Luna Park

This Week in West Virginia History: April 30 – May 6

Charleston, WV – The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go to e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at

April 30, 1871: Coach Fielding “Hurry-Up” Yost was born in Marion County. He was a tackle on West Virginia University’s football team in 1895 and 1896, while earning a law degree. In 1901, Yost’s first season as coach at University of Michigan, the Wolverines compiled an 11-0 record, including a 49-0 defeat of Stanford in the first Rose Bowl.

April 30, 1927:  An explosion roared through the Federal No. 3 mine owned by New England Fuel and Transportation Company of Everettville, Monongalia County. The explosion, the subsequent fire, and gas in the mine killed 97 men.

May 1, 1788: Pendleton County was created from Rockingham, Augusta and Hardy counties. The county was named for Virginia statesman Edmund Pendleton (1721–1803).

May 1, 1930: Labor leader and child welfare activist Mother Jones celebrated her birthday in Maryland. Jones, who was 100 years old by her count, appeared before newsreel cameras to condemn the Prohibition Act “as a curse upon the nation” that violated her right to have a beer instead of water.

May 2, 1900: State founder Waitman Willey died in Morgantown. He is remembered for the Willey Amendment, which provided for the gradual emancipation of slaves as a precondition for the creation of West Virginia.

May 2, 1925: Flying saucer investigator Gray Barker was born in Riffle, Braxton County. Barker became interested in unidentified flying objects in the 1950s after investigating sightings of the Flatwoods Monster.

May 3, 1843: U.S. Postmaster General William Lyne Wilson was born in Smithfield, Jefferson County. Wilson joined President Cleveland’s cabinet as postmaster general in 1895. The following year, he introduced Rural Free Delivery in Jefferson County, an experiment which was quickly instituted nationwide.

May 3, 1917: Fire destroyed the West Virginia Preparatory School in Keyser. The school was rebuilt, and it evolved into the institution now known as WVU Potomac State College.

May 3, 1948: The plane of test pilot Howard “Tick” Lilly, a Raleigh County native, crashed on takeoff in California. Lilly was the first of many government test pilots to die in the line of duty. Six weeks earlier, he had become only the fourth person to break the sound barrier.

May 4, 1896: The Children’s Home Society of West Virginia was formed by a group of Charleston ministers. Their goal was to place orphaned and neglected children with caring families rather than crowd them into county poorhouses.

May 5, 1923: A fire started by welders working on a new swimming pool destroyed most of Luna Park, an amusement park in Charleston. Although Luna’s owners announced they would rebuild, the park never reopened.

May 5, 1923: Golfer Bill Campbell was born in Huntington. He won more than 30 championships over a seven-decade career and is considered one of the best amateur players in history.

May 6, 1812: Activist and physician Martin Robison Delany was born in Charles Town.  In February 1865, he was commissioned as a major in the U.S. Colored Troops. He was the only Black Civil War officer to be given a field command.

May 6, 1968: A continuous miner machine at the Gauley Coal & Coke Saxsewell No. 8 mine at Hominy Falls, Nicholas County, cut into an adjacent mine, which was filled with water. The resulting flood drowned four miners and trapped 21 others.

May 6, 1968: Newspaper publisher and Bluefield native John S. Knight received the Pulitzer Prize for his long record of service and his series of columns opposing the Vietnam War.

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