James S. Bailey, a
native of Gilmer County and an Air Force veteran, has devoted his retirement to preserving the
county's historic sites and promoting them for heritage tourism. Since 1994 he has spearheaded
the preservation initiative of the Gilmer County Historic Landmarks Commission. As its
president and primary public advocate, Bailey has written a number of crucial grants and
received public funding to evaluate the county's history. He also wrote the National Register
nomination for five historic sites. In 2003, Bailey was named Gilmer Countian of the Year by the
Gilmer County Economic Development Association.
Nominated by Gilmer County Historical Society
April Bennett is one of the youngest members of the Cabell County historic
preservation community. She has volunteered at the Historic Madie Carroll House, acting as a
docent as well as cleaning and decorating the house for special events. Bennett earned a Girl
Scout Silver Award for developing a tour of historic Guyandotte. She has volunteered during
Guyandotte Civil War Days and was one of the first to join in the efforts to save the Martha
Nominated by Save the Historic Martha Bridge, Inc.
Richard Blake of
Huntington has been the webmaster for the KYOWVA Genealogical Society for several years.
The technological services he provides have been instrumental in furthering the goals of the
Society. Blake is also the webmaster for the Gallia County Historical and Genealogical Society
(Ohio). His work includes the 1820 census as well as his extensive Blake family history.
Nominated by KYOWVA Genealogical Society
For years Rae Amiss Browne was the heart and soul of efforts to preserve
Sumner School and its history and traditions. Her tireless endeavors for the Sumnerite
Association over the years played a major role in its continued existence and success. Browne's
work for the Sumner School Museum, to recognize the significance of the institution and those
who attended it, was a cause to which she dedicated herself until her death on October 13,
Nominated by Wood County Historic Landmarks Commission
Carpenter, president of the Pleasants County Historical Society, is regarded as the
county's leading authority on its history. Through his leadership, the society remains an active
organization, and the society's archives continue to grow. An ongoing project is the collection of
pictures and histories of Pleasants County's one-room schools. Carpenter provides support to the
Pleasants County Public Library, as well as elementary, middle and high schools, on historical
and genealogical projects and requests. The "Walter S. Carpenter Genealogical Room" at the
library serves as a magnet for the donation of family histories, reference books and genealogical
Nominated by Pleasants County Historical Society
Church is a nationally recognized Civil War historian. In addition to serving on
various battlefield preservation boards, this Barbour County native has been an educator at
several Civil War sites and has spoken at national conferences. For more than five years, she has
portrayed Mrs. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson at events throughout the country. Since her return to
West Virginia, Church has become a key volunteer for WVU Jackson's Mill, accompanying the
History Hitting the Road outreach education program to various locations around the state. She is
currently executive director of the Lewis County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Nominated by Historic Area at WVU Jackson's Mill
Kenneth F. Craft Jr. has
spent years tracing his family roots. He has authored thirteen volumes of the Ohio County
(WV) Index through Heritage Books, and has generated a cumulative index of people and
place names in these court records. Craft is also the co-author of fifty-three booklets of the
Brooke County (WV) Index and has created an index to these publications. He has
provided substantial financial support for microfilming the Ohio County Court records from
1776 to 1930.
Nominated by Brooke County Genealogy Organization
Mary Sleeth Creamer, a member of Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants
since 1999 and its current president, has written a comprehensive Sleeth family history,
compiled and edited several publications published by HCPD, and developed a computerized
system for recording and updating cemetery records. As vice president of the organization for
five years, Creamer was responsible for the Annual Gathering. She is currently reading
cemeteries in Monongalia County which have not been read since the WPA, and is completing a
3-volume set of McWhorter Family group sheets. She has taught classes on genealogy research,
and represented HCPD at several genealogy fairs.
Nominated by Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants
was director of the Film Services Division of the West Virginia Library Commission from
September 1978 to January 1999. As director, he purchased hundreds of films about West
Virginia and Appalachia and, with the assistance of AppLit, created a Web site listing the films.
Fesenmaier introduced a series of West Virginia films at The Pioneer Theater in New York City
in 2004, and currently programs the West Virginia series at the South Charleston Museum. He
has written extensively on state films and has been the film reviewer for Graffiti
magazine for fifteen years. He co-founded the West Virginia Filmmakers Guild and the West
Virginia Filmmakers Film Festival in Sutton.
