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This Week in West Virginia History: Aug. 22-28

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.

Aug. 22, 1872: Following the Constitutional Convention of 1872, the West Virginia electorate ratified a new state constitution by a vote of 42,344 to 37,777. In the same election, the voters rejected a controversial convention proposition that would have restricted office-holding to whites.

Aug. 23, 1970: The Mormon Church established its first ‘‘stake,’’ or congregation, in West Virginia. The stake was organized in Charleston with a membership of nearly 4,000 people.

Aug. 24, 1918: Louis Bennett Jr. died of injuries sustained when his plane was shot down by German anti-aircraft fire. Bennett, with 12 combat kills, was West Virginia’s only World War I fighter ace.

August 25, 1903: Soprano Susanne Fisher was born in Sutton. Fisher was the first West Virginian to sing at the Metropolitan Opera.

Aug. 25, 1921: Miners began to arrive at Blair Mountain near the border of Logan and Boone counties. Sheriff Don Chafin, a hated symbol of anti-unionism in southern West Virginia, met them with a combined force of deputies, mine guards, civilian volunteers, and others.

Aug. 25, 2000: The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope was dedicated. It is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope.

Aug. 26, 1863: Union and Confederate forces collided in what became known as the Battle of White Sulphur Springs. The next morning, with ammunition nearly depleted, Union Gen. William Averell decided to retreat to his base without accomplishing any of his objectives.

Aug. 26, 1918: Mathematician Katherine Johnson was born in White Sulphur Springs. For 33 years, Johnson worked for NASA doing calculations for manned space flight, including the Apollo 11 moon landing. In 2015, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Aug. 27, 1902: Mary McClain was born Mary Smith in Huntington. McClain was a blues legend who performed at Carnegie Hall, the White House, the Apollo Theatre, and the Cotton Club.

Aug. 28, 1900: Harrison H. Ferrell Jr. was born in Chicago. Known as “the Dean” to generations of students, he was professor of German, 1928–66, at West Virginia State College (now University) and served as dean and in other capacities from 1930 until 1970.

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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