2018-02-07 / Columns

This Week in West Virginia History

from The West Virginia Encyclopedia

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

February 7, 1867 - West Virginia University was established by an act of the West Virginia Legislature. The college, originally called the Agricultural College of West Virginia, opened its doors in September 1867.

February 7, 1889 - Nell Elizabeth “Pistol Nell” Walker was born at Sewell Mountain. Known as the “First Lady” of Fayette County, she served 12 terms as a member of the House of Delegates.

February 8, 1892 - Cartoonist Irvin Dugan was born in Huntington. For many years, his “Adam” cartoon character was a feature on the editorial pages of the Herald- Dispatch.

February 8, 1915 - Photographer Volkmar Kurt Wentzel was born in Dresden, Germany. He emigrated with his family to the United States at age 11. As a teenager in West Virginia, Wentzel took up with an eclectic group of people who had retreated to Youghiogheny Forest, a Preston County artists colony.

February 8, 1918 - Medal of Honor recipient Herbert Joseph Thomas, Jr. was born. He excelled in football as a halfback for South Charleston High School, and Herbert J. Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston is named for him.

February 9, 1900 - ‘‘Aunt Jennie’’ Wilson was born near Henlawson. Wilson was a Logan County traditional musician, considered a master of clawhammer-style banjo playing.

February 9, 1950 - U.S. Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy’s speech to a group of Wheeling Republicans launched the 1950s red scare. McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican, claimed in his speech to have a list of 205 communists who worked in the U.S. State Department.

February 10, 1904 - Jay Legg was shot and killed by his wife, Sarah Ann, in their home in Clay County. The trial, conviction, appeal and acquittal of Sarah Ann led to a popular West Virginia folk ballad, “The Murder of Jay Legg.”

February 11, 1903 - Artist Grace Martin Taylor was born in Morgantown. In addition to producing an immense body of work in a variety of styles, Taylor enjoyed a lengthy career at the Mason College of Fine Arts and Music in Charleston.

February 11, 1904 - Clarence Watson Meadows was born in Beckley. His mother hoped he would become a Baptist minister, but he ultimately entered politics, becoming the 22nd governor of West Virginia.

February 11, 1911 - The Charles Town Opera House opened. The 500-seat theater ushered in an era of entertainment and service lasting more than 30 years.

February 11, 1923 - Eight members of the Black Hand were arrested in Harrison County. The Black Hand was the name and symbol of an underworld society of Italian immigrants that sought to extort money from other Italian immigrants.

February 12, 1899 - Karl Dewey Myers was born in Tucker County with severe birth defects. He never attended school, but he educated himself through persistent self-study. He was named the state’s first poet laureate in 1927.

February 13, 1923 - Chuck Yeager was born at Myra, about seven miles from Hamlin. On October 14, 1947, in a Bell X-1 rocket airplane dropped from a B-29 bomber, Yeager broke the sound barrier by flying 700 miles per hour.

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