CHARLESTON – 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. 9, 1829: West Virginia’s fourth governor, John Jeremiah Jacob, was born in Hampshire County. He was the first governor born within the area that became West Virginia and the first Democratic governor of the state.
Dec. 9, 1932: Songwriter, musician, playwright, humorist, and poet Billy Edd Wheeler was born in Whitesville.
Dec. 10, 1841: Logan County preacher “Uncle Dyke” Garrett was born on Big Creek. His greatest fame was for converting and baptizing Devil Anse Hatfield in Main Island Creek in 1911.
Dec. 10, 1949: The first class of 20 cadets graduated from the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute. The State Police purchased property for the academy on a hilltop overlooking Institute from Kanawha County for about $3,200. Construction began in 1948, and the building was completed the next year.
Dec. 11, 1905: “Pare’’ Lorentz, known as “FDR’s filmmaker,” was born in Clarksburg. In 1933, Lorentz created The Roosevelt Year: 1933, a pictorial review of FDR’s first year in the White House.
Dec. 12, 1942: Internationally known jazz pianist and recording artist Bob Thompson was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York. He studied music at West Virginia State College (now University) and is the house pianist on the Mountain Stage radio program.
Dec. 13, 1861: The Battle of Allegheny Mountain, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War’s first year, took place in Pocahontas County.
Dec. 13, 1926: Wheeling radio station WWVA-AM began broadcasting. The 50-watt station operated from the basement of John Stroebel’s house for most of its first year. Stroebel was a physics teacher and wireless pioneer.
Dec. 14, 1910: The accidental death of a Chesapeake & Ohio engineer near St. Albans led to the popular train song, “Billy Richardson’s Last Ride.”
Dec. 14, 1857: Coal operator Justus Collins was born. He owned coal mines at Glen Jean and Whipple, and the octagonal Whipple company store survives today as a local landmark.
Dec. 15, 1879: Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph Swint was born in Pickens. He was responsible for the building of many religious institutions in the Diocese of Wheeling (now the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston).
Dec. 15, 1967: The Silver Bridge at Point Pleasant collapsed, killing 46 people. The Silver Bridge was built by the American Bridge Company of Pittsburgh and opened to traffic on May 19, 1928. The accident led to the passage of legislation for a national bridge inspection and safety program.
Dec. 15, 1972: An explosion at a Weirton Steel coke plant on Browns Island killed 19 men and injured 10 others. It was the worst industrial accident in Weirton’s history.
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.