This week in West Virginia history: Jan. 27-Feb. 2

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Bernard L. Coffindaffer
Bernard L. Coffindaffer

Charleston, W.Va. – 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.

Jan. 27, 1925: Bernard L. Coffindaffer was born in Nicholas County. In the 1980s and 1990s, Coffindaffer erected clusters of crosses along the highways of West Virginia and much of the Southeast.

Jan. 27. 1933: Folk artist George Connard Wolfe was born in Standard, Kanawha County. A self-trained sculptor, he made his own tools from automobile leaf springs and engine valves and worked in stone and wood.

Jan. 27-28, 1998: Flat Top on the Mercer-Raleigh county line received a record snowfall of 35 inches in a 24-hour period.

Jan. 28, 1902: Miners Hospital No. One opened at Welch, with a young Dr. Henry Hatfield as president. The legislature had passed a law requiring the building of state hospitals for those engaged in dangerous occupations, and eventually three hospitals were built in different sections of the state.

Jan. 28, 1937: In a flood that drove a million Ohio Valley residents from their homes, the Ohio River crested at Huntington at 69.45 feet, more than 19 feet above flood stage. By the time the water receded, five people were dead, and the city was in ruins.

Jan. 29, 1903: The great rhododendron was designated the official state flower of West Virginia, after being recommended by the governor and voted on by students in the public schools.

Jan. 30, 1818: Nicholas County was created by the Virginia legislature from parts of Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Randolph counties. The county was named for Wilson Cary Nicholas, a Virginia governor and U.S. senator who lived from 1761 to 1820.

Jan. 30, 1895: Mingo County was created from the southern part of Logan County. Mingo is the youngest county in West Virginia.

Jan. 31, 1878: Educator William Woodson Trent was born in rural Nicholas County. He served as state superintendent of schools from 1933 until 1957.

Jan. 31, 1922: Movie and television actress Joanne Dru was born Joan Letitia Lacock in Logan. Her movie career included more than 40 films.

Jan. 31, 1945: Sergeant Jonah Edward Kelley of Mineral County was killed in action while leading his squad against German positions during World War II. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his “superb courage.”

Feb. 1, 1832: Education reformer Alexander Luark Wade was born. Wade reorganized rural Monongalia County schools to require progress through eight prescribed levels with a graduating exercise and receipt of a diploma. Wade’s system worked so well, it was copied in other counties and states.

Feb. 1, 1901: Frank Buckles, the last known American veteran of World War I, was born in Missouri. Buckles purchased a farm in Charles Town in 1954 and continued to live there until his death in 2011.

February 2, 1908: Justice Marion Chambers was born in Huntington. Chambers was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Iwo Jima campaign in February 1945.

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.