West Virginia

West Virginia Mask Army

Across the country, medical professionals fighting the coronavirus pandemic are struggling to get their hands on protective gear – things as basic as goggles, gloves and masks – and without federal assistance, groups of West Virginians are handmaking face masks at their own expense.


e-WV Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

West Virginia Attorney General Armistead Abraham Lilly was born at Jumping Branch in Summers County on March 25, 1878. He had a meteoric rise in politics, becoming a state legislator at age 22, Raleigh County prosecuting attorney at 26, and state attorney general when he was 34.

March 24, 1890: Confederate General William Lowther Jackson Dies at 65

Mar 24, 2020
Mudwall Jackson
e-WV Encyclopedia

On March 24, 1890, former Confederate General William Lowther Jackson died at age 65. Prior to the Civil War, the Clarksburg native had served as a Ritchie County judge, Virginia’s lieutenant governor, and president of the Virginia state senate.

March 17, 1912: NFL, WVU Hall Of Fame Athlete Joe Stydahar Born

Mar 17, 2020
Joe Stydahar
E-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Athlete Joe Stydahar was born in Pennsylvania on March 17, 1912. He and his family moved to Harrison County, West Virginia, where he graduated from Shinnston High School. He went on to become a basketball and football star at West Virginia University.

WV Governor's Office

Only a handful of states have no reported coronavirus cases to date, one of which is West Virginia. Gov. Jim Justice held a press conference Thursday to talk about the state’s plan to prepare. 

Bureau of Land Management

On March 11, 1939, the West Virginia Legislature passed the state’s first law regulating surface mining. Once referred to as strip mining, surface mining strips away earth, rock, and vegetation—known as overburden—to expose coal deposits.

March 4, 1924: Blues Musician Nat Reese Born in Virginia

Mar 4, 2020
Bluesman Nat Reese (1924-2012)
e-WV Encyclopedia / Michael Keller

Blues musician Nat Reese was born in Salem, Virginia, on March 4, 1924. When he was young, his family moved to Wyoming County and then to Princeton in Mercer County. He grew up listening to a variety of music, including jazz, blues, and country. And he learned to play the guitar, piano, organ, bass, and string harp.

March 3, 1866: Greenwood Cemetery Incorporated in Wheeling

Mar 3, 2020
Wikimedia Commons

Wheeling’s Greenwood Cemetery was incorporated on March 3, 1866, by a group of prominent citizens. The first burial occurred the following July, though prior to that, several bodies had been relocated to Greenwood from other cemeteries. Civil engineer James Gilchrist laid out Greenwood as a park-like setting—a common cemetery design in the mid-1800s. It’s adorned with shrubbery, flowers, trees, and picket fences.

February 24, 1918: Judge K. K. Hall Born in Boone County

Feb 24, 2020
Scale of Justice
Wikimedia Commons

Judge Kenneth Keller “K. K.” Hall was born in Boone County on February 24, 1918. During World War II, he served on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, earning 11 battle stars.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Foster parents may soon get more money for adopting children under a measure passed by the House of Delegates Tuesday aimed at alleviating West Virginia's overburdened foster care system.

Delegates voted 96-1 to approve the bill, with Republican Del. Pat McGeehan as the lone no vote after he was told the measure would cost the state around $17 million.

e-WV Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA)

On February 17, 1863, the West Virginia Constitutional Convention adopted the Willey Amendment, which settled the issue of slavery and paved the way for West Virginia to become the 35th state.

February 12, 1901: Congressman Jacob Blair Dies at 79

Feb 12, 2020
Jacob Beeson Blair
e-WV Encyclopedia

Congressman Jacob Blair died in Utah, on February 12, 1901, at age 79. He was born in Parkersburg in 1821 and orphaned at a young age. He studied law under his uncle John Jay Jackson Sr., was admitted to the bar, and then elected prosecuting attorney of Ritchie County.

Wikimedia Commons

On February 11, 1923, eight gangsters were arrested in Harrison County for their involvement in Black Hand activities. Black Hand was a name given to underworld extortion techniques, such as threatening lives in exchange for money. During the early 20th century, it was most commonly associated with Italian and Sicilian mobsters who extorted money from their fellow countrymen who had emigrated to the United States.

February 10, 1904: The Murder of Jay Legg

Feb 10, 2020

On February 10, 1904, Sarah Ann Legg shot and killed her husband, Jay, in their home at Harden’s lumber camp in Clay County. Jay floated logs downstream on the Elk River to Charleston. On the day of the shooting, he returned home early and was fatally shot with his own rifle.

February 5, 1942: Lawman Dan Cunningham Dies at 92

Feb 5, 2020
Dan Cunningham
e-West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV State Archives

Dan Cunningham died on February 5, 1942, at age 92. The legendary lawman was involved in some of the most violent and eventful moments in West Virginia history—sometimes finding himself on both sides of the legal system.

February 4, 1861: Peace Conference Opens in Washington

Feb 4, 2020
George William Summers
e-West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV Regional and History Collection

On February 4, 1861, a Peace Conference was held in Washington as a last-ditch effort to avert the looming Civil War. The deep divisions between the North and South carried into the conference, which failed to find a compromise. The Civil War started two months later.

Governor Arthur Ingraham Boreman (1823-96)
e-West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA)

On February 3, 1865, West Virginia Governor Arthur Boreman signed a legislative act banning slavery in the state. A common misconception is that West Virginia entered the Union in 1863 as a free state.

