This Week in West Virginia History

Monday through Friday, at 6:30am & 4:48pm

The West Virginia Humanities Council, publishers of e-WV, and West Virginia Public Broadcasting have created two-minute radio segments for "This Week in West Virginia History" to introduce listeners to important people, places, and events in Mountain State history. Each daily segment is keyed to the actual date in history on which it occurred. The radio scripts, drawn from the content of e-WV, were written by historian Stan Bumgardner and produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Operations Director, Bob Powell. Our composer, Matt Jackfert, composed the original theme music for the program.

Author and storyteller Colleen Anderson serves as the on-air voice. "This Week" airs Monday through Friday, both morning and afternoon during the news.

e-WV is the online version of the West Virginia Encyclopedia, which became a regional bestseller following its publication in 2006. It is the go-to place for concise, authoritative information on the broad spectrum of things to do with West Virginia. The history features are generated daily from a timeline of more than 12,000 items on the e-WV website.

Visitors to the online encyclopedia may dig deeper into e-WV's 2,300 articles, interactive maps, videos, illustrations, opinion polls, and quizzes that test your "WV-IQ." Visit www.wvencyclopedia.org

September 21, 1970: The Filming of Fool's Parade Crime Drama Begins

18 hours ago
e-WV

Filming of the Columbia Pictures crime drama Fool’s Parade began on September 21, 1970.

The movie was based on Davis Grubb’s 1969 novel of the same title. Like Grubb’s earlier breakthrough novel, The Night of the Hunter, Fool’s Parade was set in the author’s native West Virginia. Much of the filming was shot on site in Moundsville. 

Rep. Ken Hechler, D-WV
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Congressman Ken Hechler was born in New York on September 20, 1914—and celebrated his 100th birthday in 2014.

During World War II, he served as a combat historian and earned the bronze star and five battle stars. Afterward, he taught at Princeton University and served on President Harry Truman’s staff.

Shepherdstown, WV
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

It was the morning of September 19, 1862, and two days after the Battle of Antietam. The bulk of Robert E. Lee’s retreating Confederate Army had already crossed the Potomac River at Shepherdstown.

Lee left behind a rear guard at the Potomac to defend against an anticipated attack from Union General George McClellan.

September 18, 1989: Playwright Maryat Lee Dies in Lewisburg

Sep 18, 2018
WV Regional and History Collection

Playwright Maryat Lee died in Lewisburg on September 18, 1989, at age 66. She was born in Covington, Kentucky, in 1923, and graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in religious studies before studying at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary.

September 17, 1847: Lawrence Nuttall Born in Pennsylvania

Sep 17, 2018

Amateur botanist Lawrence Nuttall was born in Pennsylvania on September 17, 1857. In 1878, he moved to the New River Gorge town of Nuttallburg in Fayette County to join his father, pioneer coal operator John Nuttall. Within just seven years, Lawrence Nuttall had collected about 1,000 species of flowering plants, many of which were named after him, and hundreds of fungi. At least 108 of the fungi species were new to science.

E-WV

On September 14, 1862, Confederate artillery launched the opening barrage in the Battle of Harpers Ferry, initiating perhaps the most important Civil War conflict in present West Virginia.

Harpers Ferry was key to Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee’s strategy in invading Maryland. Union forces stationed at Harpers Ferry stood in the way of Lee’s supply line. Lee dispatched “Stonewall” Jackson to capture Martinsburg, which fell without a shot, and then take Harpers Ferry.

September 12, 1872: The Big Bend Completed

Sep 12, 2018
Great Bend Tunnel
Library of Congress/e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

The Great Bend Tunnel, also known as the Big Bend, was completed in present-day Summers County on September 12, 1872.

At more than a mile long, it cut off a seven-mile meander of the Greenbrier River and was the longest tunnel on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.

University of Charleston

On September 11, 1935, Morris Harvey College relocated from Barboursville to Charleston. Founded in 1888 by the Methodist Episcopal Church South, the school was originally known as Barboursville Seminary. The seminary struggled financially until Fayetteville coal operator Morris Harvey paid off the school’s debt. In appreciation, the institution changed its name to Morris Harvey College.

September 10, 1782: Betty Zane Resupplies Fort Henry

Sep 10, 2018
e-WV

On September 10, 1782, Betty Zane entered American history and folklore with her daring dash to resupply Wheeling’s Fort Henry. Her courageous act supposedly took place during one of the last battles of the American Revolutionary War—nearly a year after the British surrender at Yorktown but before the peace treaty had been finalized.

