This Week in West Virginia History: December 8-14

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

Dec. 8, 1911: “Wally” Barron was born. Barron, West Virginia’s 26th governor, achieved a remarkable record of legislative success during his term, but his accomplishments were overshadowed by the fact that he was the first governor in state history to be indicted or convicted of a major crime. 

Dec. 9, 1829: West Virginia’s fourth governor, John Jeremiah Jacob, was born in Hampshire County. He was the first governor born within the area that became West Virginia and the first Democratic governor of the state.

Dec. 9, 1932: Songwriter, musician, playwright, humorist, and poet Billy Edd Wheeler was born in Whitesville.

Dec. 10, 1841: Logan County preacher “Uncle Dyke” Garrett was born on Big Creek. His greatest fame was for converting and baptizing Devil Anse Hatfield in Main Island Creek in 1911.

Dec. 10, 1949: The first class of 20 cadets graduated from the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute. The State Police purchased property for the academy on a hilltop overlooking Institute from Kanawha County for about $3,200. Construction began in 1948, and the building was completed the next year.

Dec. 11, 1905: ‘Pare’’ Lorentz, known as “FDR’s filmmaker,” was born in Clarksburg. In 1933, Lorentz created The Roosevelt Year: 1933, a pictorial review of FDR’s first year in the White House.

Dec. 12, 1953: Chuck Yeager set a speed record by flying two-and-a-half times the speed of sound in a Bell X-1A.  Yeager, who grew up in Hamlin, had broken the sound barrier six years earlier on Oct. 14, 1947.  

Dec. 12, 1942: Internationally known jazz pianist and recording artist Bob Thompson was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York. He studied music at West Virginia State College (now University) and is the house pianist on the Mountain Stage radio program.

Dec. 13, 1861: The Battle of Allegheny Mountain, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War’s first year, took place in Pocahontas County. 

Dec. 13, 1926: Wheeling radio station WWVA-AM began broadcasting. The 50-watt station operated from the basement of John Stroebel’s house for most of its first year. Stroebel was a physics teacher and wireless pioneer. 

Dec. 14, 1910: The accidental death of a Chesapeake & Ohio engineer near St. Albans led to the popular train song, “Billy Richardson’s Last Ride.”

Dec. 14, 1857: Coal operator Justus Collins was born. He owned coal mines at Glen Jean and Whipple, and the octagonal Whipple company store survives today as a local landmark.

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 


More In Community