Randy Yohe Published

History Day At The Capitol Showcases Ingenuity, Diversity

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On History Day at the Capitol, highlights of West Virginia’s rich and diverse past come to life.

Groups and organizations came from throughout the state to share their piece of history, like the West Virginia Sons of the American Revolution. With 13 state chapters and 1400 members strong, WVSOAR acts as parade color guards, properly retires American flags and locates and marks revolutionary war graves. Color Guard Commander Ed Cromley said with our nation’s 250th anniversary coming up, new member recruitment is the task at hand.

“We try to portray our founding as accurately as possible while highlighting those people that really did remarkable things to defeat the British and start our country up as an independent state,” Cromley said.

Huntington’s Museum of Radio and Technology came with a table full of history. The Harveytown museum houses more than 3,000 communication devices that date back nearly 200 years. Museum curator Geoff Bourne explained that among the displays shown and stories told, the tale of West Virginia’s Dr. Mahlon Loomis, not the iconic Italian Marconi, may be the true inventor of wireless radio.

“There was a gentleman up in Terra Alta, called Dr. Mahlon Loomis, and he had a patent and everything on wireless in the Civil War,” Bourne said. “And Loomis was actually sending signals from one mountain top to another and was trying to get the army interested in it. But he was just a little too ahead of his time.”

A national Johnny Cash tribute show comes to the Mountain State in June. A show highlight is Johnny and June Carter Cash’s Wedding song, “Jackson”. You know it: ‘We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout…’

West Virginia Music Hall of Fame Director Michael Lipton showcased the man who wrote “Jackson” – West Virginia native and West Virginia Music Hall of Fame member Billy Edd Wheeler, who Lipton says is still going strong at 89 years old.

“He’s still great and has a great sense of humor,” Lipton said. “And he went from literally nothing out of high coal Boone County to study playwriting at Yale. He represents West Virginia well.”

From tri-corner hats, to “tune it in”, to troubadours, diversity shows it’s age on History Day.