secession from the Union during the Civil War. Residents of the western and northern counties set up a separate government under Francis Pierpont in 1861, which they called the "restored" government. Most voted to separate from Virginia and the new state was admitted to the Union in 1863. In 1864 a state constitutional convention drafted a constitution, which was ratified by the legislature without putting it to popular vote. West Virginia abolished slavery and temporarily disfranchised men who had held Confederate office or fought for the Confederacy.
West Virginia's history has been profoundly affected by its mountainous terrain, numerous and vast river valleys, and rich natural resources. These were all factors driving its economy and the lifestyles of its residents, and remain so today.
A 2010 analysis of a local stalagmite revealed that native Americans were burning forests to clear land as early as 100 BC. Some regional late-prehistoric Eastern Woodland tribes were more involved in hunting and fishing, practicing the slash and burn Eastern Agricultural Complex gardening method. Another group progressed to the more time-consuming, advanced companion crop fields method of gardening. Also continuing from ancient indigenous people of the state, field space and time was given to tobacco growing through to early historic.
"Maize (corn) did not make a substantial contribution to the diet until after 1150 B.P.", to quote Mills (OSU 2003). Eventually, tribal villages began relying heavily on corn to feed their turkey flocks, as Kanawha Fort Ancients practiced bird husbandry. The local Indians made corn bread and a flat rye bread called "banick" as they emerged from the protohistoric era. A horizon extending from a little before the early 18th century is sometimes called the acculturating Fireside Cabin culture, when trading posts along the Potomac and James rivers spread across the state.
Robert F. Maslowski wrote, "The Adena Indians used pipes for ceremonies. They were carved of stone and they were exceptional works of art. Pipes and the smoking of tobacco became more common during the Late Prehistoric period. They were often made of clay and rather plain." "Nothing is known about Paleo-Indian and Archaic houses in the Kanawha Valley, but archeologists have found evidence of Woodland and Fort Ancient houses." "Woodland Indians lived in wigwams ... The Woodland Indians grew sunflowers, gourds, squash and several seeds such as lambsquarter, may grass, sumpweed, smartweed and little barley." "Fort Ancient Indians lived in much larger square or rectangular houses ... The Fort Ancient Indians can be considered true farmers. They cultivated large agricultural fields around their villages. They no longer grew such a variety of seeds but concentrated on growing corn, beans, sunflowers, gourds, and many types of squash including the pumpkin. They also grew domestic turkeys and kept dogs as pets." As of 2009, over 12,500 archaeological sites have been documented in West Virginia (Bryan Ward 2009:10).
European exploration and settlement
In 1671, General Abraham Wood, at the direction of Royal Governor William Berkeley of the Virginia Colony, sent a party from Fort Henry led by Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam that discovered Kanawha Falls. Some sources state that Governor Alexander Spotswood's 1716 Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition (for which the state's Golden Horseshoe Competition for 8th graders was named) had penetrated as far as Pendleton County, however original accounts of the excursion suggest to modern historians that none of his horsemen ventured much farther west of the Blue Ridge Mountains than Harrisonburg, Virginia. John Van Metre, an Indian trader, penetrated into the northern portion in 1725. The same year, German settlers from Pennsylvania founded New Mecklenburg, the present Shepherdstown, on the Potomac River, and others followed.
King Charles II of England, in 1661, granted to a company of gentlemen the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, known as the Northern Neck. The grant finally came into the possession of Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, 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 between 1748 and 1751. The diary kept by the surveyor indicates that there were already many squatters, largely of German origin, along the South Branch Potomac River. Christopher Gist, a surveyor in the employ of 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 between 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 resistance. Few Native Americans lived permanently within the present limits of the state, but the region was a common hunting ground, crossed by many trails. During the French and Indian War the scattered British settlements were almost destroyed.
In 1774, the Crown Governor of Virginia John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, led a force over the mountains, and a body of militia under then-Colonel Andrew Lewis dealt the Shawnee Indians, under Hokoleskwa (or "Cornstalk"), a crushing blow during the Battle of Point Pleasant at the junction of the Kanawha and the Ohio rivers. At the Treaty of Camp Charlotte concluding Dunmore's War, Cornstalk agreed to recognize the Ohio as the new boundary with the "Long Knives". By 1776, however, the Shawnee had returned to war, joining the Chickamauga. Native American 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. However, Claypool's Rebellion of 1780–1781, in which a group of men refused to pay Colonial taxes showed war-weariness in West Virginia.
