Bernard L. Coffindaffer
Bernard L. Coffindaffer

This Week in West Virginia History: Oct. 6-12

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.

Oct. 6, 1864: Labor activist Sarah ‘‘Mother’’ Blizzard was born in Edmond, Fayette County. Blizzard was deeply involved in the United Mine Workers of America from the organization’s early beginnings in the late 19th century.

Oct. 7, 1747: Pioneer Ebenezer Zane, the founder of Wheeling, was born on the South Branch of the Potomac River near present Moorefield in Hardy County.

Oct. 7, 1900: Poet Roy Lee Harmon was born in Boone County. He was the founder of the West Virginia Poetry Society and served as the state’s poet laureate for 38 years.

Oct. 7, 1957: Musician Michael W. Smith was born in Kenova. He has recorded 22 albums and written 10 books.

Oct. 8, 1993: The Rev. Bernard Coffindaffer died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Starting in 1984, Coffindaffer began erecting clusters of crosses in West Virginia and other states.  He was buried in Nicholas County, just across the highway from a set of his crosses.

Oct. 9, 1877: The Episcopal Church created the Diocese of West Virginia. The initial convention of the new diocese met at St. John’s Episcopal in Charleston, with 14 clergy and 16 lay delegates.

Oct. 9, 2014: Following court rulings and announcements by the governor and the attorney general, same-sex marriage was effectively legalized in West Virginia.

Oct. 10, 1774: Shawnee warriors led by Cornstalk were defeated at the Battle of Point Pleasant. It was the only major engagement of Dunmore’s War and the most important battle ever fought in present West Virginia.

Oct. 10, 1872: Architect Rus Warne was born in Parkersburg. Warne designed many notable buildings in Charleston, including City Hall and the Masonic Temple.

Oct. 10, 1878: Blanche Lazzell was born in Maidsville, Monongalia County. She was one of West Virginia’s most notable artists and is recognized as one of America’s leading abstract painters and print makers.

Oct. 10, 1948: During a boat-racing event in Charleston, Chuck Yeager flew a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star up the river and under the South Side Bridge, surprising boaters, audience and news media at the event.

Oct. 11, 1811: State founder and U.S. Senator Waitman Thomas Willey was born near Farmington. Willey proposed the West Virginia Statehood Bill in the Senate and saw to its passage and later signing by President Lincoln. He was then elected as one of West Virginia’s first two U.S. senators and served from 1863 to 1871.

Oct. 12, 1877: Howard Mason Gore was born in Harrison County. He served as U.S. secretary of agriculture and the 14th governor of West Virginia.

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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