This Week in West Virginia History: September 28 through October 4

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

Sept. 28, 1955: Labor activist Sarah ‘‘Mother’’ Blizzard died at the age of 90. Blizzard was deeply involved in the United Mine Workers of America, from the organization’s early beginnings in the late 19th century.

Sept. 29, 1861: The Kanawha Valley experienced severe flooding. The Kanawha River reached 46.87 feet in Charleston, more than 16 feet above flood stage.

Sept. 29, 1927: Artist June Kilgore was born in Huntington. She was an abstract expressionist painter who spent 30 years as an art professor at Marshall University. 

Sept. 30, 2010: Facing an economic downturn and foreign competition, Wheeling-La Belle Nail Company closed. The company was founded in 1852 as LaBelle Ironworks. By 1875, the city was known as the Nail City, and La Belle was Wheeling’s leading nail producer.

Oct. 1, 1896: Rural Free Delivery began in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. Before this, there was no rural mail delivery, although more than half the country’s citizens lived in rural areas. 

Oct. 2, 1923: Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams was born in Fairmont. During World War II, Williams neutralized seven concrete pillboxes at the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Oct. 2, 1949: The first class began training at the State Police Academy in Institute. The 20 cadets graduated on Dec. 20, 1949.

Oct. 3, 1935: A patient at Weston State Hospital started a fire in the main building that destroyed six men’s wards and caused a cupola to fall through the roof. The building was repaired, and the hospital remained in service for nearly 60 more years.

Oct. 4, 1934: Sam Huff was born near Morgantown. Huff was part of a fearsome defense that led West Virginia University to a 38-7 record between 1952 and 1955, including three consecutive wins over rival Penn State.

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 


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