Originally, the region that is today the state of West Virginia was part of the state of Virginia. The colony of Virginia sent in explorers to these western lands as early as the 1670s. By the early 1700’s counties were being partitioned in the colony and what is today West Virginia was then named Orange County, including the lands west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
For most of the 1700s, the land was considered wilderness and a place for frontiersmen, trappers, and explorers. With growing demand from the tannery business in the East, trappers were after beaver in the western Virginia wilderness and came by canoe and raft from the eastern part of the state or down from Pennsylvania in the north along the rivers and creeks. The Daniel Boone Trading Post was established about 1790 at the mouth of Crooked Creek at Point Pleasant, West Virginia to service the needs of these wilderness folk.
During the American Revolution, there was a movement to create a state beyond the Alleghany Mountains called “Westsylvania” which was presented to the United States Congress, on the grounds that the mountains made an almost impassable barrier to the east. Western and eastern Virginia were very different in social, political, and economic experiences creating the growing wish for a separation between the two halves. In the western end of the state were immigrants from Ireland, Whales, and Scotland living in rural mountainous terrain and living by trapping, hunting, fishing, and trading. In the East were the wealthy plantation owners who were most often slave owners and of English descent.
The state of West Virginia came into existence during the American Civil War, when the people in the western end of the state of Virginia disagreed strongly on the issue of slavery and Virginia’s secession from the Union to join the Confederate States of America.
On Saturday, June 20, 1863, West Virginia officially became the 35 th state of the Union of the United States of America by seceding from Virginia and the Confederacy of southern states and rejoining the northern states.