This site is a mirror of the original site, made in 2022 by Heraldry of the World. The original site is unaltered. This mirror functions as an archive to keep the material available on-line.
All rights remain with the late Hubert de Vries, the original site owner.


Back to United States


West Virginia was split off from Virginia in April1863 and entered into the Union on June 20, 1863.

Shortly after achieving statehood, West Virginia’s first Legislature created a committee to oversee the formation of a state seal. Peter G. Van Winkle, head of the committee, appointed Joseph H. Diss Debar  (†1905) to prepare drawings for an official seal for the state. Diss Debar submitted a variety of drawings and sketches accompanied with explanations of each to the Legislature. From these drawings, the House of Delegates approved the concept with only a few changes on September 23, 1863, and three days later the Senate approved what is now the Great Seal of West Virginia.

The Constitution of West Virginia, Article 2, Section 7, provides that: “The present seal of the state, with its motto ’Montani Semper Liberi,’ (Mountaineers are Always Free) shall be the Great Seal of the State of West Virginia, and shall be kept by the secretary of state, to be used by him, officially as directed by law.” [1]

The obverse bears the legend, “STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA,” with the motto, “Montani Semper Liberi, “inserted in the circumference. In the centre, a rock with ivy, emblematic of stability and continuance, and on the face of the rock the inscription,  “June 20, 1863,”the date of the foundation of the State, as if “graved with a pen of iron on the rock forever.” On the right of the rock, a farmer clothed in the traditional hunting-shirt peculiar to this region, his right arm resting on the plough-handles, and his left supporting a woodman’s axe, indicating that while our territory is partially cultivated, it is still in process of being cleared of the original forest. At his right, a sheaf of wheat and corn-stalk. On the left of the rock, a miner, indicated by a pick-axe on his shoulder, with barrels and lumps of mineral at his feet. On his left, an anvil, partly seen, on which rests a sledge-hammer, typical of the mechanic arts, the whole indicating the principal pursuits and resources of the State. In the front of the rock and figures, as if just laid down by them, and ready to be resumed at a moment’s notice, two hunter’s rifles crossed, and surmounted at the place of contact by the Phrygian cap, or cap of liberty, indicating that our freedom and independence were won and will be defended and maintained by arms.”

“A lesser seal, an inch and a half in diameter, with the same legend, motto, devices, etc. was ordered. ‘The reverse of the great seal is encircled with a wreath of laurel and oak leaves, emblematic of valor and strength, with gfruits and cereals, productions of the State.

“’Device, a landscape. In the distance, on the left of the disc, wooded mountains, and on the right a cultuivated slope, with the log frame-house peculiar to the region. On the side of the mountain, a representation of the viaduct on the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in Preston County, one of the great engineering triumphs of the age, with a train of cars about to pass over it. Near the centre, a factory, in front of which a river with boats on the bank, and to the right of it, nearer the forground, a derrick and shed, appertaining to the production of salt and petroleum. In the foreground, a meadow, with cattle and sheep feeding and reposing, - the whole indicating the leading characteristics, productyions, and pursuits of the State. Above the mountains, the sun emerging from the clouds, indicating that former obstacles to the prosperity of the State are disappearing. In the rays of the sun the motto, ‘Libertas e Fidelitate’ (Liberty from loyalty), indicating that the freedom and independence of the State are faithfulness to the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the national Constitution.’” [2]


Photograph of the original design of the State Seal of West Virginia,

with the report of the Committee on Seals.


Ancient black &white version

Modern coloured version


The reverse side of the state seal serves as the Governor’s Official Seal.


Governor’s Official Seal

Coloured version


The scene on the obverse of the seal occasionally serves as the achievement of State.


Ć See illustration (1876) in the head of this article.


The achievement is also on the flag adopted 1929 but placed within a yellow frame and a garland of the national flower.  [3]





West Virginia State Police, Seal and Logo


West Virginia State Area Command [4]






That for regiments and separate battalions of the West Virginia Army National Guard:  From a wreath of the colors, a slip of mountain rhododendron in full bloom and leaved Proper.


The mountain rhododendron is the State flower and appears on the flag of West Virginia.


The crest was approved for color bearing organizations of the State of West Virginia on 4 April 1924.


Distinctive Unit Insignia





A gold color metal and enamel device 2.86 cm in width overall consisting of a horizontally divided background of green and black surmounted by a horizontal repeat pattern of three gold mascles, those at either side interlaced by a curving blue scroll arching upwards behind the center mascle and the scroll continuing downwards in scarlet curving inwards to form a "V" shape at center inscribed "MOUNTAINEERS ARE FREE" in gold letters.


The upper half of the mascles on the green simulate the rugged mountains that gave the state the nickname "The Mountain State."  The black area simulates coal mines and refers to the rich coal deposits within the state.  The colors red for action and blue for freedom together with the State motto "MOUNTAINEERS ARE FREE" reflect the hardy independence of West Virginians.


The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the West Virginia Army National Guard on 17 June 1971.  It was redesignated effective 1 October 1982, for Headquarters, State Area Command, West Virginia Army National Guard.


Shoulder Sleeve Insignia




On a dark blue disc 5.56 cm in diameter overall an ax and a rifle crossed in saltire above a powder horn, all within a 3.2 mm border all yellow.


The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, West Virginia National Guard on 18 September 1950.  It was redesignated with description amended for Headquarters, State Area Command, West Virginia Army National Guard on 30 December 1983.  (TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-183)



Back to Main Page



© Hubert de Vries 2015-03-31



[1] Sargent, Rachel: The Great Seal: A Symbol of West Virginia Sovereignty

[2] Zieber, Eugene: Heraldry in America. Published by the Department of Heraldry of the Bailey, Banks and Biddle Company. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1895. Pp. 193-194

[3] Smith, Whitney: Flag of West Virginia.  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1357259/flag-of-West-Virginia

[4] West Virginia State Area Command

Flag Counter In cooperation with Heraldry of the World