U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd died on October 20, 1966. The Democrat was a pivotal political figure for much of the 20th century.
Born in Martinsburg in 1887, Byrd was descended from the city’s leading families. His great-great-grandfather had built the historic Martinsburg mansion known as Boydville. His great-uncle was Charles James Faulkner, who had served as U.S. ambassador to France and as an aide to “Stonewall” Jackson during the Civil War. And his brother was polar explorer Richard E. Byrd.
He was raised in nearby Winchester, Virginia and lived much of his life in Berryville, Virginia. Still, Harry Byrd maintained close ties with West Virginia. His eastern panhandle apple orchard was once the largest in the Mountain State. And in 1907, he established the Martinsburg Evening Journal newspaper.
It was in Virginia politics, though, that Byrd made the biggest name for himself. After a four-year stint as Virginia governor, he served 32 years as a senator from the state. During this time, the “Byrd Machine” controlled Virginia politics. He is probably best remembered for his opposition to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies and school integration efforts.