Matewan

This Week in West Virginia History: May 14-20

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.

May 14, 1878: Photographer Rufus “Red” Ribble was born in Blacksburg, Virginia. For nearly 40 years he traveled the coalfields making panoramic photographs of miners, towns, family reunions, church congregations and school groups.

May 14, 1906: Social reformer Mary Behner was born in Xenia, Ohio. From 1928 until 1937, Behner worked in the coal camps along Scotts Run near Morgantown, fighting poverty and creating social and educational outlets for families.

May 14, 1943: Alan Mollohan was born in Fairmont. Mollohan served in the U.S. Congress from 1983 to 2011.

May 15, 1880: The state’s first telephone exchange was placed in service in Wheeling with about 25 subscribers.

May 15, 1886: Minnie Buckingham Harper was born in Winfield. She was the first Black woman to serve as a member of a state legislative body in the United States. She was appointed by Gov. Howard Gore on January 10, 1928, to fill the unexpired term of her husband, E. Howard Harper.

May 15, 1893: Albert Sidney “Sid” Hatfield, controversial police chief of Matewan and martyred hero to union coal miners, was born near Matewan, on the Kentucky side of Tug Fork.

May 15, 1953: George Brett, the Hall of Fame third baseman for the Kansas City Royals, was born in Glen Dale in Marshall County. Along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Stan Musial, he is one of only four players in Major League history to accumulate 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a .300 career batting average.

May 16, 1778: About 300 Wyandot and Mingo Indians attacked Fort Randolph at Point Pleasant. Unable to take the fort, they proceeded up the Kanawha River toward other settlements.

May 16, 1928: Minister Robert Graetz Jr. was born in Clarksburg. He helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott, and was the only White minister in the highly segregated Alabama city to support the boycott publicly.

May 17, 1854: A violent windstorm swept up the Ohio River and severely damaged the Wheeling Suspension Bridge.

May 17, 1862: The Battle of Pigeon Roost took place in Princeton during the Civil War. Union soldiers were noisily approaching Princeton from the southeast, unaware that the Confederates were lying in ambush. The attack left an estimated 18 federal troops killed and 38 wounded.

May 18, 2012: Ice Mountain in Hampshire County was named a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior at a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the program.

May 19, 1920: Ten people were killed in a shootout sometimes referred to as the Matewan Massacre. Baldwin-Felts detectives came to Matewan to evict striking miners and their families, but Police Chief Sid Hatfield tried to stop the evictions as being unauthorized by law.

May 20, 1949: Nick Joe Rahall II was born in Beckley. When Rahall first entered Congress in 1977, he was its youngest member.