1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/West Virginia

WEST VIRGINIA (see 28.560).—In 1920 the pop. was 1,463,701, as against 1,221,119 in 1910 an increase of 242,582 or 19.9%. The urban pop. (for places of 2,500 or more) increased from 18.7% in 1910 to 25.2% in 1920. The density of pop. was 60.9 in 1920; 50.8 in 1910. The following table shows the growth of the ten largest cities for the decade 1910-20:—

1920 1910  Percentage 

 Wheeling  56,208   41,641  34.9 
 Huntington 50,177  31,161  61.0 
 Charleston 39,608  22,996  72.2 
 Clarksburg 27,869  9,201  202.9 
 Parkersburg  20,050  17,842  12.4 
 Fairmont 17,851  9,711  83.8 
 Bluefield 15,282  11,188  36.6 
 Martinsburg 12,515  10,698  17.0 
 Morgantown 12,127  9,150  35.5 

Agriculture.—Of the land area of the state 62.2% in 1920 was in farms and 57.7% was improved. The number of farms, which was 96,685 in 1910, decreased to 87,289 in 1920 (9.7%). The total farm acreage decreased from 10,026,442 to 9,569,790 (4.6%), but the total value of all farm property increased from $314,738,540 in 1910 to $496,439,617 in 1920 (57.7%). The value of farm lands and buildings increased from $264,390,954 to $410,783,406; implements

and machinery from $7,011,513 to $18,395,058; and live stock from $43,336,073 to $67,261,153. The number of farms reported as being mortgaged grew from 9,525 in 1910 to 10,274 in 1920. Of these 7,878 in 1910 and 9,031 in 1920 reported the amounts represented by the mortgages—$5,592,533 and $11,205,953 respectively. The average debt per mortgaged farm was $1,241 in 1920 and the average rate of interest 5.9%. Native-born white farmers predominate in the state. Of the 87,289 farms in the state in 1920 86,785 were operated by white farmers, of whom only 752 were foreign-born, and there were only 504 coloured farmers, compared with 708 in 1910. Of the native white farmers 71,181 were owners, 1,071 managers and 13,781 tenants. The number of horses on farms in 1920 was 169,148, compared with 176,530 in 1910. Mules increased from 11,577 to 14,981; cattle from 560,770 to 587,462; and chickens from 3,106,907 to 4,027,510; while sheep decreased from 566,952 to 509,831; and hives of bees from 111,673 to 89,873.

The value of all crops for West Virginia in 1919 was $96,537,459, compared with $36,167,014 in 1909. The 1919 value of the corn crop was $29,768,131; oats $3,054,668; wheat $8,395,097; hay and forage $23,746,574; potatoes $6,461,619; tobacco $2,731,338; apples $7,540,491; peaches $1,518,784. The variations in production of the chief crops in 1909 and 1919 is shown in the following table:—

1919 1909

Ac. Bus. Ac. Bus.

 Corn  568,219   17,010,357   676,311   17,119,097 
 Oats 169,915  3,054,668  103,758  1,728,806 
 Wheat 298,036  3,747,812  209,315  2,575,996 
 Buckwheat  31,095  537,883  33,323  533,670 
 Potatoes 34,526  2,809,398  42,621  4,077,066 

The extension of agricultural teaching, which was established at the West Virginia University in 1913, has been an important factor in the development of scientific agricultural methods.

Mining.—In mineral productions West Virginia ranks second among the states of the Union. The total value was $125,111,280 in 1913 and $133,633,229 in 1914. Oil production, which in 1900 was 16,195,675 bar., declined to 9,095,296 in 1907. It increased again to 12,128,962 bar. in 1912, but steadily declined thereafter. The production in 1916 was 8,731,184 bar., valued at $21,914,080. In 1918 it was only 7,866,628 bar. (the lowest since 1893), but in 1920 it reached 8,173,000 barrels. In the production of natural gas West Virginia since 1906 has ranked first among all the states. The production, which had reached 119,100,392 thousand cub. ft. in 1906, steadily increased (except in 1908 and 1914) to 308,617,101 thousand cub. ft., (valued at $57,389,161) in 1917; but in 1918 declined to 265,160,917 thousand (valued at $41,324,365), and in 1919 to approximately 201,500,000 thousand (valued at $40,304,500).

