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Meet
West Virginia's
History Heroes
For 2009

What is a History Hero?


Shirley Fox Allen is a valuable contributor to the Marshall County Virtual Genealogy Society. She has assisted with the updates of gravestone readings in Cameron area cemeteries and has taken more than one hundred photos of Marshall County veterans’ graves, in particular those of Civil War soldiers. Currently, she is working on locating, transcribing, and preserving gravestones that are badly deteriorated, especially those in small cemeteries in remote areas. She also has provided funeral home records, veterans’ obituaries, and many biographies of West Virginia Civil War soldiers to the society’s Web site. Shirley acts as a liaison and tour guide for visitors doing historical and genealogical research in the Cameron area.
Nominated by Marshall County Virtual Genealogy Society

Jonathan Beckett has worked throughout the year to help make the Barboursville Civil War Days a successful event. He has attended all meetings and helped in planning and putting together the event. He also loans his Civil War items to local libraries to be put on display, visits elementary schools to teach students the importance of keeping Civil War history alive, and participates in Heritage Day. Beckett belongs to a Confederate re-enactor unit and helps present Civil War history at other re-enactments throughout the year.
Nominated by Barboursville Civil War Days

Browning Boggs is continually preserving history for Pendleton County and West Virginia and is the current vice president and membership chairman of the Pendleton County Historical Society. He contributes to the society’s quarterly newsletter and is helping raise funds for repairs to the house in which the society plans to open a museum. When there was a question about the ownership of a portion of the Cedar Hill Cemetery, he researched the property and got the title cleared. Browning also has copied 270 pages of historic newspaper clippings, which will be put on computer, and helped produce a history of the Boggs family.
Nominated by Pendleton County Historical Society

John Bowman is a longtime, active member of the Wheeling Area Historical Society and in 2008 published a definitive study of Wheeling—The Birthplace of the American Steamboat. A local expert on Ohio River and local steamboat history, he has presented talks on this subject at various local venues. John also has constructed fifteen models of local steamboats and recently donated five of them for display at the West Virginia River Museum at Point Pleasant. In addition, he has indexed the run of the Upper Ohio Valley Historical Review and is currently working on a pictorial book of Ohio Valley steamboats.
Nominated by Wheeling Area Historical Society

Gloria Palmer Brinkmeier has held several offices with the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society (WAGS) and currently is treasurer and a member of the book committee. She designs and prints the yearly program book and volunteers in the Wheeling Room of the Ohio County Public Library. She developed a tracking system for books and CDs, developed and chaired a new family history contest for eighth graders in Ohio County schools, and was co-author of a book on Mt. Calvary Cemetery. In addition to WAGS, Gloria is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, in which organization she served as chapter secretary for three years and presently is chapter historian.
Nominated by Wheeling Area Genealogical Society

Dedicated to the preservation of history, Debra Corra has devoted many hours to a variety of historical organizations. She was a founding member of the Wirt County Historical Society and currently serves as vice president. She has spent countless hours in volunteer work for the society and has helped plan local events, such as the genealogy fair, of which she was co-chair. She has been a diligent supporter of the Wirt County Pioneer Days and served as the secretary of that committee. Corra also is a member and secretary of the Elizabeth Beauchamp Chapter, Daughters of the American Pioneers, and is a loyal supporter of their museum.
Nominated by Wirt County Historical Society

Bill Dean has been president of the St. Albans Historical Society for more than four years. He has directed the society’s publication of seven books and helped with the annual homes tours and open houses. He performed research, took photographs, and conducted interviews for the society’s production of the “History of St. Albans” video. He also is the author of Coal, Steamboats, Timber & Trains: Industrial History of St. Albans, WV, and the Coal River Valley, 1850-1925, published in 2008, and appeared in the 1987 film Matewan. Dean is currently a history professor at WVU Institute of Technology.
Nominated by St. Albans Historical Society

Edward A. Dodson has been involved in Camp No. 1694, Sons of Confederate Veterans, for many years. He was camp commander 2004-2006 and has been camp historian since 2006. For the past decade, he has been trying to locate all the Confederate soldier graves in Mercer and surrounding counties. Ed has logged hundreds of photos of grave markers of Mercer County’s Confederate soldiers and has posted them on the Internet for everyone to see. His efforts will help in compiling a new book on the Confederate soldiers in Mercer County.
Nominated by Sons of Confederate Veterans, West Virginia Division

