This Week in West Virginia History: November 23-29


Charleston WV – 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.

Nov. 23, 1962: Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph Swint died. He was a great builder of religious institutions in the Diocese of Wheeling. 

Nov. 24, 2015: For her accomplishments in the field of mathematics and science, Katherine Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama. Johnson worked for NASA calculating trajectories for manned space flights.

Nov. 25, 1896: Athlete Clinton Cyrus Thomas was born in Greenup, Kentucky. Thomas was a star in the Negro Leagues, during the days of racial segregation in major league baseball. Thomas settled in Charleston after his playing days and made a long career in West Virginia state government.

Nov. 26, 1952:  A fire on the evening before Thanksgiving at the Huntington State Hospital killed 14 patients, with three more patients later dying from their injuries. Huntington State Hospital is known today as the Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital.

Nov. 26, 1861: The Constitutional Convention of 1861–63 was convened in Wheeling. The convention provided the foundation for state government in preparation for statehood. 

Nov. 27, 1848: African-American educator William H. Davis was born. As a teacher for Black children in Malden, his most famous student was Booker T. Washington. In 1888, Davis was nominated as an independent candidate for the gubernatorial election – to date, the only Black so honored in West Virginia history.

Nov. 28, 1864: In a local skirmish north of Moorefield, Rosser’s Confederate cavalry and McNeill’s Rangers rebuffed a raid by Union Col. R. E. Fleming and spared the South Branch Valley from destruction. The battlefields are part of the Middle South Branch Valley rural historic district. 

Nov. 29, 1921: The actress Dagmar was born Virginia Ruth Egnor in Lincoln County. Her acting career took off in 1950 when she was hired to be on NBC’s “Broadway Open House,” the network’s first late-night television show.

Nov. 29, 2001: Writer John Knowles died in Florida. Knowles, born in Fairmont, attained literary fame in 1959 with his first novel, A Separate Peace.

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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