Bob Powell

Radio Operations Director

Bob is West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Radio Operations Director. He first worked for WV Public Radio in 1986 as a part-time announcer, and later returned to host jazz music programs and manage on-air operations in the 1990's.  A graduate of Alderson-Broaddus and Marshall Universities; he taught Speech, Broadcasting, and Rhetoric at Alderson-Broaddus University, West Virginia State University, and WV Institute of Technology of WVU. Bob served 21 years in the Army National Guard, and served overseas in Bosnia and Iraq.

Ways to Connect

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Statehood leader Francis Pierpont died on March 24, 1899, at age 85. He was born near Morgantown in 1814 and raised for part of his childhood in Marion County. As a young adult, he was as an attorney for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and a pioneer coal operator.

When the Civil War began, he helped form the pro-Union Reorganized Government of Virginia with its capital in Wheeling. In June 1861, he was unanimously elected the first and only governor of this government.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Humanities Council

On February 18, 1969, 282 coal miners walked off their jobs in Raleigh County. While coal strikes were common at the time, this one was different. First, the miners weren’t protesting for better wages but to have black lung recognized as a compensable disease. Second, the strike was in direct opposition to union wishes. For decades, miners had asked United Mine Workers of America leaders to address black lung. But, their pleas had been largely ignored. The previous year, union leader Tony Boyle finally had agreed to support black lung recognition at the state level.

Sid Hatfield
E-WV

On August 1, 1921, Matewan police chief Sid Hatfield and his friend Ed Chambers were gunned down by Baldwin-Felt Detectives in front of the McDowell County Courthouse in Welch.

The trouble between Hatfield and the Baldwin-Felts had started more than a year earlier. In May of 1920, a shootout in the Mingo County town of Matewan had pitted Baldwin-Felts detectives against Hatfield and a crowd of angry miners.

A shootout left seven of the detectives, two miners, and the town’s mayor dead in the streets of Matewan.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  Labor leader Bill Blizzard died on July 31, 1958, at age 65. The Kanawha County native was the son of two passionate union activists.

Oak Park, Preston County
WV & Regional History Center / WVU

Oak Park, an amusement park about a mile west of Masontown in Preston County, opened June 19, 1909.

The park was an easy train ride from Morgantown—as well as nearby Maryland and Pennsylvania—which helped fill up the park on weekends and holidays. On one day in that summer of 1909, 14 trains brought more than 4,000 people to Oak Park.

It’s hard to overestimate McElwains’ influence on fiddle playing.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Musician Lewis Johnson “Uncle Jack” McElwain died at Wainville in Webster County on April 30, 1938, at age 82. During his lifetime—all of which was spent at Wainville on Laurel Creek—he was considered the best fiddler in all of central West Virginia. He took part in many fiddle contests, and no one recalls him ever losing one. His most notable win was at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

In the 1948 election, Johnson chaired President Harry Truman’s finance committee, which helped engineer Truman’s surprise victory over Republican Thomas Dewey.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Attorney Louis Johnson died in Washington, D.C., on April 24, 1966, at age 75. The native of Roanoke, Virginia, had spent most of his life in Clarksburg before moving to Washington.

In 1913, Johnson co-founded the law firm that would become Steptoe and Johnson, which remains one of the leading legal practices in West Virginia. After serving in World War I, he helped found the American Legion and became its national commander in 1932.

As a Union officer, he fought, was captured, and made a daring escape during the Confederate raid on Guyandotte in Cabell County in November 1861.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

On April 23, 1861, Union loyalists from Virginia’s 11th District elected Kellian Whaley to the U.S. House of Representatives, replacing former Congressman Albert Gallatin Jenkins, who’d stepped down to support the Confederacy.

The vote came just six days after Virginia had voted to secede from the Union at the start of the Civil War.

Whaley, a native of upstate New York, had moved to near the present site of Ceredo in Wayne County in 1842. A lumber dealer by trade, Whaley was one of five pro-Union congressmen who represented Virginia in the 37th Congress.

By 1757, Washington could no longer provide enough forces to protect Forts Ashby and Cocke, so he abandoned both sites.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

On April 17, 1757, George Washington ordered the Virginia militia to abandon Fort Ashby in present Mineral County. Captain Ashby of the Virginia militia had overseen the fort’s construction, and Fort Cocke—to the south, during the summer and fall of 1755.

