W.Va. documentary airs Thursday

PARKERSBURG – “West Virginia: The Road to Statehood,” a documentary on the creation of West Virginia, will air 8 p.m. Thursday on West Virginia Public Television.

The show examines the issues, differences and disagreements that divided the Commonwealth of Virginia and led to West Virginia becoming the 35th state in the Union.

West Virginia is celebrating its 150th anniversary with numerous events around the state and at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The state was created by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln on June 20, 1863.

The 45-minute documentary includes dramatizations, archival letters, sketches and photographs and interviews with historians about the events and philosophies behind the statehood movement, particularly through the lives of attorney Francis Pierpont, considered the “father of West Virginia,” and Albert Gallatin Jenkins, a former congressman who defended “Old Virginia.”

“We are proud to present this documentary as a complement to the state’s 150th birthday celebrations,” said Scott Finn, executive director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. “The personalized perspective of this film will draw viewers into the drama of the politics as contrasted by the violence of the war.”

Producers are Russ Barbour and Chip Hitchcock.

“I liken the program to a courtroom drama with a war going on just beyond the doors,” Barbour said.

The show was filmed at the restored Custom House in Wheeling, where delegates met 150 years ago to create the state, Hitchcock said.

In addition to the previews and the broadcast, a complimentary DVD of the documentary, along with a curriculum-related education guide, will be given to each school in the state during the 2013-2014 term.

The documentary was produced through the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and West Virginia University Libraries.