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

Sept. 22, 1893 - Legislator Elizabeth Simpson Drewry Born in Virginia

Sep 22, 2017
Elizabeth Simpson Drewry
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Legislator Elizabeth Simpson Drewry was born in Virginia on September 22, 1893. As a young girl, she moved with her family to Elkhorn, where her father owned a barbershop. 

She was educated in the segregated schools of McDowell County and graduated from Bluefield Colored Institute—today’s Bluefield State College. Through her work with national organizations and her church, Drewry advanced community programs for needy children and adults. She stressed issues related to blacks in American society, including the importance of education as a means of racial uplift.

Sept. 21, 1970 - The Filming of Fool's Parade Crime Drama Begins

Sep 21, 2017
E-WV

Filming of the Columbia Pictures crime drama Fool’s Parade began on September 21, 1970.

The movie was based on Davis Grubb’s 1969 novel of the same title. Like Grubb’s earlier breakthrough novel, The Night of the Hunter, Fool’s Parade was set in the author’s native West Virginia. Much of the filming was shot on site in Moundsville. 

E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Artist Patty Willis was born in Jefferson County on September 20, 1879. A painter, printmaker, designer, sculptor, and art historian, Willis studied at the Corcoran Gallery School of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Pratt Institute.

Sept. 18, 1947 - Historian Minnie Kendall Lowther Dies in Harrisville

Sep 19, 2017
Minnie Kendall Lowther
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

 Historian and journalist Minnie Kendall Lowther died in Harrisville on September 18, 1947, at age 78.

Traveler's Rest, was the home of General Horatio Gates. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Photographer Uknown / Public Domain

On September 19, 1777, Continental soldiers battled with British troops at Saratoga, New York. A month later, another conflict at Saratoga ended with the surrender of John Burgoyne’s British army. Coming after a long string of defeats for the Americans, the battles at Saratoga were a turning point in the Revolutionary War—giving patriots a shot of optimism and encouraging the French to enter the war on the American side.

Sept. 15, 1875 - Governor Henry Hatfield Born Near Matewan

Sep 15, 2017
Henry Hatfield
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Governor Henry Hatfield was born near Matewan on September 15, 1875.

While his Hatfield relatives were fighting their famous feud against the McCoys, Henry was away at college. He eventually became a coal-camp physician in McDowell County. Appalled by the lack of medical facilities, he fought to have three miners’ hospitals established in the state and served as director of the Welch hospital for 13 years.

Battle of Harpers Ferry
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On September 14, 1862, Confederate artillery launched the opening barrage in the Battle of Harpers Ferry, initiating perhaps the most important Civil War conflict in present West Virginia.

Harpers Ferry was key to Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee’s strategy in invading Maryland. Union forces stationed at Harpers Ferry stood in the way of Lee’s supply line. Lee dispatched “Stonewall” Jackson to capture Martinsburg, which fell without a shot, and then take Harpers Ferry.

E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On September 13, 1862, Charleston residents awoke to the sound of artillery. It was part of a Confederate push to take control of the region after 5,000 Union troops had been transferred from the Kanawha Valley to defend Washington. This left the remaining Union forces, led Joseph A. J. Lightburn, badly outnumbered.

Earthworks at Fort Milroy on Cheat Mountain Summit
Brian M. Powell

On September 12, 1861, the Battle of Cheat Mountain was fought near the Randolph-Pocahontas County line. Taking place just five months into the Civil War, the battle was a significant loss for the Confederacy.

  

General Robert E. Lee—at the time commander of the Department of Northwestern Virginia—was trying to protect railroad lines in Western Virginia while keeping what would become northern West Virginia in Confederate hands, thereby thwarting the young statehood movement.

Sept. 11, 1913 - Huntington's Ritter Park Opens to the Public

Sep 11, 2017
Ritter Park
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Huntington’s Ritter Park first opened to the public on September 11, 1913. Five years earlier, the city had purchased most of the current site for a municipal incinerator.

But neighboring residents opposed that plan, so Mayor Rufus Switzer converted the property into the city’s first major public park. It got its name from lumberman Charles Ritter, who donated an additional 20 acres, bringing the park’s total to 75 acres.

Sept. 8, 1841: Clarksburg Convention Highlights Education Inequalities

Sep 8, 2017
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On September 8, 1841, one of the most important education conventions ever held in present West Virginia convened in Clarksburg. At the time, a formal education was virtually unheard for families without money.