In 1909 West Virginia, overtaking Illinois, became the second coal-producing state of the Union, but in 1920 dropped to third. Coal production in West Virginia, which had reached 22,647,207 short (net) tons in 1900, and 61,671,019 in 1910, continued to increase steadily, reaching in 1914 71,707,626 short tons, valued at $71,391,408, and furnishing employment to 78,363 persons. The industry became especially active when the United States entered the World War. In 1916 the production increased to 86,460,127 short tons, valued at $102,366,092, and in 1918 to 89,935,839 short tons, valued at $230,508,846. In 1919 it was 75,500,000 short tons, and, together with coke production 1,454,000 short tons, gave employment to 91,566 persons. In 1920 it was 87,500,000 tons. The production of coke, which steadily increased until 1910, when it reached 14,217,380 short tons, valued at $7,525,922, thereafter steadily diminished to 1,391,446 short tons in 1915, again increased to 3,349,761 in 1917, and in 1919 decreased to 1,454,000 short tons. The increase of coal production after 1910 was partly due to strikes in Ohio and other middle-western states. The determination of the United Mine Workers to unionize the mines of West Virginia led to a bitter and prolonged labour war, which began in 1912 in the Cabin Creek and Paint Creek collieries of the Kanawha valley, and resulted in losses aggregating nearly $6,000,000. This secured for the union a foothold in West Virginia. In Sept. and Nov. 1919 organized miners from the Kanawha region threatened an armed invasion of Logan County to force the unionization of that field. In order to prevent possible disturbance Gov. Cornwell asked for and obtained a regiment of Federal troops. In 1920 an attempt to unionize the miners along the Norfolk & Western railway finally precipitated an armed conflict between detectives and union miners at Matewan, in Mingo county, resulting in the death of seven detectives and the mayor and the terrorization of the community, and necessitating a call for Federal troops and the establishment of military control.

Manufactures.—In 1914 West Virginia was in importance of manufactures the 28th state. The number of establishments was 2,749, with an invested capital of $175,995,011, and a production valued at $193,511,782. The number of persons employed was 79,353 (11% more than 1909), earning $51,377,760. The leading industries were lumber and timber, steelworks, rolling-mills, tinplate and terneplate, glass, leather, railway cars and shop construction, flour milling and the manufacturing of clay products. The state ranked second in the production of glass, and also in the production of tinplate and terneplate, and eighth in the value of clay products.

The Federal Government constructed on the Kanawha in 1918 two large plants, a projectile plant at Charleston and a high-explosive plant at Nitro, at an expenditure of over $60,000,000.

Transportation.—Transportation facilities continued to improve after 1909. The railway mileage, which in 1912 reached 3,557 m. by the completion of the Virginia railway (139.6 m.), by the construction of the coal and coke railway from Elkins to Charleston (196.75 m., recently acquired by the Baltimore & Ohio Railway Co.), and by the completion of the Hampshire-Southern branch of the Baltimore & Ohio to Mporefield and Petersburg, was further increased in 1913 by the extension of the Monongahela River raihvay southward to Fairmont (1913) and by several shorter branches. The railway mileage in 1919 was 3,892.

Banks and Banking.—The condition of the banks in West Virginia in 1920-1 was as follows:—

 National Banks, 
 State Banks, 

 Number 122  227 
 Capital $11,573,000  $17,597,932 
 Surplus $7,739,000  $11,047,231 
 Loans $100,545,000  $150,617,886 
 Deposits   $134,436,000   $170,370,924 

Education.—In 1920 the total school pop. was 448,670, the total school enrolment 341,977, the average daily attendance 253,395. The per capita cost of education was $25.18 based on enumeration, $44.57 based on average daily attendance. The total number of teachers was 11,406. The average annual salary paid teachers in all grades was $581. The total number of school-houses was 6,956. The expenditure for all common schools was $11,291,563 and for state educational institutions $1,850,906, making a total of $13,141,469 for the educational system of the state. The value of all public school property was estimated at $25,639,697, and the value of state educational institutions at $2,775,000. In 1920 a compulsory school law was enacted. The development of the high schools has been a prominent feature of recent educational growth. This was partly due to the appointment of a state high school supervisor in 1909 to direct the establishment and standardization of the high schools. In 1921 the state had 172 classified high schools with 1,129 teachers, and an enrolment of 20,000 (about 3,000 graduating each year), and high school property valued at $10,000,000. In 1920 the high schools received state aid amounting to $118,000. The enrolment of candidates for degrees in West Virginia University increased from 800 in 1909-10 to 1,596 in 1919-20, and the total enrolment for the same period increased from 1,200 to 2,800, or 1,992 exclusive of short-course students. The members of the faculty increased from 62 to 141, of whom 56 were full professors, 17 were associate professors and 27 were assistant professors. The total number of women students increased from 619 to 975 in the same period. Under the Act of 1919 the control of all educational affairs of the state, from the lowest school to the university, was vested in a state board of education composed of the state superintendent (as executive officer) and six members appointed by the governor. The board has an advisory council of three coloured citizens.

