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

Milton Humphreys
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Milton Humphreys enlisted in the Confederate army on March 27, 1862. The Greenbrier County native served in Bryan’s Battery of the Virginia Artillery. It was only two months before he entered the annals of military history.

During a battle at Fayetteville in May 1862, Sergeant Humphreys fired his cannon at Union artillery from behind an intervening forest. When the shells rained down on a Union fort, the troops thought they’d come from the sky. This technique, known as indirect fire, was a first in battle and would become a precedent for modern warfare.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Statehood leader Francis Pierpont died on March 24, 1899, at age 85. He was born near Morgantown in 1814 and raised for part of his childhood in Marion County. As a young adult, he was as an attorney for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and a pioneer coal operator.

When the Civil War began, he helped form the pro-Union Reorganized Government of Virginia with its capital in Wheeling. In June 1861, he was unanimously elected the first and only governor of this government.

Pfc. Jessica Lynch receives the Purple Heart from Lt. Gen. James B. Peake, U.S. Army surgeon general, during a ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on July 21, 2003. Lynch also received the Bronze Star and the Prisoner of War Medal.
Brett McMillan / US Army

  

On March 23, 2003, Private Jessica Lynch of Wirt County was captured by Iraqi forces. Soon, Lynch would be a household name throughout the nation.

Two years earlier, the 18 year old had joined the Army to earn money for college. Just days after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, her convoy was ambushed by Iraqi forces, and her Humvee was wrecked. Lynch was seriously injured and then captured.

Mildred Mitchell-Bateman
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Physician Mildred Mitchell-Bateman was born in Georgia on March 22, 1922. Her career in West Virginia began in 1947, when she became a staff physician at Lakin State Hospital in Mason County. Lakin was the state hospital for African-American mental patients.

Mitchell-Bateman left Lakin to establish her own practice but returned in 1955 and became the hospital’s superintendent three years later.

P.D. Strausbaugh
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Botanist P. D. Strausbaugh was born on March 21, 1886. After becoming head of West Virginia University’s department of botany in 1923, his first challenge was to reestablish the school’s herbarium, which he considered essential to the study of botany.

WVU’s plant collection had been put into storage in 1892. Strausbaugh and his colleagues spent the summer of 1924 collecting, mounting, and filing the nucleus of a new collection.

Sinks of Gandy
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On March 20, 1864, a Civil War skirmish occurred at the north end of the Sinks of Gandy in Randolph County. In the shootout, Union troops killed three Confederates and recaptured goods the Rebels had stolen from a Tucker County general store.

WVSU campus in Institute, W.Va.
Steve Shaluta / W.Va. Department of Commerce

On March 17, 1891, the West Virginia Legislature established the West Virginia Colored Institute eight miles west of Charleston. It was one of the nation’s original 17 black land-grant colleges.The school’s initial purpose was to teach trades, but the academic and teacher education programs quickly grew popular. Under the leadership of John W. Davis, the school became one of the country’s most-respected black colleges. Davis was able to recruit some of the nation’s best educators, including Carter G. Woodson. Other faculty members were nationally known artists, musicians, and scientists.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Michael Keller

On March 16, 1742, John Peter Salling and four others started out from Natural Bridge, Virginia, on a trip to explore the Mississippi River. Their goal was to strengthen England’s claims to western lands.

Salling kept a journal of the trip, including his trek through what is now southern West Virginia. When they reached the New River, they built a boat and covered it with buffalo hides.

Cedar Lakes Camp and Conference Center
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On March 15, 1950, the 231-acre Easter Farm in Jackson County was deeded to the state Board of Education by Oliver Kessel, a prominent citizen of Ripley. Work soon began on what would become the Cedar Lakes Conference Center.

A year before, the legislature had moved the idea forward by authorizing a camp and leadership training facility for students. The project was the brainchild of West Virginia’s Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, and the Board of Education’s vocational division.

Governor Arch Moore
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On March 14, 1969, recently fired highway workers marched on the state capitol building in Charleston, protesting their abrupt dismissal by Governor Arch Moore three days earlier.

On March 3—11 days before the march on the capitol—more than 2,600 public road maintenance workers had walked off the job, demanding that the state recognize their union.

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.

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.

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