Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith and her grandson Tucker showing their West Virginia pride. “It's always important to recognize when you became a state and the importance of that. We set our own rules and have our own path as a state, and I think that's important,” Smith said.

Happy 158th birthday, West Virginia!

BUCKHANNON – Sunday, June 20, was the 158th anniversary of West Virginia joining the union, but members of the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee didn’t want to interfere with Father’s Day celebrations.

So, they opted to host the Mountain State’s 158th birthday celebration in the Upshur County Courthouse Plaza starting at 11:30 a.m. Monday, June 21 and wrapping up later that afternoon. Patty Adams, chairman of the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee, and her granddaughter, Gaidian Adams, were on hand to serve up some blue-and-gold birthday cake and Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith brought her grandson, Tucker, to display their West Virginia pride.

Patty Adams, chairman of the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee, and her granddaughter Gaidian Adams setting up to celebrate West Virginia’s 158th birthday. “We usually just come to the courthouse and serve cake to the community or anybody who comes by to remember West Virginia Day, although we’re a day late. Yesterday was Father’s Day, and we didn’t want to interfere with that,” Adams said. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

A few fast facts about the Mountain State:

  • When Virginia voted to secede from the Union during the Civil War, the people who lived in the western, mountainous part of the state opposed the decision and organized a campaign to form their own state, West Virginia, in support of the Union.
  • Congress granted statehood to West Virginia, the Mountain State, June 20, 1863.
  • The state tree is the sugar maple, the state flower is the rhododendron, and the state bird is the cardinal. In addition, the state mammal is the black bear, and the state reptile is the timber rattlesnake, while the state insect is the Western honeybee.
  • West Virginia’s motto is Montani Semper Liberi, which means, “Mountaineers are always free.”
  • “Kanawha” was the name first suggested for the state, a name that, according to, “honored a Native American tribe and a major state river of the same name.”
  • The Mountain State’s original capital was Wheeling, before it shifted to the current capital, and then back to Wheeling. However, residents voted on a capital in 1877, and when Wheeling was not listed among the choices, voters picked Charleston over Clarksburg and Martinsburg. Charleston’s status as the permanent state capital was cemented in 1885, according to
The birthday cake the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee was distributing in front of the courthouse to commemorate West Virginia Day. “This is our beautiful courthouse, and I just think it’s neat to be in the center town. I love West Virginia and we have so many historical places to offer and people just need to visit West Virginia more,” Adams said.

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