This Week in West Virginia History
Charleston WV – 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.
Feb. 19, 1872: The Glenville Branch of the State Normal School, now Glenville State College, was established by an act of the legislature. The first session of the college opened on January 14, 1873, in the old Gilmer County courthouse.
Feb. 19, 1908: Orval Elijah Brown was born near Lizemores in Clay County. Brown, a free-spirited individual, gained notoriety during the Great Depression as the ‘‘Clay County Wild Man’’ known for his untamed physical appearance that included a flowing beard and the wearing of little more than a self-made loincloth.
Feb. 19, 1943: Author Homer Hickam was born in Coalwood, McDowell County. Hickam’s second book, Rocket Boys: A Memoir (1998), became a runaway bestseller and the basis for the popular film October Sky.
Feb. 20, 1875: The West Virginia Legislature approved a bill to move the state capital back to Wheeling.
Feb. 20, 1995: The West Virginia Legislature voted to make the Golden Delicious apple the official state fruit.
Feb. 21, 1940: Former Governor Gaston Caperton was born in Charleston. Caperton defeated Arch Moore to become the state’s 31st governor.
Feb. 22, 1927: Longtime Agriculture Commissioner Gus R. Douglass was born in Mason County. Douglass, a Democrat, was first elected commissioner of agriculture in 1964.
Feb. 23, 1867: Lincoln County was formed from Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, and Putnam counties. The county was named for Abraham Lincoln.
Feb. 23, 1905: The first USS West Virginia was commissioned. The armored cruiser was renamed the USS Huntington in 1916 to allow the transfer of the original name to a newly authorized battleship.
Feb. 23, 1945: Fairmont native “Woody” Williams distinguished himself during the Battle of Iwo Jima by neutralizing seven concrete pillboxes. This act of heroism earned Williams the Medal of Honor.
Feb. 24, 1918: Judge Kenneth Keller ‘‘K. K.’’ Hall was born at Greenview, Boone County. Hall spent 47 years on the state and federal benches.
Feb. 25, 1911: Newspaperman Jim Comstock was born in Richwood. In 1957, he founded the West Virginia Hillbilly, a weekly newspaper that circulated both inside and outside the state.
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.