This Week in West Virginia History: March 2-8


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.

March 2, 1840: The Virginia General Assembly granted a charter for Bethany College. From the beginning, it has been a four-year, baccalaureate-degree college, the oldest such institution in West Virginia.

March 2, 1915: A blast swept through Layland No. 3 Mine in Fayette County, killing 114 men. 

March 2, 1961: Governor Wally Barron signed legislation that granted Marshall College university status.

March 3, 1890: Teacher and civic activist Memphis Tennessee Garrison was born in Virginia. She helped develop NAACP chapters in southern West Virginia and created the Christmas Seal Project.

March 4, 1849: Earl Williams Oglebay was born in Bridgeport, Ohio. He became one of West Virginia’s most successful industrialists and a generous benefactor. 

March 4, 1924: Blues musician Nathaniel H. “Nat” Reese was born in Salem, Virginia. Growing up in Princeton, Reese learned and played blues, jazz, country and dance music throughout the southern coalfields.

March 5, 1963: Country musician Hawkshaw Hawkins was killed in a plane crash, along with Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, and Randy Hughes. Hawkins was born in Huntington.

March 6, 1828: Johnson Newlon Camden was born in Lewis County. He opened one of the first oil wells in West Virginia in January 1861. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1881.

March 6, 1900: Forty-six men were killed in a mine explosion at the Red Ash Mine in Fayette County. It was the state’s first major mine explosion of the 20th century. Five years later, another 24 men were killed in a disaster at the same mine. 

March 7, 1929: The Legislature adopted the official state flag. The state’s coat of arms is emblazoned in color in the center of the flag. Above the seal is a red ribbon lettered ‘‘State of West Virginia,’’ and a wreath of rhododendron surrounds the lower part of the seal. The white field of the flag is bordered on four sides by a strip of blue.

March 7, 1990: West Virginia teachers went on strike after negotiations with the governor’s office and legislature failed to produce agreement on a pay package. Teachers in 47 of the 55 counties were involved in the 11-day strike.

March 8, 1926: An explosion killed 19 miners at Eccles in Raleigh County. Ten men were saved by barricading themselves in the mine.

March 8, 1963: The state colors of blue and ‘‘old gold’’ were adopted by the Legislature. 

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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