Smoke Hole Caverns

This Week in West Virginia History: May 29 – June 4

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 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 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, 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.

June 4, 1975: Clark Kessinger died in St. Albans, Kanawha County. Kessinger was among the most prolific and influential fiddlers of the 20th century, and one of West Virginia’s most important traditional musicians.

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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