Photos

Bramwell marks Civil War’s end at 150-year mark

Bluefield Daily Telegraph  photo by Bill Archer Kevin Spicer, left, and John Feuchtenberger are in character as Isaiah Welch and John D. Hewitt Sr. in a program emphasizing how the north and south came together to develop the natural resources of the two Virginias. Welch served with the Confederate Army and Hewitt served with the Union Army.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo by Bill Archer
Kevin Spicer, left, and John Feuchtenberger are in character as Isaiah Welch and John D. Hewitt Sr. in a program emphasizing how the north and south came together to develop the natural resources of the two Virginias. Welch served with the Confederate Army and Hewitt served with the Union Army.

BRAMWELL, W.Va. — When Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Va., the state of Virginia was in ruins. The state’s cotton and tobacco agricultural-based economy fueled by slave labor was gone and after four years of fighting, most of the Commonwealth’s infrastructure had been destroyed.

Major Jedediah Hotchkiss, a Staunton, Va., based geologist who had served as General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s map-maker, believed that the mineral wealth of southwestern Virginia and southern Virginia could fuel the growth of an industrial economy in Virginia with a mighty port city in Norfolk, and metallurgical coal to export. Hotchkiss sent a contract surveyor from Pearisburg, Va. — Captain Isaiah A. Welch, Stonewall Jackson’s cousin — to survey the Flat Top coalfield, and recruited eastern Pennsylvania capitalists to invest in the new “Pocahontas coalfields.

 Soldiers from the south and north worked together to rebuild a new coal-fired economy in the former Old Dominion which became Virginia and West Virginia in 1863. Welch decided to stay in the coalfields, and men with mining experience in the eastern Pennsylvania anthracite coal fields near Schuylkill like Col. John D. Hewitt Sr., who served in the Union Army with the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry. The metallurgical coal industry would not only change the two Virginias, but would ultimately tip the global balance of power in the direction of the truly United States and establish the foundation for a new world order.

Present day Bramwell Mayor Louise Stoker held an event Thursday to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, and used the side-by-side proximity of Welch’s and Hewitt’s graves in the historic Oak Hill Cemetery to serve as a conduit to tell the story. Two local historic re-enactors — Kevin Spicer and John Feuchtenberger — portrayed Welch and Hewitt respectively…

 

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