Since 2005, Rebecca Ferrebee has been secretary of the Tyler County Heritage and Historical Society, and, in 2007, she became treasurer as well. She long has been a valuable worker for the museum, running off tapes and videos for sale and establishing a Web site, which she updates. She also headed up the centennial celebration of the former high school building that houses the museum. Rebecca provides articles and does pictures for the newsletter, and she prints it, too. She also volunteers as a computer specialist in the Genealogy Room. In addition, she has been chairman of the Christmas tree sale and helped with other moneymaking activities.
Nominated by Tyler County Heritage and Historical Society

A hero of the computer age, Robert Gilkeson has used his computer skills and knowledge to spread information about the history of the area throughout his membership in the Fayette and Raleigh Counties Genealogical Society. He has been co-editor or editor of the newsletter since 1994 and has digitized fifteen years of newsletters. Robert has worked on cemetery readings for books, served as archivist for Raleigh County, and spearheaded the project that transferred the Smith-Riffe Collection to DVD, making thousands of pages in that collection accessible to many more researchers. He also has organized and presented workshops and taught an adult education class on genealogy.
Nominated by Fayette and Raleigh Counties Genealogical Society

Rebecca Glass is involved in all of the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation, Inc., activities dedicated to preserving African American history and heritage as well as to promoting education. As a member of the Board of Directors for more than ten years, she has participated in the Woodson Black History Contest, annual banquets, fundraising, and grant writing; and she now co-chairs the historic Memphis Tennessee Garrison Site restoration. Without her efforts to save the Garrison site, the foundation would not own it today and be restoring it so that future generations can hear its story and other stories of Huntington African Americans.
Nominated by The Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation, Inc.

James J. Goode is a charter member of the Wayne County Genealogical and Historical Society and has been a faithful member and contributor to the society during that thirteen-year period. He has served as vice president, president, and trustee, and also has volunteered at the society library. As a member of the society’s nominating committee for ten years, he has helped to maintain efficiency in the election of officers. Goode also has worked diligently on the program to erect roadside markers for Revolutionary War soldiers. Using his many years of business experience and calm demeanor, he brings an aura of stability to the organization.
Nominated by Wayne County Genealogical and Historical Society

Nettie Robinson Gregory has been a member of the Hacker’s Creek Pioneer Descendants since 1997. She has served as board member, treasurer, secretary, and library volunteer. Her most significant contribution has been the thousands of hours she has spent in transcribing the 1920 census for Lewis and Webster counties, seven volumes of birth records for Webster and Braxton counties, and, most recently, Lewis County death records. She also published a Gregory family history, The Colonel’s Legacy—Isaac Gregory’s Descendants, in 2006 and currently is writing a Robinson family history. A retired teacher, Nettie has been teaching classes on genealogy research and the use of genealogy software.
Nominated by Hacker’s Creek Pioneer Descendants

John Edgar Haddox was the principal force in the establishment and organization of a sustained Civil War re-enactors group in St. Marys. He serves as commander of the group, which portrays Co. F, 14th West Virginia Infantry (Union), and Kanawha Artillery, Battery D (Confederate). The group provides living history portrayals for schools, community events, and dedications in a multi-state area, including such events as dedication of Fort Boreman Hill Historic Park in Parkersburg and dedication of headstones for Civil War soldiers. The group also has restored and preserved a solid bronze cannon in St. Marys that was used during the Mexican and Civil War.
Nominated by Pleasants County Historical Society

Marilee Hall, who lives in one of the original Arthurdale homes, has volunteered her time to Arthurdale Heritage, Inc., for many years. She has served as a member of the Board of Directors, secretary, second vice president, and president, as well as a member of several committees. She compiles the newsletter, helps plan the annual New Deal Festival, presents living history at society events and other gatherings such as the Preston County Buckwheat Festival, and has been interviewed by various media about Arthurdale’s history. She was instrumental in acquiring the original Arthurdale schools for the society and spearheaded fundraising for and assembled the 75th Anniversary Arthurdale Calendar for 2009.
Nominated by Arthurdale Heritage, Inc.

