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West Virginia

John Alexander Williams

PB  978-0-937058-56-5


John Alexander Williamss West Virginia: A History is widely considered one of the finest books ever written about our state. In his clear, eminently readable style, Williams organizes the tangled strands of West Virginia's past around a few dramatic events—the battle of Point Pleasant, John Browns insurrection in Harpers Ferry, the Paint Creek labor movement, the Hawks Nest and Buffalo Creek disasters, and more. Williams uses these pivotal events as introductions to the larger issues of statehood, Civil War, unionism, and industrialization. Along the way, Williams conveys a true feel for the lives of common West Virginians, the personalities of the states memorable characters, and the powerful influence of the land itself on its own history.


  • 1. Point Pleasant
  • 2. Harpers Ferry
  • 3. Droop Mountain
  • 4. Tug Fork
  • 5. Paint Creek
  • 6. Hawks Nest
  • 7. Buffalo Creek
  • 8. Montani semper . . .
  • Epilogue: Back to Blair Mountain
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
  • Original Maps by Harold Faye West Virginia Contemporary
  • Creation of West Virginia: Counties and Railroad Lines


John Alexander Williams received his doctorate in history from Yale University in 1966, having studied with the eminent American historian, C. Vann Woodward. He taught at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Chicago before joining the Department of History at West Virginia University in 1972. He is now professor of history at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, having also directed the Center for Appalachian Studies for seven years. He is also the author of West Virginia and the Captains of Industry, a West Virginia University Press classic.