The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go to e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at www.wvencyclopedia.org.
Sept. 12, 1861: The Battle of Cheat Mountain was fought near the Randolph-Pocahontas County line. Gen. Robert E. Lee came into western Virginia to give support to Gen. William W. Loring, commander of the Army of Northwestern Virginia, but the battle ended in a defeat for the Confederacy.
Sept. 12, 1872: The Great Bend Tunnel was completed. The tunnel, also known as Big Bend Tunnel, is the place where John Henry defeated the steam drill, becoming one of the world’s great folk heroes.
Sept. 12, 1952: A group of local youths were startled from a game of football by a fireball streaking across the sky. The fireball fell to earth just beyond a hillside at Flatwoods. This sighting led to the legend of the Braxton County Monster.
Sept. 12, 1960: Ohio Valley College in Parkersburg began operation as a junior college. The private college, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, changed its name to Ohio Valley University in 2005.
Sept. 12, 1974: Kanawha County schools were closed for four days because of an escalation in violence during the Kanawha County textbook controversy. Throughout October and November, sporadic violence continued as protesters demanded the resignation of pro-textbook board members and the superintendent of schools.
Sept. 13, 1844: Milton Humphreys was born in Greenbrier County. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the Confederate service as a sergeant. At the battle of Fayetteville, Humphreys fired his cannon at Union artillery from behind an intervening forest. This demonstration set a precedent for modern warfare by the use of indirect fire.
Sept. 13, 1848: Attorney ‘‘J. R.’’ Clifford was born in present Grant County. In 1887, Clifford became the first African-American admitted to practice law before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. He was one of the first lawyers in the nation to challenge segregated schools.
Sept. 13, 1862: Confederate and Union forces clashed in Charleston. Southern artillery gained the heights on Fort Hill and smashed the federals who were lining the west bank of the Elk.
Sept. 13, 1910: Musician Leon ‘‘Chu’’ Berry was born in Wheeling. He was one of the most highly regarded saxophonists of the swing era.
Sept. 14, 1898: Okey L. Patteson was born in Mingo County. Patteson, called the ‘‘Great Persuader,’’ tackled difficult decisions as West Virginia’s 23rd governor from 1949 to 1953.
Sept. 15, 1861: In the aftermath of the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, Union forces under the command of Gen. Jacob Cox occupied the area of Spy Rock. Spy Rock is a natural landmark located on U.S. 60, 18 miles east of Hawks Nest.
Sept. 15, 1862: Confederate Gen. Thomas J. ‘‘Stonewall’’ Jackson forced the surrender of a large Union garrison inside the town of Harpers Ferry. The 12,500 prisoners taken by Jackson was the largest capitulation of federal troops in the war.
Sept. 15, 1875: Henry Hatfield was born near Matewan, Mingo County. As a doctor in the coal camps, he helped secure funding to establish three miners hospitals for the southern part of the state. In 1912, he was elected the state’s 14th governor.
Sept. 15, 1906: Songwriter Jack Rollins was born in Keyser. Rollins wrote the lyrics to ‘‘Here Comes Peter Cottontail’’ and ‘‘Frosty the Snow Man,’’ two of America’s most popular songs.
Sept. 16, 1876: The town of Milton in Cabell County was incorporated and named in honor of Milton Rece, a large landowner at the time.
Sept. 16, 1926: Writer John Knowles was born in Fairmont. He attained literary fame in 1959 with his first novel, “A Separate Peace.”
Sept. 16, 1950: Scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. was born in Keyser. Gates is one of the leading African-American intellectuals in the United States and has written several books, including “Colored People: A Memoir,” which describes his experiences growing up in Mineral County.
Sept. 17, 1848: Artist Lily Irene Jackson was born in Parkersburg. Jackson was best known as a painter of animal portraits and floral arrangements, and as an advocate for the arts.
Sept. 19, 1892: William ‘‘Bill’’ Blizzard was born in Cabin Creek, Kanawha County. Blizzard became one of West Virginia’s most influential and controversial labor leaders of the 20th century.
