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.
April 5, 1856: Booker T. Washington was born a slave in Virginia. In 1865, he moved with his family to Malden, in Kanawha County, to join his stepfather, who had escaped from slavery during the Civil War.
April 5, 2010: An explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County killed 29 workers. Only two men escaped from the mine alive. It was the country’s worst coal mining disaster since November 20, 1968, when the Consol No. 9 Mine at Farmington, West Virginia, exploded, killing 78 workers.
April 6, 1938: The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established Camp Kanawha in Kanawha State Forest. The CCC removed all the abandoned houses, coal tipples, and other structures no longer in use, and constructed roads, the forest superintendent’s residence, office, maintenance building, and picnic shelters.
April 6, 1944: Guitarist David Morris was born in Ivydale, Clay County. With his brother John on fiddle, the Morris Brothers founded music festivals, supported union and environmental causes and promoted West Virginia traditional music nationwide.
April 7, 1927: A. James Manchin was born in Farmington. In 1984, the longtime secretary of state was elected state treasurer but soon fell into trouble. With a stock market downturn in 1987, Manchin bore much of the blame when the state lost nearly $300 million in investments.
April 7, 1947: Medal of Honor recipient Thomas W. Bennett was born in Morgantown. Believing it was wrong to evade the draft while others had to serve in Vietnam, he volunteered as a noncombatant medic. He was killed by gunfire while dragging a wounded soldier to safety.
April 7, 2004: Gov. Bob Wise signed legislation that transformed four colleges into universities: West Virginia State, Shepherd, Fairmont State and Concord.
April 8, 1891: The town of Paw Pawwas incorporated. Strategically located on the Potomac River, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the C&O Canal, Paw Pawwas named for the banana-like pawpaw fruit that grows in the area.
April 8, 1951: An Air National Guard transport plane crashed near Kanawha (now Yeager) Airport, killing 21.
April 9, 1900: Physician Margaret Byrnside “Dr. Maggie” Ballard was born. She actively pursued her interest in genealogy and local history and was a founder of the Monroe County Historical Society.
April 10, 1848: John Kenna was born in Kanawha County. In 1883, the state legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate, unseating the powerful Henry G. Davis.Kenna is one of two West Virginians memorialized by a statue in the U.S. Capitol.
April 10, 1932: Entertainer Blaze Starr was born as Fanny Belle Fleming in Wayne County. The owner of a burlesque club rechristened her “Blaze Starr.” Her story was the basis of the movie Blaze.
April 11, 1821: Congressman Jacob Beeson Blair was born in Parkersburg. Blair was the first West Virginian to be told by President Abraham Lincoln of Lincoln’s support for making West Virginia a state.
April 11, 1909: Writer Hubert Skidmore was born at Laurel Mountain in Webster County. In his novels, Skidmore depicted stoic endurance by mountain people in the face of misfortune and economic exploitation by outside interests.
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