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

October 30, 1825: Feudist Randolph McCoy Born in Logan County

Oct 30, 2017
Randolph McCoy
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Feudist Randolph McCoy was born in Logan County on October 30, 1825. He married his cousin, whose father gave the couple a small farm in neighboring Pike County, Kentucky. There, they raised 13 children.

October 27, 1879: W. Va. Attorney General Howard Lee Born in Wirt County

Oct 27, 2017
Wikimedia commons / North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

West Virginia Attorney General Howard B. Lee was born in Wirt County on October 27, 1879. After graduating from Marshall College, now Marshall University, Lee taught school in Putnam County. Then, while studying law at Washington and Lee University, he was elected as a Republican to the West Virginia Legislature.

October 26, 1934: Basketball Star Rod Hundley Born in Charleston

Oct 26, 2017
Hot Rod Hundley
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia & Regional History Collection

Basketball star Rod Hundley was born in Charleston on October 26, 1934. He was a sensation at Charleston High School, dazzling opponents with his tricks and talent. His flashy style is rarely seen today, outside of the Harlem Globetrotters.

His repertoire included trick shots, a signature behind-the-back dribble, and spinning the ball on his finger—all during games. His flair on the court earned him the nickname the “clown prince of basketball.” But he’ll always be remembered as “Hot Rod.”

October 25, 1918: Athlete Biggie Goldberg Born

Oct 25, 2017
Biggie
e-WV West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Humanities Council

Athlete Marshall “Biggie” Goldberg was born in Elkins on October 25, 1918. He was an all-state football and basketball player at Elkins High School. After graduating, he became a two-time All-American at the University of Pittsburgh and led Pitt to the 1937 national football championship.

As a senior, Goldberg asked to switch from tailback to fullback. Pitt’s coach tried to discourage him, but Goldberg made the move and repeated as an All-American.

Many western Virginia residents had few options because the U.S. Constitution forbids any state to be carved from another state without the original state’s approval.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / 1872, Western Virgnia, Reorganized Government of Virginia

On October 24, 1861, voters formally approved the formation of West Virginia. Many western Virginia residents had been frustrated with the Virginia state government for years. But, they had few options at their disposal because the U.S. Constitution forbids any state to be carved from another state without the original state’s approval.

The Virginia state government in Richmond would not have willingly given away one-third of its territory. But, when Virginia left the Union at the beginning of the Civil War, western Virginia politicians seized their window of opportunity.

October 23, 1890: FFV Passenger Train Wrecks Three Miles East of Hinton

Oct 23, 2017
Wreck on the C&O
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / J. J. Young

Shortly before dawn on October 23, 1890, the passenger train known as the Fast Flying Virginian, or FFV, wrecked three miles east of Hinton in Summers County. The cause of the accident was a rock slide.

The eastbound luxury train was traveling from Cincinnati to Washington on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Its engineer, George Washington Alley, a member of a prominent railroading family, was killed while trying to stop the train. Firemen Lewis Withrow and Robert Foster were injured.

Sergeant Major John Champe
Valerius Tygart via Wikimedia Commons

On the night of October 20, 1780, Sergeant Major John Champe set off on a mission to track down the traitor Benedict Arnold.  Arnold had recently betrayed the Americans by agreeing to surrender the fortifications at West Point, New York, to the British. His scheme was discovered at the last minute, and Arnold escaped to British lines.

October 19, 1949: Writer Richard Currey Born in Parkersburg

Oct 19, 2017
Crossing Over: The Vietnam Stories by Richard Currey
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Writer Richard Currey was born in Parkersburg on October 19, 1949. He served as navy medical corpsman from 1968 to 1972 and also studied at West Virginia University and Howard University.

Currey’s first poem was published in 1974, His first book of poetry came out in 1980, earning him a Pulitzer Prize nomination. As a result of the anthology Crossing Over: A Vietnam Journal, Currey became the D.H Lawrence Fellow in Literature and writer in residence at the University of New Mexico. He founded the Santa Fe Writers Project and continues to live in New Mexico.

In 1886, the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad sparked a regional boom in coal, oil, and gas.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online; Library of Congress. / Morgantown, Morgan's Town, 1785, 1886, West Virginia University, Zackquill Morgan

On October 17, 1785, the Virginia General Assembly established Morgan’s Town. It was named for Zackquill Morgan, the son of pioneer Morgan Morgan. Zackquill had settled in the area in 1771 and laid out the town in 1783.

October 16, 1942: Devastating Flood Strikes Harpers Ferry

Oct 16, 2017
Harpers Ferry nestles between two rivers
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Roger Spencer

A devastating flood struck Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1942. Ironically, it occurred on the 83rd anniversary of John Brown’s raid—the event that forever put Harpers Ferry in the history books.

