Bob Powell

Radio Operations Director

Bob is West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Radio Operations Director. He first worked for WV Public Radio in 1986 as a part-time announcer, and later returned to host jazz music programs and manage on-air operations in the 1990's.  A graduate of Alderson-Broaddus and Marshall Universities; he taught Speech, Broadcasting, and Rhetoric at Alderson-Broaddus University, West Virginia State University, and WV Institute of Technology of WVU. Bob served 21 years in the Army National Guard, and served oversea in Bosnia and Iraq.

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Catfish Gray
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Herbalist and folk doctor Clarence Frederick “Catfish” Gray died in Huntington on March 13, 2002, at age 84. A native of Jackson County, he worked in various jobs, raised 10 children, and was a walking encyclopedia of traditional plant lore.

After a workplace accident in the early 1950s left him unable to do physical labor, Gray began gathering and selling wildflowers and herbs, while dispensing advice for using them medicinally. He sorted and packaged his unique blend of herbs in little bags at his home near Glenwood in Mason County.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On March 10, 1920, West Virginia became the 34th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Months later, the amendment became law, guaranteeing all women in the country the right to vote.

The fight for women’s suffrage was a longtime coming in West Virginia. In 1867, a Pocahontas County state senator introduced a resolution endorsing suffrage. But the legislature voted it down. Support for the issue lagged until the 1890s, when suffrage clubs became popular in northern West Virginia, especially in Wheeling and Fairmont.

Appalachian Regional Commission

On March 9, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill creating the Appalachian Regional Commission, known as the ARC. The agency’s goal was to bring impoverished areas of Appalachia into the mainstream American economy. While the ARC serves parts of 13 states, West Virginia is the only one that lies entirely within the boundaries of Appalachia.

David Hunter Strother
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Artist and author David Hunter Strother died at Charles Town in Jefferson County on March 8, 1888, at age 71. Born in Martinsburg in 1816, he studied art in New York City and Europe before returning to America, where he learned to design wood-block illustrations for books and periodicals.

In 1853, Strother wrote and illustrated an article about a sporting expedition in the Canaan Valley area. Submitted under the pen name “Porte Crayon,” the article became a sensation when it appeared in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine—beginning his long involvement with Harper’s.

This Week in West Virginia History is a co-production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the West Virginia Humanities Council.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

On March 7, 1990, thousands of West Virginia public school teachers—involving 47 of the state’s 55 counties—began an 11-day strike. They were protesting what were then among the lowest salaries in the nation. Timed to coincide with the end of the legislative session, it was the first statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia history.

Pearl S. Buck
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Author Pearl Buck died in Vermont on March 6, 1973, at age 80. She was born in 1892 at her maternal grandparents’ home at Hillsboro in Pocahontas County. Buck grew up with Southern Presbyterian missionary parents who traveled around the world. To her, the family home at Hillsboro—now a museum—represented “security and peace.”

At an early age, she spent time with her parents in China and learned to speak Chinese almost as early as English. She later visited small Chinese farming villages, which would provide settings for her most popular novels.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Ohio University Press, publishers of Ancella R. Bickley & Lynda Ann Ewen, eds., "Memphis Tennessee Garrison: The Remarkable Story of a Black Appalachian Woman" (Athens, 2001)

Teacher and civic activist Memphis Tennessee Carter was born in Hollins, Virginia, on March 3, 1890.

Her father, a former slave, was a coal miner who moved his family to southern West Virginia when Memphis was a child.

She eventually married a coal company foreman and became Memphis Tennessee Garrison. She graduated from Bluefield State College at age 49 and taught school in McDowell County.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Musician Virginia Wilson died on March 2, 1992, at age 92. She was born in 1900 in what is now part of Chief Logan State Park.

Wilson was a master of the clawhammer-style banjo but was little known outside of her native Logan County for much of her life. That changed at age 58, when she was discovered by West Virginia University folklorist Patrick Gainer.

Giles, Fayette & Kanawha Turnpike
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On March 1, 1837, the Virginia General Assembly formed the Giles, Fayette & Kanawha Turnpike Company to build a 15-foot-wide road from Pearisburg, Virginia, to Gauley Bridge in Fayette County.