In 1920, the hospital moved to the Camden mansion on Garfield Avenue.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital was dedicated in Parkersburg on April 16, 1920. Its roots date back to the old City Hospital, a 40-bed facility that opened in 1898 on present 13th Street. It also operated a nursing school.

Today, most archaeologists consider both the Braxton County and Grave Creek tablets to be frauds.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

The Braxton County Rune Stone—also known as the Wilson Stone and Braxton County Tablet—was found by Blaine Wilson on April 10, 1931, about eight miles west of Gassaway.

The piece of sandstone—measuring about a square foot—has inscriptions similar to a stone found in the Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville in 1838. Nearly a century earlier, the Grave Creek Tablet had become the center of an archaeological controversy, with one eminent ethnographer believing it had been carved by Celts from ancient Spain or Britain, rather than by early Indians.

AftDr. Maggie, as she was affectionately known, returned to Monroe County and pursued her lifelong interests in genealogy and local history.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Physician Maggie Ballard was born on April 9, 1900, at Greenville in Monroe County, where her father was postmaster and owned a general store.

She attended school in Greenville and at the Alleghany Collegiate Institution in Alderson. After receiving her undergraduate degree from WVU, she became one of the first women to earn a medical degree from the University of Maryland. For the next four decades, she was a physician in Baltimore, specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, and served on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

A charter member of Charleston’s Capitol City Lodge Number 1, Starks served 16 years as grand chancellor of the state’s black Pythians.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Samuel Starks—the first African-American in the nation to serve as a state librarian—died of peritonitis in Charleston on April 3, 1908, at age 42. He served as state librarian the last seven years of his life, having been appointed by Governor A. B. White.

Outside of West Virginia, Starks was best known for his work with the Knights of Pythias. A charter member of Charleston’s Capitol City Lodge Number 1, Starks served 16 years as grand chancellor of the state’s black Pythians. In 1897, he was elected supreme chancellor—the lodge’s highest national office.

This Week in West Virginia History.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

On March 26, 1863, voters overwhelmingly approved the first West Virginia Constitution, which had been nearly a year-and-a-half in the making. The constitutional debates had started at a convention in Wheeling in November 1861. Delegates tackled some surprisingly quarrelsome issues, such as the new state’s name and which counties to include.

The dominant teams in the late ‘40s and ‘50s were Garnet of Charleston and Douglass of Huntington.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

On March 19, 1925, the state’s first basketball tournament for black high schools kicked off on the campus of West Virginia State College (now University) at Institute.

It featured 24 teams, with Lincoln High of Wheeling defeating Kimball in the championship. Kimball and other regions with large African-American populations were perennial favorites in the tournament. This included other McDowell County schools such as Gary and Excelsior High School of War as well as Beckley’s Genoa High.

First elected to the House of Delegates in 1958, he was a rising star in the Democratic Party.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

On March 12, 1971, Ivor Boiarsky, speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, died suddenly of a heart ailment. He was only 50.

Boiarsky was born in Charleston in 1920 and went on to become president of Charleston Federal Savings and Loan Association. First elected to the House of Delegates in 1958, he was a rising star in the Democratic Party, becoming chairman of the House Finance Committee and then House speaker.

A new road—known as the James River and Kanawha Turnpike—linked the town of Covington with the falls of the Kanawha River near Gauley Bridge and then continued to the confluence of the Ohio and Big Sandy rivers at Kenova.
e-WV / WV

On March 5, 1880, the James River and Kanawha Canal Company ceased operations.

The original company had been formed by Virginia in 1785, at the urging of George Washington, who’d traveled through the Ohio and Kanawha valleys the previous year. Washington envisioned a navigable water route, with canals, connecting Richmond and the Ohio River.

He was nicknamed the “Sheik of Seth”
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

John Zontini was born in Boone County on February 28, 1909. To this day, he’s considered one of the greatest athletes in West Virginia history.

He was nicknamed the “Sheik of Seth” because of his great football career at Sherman High School, located at Seth in Boone County. His 1929 rushing average of 27 yards per carry remains a state high school record. In 1931, he also set the state javelin record with a throw of 172 feet, one inch.

