Mountain Boy

This Week in West Virginia History: March 26 – April 1

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

March 26, 1851: Upshur County was created from parts of Randolph, Lewis and Barbour counties, with Buckhannon as the county seat.

March 26, 1863: The state’s first constitution was overwhelmingly ratified by the voters, by a majority of 28,321 to 572. The constitution was drafted during the state’s first Constitutional Convention at the federal custom house in Wheeling.

March 26, 1920: Aviator Rose Agnes Rolls Cousins was born. She was the first Black woman to become a solo pilot in the Civilian Pilot Training Program at West Virginia State College (now University).

March 27, 1826: Laura Jackson Arnold, the younger sister of “Stonewall” Jackson, was born in Clarksburg. During the Civil War, she was a staunch Unionist and opened her home to care for sick and injured troops.

March 27, 1917: Statesman Cyrus Roberts Vance was born in Clarksburg. In 1977, President Carter tapped Vance as his secretary of state. In 1978, Vance was instrumental in the Camp David peace accord between Egypt and Israel and in negotiating the Panama Canal Treaty.

March 28, 1870: State officials, with state records and property, boarded a steamboat called Mountain Boy, one of six steamboats that moved West Virginia’s capital from Wheeling to Charleston.

March 28, 1941: Musician Charlie McCoy was born in Oak Hill. One of the most significant harmonica players in country music, his work can also be heard on rock ‘n’ roll albums, including several of Bob Dylan’s. He was the musical director for the TV program Hee Haw.

March 29, 1834: Henry Mason Mathews, the fifth governor of West Virginia, was born at Frankford, Greenbrier County. There were strikes and riots during much of his administration, including the national railroad strike of 1877, which began at Martinsburg.

March 29, 1858: Clay County was created from parts of Nicholas and Braxton counties and named for Henry Clay, the U.S. senator from Kentucky.

March 30, 1837: The Virginia legislature granted a charter to establish a private academy at West Liberty in Ohio County. The first class of 65 students met in the home of the Rev. Nathan Shotwell in 1838. The school is now known as West Liberty State University.

March 30, 1926: Actor, singer and game show host Peter Marshall was born Ralph Pierre LaCock in Clarksburg. His career includes Broadway, television and more than 5,000 episodes as host of The Hollywood Squares.

March 31, 1919: Governor John Jacob Cornwell signed legislation that created the West Virginia State Police. He appointed Jackson Arnold, grandnephew of Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and former executive officer of the 1st West Virginia Infantry, as first superintendent.

April 1, 1884: Nurse Florence Aby Blanchfield was born in Shepherdstown. She served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War I, oversaw expansion of the corps from 1,000 to 57,000 during World War II, and became the first woman to hold a permanent commission in the regular army.

April 1, 1934: A sales tax went into effect in West Virginia for the first time. The two-percent tax helped fill the revenue void caused by the drop in property values during the Great Depression.

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