George Spencer ‘‘Spanky’’ Roberts

This Week in West Virginia History: Sept. 18-24

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.

Sept. 18, 1947: Historian and journalist Minnie Kendall Lowther died. Born in Ritchie County, she was one of the first West Virginia women to become a newspaper editor.

Sept. 18, 1989: Playwright Maryat Lee died in Lewisburg. She established Eco Theater in Summers County as an indigenous mountain theater, using Summers County people as actors.

Sept. 19, 1892:  William ‘‘Bill’’ Blizzard was born in Cabin Creek, Kanawha County. Blizzard became one of West Virginia’s most influential and controversial labor leaders of the 20th century.

Sept. 20, 1914: Ken Hechler was born on Long Island, New York. Hechler served 18 years in the U.S. Congress and four terms as West Virginia’s secretary of state.

Sept. 21, 1895: Samuel Ivan Taylor was born in Mercer County. Taylor was the first member of the West Virginia state police. He was part of the force that faced off against union miners during the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain in Logan County

Sept. 21, 1970: Filming began in Moundsville on the movie Fools’ Parade, based on the novel by Davis Grubb. The filming concluded one month later when Grubb came to Moundsville for a dinner, accompanied by his dog, making the $750 round trip from New York City in a taxi.

Sept. 22, 1856: Albert Blakeslee ‘‘A. B.’’ White was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He was West Virginia’s 11th governor, serving from 1901–05. He was the fourth person to serve as governor from Wood County, his adopted home.

Sept. 22, 1894: Louis Bennett Jr. was born in Weston. Bennett was West Virginia’s only World War I flying ace. With 12 combat kills, including three aircraft and nine balloons, Bennett placed himself ninth on the roster of aces. This record was accomplished in just 10 days after assignment to his combat unit.

Sept. 23, 1922: Five men were struck and killed at the Glen Rogers mine in Wyoming County when equipment fell during the construction of a deep shaft.

Sept. 23, 1938: The Mingo Oak was cut down after succumbing to the fumes of a burning coal refuse pile. The Mingo Oak, which stood near the Logan-Mingo county line, was more than 500 years old and may have been the largest white oak in the world.

Sept. 24, 1918: George Spencer ‘‘Spanky’’ Roberts was born in London, Kanawha County. He entered aviation cadet training with the first class of Tuskegee Airmen and became the first African-American military pilot from 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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