The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history.
Jan. 23, 1850: Raleigh County was established by an act of the Virginia General Assembly. The county’s founder, Alfred Beckley, named the county after Sir Walter Raleigh.
Jan. 23, 1888: Union leader Fred Mooney was born in a log cabin on Davis Creek in Kanawha County. He was secretary-treasurer of United Mine Workers of America District 17 from 1917 to 1924 and was a leader in the West Virginia mine wars.
Jan. 23, 1890: The United Mine Workers was organized at a meeting in Columbus, Ohio, with John B. Rae, a Scottish immigrant, as the first president. Just three months later, UMWA District 17, encompassing most of West Virginia, held its first meeting.
Jan. 24, 1968: Mary Lou Retton was born in Fairmont. She made history at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles when, at 16, she became the first American woman ever to win a gold medal in gymnastics and the first native West Virginia woman to win a gold medal in Olympic competition.
Jan. 25, 1814: Francis Harrison Pierpont was born near Morgantown. On June 20, 1861, Pierpont was unanimously elected as governor of the unionist Reorganized State of Virginia, which sat at Wheeling until West Virginia entered the Union two years later.
Jan. 25, 1878: Activist Lenna Lowe Yost was born in Marion County. She held key leadership roles in the woman’s suffrage movement and the temperance movement.
Jan. 25, 1889: Anna Johnson Gates was born in Kanawha County. The state’s first female state legislator, Gates was elected to the House of Delegates in 1922 and served a single term.
Jan. 26, 1850: Wyoming County was formed by the Virginia General Assembly from a part of Logan County.
Jan. 26, 1960: Burnsville High School basketball player Danny Heater scored 135 points in a varsity game against Widen, setting a national record.
Jan. 27, 1925: Bernard L. Coffindaffer was born in Nicholas County. In the 1980s and 1990s, Coffindaffer erected clusters of crosses along the highways of West Virginia and much of the Southeast.
Jan. 27-28, 1998: Flat Top on the Mercer-Raleigh county line received a record snowfall of 35 inches in a 24-hour period.
Jan. 29, 1903: The great rhododendron was designated the official state flower of West Virginia, after being recommended by the governor and voted on by students in the public schools.
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.