West Virginia State Museum Education

West Virginia's Holiday Legacy


Decoration (Memorial) Day


Julia Pierpont was the wife of Francis Pierpont, who is referred to as the "Father of West Virginia." He was the governor of the Restored Government of Virginia during the Civil War and governor of Virginia during Reconstruction. Julia Pierpont is frequently credited by historians as being the founder of Memorial Day in May 1866. Initially, the holiday was called Decoration Day and was a day to repair and decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. In 1882, the holiday's name was changed to Memorial Day, and became a day to honor all who have given their lives in service of their country. Source: West Virginia State Archives


Julia Pierpont

Image: Marion County Historical Society

Helpful Links

e-West Virginia Memorial Day Information