Nominated by South Charleston Museum Foundation
Sister Joanne Gonter,
V.H.M., is the historian at Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy in Wheeling. She has assisted
numerous researchers, provided material for various publications and collaborated in setting up
exhibits at the Stifel Fine Arts Center, Oglebay Institute Mansion Museum, Wheeling Jesuit
University and the Catholic Heritage Center. Sister Joanne was a member of the commission that
planned the West Virginia Catholic Heritage Center. She is the official tour guide for Mount de
Chantal and gives talks on the history of the institution to local organizations.
Nominated by Wheeling Area Historical Society
who has extensive knowledge of Brooke County history, works tirelessly to promote the
preservation of that history for future generations. As curator of the Brooke County Historical
Museum, she records archives acquisitions, and is liaison for schools, public meetings, and
government officials. She is a board member of the Historic Landmarks Commission and
president and charter member of the Brooke Pioneer Trail Association. Greathouse was
recognized as the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, and received the
Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Award, the Northern Panhandle Resource Conservation &
Development Council Award, and a WVU-Wheeling Walks plaque.
Nominated by Brooke County Historical Museum
Ray and Sandra
Harper have been members of the Ritchie County Historical Society since 1988. In
the early 1990s, they were instrumental in helping the society establish a historical exhibit at the
Cairo Oddfellows Building, now known as the Cairo Museum. Over the years the Harpers have
collected artifacts on Cairo, Grant District, and Ritchie County history which are displayed in the
museum. They open the museum on special occasions and have organized a group of local
citizens who open it by appointment.
Nominated by Ritchie County Historical Society
June Jefferson copied application records for naturalization and transferred
them to pages, resulting in the creation of eleven indexed books covering the period of 1837-
1904. Jefferson also created a book from more than two hundred memorial cards that she
collected, copied, and alphabetized. She hopes to produce another book with cards collected from
all over the United States. These books have been added to the Ohio County Public Library.
Nominated by Wheeling Area Genealogical Society
Debra Keddie has
provided invaluable supporting services in the development of the National Road Alliance of
West Virginia, and has been instrumental in disseminating the story of the National Road. A
founding member of the organization, she served as president for two years and has been integral
to its success through the development of interpretive materials, fund raising for projects and
forming successful partnerships for the purpose of informing and educating the public. She is a
board member for the six-state National Road Alliance and is chairperson of the 200th
anniversary events to be held in 2006. Keddie also wrote the successful application for Scenic
Byway status, and set up and manages the listserv for West Virginia by-ways. She served on the
board of Preservation Alliance from 2002 to 2005.
Nominated by National Road Alliance of West Virginia, Inc.
James G. Legg has been
an active member of the Fayette and Raleigh Counties Genealogical Society for many years. For
the past fifteen years he has directed the publication of its newsletter, which he developed into a
professional quarterly publication of history, family information, research aids, and genealogy
that is sent to over forty states. Legg has spent numerous hours recording cemeteries in Fayette,
Raleigh, and Greenbrier counties. His work has been used in cemetery books in all three of these
counties. Through his research and publication he has furthered the preservation of the history of
Nominated by Fayette and Raleigh Counties Genealogical Society
JoAnn Lough has spent
a great part of her life preserving and promoting the history of this state. Following her retirement
from Fairmont State College, she was instrumental in establishing the Masquers Historic
Costume Collection (1850-1950). She presents two original one-woman shows, portraying Julia
Pierpont and Mary Rose Keneade. Lough was instrumental in establishing The Pierpont Room
and The 1865 Room at the dining hall at Fairmont State. As chair of the Fairmont Historic
Landmarks Commission, she led a grassroots effort to save the county jail from demolition.
Through her efforts, the state, county, and city named May 25, 2005, Julia Pierpont Day.
Nominated by Marion County Historical Society, Inc.
Margaret Glass Martin has served as both president and vice-president of
the Summers County Historical Society while employed as a nurse and actively involved as a
minister's wife. She helped assemble the society's historical publication The History of
Summers County and contributed heavily to the collection and assimilation of materials for
a cemetery book and recent postcard pictorial book of Summers County.
Nominated by Summers County Historical Society
Linda Murdock has
spent many years compiling family history in Jackson County. Beginning in 1989, she has spent
countless hours copying birth, marriage and death records in the Jackson County Courthouse and
converting data from official records into book form. Murdock has compiled several volumes
covering 1856-1949, which are available at the Jackson County Library, and currently is working
to update information to 2000. The books provide an invaluable resource for genealogists.