West Virginia’s first black legislator, Christopher Payne, was born in Monroe County on September 7, 1848. He was raised near Hinton, where he worked as a farmhand. Although he was born a free person of color, he was forced as a teenager to serve as a servant in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

  

After the war, Payne attended night school in Charleston and taught school in Monroe, Mercer, and Summers counties. He became a Baptist minister and earned a doctor of divinity degree from the State University in Louisville.

September 6, 1875: Bank of Huntington Robbed by James Gang

Sep 6, 2018
Jesse Frank James
e-wv

On September 6, 1875, two men walked into the Bank of Huntington with their revolvers drawn. Two others kept guard outside. The four men left the bank with $20,000 and rode south out of town.

Sept. 5, 1950: Appalachian Bible College Founded

Sep 5, 2018
Appalachian Bible College Chapel
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Appalachian Bible College—originally known as Appalachian Bible Institute—opened at Sylvester in Boone County on September 5, 1950. The nondenominational, independent Christian college was the brainchild of Raleigh County minister Robert Guelich.

Before the school opened, southern West Virginians had to travel all the way to Pikeville, Kentucky, if they wanted to take advanced Bible studies.

September 4, 1957: Engineer Frank Duff McEnteer Dies in Clarksburg

Sep 4, 2018

Engineer Frank Duff McEnteer died on September 4, 1957, at age 74. The Pennsylvania native and graduate of Harvard’s engineering school moved to Clarksburg in 1911 to supervise construction of the Palace Furniture Company building, which is still in use. It was one of West Virginia’s first reinforced concrete buildings and launched McEnteer’s career in that fledgling field.

September 3, 1966: Summersville Lake and Dam Dedicated

Sep 3, 2018
West Virginia Department of Culture and History

On September 3, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson traveled to Nicholas County to dedicate the Summersville Dam and Lake. With a summer pool stage of nearly 2,800 surface acres and 60 miles of shoreline, it’s West Virginia’s largest lake.

August 31, 1957: Historian Charles Ambler Dies at 81

Aug 31, 2018
Charles Ambler
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Historian Charles Ambler died on August 31, 1957, at age 81. He was one of the most influential historians in West Virginia history.

August 30, 1921: John Wilburn Leads Miners Against Blair Mountain

Aug 30, 2018
Blair Mountain Battlefield
WV Humanitites Council

On August 30, 1921, John Wilburn of Blair assembled between 50 and 75 armed men to attack Logan County Sheriff Don Chafin’s troops, which were entrenched at the pinnacle of Blair Mountain.

The 45-year-old coal miner and Baptist preacher told his followers it was time for him to lay down his Bible, take up his rifle, and fight for the union.

August 29, 1952: Ground Broken for WV Turnpike

Aug 29, 2018
WV Turnpike Bridge
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On August 29, 1952, groundbreaking ceremonies for the West Virginia Turnpike were held in Mercer County. The state’s only toll road eventually cut driving time between Charleston and Princeton from four hours to two.

The road took less than two years to construct. Despite early plans for a four-lane highway, project costs limited the turnpike to only two lanes in most places. Still, the road was considered modern for the day.

It was first opened to traffic between Princeton and Beckley in September 1954 and then on to Charleston two months later.

August 28, 1894: Publisher, Diplomat William Cooper Howells Dies at 87

Aug 28, 2018
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Publisher and diplomat William Cooper Howells died on August 28, 1894, at age 87.

The native of Wales emigrated as a child with his family to Wheeling.

At 21, Howells began working as an apprentice typesetter at the Virginia Statesman, a Wheeling newspaper. Before starting two Wheeling newspapers of his own, he worked at the print shop of Alexander Campbell, founder of Bethany College and the Disciples of Christ religious denomination.

August 27, 1902: Blues Legend 'Diamond Teeth Mary' Born in Huntington

Aug 27, 2018
"Diamond Teeth" Mary McClaine Huntington
E-WV

Singer Mary Smith McClain was born in Huntington on August 27, 1902. She would become a blues legend.

At age 13, she was desperate to escape beatings from her stepmother. So, she disguised herself as a boy, hopped a train, and began performing in the circus. Throughout the 1920s and ’30s, she performed in medicine and minstrel shows. In the 1940s, she had diamonds implanted in her front teeth and took the name “Diamond Teeth Mary.” Over the years, McClain shared the stage with such performers as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Big Mama Thornton, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, and Bessie Smith, who was her half-sister.

August 24, 1921: Miners March to Protest Martial Law in Mingo County

Aug 24, 2018
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA), Coal Life Collection

On August 24, 1921, a group of armed miners started out on a long march southeast from Marmet near Charleston.

Their goal was to end the governor’s order of martial law in Mingo County and to wipe out the anti-union mine guard and deputy sheriff systems in Logan and Mingo counties.

