Charleston WV (October 2020) – 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.
Oct. 14, 1947: In a Bell X-1 rocket airplane dropped from a B-29 bomber, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier by flying 700 miles per hour. He set another speed record on December 12, 1953, by flying two-and-a-half times the speed of sound in a Bell X-1A.
Oct. 14, 1949: WSAZ-TV went on the air on channel 5. Early shows included the first telecast of a Marshall College (now University) basketball game on December 3, 1949.
Oct. 14, 1985: Kanawha Airport was renamed Yeager Airport in honor of Chuck Yeager.
Oct. 15, 1839: Aretas Brooks Fleming was born in Fairmont. In 1888, Fleming won the Democratic nomination for governor and then won West Virginia’s most controversial gubernatorial election.
Oct. 16, 1859: John Brown and his raiders captured the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, but they were soon besieged by the local militia and federal troops. The raid galvanized the nation, further alienating North and South and drastically reducing any possible middle ground for compromise.
Oct. 16, 1922: The Rev. Leon Sullivan was born in Charleston. In 1977, Sullivan initiated the original Sullivan Principles, a code of conduct for companies operating in South Africa. The Principles were among the most effective efforts to end the system of apartheid.
Oct. 17, 1859: Heyward Shepherd, an African-American, was killed by John Brown’s raiders at Harpers Ferry. Shepherd was a porter at the local railroad station and a property owner in nearby Winchester, Virginia.
Oct. 18, 1941: William “Billy” Cox was born in Wheeling. He is one of two bassists to have played regularly with legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
Oct. 19, 1894: Historian and illustrator Julius Allan DeGruyter was born in Charleston. A self-taught painter and illustrator, DeGruyter’s art appeared in numerous exhibits and is represented in the collections of the State Museum. The artwork includes scenes of early Charleston.
Oct. 20, 1990: The current USS West Virginia was commissioned. The USS West Virginia is an Ohio Class Trident ballistic missile submarine that is 560 feet long, 42 feet wide, and displaces 18,750 tons when submerged.
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.