1869 Capitol Cornerstone Laid

The West Virginia Journal
November 17, 1869

(From the Portsmouth Tribune.)

Aboard the "Kanawha Belle."

Friday, November 5th.

After corresponding from down in the coal mines of three States, it so happened, rarely in these States now, that a Capitol to be corner-stoned came in my way. This Capitol, of West Virginia, is built of the Charleston sandstone, is quarried in sight of town and is building under the sole care and expense of the public-spirited citizens. The photograph of the plan shows this structure is to be 138 by 60 feet, and the height of the central tower 140 feet. I was pleased to see that this State of Young Virginia devotes the crowning story of the State House to the Judiciary, not only of this Commonwealth, but also of the greater Commonwealth of the Union. The State of West Virginia is one of the Counties of the State of our Union!

Over two thousand persons were present on and near the Capitol grounds during the dedication of the proposed State House with Masonic ceremonies. The officers of the State invited to be present on this State occasion, did not arrive. It was regretted that the Grand Lodge did not come to Charleston, but they promptly responded to the invitation, deploring that the coming session of the 9th, devolving upon the officers of the G. L. great labor in preparation, prevented them. So Spicer Patrick, M. D., a Mason gray, acted as Grand Master; and the Lodges, Kanawha No. 20 and Salina No. 26, with a large number of brethren visiting, and the second Lodge in the State, numerically and financially:Kanawha No. 25 I. O. O. F.:marched in procession, with the Charleston firemen, seventy0five strong and two engines handsomely decorated, and the City Cornet Band made music on the march to the grounds of the Capitol. Here were assembled two thousand people, enthusiastic over this great day in the annals of Kanawha Court House, and enjoying the beautiful weather of the "Kanawha Indian Summer," now fairly begun.

The ceremonies were simple, and for that reason impressive. The superior stone, held poised above the lower by machinery, was slowly swayed back, and the Grand master spread the cement and the Copper Casket was sunk into the centre, with its collections for history, including among rolls of State and Masonic officers, many modern coins, and files of newspapers of the three Capitals: Wheeling, Richmond and Charleston, a copper scroll or tablet, on which was inscribed the date of the location of the Capitol, the names of the builders and their master workmen. The superior stone swayed again and lowered down upon the cement, was fitted by Masonic implements in place. Upon this was now poured the Oil, the Wine, the Corn, and Most High was invoked, and the Grand Honors of the order were given. The shouts of the people and the burst of music proclaimed that the corner-stone was laid. The speeches of "Col. Ben. Smith," C. W. Smith and Judge Ferguson were cheered as they spoke of the past struggle for the location and their resolution to "fight it out on the lines of Charleston all next winter," against the counter revolution of Parkersburg and other places for the removal from Charleston of the Capital. His Honor, Chief Justice Brown, of the Supreme Court of West Virginia, made a most impressive and brief address.

The procession of Masons, Odd Fellows and firemen re-formed and returned to the St. Albert, where they had formed, under Captain Laidley, Marshal, and his said, General John S. Witcher, the gallant young soldier, and Republican Congressman from this District.

The secular and religious press, handsomely cared for by Brother Atkinson, of the Journal, failed to agree as to the enumeration of the assembly. The latter, represented the Baptist Record, made estimate as to more than fifteen hundred, and your correspondent vouched for two thousand. But Brother Quigley, who marched with your correspondent, as two republicans, affirm as to two thousand, and so must it be recorded. Charleston has 2,800 population, and they all turned out handsomely, and whether they know it or not they are all capital citizens, and evince great public spirit in a capital way.

T. A. G.

Government and Politics