Begun in 1838, the turnpike was completed a decade later, running from Pearisburg to Red Sulphur Springs in Monroe County, to near present-day Hinton and Beckley, through Fayetteville, crossing Cotton Hill and New River, and connecting with the James River and Kanawha Turnpike—present Route 60—near Gauley Bridge.

WV Hills
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On February 28, 1963, the legislature adopted two more songs to join “The West Virginia Hills” as official state songs.

The two new tunes were “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home” by Colonel Julian Hearne Jr. of Wheeling and “This is My West Virginia” by Iris Bell of Charleston. They were added in honor of the state’s centennial.

While “The West Virginia Hills” had been adopted as the official state song only two years before, it had long been the unofficial song—at least in West Virginia classrooms.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On February 27, 1871, the West Virginia Legislature incorporated the city of Huntington. It came into existence quite unlike any other community in the state.

It was named for Collis P. Huntington, who, in the early 1870s, was extending the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway from the Atlantic Coast to the Ohio River. For the western terminus of his railroad, he selected a plot of Ohio River farmland that was best known for a small teachers’ school known as Marshall.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Charleston Newspapers

On February 24, 1928, physician Donald Rasmussen was born in Colorado. In 1962, he moved to Beckley to work at Miners Memorial Hospital.

He quickly observed that many coal miners were suffering from severe breathing problems. As a result, he began dedicating a good portion of his time to studying black lung disease.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On February 23, 1945, Marine Corporal Herschel “Woody” Williams perilously risked his life to neutralize Japanese positions during World II.

At the time, American tanks were struggling to open a lane for infantry forces on Iwo Jima. With only four riflemen covering his movements, Williams repeatedly prepared demolition charges and rushed enemy lines.

On February 22, 1945, Justice Chambers was wounded in action on Iwo Jima. For his heroic efforts, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Chambers was born in Huntington in 1908 and attended Marshall College (now University) but moved to Washington D.C. before graduating. He attended law school at night, earned his degree, and worked for several federal agencies.

Bluefield State College
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On February 21, 1895, the legislature established the Bluefield Colored Institute, which would become Bluefield State College.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, thousands of African-Americans moved into Mercer, McDowell, Raleigh, and Fayette counties to work in the mines and for the railroads. At the time, there was a shortage of higher education opportunities for blacks in West Virginia, particularly black teachers.

Wikimedia Commons / User Fir0002

On February 20, 1995, the Golden Delicious apple was officially named the state fruit of West Virginia. It’s one of two popular apples that originated in the Mountain State. The first was the Grimes Golden, discovered in the early 1800s on the Brooke County farm of Thomas Grimes.

Legend has it that the Grimes Golden tree grew from a seed planted by John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. The original Grimes Golden tree blew down in 1905, after bearing fruit for a century.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Division of Tourism

On February 17, 1735, pioneer Morgan Morgan was commissioned a captain of militia in present Berkeley County. Nearly three centuries later, a successor to Morgan’s militia regiment is still going strong.

The militia’s original purpose was to protect settlers against Indian raids. Then, in the early decades of the nation, the militia took part in every American conflict: from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War. One of the first state militia units reorganized after the Civil War was the Berkeley Light Infantry.

On February 16, 1917, the West Virginia Legislature established what was then known as the West Virginia State Colored Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Denmar. It opened at a time when the state’s public institutions were segregated by race. The Pocahontas County facility treated African American patients who suffered from TB. It was part of a movement by black legislators to build more facilities for African Americans. Prior to that, African Americans with TB had to be sent to a facility in Virginia.

This Week in West Virginia History is a co-production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the West Virginia Humanities Council.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

Author Fanny Kemble Johnson died in Charleston on February 15, 1950, at age 81.

Born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, in 1868, she moved to West Virginia in her late 20s and began her writing career. She and her husband, Vincent Costello, moved from Charleston to Wheeling in 1907, and back to Charleston in 1917.

Mack Day
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On February 14, 1925, lawman Mack Day was shot dead by a bootlegger at Pageton in McDowell County. The Virginia native had come to McDowell as a young man to mine coal.

He built a 14-room house for his wife and 12 children on Belcher Mountain. He joined the local Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, and eventually the Ku Klux Klan, during the Klan’s early-20th-century revival in West Virginia.

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