Today in History, June 20: 1863 – West Virginia becomes the 35th state of the Union. As early as 1769 residents of the western counties of Virginia contemplated separating from the remainder of the state, mostly due to a difference in cultures. The eastern Virginians were mostly wealthy land owners and slave holders. The westerners were predominately small time, lower income farmers who had no use for slavery. In 1861 when Virginia seceded from the Union, the citizens of the western counties declined to follow, and sought to stay in the Union. Many important battles were fought in their territory, including at the pictured Harper’s Ferry. An incident at Harper’s Ferry was part of the ignition of the Civil War.