This Week in West Virginia History: May 8-14

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 8, 1864: Clarence Wayland Watson was born in Fairmont. Watson was a prominent coal baron and served in the U.S. Senate from 1911 to 1913.

May 8, 1998: Senator Jennings Randolph died at the age of 96. He was first elected to Congress in 1932 and served for 40 years.

May 9, 1843: Confederate spy ‘‘Belle’’ Boyd was born in Martinsburg. On July 4, 1861, Belle shot a Yankee soldier and started her spy career.

May 9, 1863: Confederate raiders arrived at Burning Springs, Wirt County. There they set fire to 150,000 barrels of oil, oil tanks, engines for pumping, engine houses, wagons, and oil-laden boats.

May 10, 1908: The first official observance of Mother’s Day was held at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton and simultaneously in Philadelphia. The holiday resulted from a vigorous campaign by Anna Jarvis who wanted to commemorate the spirit of her mother’s work as a social activist.

May 10, 1960: John F. Kennedy defeated Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia primary. It dispelled the widely held belief that being a Roman Catholic was a crippling handicap for a presidential candidate.

May 11, 1909: Filmmaker Ellis Dungan was born. After years of working in the feature film industry in India, he settled in Wheeling, where he shot documentaries and produced films for the state and the region.

May 11, 1930: Physician John C. Norman, Jr. was born in Charleston. A noted thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon and researcher, he was best known for his work toward creating an artificial heart.

May 12–14, 1921: Bullets peppered down on about a dozen mining towns in the Matewan-Williamson area, and nonunion miners fired back, in what became known as the Battle of the Tug. Three people were shot and killed.

May 13, 1962: Editorial cartoonist Henry Payne was born in Charleston. In 1989, Payne was the first editorial cartoonist in the country to make his work available via computer.

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.

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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