Daniel D.T. Farnsworth
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On February 27, 1869, West Virginia’s first governor, Arthur Boreman, resigned as the state’s chief executive to take a seat in the U.S. Senate. Daniel D. T. Farnsworth, president of the senate, stepped in to fill Boreman’s role, becoming West Virginia’s second, and shortest-serving, governor—since Boreman resigned just before the end of his term.

Five days after Farnsworth became governor, the state’s newly elected governor, William Stevenson, replaced him.

Bluefield State College
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On February 21, 1895, the legislature established the Bluefield Colored Institute, which would become Bluefield State College.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, thousands of African-Americans moved into Mercer, McDowell, Raleigh, and Fayette counties to work in the mines and for the railroads. At the time, there was a shortage of higher education opportunities for blacks in West Virginia, particularly black teachers.

E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On February 20, 1883, the Grand Army of the Republic met in Clarksburg to form a state chapter, or department. The GAR, as it was known, was a national fraternal organization of Civil War veterans who fought on the Union side.

Formed nationally in 1866, the GAR’s membership grew slowly at first. It wasn’t until the 1880s that its numbers began to take off. By 1890, there were more than 400,000 members across the country.

On February 16, 1917, the West Virginia Legislature established what was then known as the West Virginia State Colored Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Denmar. It opened at a time when the state’s public institutions were segregated by race. The Pocahontas County facility treated African American patients who suffered from TB. It was part of a movement by black legislators to build more facilities for African Americans. Prior to that, African Americans with TB had to be sent to a facility in Virginia.

Mack Day
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On February 14, 1925, lawman Mack Day was shot dead by a bootlegger at Pageton in McDowell County. The Virginia native had come to McDowell as a young man to mine coal.

He built a 14-room house for his wife and 12 children on Belcher Mountain. He joined the local Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, and eventually the Ku Klux Klan, during the Klan’s early-20th-century revival in West Virginia.

This Week in West Virginia History is a co-production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the West Virginia Humanities Council.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

Author Fanny Kemble Johnson died in Charleston on February 15, 1950, at age 81.

Born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, in 1868, she moved to West Virginia in her late 20s and began her writing career. She and her husband, Vincent Costello, moved from Charleston to Wheeling in 1907, and back to Charleston in 1917.

This Week in West Virginia History is a co-production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the West Virginia Humanities Council.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

On February 7, 1913, striking miners from the Holly Grove tent encampment in Kanawha County fired on a coal company-owned ambulance and attacked a store at nearby Mucklow.

Their actions triggered one of the most notorious incidents of the bloody Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Strike.

Jonah Edward Kelley
E-WV

In the early morning hours of January 31, 1945, Army Sergeant Jonah Edward Kelley died after leading an assault on the German community of Kesternich.

Despite being wounded, Kelley had led his men on a ferocious attack the day before. That night, he refused evacuation to a field hospital and continued leading his men the next day, when he was further wounded and died.

Thompson was born in western Kanawha County in 1937
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Musician Tommy Thompson died on January 24, 2003, at age 65. Thompson was born in western Kanawha County in 1937 and lived there until he was about 11, when his family moved to Florida.

As a young adult, he got interested in jazz, blues, and eventually old-time music. He picked up the claw-hammer-style of banjo playing and, while attending the University of North Carolina, founded the Hollow Rock String Band, along with his wife, Bobbie, and fiddler and folklorist Alan Jabbour.

In later years, he was involved in an automobile dealership and a real estate addition in the Spring Hill section of South Charleston
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Labor lawyer Harold Houston died in Florida on January 17, 1947, at age 74. When he was young, his parents moved from Ohio to Jackson County and then to Charleston.

In 1901, after getting a law degree from West Virginia University, Houston opened a legal practice in Parkersburg.

Kromer attended Marshall College (now University) for brief periods in the late ‘20s before crisscrossing the country, often hopping freight trains.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Novelist and short story writer Tom Kromer died in Huntington on January 10, 1969, at age 62. During his childhood, his family moved frequently—living in Huntington, Fairmont, Kingwood, and Williamstown—wherever his father could find work in the coal or glass industries.

WVU Tech Old Main Building, Montgomery, WV
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

The first classes at Montgomery Preparatory School in Fayette County began on January 4, 1897. It was established due to the lack of high schools in the area. Previously, most students in that region had to end their formal educations after eighth grade, or even earlier.

By World War I, there was less need for a preparatory school since many high schools had been recently established. In 1917, an attempt at converting it to a vocational school failed.

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