Social conditions in western Virginia were entirely unlike those 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 Scotch-Irish, and settlers from the states farther north. Counties in the east and south were settled mostly by east Virginians. During the American Revolution, the movement to create a state beyond the Alleghenies was revived and 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, economic, and cultural differences (see Tuckahoe-Cohee) between the two sections of Virginia.
A convention that 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 U.S. House of Representatives. As a result, every county beyond the Alleghenies except one voted to reject the constitution, which nevertheless passed because of eastern support.
The Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850–51, the Reform Convention, addressed a number of issues important to western Virginians. The vote was extended to all white males of 21 years of age plus. The governor, lieutenant-governor, the judiciary, sheriffs, and other county officers were to be elected by public vote. The composition of the General Assembly was changed; representation in the house of delegates was apportioned on the white basis of the census of 1850, but the Senate was fixed arbitrarily, the west receiving twenty, and the east thirty, senators. This was made acceptable to the west by a provision that required the General Assembly to reapportion representation on the white basis in 1865, or else put the matter to a public referendum. But the east also gave itself a tax advantage in requiring a property tax at true and actual value, except for slaves. Slaves under the age of 12 years were not taxed and slaves over that age were taxed at only $300, a fraction of their true value. Small farmers, however, had all their assets, animals, and land taxed at full value. Despite this tax and the lack of internal improvements in the west, the vote was 75,748 for and 11,063 against the new Constitution, most of the latter being from eastern counties, which did not like the compromises made for the west.
Given these differences, many in the west had long contemplated a separate state. In particular, men like the lawyer Francis H. Pierpont from Fairmont, had long chafed under the political domination of the Tidewater and Piedmont slave-holders. In addition to differences over the abolition of slavery, it was felt the Virginia government ignored and refused to spend funds on needed internal improvements in the west, such as turnpikes and railroads.
Separation from Virginia
West Virginia was the only state in the Union to secede from a Confederate state (Virginia) during the American Civil War. In Richmond on April 17, 1861, the 49 delegates from the future state of West Virginia voted 17 in favor of the Ordinance of Secession (of Virginia from the United States), 30 against, and 2 abstentions. Almost immediately after the vote to proceed with secession from the Union prevailed in the Virginia General Assembly, a mass meeting at Clarksburg recommended that each county in northwestern Virginia send delegates to a convention to meet in Wheeling on May 13, 1861. When this First Wheeling Convention met, 425 delegates from 25 counties were present, though more than one-third of the delegates were from the northern panhandle area, 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 passed by the required referendum, 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 would meet in Wheeling in June 1861. At the election on May 23, 1861, secession was ratified by a large majority in the state as a whole, but in the western counties 34,677 voted against and 19,121 voted for the Ordinance.
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. The Wheeling Conventions, and the delegates themselves, were never actually elected by public ballot to act on behalf of western Virginia. An act for the reorganization of the government was passed on June 19. The next day Francis H. Pierpont was chosen by other delegates at the convention to be governor of Virginia, other officers were elected, and the convention adjourned. The legislature was composed of 103 members, 33 of whom had been elected to the Virginia General Assembly on May 23.
This number included some hold-over Senators from 1859 and as such had vacated their offices to convene in Wheeling. The other members "were chosen even more irregularly—some in mass meetings, others by county committee, and still others were seemingly self-appointed" This irregular assembly met on June 20 and appointed Unionists to hold the remainder of the state offices, organized a rival state government, and elected two United States senators who were promptly recognized by the federal government in Washington, D.C. Thus, there were two state governments in Virginia, one pledging allegiance to the United States and one to the Confederacy.
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 October 24, 1861 election, 18,408 votes were cast for the new state and only 781 against. The veracity of these election results has been questioned, since the Union army then occupied the area and Union troops were stationed at many of the polls to prevent Confederate sympathizers from voting. Most of the affirmative votes came from 16 counties around the Northern panhandle. Over 50,000 votes had been cast on the Ordinance of Secession, yet the vote on statehood garnered little more than 19,000. In Ohio County, home to Wheeling, only about one-quarter of the registered voters cast votes. At the Constitutional Convention in November 1861, a Mr. Lamb of Ohio County and a Mr. Carskadon said that in Hampshire County, out of 195 votes only 39 were cast by citizens of the state; the rest were cast illegally by Union soldiers. In most of what would become West Virginia, there was no vote at all as two-thirds of the territory of West Virginia had voted for secession and county officers were still loyal to Richmond. Votes recorded from pro-secession counties were mostly cast elsewhere by Unionist refugees from these counties. The convention began on November 26, 1861 and finished its work on February 18, 1862; the instrument was ratified (18,162 for and 514 against) on April 11, 1862.
