On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state to enter the Union. Its statehood was granted in the middle of the Civil War, and sentiments were torn between North and South. West Virginia sent over 31,000 men to the Federal army and between 16,000 and 20,000 to the Confederacy. The Civil War in West Virginia was, indeed, “a brother’s war.”
In 1866, the state of West Virginia authorized the minting of over 26,000 medals to honor its Civil War Union soldiers, but couldn’t find many of the veterans. Some had come from other states and some left after the war. Was your ancestor one of them?
West Virginia is the only state created by carving out territory from another state (Virginia), without that state’s permission. In a public referendum, voters overwhelmingly supported the creation of the new state, to be called Kanawha, however the name was never adopted.
The West Virginia flag is a white field bordered in dark blue. In the center, a rock is shown with the date June 20, 1863,. On either side is a man, one representing farming, the other mining. Below them are two rifles with “Liberty Caps”. A banner ribbon is inscribed with the state motto: ” Mountaineers Are Always Free”. Around the picture is a wreath of the state flower, the rhododendron.