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

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Doug Chadwick / Goldenseal

  Newspaperman Jim Comstock was born in Richwood on February 25, 1911. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he returned to his hometown and established the Richwood News Leader. Then, in 1957, he founded the legendary West Virginia Hillbilly newspaper. The Hillbilly became a forum for Comstock’s conservative politics and wry wit.

A consummate practical joker, Comstock once injected ramp juice into his ink as a nod to Richwood’s annual Feast of the Ramson. After the pungent newspapers were mailed to subscribers, Comstock was reprimanded by the U.S. postmaster general for sending the offensive-smelling ink through the mail. And he founded the University of Hard Knocks, an honorary society for successful individuals who never completed college.

Comstock also published the book Pa and Ma and Mr. Kennedy and the 50-volume West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia. 

Cecelia Mason / Shepherd University

Author Homer Hickam Jr. was born in Coalwood on February 19, 1943. After serving in Vietnam, he worked for NASA for 17 years as an aerospace engineer. During this time, he wrote his first book, Torpedo Junction. His second book, published in 1998, brought Hickam international acclaim.

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

United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis
E-WV

Union leader John L. Lewis was born on February 12, 1880. Although he never lived in West Virginia, he had a profound impact on the Mountain State.

In 1920, Lewis became president of the United Mine Workers of America, known as the UMWA. It was in the midst of the West Virginia Mine Wars—a period of violent conflict between coal operators and miners. After the Mine Wars ended, UMWA membership declined rapidly in West Virginia. By the end of the ’20s, the union had fewer than 1000 dues-paying members in the state.

Thomas Bennett, Corporal, United States ArmyMedal of Honor Recipient
E-WV

On February 11, 1969, medic Tom Bennett was killed in action in Vietnam. As a conscientious objector, he was perhaps the Vietnam War’s most unlikely recipient of the nation’s Medal of Honor.

Henderson played the tournament with only eight players due to budget restrictions on travel.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

For years after Haley’s death, stories circulated about the fiddler’s remarkable talent.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Legendary fiddler “Blind Ed” Haley died in Ashland, Kentucky, on February 4, 1951. The Logan County native never made any commercial recordings during his lifetime because he feared that record companies would cheat a blind musician.

More than 7,000 men—including many African Americans—laid track through the New River Gorge and cut tunnels through the mountains between Hinton and Covington, Virginia.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

He also managed to pull down 32 rebounds. His Burnsville team routed the Widen squad 173 to 43.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 26, 1960, 17-year-old guard Danny Heater of Burnsville High School scored a record-breaking 135 points in a basketball game against Widen High School. He easily shattered the previous state high school record of 74 and the national record of 120.

In 1857, he graduated first in his class at the Virginia Military Institute and returned a year later to teach mathematics.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Confederate Brigadier General John McCausland died at his Mason County home on January 22, 1927. He was 90 years old and the next-to-the-last living Confederate general. He was survived by a little more than a year by Felix Robertson.

When he started on the Coal & Coke, all but 107 miles of the track between Elkins and Charleston already existed as part of other railroads.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Meanwhile, the sitting governor, E. Willis Wilson, refused to leave office until the dispute could be resolved.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

However, Underwood was able to pass measures to provide emergency benefits to unemployed miners and to create a new economic development agency.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

For instance, community organizers in Mingo County and other parts of southern West Virginia fought to clean up their local governments. In the process, they drew the wrath of powerful politicians.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Its listenership went national for a while in the ’50s, when CBS radio picked up a portion of the broadcasts every third week.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 7, 1933, the Jamboree first aired on WWVA radio in Wheeling. Along with other radio shows of the day—like the Grand Old Opry, the Chicago Barn Dance, and the Louisiana Hayride—the weekly Jamboree helped make country music an international sensation.

Without Devil Anse himself being present, the Hatfields set fire to the cabin of Randolph McCoy, the head of the McCoy family.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

The Charleston show was expected to be an important part of his comeback.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

At first, he drew only from his photographs but then started painting what he called the “old-timey subjects” of his youth.
liveauctioneers.com / e-WV

When West Virginia statehood leaders carved out the new state’s borders, the eastern panhandle counties were included primarily to keep the B&O in West Virginia and outside of Confederate Virginia.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

Shortly after moving to Wheeling, Scott began to dabble in Republican politics.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

Pages