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This week in history: July 16-22

Spencer State Hospital
Spencer State Hospital

Charleston, W.Va. – The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go to e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at

July 16, 1869: Philanthropist Michael Late Benedum was born in Bridgeport. He made a fortune in the oil and gas business, but he is best remembered for the establishment of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

July 17, 1861: The Battle of Scary Creek took place in Putnam County. It was one of the earliest battles of the war and one of the first Confederate victories.

July 17, 1914: Singer Eleanor Steber was born in Wheeling. She made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1940.

July 17, 1922: The Cliftonville Mine Battle took place east of Wellsburg, Brooke County. The gun battle between striking miners and sheriff’s forces left at least nine people dead.

July 18, 1776: The Methodist bishop Francis Asbury first set foot in present West Virginia outside of Berkeley Springs. He worked extensively in what is now the Eastern Panhandle, preaching and lecturing almost every day, before continuing farther into western Virginia.

July 18, 1893: Spencer State Hospital opened. With its connected brick buildings, a quarter-mile in length, the hospital was sometimes referred to as the longest continuous brick building in America. Spencer State Hospital remained in operation until June 1989.

July 19, 1850: Pope Pius IX established the Diocese of Wheeling, naming Richard V. Whelan as its first bishop.

July 19, 1863: A Confederate raid led by Gen. John Morgan came to an end on Buffington Island, near Ravenswood. The Confederates were overtaken by federal troops, local militia, and three U.S. Navy gunboats.

July 20, 2010: Carte Goodwin became the nation’s youngest senator when he took the oath of office. Goodwin was appointed to fill Robert C. Byrd’s seat in the U.S. Senate following Byrd’s death.

July 21, 1924: Don Knotts was born in Morgantown. Knotts will be forever remembered as Barney Fife on the “Andy Griffith Show.”

July 22, 1859: Athlete John Wesley ‘‘Jack’’ Glasscock was born in Wheeling. Glasscock, who played bare-handed, became one of baseball’s premier shortstops in the 19th century.

July 22, 1937: Musician Tommy Thompson was born in St. Albans, Kanawha County. Through his group the Red Clay Ramblers and a career that spanned four decades, Thompson played a major role in keeping old-time music alive.

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

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