This Week in West Virginia History: December 23-29


Charleston WV (December 2020) – 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. 23, 1987: Lynette ‘‘Squeaky’’ Fromme escaped from the Federal Prison Camp in Alderson. Fromme, who was serving a life sentence for trying to kill President Gerald Ford, was captured two days later near the prison.

Dec. 24, 1852: The last spike was driven on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad between Baltimore and the Ohio River. The event occurred at Rosbys Rock near Moundsville. To mark the spot where the final spike was driven the following words were carved upon the rock: Rosbbys [sic] Rock Track Closed Christmas Eve 1852.

Dec. 24, 1942: The Committee on Fair Employment Practices ordered that Jehovah’s Witnesses be reinstated to their jobs at Pittsburgh Plate Glass in Clarksburg. The workers had been fired for refusing to participate in union-sponsored flag-salute ceremonies at the plant.

Dec. 25, 2002: Jack Whittaker, a Putnam County contractor, won the $314.9 million Powerball jackpot. At the time, it was the largest single lottery jackpot in history.

Dec. 26, 1917: Instrument maker Harold M. Hayslett was born in Putnam County. Hayslett’s violins, violas and cellos have received awards for tone and workmanship, and are cherished by collectors and players alike.

Dec. 27, 1797: The county seat of Ohio County was moved from West Liberty to Wheeling.

Dec. 28, 1879: Brigadier General Billy Mitchell was born in France. As chief of the Army Air Force, Mitchell ordered aircraft of the 88th Squadron to perform reconnaissance during the 1921 Miners’ March on Logan.

Dec. 28, 1978: The last trains ran on the Greenbrier Division, a branch line of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. Unlike most C&O branches in West Virginia, the Greenbrier Division was not a coal-hauling line but served the valley’s timber industry.

Dec. 29, 1861: Confederate soldiers burned most of downtown Sutton. The town slowly rebuilt but remained small until the local timber industry boomed in the 1890 to 1920 period.

Dec. 29, 1970: John Denver and two friends completed the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Denver performed ‘‘Country Roads’’ in West Virginia on several occasions, notably for the opening of the new Mountaineer Stadium in Morgantown in 1980.

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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