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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Microstory 2034: Virginia

In April 1861, most of the western part of Virginia separated itself from Virginia to become a free state at the very beginning of the Civil War. Virginia was a slave state, and the people who lived on that side didn’t like that. They became the state of West Virginia. In 1864, people in Roanoke, Virginia decided that they wanted to belong to West Virginia too, even though there were parts of Virginia between it and the border. What historians now call the War Within the War was fought there. We learned a little bit about this last month, but I’ll summarize it for you. Roanoke won a temporary independence, which allowed them to act as a sanctuary to escaped slaves who were fleeing from the southern states. Cities are usually kind of roundish, because they start in one place, and spread out from there, but it was different here. Roanoke used to have something called the Roanoke Tail, with land that went all the way to the West Virginia border twenty miles away. They stayed that way until the war ended, and all states became free. Roanoke was never actually part of West Virginia. They ended up sticking with Virginia, but the history can never be changed. You can learn even about this if you go to the Free Roanoke Civil War History Museum, which my papa went to once he and his family were able to get back on a train to there from their unwanted stop in Kentucky. My dad, Santana didn’t have anything else to do, so he decided to see the museum with them so they could get to know each other better. When they were done with it, my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins all took the train back to Indiana, but papa stayed behind. He still had some vacation time, so he spent some time in my dad’s hometown of Norfolk, Virginia. This is where the two of them fell in love, which I’m grateful for.

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