This week in West Virginia History: December 16 through December 22


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.

Dec. 16, 1893: Alexander Martin died at the age of 71 in Greencastle, Indiana. Martin was the first president of the Agricultural College of West Virginia, which was renamed West Virginia University at his recommendation in 1868.

Dec. 17, 1957: The J. L. Stifel & Sons calico plant at Wheeling closed. For most of its history Stifel & Sons produced indigo-dyed prints and drills for clothing manufacturers. At its peak, the plant produced 3.5 million yards of cloth per month.

Dec. 18, 1842: U. S. Senator Nathan B. Scott was born. Scott rose to become one of West Virginia’s four richest and most powerful men by 1900.

Dec. 18, 1864: General Harry Hill Bandholtz was born in Michigan. Bandholtz was commander of the federal troops that intervened to end the West Virginia Mine Wars in 1921.

Dec. 18, 1816: Lewis County was formed. It was named for Colonel Charles Lewis, killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant.

Dec. 19, 1794: A 40-acre tract of George Clendenin’s land was selected as the site of Charlestown, later renamed Charleston. Clendenin, born in Augusta County, Virginia, in 1746, was one of the first settlers in the Kanawha Valley. Through Clendenin’s influence the Virginia Assembly authorized the formation of Kanawha County from parts of Greenbrier and Montgomery counties in 1789.

Dec. 19, 1832: The town of Ripley received its charter. It was probably named for Harry Ripley, a popular, circuit-riding Methodist minister who drowned in Mill Creek in 1830.

Dec. 20, 2002: Grote Reber died. In 1937, Reber built the world’s first parabolic radio telescope in his backyard. The Reber Telescope was moved to the National Radio Observatory at Green Bank in the 1960s and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

Dec. 21, 1798: Wood County was established by the Virginia General Assembly. It was named for James Wood, governor of Virginia from 1796 to 1800.

Dec. 22, 1928: Radio station WMMN of Fairmont began operations as one of West Virginia’s pioneer stations. For nearly two decades beginning in 1935, WMMN was an important outlet for country and western music performers. The highlight of this era was the “Sagebrush Roundup,” a Saturday-night live-audience show which began in December 1938 and was broadcast weekly for nearly ten years.

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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