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February 6, 1732: General Charles Lee Born in England

Feb 6, 2020
After being captured in 1776, Lee supplied the British with plans to defeat the Americans.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

General Charles Lee was born in England on February 6, 1732. As a young man, he served with distinction in the British army before immigrating to America in the early 1770s. When the Revolutionary War began, he sided with the Americans and served as a major general in the Continental Army.

January 27, 1925: Reverend Bernard Coffindaffer Born

Jan 27, 2020
Preacher Bernard L. Coffindaffer (1925-1993)
Frank P. Herrera / Charleston Newspapers/The Humanities Council

On January 27, 1925, the Reverend Bernard Coffindaffer was born at Craigsville in Nicholas County.

During World War II, he served in the Marines and was wounded on Iwo Jima. After the war, he returned to West Virginia and amassed a small fortune through a coal-washing business.

January 15, 1890: West Virginia Legislators Convene to Choose Governor

Jan 15, 2020
After the initial election tally in November 1888, Republican Nathan Goff Jr. had held a 106-vote lead over Democrat A. B. Fleming.
E-WV/The Humanities Council

On January 15, 1890, West Virginia legislators convened in special session to choose the state’s new governor. The most recent gubernatorial election had been deadlocked for an incredible 14 months.

December 31, 1952: Hank Williams' Final Concert

Dec 31, 2019
By the end of 1952, Williams was trying to get his life and career back on track. He’d even released a new single entitled “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.”
E-WV / Humanities Council

On New Year’s Eve 1952, country music legend Hank Williams was scheduled to perform at Charleston’s Municipal Auditorium as part of his comeback tour.

His life had been descending into turmoil for a long time. Various issues were to blame, including marriage troubles, back problems, prescription drug abuse, and alcoholism. In August 1952, he had been fired from the Grand Ole Opry because his notorious unreliability had finally overshadowed his incomparable talent.

December 26, 1917: Instrument Maker Harold Hayslett Born

Dec 26, 2019
One of Hayslett's cellos earned the society’s prestigious gold medal for tone. In 1996, filmmaker Robert Gates took an in-depth look at Hayslett’s life and work in the documentary Building a Cello with Harold.
E-WV / Humanities Council

Harold Hayslett was born in Putnam County on December 26, 1917. After serving in France during World War II, he worked as a pipefitter for Union Carbide in South Charleston. He retired in 1980 after 33 years of service.

While working at Carbide, he started a side hobby—making violins, cellos, and other instruments. His reputation spread quickly—first locally, and then worldwide. The Violin Society of America honored Hayslett on several occasions.

December 23, 1995: Newspaperman Sam Shaw Dies at 82

Dec 23, 2019
Sam Shaw, editor of Moundsville Daily Echo
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Moundsville Dailt Echo

Newspaperman Sam Shaw died on December 23, 1995, at age 82. From 1951 until his death, he was the beloved and eccentric editor of the Moundsville Daily Echo.

Shaw was a tinkerer, hiker, musician, photographer, linguist, and bird watcher. During World War II, he was a decoder in army radio intelligence. As editor of the Echo, his quirky ‘‘Jots’’ column served as a sounding board for community projects, including his 30-year crusade to build the Moundsville Ohio River bridge.

December 19, 1907: Colonel Ruby Bradley Born

Dec 19, 2019
Ruby Bradley
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online

Ruby Bradley was born near Spencer on December 19, 1907. As a member of the Army Nurse Corps, she would become one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history.

Bradley’s ordeal also is one of the most incredible stories of World War II. Just hours after attacking Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japan bombed American defenses in the Philippines, where Bradley was stationed as an Army nurse.

About three weeks later, she was captured and imprisoned in an internment camp in Manila. Conditions in the camp were brutal and kept deteriorating as the war dragged on.

December 13, 1926: Wheeling Radio Station WWVA Goes On The Air

Dec 13, 2019
In 1933, WWVA launched a program that would become a mainstay. The Wheeling Jamboree was broadcast to 17 other states and six Canadian provinces.
E-WV

Wheeling radio station WWVA went on the air on December 13, 1926. The 50-watt station broadcast from the basement of John Stroebel, a physics teacher and wireless pioneer. By November of the next year, WWVA had established studios in a Wheeling office building and boosted its power to 500 watts, which, on some nights, could transmit its signal halfway around the world. Early programming on the station included contemporary recorded music, informal announcements, music by local amateurs, and children’s shows.

  

December 12, 1975: Original Shoney's in Charleston Closes

Dec 12, 2019
Shoneys
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online

On December 12, 1975, the original Shoney’s Restaurant closed down for good in Charleston. The Shoney’s chain grew from the original Parkette Drive-In and Bowling Alley, which had opened on the city’s West Side in 1947.