Finance.—The receipts of the state for the fiscal year June 30 1920 was $19,901,931, the disbursements $19,570,122. The total bonded indebtedness Jan. 1 1921 was $11,663,700. In 1919 the total assessed value of real estate ($769,648,033), personal property ($371,602,428) and public utility property ($349,522,672) was $1,490,773,133. In 1909 the Legislature enacted a business licence tax which by July 1920 produced $226,204. In 1915 it placed on corporations and companies a special excise tax, which was increased by an additional excise tax in 1919. The two Acts produced for 1919-20 approximately $600,000.

Constitutional Amendments.—An amendment providing for prohibition was ratified in 1912 by a majority of 92,342. Another amendment proposed in 1917 and ratified in Nov. 1918 provides that an itemized and classified budget shall be prepared by the board of public works, and presented to the Legislature for its guidance in determining appropriations. A third amendment ratified in Nov. 1920 provided for two periods of every regular session of the Legislature—one of 15 days in Jan., primarily for presentation of bills, and another of 45 days in March-April, primarily for consideration and action on bills. The same amendment increased the salaries of members of the Legislature to $500 a year. A fourth amendment, ratified in Nov. 1920, authorized the Legislature to provide for a system of state roads under control and supervision of state officers, and to bond the state to a maximum of $50,000,000, if necessary.

Administrative Changes.—By Act of 1911 a state Department of Agriculture was created in 1913 and placed under the Direction of the commissioner of agriculture, an elective officer who is also a member of the board of public works. The office of highway inspector, created in 1907, was abolished in 1911; and a state bureau of roads (four members) was created in 1913. By Act of 1913 a public service commission of four members (reduced to three by Act of 1915) was created. At first it had jurisdiction over the newly established workmen's compensation fund, which later was administered by a state commissioner. Under the Yost law of 1913 the state tax commissioner is ex officio state commissioner of prohibition.

By Act of 1919 a department of public safety (state police) was established to relieve the military arm of the state and to aid in establishing the system of private peace officers. By Act of 1915 the membership of the House of Delegates (previously 86) was increased to 94.

Welfare Legislation.—A state tuberculosis sanatorium established by Act of 1911 was opened for patients in 1913 at Terra Alta. A similar institution for coloured people was opened in 1919. Revision of laws relating to medicine and health in 1913 marked the beginning of a new era in sanitary legislation. In 1914 a hygiene laboratory was established. In 1915 a state department of health was created, with a commissioner as executive officer, two new divisions, vital statistics and child welfare, were added by Act of 1919.

History.—Apart from the economic and educational movements above described, the outstanding event of the decade ending 1920 was the adjustment of the long-standing “Virginia debt question.” It arose from the formation of West Virginia as a separate state in 1863 and at various times had been a prominent issue in state politics. A U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1911 tentatively fixed West Virginia's share of the old debt at $7,182,507.48 (leaving the question of interest for later adjustment), and by a later judgment of 1915 against West Virginia fixed the total obligations at $12,393,929.50 ($4,215,622.28 and accrued interest from Jan. 1 1861), with a decree that this total amount should draw interest at 5% until paid. In Feb. 1917 Virginia filed application for a writ of mandamus against the Legislature of West Virginia to compel the levy of a tax to pay the judgment; but the court deferred action in order to give West Virginia a reasonable opportunity to act without compulsion. The total amount of principal and interest on Jan. 1 1919 was $14,562,867.16. Of this amount West Virginia, by Act of March 31 1919, arranged to pay $1,062,867.16 in cash and the balance by an issue of “listable” 35% bonds in favour of Virginia, payable in 1939 (or earlier). Bonds amounting to $12,366,500 were delivered to the Virginia debt commission at Richmond, Va., on July 3 1919. The remaining bonds ($1,133,500) were held in escrow pending the filing of remaining outstanding Virginia debt certificates.

The state continued Republican in politics, but party division resulted in the election of a Democrat to the governor's office in 1916. The governors since 1909 have been: William E. Glasscock, 1909-13; Henry D. Hatfield, 1913-7; John J. Cornwell, 1917-21; Ephraim F. Morgan, 1921-.

Bibliography.—J. M. Callahan, Semi-Centennial History of West Virginia (1913); Thos. C. Miller and Hu. Maxwell, History of West Virginia and its People (1913); John T. Harris, West Virginia Legislative Handbook (1920).

(J. M. C.*)