Harrison County Courthouse
In the beginning of the Civil War, Harrison County was one of the first counties in western Virginia that supported the Union. After Abraham Lincoln was elected many southern states were contemplating secession, but Harrison County was voicing their support for the Northern cause. Some of the earliest pro-Union meetings were held at the Harrison County Courthouse; These meetings are memorialized by a “Civil War Trails” plaque on the property.
Backstory and Context
At the beginning of the Civil War West Virginia was still part of Virginia. The first Union meeting was held here on November 24, 1860 shortly after the election of Abraham Lincoln. While the remainder of Virginia discussed secession, western Virginia held meetings of Union support. In April 1861, a revolt was staged in response to Virginia’s secession from the Union, and plans were made for the secession of western Virginia to become it's own state. These meetings help here selected individuals who would attend the First Wheeling Convention and lead to the formation of the state of West Virginia.
Also displayed at the Harrison County Courthouse is the flagstaff from the U.S.S. West Virginia. The American ship is a Colorado-class battleship. The ship launched on November 19, 1921. The battleship is the second ship named after the state of West Virginia. The ship first ran aground in Lynnhaven Channel and had to be repaired. After the repairs were made, the shop was a part of various training courses. The battleship won four medals in gunnery courses. Afterwards the ship was partook in fleet training operations until 1939, after which she was moved to Pearl Harbor. The ship was transferred to Pearl Harbor with the anticipation of an attack from Japan. Six torpedoes and two bombs sunk the ship. 106 service members lost their lives aboard the U.S.S. West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor. On May 17, 1942 water was drained from the hull to recover the ship.
After repairs, the U.S.S. West Virginia transferred to the Puget Sound Navy Yard, where the anti-aircraft guns and single-purpose guns were replaced with 5”/38 caliber anti-aircraft guns. In July 1944 the ship left the Puget Sound for Leyte Gulf. In November of 1944, the battleship was used in a successful attack on a portion of a Japanese fleet attempting to sail through the Surigao Strait. The ship was also used to attack Iwo Jima and Okinawa. As War World II drew to a close the battleship traveled to Tokya Bay for the surrender of the Japanese. The U.S.S. West Virginia also participated in Operation Magic Carpet, returning three times to transport soldiers home to America. The battleship was deactivated in January 1947 and scrapped in Bremerton, WA in 1959.
The current Harrison County Courthouse is not the original building and in fact has been replaced four times. However, the location is quite close to the original courthouse. The first courthouse was built at a cost of $550, the second courthouse was in the same location as the current courthouse and boasted a whipping post in the rear. The third courthouse was also in the same location, and a bell and clock from the previous courthouses were integrated in the construction. The location is marked by a “Civil War Trails” plaque that describes the significance of the Union Meetings and the role they played in forming the state of West Virginia.