This Week in West Virginia History: June 1-7


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.

June 1, 1880: The bare-knuckle prize fight for the championship of the world was held in the Brooke County town of Colliers, between defending champion Joe Goss and challenger Paddy Ryan. Boxing was illegal in every state, and matches were often held in railroad villages to avoid big city police.

June 1, 1935: Musician Hazel Dickens was born in Mercer County, the eighth of 11 children. She was a pioneering old-time and bluegrass musician, known for preserving the traditional vocal styles of West Virginia. 

June 2, 1951: Cornelius Charlton died of the wounds he received in battle during the Korean War.  Charlton, a Raleigh County native, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

June 3, 1856: Harriet B. Jones was born in Pennsylvania. After attending Wheeling Female College and graduating from the Women’s Medical College of Baltimore, she opened a private practice in Wheeling, becoming the first woman licensed to practice medicine in West Virginia.

June 3, 1936: The first Strawberry Festival was held in Buckhannon. More than 6,000 spectators attended the festivities, which also included a parade of 30 princesses down Main Street.

June 4, 1975: Clark Kessinger died in St. Albans, Kanawha County. Kessinger was among the most prolific and influential fiddlers of the 20th century, and one of West Virginia’s most important traditional musicians.

June 5, 1859: A great frost killed crops in the Preston County fields. The fields were replanted with hardy buckwheat, which was successful and became a staple crop, celebrated in the annual Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood.

June 6, 1919: Historian Otis Rice was born in Hugheston, Kanawha County. Rice was named West Virginia’s first Historian Laureate in 2003.

June 6, 1989: During the Pittston strike, about  60 miners embarked on a four-day march from Logan County to Charleston, retracing the path of the 1921 Armed March on Logan. 

June 7, 1899: Congresswoman Elizabeth Kee was born in Radford, Virginia. She became West Virginia’s first female member of Congress in 1951.

June 7, 1926: An explosion at a sand mining operation in Morgan County killed six men. Their deaths were the inspiration for the ballad ‘‘The Miner’s Doom.’’

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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