Nominated by Jackson County Historical Society
Joseph D. Parriott
published a comprehensive family history, Descendants of Christopher Parriott and Martha
Clark Parriott and Their Descendants, in 1999. He also is the author of From the
Outhouse to the Poor House to the State House and Marshall County History of the Twentieth
Century and World War II Veterans of Marshall County. A long-time member of the
Marshall County Historical Society, Parriott donated the proceeds from one of his books to the
organization. He is creating an index of the Moundsville Echo and has provided countless
articles for presentation on the Internet, as well as his database of World War II veterans who are
not memorialized on the county courthouse wall. Parriott also helped save the county's history by
preserving a number of historic structures.
Nominated by Marshall County Historical Society and Marshall County Virtual Genealogy Society
Richard Pettit became
the president of the Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc., in 2003. An active member,
he gives tours, meets with vendors, and has gone out in any kind of weather, at any time of the
day or night, to check on alarms set off at the Historic Madie Carroll House. He also plays Santa
Claus for the children during the Christmas event. Pettit does all these things out of the goodness
of his heart and love for the Historic Madie Carroll House.
Nominated by Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc.
Frank and Linda Roleff
have co-chaired all the fund raising activities of the Mineral County Historical Society for the
past ten years. During that period they have raised well over $15,000 for historical projects,
edited the book, A Pictorial History of Mineral County, WV , and overseen the
renovation of the Claysville Church. In 1997 Frank was elected president of the society and
served in that capacity for eight years. During his tenure, membership more than doubled and
attendance at meetings increased from about six to an average of thirty-five people per meeting.
The Roleffs have also been involved in other projects, including the Carskadon Mansion, Nancy
Hanks birthplace, and The Stone House.
Nominated by Mineral County Historical Society
Rutherford, a genealogist for twenty years, was a charter member of the Wayne
County Genealogical and Historical Society. He has served as president and vice-president and is
currently a board member of the organization. Rutherford has contributed to and is instrumental
in the sale of society publications, has contributed to the quarterly newsletter, and actively seeks
donations for the society research library and commemorative highway historical markers for
Wayne County Revolutionary War soldiers. He has conducted workshops and presented
genealogy information at Wayne County schools and community events.
Nominated by Wayne County Genealogical and Historical Society
William Sanders is a
well-known historian of the Bluestone/New River Valleys. He is a noted historical speaker, and
has written thirteen historical books on the region, including History of Homes and Families,
Princeton-Athens Area, West Virginia . Mr. Sanders has devoted many hours on the
Shawnee Parkway project to get a historical highway through southern West Virginia. He also is
a member of the Clay Foundation, which is committed to preserving the Clay settlement and
cemetery in Mercer County.
Nominated by Mercer County Historical Society
Ray and Judy
Schmitt, founders of Real Earth Productions, have produced over thirty video
productions, many of which document the "old ways" of West Virginians. The Schmitts have
also recorded bluegrass and traditional music indigenous to the region including an album,
Songs of West Virginia . Both have served terms as president of the Lost River Craft
Cooperative and Lost River Museum, where they were involved in activities celebrating and
documenting local and West Virginia heritage. They are also members of the Hardy County
Historical Society. Ray has been a board member since 2000, and Judy has served on the board
of the Heritage Weekend Committee. The Schmitts are also active in the Lost River Educational
Foundation. In 2004, Ray Schmitt was named West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year.
Nominated by Hardy County Historical Society
Walter B. "Bud"
Shaver is a life and charter member of the Rowlesburg Area Historical Society.
His perseverance secured the donation of land encompassing the Civil War site Cannon Hill.
Through his efforts, the site has been restored, made accessible, and become a tourist attraction.
He is an exquisite figurine wood carver, donating many carvings for fund raisers and displays
within the society's museum. Shaver's abilities have been utilized in the restoration of historical
buildings, in genealogy, and in preserving history.
Nominated by Rowlesburg Area Historical Society
Gerald R. Sites, who is
currently vice-president of the Grant County Historical Society, has volunteered his time and
services to preservation projects in Grant and Pendleton counties for the last forty years. In 1965,
as a member of the South Branch Ruritan Club, he served as treasurer of the Log Church Fund
and chairman of the Log Church Project to raise funds to restore the St. George's Historic Shrine.
In 1973 Sites spearheaded fund raising efforts to restore the Old Judy Church, which was placed
on the National Register, and he has been chairman of the Alt and Kimble Reunion almost
continuously since 1970. In 2000, he became fund raising chairman for the two-room
schoolhouse at Scherr.