The town’s early history was tied to water. In the 1740s, settler Robert Harper established a ferry there, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, giving the town its name. Then, based on a recommendation from George Washington, one of the nation’s two government armories and arsenals was built at Harpers Ferry.

October 13, 1863: Civil War Battle Fought at Bulltown in Braxton County

Oct 13, 2017
Braxton County
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On October 13, 1863, a Civil War battle was fought at Bulltown in Braxton County. The Confederate forces were led by William Lowther Jackson—a cousin of “Stonewall” Jackson with the less-inspiring nickname of “Mudwall.”

October 12, 1953: Hugh Ike Shott Died at 87

Oct 12, 2017
Hugh Isaac Shott
Wikimedia commons

Hugh Isaac Shott died on October 12, 1953, at age 87. “Hugh Ike,” as he was known, was born in Staunton, Virginia, where he learned the printing trade. He moved to Bluefield and served as a clerk on N&W Railway.

In 1896, he purchased the weekly Bluefield Telegraph newspaper and switched it to a daily publication. His timing was great because the Bluefield area was growing by leaps and bounds thanks to the rapid spread of coal mining in the area.

October 11, 1811: State Founder Waitman Willey Born

Oct 11, 2017
State founder Waitman Willey served as one of West Virginia’s first two U.S. senators from 1863 to 1871.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

State founder Waitman Willey was born near Farmington in Marion County on October 11, 1811. He opened his first law practice in Morgantown in 1833 and served as Monongalia County Court clerk for more than a decade.

Willey gained statewide attention for his “Liberty and Union” speech at the 1850-51 Virginia Constitutional Convention. At the start of the Civil War, he spoke passionately against secession and war. After Virginia seceded from the Union, Willey was elected to represent the loyal citizens of Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

The treaty that followed the Battle of Point Pleasant, which was signed five months before the Revolutionary War began, brought relative peace to the region.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Cornstalk, Andrew Lewis, Battle of Point Pleasant, Lord Dunmore's War, 1774,

On October 10, 1774, perhaps the most important battle ever fought in present-day West Virginia occurred at Point Pleasant. It was preceded by a long spring and summer of deadly violence between settlers and Indians. In response to these hostilities, Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore dispatched two armies to attack Shawnee villages in Ohio. Dunmore personally led the northern army, while the southern column was under Colonel Andrew Lewis.

October 9, 1954: Architect Elmer F. Jacobs Dies at 79

Oct 9, 2017
Woodburn Hall, West Virginia University
Richinstead / wikimedia Commons

  Architect Elmer Forrest Jacobs died in Morgantown on October 9, 1945, at age 79.

The Preston County native attended West Virginia University and the Carnegie Institute of Technology before he began designing fire-resistant factories in Pittsburgh. In 1894, Jacobs set up his architectural practice in Morgantown.

October 6, 1952: Raconteur Riley Wilson Dies at 69

Oct 6, 2017
wikimedia Commons / Madmedea

  Raconteur “Riley” Wilson died on October 6, 1952, at age 69. The Kanawha County native was a lawyer by trade, but a close friend noted that Wilson rarely practiced law.

He took few, if any, cases for decades at a time. Instead, Wilson earned his living as an entertainer and developed a national reputation. He traveled the country as a storyteller and toastmaster, toured on the vaudeville circuit, and made national radio appearances.

October 5, 1931: U.S Senator Dwight Morrow Dies

Oct 5, 2017
Dwight W. Morrow
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

Financier, diplomat, and U.S. Senator Dwight Morrow died in New Jersey on October 5, 1931, at age 58. He was born in Huntington in 1873, while his father, James E. Morrow, was serving as the 11th principal of Marshall College—now Marshall University. When Dwight was an infant, his family moved to West Liberty, where his father served briefly as president of West Liberty Normal School—which is today West Liberty University. The Morrows then moved to Pittsburgh.

TWWVH
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / WV Humanities Council

On October 4, 1890, a traveling circus called French & Company’s Great Railroad Show arrived in the town of Alderson on the Greenbrier-Monroe county line. What started as a circus show would lead to one of the more bizarre incidents in West Virginia.

Opera Soprano Eleanor Steber
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Soprano Eleanor Steber died on October 3, 1990, at age 76. The Wheeling native attended the New England Conservatory of Music, studied voice in New York City, and joined the Metropolitan Opera radio in 1940. That year, her hometown honored her by proclaiming Eleanor Steber Day in Wheeling. The celebration featured a special Baltimore & Ohio railroad car named for her and a homecoming concert, attended by Governor Homer Holt.

McNeill’s Rangers destroyed property belonging to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

In the predawn hours of October 3, 1864, Confederate guerilla John “Hanse” McNeill led a raid near Mount Jackson, Virginia. After a quick exchange of fire with Union cavalry, McNeill collapsed from a gunshot wound. He would die five weeks later.

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