This week in W.Va.’s history | Life


Charleston – The following events occurred on these dates in West Virginia history. For more information, visit e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at

September 12, 1861: The Battle of Cheat Mountain takes place near the Randolph-Pocahontas County line. General Robert E. Lee came to West Virginia to support General William W. Loring, commander of the Army of Northwest Virginia, but the battle ended in defeat for the Confederacy.

September 12, 1872: The Grand Courbe tunnel is completed. The tunnel, also known as the Big Bend Tunnel, is where John Henry defeated the Steam Auger, becoming one of the world’s great folk heroes.

September 12, 1952: a group of young people from the region is surprised after a game of football by a fireball crossing the sky. The fireball fell to earth just beyond a hill in Flatwoods. This sighting led to the legend of the Braxton County Monster.

September 12, 1974: Kanawha County schools were closed for four days due to escalating violence during the Kanawha County textbook controversy. Throughout October and November, sporadic violence continued as protesters demanded the resignation of pro-manual board members and the school principal.

September 13, 1844: Milton Humphreys was born in Greenbrier County. During the Civil War, he enlisted in Confederate service as a sergeant. During the Battle of Fayetteville, Humphreys fired his cannon at Union artillery behind an intermediate forest. This demonstration set a precedent for modern warfare through the use of indirect fire.

September 13, 1848: Lawyer ” JR ” Clifford was born in what is now Grant County. In 1887, Clifford became the first African-American admitted to practice law in the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeal. He was one of the first lawyers in the country to challenge separate schools.

September 13, 1862: Confederate and Union forces clash in Charleston. Southern artillery gained the heights of Fort Hill and crushed the Federals lining the west bank of the Elk River.

September 13, 1910: Musician Leon ” Chu ” Berry was born in Wheeling. He was one of the most famous saxophonists of the swing era.

September 14, 1898: Okey L. Patteson was born in Mingo County. Patteson, nicknamed the “Great Persuader,” made tough decisions as West Virginia’s 23rd governor from 1949 to 1953.

September 15, 1861: In the aftermath of the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, Union forces under the command of General Jacob Cox occupy the region of Spy Rock. Spy Rock is a natural landmark located on US 60, 18 miles east of Hawks Nest.

September 15, 1862: Confederate General Thomas J. ” Stonewall ” Jackson forced the surrender of a large Union garrison inside the town of Harpers Ferry. The 12,500 prisoners taken by Jackson were the largest surrender of Federal troops during the war.

September 15, 1875: Henry Hatfield was born near Matewan, in Mingo County. As a doctor in the coal camps, he helped secure funds to establish three miner’s hospitals in the southern part of the state. In 1912, he was elected the 14th governor of the state.

September 15, 1906: Songwriter Jack Rollins was born in Keyser. Rollins wrote the lyrics to ‘Here Comes Peter Cottontail’ and ‘Frosty the Snow Man’, two of America’s most popular songs.

September 16, 1876: The town of Milton in Cabell County is incorporated and named in honor of Milton Rece, a large landowner at the time.

September 16, 1926: Writer John Knowles was born in Fairmont. He achieved literary fame in 1959 with his first novel, “A Separate Peace”.

September 16, 1950: Fellow Henry Louis Gates Jr. was born in Keyser. Gates is one of the leading African-American intellectuals in the United States and has written several books, including Colored People: A Memoir, which describes his childhood in Mineral County.

September 17, 1848: Artist Lily Irene Jackson was born in Parkersburg. Jackson was best known as a painter of animal portraits and floral arrangements, and as an advocate of the arts.

September 18, 1947: Historian and journalist Minnie Kendall Lowther dies. Born in Ritchie County, she was one of the first women in West Virginia to become a newspaper editor.

September 18, 1989: Playwright Maryat Lee died in Lewisburg. She established Eco Theater in Summers County as an indigenous mountain theater, using the people of Summers County as actors.

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


About Author

Leave A Reply