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It devastated communities along the entire 1000-mile stretch of the Ohio.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 28, 1937, the Ohio River crested in Huntington nearly 20 feet above flood stage. Days earlier, it’d crested at the same level in Parkersburg and 10 feet above flood stage in Wheeling.

The Ohio River had always been prone to flooding. Just 10 months before, the Ohio had hit record levels at Wheeling.

He later recalled that the spirit of God had told him to build crosses across the countryside.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online, Charleston Newspapers, Frank Herrera / WV Humanities Council

On January 27, 1925, the Reverend Bernard Coffindaffer was born at Craigsville in Nicholas County.

During World War II, he served in the Marines and was wounded on Iwo Jima. After the war, he returned to West Virginia and amassed a small fortune through a coal-washing business.

Brian Blauser / Mountain Stage

Since their formation in 2000, Portland-based indie rock band Blitzen Trapper have played nearly every major festival in America and shared the stage with the likes of Iron & Wine and Wilco. Here they play "Black River Killer" from this week's encore broadcast of Mountain Stage with Larry Groce.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Virginia seceded from the Union, and Jackson was appointed a Confederate brigadier general.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Thomas Jackson was born in Clarksburg around midnight on the evening of January 20, 1824. He was raised by an uncle at Jackson’s Mill in Lewis County and then attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

He fought gallantly during the Mexican War but resigned from the army after the war.

He spent the next 10 years teaching philosophy and artillery at the Virginia Military Institute.

Hardy’s hanging probably would have been the end of the story if not for a ballad written about the event.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

John Hardy was hanged in the McDowell County seat of Welch on January 19, 1894.

The black railroad worker had been convicted of murdering a man in a gambling dispute at present-day Eckman.

Hardy was just one of tens of thousands of African Americans who poured into southern West Virginia in the late 1800s and early 1900s to work in the coal and railroad industries.

Hardy’s hanging probably would have been the end of the story if not for a ballad written about the event. The song circulated by word of mouth, with the details changing over time.

Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys
Josh Saul / Mountain Stage

Keeping one foot in their native Michigan's Mowtown soul and another in Music City, bluegrass-inspired ensemble Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys delivered one of our favorite performances of 2015. You can listen to their entire set on this week's encore broadcast of Mountain Stage.

The Register was then published in the afternoons and on Sundays.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Newspaperman Charles Hodel was born in Ohio on January 13, 1889. After learning the printing trade, he moved to Beckley at age 24 and became editor and general manager of the Raleigh Register newspaper.

Thanks to the rapidly expanding coal industry, Beckley was a booming town.

In 1929, Hodel and his associates acquired the Register’s competitor, the Post-Herald, which became Beckley’s morning paper. The Register was then published in the afternoons and on Sundays.

. One of the most significant established ‘‘Mother’s Pensions.’’
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Anna Johnson Gates died on January 12, 1939, just before her 50th birthday. In the 1910s, the East Bank native fought for women’s suffrage.

After women were granted the vote nationally in 1920, she served as the associate chair of Kanawha County’s Democratic Executive Committee.

Then, in 1922, she was elected to the West Virginia Legislature, becoming the first woman ever to serve in that body.

Josh Saul / Mountain Stage

Best known for his 1971 acoustic pop hit "Sunshine," Jonathan Edwards also has a solid background in country, folk, and bluegrass music. Here he performs the traditional song "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground," from this week's encore broadcast of Mountain Stage.

At the end of the Civil War, Lamon was dispatched to Richmond, making him unavailable to guard the president on that fateful night at Ford’s Theater.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 6, 1828, Ward Hill Lamon was born in Jefferson County. He was raised at Bunker Hill, in Berkeley County, before moving to Danville, Illinois, at age 18. In 1852, Lamon’s life took a historic twist when he became the law partner of a former congressman—Abraham Lincoln.

This new Victorian Capitol was a massive stone-and-brick structure built on the site of Charleston’s first capitol.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 5, 1887, Governor E. Willis Wilson hosted a ball and banquet to dedicate West Virginia’s new capitol building in downtown Charleston. The event marked the end of what had become a running joke in the state’s early years—the location of the capital city. In the first two decades of statehood, the capital had already been moved from Wheeling to Charleston and back to Wheeling, again.

