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

June 10, 1775: Captain Hugh Stephenson Organizes Berkeley County Riflemen

Jun 10, 2015

On June 10, 1775, Captain Hugh Stephenson organized the Berkeley County Riflemen in response to George Washington’s call for soldiers at the start of the Revolutionary War. These were among the first soldiers from the South to volunteer following the outbreak of hostilities in Massachusetts. The men supplied their own uniforms, weapons, equipment, and food. They wore leather leggings and moccasins, deerskin caps, and homespun shirts made of a coarse cloth called linsey-woolsey.

June 4, 1975: Old-Time Fiddler Clark Kessinger Dies at 78

Jun 4, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Old-time fiddler Clark Kessinger died in St. Albans on June 4, 1975, at age 78. Known for his near-perfect intonation and impeccable tone, Kessinger was a pioneer in the resurgence of traditional music in the late 20th century.

Kessinger’s career started in the 1920s, when he and his nephew launched a duo known as the Kessinger Brothers. In 1927, they began performing live on Charleston’s first radio station. Over the next three years, they recorded more than 60 instrumental tunes.

May 28, 1938: NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West Born in Cabin Creek

May 28, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  Basketball hall of famer Jerry West was born on Cabin Creek in Kanawha County on May 28, 1938. He led East Bank High School to a state basketball championship before going on to rewrite the record books at West Virginia University. As a sophomore, his Mountaineer team finished the regular season ranked first in the nation. In 1959, he took WVU to within two points of a national championship and was named Most Valuable Player of the NCAA Tournament. After his senior season, he won a gold medal in basketball at the 1960 Olympics.

May 27, 1912: Legendary Golfer Sam Snead Born

May 27, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  Legendary golfer Sam Snead was born on May 27, 1912, in Ashwood, Virginia. In high school, he excelled at baseball, basketball, football, and tennis but decided to focus on golf. He started teaching the game at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs in the ’30s and, in 1936, won the first of 17 West Virginia Opens. The next year—his first on the PGA tour—Snead captured five wins. Then, in 1938, he won the first of eight titles at the Greensboro Open. His last victory at Greensboro came at age 52, making him the oldest player ever to win a tour event. He also won seven majors and a total of 82 PGA tournaments, placing him first all time in victories, ahead of “Tiger” Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On May 21, 1864, Confederate General and former Congressman Albert Gallatin Jenkins was killed at the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain, Virginia. He was 33.

As a young man, the Cabell County native had attended Marshall Academy, Jefferson College, and Harvard Law School before being elected twice to Congress. In 1859, he inherited his father’s plantation in Cabell County and became one of the largest slaveholders in present West Virginia.

May 20, 1983: Basketball Coach, Author Clair Bee Dies at 87

May 20, 2015

On May 20, 1983, basketball coach and author Clair Bee died at age 87. He was a native of Pennsboro in Ritchie County but grew up in Grafton.

He became a coaching legend at Long Island University in the 1930s. Bee led the Blackbirds to 43 straight wins, two undefeated seasons, and National Invitational Tournament titles in 1939 and ’41. He resigned in 1951 after a point-shaving scandal implicated three of his players. During his career, Bee won nearly 83 percent of his games—still an NCAA Division I record. He also developed the 1-3-1 zone.

On May 14, 1982, Judge Arthur Recht handed down a legal ruling that reshaped the course of public education in West Virginia.

  

On May 13, 1941, Fairmont State College President Joseph Rosier was seated in the U.S. Senate, ending one of the state’s most bizarre political tussles. He was succeeding Democratic powerbroker Matthew Neely, who’d stepped down as senator to become West Virginia’s 21st governor.

May 7, 1972: Activist Lenna Lowe Yost Dies at 94

May 7, 2015

  Activist Lenna Lowe Yost died on May 7, 1972, at age 94. The Marion County native and West Virginia Wesleyan College graduate had become involved in women’s issues as a young adult. For 10 years, she was president of the state chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. The WCTU, as it’s known, principally opposed the consumption of alcohol but also supported social reforms for women.

