2017-09-13 / Columns

This Week in West Virginia History

from The West Virginia Encyclopedia

West Virginia Humanities Council 1310 Kanawha Blvd., E. Charleston, WV 25301

September 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.

September 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.

September 13, 1862 - Confederate and Union forces clashed in Charleston. Southern artillery gained the high ground on Fort Hill and smashed the federals who were lining the west bank of the Elk River.

September 13, 1910 - Musician Leon ‘‘Chu’’ Berry was born in Wheeling. He was one of the most highly regarded saxophonists of the Swing Era.

September 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.

September 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.

September 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.

September 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.

September 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.

September 16, 1876 – The town of Milton in Cabell County was incorporated and named in honor of Milton Rece, a large landowner at the time.

September 16, 1926 – Writer John Knowles was born in Fairmont. He attained literary fame in 1959 with his first novel, A Separate Peace.

September 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.

September 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.

September 18, 1947 – Historian and journalist Minnie Kendall Lowther died. Born in Ritchie County, she was one of the first West Virginia women to become a newspaper editor.

September 18, 1989 – Playwright Maryat Lee died in Lewisburg. She established Eco Theater in Summers County as an indigenous mountain theater, using Summers County people as actors.

September 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.

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