West Virginia

January 28, 1864: State Legislature Authorizes W.Va.'s First Flag

Jan 28, 2016
West Virginia State Flag
DollarPhoto Club / DollarPhoto Club

On January 28, 1864, the state legislature authorized West Virginia’s first flag. The new flags were presented to each of the state’s military regiments before the end of the Civil War. Consequently, these first state flags are commonly referred to as regimental or battle flags.

January 26, 1850: Virginia General Assembly Creates Wyoming County

Jan 26, 2016
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On January 26, 1850, the Virginia General Assembly created Wyoming County from part of Logan County. The original county seat was located at Oceana but was moved to Pineville in 1907. The county’s first major industry was timbering, which began on a large scale about 1889. Before the arrival of railroads, logs had to be floated down the Guyandotte River to the Ohio River at Huntington.

January 25, 1715: Thomas Walker Born in King and Queen County

Jan 25, 2016
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Thomas Walker was born in King and Queen County, Virginia, on January 25, 1715. He was a widely respected physician, farmer, merchant, and legislator. He also was an investor, agent, and surveyor for the Loyal Company of Virginia, which promoted settlement in present southern West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, and southeastern Kentucky.

January 21, 1861: Joint Resolution Concerning the Position of Virginia

Jan 21, 2016
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On January 21, 1861, the Virginia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution stating that if differences between the North and South couldn’t be settled, Virginia would join the Confederate States of America. It was a key turning point in history. First, the Confederacy considered Virginia a prize jewel—a necessity for its success as a separate country. Second, Virginia’s eventual secession would lead to West Virginia becoming a state.

January 20, 1978: A Great Blizzard Strikes West Virginia

Jan 20, 2016
Wikimedia commons

On January 20, 1978, one of the worst blizzards in modern history struck West Virginia. It was the result of a Nor’easter that developed the previous day in the Atlantic.

January 19, 1818: Virginia General Assembly Creates Preston County

Jan 19, 2016
Preston County
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV Humanities Council

On January 19, 1818, the Virginia General Assembly created Preston County from the eastern part of Monongalia County. Industry in Preston County began to take off in the 1830s with the completion of the Northwestern Turnpike, which connected Winchester, Virginia, with the Ohio River. Over such roads, teamsters hauled away Preston’s agricultural products and brought back commercial goods. Today, U.S. 50 follows the route of the turnpike. Preston’s fortunes got another boost in the 1850s with the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which increased timber and coal exports.

January 18, 1937: Homer Holt Becomes W.Va.'s 20th Governor

Jan 18, 2016
Governor Homer Holt (1898-1976).
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA)

On January 18, 1937, Democrat Homer Holt became the state’s 20th governor. Just four years earlier, the Lewisburg native had been swept into statewide office as attorney general in a Democratic wave that ended the Republicans’ long-standing domination of West Virginia politics. He was only 34 at the time. Becoming attorney general during the darkest days of the Great Depression, he worked with Governor H. Guy Kump to shore up the state’s finances.

W.Va. State Police
wikimedia / Wikimedia

For the second time since Friday, a West Virginia State Police trooper has used deadly force against a suspect.

State police said Sunday that a trooper fatally shot a suspected drunken driver shortly after midnight.

Lt. Michael Baylous said the trooper was trying to pull the vehicle over, but it failed to stop. A chase ensued. The trooper pursued the vehicle and then approached it on foot. The vehicle then headed directly toward the trooper, and he fired.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia's five downhill ski resorts are banking on a big holiday weekend in hopes of making up for a mild start to the winter season.

With seasonable temperatures arriving and snowguns laying down a blanket of snow, the resorts say they're ready for what traditionally is one of the biggest weekends for the downhill industry.

 The House of Delegates is reviewing legislation that would require Internet providers to offer download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second to promote their broadband service as "high speed," according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. 

Many rural West Virginians don't have Internet speeds anywhere near that. Customers with slow service can't use TV- and movie-streaming services.

January 14, 1977: Governor Moore Accepts $1 Million Settlement

Jan 14, 2016
Arch Moore
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On January 14, 1977, Governor Arch Moore accepted a $1 million settlement from the Pittston Coal Company related to the 1972 Buffalo Creek Flood. It was one of many lawsuits filed against Pittston after an improperly built coal dam collapsed, unleashing a muddy torrent that killed 125 people. 

January 12, 1880: W.Va. National Guard Puts Down the First Coal Strike

Jan 12, 2016
Photo of coal miners in West Virginia, 1908
Wikimedia commons

On January 12, 1880, West Virginia National Guard troops arrived at Hawks Nest in Fayette County to put down one of the state’s first coal strikes. The strike started at Montgomery when coal operators told their union miners that nonunion competition from the nearby Hawks Nest mines was hurting business.

January 11, 1994: Author Agnes Smith Dies in Fairmont

Jan 11, 2016
Illustration for An Edge of the Forest
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Jan Sharkey Thomas

Author Agnes Clifford Smith died in Fairmont on January 11, 1994, at age 87. She spent her childhood in Clarksburg and Charleston before going to a private academy in New York State. She returned to West Virginia and graduated from Fairmont State College (now University) with an English degree. She married Richard Bruce Parrish, who, for many years, was editor of Fairmont’s afternoon newspaper, The West Virginian. For more than 50 years, the couple lived near Worthington, cultivating hay, oats, and other grains. During World War II, Smith ran the farm herself while her husband served in the army.

December 29, 1970: "Take Me Home, Country Roads" Is Complete

Dec 29, 2015
John Denver
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On December 29, 1970, songwriters Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver finished writing what would become one of the most popular tunes in history and one of West Virginia’s official state songs. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” also branded the Mountain State with its most recognizable slogan: “almost heaven.”

Joseph F. Rutherford
Wikimedia commons

On December 24, 1942, the President’s Committee on Fair Employment Practices ordered that seven Jehovah’s Witnesses have their jobs reinstated at the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company plant in Clarksburg. The seven had been fired a year earlier after declining to participate in union-sponsored, flag-salute ceremonies due to their religious beliefs. Union truckers refused to accept glass produced by the workers, prompting the company to fire all seven Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

December 22, 1981: Louis Watson Chappell Dies at 91

Dec 22, 2015
Louis Chappell
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Historical Photographs Collection

Louis Watson Chappell, a leading authority on West Virginia folk music, died on December 22, 1981, at age 91. The North Carolina native joined West Virginia University’s English Department in 1921. He soon became fascinated with regional folk songs, spurred on by his WVU colleague and pioneering folklorist, John Harrington Cox.

Inspiring West Virginians tells the stories of West Virginians who are exceptional leaders in science and business. We visit them where they are, learn about what they do, hear stories of their childhoods and the influence of a West Virginia upbringing.  Added to that are the perspectives of friends, relatives and colleagues.  

Coming from small towns or modest means, they’ve all overcome hardships and hurdles on their way to the top of their fields.

December 18, 1944: Bernard Bell Earns the Medal of Honor

Dec 18, 2015
Bernard Bell
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / United States Army

On December 18, 1944, during World War II, Bernard Bell captured more than 30 German prisoners, earning the Medal of Honor. 

What do Don Blankenship, heroin, and pepperoni rolls have in common? They’re all on our highly-unscientific list of top stories for 2015.

On December 17, 1957: Wheeling’s J. L. Stifel and Sons Closes its Doors

Dec 17, 2015
Johann Ludwig Stifel
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On December 17, 1957, Wheeling’s J. L. Stifel and Sons closed its doors. The company had been founded by German immigrant Johann Ludwig Stifel in 1835, making it one of West Virginia’s longest-surviving businesses, operated by four generations of the family.

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