FRANKLIN - Pendleton County celebrated West Virginia's 150th birthday with the dedication of a Civil War Soldier monument located on the corner of the courthouse lawn.
The sesquicentennial celebration took place on June 20, West Virginia Day.
The Brigadier General James Boggs Camp No. 1706, Sons of Confederate Veterans, the 7th West Virginia Infantry Camp No. 7 and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) petitioned the Pendleton County Commission in 2011 to erect the monument of a young soldier representing both sides of the bloody war in which more than 100,000 Americans lost their lives.
From left are Louis Turner, Randy Ours, County Commissioner Gene McConnell, Austen Whetzel, Dewayne Borror, Wayne Huffman and Roger Ashley in front of the Civil War statue on the corner of courthouse lawn.
"The years 2010 until 2015 are the sesquicentennial years (150th anniversary) of the war between the states," said local historian Dewayne Borror, commander of the SCV and a Pendleton County Historical Society board member.
"The statue's uniform represents both sides to serve as a memory to the local men and women, both Confederate and Union, who served in the war," Borror added.
The sons of Pendleton County were predominately Confederate, fighting and dying for what they believed in.
"They were Southern to the end, holding the last county court under the laws of Virginia just three days before General (Robert E.) Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865," Borror said.
Even so, those who remained loyal to the Union "are to be admired," the historian said.
Living in a hostile area these men stayed true to what they believed - men like John Boggs who was elected at the 1861 Constitutional Conventions held in Wheeling, which led to the creation of the state of West Virginia, Borror explained.
SUVCW Commander Randy Ours said most descendants are SOBs - "Sons of Both" because the area and even families were so divided.
"But, we're all Americans here today to honor all those Americans who lost their lives in this war," Ours said.
County Commissioner Gene McConnell, giving a brief state history, said the new state was "the result of an act of Congress on Dec. 31, 1862, and a proclamation from President Lincoln on April 20, 1863, which was effective 60 days later.
"West Virginia is truly a child of the Civil War and represents the only geographical boundary change as a result of the war," McConnell added.
As part of the West Virginia Day event, Franklin's church bells joined those across the state to ring 35 times at 1:50 p.m. to celebrate West Virginia as the 35th state.
The statue's base was built from the stones on the site of a nonworking water fountain built by the Works Progress Administration workers around 1938.
Borror said the site was chosen because the vote to join the Confederacy was passed in the former courthouse (of the war years) on this lot; local men enlisted in the Confederate Army and marched off to war from this corner; the former courthouse was used as a hospital by both sides during the war; the Union Home Guard raised the U.S. flag above this courthouse and sang songs of victory in 1865; and the Confederate veterans held many reunions here.
The site is also significant because a Confederate Calvary charged past the courthouse in pursuit of a withdrawing Union Army force in May 1862, after the occupation of Franklin; the Union Home Guard burned the adjacent county jailhouse to prevent confinement of their captured men in 1864; local heroine Phoebe Warner trudged over North Fork Mountain on a freezing snowy night to the nearby John Wilson house to warn of a Union raid in 1865; and Union Generals Robert Milroy and John C. Fremont established their headquarters in May 1862 in the William McCoy house across the street.
There were approximately 900 men from Pendleton who fought for the Confederate States of America and another 300-plus who served the United States in the regular army and in the Home Guard of West Virginia.
"Every native of Pendleton County can most likely trace their lineage to a soldier of that war on one side or the other or both," Borror said.
"No Matter what color wool -blue or gray -we wear today, we're all Americans representing our state for West Virginia Day," Borror said.