People from numerous nations built Clarksburg, West Virginia
By Michael M. Barrick
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – I was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in this small West Virginia town in 1956. Growing up, there were clear distinctions between nationalities. A town settled primarily by Italians coming to work the coal mines in the late 1800s, it also has its share of descendants of the Irish, Polish and other immigrants that created the bustling community I enjoyed in the 1960s.
Clearly, such progress would not have happened without cooperation. And it certainly would not have happened without the immigrants who gave blood, sweat, tears and their lives to power the nation’s steel mills and power plants. Yes, there were divisions; but generally, we benefited from the diversity. To this day, the proud heritage of the Italian families is evident in restaurants, bakeries, churches and family gatherings. The joy, the laughter, the bantering – and oh, the food!
Understandably, I grew up celebrating our town’s diversity, even though I wasn’t really conscious of it then.
So, as the issue of immigration comes to the forefront this year, I hope you will consider my memories, and these three photos. They are of a tribute to the immigrants of North Central West Virginia. It is on the courthouse square in Clarksburg.
© Michael M. Barrick, 2017
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