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

e-WV Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA), Marion County Historical Society Collection.

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools are unconstitutional, leading eventually to the integration of all schools across the country.

May 16, 1778: Wyandot and Mingo Indians Attack the Fort Randolph

May 16, 2019
e-WV Encyclopedia

On May 16, 1778, about 300 Wyandot and Mingo Indians attacked the garrison at Fort Randolph in Point Pleasant. Located at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, Fort Randolph was one of the most important military outposts in Western Virginia during the Revolutionary War.

Michael Keller / West Virginia Humanities Council

On May 15, 1880, West Virginia’s first telephone exchange was placed in service in Wheeling with about 25 subscribers. Actually, the state’s first telephone line was strung in Wheeling the year before, connecting two grocery stores owned by the Behrens brothers. At first, only local calls were possible, but long-distance service was started between Wheeling and Pittsburgh in 1883.

May 14, 1910: Businessman W. D. Thurmond Dies in Fayette County

May 14, 2019

Businessman W. D. Thurmond died in Fayette County on May 14, 1910, at age 89. He was born in Virginia and came to Fayette County as a young man with his family in 1845.

During the Civil War, he served as a captain with Thurmond’s Rangers—a Confederate guerrilla force commanded by his brother Philip, who was killed in Putnam County in 1864. According to his family, W. D. Thurmond remained an “unreconstructed Rebel” the rest of his long life.

On May 13, 1941, Fairmont State College President Joseph Rosier was seated in the U.S. Senate, ending one of the state’s most bizarre political tussles. He was succeeding Democratic powerbroker Matthew Neely, who’d stepped down as senator to become West Virginia’s 21st governor.

May 10, 1960: Kennedy Wins the West Virginia Primary

May 10, 2019
e-WV Encyclopedia / Charleston Newspapers (CN)

On May 10, 1960, John F. Kennedy defeated Hubert Humphrey in the most important presidential primary ever held in West Virginia. Kennedy, a Catholic, had won the Wisconsin Democratic primary a month earlier. However, some attributed his success to Wisconsin’s relatively large percentage of Catholics.

Oil wells near Parkersburg around 1910
e-WV Encyclopedia

On May 9, 1863, Confederate raiders set fire to the prosperous oil works at Burning Springs in Wirt County. Just two years before the Civil War, Burning Springs had become the birthplace of Western Virginia’s oil industry. When the war began, it was one of only two oil-producing fields in the world.

May 8, 1951: Mike D’Antoni Born in Mullens

May 8, 2019
Matt Hickey / WV Encyclopedia

Mike D’Antoni was born in Mullens in Wyoming County on May 8, 1951. He was a basketball star at Mullens High School and Marshall University and went on to a pro career with the NBA Kansas City-Omaha Kings and San Antonio Spurs and with the Spirits of St. Louis in the American Basketball Association. He then had 13 great seasons with Olimpia Milano in Italy, where he was a local hero, not only due to his court skills but because his grandfather had emigrated to the United States from Italy in 1908.

May 7, 1928: Keith Albee Theater Opens in Huntington

May 7, 2019
David Fattaleh / WVDT

The Keith-Albee Theatre opened in Huntington on May 7, 1928, with the comedy film Good Morning, Judge, a newsreel, and five stage acts. It was one of the most lavish motion picture houses ever built and, with 3,000 seats, was supposedly second in size only to New York City’s Roxy.

May 6, 1968: Incident at Hominy Falls Traps 25 Miners for Days

May 6, 2019

 On May 6, 1968, a continuous miner machine cut into an unmapped coal mine at Hominy Falls in Nicholas County. The incident unleashed a torrent of water from the old abandoned mine into the Gauley Coal & Coke Saxsewell No. 8 mine. Most miners made it out unharmed, but 25 were cut off from the entrance. The next 10 days were filled with tension and, often, despair.

May 5, 1923: Fire Destroys Luna Park in Charleston

May 5, 2019
Luna-Park
e-WV Encyclopedia

On May 5, 1923, an accidental fire started by welders destroyed most of Luna Park on Charleston’s West Side. The seven-acre amusement park had been built in 1912 on a former three-hole golf course.

Illustration of the Diamond Department Store at the corner of Capitol and Washington Streets in Charleston
e-WV Encyclopedia

On May 3, 1960, Charleston’s Diamond Department Store integrated its lunch counters. The Diamond was the largest department store of its kind in Charleston and one of the leading stores in the state. For years, it barred African-Americans from eating at its popular lunch counter.

American Legion
e-WV Encyclopedia

On May 2, 1919, the West Virginia department of the American Legion first convened at a meeting in Charleston. At the time, the Legion was only about six weeks old, having been founded in Paris by members of the American Expeditionary Force after World War I.

May 1, 1879: Jack Glasscock Makes Major League Debut

May 1, 2019
Jack Glasscock
Public Domain

Jack Glasscock—one of the best shortstops in history—made his major league debut on May 1, 1879, with the Cleveland Blues. He was born in Wheeling in 1859 and learned to play baseball on the sandlots of his hometown.

He earned the nickname “Pebbly Jack” due to his habit of picking up and tossing away pebbles in the field—and some baseball historians think the pebbles were just a figment of Jack’s imagination.