Sept. 20, 1914: Ken Hechler was born on Long Island, New York. Hechler served 18 years in the U.S. Congress and four terms as secretary of state.
Sept. 21, 1895: Samuel Ivan Taylor was born in Mercer County. Taylor was the first member of the West Virginia state police. He was part of the force that faced off with union miners during the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain in Logan County
Sept. 21, 1937: The West Virginia Conservation Commission acquired 6,705 acres in Kanawha County for the creation of Kanawha State Forest. Redevelopment of the land, which had been heavily mined and timbered, began the next year by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Sept. 22, 1856: Albert Blakeslee ‘‘A. B.’’ White was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He was West Virginia’s 11th governor, serving from 1901–05. He was the fourth person to serve as governor from Wood County, his adopted home.
Sept. 22, 1894: Louis Bennett Jr. was born in Weston. Bennett was West Virginia’s only World War I flying ace.
Sept. 22, 1970: The “Brinkley Bridge” in Wayne County collapsed under the weight of an overloaded truck. The bridge was named for newscaster David Brinkley who had filmed a report about the poor condition of the span.
Sept. 23, 1922: Five men were struck and killed at the Glen Rogers mine in Wyoming County when equipment fell during the construction of a deep shaft.
Sept. 23, 1938: The Mingo Oak was cut down after succumbing to the fumes of a burning coal refuse pile. The Mingo Oak, which stood near the Logan-Mingo county line, was more than 500 years old and may have been the largest white oak in the world.
Sept. 24, 1918: George Spencer ‘‘Spanky’’ Roberts was born in London, Kanawha County. He entered aviation cadet training with the first class of Tuskegee Airmen and become the first African-American military pilot from West Virginia.
Sept. 25, 1864: George Smith Patton was killed at the Battle of Winchester. Patton, a Charleston lawyer, had organized the Kanawha Riflemen, a Virginia militia company. He was the grandfather of Gen. George S. Patton of World War II.
Sept. 26, 1816: David Hunter Strother was born in Martinsburg. He was an artist and an author who used the pen name “Porte Crayon.”
Sept. 26, 1863: The Great Seal of West Virginia was adopted by the legislature. The seal, which has remained unchanged, was designed by Joseph H. Diss Debar.
Sept. 27, 1914: Author Catherine Marshall was born in Johnson City, Tennessee. Her family moved to West Virginia and lived in Keyser during the late 1920s and the 1930s. Her best-loved novel, “Christy” (1967), was based on her mother’s girlhood in the southern mountains.
Sept. 28, 1955: Labor activist Sarah ‘‘Mother’’ Blizzard died at the age of 90. Blizzard was deeply involved in the United Mine Workers of America, from the organization’s early beginnings in the late 19th century.
Sept. 29, 1861: The Kanawha Valley experienced severe flooding. The Kanawha River reached 46.87 feet in Charleston, more than 16 feet above flood stage.
Sept. 29, 1927: Artist June Kilgore was born in Huntington. She was an abstract expressionist painter who spent 30 years as an art professor at Marshall University.
Sept. 30, 2010: Facing an economic downtown and foreign competition, Wheeling-La Belle Nail Company closed. The company was founded in 1852 as LaBelle Ironworks. By 1875, the city was known as the Nail City, and La Belle was Wheeling’s leading nail producer.
Oct. 1, 1896: Rural Free Delivery began in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. Before this, there was no rural mail delivery, although more than half the country’s citizens lived in rural areas.
Oct. 2, 1923: Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams was born in Fairmont. On February 23, 1945, during the Battle of Iwo Jima, Williams neutralized seven concrete pillboxes.
Oct. 2, 1949: The first class began training at the State Police Academy in Institute. The 20 cadets graduated on Dec. 20, 1949.
e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia is a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council. For more information, contact the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25301; (304) 346-8500; or visit e-WV at www.wvencyclopedia.org.