January 28, 1864: State Legislature Authorizes W.Va.'s First Flag

Jan 28, 2020
West Virginia State Flag
DollarPhoto Club / DollarPhoto Club

On January 28, 1864, the state legislature authorized West Virginia’s first flag. The new flags were presented to each of the state’s military regiments before the end of the Civil War. Consequently, these first state flags are commonly referred to as regimental or battle flags.

January 21, 1861: Joint Resolution Concerning the Position of Virginia

Jan 21, 2020
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On January 21, 1861, the Virginia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution stating that if differences between the North and South couldn’t be settled, Virginia would join the Confederate States of America. It was a key turning point in history. First, the Confederacy considered Virginia a prize jewel—a necessity for its success as a separate country. Second, Virginia’s eventual secession would lead to West Virginia becoming a state.

January 20, 1978: A Great Blizzard Strikes West Virginia

Jan 20, 2020
Wikimedia commons

On January 20, 1978, one of the worst blizzards in modern history struck West Virginia. It was the result of a Nor’easter that developed the previous day in the Atlantic.

January 14, 1977: Governor Moore Accepts $1 Million Settlement

Jan 14, 2020
Arch Moore
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On January 14, 1977, Governor Arch Moore accepted a $1 million settlement from the Pittston Coal Company related to the 1972 Buffalo Creek Flood. It was one of many lawsuits filed against Pittston after an improperly built coal dam collapsed, unleashing a muddy torrent that killed 125 people. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislature

In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’re doing something a bit different. We’re taking a temperature check on how people are feeling about politics as we head into what is sure to be a critical election year. While most people have the presidential race on their minds, there are many local races here that will have lasting impacts as well.

Joseph F. Rutherford
Wikimedia commons

On December 24, 1942, the President’s Committee on Fair Employment Practices ordered that seven Jehovah’s Witnesses have their jobs reinstated at the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company plant in Clarksburg. The seven had been fired a year earlier after declining to participate in union-sponsored, flag-salute ceremonies due to their religious beliefs. Union truckers refused to accept glass produced by the workers, prompting the company to fire all seven Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

December 18, 1944: Bernard Bell Earns the Medal of Honor

Dec 18, 2019
Bernard Bell
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / United States Army

On December 18, 1944, during World War II, Bernard Bell captured more than 30 German prisoners, earning the Medal of Honor. 

On December 17, 1957: Wheeling’s J. L. Stifel and Sons Closes its Doors

Dec 17, 2019
Johann Ludwig Stifel
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On December 17, 1957, Wheeling’s J. L. Stifel and Sons closed its doors. The company had been founded by German immigrant Johann Ludwig Stifel in 1835, making it one of West Virginia’s longest-surviving businesses, operated by four generations of the family.

December 14, 1857: Coal Operator Justus Collins Born in Alabama

Dec 14, 2019
Justus Collins started Greenbrier Coal & Coke and later opened the Whipple mine near Mount Hope.
E-WV The Humanities Council

Coal operator Justus Collins was born in Alabama on December 14, 1857. He got his start in coal mining in the Deep South but moved north about 1887 to pursue his fortune in the coalfields of southern West Virginia.

In Mercer County, Collins organized the Louisville Coal & Coke Company, one of the first mines to ship coal on the Norfolk and Western Railway. In 1893, he opened Collins Colliery at Glen Jean in Fayette County. About the same time, he started Greenbrier Coal & Coke and later opened the Whipple mine near Mount Hope.

December 11, 1893: Governor Jacob Jackson Dies in Parkersburg

Dec 11, 2019
Governor Jacob Beeson Jackson (1829-93)
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA)

West Virginia’s sixth governor, Jacob Jackson, died in Parkersburg on December 11, 1893, at age 64. The son and grandson of congressmen, Jackson came from one of the region’s most distinguished families. His father was also one of West Virginia’s founders.

Jackson first worked as a teacher and then opened a legal practice in St. Marys. He served as the Pleasants County prosecuting attorney before and during the Civil War. His work took him occasionally to Wheeling, where he was once arrested for making pro-Confederate remarks.

Wikimedia commons / W. Bailey, HABS photographer

On November 19, 1909, the Lincoln County Courthouse in Hamlin burned to the ground. While devastating fires were fairly commonplace in the early 20th century, it has been widely speculated that the Lincoln County Courthouse was an act of arson.

Lincoln—one of five counties formed after West Virginia became a state—was always agricultural in nature. In particular, it was one of the state’s most productive farming regions for tobacco.

Downtown Shepherdstown
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / David Fattaleh/WV Division of Tourism (WVDT)

On November 12, 1762, Thomas Shepherd presented articles of incorporation for the town of Mechlenburg to the Virginia General Assembly. Along with Romney, Mechlenburg, which was later renamed Shepherdstown, would become one of present West Virginia’s first two incorporated towns.

Shepherd established a grist mill there along the Potomac River as early as 1739, but it’s believed that German immigrants might have settled at Shepherdstown more than 20 years before. Located along Pack Horse Ford—an ancient Potomac crossing—Shepherdstown is among West Virginia’s most historic places.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / William P. Gottlieb

On October 29, 1956, the legendary R&B bandleader Louis Jordan recorded his third and final version of one of the most unusual songs about West Virginia. In “Salt Pork, West Virginia,” Jordan calls out a series of large cities as a railroad conductor would do. After reciting the names of cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Houston, Jordan concludes with, ‘‘I think I’ll go on home now; Bluefield, my Salt Pork, West Virginia.’’

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