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 Abraham Lincoln admitting West Virginia, on the condition that a provision for the gradual abolition of slavery be inserted in its constitution. While many felt that West Virginia's admission as a state was both illegal and unconstitutional, Lincoln issued his Opinion on the Admission of West Virginia finding that "the body which consents to the admission of West Virginia is the Legislature of Virginia," and that its admission was therefore both constitutional and expedient.
The convention was reconvened on February 12, 1863, and the abolition demand of the federal enabling act was met. The revised constitution was adopted on March 26, 1863 and on April 20, 1863, President Lincoln issued a proclamation admitting the state 60 days later on June 20, 1863. Meanwhile, officers for the new state were chosen, while Gov. Pierpont moved his pro-Union Virginia capital to Union-occupied Alexandria, where he asserted and exercised jurisdiction over all of the remaining Virginia counties within the federal lines.
The question of the constitutionality of the formation of the new state was later brought before the Supreme Court of the United States in the following manner: 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 of the strongly pro-secessionist counties were absent in the Confederate Army when the vote was taken and refused to acknowledge the transfer upon their return. The Virginia General Assembly repealed the act of secession and in 1866 brought suit against West Virginia, asking the court to declare the counties a part of Virginia which would have declared West Virginia's admission as a state unconstitutional. Meanwhile, on March 10, 1866, Congress passed a joint resolution recognizing the transfer. The Supreme Court decided in favor of West Virginia in 1870.
During the Civil War, Union General George B. McClellan's forces gained possession of the greater part of the territory in the summer of 1861, culminating at the Battle of Rich Mountain, and Union control was never again seriously threatened, despite an attempt by Robert E. Lee 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 ended. The Eastern Panhandle counties were more affected by the war, with military control of the area repeatedly changing hands.
The area which became West Virginia actually furnished about an equal number of soldiers to the federal and Confederate armies, approximately 22,000–25,000 each. The Wheeling government found it necessary in 1865 to strip voting rights from returning Confederates in order to retain control. James Ferguson, who proposed the law, said that if it was not enacted he would lose election by 500 votes. The property of Confederates might also 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. On August 22, 1872, an entirely new constitution was adopted.
Beginning in Reconstruction, and for several decades thereafter, the two states disputed the new state's share of the pre-war Virginia government's debts, 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 which was based upon this, 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, Virginia funded two-thirds of the debt and arbitrarily assigned the remainder to West Virginia. The issue was finally settled in 1915, when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that West Virginia owed Virginia $12,393,929.50. The final installment of this sum was paid in 1939.
Development of natural resources
After Reconstruction, the new 35th state benefited from the development of its mineral resources more than any other single economic activity.
Saltpeter caves had been employed throughout Appalachia for munitions; the border between West Virginia and Virginia includes the "Saltpeter Trail", a string of limestone caverns containing rich deposits of calcium nitrate that were rendered and sold to the government. The trail stretched from Pendleton County to the western terminus of the route in the town of Union, Monroe County. Nearly half of these caves are on the West Virginia side, including Organ Cave and Haynes Cave. In the late 18th-century, saltpeter miners in Haynes Cave found large animal bones in the deposits. These were sent by a local historian and frontier soldier Colonel John Stuart to Thomas Jefferson. The bones were named Megalonyx jeffersonii, or great-claw, and became known as Jefferson's three-toed sloth. It was declared the official state fossil of West Virginia in 2008. The West Virginia official state rock is bituminous coal, and the official state gemstone is silicified Mississippian fossil Lithostrotionella coral.
The limestone also produced a useful quarry industry, usually small, and softer, high-calcium seams were burned to produce industrial lime. This lime was used for agricultural and construction purposes; for many years a specific portion of the C & O Railroad carried limestone rock to Clifton Forge, Virginia as an industrial flux.
Salt mining had been underway since the 18th century, though it 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. Later, more sophisticated mining methods would restore West Virginia's role as a major producer of salt.
