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Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme

This Week in West Virginia History: Dec. 17-23

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 www.wvencyclopedia.org.

Dec. 17, 1957: The J. L. Stifel & Sons calico plant at Wheeling closed. For most of its history Stifel & Sons produced indigo-dyed prints and drills for clothing manufacturers. At its peak, the plant produced 3.5 million yards of cloth per month.

Dec. 18, 1842: U. S. Senator Nathan B. Scott was born. By 1900, Scott had become one of West Virginia’s four richest and most powerful men.

Dec. 18, 1864: General Harry Hill Bandholtz was born in Michigan. Bandholtz was commander of the federal troops that intervened to end the West Virginia Mine Wars in 1921.

Dec. 18, 1816: Lewis County was formed. It was named for Colonel Charles Lewis, killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant.

Dec. 19, 1794: A 40-acre tract of George Clendenin’s land was selected as the site of Charlestown, later renamed Charleston. Clendenin, born in Augusta County, Virginia, in 1746, was one of the first settlers in the Kanawha Valley. Through Clendenin’s influence the Virginia Assembly authorized the formation of Kanawha County from parts of Greenbrier and Montgomery counties in 1789.

Dec. 19, 1832: The town of Ripley received its charter. It was probably named for Harry Ripley, a popular circuit-riding Methodist minister who drowned in Mill Creek in 1830.

Dec. 20, 1943: During World War II, German fighter pilot Franz Stigler protected the heavily damaged B-17 bomber flown by Charlie Brown, originally from Weston, as it made its way from enemy territory back to England. The two war veterans met in 1990 and remained friends until their deaths.

Dec. 20, 2002: Grote Reber died. In 1937, Reber built the world’s first parabolic radio telescope in his backyard. The Reber Telescope was moved to the National Radio Observatory at Green Bank in the 1960s and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

Dec. 21, 1798: Wood County was established by the Virginia General Assembly. It was named for James Wood, governor of Virginia from 1796 to 1800.

Dec. 22, 1928: Radio station WMMN of Fairmont began operations as one of West Virginia’s pioneer stations. For nearly two decades beginning in 1935, WMMN was an important outlet for country and western music performers. The highlight of this era was the “Sagebrush Roundup,” a Saturday-night live-audience show which began in December 1938 and was broadcast weekly for nearly ten years.

Dec. 23, 1987: Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme escaped from the Federal Prison Camp in Alderson. Fromme, who was serving a life sentence for trying to kill President Gerald Ford, was captured two days later near the prison.

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