On February 28, 1963, the legislature adopted two more songs to join “The West Virginia Hills” as official state songs.
The two new tunes were “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home” by Colonel Julian Hearne Jr. of Wheeling and “This is My West Virginia” by Iris Bell of Charleston. They were added in honor of the state’s centennial.
While “The West Virginia Hills” had been adopted as the official state song only two years before, it had long been the unofficial song—at least in West Virginia classrooms.
Ellen Ruddell King’s “The West Virginia Hills” was originally published in the Glenville Crescent newspaper in 1885 as a four-verse poem. Henry Everett Engle of Gilmer County penned the song’s music. After being published in the West Virginia Singer in 1913, it became a staple in classrooms across the state for the next 50 years.
Today, West Virginia has four state songs. In addition to “The West Virginia Hills,” “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home,” and “This is My West Virginia,” John Denver’s “Country Roads” was approved as another official state song in 2014.