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This week in West Virginia History: Feb. 23 – March 1

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (February 2017) – 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. 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.

The USS Huntington (ARC-5), originally the USS West Virginia, was the first ship named for West Virginia. On November 11, 1916, the cruiser was renamed Huntington to allow 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. 24, 1928: Doctor Donald L. Rasmussen was born in Colorado. After coming to work at Miners Memorial Hospital in Beckley, he became a driving force in the passage of state and federal black lung legislation.

Feb. 25, 1903: An armed posse ambushed striking miners in their homes in the village of Stanaford near Beckley. Six miners were killed; Federal Judge B. F. Keller exonerated the posse.

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.

Feb. 26, 1869: The legislature approved a bill moving the state capital to Charleston.

Feb. 26, 1972: One of the country’s worst mining-related disasters occurred on this date on Buffalo Creek in Logan County. A coal waste dam collapsed, sending 132 million gallons of water, coal refuse and silt into the valley. In the end, 125 people, including entire families, were killed, and 1,000 people were injured.

Feb. 27, 1867: Marshall College was established as a normal school for the training of teachers. The first term began June 15, 1868, with 25 students enrolled in three departments.

Feb. 27, 1871: Summers County was established from segments of Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, and Monroe counties. The county was named after George W. Summers, one of West Virginia’s founders.

Feb. 27, 1871: The West Virginia Legislature approved an act incorporating the city of Huntington.

Feb. 28, 1831: Fayette County was formed by the General Assembly of Virginia from parts of Kanawha, Nicholas, Greenbrier, and Logan counties. The county was named for the Marquis de Lafayette, the French military officer who served under George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

Feb. 28, 1858: McDowell County, the southernmost county in West Virginia, was created from part of Tazewell County, Virginia. The new county was named after James McDowell, a governor of Virginia.

Feb. 28, 1875: Musician Edwin “Edden” Hammons was born in Pocahontas County. A subsistence farmer and hunter, he is remembered as one of the finest traditional fiddle players to come from West Virginia.

‘Copied from the photo owned by the source, of which original was owned by Smith Hammons of Milliquent, W. Va.’

Feb. 28, 1909: Athlete John Zontini was born. Nicknamed the “Sheik of Seth” for his outstanding football career at Sherman High School, he still holds a state high school rushing record and a Marshall University rushing record.

Feb. 28, 1956: Senator Harley Kilgore died while in office. In 1952, Kilgore was the first West Virginian elected to a third term in the U.S. Senate. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

March 1, 1831: Jackson County was created from parts of Wood, Mason and Kanawha counties and named in honor of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States.

March 1, 1870: The legislature passed an act to create a branch normal school at West Liberty. For the next 61 years, the school was a teacher preparatory institution.

March 1, 1898: Homer Adams Holt was born in Lewisburg. He became West Virginia’s 20th governor.

Homer A. Holt, Attorney General and Governor of West Virginia

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.

 

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