The dedication event in Charleston marked the capital’s final journey—at least in terms of host cities.

Josh Saul / Mountain Stage

From Northampton, Massachusetts, beloved folk-rocker Stephen Kellogg returns to Mountain Stage this week with a band that includes Miranda Mulholland of the Great Lake Swimmers. He closes his 2015 set with crowd favorite "The Bear" on this week's encore broadcast.

Congressman Ken Hechler paid to bring hundreds of miners and the widows of the Farmington miners to protest at the nation’s capitol.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On December 30, 1969, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act.  Since the Monongah mine disaster in Marion County more than 60 years earlier, Congress had been passing laws to address coal mine safety. However, most were filled with loopholes or lacked funding for enforcement.

The tide turned after another Marion County disaster. The 1968 Farmington explosion killed 78 miners. Americans watched in horror as the drama unfolded on national TV. 

December 29, 1861: Sutton Burns

Dec 29, 2016
Suttonville, as it was known then, was strategically located on the Elk River, which ran south all the way to Charleston.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

The Braxton County seat of Sutton was nearly burned to the ground on December 29, 1861. During the first year of the Civil War, western Virginia was besieged by Union and Confederate troops vying for control of the region. Most fighting centered on important transportation routes.

Suttonville, as it was known then, was strategically located on the Elk River, which ran south all the way to Charleston. It was also located on the Weston and Gauley Bridge Turnpike, which connected the town with other key roads.

Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

 

Singer and songwriter Craig Finn is best known as the frontman of the raucous punk-influenced rock band The Hold Steady. But in his solo work, Finn turns his focus to quiet themes of perseverance and redemption, as we can hear on this Mountain Stage performance of "Christine" from his latest album Faith in the Future.

Hayslett continued making instruments well into his nineties.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Harold Hayslett was born in Putnam County on December 26, 1917. After serving in France during World War II, he worked as a pipefitter for Union Carbide in South Charleston. He retired in 1980 after 33 years of service.

While working at Carbide, he started a side hobby—making violins, cellos, and other instruments. His reputation spread quickly—first locally, and then worldwide. The Violin Society of America honored Hayslett on several occasions.

Shepherdstown and Romney were both chartered on the same day, the big question still comes down to which one came first.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV Humanities Council

On December 23, 1762, the Virginia General Assembly chartered the towns of Romney and Shepherdstown, igniting one of the longest-lasting debates in West Virginia history. The question?  Is Romney or Shepherdstown West Virginia’s oldest incorporated town? 

In 1991, the station fell into bankruptcy and went off the air. It was resurrected a little more than a year later by Fantasia Broadcasting.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

On December 22, 1928, Fairmont’s WMMN radio station went on the air. The call letters were based on the initials of popular Fairmont attorney and U.S. Senator Matthew M. Neely. Like many other radio stations in Appalachia, WMMN played an important role in the growth of country music.

In 1938, WMMN began hosting a live Saturday night show. The Sagebrush Roundup was broadcast from Fairmont’s National Guard.  It featured some of the bigger names in country music, including Buddy Starcher and Grandpa Jones, who would later become a beloved TV star on Hee-Haw.

Josh Saul/Mountain Stage

Over the course of nearly half a century, NRBQ - which stands for "New Rhythm and Blues Quartet" - has earned the distinction of being one of the most finely tuned bands in America, with plenty of swing. Lead by founder and pianist Terry Adams, Scott Ligon takes the lead on this Mountain Stage performance of "Waitin' on my Sweetie Pie."

Bradley and her fellow nurses cared for the sick and taught good hygiene to the prisoners.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

Ruby Bradley was born near Spencer on December 19, 1907. As a member of the Army Nurse Corps, she would become one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history.

Bradley’s ordeal also is one of the most incredible stories of World War II. Just hours after attacking Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japan bombed American defenses in the Philippines, where Bradley was stationed as an Army nurse.

About three weeks later, she was captured and imprisoned in an internment camp in Manila. Conditions in the camp were brutal and kept deteriorating as the war dragged on.

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