Charleston, WV - 10/02/2011

Published at 8:51 PM in , ,

The State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia

Today was a cool, breezy day in Charleston, West Virginia.  Although unusual in a lot of states, the capitol building in Charleston is open on Sundays, with brochures provided to do a self-guided tour.  So taking advantage of the ample weekend parking and low crowds, we headed downtown to see the capitol.

World War I tribute

There is a beautiful and moving tribute to the veterans of West Virginia.  It features a sculpture on the outside of a military member in the uniform of the time from each of the major wars in U.S. history.  On the inside, the names of the West Virginia casualties are inscribed.  Fountains surround it.

A plaque below the bust to honor the creator of Mother's Day

The outside of the building is very ornate, with the dome of the capitol covered in 23 1/2 karat gold.  The dome itself stands higher than the dome of the U.S. capitol in Washington, D.C.  Inside there is marble everywhere.  There is a bust of the woman who developed Mother's Day to honor the hard work her mother did during the Civil War, as well as time capsule placed behind a wall.  Overall a beautiful capitol.

Displays from the first state musuem

The real treasure, however, is the state museum.  The museum is part of a cultural center on the capitol grounds.  Inside the lobby is a display of all the West Virginia pottery and glassware made in the state, such as Fiesta Ware.  The museum display is on the lower level.  It takes you through time by walking through the history of West Virginia, beginning in prehistoric times with fossils found in the area.  There was a giant block of coal, as well.  So many learning opportunities!

Vance Family Cabin

One of our favorite exhibits featured a log cabin.  This cabin was built in the mid to late 1800s by the Vance family, which they later donated to be used as the schoolhouse.  Once another school was eventually built, the cabin was used for another family to live in.  That family's daughter donated the cabin to the state in 2008.  It was dismantled, moved, and reassembled in the museum.  This cabin was of particular interest to us because Jim's grandmother, on his mother's side, was a Vance from Logan County.  It was part of Jim's family who built this cabin! It was very exciting to see something in a museum that our ancestor's owned!  Jim called his sister, Trish, who studies the family genealogy, to verify the names.  Very cool!

The Hatfields & McCoys

Another interesting feature was an exhibit on the famous Hatfield-McCoy family feud.  While no one knows the exact reason for the feud, whether a forbidden love or stolen hog, it began with the murder of a Hatfield by three McCoy brothers.  The Hatfields sought revenge and killed those three McCoys.  Years later, when the Kentucky prosecutor tried to indict the Hatfields, Jim Vance, the uncle of a Hatfield, (also of Logan County and a family relation!) burned down a McCoy house and killed his family.  Revenge was sought through the murder of another Hatfield relative, and hauling several Hatfields down to the county jail.  In the end, several Hatfields went to jail, and one was hanged.  I wondered why none of the McCoys were tried for their murders.  After all, they committed the first crime!

So this trip was very neat - family history in the state museum!  Lesson learned: watch out - my kids have some Hatfield in 'em!

More pictures are in the Photo Gallery.

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