This Week in West Virginia History


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.

June 18, 1937: Jay Rockefeller was born in New York City. He became West Virginia’s 29th governor in 1977, and in 1984 he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

June 18, 1944: It’s Wheeling Steel aired its last program. A half-hour musical variety radio program that drew upon talented Wheeling Steel employees and families, the show ran eight years and was broadcast nationally.

June 19, 1905: Senator Rush Dew Holt was born in Weston. At 29, Holt was the youngest person ever elected to the U.S. Senate, earning him the nickname ‘‘Boy Senator.’’ Since the Constitution sets 30 as the minimum age for senators, Holt had to wait until his birthday in June 1935 to take his seat, nearly six months into the 74th Congress.

June 19, 1909: Oak Park, an amusement park in Preston County, opened. The park was an easy ride from Morgantown, and helped to fill up trains on weekends and holidays. On one summer day in 1909, 14 trains brought more than 4,000 people to the park.

June 20, 1861: Francis 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.

June 20, 1863: West Virginia became the 35th state. Arthur Boreman was the state’s first governor.

June 20, 1932: The West Virginia capitol was officially dedicated. Construction had begun in 1924.

June 20, 1963: On the 100th birthday of West Virginia, President John F. Kennedy made his last appearance in West Virginia. Speaking in Charleston in a pouring rain, he said “The sun does not always shine in West Virginia, but the people always do.”

June 20, 1970: The play Hatfields and McCoys opened at Grandview State Park amphitheater. Written by Billy Edd Wheeler with music by Ewel Cornett, the show joined Honey in the Rock as a regular summer offering.

June 21, 1920: Wheeling Steel Corporation was organized when La Belle Iron Works, Whitaker-Glessner Company, and Wheeling Steel & Iron Works combined. In the 1920s, Wheeling Steel employed more than 17,000 workers and ranked as the nation’s third-largest steelmaker.

June 21, 1959: Musician Kathy Mattea was born in South Charleston but grew up in nearby Cross Lanes. In junior high school she learned to play the guitar, and in high school she practiced her vocal skills singing classical music in choir class.

June 22, 1926: Earl Olgebay died in Cleveland. He was one of West Virginia’s most successful industrialists and a generous benefactor.

June 23, 1944: A tornado struck Shinnston and the surrounding area, killing 103 people and injuring hundreds more.

June 24, 1842: Author Ambrose Bierce was born. Bierce found the setting for some of his famous short stories in the mountains of Civil War-era West Virginia.

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West Virginia Humanites Council

West Virginia Humanites Council