This Week in West Virginia History: June 29-July 5


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 29, 1845: George Wesley Atkinson was born in Charleston. In 1896, Atkinson was elected governor in an upset victory over Cornelius C. Watts of Charleston which ended 26 years of Democratic rule.

June 29, 1952: Writer Breece D’J Pancake was born in South Charleston and grew up in Milton, Cabell County. Many of Pancake’s stories are set in Milton, fictionalized as ‘‘Rock Camp.’’ 

June 29, 2012: A violent storm called a derecho raced across West Virginia, leaving downed trees and damaged homes in its wake. About 688,000 homes and businesses lost power for a week during a widespread heat wave.

June 30, 1929: The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra gave its first concert at Oglebay Park.

June 30, 1944: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park was authorized as a national monument, the first in West Virginia.

July 1, 1937: Watoga State Park was opened to the public. The park in Pocahontas County is the largest of the state parks and among the oldest. 

July 1, 1971: Southern West Virginia Community College was formed by joining the Marshall University branch campuses at Logan and Williamson. In 1995, the name changed to Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.

July 2, 1829: Potter and businessman Alexander Polk Donaghho was born. He began a pottery operation in Parkersburg, creating hand-thrown, salt-glazed crocks, jars and other pottery that are avidly collected today.

July 3, 1863: At Gettysburg, Union troopers in the 1st West Virginia Cavalry took part in a fruitless cavalry charge against Confederate infantrymen during the waning moments of that great battle. 

July 4, 1882: The steamboats Scioto and John Lomas collided on the Ohio River as they were returning from holiday excursions. The Scioto sank almost instantly, and 70 people drowned.

July 4, 1918: Poet Muriel Miller Dressler was born in Kanawha County. Her poem ‘‘Appalachia,’’ published in 1970, was her signature piece.

July 4, 1938: Musician Bill Withers Jr. was born into a miner’s family of 13 children in Slab Fork, Raleigh County. In 1971, Withers released his first album, Just As I Am, including his first Grammy-winning song, “Ain’t No Sunshine.” In 2015 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

July 5, 1896: Cartoonist Kendall Vintroux was born at Fraziers Bottom. He began his career with the Charleston Gazette when he submitted a cartoon about the town of Poca’s first paved road. Many of his drawings are now in the collection of the University of Charleston.

July 5, 1950: Army Private Kenneth Shadrick of Wyoming County was the first U.S. serviceman killed in action in the Korean War.

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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