The restaurant was the brainchild of Alex Schoenbaum, a former All-American football player at Ohio State. He moved to Charleston in 1943 and opened the Parkette four years later.

December 6, 1907: The Monongah Mine Explodes in Marion County

Dec 6, 2019
Fairmont Coal Company’s No. 6 and 8 mines at Monongah in Marion County
Appalachian History.net

On December 6, 1907, a massive explosion ripped through the Fairmont Coal Company’s No. 6 and 8 mines at Monongah in Marion County. The powerful blast killed at least 361 men, and that number is likely low due to poor record keeping. It was the worst mine disaster in U.S. history.

December 5, 1916: Benjamin Gravely Receives Patent for Motor Plow

Dec 5, 2019
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

On December 5, 1916, Benjamin Franklin Gravely of South Charleston received a patent for his Gravely Motor Plow.

He had first started working on the invention five years earlier.  Gravely’s first crude attempt had combined a push plow, a tractor wheel, and a two-and-a-half-horsepower motorcycle engine. From this simple start, he kept adapting the plow until he perfected it.

December 4, 1883: Reformer Stella Fuller Born

Dec 4, 2019
Salvation Army officials thought Fuller was wielding too much power and was insubordinate.
appalachianhistory.net

Social reformer Stella Fuller was born in Point Pleasant on December 4, 1883. After graduating from a Huntington business college, she worked for a law firm in Welch. At age 23, she returned to Huntington and became actively involved in the Salvation Army. Her work with the organization turned into an obsession. She even lived for 20 years in the group’s citadel building.

Robert C. Byrd
E-WV

  

On November 18, 2009, Senator Robert C. Byrd became the nation’s longest-serving member of Congress.  He was first elected to public office in 1946.  After serving two terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates and one in the state senate, he was elected to three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.  In 1958, voters sent him to the U.S. Senate, where he would remain from 1959 until his death in 2010 at age 92.

November 11, 1918: World War I Ends

Nov 11, 2019
The last-surviving WWI veteran was Frank Buckles died at Charles Town in 2011 at the age of 110.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Frank Buckles, WWI, Charles Town,

On November 11, 1918, World War I ended after more than four years of brutal fighting. Nearly 39 million soldiers had been killed, wounded, or listed as missing. American soldiers arrived on the scene only during the last year-and-a-half of the war. Still, some 116,000 died in the conflict.

About 58,000 West Virginians served in the war. Of these, more than 1,100 were killed in action, and nearly 700 died in training. Many others died from influenza or other diseases.

In the days before refrigeration, pioneers needed this natural resource to preserve meat. As such, it is one of the few products that settlers would spend money on or trade for.
E-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

November 4, 1985: Flooding from Tropical Storm Juan

Nov 4, 2019
Floodwaters roar past a house in Parsons during the 1985 flood
Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online; The Parson's Advocate.

In the predawn hours of November 4, 1985, a large band of rain began forming from North Carolina to West Virginia. The storm was stronger than most because it was picking up moisture from Tropical Storm Juan, which had hit the Southeast just days before. 

November 1, 1968: Charles Rogers of Fayette County Earned Medal of Honor

Nov 1, 2019
Charles Rogers of Fayette County earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during a battle in the Vietnam War.
Photo Courtesy of HomeOfHeroes.com

On November 1, 1968, Charles Rogers of Fayette County earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during a battle in the Vietnam War. The 40-year-old Rogers had previously received Army ROTC training at West Virginia State College (now University).

In the early hours of November 1, he was commanding an army infantry battalion near the Cambodian border. The fire-support base he was protecting was under attack from heavy shelling and a ground wave assault.

On this day in Mountain Stage history, iconic alt-rock band R.E.M. appeared on the show. It was one of only three shows the band would play that year.

February 5, 1890: Cam Henderson Born in Marion County

Feb 5, 2019
Henderson played the tournament with only eight players due to budget restrictions on travel.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Coach Cam Henderson was born in Marion County on February 5, 1890. He grew up in Harrison County before attending Glenville State College, where he played football, basketball, and baseball. In 1923, he started a successful 12-year run as head football and basketball coach at Davis and Elkins College. Then, in 1935, he moved on to Marshall College.

February 4, 1951: Fiddler "Blind Ed" Haley Dies in Ashland KY

Feb 4, 2019
Playing on street corners, courthouse squares, and other public places, Ed Haley became one of the most influential fiddlers of his day. Fiddle great Clark Kessinger considered him the best he’d ever heard.
E-WV, The Humanities Council

Legendary fiddler “Blind Ed” Haley died in Ashland, Kentucky, on February 4, 1951.

The Logan County native never made any commercial recordings during his lifetime because he feared that record companies would cheat a blind musician. However, just by playing on street corners, courthouse squares, and other public places, he became one of the most influential fiddlers of his day. Fiddle great Clark Kessinger considered him the best he’d ever heard.

