Malden

December 17, 1861: Henry Ruffner Died

Dec 17, 2018
Ruffner was ahead of his time in arguing for a free public education system.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

Henry Ruffner died in Malden on December 17, 1861, at the age of 71. He had been one of western Virginia’s most influential citizens. In 1819, at the age of only 29, Ruffner had organized the first Presbyterian denomination in the Kanawha Valley. Then, for nearly three decades, he had taught ancient languages at Washington College and served as the college’s president for 12 of those years.

African-American educator William H. Davis was born in Columbus, Ohio, on November 27, 1848. As a young man of 15, he enlisted in the Union Army and served in a Light Guard company that helped protect President Abraham Lincoln.

Historian and Businessman J.P. Hale
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Historian, physician, and businessman John P. Hale died on July 11, 1902, at age 78. The great-grandson of the legendary Mary Draper Ingles, Hale was born in present Virginia before moving to the Kanawha Valley in 1840.

He earned a medical degree but decided that medicine wasn’t as lucrative as the booming salt business. By 1860, his salt works, located between Charleston and Malden, was possibly the largest in North America.