- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) - A statue erected at the site of West Virginia’s birthplace pays tribute to the founding father who led the fledgling state before it was admitted to the Union.

Wheeling officials unveiled the 1,200-pound bronze statue of Francis H. Pierpont on Saturday outside Independence Hall during the city’s West Virginia Day celebration, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register (http://bit.ly/1IskWTq) reported.

“Finally we have a fitting tribute for the man who was the father of our state,” Independence Hall Site Manager Travis Henline said.

He said the statue’s location in Wheeling is appropriate because of the roles that Pierpont and the city played in the state’s creation.

U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said the statue brings West Virginia history to life.

“We’re trying to make it real, not just a history book,” McKinley said. “I want people to get that these people are real.”

Pierpont was elected during the Second Wheeling Convention on June 20, 1861, to serve as governor of the Reorganized Government of Virginia, a government loyal to the Union that was established after Virginia seceded. Pierpont served as governor until the new state of West Virginia was admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863, according to the West Virginia Encyclopedia.

He later served one term in the House of Delegates.

A descendant of Pierpont, Ted Beyer of Connecticut, attended Saturday’s ceremony. He said he was glad to see a statue honoring Pierpont.

“It’s nice that he’s finally got a statue,” Beyer said. “It dominates the square. It’s nice to see that realized. West Virginia should have this statue. This city, this building, that man served to (help) make this state.”

The statue is one of only two of Pierpont in existence. The other statue stands in Statuary Hall in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

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Information from: The Intelligencer, http://www.theintelligencer.net

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