January 30, 1895: Mingo County Formed

Jan 30, 2019
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

West Virginia’s youngest county came into existence on January 30, 1895, when the legislature created Mingo County from Logan County. When West Virginia entered the Union in 1863, it had 50 counties. Grant, Mineral, Lincoln, and Summers counties were added during the first four years of statehood.

January 29, 1873: Chesapeake & Ohio Completed

Jan 29, 2019
More than 7,000 men—including many African Americans—laid track through the New River Gorge and cut tunnels through the mountains between Hinton and Covington, Virginia.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 29, 1873, railroad officials gathered at Hawks Nest in Fayette County to drive the last spike on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. The C&O, as it was known, connected the Ohio River with the Atlantic Ocean and gave birth to the modern coal and timber industries in southern West Virginia.

January 28, 1937: Worst Recorded Flooding Occurs Along the Ohio River

Jan 28, 2019
Nobody living between Huntington and Parkersburg had ever seen anything like the 1937 flood, which was brought on by melting snow and 19 straight days of rain.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

On January 28, 1937, the Ohio River crested in Huntington nearly 20 feet above flood stage. Days earlier, it’d crested at the same level in Parkersburg and 10 feet above flood stage in Wheeling.

January 23, 1888: Labor Leader Fred Mooney Born

Jan 23, 2019
This was a particularly active period in the Mine Wars—a violent time that pitted miners against coal operators.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Labor leader Fred Mooney was born in Kanawha County on January 23, 1888. At age 13, he began working in coal mines as a trapper boy. 

Six years later, at the young age of 19, he became secretary-treasurer of District 17 of the United Mine Workers of America.

January 22, 1927: Confederate General John McCausland Died

Jan 22, 2019
In 1857, he graduated first in his class at the Virginia Military Institute and returned a year later to teach mathematics.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Confederate Brigadier General John McCausland died at his Mason County home on January 22, 1927. He was 90 years old and the next-to-the-last living Confederate general. He was survived by a little more than a year by Felix Robertson.

McCausland had grown up at Henderson, near Point Pleasant. In 1857, he graduated first in his class at the Virginia Military Institute and returned a year later to teach mathematics.

January 21, 1906: First Passenger Train on the Coal & Coke Railroad

Jan 21, 2019
When he started on the Coal & Coke, all but 107 miles of the track between Elkins and Charleston already existed as part of other railroads.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 21, 1906, the first passenger train on the Coal & Coke Railway ran from Elkins to Charleston. The railroad was the brainchild of industrialist and former U.S. Senator Henry Gassaway Davis. It allowed him to market coal and timber resources from his vast landholdings in Randolph, Upshur, Braxton, Gilmer, and Barbour counties. When he started on the Coal & Coke, all but 107 miles of the track between Elkins and Charleston already existed as part of other railroads. Davis simply acquired those lines and completed the missing segment.

January 16, 1892: Activist Robert Simmons Dies

Jan 16, 2019
 Sumner was the first school for African American children in present-day West Virginia and south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Robert Simmons died at his Parkersburg home on January 16, 1892. A free black man during the days of slavery, he moved to Parkersburg in 1841 and earned a living as a barber. He and his wife Sarah worried that their nine children wouldn’t receive a proper education.

So, in 1862, he and other free black men established Sumner School in Parkersburg. Sumner was the first school for African American children in present-day West Virginia and south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

January 14, 1957: Cecil Underwood Inaugurated State's Youngest Governor

Jan 14, 2019
However, Underwood was able to pass measures to provide emergency benefits to unemployed miners and to create a new economic development agency.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 14, 1957, Cecil Underwood became West Virginia’s youngest governor. The 34-year-old Tyler County native also became the state’s first Republican governor in 24 years.

January 9, 1911: State Poet Laureate Louise McNeill Born

Jan 9, 2019
In 1979, Governor Jay Rockefeller named her state poet laureate.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

West Virginia Poet Laureate Louise McNeill was born on her family’s Pocahontas County farm on January 9, 1911. Her first book, Gauley Mountain, was published in 1939. In it, she peppered her poems with the speech and dialect she’d grown up with.

With its rich tapestry of stories and characters, Gauley Mountain is still hailed as a classic work of American poetry.

Over the next few decades, she taught college English but didn’t publish another major collection until 1972.

January 8, 1964: President Johnson Declares War on Poverty

Jan 8, 2019
For instance, community organizers in Mingo County and other parts of southern West Virginia fought to clean up their local governments. In the process, they drew the wrath of powerful politicians.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson called on Congress to declare an “unconditional war on poverty.” Combatting poverty had been a big thrust of John F. Kennedy’s campaign in 1960. Johnson introduced the War on Poverty legislation less than seven weeks after his predecessor’s assassination.

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