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

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.

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.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Humanities Council

On February 13, 1899, newspaperman Archibald Campbell died at age 65. A graduate of Bethany College, he became editor of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer in 1856.

At the time, the Intelligencer was the only daily Republican newspaper in Virginia. During Campbell’s first years at the paper, the country was rapidly plunging toward civil war.

Mother Jones
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On February 13, 1913, labor leader Mary Harris “Mother” Jones was arrested in Charleston for agitating striking miners during the deadly Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Strike.

Jones was no stranger to West Virginia’s labor movement, or its jails. Since the 1890s, she’d been active in union causes across the country but felt a special affinity for miners of the Mountain State. She once reported that conditions in West Virginia “were worse than those in Czarist Russia.” During a 1902 strike, she’d been jailed in Parkersburg for violating a court injunction.

In 1960, Schaus moved back to the NBA.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Former West Virginia University basketball coach Fred Schaus died in Morgantown on February 10, 2010, at age 84.

Before entering the coaching ranks, he was a star basketball player at WVU—being the first Mountaineer to score 1000 points in his career.

After five years in the NBA, he returned to WVU in 1954 to coach the most successful teams in school history. Led first by “Hot Rod” Hundley, then Jerry West, WVU made it to six straight NCAA Tournaments and lost the 1959 national title game by only a point.

In reality, McCarthy didn’t have an actual list.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online & The Wheeling Intelligencer / WV Humanities Council

On February 9, 1950, a speech in Wheeling given by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy altered the course of history.

During his speech at the McClure Hotel, the Wisconsin Republican held up a piece of paper that allegedly listed 205 communists who worked for the U.S. State Department.

It was a pivotal moment in the early Cold War and propelled McCarthy into the national spotlight.

Adam Goodfellow
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Cartoonist Irvin Dugan was born in Huntington on February 8, 1892. He worked as a Huntington newspaper artist from 1927 until his retirement in 1957.

For many years, his “Adam Goodfellow” cartoon character was featured on the editorial pages of the Herald-Dispatch and the Sunday Herald-Advertiser.

Woodburn Hall, WVU
Associated Press

The state legislature established West Virginia University on February 7, 1867. Morgantown was selected as the site for the federal land-grant institution.

The land-grant movement originated in Civil War-era legislation to support an agriculture college in each state. For a brief time in its beginning, WVU was officially named the Agricultural College of West Virginia.

for 25 of those years, he also was the lead play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Broadcaster Jack Fleming was born in Morgantown on February 3, 1923. After serving in World War II as a navigator on a B-17, he enrolled in West Virginia University through the GI Bill.

In 1947, as a 24-year-old undergrad, Fleming became the “Voice of the Mountaineers” on radio.

Hundreds of men died from a debilitating lung disease known as silicosis.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On February 2, 1946, novelist Hubert Skidmore died at age 36. In the late 1930s and early ’40s, the Webster County native wrote several novels featuring West Virginia settings.

A common theme was the endurance of mountain people in the face of adversity. His best-known book never reached the public during his lifetime. Hawk’s Nest is a fictionalized account of what has been described as America’s worst industrial accident.

On February 1, 1798, publisher Nathaniel Willis shortened his newspaper’s name from the Potowmac Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser to just Potomak Guardian.

  

Why is this paper important? It’s the oldest known newspaper from present West Virginia.

Nathaniel Willis was a native of Boston who’d taken part in the Boston Tea Party and fought in the Revolutionary War. He founded the Potowmac Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser in Shepherdstown in 1790.

Dru attended Wheeling High School but, relocated to New York, where she worked as a model and cover girl.
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Movie and television actress Joanne Dru was born in Logan on January 31, 1922. Originally named Joan Lacock, her father was a pharmacist in Logan.

The family moved to Huntington, where Dru’s brother, Ralph Pierre Lacock, was born. He later changed his name to Peter Marshall and was the longtime host of the Hollywood Squares game show.

Mingo County
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On January 30, 1920, the United Mine Workers of America launched a concerted effort to unionize southern West Virginia. Relations between the UMWA and coal operators had regularly turned violent over the previous 30 years.

However, the two sides had reached a tenuous truce during World War I. During the 19 months the United States was involved in the war, coal production soared and miners’ wages rose.

It devastated communities along the entire 1000-mile stretch of the Ohio.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

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.

The Ohio River had always been prone to flooding. Just 10 months before, the Ohio had hit record levels at Wheeling.

He later recalled that the spirit of God had told him to build crosses across the countryside.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online, Charleston Newspapers, Frank Herrera / WV 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.

at least 476 men died of silicosis while working in the tunnel
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On January 25, 1936, Newsweek magazine ran a story about deadly cases of silicosis associated with the Hawks Nest Tunnel construction in Fayette County.

It was the first time many Americans had heard of the tunnel disaster, which the magazine attributed to an “atmosphere of deadly dust.”

In 1875, Alexander Martin left WVU
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Educator and clergyman Alexander Martin was born in Scotland on January 24, 1822. When he was 14, he moved with his parents to Jefferson County, Ohio, adjoining the Northern Panhandle.

Martin became principal of Kingwood Academy in Preston County in 1846 and later taught at and served as principal of Clarksburg’s Northwestern Academy.

He also was a Methodist pastor in Charleston, Moundsville, and Wheeling. During the Civil War, Martin became the West Virginia president of the Christian Commission, a social services agency that relieved some of the war’s hardships.

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