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My Virginia Ancestor Just Changed States Without Moving…How?

November 26, 1861

On this date in 1861, West Virginia began the Secessionist Convention that would result in its breaking away from the Confederate state of Virginia, the only state to form by seceding from a Confederate state and one of three states to secede from another state. It was a key Civil War "border state."

Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States a year earlier with virtually no support from the South. His election resulted in the country's southernmost states leaving the Union and forming the Confederacy. On April 17, 1861, days after Lincoln's order to seize Fort Sumter in South Carolina, a convention of Virginians voted to submit a secession bill to the people. Led by Virginia's John Snyder Carlile (shown) of Clarksburg, western delegates marched out of the Secession Convention, vowing to form a state government loyal to the Union.
(West Virginia Created By Secession From Southern Confederate State, African-American Registry,, accessed November 25, 2017)

June 20 1863 - Congress grants statehood to the State of West Virginia

Why is this history important to genealogists? Because it means that you'll have two separate addresses and states for your 19th century Virginia/West Virginia ancestors - even though they never moved from their home. 

For example, within the same family, one child born in Marion County, 1858, would have had Marion County, Virginia on his birth certificate. His sister, born in 1865 in the same house, would have shown Marion County, West Virginia on her birth certificate.

It makes it interesting when researching family trees and making sure the correct state is recorded for the correct years throughout each ancestor's history.

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