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

July 22, 1930: Fayette County's Dun Glen Hotel Destroyed By Arson

Jul 22, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On July 22, 1930, one of West Virginia’s most popular—and most notorious—landmarks burned to the ground. On that day, arsonists destroyed the Dun Glen Hotel in Fayette County.

The Dun Glen was opened in 1901 across the New River from the town of Thurmond. Thanks to the coal and railroad industries, money poured in and out of the region. At one point, the town of Thurmond and the surrounding area accounted for almost 20 percent of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway’s revenues, shipping more freight than Cincinnati or Richmond.

July 16, 1869: Philanthropist Michael Benedum Born in Bridgeport

Jul 16, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  Philanthropist Michael Benedum was born in Bridgeport on July 16, 1869. He earned the nickname the “Great Wildcatter” based on his ability to find oil and gas by drilling “wildcat” wells in unpredicted places. He first struck it rich in Pleasants County and then expanded to other sites in West Virginia, other states, and, eventually, other countries. He continued working seven days a week, even into his late 80s.

July 15, 1886: Congressman “Cleve” Bailey Born in Pleasants County

Jul 15, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  Congressman “Cleve” Bailey was born in Pleasants County on July 15, 1886. Early in his career, he was a teacher, school administrator, and newspaper editor in Clarksburg. He got his start in politics as a Clarksburg city councilman.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On July 9, 1936, the electric power plant at Union Carbide’s metallurgical plant in Alloy went into operation. The power at the Fayette County plant was generated by water, which flowed through the manmade Hawks Nest Tunnel. Most of the tunnel’s construction had occurred between 1930 and 1932—primarily by black laborers from the South.

July 8, 1924: Rock & Roll Pioneer Johnnie Johnson Born in Fairmont

Jul 8, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Rock n’ roll pioneer Johnnie Johnson was born in Fairmont on July 8, 1924. The son of a coal miner, he started playing piano at age five and grew up listening to big band music and what was known then as hillbilly music. During World War II, he became one of the first 1,500 African-Americans admitted to the Marine Corps.

July 2, 1934: Woodchopping Star Arden Cogar Sr. Born in Webster Co.

Jul 2, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

One of West Virginia’s most successful athletes hailed from the unusual sport of woodchopping. Arden Cogar Sr. was born in Webster County on July 2, 1934. When he was 21, he won nine titles at what would become the Lumberjack World Championships. He demonstrated his skills at the 1965 New York World’s Fair and quickly became the sport’s leading figure, with regular spots on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. He eventually set more than 50 world records, many after he turned 40. He still holds nine records.

July 1, 1937: Watoga and Babcock State Parks Opened

Jul 1, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On July 1, 1937, Watoga and Babcock state parks were opened to the public and quickly became centerpieces of the fledgling state park system. Both Watoga and Babcock were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC, one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, was designed to put young people to work during the Great Depression.

Watoga, located in Pocahontas County, is West Virginia’s largest state park. Workers at three CCC camps built Watoga’s original cabins, superintendent’s residence, stable, restaurant-administration building, 11-acre lake, horse and foot trails, 14 miles of roads, and swimming pool, all between 1934 and 1937.

June 10, 1775: Captain Hugh Stephenson Organizes Berkeley County Riflemen

Jun 10, 2015

On June 10, 1775, Captain Hugh Stephenson organized the Berkeley County Riflemen in response to George Washington’s call for soldiers at the start of the Revolutionary War. These were among the first soldiers from the South to volunteer following the outbreak of hostilities in Massachusetts. The men supplied their own uniforms, weapons, equipment, and food. They wore leather leggings and moccasins, deerskin caps, and homespun shirts made of a coarse cloth called linsey-woolsey.

May 28, 1938: NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West Born in Cabin Creek

May 28, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  Basketball hall of famer Jerry West was born on Cabin Creek in Kanawha County on May 28, 1938. He led East Bank High School to a state basketball championship before going on to rewrite the record books at West Virginia University. As a sophomore, his Mountaineer team finished the regular season ranked first in the nation. In 1959, he took WVU to within two points of a national championship and was named Most Valuable Player of the NCAA Tournament. After his senior season, he won a gold medal in basketball at the 1960 Olympics.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On May 21, 1864, Confederate General and former Congressman Albert Gallatin Jenkins was killed at the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain, Virginia. He was 33.

As a young man, the Cabell County native had attended Marshall Academy, Jefferson College, and Harvard Law School before being elected twice to Congress. In 1859, he inherited his father’s plantation in Cabell County and became one of the largest slaveholders in present West Virginia.

On May 14, 1982, Judge Arthur Recht handed down a legal ruling that reshaped the course of public education in West Virginia.

May 7, 1972: Activist Lenna Lowe Yost Dies at 94

May 7, 2015

  Activist Lenna Lowe Yost died on May 7, 1972, at age 94. The Marion County native and West Virginia Wesleyan College graduate had become involved in women’s issues as a young adult. For 10 years, she was president of the state chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. The WCTU, as it’s known, principally opposed the consumption of alcohol but also supported social reforms for women.

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

  Andrew Rowan, made famous as the subject of a patriotic essay, was born in Monroe County on April 23, 1857. In 1898, the United States was on the verge of war with Spain over the island of Cuba. President William McKinley needed military intelligence from Cuban General Calixto Garcia. The Army chose Lieutenant Andrew Rowan to deliver the message.

