This Week in West Virginia History

TWWVH
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / WV Humanities Council

Educator W. W. Trent died on June 15, 1960, at age 82. Having served as state superintendent of schools for nearly a quarter-century, Trent was known to legions of West Virginia schoolchildren for his scrawled signature on their report cards.

Henry Reed & his brother Josh
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On June 16, 1968, musician Henry Reed died in Glen Lyn, Virginia, at age 84. He was born and grew up in Monroe County, where he learned local tunes dating back generations.

One example is “Quince Dillion’s High-D Tune,” which Reed supposedly learned from a veteran of the Mexican War and Civil War.

Gen. John Lightburn, USA
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On June 22, 1865, two months after Civil War hostilities ended, General Joseph A. J. Lightburn resigned from the U.S. Army, ending his military service.

The Pennsylvania native had moved with his family to Lewis County in 1840. As a young man, he was friends with Thomas Jackson—later to be known as “Stonewall.” Lightburn wanted to attend West Point, but Jackson received the appointment from his region instead.

Author Rebecca Harding Davis
Wikipedia / WV Humanitites Council

Author Rebecca Harding Davis was born in Pennsylvania on June 24, 1831. She and her family moved to Wheeling about 1836, and she later wrote for the Wheeling Intelligencer newspaper. During the 1860s, she published a number of stories and serialized novels in the Atlantic Monthly.

Her best-known story, “Life in the Iron Mills: A Story of Today” powerfully depicts the plight of mill workers in a town based on Wheeling. Her first two novels focused on worker exploitation and moral and political conflicts raised by the Civil War.

Honey in the Rock
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On June 27, 1961, the play Honey in the Rock debuted at the newly constructed Cliffside Amphitheater at Grandview in Raleigh County. The play, written by Kermit Hunter, tells of West Virginia’s founding through the experiences of a fictitious family, with some historical figures like “Stonewall” Jackson and the state’s first governor, Arthur Boreman.

The play’s alumni include Academy Award nominee Chris Sarandon and actor, director, and playwright David Selby.

This Week in WV History.
WV Humanitites Council / WV Public Broadcasting

On June 29, 1940, in the Nicholas County town of Richwood, Deputy Sheriff Martin Catlette and Police Chief Bert Stewart detained seven Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose patriotism had been questioned by the local American Legion.

The Legionnaires forced four of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to drink doses of castor oil. They then marched all seven through a jeering mob to the post office, where the Witnesses refused to salute the flag due to conflicts with their religion.

When I Was Young in the Mountains
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Children’s author Cynthia Rylant was born June 6, 1954, in Hopewell, Virginia.

She was raised in Raleigh County and earned degrees from Morris Harvey College—which is now the University of Charleston—and Marshall and Kent State universities.

Harriet Jones, MD
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Physician Harriet Jones was born in Pennsylvania on June 3, 1856, but grew up at Terra Alta in Preston County.

After attending Wheeling Female College, she graduated from the Women’s Medical College of Baltimore.

In 1886, Jones opened a private practice in Wheeling, becoming the first woman licensed to practice medicine in West Virginia. Her specialties were gynecology and abdominal surgery.

This Week in WV History
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Musician Rex Parker died at Princeton in Mercer County on June 2, 1999.

The Fayette County native was the patriarch of the Parker Family, a popular musical fixture on West Virginia radio and television stations for more than a half century.

Paddy Ryan
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

A world championship prize fight was held in the Brooke County town of Colliers on June 1, 1880.

At the time, boxing was illegal in every state. To avoid big-city police, promoters often held matches in rural railroad villages. Colliers was a perfect location, being close to Pittsburgh and several Ohio towns.

Stacked arms during Cabin Creek strike.
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On June 10, 1913, a U.S. Senate subcommittee opened hearings on the bloody Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike in Kanawha County. This marked the first time a congressional committee had investigated the actions of a state government. The hearings were prompted by labor leader “Mother” Jones, who’d been held under house arrest in the Kanawha County town of Pratt. She’d secretly sent letters to the outside world through a trap door.

May 31, 2008: Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy Graduates Last Class

May 31, 2016
e-WV Encyclopedia

The Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy in Wheeling graduated its last class of students on May 31, 2008. 

May 30, 1940: Smoke Hole Caverns Opens for Tours in Grant County

May 30, 2016
e-WV Encyclopedia / David Fattaleh via WV Division of Tourism (WVDT)

On May 30, 1940, Smoke Hole Caverns in Grant County opened for tours. Of our state’s four commercial caves, the Smoke Hole Caverns is likely the most visited.

May 27, 1922: Labor Leader Bill Blizzard Acquitted of Treason Charges

May 27, 2016
e-WV Encyclopedia

On May 27, 1922, a jury acquitted labor leader Bill Blizzard of committing treason against West Virginia. The charges were related to the recent Battle of Blair Mountain. Blizzard was one of several more radical leaders who’d risen to power in the United Mine Workers of America during the 1910s. After the battle, prosecutors brought Blizzard to trial first, believing they had the best case against him.

May 23, 1862: The Battle of Lewisburg Fought in Greenbrier County

May 23, 2016
e-WV Encyclopedia

On May 23, 1862, the Battle of Lewisburg was fought in Greenbrier County. It occurred as Union troops were moving from Western Virginia toward Tennessee in the spring of 1862. Union General John C. Frémont planned to move his forces southwest from Monterey, Virginia, to the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad near Christiansburg. There, Frémont was to connect with troops under General Jacob Cox.

May 19, 2002: Sergeant Gene A. Vance Jr. Dies in the Afghan War

May 19, 2016
e-WV Encyclopedia / Senior Airman Erik Cardenas via U.S. Department of Defense

Sergeant Gene A. Vance Jr. of Morgantown was killed in combat in Afghanistan on May 19, 2002. Vance was the only member of the West Virginia National Guard to die in the Afghan War, but 14 other West Virginians in active duty also lost their lives in the conflict.

e-WV Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA), Marion County Historical Society Collection.

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools are unconstitutional, leading eventually to the integration of all schools across the country.

Pages