POSTED: August 8, 2009 in The Journal, Martinsburg, WV By Gary D. Sweeney

This year at the 102nd Col. Morgan Morgan Reunion, which is scheduled for today at Prickett's Fort in Fairmont, we pay tribute and remember David Morgan.

David Morgan (1721-1813) was the second son of Col. Morgan Morgan, the first permanent white settler in West Virginia. David Morgan was a developer, patriot and surveyor. When David Morgan was developing Fairmont and Marion County little did he know his actions would later help form the state of West Virginia.

When David Morgan was developing the land he realized that the area needed a tanner. John Pierpont lived in Maryland and at the request of David Morgan moved and settled on the Cheat River and established a business as a tanner. When young Pierpont was later kidnapped by Indians, David Morgan and Nathaniel Springer went and caught three Indians and traded them for John Pierpont, probably saving his life.

David Morgan's younger brother Zackquall Morgan, the founder of Morgan's Town (now Morgantown), had a daughter Nancy who met John Pierpont and married him. They in turn had a son named Francis who later married in 1814 and had a son named Francis H. Pierpont.

This Francis grew up in the Fairmont area and was a tanner, lawyer, teacher, coal mine operator, husband and father.

In 1861, the state of Virginia was preparing to leave the United States of America to join the Confederate States of America. Francis H. Pierpont was a delegate to the Wheeling Conventions, which were Virginians opposing the secession from the Union.

One night in May of 1861, Francis Pierpont sat in his library going through his constitutional law books trying to find a way to save Virginia to the Union. He took a plan to Wheeling on May 13, 1861, the first day of the first Wheeling Convention. John S. Carlile of Harrison County introduced a resolution proposing the creation of a new state named "New Virginia." However, an agreement was reached that no action should be taken until after the election of May 23, when Virginia voters would ratify or reject the secession ordinance passed in Richmond on April 17 of that year.

The results of the May 23 election, as announced by Gov. John Letcher, were 125,950 for secession and 20,373 against. Pierpont and the other delegates decided action was needed.

The second Wheeling Convention began on June 11, 1861. On the second day, a Parkersburg lawyer named Arthur I. Boreman told the delegates assembled: "If you gentlemen go with me, we will take definite, determined, qualified action as to the course we will pursue. We will take such action as will result in western Virginia, if not the whole of Virginia, remaining in the Union of our fathers." During the next few weeks the delegates adopted a declaration of rights and ordinances to reorganize the state government, provided means to finance that government and elected a new governor. Francis Pierpont was unanimously elected the Governor of the Restored State of Virginia. Officers were also elected to fill vacancies created by the new declaration of rights.

The reorganized state government was created to do business with the federal government in Washington, to look after the cause of the Union and the people west of the Allegheny Mountains. Thus in June of 1861, there were two state governments for Virginia.

At that time, there was no West Virginia, nor any proposition to create it. But the ideas were brewing and soon they would not be denied. For several months, the people of western Virginia were certain that their new state was going to be called Kanawha.

Several other names were also being considered ... Western Virginia, West Virginia, Alleghany, New Virginia and Augusta. It was later agreed to call the roll with each delegate stating the name they preferred. After the roll call the name West Virginia was selected.

Under Francis Pierpont's administration, the Restored State of Virginia presented a bill to Congress for statehood for its northwestern counties. Lincoln and Congress accepted the plan and Arthur Ingraham Boreman was elected the first governor of West Virginia on May 28, 1863.

Three weeks later on June 20, 1863, West Virginia was born. West Virginia was the only state to be formed during the Civil War by seceding from a Confederate state.

If there had been no David Morgan, would John Pierpont had moved to the Monongahela Valley and have a grandson whose statue stands in Statuary Hall of the Capitol of the United States of America as the "The Father of West Virginia?" If there had been no David Morgan, would there be a West Virginia?

Last year on June 19, 2008, the city of Faimont and Gov. Joe Manchin dedicated a David Morgan historic highway marker in honor of David Morgan.

Manchin stated, "It's an honor to have an opportunity to remember, with all of you, David Morgan: this pioneer, patriot, defender and developer of a town, a city and a state."

- Gary D. Sweeney is president of the Col. Morgan Morgan Reunion. He lives in Parkersburg, and can be reached at gdsweeneyusa @netscape.net

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