A board member of the West Virginia Labor History Association since 2004, Wess Harris actively works to preserve the state’s labor history. He was responsible for publication of When Miners March, by William C. Blizzard, in 2005 and served with Blizzard as a consultant for the History Channel documentary “Hillbilly—The Real Story.” He has been active in efforts to preserve Blair Mountain, has given tours of West Virginia labor sites, and recently located the grave of Francis (Cesco) Estep, which he cleaned and marked. He also worked to present an exhibit of the “lost paintings” of Connie West in 2006.
Nominated by West Virginia Labor History Association

Carlton A. Hilliard grew up in rural Hardy County, where he attended black schools and participated in black organizations that no longer exist; and, as an adult, he has been determined to preserve this history. He has set up history displays in business windows in Moorefield and given talks about the African American history of Hardy County. As a member of the Moorefield Town Council, he has had a major voice in the purchase of and preservation plans for the Higgins House. He also is generating interest in preservation of Town Run School, a former African American school.
Nominated by Hardy County Historical Society, Inc.

Rejeana Lynn Jackson is an invaluable part of the Veterans Museum of Mid-Ohio Valley. As projects and events coordinator, she has worked on a variety of fundraising activities and projects for the past five years, including the Stepping Stones of Honor memorial at Parkersburg City Park that honors veterans. When the museum needed refurbishing and upgrades, she rolled up her sleeves and spent long hours helping hang drywall, paint, and tear out walls. She spends many hours researching donations to the museum and writing text for their exhibition, and she is a contributing editor to “Our Local Heroes,” a publication that will look at local veterans.
Nominated by Veterans Museum of Mid-Ohio Valley

President of the Greenbottom Society since 1998, B. Ned Jones has been involved with the society and its efforts to restore the Historic Jenkins Plantation since 1989, when he was a West Virginia senator. Using his extensive experience in politics and government, he has worked diligently with three state and federal government agencies, as well as with Congressman Nick Rahall’s office, to move the restoration project forward. The Historic Jenkins house is now being restored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and will, thanks to Ned Jones, be a major historic tourist attraction and heritage education center.
Nominated by Greenbottom Society, Inc.

Anthony L. Kinzer has promoted public recognition and understanding of the record of African Americans in local, state, and national history for nearly a decade. In 2000, he founded the West Virginia Center for African American Art and Culture, which secured funds for the ongoing rehabilitation of the Harden-Gilmore Funeral Home in Charleston, cooperated in bringing several black-history exhibits to the area, and conducts the annual “Valley Heritage Tour” that features black-history sites from Malden to downtown Charleston. Through his efforts, a slave burial ground adjacent to Virginia’s Chapel in Cedar Grove was cleared and an access walkway and nearby roadside park are being constructed. Kinzer currently is researching the 1956-59 civil rights movement in Charleston.
Nominated by Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society, Inc.

Thomas F. Lambert is a former museum coordinator and member of the Board of Directors of the C. P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, Inc. Over the last five years, he has worked tirelessly to obtain background information, recognition, and status for three historic steam locomotives (No. 1308, No. 2755, and No. 10) located in Huntington and at Chief Logan State Park. As a result, all three have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places and highway historic markers have been erected. Lambert also has actively pursued grants for historic preservation and tourism.
Nominated by C. P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, Inc.

Kay Mason, Irene Oliveto, and Florence Schaffer have worked as a team for the past two years to advance the work of the genealogy and museum committees, chaired by Irene, of the Marshall County Historical Society. In addition to responding to queries and documenting the massive collection of items in the museum, the team has computerized the information, staffed the museum, participated in society events such as West Virginia Days at Pleasant Valley School and Marshall County Days at the museum’s Open House, presented the program “Documenting Your Family History” at workshops, created posters, and provided information on family research. Papers in the genealogy room are being inventoried by the team.
Nominated by Marshall County Historical Society

Easter Miller is a member of the Board of Directors of the Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc., and chair of the Carroll House Easter Event. She also acts as docent, dresses in period attire and presents living history for the Historic Carroll House’s annual events, and assists the curator with cleaning and decorating the house for special events. In addition, she is a founder and secretary of Barboursville Civil War Days, a member of the Greenbottom Society, Patriotic Chair for the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and a member of Guyandotte Civil War Days.
Nominated by The Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc.

