This Week in West Virginia History: May 4-10


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.

May 4, 1896: The Children’s Home Society was formed by a group of Charleston ministers at the YMCA. Their goal was to place orphaned and neglected children with caring families rather than crowd them into county poorhouses.

May 5, 1923: A fire started by welders working on a new swimming pool destroyed most of Luna Park, an amusement park in Charleston. Although Luna’s owners announced that they would rebuild, the park never reopened. 

May 5, 1923: Golfer Bill Campbell was born in Huntington. He won more than 30 championships over a seven-decade career and is considered one of the best amateur players in history. 

May 6, 1812: Activist and physician Martin Robison Delany was born in Charles Town.  In February 1865, he was commissioned as a major in the U.S. Colored Troops. He was the only African-American Civil War officer to be given a field command.

May 6, 1968: A continuous miner machine at the Gauley Coal & Coke Saxsewell No. 8 mine cut into an adjacent mine, which was filled with water. The resulting flood drowned four miners and trapped 21 others. 

May 7, 1857: William Alexander MacCorkle was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, on his father’s plantation. He served as West Virginia’s ninth governor.

May 7, 1928: The Keith-Albee Theater opened in Huntington. The opening program featured a comedy called ‘‘Good Morning, Judge,’’ a newsreel, and five stage acts. But the theater itself, with its elaborate interior, clearly was the star of the evening.

May 7, 1983: The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve began operations when the first visitor center opened near Fayetteville. 

May 8, 1864: Clarence Wayland Watson was born in Fairmont. Watson was a prominent coal baron and served in the U.S. Senate from 1911 to 1913.

May 8, 1998: Senator Jennings Randolph died at the age of 96. He was first elected to Congress in 1932 and served for 40 years.

May 9, 1843: Confederate spy ‘‘Belle’’ Boyd was born in Martinsburg. On July 4, 1861, Belle shot a Yankee soldier and started her spy career. 

May 9, 1863: Confederate raiders arrived at Burning Springs, Wirt County. There they set fire to 150,000 barrels of oil, oil tanks, engines for pumping, engine houses, wagons, and oil-laden boats. 

May 10, 1908: The first official observance of Mother’s Day was held at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton and simultaneously in Philadelphia. The holiday resulted from a vigorous campaign by Anna Jarvis who wanted to commemorate the spirit of her mother’s work as a social activist.

May 10, 1960: John F. Kennedy defeated Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia primary. It dispelled the widely held belief that being a Roman Catholic was a crippling handicap for a presidential candidate.

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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