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.
Dec. 28, 1879: Brigadier General Billy Mitchell was born in France. As chief of the Army Air Force, Mitchell ordered aircraft of the 88th Squadron to perform reconnaissance during the 1921 Miners’ March on Logan.
Dec. 29, 1861: Confederate soldiers burned most of downtown Sutton. The town slowly rebuilt but remained small until the local timber industry boomed in the 1890 to 1920 period.
Dec. 29, 1970: John Denver and two friends completed the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Denver performed “Country Roads” in West Virginia on several occasions, notably for the opening of the new Mountaineer Stadium in Morgantown in 1980.
Dec. 30, 1917: The temperature in Lewisburg dropped to 37 degrees below zero. It is the coldest official temperature on record for the state.
Dec. 31, 2007: Sara Jane Moore was released from prison after serving 32 years for trying to kill President Ford. Moore grew up in Charleston and later moved to California, where she joined left-wing groups and became an FBI informant. She spent part of her incarceration at the Federal Prison Camp in Alderson.
Jan. 1, 1859: Michael Joseph Owens was born in Point Pleasant. A skilled glassblower by age 15, Owens went on to mechanize the making of industrial glass products and launched a factory in Charleston that became the world’s largest producer of window glass.
Jan. 1, 1888: In one of the most violent episodes of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud, Jim Vance, uncle to “Devil Anse” Hatfield, led an arson attack on the McCoy family cabin. Two of Randall McCoy’s children were killed, and his wife was badly beaten.
Jan. 1, 1953: Country music legend Hank Williams was found dead in his car in Oak Hill, Fayette County. He had been scheduled to perform in Charleston the previous night, but the concert was canceled due to bad weather.
Jan. 2, 2006: An explosion at the Sago Mine in Upshur County killed 12 men. Federal investigators pointed to a lightning strike as the most likely ignition source for the blast.
Jan. 3, 1856: Musician Lewis Johnson “Uncle Jack” McElwain of Webster County was born. He was the most respected fiddler in central West Virginia during his lifetime. He took part in many fiddle contests, and no one can recall him ever being beaten.
Jan. 3, 1921: The state capitol building in Charleston was destroyed by fire. The so-called Victorian capitol, the second one in Charleston, had opened in 1887. After the fire, a temporary wood-frame building, known as the “pasteboard capitol,” was erected in just 42 days. It burned in 1927.
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.