Origin of "By God" in West by God Virginia

The recent fan-bloody-tastic thread got me thinking about the “by God” in West by God Virginia. How old is the usage, and who was the first person to use it? I have always assumed it was supposed to mean that West Virginia was intended by God to be separate from East Virginia (as some old-timers still call it). I suspect the term was first used by some politician in a speech in favor of separation. But when? The separation movement dates from at least 1776 when the western counties petitioned the Continental Congress for separate government. The debate reached a fever pitch during the Civil War, and separation was effected in 1863.

By the way, in the other thread, it was noted by residents of neighboring states that “West by God Virginia” is not intended to be complimentary, but I don’t think the residents of West Virginia view it that light. I lived there for 4 years and I think the people there are proud to have the “by God” in there.

Work is the curse of the drinking classes. (Oscar Wilde)

Good question. About 5 months ago I moved from West Virginia, I lived there for 2 and a half years. I never heard the expression untill I moved there.