May 6, 1968: Incident at Hominy Falls Traps 25 Miners for Days

May 6, 2015

  On May 6, 1968, a continuous miner machine cut into an unmapped coal mine at Hominy Falls in Nicholas County. The incident unleashed a torrent of water from the old abandoned mine into the Gauley Coal & Coke Saxsewell No. 8 mine. Most miners made it out unharmed, but 25 were cut off from the entrance. The next 10 days were filled with tension and, often, despair.

April 30, 1774: Family of Chief Logan Slaughtered in Hancock County

Apr 30, 2015
Chief Logan Statue at Chief Logan State Park.
e-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV Division of Tourism, Steve Shaluta

On April 30, 1774, one of the worst atrocities of the frontier era occurred in present-day Hancock County. A band of frontiersmen led by Daniel Greathouse slaughtered a group of Indians, including the family of Logan. Logan was chief of the Mingo Indians, a multi-tribal confederation allied to the Six Nations. During the four years he’d lived in the area, he had consistently tried to maintain peace.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV Humanities Council, Heidi Perov

On April 29, 1863, the largest Civil War battle in present northern West Virginia occurred at Fairmont. It was part of the Jones-Imboden Raid. In the previous five days, Confederate cavalry under General William “Grumble” Jones had fought battles in Hardy and Preston counties. On April 28, Jones raided Morgantown. Ironically, one of the Confederate raiders was William Lyne Wilson, who would later return to Morgantown as president of West Virginia University.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

  Andrew Rowan, made famous as the subject of a patriotic essay, was born in Monroe County on April 23, 1857. In 1898, the United States was on the verge of war with Spain over the island of Cuba. President William McKinley needed military intelligence from Cuban General Calixto Garcia. The Army chose Lieutenant Andrew Rowan to deliver the message.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

  On April 22, 1861, some 1,200 protesters gathered at the Harrison County Courthouse in Clarksburg to vent their anger about Virginia seceding from the Union. Five days earlier, Virginia delegates had adopted an Ordinance of Secession, just days after the start of the Civil War.

Arch Moore
U.S. Government Printing Office / wikimedia Commons

  Arch Moore was born in Moundsville on April 16, 1923. During World War II, he was severely wounded in the face and had to learn to talk again during his long hospital recovery. The Republican was elected to the state legislature in 1952 and to Congress four years later.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

  State founder Peter G. Van Winkle died in Parkersburg on April 15, 1872, at age 63. The native of New York City had moved to Parkersburg in 1835 to practice law. Through his wife’s family, he became a key player in the region’s oil industry. He also helped organize and serve as president of the Northwestern Virginia Railroad.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  The 1872 West Virginia Constitutional Convention adjourned on April 9, 1872. The day was chosen specifically because it was the seventh anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The convention had selected former Confederates to all offices, including the convention president, who had been the lieutenant governor of secessionist Virginia.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  Writer Breece D’J Pancake died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 8, 1979. The South Charleston native grew up in Milton, which became the fictionalized setting for many of his short stories.

A graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan and Marshall, Pancake taught at two military schools in Virginia before entering the University of Virginia’s Creative Writing Program, where he was influenced by authors James Alan McPherson, Peter Taylor, and Mary Lee Settle. He began writing human interest stories for a Milton newspaper and working on a series of short stories. His big breakthrough came in 1977, when the Atlantic Monthly published his story “Trilobites.”

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Jennings Boyd died on April 2, 2002, at age 68. He was one of the legendary coaches in West Virginia history.

  In 1966, two significant events happened in Northfork. First, racial segregation ended in that part of McDowell County, as Northfork merged with the historically black Elkhorn High. Second, Jennings Boyd was hired as head basketball coach. Boyd’s teams would become known for their up-tempo styles, fast breaks, and transition offense.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Courtesy of E. I du Pont de Nemours & Company, Belle

  On April 1, 1926, the DuPont plant at Belle produced North America’s first ammonia made from a high-pressure process. A few years before, chemical giant E. I. DuPont had decided to build an ammonia plant, using technology developed by Germany during World War I. The technology consisted of giant mechanical compressors, called ‘‘hypers,’’ which generated up to 15,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. In 1925, DuPont started construction of its new hyper-pressure plant in the eastern Kanawha County town of Belle.

Pages