He also managed to pull down 32 rebounds. His Burnsville team routed the Widen squad 173 to 43.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 26, 1960, 17-year-old guard Danny Heater of Burnsville High School scored a record-breaking 135 points in a basketball game against Widen High School. He easily shattered the previous state high school record of 74 and the national record of 120.

Although, Washington and Jefferson still had their number, shutting them out seven more times.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / West Virginia University Football, Washington and Jefferson College, F.L. Emory, WVU Athletic Association

On November 28, 1891, West Virginia University played its first football game ever. The contest didn’t go as hoped. About 250 fans showed up at a field south of Morgantown to watch Washington and Jefferson shut out WVU 72 to 0.

Purinton returned in 1901 as WVU’s president and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / West Virginia University, Daniel Purinton, Preston County, Dennison College

Daniel B. Purinton died in Morgantown on November 27, 1933. A native of Preston County, he was one of West Virginia University’s early graduates. He earned a bachelor of arts from the school in 1873 and a master of arts in 1876. He later received a doctorate from the University of Nashville.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online

Ned Chilton was born on November 26, 1921. Chilton served four terms in the state House of Delegates in the 1950s. He made his biggest political splash, however, after becoming publisher of the Charleston Gazette newspaper in 1961.

In 1956, Tuke reopened The Greenbrier’s Art Colony.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Gladys Tuke, The Greenbrier, The Greenbrier Resort Art Colony, Pocahontas County,

Sculptor Gladys Tuke was born in Pocahontas County on November 19, 1899. In the 1930s she took up residency at The Greenbrier resort’s Art Colony and became well known for her sculptures of horses. During World War Two, Tuke taught sculpture and pottery to soldiers who were recovering at The Greenbrier.

Educator Elsie Clapp was born in Brooklyn Heights and influenced by progressive educator John Dewey.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / John Dewey, Elsie Clapp, Arthurdale, Preston County

Educator Elsie Clapp was born on November 13, 1879, in Brooklyn Heights. She was influenced by progressive educator John Dewey, who believed that schools should have a direct impact on the communities they serve.

Schmulbach was one of many German immigrants who turned Wheeling into an important brewing center in the late 1800s.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Wheeling, Henry Schmulbach, Nail City Brewery, Schmulbach Brewing, Mozart Park, The Wheeling Bridge Company

When Henry Schmulbach was a child, he and his family immigrated to Wheeling from Germany. By the time he was a young adult, Schmulbach had become one of the city’s most successful businessmen, selling retail groceries and wholesale liquor.

In the early 1800s, Kanawha County became the salt-producing capital of the nation.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Output pool, Kanawha Salt Industry, War of 1812, Kanawha County

On November 10, 1817, Kanawha County salt operators entered into a unique business arrangement that would set the stage for major industries in the late 1800s. Salt was an essential product in early American history. In the early 1800s, Kanawha County became the salt-producing capital of the nation.

At first glance, the battle might not have seemed that significant because Echols’s forces managed to escape.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, General William Averell, General John Echols, Pocahontas County, Lewisburg, Civil War

On November 6, 1863, one of the most important Civil War battles in West Virginia occurred in Pocahontas County. Union General William W. Averell launched a raid, to trap Confederate troops around Lewisburg.

Neale also was a football innovator, developing the “naked reverse,” the five-man defensive line, and man-to-man pass defense. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Greasy Neale, 1919 World Seies, Canton Bulldogs, Cincinnati Reds, National Football League

Alfred Earle Neale was born in Parkersburg on November 5, 1891. As a youth, he excelled at virtually every sport.

It also features arts-and-craft shows, wood chopping contests, old English knight tournaments, a carnival, and a fire-engine parade representing departments from across West Virginia.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Mountain State Forest Festival, Elkins, 1930, Neil Armstrong, Randolph County, Queen Silvia

The first Mountain State Forest Festival began in Elkins on October 30, 1930. Since then, it has been held every October except for the years 1941 to 1949. The festival was intended to attract tourists to the region, which is known for its hardwood trees and dazzling fall colors.

The rest of his Civil War career would rank Lee among the greatest generals in history. However, his first campaign was a total calamity.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Robert E. Lee, Traveler, Pocahontas County, Cheat Mountain

On October 29, 1861, Confederate commander Robert E. Lee departed present-day West Virginia, near the end of his ill-fated western Virginia campaign. The rest of his Civil War career would rank Lee among the greatest generals in history. However, his first campaign was a total calamity.

Camp Ashford was built in the summer of 1942 by Italian POWs, who stayed at the camp until the German prisoners arrived the following year.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online; The Greenbrier / The Greenbrier, Camp Ashford, White Sulphur Springs, World War II

Its 1,700-foot arch made it the longest single-span arch bridge in the world.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / New River Gorge, Fayette County, Fayette Station Road

The New River Gorge Bridge was dedicated in Fayette County before a crowd of 30,000 on this day in 1977. Throughout history, transportation across the rugged gorge has been a challenge. Its 1,700-foot arch made it the longest single-span arch bridge in the world.

Harpers Ferry was the site of the US Armory, and played a vital role before and during the Civil War.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Harpers Ferry, John Brown, US Armory, Robert E. Lee, Civil War

Joseph Johnson, represented Harrison County in the 1980 Virginia Convention.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Harrison County, Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1850

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