By Michael Keller
Charleston WV (February 2017) – 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.
Feb. 26, 1869: The legislature approved a bill moving the state capital to Charleston.
Feb. 26, 1972: One of the country’s worst mining-related disasters occurred on this date on Buffalo Creek in Logan County. A coal waste dam collapsed, sending 132 million gallons of water, coal refuse and silt into the valley. In the end, 125 people, including entire families, were killed, and 1,000 people were injured.
Feb. 27, 1867: Marshall College was established as a normal school for the training of teachers. The first term began June 15, 1868, with 25 students enrolled in three departments.
Feb. 27, 1871: Summers County was established from segments of Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, and Monroe counties. The county was named after George W. Summers, one of West Virginia’s founders.
Feb. 27, 1871: The West Virginia Legislature approved an act incorporating the city of Huntington.
Feb. 28, 1831: Fayette County was formed by the General Assembly of Virginia from parts of Kanawha, Nicholas, Greenbrier, and Logan counties. The county was named for the Marquis de Lafayette, the French military officer who served under George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
Feb. 28, 1858: McDowell County, the southernmost county in West Virginia, was created from part of Tazewell County, Virginia. The new county was named after James McDowell, a governor of Virginia.
Feb. 28, 1875: Musician Edwin “Edden” Hammons was born in Pocahontas County. A subsistence farmer and hunter, he is remembered as one of the finest traditional fiddle players to come from West Virginia.
Feb. 28, 1909: Athlete John Zontini was born. Nicknamed the “Sheik of Seth” for his outstanding football career at Sherman High School, he still holds a state high school rushing record and a Marshall University rushing record.
Feb. 28, 1956: Senator Harley Kilgore died while in office. In 1952, Kilgore was the first West Virginian elected to a third term in the U.S. Senate. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
March 1, 1831: Jackson County was created from parts of Wood, Mason and Kanawha counties and named in honor of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States.
March 1, 1870: The legislature passed an act to create a branch normal school at West Liberty. For the next 61 years, the school was a teacher preparatory institution.
March 1, 1898: Homer Adams Holt was born in Lewisburg. He became West Virginia’s 20th governor.
March 2, 1840: The Virginia General Assembly granted a charter for Bethany College. From the beginning, it has been a four-year, baccalaureate-degree college, the oldest such institution in West Virginia.
March 2, 1896: Clair Bee was born in Pennsboro. Bee was a successful, innovative college basketball coach and widely published author of both technical basketball books and young adult fiction centered on sports.
March 2, 1915: A blast swept through Layland No. 3 Mine in Fayette County, killing 114 men.
March 2, 1927: The West Virginia capitol building known as the “pasteboard capitol” was destroyed by fire. This wood-frame building in downtown Charleston had been built in just 42 days after the previous capitol building (the Victorian capitol) burned in 1921.
March 2, 1961: Governor Wally Barron signed legislation that granted Marshall College university status.
March 3, 1843: Barbour County was created from parts of Lewis, Harrison, and Randolph counties and named for the distinguished Virginia jurist Philip Pendleton Barbour.
March 3, 1890: Teacher and civic activist Memphis Tennessee Garrison was born in Virginia. She helped develop NAACP chapters in southern West Virginia and created the Christmas Seal Project.
March 4, 1849: Earl Williams Oglebay was born in Bridgeport, Ohio. He became one of West Virginia’s most successful industrialists and a generous benefactor.
March 4, 1893: Governor William A. MacCorkle gave his inaugural address in which he warned that West Virginia was “passing under the control of foreign and non-resident landowners.”
March 4, 1924: Blues musician Nathaniel H. “Nat” Reese was born in Salem, Virginia. Growing up in Princeton, Reese learned and played blues, jazz, country and dance music throughout the southern coalfields.
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.