Blind Alfred Reed

This week in West Virginia history: June 12-18

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.

June 12, 2006: Robert C. Byrd became the longest-serving United States senator in history. He served in the Senate from his election in 1958 until his death in 2010. This record was broken on June 7, 2013, by Congressman John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan.

June 13, 1861: The Second Wheeling Convention began in the federal courtroom of the Wheeling Custom House. This convention declared the Confederate state government in Richmond illegal; created a Reorganized Government of Virginia loyal to the United States; elected Francis Harrison Pierpont governor of Virginia; and called for the western counties to be formed into a new state.

June 13, 1928: Mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. was born in Bluefield. In 1994, Nash was honored with the Nobel Prize in Economics. He was the subject of a best-selling biography, “A Beautiful Mind,” which was later made into a movie.

June 14, 1912: Botanist Elizabeth Ann ‘‘Betty’’ Bartholomew was born in Wheeling. Bartholomew was instrumental in building the dried plant collection at West Virginia University from 30,000 to 140,000 specimens, and she initiated a 2,000-plant seed collection.

June 15, 1876: Attorney and civil right activist T. G. Nutter was born. The first African-American delegate from Kanawha County, he helped establish Lakin State Hospital and crafted an anti-lynching law.

June 15, 1880: Musician Blind Alfred Reed was born in Floyd County, Virginia, though he spent most of his life in West Virginia. He composed and recorded some of the most creative topical country songs on Victor Records between 1927 and 1929.

June 15, 1963: The Cass Scenic Railroad took its first passenger trip during the state’s Centennial celebration.

June 16, 1842: Margaret Agnew Blennerhassett, wife of Harman Blennerhassett, died in poverty in New York City. She lived from 1800 to 1806 in a grand 16-room mansion she and her husband had constructed on an Ohio River island near present Parkersburg. She and her son, Harman Jr., were reburied on Blennerhassett Island in 1996.

June 17, 1813: General Thomas Maley Harris was born at present Harrisville. He rose to prominence after the Civil War, when he served on the military commission that tried conspirators who acted with John Wilkes Booth in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

June 17, 1916: The West Virginia High School Athletic Association was organized at Charleston with 11 charter members. The name of the organization was changed to the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission in 1955.

June 17, 1961: A Wayne County bridge was named in honor of TV newsman David Brinkley. The condition of the bridge had become a news item during the 1960 presidential primary; state officials closed the bridge, repaired it, and invited Brinkley to return for the ceremony to officially name it the “Brinkley Bridge.”

June 18, 1937: Jay Rockefeller was born in New York City. He became West Virginia’s 29th governor in 1977, and in 1984, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

June 18, 1944: It’s Wheeling Steel aired its last program. A half-hour musical variety radio program that drew upon talented Wheeling Steel employees and families, the show ran eight years and was broadcast nationally.

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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