This Week in West Virginia History

October 5, 1931: U.S Senator Dwight Morrow Dies

Oct 5, 2018
Dwight W. Morrow
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

Financier, diplomat, and U.S. Senator Dwight Morrow died in New Jersey on October 5, 1931, at age 58. He was born in Huntington in 1873, while his father, James E. Morrow, was serving as the 11th principal of Marshall College—now Marshall University. When Dwight was an infant, his family moved to West Liberty, where his father served briefly as president of West Liberty Normal School—which is today West Liberty University. The Morrows then moved to Pittsburgh.

October 4, 1890: Lions Born in Alderson

Oct 4, 2018
TWWVH
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / WV Humanities Council

On October 4, 1890, a traveling circus called French & Company’s Great Railroad Show arrived in the town of Alderson on the Greenbrier-Monroe county line. What started as a circus show would lead to one of the more bizarre incidents in West Virginia.

McNeill’s Rangers destroyed property belonging to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

In the predawn hours of October 3, 1864, Confederate guerilla John “Hanse” McNeill led a raid near Mount Jackson, Virginia. After a quick exchange of fire with Union cavalry, McNeill collapsed from a gunshot wound. He would die five weeks later.

Labor leader Miles Stanley helped promote Appalachian workers' rights.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Miles Stanley, labor, AFL-CIO, Dunbar, 1924

Miles Stanley was born in Dunbar on October 2, 1924. Before his untimely death at age 49, he would become one of West Virginia’s most important labor leaders.

Stanley served in the army artillery during World War II. He then went to work in a steel factory and, in 1947, became president of his local union. After rising quickly through the labor ranks, he was elected president of the newly created West Virginia Federation of Labor AFL-CIO in 1957. In this influential position, he urged the Appalachian region to develop a more skilled workforce. And, for his emphasis on human rights in the workplace, he was named as an adviser to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. In the mid-‘60s, he moved to Washington, D. C., for several years to serve as a personal assistant to national AFL-CIO president George Meany. However, in 1967, he returned to West Virginia, where he continued to build the state’s AFL-CIO into a major political force.

Miles Stanley died suddenly of a heart attack on May 3, 1974. The state’s AFL-CIO building in Charleston is named in his honor.

October 1, 1896: Rural Free Mail Delivery Begins

Oct 1, 2018
Rural mail delivery was made on four-sure feet.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / rural delivery, RFD, 1896, farmers, Postmaster General,

In 1896, the nation’s first Rural Free Delivery, known as RFD, was introduced in West Virginia. Prior to this, people in rural areas didn’t have access to mail delivery. To get their mail, farm families had to travel to a town, which, in some cases, could be an all-day trip. And more than half the country’s 76 million people lived on farms.

September 28, 1955: Labor Activist Mother Blizzard Dies

Sep 28, 2018
Sarah "Mother" Blizzard
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Labor activist Sarah “Mother” Blizzard died on September 28, 1955, at age 90. She spent her early years on her family’s farm in Fayette County.

September 27, 1914: Author Catherine Marshall Born

Sep 27, 2018
Catherine Marshal
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Author Catherine Marshall was born in Tennessee on September 27, 1914. In the late 1920s, her family moved to West Virginia and lived in Keyser, where she graduated from high school in 1932.

While attending Agnes Scott College in Georgia, she met the Rev. Peter Marshall, and they got married in Keyser in 1936. After their son’s birth in 1940, Catherine was homebound with tuberculosis for nearly three years.

September 26, 1820: Daniel Boone Dies in Missouri

Sep 26, 2018
Daniel Boone
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Frontiersman Daniel Boone died in Missouri on September 26, 1820, at age 85. Thanks to a colorful biographical sketch by John Filson, Boone was already one of America’s most famous pioneers when he moved to Point Pleasant in 1788.

While living there, Boone represented Kanawha County in the Virginia General Assembly, served as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia militia, and won a contract to supply militia companies in Western Virginia.

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

Sep 21, 2018
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. 

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 13, 1910: Jazz Musician Leon "Chu" Berry Born

Sep 13, 2018
Leon "Chu" Berry performed with Fletcher Henderson, Bessie Smith, Benny Carter, and many others.
E-WV

Musician Leon “Chu” Berry was born in Wheeling on September 13, 1910. He became one of the most highly regarded saxophonists of the Swing Era, ranking alongside Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young.

At West Virginia State College (now University), Berry performed with the Edwards Collegians and other regional groups.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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