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.
May 26, 1895; Athlete Ira Errett ‘‘Rat’’ Rodgers was born in Bethany. He was among the greatest Mountaineer football players, lettering in 1915–17 and 1919.
May 27, 1912: Legendary golfer Sam Snead was born at Ashwood, Virginia. When The Greenbrier reopened as a resort after World War II, Snead returned as the golf pro.
May 27, 1922: Labor leader Bill Blizzard was acquitted of treason charges. He was charged following the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921.
May 28, 1863: Arthur Boreman was elected as the first governor of the new state of West Virginia.
May 28, 1938: Basketball player Jerry West was born on Cabin Creek, Kanawha County. West led East Bank High School to the state basketball championship in 1956 and then rewrote the record book at West Virginia University.
May 28, 1998: The Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse in downtown Charleston was dedicated. The 440,000-square-foot building incorporated Neoclassic, Egyptian, and Art Deco designs.
May 29, 1778: Dick Pointer, a slave, helped save about 60 settlers who were attacked by Indians at Fort Donnally near Lewisburg.
May 29, 1961: Elderson Muncie in McDowell County received the first food stamps in the nation. After observing malnutrition and poverty during his campaign, President John Kennedy directed the government to establish a pilot food stamp program.
May 30, 1940: Smoke Hole Caverns in Grant County opened for tours. The cave is beautifully decorated with stalactites hanging in rows along the ceiling; the main room is called the “Room of a Million Stalactites.”
May 31, 1841: Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph Kain was born near Martinsburg. As bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling, he worked to meet the needs of the newly arrived immigrants who came to labor in West Virginia’s mines and factories.
June 1, 1880: The bare-knuckle prize fight for the championship of the world was held in the Brooke County town of Colliers, between defending champion Joe Goss and challenger Paddy Ryan. Boxing was illegal in every state, and matches were often held in railroad villages to avoid big city police.
June 1, 1935: Musician Hazel Dickens was born in Mercer County, the eighth of 11 children. She was a pioneering old-time and bluegrass musician, known for preserving the traditional vocal styles of West Virginia.
June 1, 1858: The Artists’ Excursion left Baltimore on its way to Wheeling. A Baltimore & Ohio executive planned the rail trip to promote tourism. About 50 passengers were on board, including artist and writer David Hunter Strother, who described the experience in an article for Harpers magazine.
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.