However, in the second half of the 19th century, there was an even greater treasure not yet developed, bituminous coal. It would fuel much of the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. and the 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 that it could be used for heating and fuel. However, for a long time, very small "personal" mines were the only practical development. 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. Geologists such as Dr. David T. Ansted surveyed potential coal fields and invested in land and early mining projects.
The completion of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) across the state to the new city of Huntington on the Ohio River in 1872 opened access to the New River Coal Field. Soon, the C&O was building its huge coal pier at Newport News, Virginia on the large harbor of Hampton Roads. In 1881, the new Philadelphia-based owners of the former Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad (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 his wife named "Pocahontas", the N&W redirected its planned westward expansion to reach it. Soon, the N&W was also shipping from new coal piers at Hampton Roads.
In 1889, in the southern part of the state, along the Norfolk and Western rail lines, the important coal center of Bluefield, West Virginia 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. 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). 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 .
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 and 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 fewer 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. The VGN and the N&W ultimately became parts of the modern Norfolk Southern system, and the VGN's well-engineered 21st-century tracks continue to offer a favorable gradient to Hampton Roads.
As coal mining and related work became major employment activities in the state, there was considerable labor strife as working conditions, safety issues and economic concerns arose. Even in the 21st century, mining safety and ecological concerns is still challenging to the state whose coal continues to power electrical generating plants in many other states.
Coal is not the only valuable mineral found in West Virginia, as the state was the site of the 1928 discovery of the 34.48 carat (6.896 g) Jones Diamond.
Note: West Virginia was admitted as a State on June 20, 1863, comprising 50 counties formerly part of Virginia. Berkeley County and Jefferson County were subjects of litigation after the Civil War, and may have operated as part of the State of Virginia for some period of time, but the 1863 effective date of their incorporation into West Virginia was eventually upheld by both Congress and the Supreme Court, nullifying any actions taken during any return to Virginia. Census coverage included all parts of the present State from 1790 on. Populations for 1790-1850 are totals of the Virginia counties that were wholly or primarily within the present-day boundaries of West Virginia; populations at these censuses are not available for the exact present area of the State, because some Virginia counties extended across the current State line. Population for 1860 is the total of the 50 Virginia counties that formed West Virginia in 1863 and 1866, and does refer to the present area of the State.
Births, Marriages, and Deaths
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
Links to West Virginia Genealogy and Historical Web Sites
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is currently involved in the Vital Records Research Project which is making available birth, marriage and death information for all counties in the state for online access. This is an ongoing project; currently there are birth and marriage records for sixteen counties but all years are not yet available. State death certificates for individuals from all 55 counties dating from 1917 through 1957 are currently available online in a viewable, searchable and downloadable format. Additional death certificates will be added in a batch once a year as the certificates pass the 50-year mark of issuance.
Outstanding guide to West Virginia family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.
This site also offers Place Names in West Virginia for cities, towns, villages, current and historic, in West Virginia.
This site, Mother of all Counties gives dates and mother counties of all the counties in West Virginia even while the state was still Virginia. You need to scroll to the bottom of the page to select from alpha list. Another list of counties with dates of organization is here: http://www.wvgenweb.org/
Hackers Creek Pioneer Descendants is an organization dedicated to the history and genealogy of West Virginia, especially the central part of the state. Lewis County, Harrison County, Monongalia County, Barbour County, Upshur County, Webster County, Braxton County, Gilmer County, and Doddridge County all have special interest for them; but members research in most of the counties in the northern half of West Virginia. In addition to this website, they operate a library dedicated to genealogy and historical research and publish numerous research tools for the region.
West Virginia Biographies searchable by county; then surname.
WVGenWeb Project is a loosely woven, nonprofit, grassroots association of individuals interested in preserving and freely sharing all types of genealogical and historical records within and about the state of West Virginia, known as Western and Northwestern Virginia prior to the formation of the state of West Virginia in 1863. WVGenWeb provides a central location for this information by means of computer networking via the Internet.
List of West Virginia Web Sites hosted by RootsWeb. This includes sites for each county plus many sites dedicated to various West Virginia subjects.
http://claywvhistoricalsociety.org/ Clay County Historical Society Website
The West Virginia Cemetery Preservation Association works to document, gather information, increase public awareness, raise funds, organize projects, and network with other organizations and tradesmen to preserve, protect, and maintain our historical cemeteries and churches in West Virginia. They work to document these historic landmarks and make them available to all on the internet.
West Virginia in the Civil War Site includes much info on both Union and Confederate Regiments