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 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.
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 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.
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.
June 5, 1859: A great frost killed crops in the Preston County fields. The fields were replanted with hardy buckwheat, which was successful and became a staple crop, celebrated in the annual Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood.
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.