August 23, 1891: Congressman Chester Hubbard Died

Aug 23, 2018
Congressman Chester Hubbard
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Congressman, businessman, and state founder Chester Hubbard died in Wheeling on August 23, 1891, at age 76. The Connecticut native moved with his family to Wheeling as a child.

Hubbard joined his father’s lumber mill business and helped develop Wheeling as an iron and steel manufacturing center. He was president of the German Bank of Wheeling; the Pittsburgh, Wheeling & Kentucky Railroad; and C. D. Hubbard and Company.

August 22, 1862: Jenkins Begins Raiding Western Virginia

Aug 22, 2018
Albert Gallatin Jenkins
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On August 22, 1862, newly appointed Confederate Brigadier General Albert Gallatin Jenkins began a raid through Western Virginia. It was in response to a string of events that began with Robert E. Lee’s impending invasion of Maryland.

Earlier that month, the Union Army had shifted some 5,000 troops from the Charleston area to help protect Washington, DC. So, the Confederates took advantage of the troop reduction.

August 21, 1915: Jazz Singer Ann Baker Born

Aug 21, 2018
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Jazz singer Ann Baker was born on August 21, 1915. She got her start performing in Pittsburgh jazz clubs and made her Broadway debut with Louis Armstrong’s band in the early 1940s.

She later joined the bands of Lionel Hampton and Count Basie. 

In 1946, she landed her signature gig, replacing Sarah Vaughan in Billy Eckstine’s band, which included, at different times, jazz legends Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Art Blakey, and Dexter Gordon.

August 20, 1946: Football Coach Fielding Yost Dies at 75

Aug 20, 2018
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Football coach Fielding Yost died in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on August 20, 1946, at age 75. In 1895 and ’96, the Marion County native played tackle for one of West Virginia University’s earliest football teams while earning a law degree.

August 17, 1944: Heroic Actions Earns Fayette Co. Native Medal of Honor

Aug 17, 2018
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Stanley Bender’s heroic actions on August 17, 1944, would earn him the Medal of Honor. Bender was born in Fayette County in 1909, the son of a coal miner and Russian immigrant. His family moved to Chicago in 1930, and Bender enlisted in the Army in 1939.

August 16, 1851: Reformer Coin Harvey Born

Aug 16, 2018
William Hope "Coin" Harvey
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Social reformer William Hope ‘‘Coin’’ Harvey was born at Buffalo in Putnam County on August 16, 1851. He was a teacher, lawyer, silver miner, politician, land speculator, geologist, and bestselling author.

Harvey attended Buffalo Academy and Marshall College (now Marshall University) before becoming a lawyer. He opened his first law practice in Huntington at age 19.

August 15, 1906: Niagara Movement Meets in Harpers Ferry

Aug 15, 2018
The leaders of the Niagra Movement chose Harpers Ferry for its first public meeting in honor of abolitionist John Brown, who’d led an ill-fated raid on the town’s armory in 1859.
E-WV

The Niagara Movement—an important civil rights group—held its first public meeting at Harpers Ferry’s Storer College on August 15, 1906.

  

The movement emerged from increasing philosophical differences between Booker T. Washington—the most powerful black leader of his day—and more radical intellectuals.

While Washington wanted to work more closely with the white community to improve African-Americans’ economic status, his critics—led by W. E. B. DuBois, William Monroe Trotter, and others—urged a more militant approach.

August 14, 1894: Entertainer Ada 'Bricktop' Smith Born in Alderson

Aug 14, 2018
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  On August 14, 1894, entertainer Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith was born at Alderson. At age five, Ada made her stage debut in Chicago, appearing in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. By age 16, she was performing on the vaudeville circuit. Soon afterward, a New York saloon keeper gave her the nickname ‘‘Bricktop’’ for her blazing red hair, unusual for an African-American.

August 13, 1900: Railroad Mogul Collis P. Huntington Dies at 78

Aug 13, 2018

  Railroad mogul Collis P. Huntington died on August 13, 1900, at age 78. The Connecticut native grew up in poverty before moving to California during the 1848 Gold Rush. Unlike the miners, he realized that the real money was to be made from selling supplies, not panhandling for gold. After amassing a fortune, he became one of the “Big Four” railroad moguls who built two giant rail systems: the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

General “Pete” Everest was born in Fairmont on August 10, 1920. A pioneer pilot of rocket planes, Everest once earned the nickname of “the fastest man alive.”

During World War II, he first flew in the European Theater, completing 94 combat missions. Everest later flew 67 combat missions in the China-Burma-India region. During this time, he destroyed four Japanese aircraft before being shot down in May 1945.

He spent the last few months of the war as a Japanese prisoner of war.

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