Even before the firing on Fort Sumter marked the beginning of the Civil War, citizens of Wheeling began to let their preferences known. As hostilities became more imminent, these preferences became more pronounced.
Many of Wheeling's "old guard" - families with surnames such as Zane, Steenrod and Phillips - believed that Virginia should remain united and loyal to the government in Richmond. Their names can be seen on a published list of "Traitors of Wheeling" - those who signed the Ordinance of Secession.
More recent residents of Wheeling, in particular the blue-collar workers of South, Center and East Wheeling, felt their loyalties lay with the Union. First-generation German and Irish immigrants were among those who led recruitment efforts for the North. Ultimately, Wheeling families were broken apart, just as the state itself was torn.
Preparing for the Blue and Gray tour of Greenwood Cemetery are Friends of Wheeling members, from left, Jeanne Finstein, John Bowman, Glinda Bowman and Judi Hendrickson.
Photos by Linda Comins
In recognition of the struggles of that time, Friends of Wheeling is sponsoring a "Blue and Gray" tour of Greenwood Cemetery, highlighting the lives of Wheeling citizens on both sides of the conflict. The free tour takes place Sunday, May 22, in the cemetery, located at 1526 National Road, Wheeling.
Visitors to this historic cemetery will hear costumed presenters relate first-person accounts of their experiences during the Civil War. Two separate tours will each feature seven characters, including both Union and Confederate sympathizers.
Continuous walking tours will run between noon and 5 p.m., with the last tour beginning at 4:30 p.m. Parking will be available at Wheeling Park, with limousine shuttle service to and from the cemetery provided by area funeral homes.
Featured in one tour will be:
The second tour will include:
Costumed guides will lead groups through the tour. Members of the re-enactment militia group, Wheeling Fencibles, will provide an honor guard. Representatives of the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society will be present to answer questions that people may have about their Wheeling ancestors from that time period. Members of the Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable will exhibit Civil War artifacts.
The event is sponsored by Friends of Wheeling, West Virginia's oldest historic preservation organization, with support from the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp.