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

April 23, 1857: Andrew Summers Rowan was born in Gap Mills, Monroe County. Rowan, a military officer, was chosen as the messenger when President McKinley wanted to send a message to Cuban General Calixto Garcia. The 1899 pamphlet, A Message to Garcia, made the incident famous.

April 24, 1865: The McNeill’s Rangers surrendered to Union troops at New Creek (now Keyser). The Confederate guerrilla force probably never numbered more than 100 men at any time, but they managed to do damage to Union operations.

April 25, 1923: Union leader Arnold Ray Miller was born at Leewood on Cabin Creek in Kanawha County. In December 1972 he defeated Tony Boyle to become president of the United Mine Workers.

April 26, 1816: General Alexander Welch Reynolds was born in Lewisburg. He served in the armies of the United States and the Confederacy. After the war, Reynolds accepted a commission as a colonel in the forces of the khedive of Egypt, the ruler of Egypt under the Ottoman Empire.

April 27, 1978: An accident at the Willow Island Power Station on the Ohio River killed 51 men. The scaffolding that had been erected for use in the construction of a new cooling tower collapsed, sending them plunging to the ground.

April 28, 1884: Musician Henry Reed was born in Peterstown, Monroe County. Reed was a legendary West Virginia fiddler whose repertory contributed to the old-time music revival in the last half of the 20th century.

April 28, 1914: An explosion at the Eccles No. 5 mine in Raleigh County killed 174 men. The mine connected with Eccles No. 6, operating in another coal seam, and nine men in No. 6 died of injuries and of afterdamp, the deadly gas left after a mine explosion.

April 28, 1920: The Monongahela National Forest was created by presidential proclamation. It is the only national forest that is completely within the boundaries of West Virginia.

April 28, 1924: An explosion ripped through the Benwood coal mine south of Wheeling, killing 119 miners.

April 28, 1948: Watt Powell Park opened in Charleston. About 8,000 people, including Governor Okey L. Patteson, attended the city’s inaugural game in the Class A Central League. Watt Powell Park was replaced by the city’s new Appalachian Power Park after the 2004 season, and the old ballpark was demolished in 2005.

April 29, 1863: Confederate General William E. ‘‘Grumble’’ Jones waged a battle at Fairmont that involved a force of 500 regulars, home guards, and volunteers. The Confederates prevailed, burning the personal library of Francis Pierpont, governor of the Restored Government of Virginia, and exploding an iron railroad bridge across the Monongahela River.