Greg Miller is committed to preserving the Civil War history of Guyandotte. He has served as the co-ordinator for Federal re-enactment troops for Guyandotte Civil War Days and has worked hard on their educational day for Cabell County elementary students. Miller also has contributed long hours to the Madie Carroll house and is a board member of the Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc.
Nominated by Guyandotte Civil War Days

A religious archivist in the Kanawha Valley, Janet Morris became aware of a lack of knowledge and communication among area congregations seeking resources to preserve their history, and she was the mover and shaker who brought together church historians to share ideas. Her leadership culminated in the Greater Kanawha Valley Conference for Religious Archivists in 2007 and creation of the Religious Archivists of the Greater Kanawha Valley in 2008. Janet continues to be a prime resource for a network of religious archivists sharing information, learning opportunities, and cooperative efforts regarding the preservation of church history. Recently, she was appointed archivist for the Diocese of West Virginia of the National Episcopal Church.
Nominated by Religious Archivists of the Greater Kanawha Valley

E. Spinner O’Flaherty worked to establish Citizens for Historical Opportunity, Preservation and Education (C-HOPE) in 2002 and has been its president since that time. He has spearheaded the group’s efforts to purchase and preserve the Darden Mill in Elkins, serving as project manager for the restoration and adaptive reuse of the mill and performing work ranging from clean-up to construction to fundraising. Without his dedication to this project, the Darden Mill likely would have been lost to demolition. He also has directed the organization in looking for other projects, including the preservation of the 1st Ward School in Elkins.
Nominated by Citizens for Historical Opportunity, Preservation and Education

Charles Piercy has been an active member of the West Virginia State CCC Museum Association since 2003. As board member and current vice president, he has been involved with planning and conducting open houses, reunions, and school group visits every year for the past four years, and has organized and presented displays at state and national history festivals. He actively oversees property control, publicity, and grant management of the museum association. His many suggestions and ideas for projects of public education have been invaluable. In 2008, he chaired an extremely successful 75th CCC anniversary event. Piercy also assisted in the final project phase of an innovative Girl Scout CCC badge program that was launched at the museum and has expanded to at least five other states.
Nominated by West Virginia State CCC Museum Association

From an early age, Jackson County native Michael A. Poe showed a keen interest in the history of his community, county, and state. He began collecting oral histories, books, and a fascinating collection of photographs that covers the evolution of Jackson County. As his collection grew he realized he needed to preserve the history of the area and, after three years of research, produced his book Images of America—Jackson County in 2008. Poe also has given a public program on the care and storage of old and rare books.
Nominated by Jackson County Historical Society

Kate Quinn has been a tireless researcher, writer, and portrayer of historical characters. Her most recent Wheeling portrayal is Amelia Sprigg Campbell (1818-1898), a member of one of the city’s most influential families. Not only did Kate research the Sprigg and Campbell families, she prepared a script, created her costume, and made first-person presentations at the 2008 Greenwood Cemetery Tour, sponsored by Friends of Wheeling. Quinn also has written on historical subjects for publication in the Valley Magazine and Upper Ohio Historical Society Journal and has made presentations on local history to several groups.
Nominated by Friends of Wheeling

Marilyn S. Rogers has contributed to an awareness of West Virginia history through a variety of activities. As a teacher, she piloted “Travel West Virginia,” a joint venture of the West Virginia Department of Education and the travel and tourism industry in which students studied the state’s history, geography, culture, and hospitality industries with opportunities to tour many sites. She has presented programs of historical content to the Ohio Valley Chapter, NSDAR, and is chairperson for several chapter committees. The significance of western Virginia to the Lewis and Clark Expedition is a recurrent theme in her presentations. Marilyn also has served on the Old Main Foundation Board of Directors, which is dedicated to restoration and preservation of the original Nicholas County High School building.
Nominated by Ohio Valley Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

Jasper “Jack” Sanders is a hardworking member of the Rowlesburg Area Historical Society, giving of his time, knowledge, and resources in the ongoing Cannon Hill project and in the remodeling of the IOOF building rental area. He participated in the Civil War re-enactment that was part of the sesquicentennial celebration of Rowlesburg in 2008 by preparing the park area for use by the re-enactors and by building staging props. He also has helped raise funds to cover the costs involved with the society’s activities.
Nominated by Rowlesburg Area Historical Society

Norman Schwertfeger has been interested in historic preservation for many years. He spent hundreds of volunteer hours preserving and restoring the 1788 Wells Log House, including stripping drywall and clapboard. In 2008, he helped write grant applications for funds to replace the roof on Millers Tavern (built 1790s), now the Brooke County Historical Museum. Recently, he added the Washington Turnpike Toll House to his projects and has been researching that site and seeking funds for its preservation. Schwertfeger also chaired a committee to have a stretch of the roadway along which the toll house sits designated the Historic Wellsburg and Bethany Scenic Byway.
Nominated by Brooke County Historical Museum

