West Virginia

Courtesy Bill Danoff

One night in 1970, Bill Danoff and his then-girlfriend Taffy Nivert were hanging out with John Denver, and they played a few verses from a song they’d been working on. Denver immediately said he wanted to record it.

“It was sort of like an old movie,” Danoff recalled in a 2010 interview with the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. “You know, ‘why don't we all do it together?’ And I said, ‘okay, well, we got to finish it.’ He said, ‘well, let's finish it.’”

National Park Service

The Appalachian Regional Commission is awarding $6 million to several programs across West Virginia. This money is meant to help support small businesses that were impacted by COVID-19.

According to the SBA, more than 113,000 businesses in West Virginia are considered small businesses —  almost 99 percent of businesses within the state. 


May 27, 1922: Labor Leader Bill Blizzard Acquitted of Treason Charges

May 27, 2020
e-WV Encyclopedia

On May 27, 1922, a jury acquitted labor leader Bill Blizzard of committing treason against West Virginia. The charges were related to the recent Battle of Blair Mountain. Blizzard was one of several more radical leaders who’d risen to power in the United Mine Workers of America during the 1910s. After the battle, prosecutors brought Blizzard to trial first, believing they had the best case against him.

May 26, 1960: Author Phyllis Reynolds Connection to West Virginia Begins

May 26, 2020
e-WV Encyclopedia

Author Phyllis Reynolds’s connection to West Virginia began on May 26, 1960, when she married Rex Naylor and visited places where he had family ties, such as Grafton, Buckhannon, and Preston County.

May 25, 1903: Philanthropist Bernard McDonough Jr. Born in Texas

May 25, 2020
Marietta College

Industrialist and philanthropist Bernard McDonough Jr. was born in Texas on May 25, 1903. His Irish immigrant grandfather had previously settled the family in Clarksburg and later in Belpre, Ohio, near Parkersburg. Young Bernard and his sisters returned to their grandmother in Belpre after the death of their mother.

May 20, 1922: Artist Della Brown Taylor Hardman Born in Charleston

May 20, 2020
Dr. Della Brown Taylor Hardman
e-WV Encyclopedia

Artist Della Brown Taylor Hardman was born in Charleston on May 20, 1922. After graduating from Charleston’s segregated Garnet High School, she attended West Virginia State College (now University) at Institute and Boston University. For 30 years, she was an art professor at West Virginia State.

May 18, 2012: Harshman Named West Virginia's Poet Laureate

May 18, 2020
e-WV Encyclopedia / Cheryl Harshman

On May 18, 2012, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin named Marc Harshman of Wheeling the state poet laureate. He succeeded the late Irene McKinney, who’d served in the post since 1994. Harshman is the ninth person to serve as poet laureate since the position was established in 1927.

e-WV Encyclopedia

Activist and physician Martin Delany was born a free African-American at Charles Town in Jefferson County on May 6, 1812. When Delany was 10, his family had to flee Charles Town for violating a Virginia law that forbid educating blacks. They settled in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and Delany eventually moved on to Pittsburgh, where he became a medical assistant.

April 28, 1913: Peace Returns to West Virginia Coalfields

Apr 28, 2020

On April 28, 1913, coal operators and United Mine Workers of America accepted a new contract ending the yearlong Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Strike in Kanawha County. It was the bloodiest strike of the West Virginia Mine Wars. The settlement was known as the “Hatfield Contract” because it was practically dictated to both sides by new governor Henry Hatfield.

April 21, 1936: President Roosevelt Establishes Jefferson National Forest

Apr 21, 2020
Wikimedia Commons / Brian M. Powell

On April 21, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Jefferson National Forest, located primarily in southwest Virginia and southeast West Virginia. It covers more than 18,000 acres in Monroe County, is part of the New River Valley and New Castle Ranger Districts, and is accessible from State Routes 15, 17, and 20. Oak-pine forests cover the forest lands, which range in elevation from 2,000 to 3,600 feet.

April 15, 1861: President Lincoln Calls for Volunteer Troops

Apr 15, 2020
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.

Observation tower at Droop Mountain State Park overlooking the Greenbrier River valley.
Chad Matlick / WVPB

On April 14, 1928, the West Virginia Fish and Game Commission purchased Droop Mountain Battlefield in Pocahontas County. Three months later, Droop Mountain was dedicated as West Virginia’s first state park. In November 1863, one of the most important Civil War battles in West Virginia occurred at Droop Mountain, when Union forces repulsed one of the last major Confederate advances into West Virginia.

April 1, 1788: The Clendenins Start Their Journey to Kanawha Valley

Apr 1, 2020
e-WV Encyclopedia / The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America

On April 1, 1788, George Clendenin, along with family members and about 30 Greenbrier County Rangers, departed from present Lewisburg to make a new home for themselves in the Kanawha Valley. The previous year, Clendenin had purchased about 1000 acres of unsettled land, which would eventually become the heart of Charleston.

Upon their arrival, Clendenin’s group built a two-story fort and sturdy cabins to protect against Indian attacks. The stockade, originally called Clendenin’s Fort, was later renamed Fort Lee to honor Virginia Governor Henry Lee.

March 31, 1943: The First Buna-S Synthetic Rubber Shipped at Institute

Mar 31, 2020
Synthetic rubber production at Institute
e-WV Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

On March 31, 1943, the first Buna-S synthetic rubber was shipped from Union Carbide’s plant at Institute in Kanawha County. It was a significant development in our nation’s fight against the Axis powers during World War II.

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.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

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.

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