The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

October 15, 2012

This Week in West Virginia History


CHARLESTON —  The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history.

Oct. 17, 1859: Heyward Shepherd, an African-American, was killed by John Brown’s raiders at Harpers Ferry. Shepherd was a porter at the local railroad station and a property owner in nearby Winchester, Va.

Oct. 18, 1941: William “Billy” Cox was born in Wheeling. He is one of two bassists to have played regularly with legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

Oct. 19, 1894: Historian and illustrator Julius Allan DeGruyter was born in Charleston. A self-taught painter and illustrator, DeGruyter’s art appeared in numerous exhibits and is represented in the collections of the State Museum. The artwork includes scenes of early Charleston.

Oct. 20, 1990: The current USS West Virginia was commissioned. The USS West Virginia is an Ohio Class Trident ballistic missile submarine that is 560 feet long, 42 feet wide, and displaces 18,750 tons when submerged.

Oct. 21, 1865: Bishop Matthew Wesley Clair Sr. was born in Union. He was one of the first African-Americans elected as a bishop in the predominantly white Methodist Episcopal Church.

Oct. 21, 1918: Hulett Smith was born in Beckley. In the 1964 gubernatorial primary Smith carried 53 of the state’s 55 counties, receiving more votes than his three opponents combined.

Oct. 22, 1693: Lord Thomas Fairfax was born in Kent, England. He inherited five million acres in Virginia, land that included much of the present Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

Oct. 22, 1734: Frontiersman Daniel Boone was born in Pennsylvania. In 1788, Boone and his family settled near the mouth of the Kanawha River. He represented Kanawha County in the Virginia General Assembly in 1791.

Oct. 22, 1821: Collis P. Huntington was born in Harwinton, Conn. In 1869,  Huntington purchased the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and set about extending its tracks from Richmond across southern West Virginia to the Ohio River. There, in 1871, he established a new city bearing his name.

Oct. 22, 1977: Construction of the New River Gorge Bridge was completed after three years of work. The New River Gorge Bridge in Fayette County is one of West Virginia’s best-known landmarks. It is the second-highest bridge in the United States.

Oct. 23, 1943: German prisoners arrived at Camp Ashford in White Sulphur Springs. Built by the U.S. War Department, Camp Ashford was one of two camps in West Virginia that housed prisoners of war during World War II.

To read more about West Virginia’s people, places, history, arts, science and culture, go to “e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia” at www.wvencyclopedia.org. Developed by the West Virginia Humanities Council, it is an interactive reference site showcasing West Virginia’s history, culture, and people. e-WV is free of charge and available to anyone with access to a computer and Internet connection.

For more information contact the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25301, or at 304-346-8500.