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.

Nov. 17, 1927: Composer and performer Robert Drasnin was born in Charleston. He performed with classic combos and big bands such as Tommy Dorsey and Les Brown, and scored music for movies and television.

Nov. 18, 2007: Country singer Chickie Williams died. As wife of musician Doc Williams, she performed with his Border Riders band and appeared on the Wheeling Jamboree radio show.

Nov. 19, 1854: Poet Danske Dandridge was born in Copenhagen. The daughter of an American ambassador, she lived in Shepherdstown from age 19, where her work was published in Harper’s and The Century. Both of her homes, The Bower and Rosebrake, are Jefferson County landmarks.

Nov. 19, 1899: Sculptor Gladys Tuke was born in Linwood, Pocahontas County. Tuke was a member of the original artist colony at The Greenbrier; during World War II she taught at Ashford General Hospital, and later established a pottery and sculpture studio in White Sulphur Springs.

Nov. 19, 1900: William Page Pitt was born in New York City. In 1926, Pitt joined the faculty of what was then Marshall College. In his 45-year career at Marshall, he built its journalism program into one with dozens of classes and hundreds of students. Today, Marshall University’s W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications is named in his honor.

Nov. 19, 1909: The Lincoln County courthouse was burned. With coal, oil and gas, and timber booming, the arson was suspected to have been done to destroy land records and confuse titles.

Nov. 19, 1921: The USS West Virginia was christened. It was one of the six battleships at Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941, suffering massive damage from torpedoes and bombs in the surprise attack. The USS West Virginia was rebuilt and joined the Seventh Fleet for the invasion of the Philippines.

Nov. 20, 1894: Eight men were killed in a coal mine disaster near Colliers, Brooke County. They were using a dangerous method called ‘‘shooting from the solid,’’ meaning that they blasted the coal loose without first undercutting it.

Nov. 20, 1917: Robert C. Byrd was born in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1958 and remained in office until his death in 2010.

Nov. 20, 1968: An explosion at Consolidation Coal Company’s No. 9 mine near Farmington killed 78 men. The disaster brought national attention to the issue of mine safety.

Nov. 21, 1810: Allen Taylor Caperton was born in Monroe County. Caperton served in the Confederate Senate during the Civil War and in the U.S. Senate from 1875 to 1876.

Nov. 22, 1910: Fire destroyed the academic building at Concord College. By the next morning, community leaders arranged for teaching the 300 students in rooms throughout the town.

Nov. 22, 1926: Selva Lewis ‘‘Lew’’ Burdette Jr. was born in Nitro. Burdette was an outstanding major league baseball player who spent most of his career with the Milwaukee Braves.

Nov. 23, 1962: Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph Swint died. He was a great builder of religious institutions in the Diocese of Wheeling.

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.

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