West Virginia Strawberry Festival

This Week in West Virginia History: May 28 – June 3

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 28, 1863: Arthur Boreman was elected as the first governor of the new state of West Virginia.

May 28, 1920: Elmer Bird–“The Banjo Man from Turkey Creek”–was born in Putnam County. He was named best old-time banjo player in the country four times in his 60s.

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, an enslaved person in Greenbrier County, helped save about 60 settlers who were attacked by Indians at Fort Donnally near Lewisburg during the Revolutionary War.

May 29, 1949: Singer-songwriter, labor activist, educator and radio host Elaine Purkey was born in West Hamlin.

May 29, 1961: Alderson and Chloe Muncy 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: An 86-round bare-knuckle prize fight for 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.

June 2, 1951: Cornelius Charlton died of the wounds he received in battle during the Korean War.  Charlton, a Raleigh County native, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

June 3, 1856: Harriet B. Jones was born in Pennsylvania. After attending Wheeling Female College and graduating from the Women’s Medical College of Baltimore, she opened a private practice in Wheeling, becoming the first woman licensed to practice medicine in West Virginia.

June 3, 1861: The first land battle of the Civil War between organized troops took place in Philippi. About 3,000 federal troops drove about 800 Confederates from the town.

June 3, 1861: A company of Confederate soldiers known as the Logan Wildcats was created at the Logan Courthouse. The company, consisting of about 85 men, first saw action at the Battle of Scary Creek.

June 3, 1936: The first Strawberry Festival was held in Buckhannon. More than 6,000 spectators attended the festivities, which also included a parade of 30 princesses down Main Street.

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