The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go toe-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at www.wvencyclopedia.org.
May 24, 1896: Confederate General John Echols died in Staunton, Virginia. Echols served in the Kanawha Valley in 1862 and commanded Confederate forces at their defeat at the Battle of Droop Mountain in November 1863.
May 25, 1903: Industrialist and philanthropist Bernard Patrick McDonough Jr. was born in Texas. Starting with a Parkersburg construction business in the 1930s, McDonough built a Fortune 500 company with operations in hand tools, building materials and barge building. The Bernard McDonough Foundation remains one of the largest private foundations in West Virginia.
May 25, 1937: William H. “Teepi” Kendrick died in Morgantown. Kendrick was a pioneer in West Virginia’s 4-H program. He broadened the program to emphasize more than just agriculture, and he was primarily responsible for establishing the state 4-H camp at Jackson’s Mill.
May 26, 1895: Athlete Ira Errett “Rat” Rodgers was born in Bethany. He was WVU’s first football All-American, lettering in 1915–17 and 1919.
May 27, 1912: Legendary golfer Sam Snead was born at Ashwood, Virginia. When The Greenbrier reopened as a resort after World War II, Snead returned as the golf pro.
May 27, 1922: Labor leader Bill Blizzard was acquitted of treason chargesfollowing the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain. The trial was held in the Jefferson County Courthouse, where John Brown had been convicted of treason against Virginia in 1859.
May 28, 1863: Arthur Boremanwas elected as the first governor of the new state of West Virginia.
May 28, 1920: Elmer Bird–“The Banjo Man from Turkey Creek”–was born in Putnam County. He was named best old-time banjo player in the country four times in his 60s.
May 28, 1938: Basketball player Jerry West was born on Cabin Creek, Kanawha County. West led East Bank High School to the state basketball championship in 1956 and then rewrote the record book at West Virginia University.
May 28, 1998: The Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse in downtown Charleston was dedicated. The 440,000-square-foot building incorporated Neoclassic, Egyptian and Art Deco designs.
May 29, 1778: Dick Pointer, anenslaved person in Greenbrier County, helped save about 60 settlers who were attacked by Indians at Fort Donnally near Lewisburg during the Revolutionary War.
May 29, 1949: Singer-songwriter, labor activist, educator, and radio host Elaine Purkey was born in West Hamlin.
May 29, 1961: Alderson and Chloe Muncy in McDowell County received the first food stamps in the nation. After observing malnutrition and poverty during his campaign, President John Kennedy directed the government to establish a pilot food stamp program.
May 30, 1940: Smoke Hole Caverns in Grant County opened for tours. The cave is beautifully decorated with stalactites hanging in rows along the ceiling; the main room is called the “Room of a Million Stalactites.”
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