This Week in West Virginia History


The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The USS West Virginia suffered massive damage.

The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The USS West Virginia suffered massive damage.


West Virginia Humanities Council | Courtesy

John Brown was hanged at Charles Town in Jefferson County.


West Virginia Humanities Council | Courtesy

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. 1, 1797: Journalist and politician John S. Gallaher was born in Martinsburg. He owned or managed several Whig newspapers and was instrumental in establishing the free school system in Virginia. He played a prominent role in having early railroads routed through the Eastern Panhandle.

Dec. 2, 1859: John Brown was hanged at Charles Town in Jefferson County. Maj. Thomas J. Jackson, later nicknamed ‘‘Stonewall,’’ was among those commanding the Virginia forces standing guard at the execution of the abolitionist who led the raid at Harpers Ferry.

Dec. 2, 1933: The Charles Town Race Track opened shortly after West Virginia legalized racing and parimutuel betting. The Jefferson County complex contained 22 buildings and included 12 stables.

Dec. 3, 1787: James Rumsey demonstrated the steam engine he invented on the Potomac River near Shepherdstown. This was 20 years before Robert Fulton’s boat, though the Fulton design was more practical, and it is Fulton who is honored today as the inventor of the steamboat.

Dec. 3, 1871: Statesman Newton Diehl Baker was born in Martinsburg. Appointed by President Woodrow Wilson, Baker served as secretary of war from 1916 to 1921. Baker oversaw U.S. involvement in World War I.

Dec. 3, 1921: Operatic soprano Phyllis (Smith) Curtin was born in Clarksburg. She made her debut with the New York City Opera in 1953, where she sang both classical and modern repertoire.

Dec. 3, 1949: WSAZ-TV provided the first telecast of a Marshall College (now University) basketball game. The television station, the 72nd in the nation and the first in West Virginia, was an affiliate of WSAZ radio station.

Dec. 4, 1901: Construction of the present Cabell County courthouse was completed. An extensive remodeling was completed in 1940.

Dec. 4, 1883: Social reformer Stella Fuller was born Stella Lawrence Cremeans in Point Pleasant. In the 1940s, Fuller opened a relief operation on Huntington’s Washington Avenue. Eventually, the Stella Fuller Settlement expanded into the area’s largest haven for the disadvantaged and homeless.

Dec. 5, 1892: Daniel D. T. Farnsworth died at the age of 73 in Buckhannon. As state senate president, Farnsworth succeeded Governor Boreman, who resigned in the last days of his term after being elected as a U.S. senator by the state legislature.

Dec. 6, 1814: Tyler County was formed. The county was named for John Tyler, governor of Virginia (1808–11) and father of President John Tyler.

Dec. 6, 1865: Artist Annie Virginia Latham Bartlett was born in Grafton. Her clay sculptures included conventional busts as well as figurines interpreting West Virginia’s historic and cultural past, with such titles as ‘The Moonshiner.’’

Dec. 7, 1940: Radio station WAJR-AM in Morgantown began broadcasting. In 1949, it became the flagship station for a statewide network (now the Mountaineer Sports Network) distributing broadcasts of West Virginia University football and basketball games.

Dec. 7, 1941: The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The USS West Virginia suffered massive damage from torpedoes and bombs. Two officers, including the captain, and 103 crew members died.

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.

The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The USS West Virginia suffered massive damage.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2019/11/web1_WV-1.jpgThe Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The USS West Virginia suffered massive damage. West Virginia Humanities Council | Courtesy

John Brown was hanged at Charles Town in Jefferson County.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2019/11/web1_JB.jpgJohn Brown was hanged at Charles Town in Jefferson County. West Virginia Humanities Council | Courtesy