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This Week in West Virginia History: Jan. 8-14

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. 8, 1866: William Gustavus Conley was born near Kingwood in Preston County. Conley was the 18th governor of West Virginia, serving from 1929 to 1933.

Jan. 8, 1919: The West Virginia legislature ratified the U.S. Constitution’s 18th Amendment by a Senate vote of 26-0 and a House vote of 81-3. West Virginia became the 21st state to ratify the prohibition amendment. National prohibition became effective under the Volstead Act on January 16, 1920.

Jan. 8, 1926: Comedian Soupy Sales was born Milton Supman. Raised in Huntington and graduating from Marshall College (now Marshall University), he achieved fame as a wacky television personality.

Jan. 9, 1911: Louise McNeill was born on the family farm in Pocahontas County. She was appointed poet laureate by Governor Jay Rockefeller in 1979, holding that title until her death in 1993.

Jan. 9, 2014: Hazardous chemicals were discovered leaking into the Elk River, contaminating the water supply for a nine-county region.

Jan. 10, 1925: Judge Elizabeth Virginia Hallanan was born in Charleston. She was West Virginia’s first female federal court judge.

Jan. 10, 1928: Gov. Howard Gore appointed Minnie Buckingham Harper to fill the unexpired term of her late husband, E. Howard Harper. She was the first Black woman to serve as a member of a state legislative body in the United States.

Jan. 10, 1940: The Pond Creek No. 1 mine at Bartley in McDowell County exploded. The blast killed 91 miners, with another 47 escaping. Rescue teams worked five days to retrieve the bodies but found no additional miners alive.

Jan. 11, 1865: Confederate forces under General Thomas Rosser burned the covered bridge at Beverly. Bridge builder Lemuel Chenoweth rebuilt the damaged span in 1872-73.

Jan. 11, 1893: U.S. Senator Harley Martin Kilgore was born in rural Harrison County. Kilgore served as a senator from West Virginia from 1940 until his death in 1952.

Jan. 12, 1869: Newspaperman Herschel Coombs Ogden was born near Fairmont. In 1888, he relocated to Wheeling and entered the newspaper business.

Jan. 13, 1905: Joseph H. Diss Debar died in Philadelphia. A supporter of the movement to create West Virginia, Diss Debar was commissioned in 1863 to design the Great Seal of West Virginia.

Jan. 14, 1873: The first session of the Glenville Branch of the State Normal School began in the old Gilmer County courthouse. In 1943, the legislature changed the name to Glenville State College (now University).

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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