Anne Shuff has served as the librarian for the KYOWVA Genealogical and Historical Society for three years, and she devoted much time to the library’s move in 2007 to its present location in Huntington. Her major accomplishment has been to organize and catalog the collection to make it more user friendly and accessible to the public. Anne also serves as society treasurer, is involved with fundraising dinners and activities, contributes to the quarterly newsletter, and answers all e-mail queries.
Nominated by KYOWVA Genealogical and Historical Society

Norman and Judith Smith have been involved in the Julia-Ann Square Historic District’s activities for ten years. They have dressed in period attire for the Victorian Christmas tour of homes and teas and also have contributed to and participated in the district’s garden tours, parades, and bus tours. It was due to their efforts, along with that of the Wood County Historic Landmarks Commission, that funds were raised to make improvements to the historic Riverview Cemetery (Cook Family Graveyard) in the district. With the restoration of tombstones and other items, a successful tour was held using first-person portrayals by district members. The Smiths also are volunteer docents at Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park.
Nominated by Wood County Historic Landmarks Commission

During her twenty years as a member of the Taylor County Historical Society, LuAnn Sturms has served as secretary, membership chair, and newsletter editor. Her heart is in genealogical research, and she performs research and collects pictures and family histories for the society’s collection and helps other people get started with their family research. Sturms also helps with activities to raise funds for work on the society’s building. Currently, she is helping with research and writing cutlines for a forthcoming Taylor County pictorial book.
Nominated by Taylor County Historical Society

Gary Wayne Timmons promotes West Virginia’s Revolutionary War history and exemplifies the goals of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) to preserve, perpetuate, and educate about the patriots and history of that event. He was president of the George Washington Chapter for four years and has been a district deputy with the SAR for seven years. He has raised funds, researched West Virginia patriots, compiled a list of Revolutionary War soldiers buried in Ohio County, and helped install markers for soldiers buried in the tri-state area. In 2007, he co-chaired the 225th anniversary celebration of the siege of Fort Henry. Timmons also has compiled a list of men who served at the fort during its thirteen-year existence and currently is spearheading preparation of a Fort Henry brochure.
Nominated by George Washington Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution

Annabelle F. Vance is a former treasurer and current member of the Board of Directors of the John T. Mathias Homestead Association, and she has been a hostess at the homestead during Hardy County’s Heritage Weekend. She also has taught Appalachian Studies classes at Mathias School and Appalachian heritage music at several events. She researched the Fitzwater family and helped start the annual Fitzwater gathering in 1998. Since 1982, she has served in many capacities with the Daughters of the American Revolution, including state vice chairman for the American Heritage Committee for Art and state chairman of American Heritage and Conservation. Recently, Mrs. Vance contributed to the book The First One Hundred Years of Mathias Brethren Church.
Nominated by The John T. Mathias Homestead Association

Elizabeth Dye Walker provided financial support to purchase the Old Stone House in Burlington for the Mineral County Historical Foundation and additional money to pay for the entire exterior renovation and construction of the foundation for the back porches. Additionally, she authored The Old Stone House, “Traveller’s Rest”: A History in Bits and Pieces (2008), the profits of which go to an endowment for the restoration and preservation of the building and grounds. Mrs. Walker also donated two original watercolors of the stone house and surrounding area, which will be used as fundraisers for the project.
Nominated by Mineral County Historical Society

Frances Wolfe has been a member of the Ritchie County Historical Society for more than twenty years. She served on the cemetery book committee and helped locate numerous cemeteries, which led to completion of the society’s 1995 publication. Frances has answered countless queries and helped procure history and genealogy books for the society’s library. She played a key role in helping establish the General Thomas M. Harris School Museum and currently serves as a member of the Ritchie County Historic Landmarks Commission. She also is a member of the local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Daughters of American Pioneers.
Nominated by Ritchie County Historical Society, Inc.

Jeffrey Wyne has made significant contributions to heritage education programming at the Historic Area at WVU Jackson’s Mill. He brought the art of paper marbling to Jackson’s Mill and also has researched, designed, and implemented educational programs in 19th-century lighting devices and agriculture. In addition to onsite programs, he has worked with the traveling education outreach program History Hitting the Road! As programs have grown, Jeff has fought to maintain their educational integrity. A lifelong history buff, Jeff is a member of the Harrison County Historical Society and has served as an inventory/preservationist at the Harrison County Courthouse and as an Appalachian Regional History book specialist.
Nominated by Historic Area at WVU Jackson’s Mill

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For more information about the History Hero Awards, contact Joe Geiger.


West Virginia's History Heroes

West Virginia Archives and History