In 1829, the Virginia General Assembly had authorized counties to establish school systems but provided little funding. Monroe County opened a free school under this plan but soon discontinued it.

Christopher Payne
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

West Virginia’s first black legislator, Christopher Payne, was born in Monroe County on September 7, 1848. He was raised near Hinton, where he worked as a farmhand. Although he was born a free person of color, he was forced as a teenager to serve as a servant in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

After the war, Payne attended night school in Charleston and taught school in Monroe, Mercer, and Summers counties. He became a Baptist minister and earned a doctor of divinity degree from the State University in Louisville.

John Denver
RCA / AP Images

On September 6, 1980, singer John Denver and some 50,000 West Virginia University fans belted out a rousing rendition of “Country Roads” to dedicate new Mountaineer Field in Morgantown.

The big day also marked the first game for new football coach Don Nehlen. WVU’s 41-27 victory over Cincinnati would be the first of 149 wins at WVU for Nehlen, who was on his way to becoming the most successful coach in school history and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On September 5, 1716, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood and about 50 men reached the crest of the Allegheny Mountains, likely in present Pendleton County, and claimed the land for King George the First of Great Britain.

Spotswood and his men—described as “gentlemen, servants, Indians, and rangers”—journeyed up the Rappahannock River and crossed over the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah Valley. Robert Brooke, a member of the expedition and the king’s surveyor general, made the first scientific observations west of the Alleghenies.

Sept. 4, 1964: Businessman A.W. Cox Dies at 79

Sep 4, 2017
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Businessman A. W. Cox died on September 4, 1964. He was 79 years old.  

The Roane County native attended a one-room school through the eighth grade. And, by 17, he was operating his father’s sawmill. After a brief teaching career, he got a part-time job at a store in Clendenin in northern Kanawha County. While working there, Cox decided to make a career of retail sales. He moved to Charleston in 1914, when he was 29, and bought out a downtown department store. It became the first in a chain of 21 A. W. Cox Department Stores in West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. 

Sept. 1, 1671: Explorers Set Out Westward from Petersburg, Va.

Sep 1, 2017
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Explorers Thomas Batts, Thomas Wood, and Robert Fallam set out on a momentous expedition westward from Petersburg, Virginia, on September 1, 1671. At the time, white settlers knew almost nothing about the land west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The explorers’ exact route is unknown, but they likely crossed into present West Virginia in Monroe County and then followed the New River. From there, it’s difficult to match their journal up with actual places. However, they likely made their way to the Falls of the Kanawha River at what is today Gauley Bridge in Fayette County.

August 31, 1957: Historian Charles Ambler Dies at 81

Aug 31, 2017
Charles Ambler
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Historian Charles Ambler died on August 31, 1957, at age 81. He was one of the most influential historians in West Virginia history.

E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On August 30, 1968, Wally Barron was acquitted of federal charges stemming from alleged money kickbacks and rigged state contracts during the time he was governor. Several of Barron’s associates weren’t so fortunate. His road commissioner, Burl Sawyers; Deputy State Road Commissioner, Vincent J. Johnkoski; Finance and Administration Commissioner Truman Gore; longtime Barron friend Bonn Brown of Elkins; and Clarksburg auto dealer Fred Schroath were all convicted in the kickback scheme.

E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On August 29, 1854, the Greenbrier Agricultural Society hosted its first annual fair on two acres of land in what is now downtown Lewisburg. The fair distributed awards for everything from livestock, farm implements, and crops to homemade food, quilts, oil paintings, and penmanship. The Lewisburg event was one of many local 19th-century fairs. One on Wheeling Island was referred to as the “state fair,” but it was still more of a local celebration. The Wheeling Island fair was eventually discontinued due to periodic flooding on the island.

August 28, 1894: Publisher, Diplomat William Cooper Howells Dies at 87

Aug 28, 2017
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Publisher and diplomat William Cooper Howells died on August 28, 1894, at age 87.

The native of Wales emigrated as a child with his family to Wheeling.

At 21, Howells began working as an apprentice typesetter at the Virginia Statesman, a Wheeling newspaper. Before starting two Wheeling newspapers of his own, he worked at the print shop of Alexander Campbell, founder of Bethany College and the Disciples of Christ religious denomination.

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