Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Jason Phillips

Committee Co-Chair

Melissa Bingmann

Committee Member

Kenneth Fones-Wolf


An empire of industry moved through West Virginia prior to the US Civil War, and saw a breed of capitalists and politicians who acquired control of land through purchase and through patent, developed control of the vote through industrial political influence, and encouraged the West Virginian to separate from an eastern Virginian society based in planter-elite agrarian society. The West Virginian who believed that self-sufficiency and subsistence farming could sustain his family saw his vote for statehood and separation from the Old Dominion transformed into an industrial coup. Land slowly but steadily slipped away from the hands of the mountaineer and into the hands of industrialists who extracted wealth, transforming the new state into an environment that privileged the capitalist and industry above the yeoman farmer. For the industrialists who made West Virginia their home, it appears that extraction of minerals and timber was not the only value taken from West Virginia. Political power and entre into the world of the global industrialist may have been a strong motivating factor, as opposed to simply reaping financial rewards. This work seeks to highlight the influence of these industrialists at the local level in such a way as to demonstrate the weight of this collective group of individuals upon the crafting of West Virginia statehood.