Nominated by Grant County Historical Society, Inc.
Adith Spencer, a
founding member of the Wirt County Historical Society, has served as vice president and is
currently the treasurer of the organization. She also assists in preparation of the society's
newsletter. She served as a West Virginia GenWeb volunteer, has cleaned up and recorded
cemeteries, compiled early birth and death records, and was instrumental in planning the first
Wirt County genealogical fair. Spencer willingly shares her knowledge with other people and
assists them with their genealogy research. She has been active in the planning for Pioneer Days
and participated in Heritage Day with Primary Center Children. Spencer is a member of the
Daughters of American Pioneers, the Little Kanawha Scenic Byways Committee, and has been
supportive in the Burning Springs oil well restoration.
Nominated by Wirt County Historical Society
Bettie Steele has been
a member of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation for more than fifteen years and
has worked on several interpretive and fund raising programs for the WVIH museum. In 2003
she researched, wrote scripts, and directed "Voices of the Civil War," a major interpretive
program held in the museum's historic courtroom. She is also a guiding force behind the
foundation's efforts to raise funds for an exhibit of original West Virginia Civil War battle flags
planned for the museum.
Nominated by West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation
Virgil and Ruby Bland Swadley have been members of Pendleton County
Historical Society for years. Ruby has served as secretary and been the Union District
representative for the past seventeen years. Virgil has worked with other former students to
restore the old Propstburg School at Brandywine. Ruby is devoted to preserving her family
genealogy and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, while Virgil is a
member of the Sons of the American Revolution. The Swadleys are owners of Bland Hills Farm,
which was designated as a Bicentennial Farm in 1988.
Nominated by Pendleton County Historical Society
Frances Hill Webb has
been a significant force in support of the Tyler County Museum since its opening ten years ago.
Webb and her committee established a room in the museum and are identifying, labeling and
placing pictures in a large display. Webb keeps the second-floor room clean and ready for
viewing by the public and is also involved in yearly projects of the Tyler County Museum.
Webb's committee has prepared a pictorial section for the second volume of the Tyler County
Nominated by Tyler County Museum
Pat Phillips Wendell,
a founding member of the Fayette County Historic Landmark Commission, has served as
treasurer and vice president, and been a board member for the past 21 years. She worked on the
restoration of the Fayette County Courthouse and served on the Centennial Commission, which
planned activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the present building. Wendell also
helped raise funds to erect a life-size bronze statue of the Marquis de Lafayette on the courthouse
grounds. She designed a map for the historic walking tour of Fayetteville, was a member of the
Fayetteville Historic Landmark Commission for several years, and helped prepare a National
Register nomination for the Fayetteville Historic District. Wendell also participated in several
successful grant projects for surveying historic sites throughout Fayette County.
Nominated by Fayette County Historic Landmark Commission
Robert C. Whetsell
is an archaeologist and historian devoted to the interpretation of the history and heritage of
north-central West Virginia. He is the author of Elkins, West Virginia: The Metropolis
Revisited , and has developed a number of interpretive exhibits on railroad and forest history
in Randolph County. Whetsell also co-produced the interpretive film The Cliff-Scaling
Soldiers of West Virginia , which explores World War II training at Seneca Rocks. He is an
active member of the Randolph County Historical Society, C-HOPE, Rich Mountain Battlefield
Foundation, the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Association, and a past president of the Elkins
Historic Landmarks Commission.
Nominated by Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission
Margaret Williams of St. Albans has been an active member of the St.
Albans Historical Society for more than fifteen years. She served on a committee that gathered
articles and photos for the book History of St. Albans and also provided a number of
articles for that publication. She always volunteers to work the Morgan Kitchen Summer Open
House and its fall festival. Williams also works at open houses at the St. Albans Historical
Society building and volunteers for other events.
Nominated by St. Albans Historical Society
As a Jenkins family descendant, Victor Jenkins Wilson is
dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the Jenkins Plantation at Greenbottom. He was
a founding member of the Greenbottom Society, Inc., and has donated his time, money, and
family artifacts and furnishings to the historic site. He is also an active member of the Historic
Madie Carroll House Preservation Society and Save the Historic Martha Bridge, Inc.
Nominated by Greenbottom Society, Inc.
For more information about the History Hero Awards, contact Joe Geiger.
West Virginia's History Heroes