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

Newspaperman Jack Maurice died in Charleston on December 20, 1999, at age 86. Maurice was born in 1913 in the McDowell County coal town of Vivian. During his childhood, his family moved frequently around the West Virginia and Kentucky coalfields. He graduated from Huntington High School and Marshall College (now University) and immediately started his career with the Huntington Herald-Dispatch in 1935. Three years later, he joined the staff of the Charleston Daily Mail.

Ruby Bradley
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online

Ruby Bradley was born near Spencer on December 19, 1907. As a member of the Army Nurse Corps, she would become one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history.

Bradley’s ordeal also is one of the most incredible stories of World War II. Just hours after attacking Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japan bombed American defenses in the Philippines, where Bradley was stationed as an Army nurse.

About three weeks later, she was captured and imprisoned in an internment camp in Manila. Conditions in the camp were brutal and kept deteriorating as the war dragged on.

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

Dec 18, 2017
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. 

December 15, 1772: Grant of Land for John Savage and 59 Soldiers

Dec 15, 2017
Lord Dunmore
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  On December 15, 1772, Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore granted nearly 29,000 acres of British land along the Ohio River and the lower Guyandotte and Big Sandy rivers to 60 men as compensation for their service during the French and Indian War. The land grant was specifically for soldiers who had served under George Washington at the Battle of Great Meadows in Pennsylvania. The land transactions are known collectively as the Savage Grant, named for Captain John Savage.

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

Dec 14, 2017
Justus Collins, e-WV
E-WV / WV 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.

Wheeling radio station WWVA went on the air on December 13, 1926. The 50-watt station broadcast from the basement of John Stroebel, a physics teacher and wireless pioneer. By November of the next year, WWVA had established studios in a Wheeling office building and boosted its power to 500 watts, which, on some nights, could transmit its signal halfway around the world. Early programming on the station included contemporary recorded music, informal announcements, music by local amateurs, and children’s shows.

Shoneys
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online

On December 12, 1975, the original Shoney’s Restaurant closed down for good in Charleston. The Shoney’s chain grew from the original Parkette Drive-In and Bowling Alley, which had opened on the city’s West Side in 1947.

The restaurant was the brainchild of Alex Schoenbaum, a former All-American football player at Ohio State. He moved to Charleston in 1943 and opened the Parkette four years later.

December 11, 1893: Governor Jacob Jackson Dies in Parkersburg

Dec 11, 2017
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.

 SharePrint Uncle Dyke Garrett
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online & Lillian Porter Smith

Clergyman William Dyke Garrett was born on December 10, 1844. Known affectionately as “Uncle Dyke,” Garrett was a legendary figure in Logan County history. At the beginning of the Civil War, he enlisted in the Confederate Logan Wildcats regiment. Being deaf in one ear, he wasn’t forced to fight. Instead, he was named chaplain of the unit.

December 7, 1941: Japan Launches a Surprise Attack on Pearl Harbor

Dec 7, 2017
Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack
Wikimedia commons / Official U.S. Navy Photograph NH 50930

In the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The raid killed more than 2,400 Americans and prompted the United States to enter World War II.  Torpedoes and bombs sank four U.S. battleships, including the USS West Virginia, which lost two officers and 103 crew members.

December 6, 1907: The Monongah Mine Disaster Occurs in Marion County

Dec 6, 2017
Fairmont Coal Company’s No. 6 and 8 mines at Monongah in Marion County
Appalachian History.net

On December 6, 1907, a massive explosion ripped through the Fairmont Coal Company’s No. 6 and 8 mines at Monongah in Marion County. The powerful blast killed at least 361 men, and that number is likely low due to poor record keeping. It was the worst mine disaster in U.S. history.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

On December 5, 1916, Benjamin Franklin Gravely of South Charleston received a patent for his Gravely Motor Plow.

He had first started working on the invention five years earlier.  Gravely’s first crude attempt had combined a push plow, a tractor wheel, and a two-and-a-half-horsepower motorcycle engine. From this simple start, he kept adapting the plow until he perfected it.

Capitol of West Virginia, 1875-85
West Virginia State Archives

On December 4, 1876, West Virginia’s third capitol building was dedicated in Wheeling. The stone building was four stories tall with two wings and topped by a cupola.

December 1, 1901: Tony Boyle Born in Montana

Dec 1, 2017
Tony Boyle
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Tony Boyle was born in Montana on December 1, 1901. His controversial tenure as president of the United Mine Workers of America would lead to big changes in the way the union was operated.

November 30, 1865: Composer, Author Ida L. Reed Born Near Philippi

Nov 30, 2017
Ida L. Reed
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Composer and author Ida L. Reed was born on a hilltop farm near Philippi on November 30, 1865. In the face of illnesses, family deaths, and constant poverty, she was a devout Methodist all her life.

She wrote some 2,000 hymns and songs, many of which have been translated into other languages. Her best-known composition was “I Belong to the King,” which still appears in Protestant hymnals. An estimated four million copies of this hymn have been circulated.

November 29, 1878: Writer Margaret Prescott Montague Born

Nov 29, 2017

Writer Margaret Prescott Montague was born at White Sulphur Springs on November 29, 1878.  Her books, which were set mostly in the southern mountains, included The Poet, Miss Kate, and I; The Sowing of Alderson Cree; Calvert’s Valley; and Linda—all written before she’d turned 35.

Her brother was superintendent of the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Romney. Montague’s interest in his students inspired her book Closed Doors.

November 28, 1891: WVU Plays its First Football Game

Nov 28, 2017
Early football equipment
West Virginia Department of Culture and History

On November 28, 1891, West Virginia University played its first football game ever. The contest didn’t go as hoped. About 250 fans showed up at a field south of Morgantown to watch Washington and Jefferson shut out WVU 72 to 0.

African-American educator William H. Davis was born in Columbus, Ohio, on November 27, 1848. As a young man of 15, he enlisted in the Union Army and served in a Light Guard company that helped protect President Abraham Lincoln.

November 24, 1893: West Virginia Governor John Jacob Dies at 63

Nov 24, 2017
Governor John J. Jacob (1829-93)
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA)

  West Virginia governor John Jacob died in Wheeling on November 24, 1893, at age 63. The Hampshire County native was the first governor born within the borders of what would become West Virginia and, in 1870, became the state’s first Democratic governor.

Engineer William E. Bailey boards his C&O locomotive
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA), Gauley Bridge Historical Society Collection

On November 23, 1869, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company transferred ownership of its struggling rail line to Collis Huntington and others. It was a major turning point in a venture that would transform southern West Virginia into a coal-producing giant.

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