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This week in West Virginia history: Aug. 20-26

Robert C. Byrd telescope at Green Bank
Robert C. Byrd telescope at Green Bank

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

Aug. 20, 1851: The oldest statue in West Virginia, a nine-foot wood carving of Patrick Henry, was dedicated at the county courthouse in Morgantown.

Aug. 21, 1861: Confederate troops under Gen. John B. Floyd crossed the Gauley River at Carnifex Ferry, Nicholas County, and began to entrench their position. It was the beginning of what became known as the Battle of Keslers Cross Lanes.

Aug. 22, 1872: Following the Constitutional Convention of 1872, the West Virginia electorate ratified a new state constitution by a vote of 42,344 to 37,777. In the same election, the voters rejected a controversial convention proposition that would have restricted office-holding to whites.

Aug. 23, 1970: The Mormon Church established its first ‘‘stake,’’ or congregation, in West Virginia. The stake was organized in Charleston with a membership of nearly 4,000 people.

Aug. 24, 1918: Louis Bennett Jr. died of injuries sustained when his plane was shot down by German anti-aircraft fire. Bennett, with 12 combat kills, was West Virginia’s only World War I fighter ace.

August 25, 1903: Soprano Susanne Fisher was born in Sutton. Fisher was the first West Virginian to sing at the Metropolitan Opera.

Aug. 25, 1921: Miners began to arrive at Blair Mountain near the border of Logan and Boone counties. Sheriff Don Chafin, a hated symbol of anti-unionism in southern West Virginia, met them with a combined force of deputies, mine guards, civilian volunteers, and others.

Aug. 25, 2000: The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope was dedicated. It is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope.

Aug. 26, 1863: Union and Confederate forces collided in what became known as the Battle of White Sulphur Springs. The next morning, with ammunition nearly depleted, Union Gen. William Averell decided to retreat to his base without accomplishing any of his objectives.

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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