April 30, 1774: Family of Chief Logan Slaughtered in Hancock County

Apr 30, 2019
Chief Logan Statue at Chief Logan State Park.
e-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV Division of Tourism, Steve Shaluta

On April 30, 1774, one of the worst atrocities of the frontier era occurred in present-day Hancock County. A band of frontiersmen led by Daniel Greathouse slaughtered a group of Indians, including the family of Logan. Logan was chief of the Mingo Indians, a multi-tribal confederation allied to the Six Nations. During the four years he’d lived in the area, he had consistently tried to maintain peace.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV Humanities Council, Heidi Perov

On April 29, 1863, the largest Civil War battle in present northern West Virginia occurred at Fairmont. It was part of the Jones-Imboden Raid. In the previous five days, Confederate cavalry under General William “Grumble” Jones had fought battles in Hardy and Preston counties. On April 28, Jones raided Morgantown. Ironically, one of the Confederate raiders was William Lyne Wilson, who would later return to Morgantown as president of West Virginia University

April 26, 1816: General Alexander Welch Reynolds Born in Lewisburg

Apr 26, 2019
Alexander Welch Reynolds
e-WV Encyclopedia

General Alexander Welch Reynolds was born in Lewisburg on April 26, 1816. After graduating from West Point in 1838, he served as an army officer in the Seminole War, the Mexican War, and in the West. 

When the Civil War began in 1861, Reynolds joined the Confederate army and saw considerable combat. 

In September 1861, he led a regiment at the Battle of Carnifex Ferry in Nicholas County. The battle, which was fought on the banks of the Gauley River, left him with the nickname “Old Gauley.”

April 25, 1923: Labor Leader Arnold Miller Born in Kanawha County

Apr 25, 2019
E- WV Encyclopedia / Rick Lee via Goldenseal magazine

Labor leader Arnold Miller was born in Kanawha County on April 25, 1923. The son and grandson of coal miners, Miller quit school at age 16 to become a miner himself. 

April 24, 1966: Attorney Lewis Johnson Dies in Washington, DC

Apr 24, 2019
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.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

On April 22, 1861, some 1,200 protesters gathered at the Harrison County Courthouse in Clarksburg to vent their anger about Virginia seceding from the Union. Five days earlier, Virginia delegates had adopted an Ordinance of Secession, just days after the start of the Civil War.

April 19, 1889: Susan Dew Hoffone Licensed to Practice Medicine in W.Va.

Apr 19, 2019
Susan Dew Hoff
e-WV Encyclopedia

On April 19, 1889, Susan Dew Hoff passed the state medical exam, becoming one of the first licensed women physicians in West Virginia history.

As a youth, the Hampshire County native had moved with her family to West Milford in Harrison County, where her father was a doctor. She sometimes accompanied him on house calls.

And he encouraged her to pursue a medical career, but medical colleges were closed to women in the mid-1800s.

As Hoff raised a family of five, she self-taught herself by reading her father’s medical books and discussing medicine with him.

April 18, 1861: Federal Soldiers Set Fire to Harpers Ferry Armory

Apr 18, 2019
David Hunter Strother / Library of Congress

On April 18, 1861, U.S. Army regular soldiers and volunteers set fire to the U.S. Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. 

The day before, Virginia politicians had voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. Confederates quickly targeted the Harpers Ferry Armory and Arsenal for its stockpile of guns. On April 18, 360 Virginia militiamen began a 10-mile march from Charles Town to seize the Armory.

April 17, 1757: Col. Washington Orders Closing Ft. Ashby

Apr 17, 2019
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.

April 16, 1923: Governor Arch Moore Born in Moundsville

Apr 16, 2019
Arch Moore
U.S. Government Printing Office / wikimedia Commons

Arch Moore was born in Moundsville on April 16, 1923. During World War II, he was severely wounded in the face and had to learn to talk again during his long hospital recovery. The Republican was elected to the state legislature in 1952 and to Congress four years later.

April 15, 1861: President Lincoln Calls for Volunteer Troops

Apr 15, 2019
BotMultichillT / wikimedia Commons

On April 15, 1861, three days after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteer troops. At the time, the U.S. Army had only about 16,000 soldiers. While most historians point to Fort Sumter as the beginning of the war, some suggest the war didn’t really begin until Lincoln’s call for troops. His action spurred four of the “holdout” states—Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas—to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

 State founder Peter G. Van Winkle died in Parkersburg on April 15, 1872, at age 63. The native of New York City had moved to Parkersburg in 1835 to practice law. Through his wife’s family, he became a key player in the region’s oil industry. He also helped organize and serve as president of the Northwestern Virginia Railroad.

April 12, 1912: Willard Hotel Opens in Grafton

Apr 12, 2019
e-WV Encyclopedia

On April 12, 1912, the Willard Hotel opened in Grafton with an elaborate banquet attended by state and local dignitaries and officials of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It was built by Grafton attorney and industrialist John T. McGraw and named in honor of the B&O’s president, Daniel Willard.

April 11, 1964: Writer Pinckney Benedict Born in Lewisburg

Apr 11, 2019
Hollins University
e-WV Encyclopedia

Writer Pinckney Benedict was born in Lewisburg on April 11, 1964, and grew up on his family’s dairy farm. After graduating from Princeton University and the University of Iowa, he published his first two collections of short stories, Town Smokes and The Wrecking Yard, and the novel Dogs of God. The New York Times Book Review named all three to its Notable Books list. In 2010, after taking 14 years off from publishing, he released a new collection of short stories entitled Miracle Boy.

April 10, 1931: Braxton County Rune Stone Found

Apr 10, 2019
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.
E-WV / The 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.

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