Skip Navigation

Meet
West Virginia's
History Heroes
For 2003


Dr. Kenneth R. Bailey of Elkview has many historical publications to his credit, including Hawk's Nest Coal Company Strike; One of the Famous 54th Massachusetts, a Short Biography of General John W.M. Appleton; and The Murder of John Harless, or Federal Justice Southern West Virginia Style. Most recently he contributed 20 entries to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, to be published in 2003, and three entries for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia. He has served as president of the West Virginia Historical Society (WVHS) and editor of its quarterly. He is a member of the Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society, Tri-State Genealogical and Historical Society, Appalachia Studies Association, and the West Virginia Humanities Program Council. Nominated by WVHS.

Edna Britton of Terra Alta is a charter member of the Rowlesburg Area Historical Society (RAHS) and has served as the club's historian. She helped with the collection of data from the area's smaller cemeteries and is the sole composer and publisher of these records. Ms. Britton also is a member of the society's library committee, and continues to add documents and books to the group's library. Nominated by the RAHS.

Sarah Louise Burkhammer of Salem has been instrumental in the success of the Swiger Run Research Center and Museum. She fields telephone calls and works with visitors to the center. She also helped start the center's audio tape collections and has contributed artifacts. This year alone she has purchased and donated 20 new books to the center. Ms. Burkhammer just completed two books, Broad Run Road Families of Doddridge County and C.C. Swiger Family of Doddridge County. Nominated by the Swiger Run Research Center Inc.

Edward J. Cabbell of Morgantown is inspired by Appalachian and African-American history. One of the last true "coal camp kids" and a descendant of the Haley family of Roots fame, he taught history at the college level for more than 25 years. He is the backbone of the John Henry Center for Culture and History Exchange (JHCCHE), where programs he developed attempt to balance entertainment, social activism and the history of black Appalachians. His poetry was most recently published in the anthology Wild Sweet Notes and his programs have been recognized at the Smithsonian. Nominated by the JHCCHE.

Through his portrayals of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, Stephen Cassle of Dunbar makes history come alive for people of all ages with lectures, workshops and other living history demonstrations. His dedication to history was the driving force behind the creation of the 2nd Corps Headquarters a group of historians portraying Civil War officers, enlisted men and medical personnel. Mr. Cassle works with West Virginia University (WVU) Jackson's Mill Historic Area on a regular basis, giving its historic programming an added dimension. Nominated by WVU Jackson's Mill Historic Area.

Evelyn M. Dorsey of Fairmont has been an active force in promoting and preserving Marion County history since 1991. As chairperson for the Marion County Historical Society Museum, she works diligently with senior aides and volunteers planning and assisting with tours and historical displays, organizing fund-raising projects, and overseeing the museum's holiday decorations each year. Ms. Dorsey also is a major contributor to the society's newsletter. Nominated by the Marion County Historical Society.

Dovie Dunn of Huntington is a member of the board of directors of the Madie Carroll House Preservation Society Inc. (MCHPS). As a Girl Scout leader, she encourages her troop members to participate in history activities. Two of her scouts earned their Gold Awards for constructing flower gardens around the Carroll House and two members are volunteering as docents at the house. For the past several years, she also has involved her troop as volunteers in Guyandotte Civil War Days. Nominated by the MCHPS.

Robert Enoch of Vienna is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society and chairman of the Fort Boreman Historic Park Commission. He has been instrumental in saving the Dil's, Holiday and Tracewell cemeteries, and is an avid baseball historian. In 1993, he authored the book Nicholette and Its Doings, detailing the history of and life in a little Wood County village. Nominated by the Wood County Historic Landmarks Commission.

Shirley Morrison Gilkeson of Charleston is past regent of the Kanawha Valley Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), as well as state registrar and vice regent of the group. As West Virginia Division president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), she had several articles about the Civil War in West Virginia published in the UDC magazine. Under her leadership, the UDC contributed money to the Blake Library, Marshall University, and helped with restoration of the Confederate Cemetery at Spring Hill Cemetery in Charleston. She also is the state regent of the West Virginia State Society Daughters of the American Colonists (WVDAC). Under her leadership, the history of the WVDAC was published and a monument marking the Warrior Trail and Trading Path was placed in Martinsburg last year. Nominated by the Kanawha Valley Chapter, NSDAR.

A dedicated genealogist, Virginia Midkiff Graham of Huntington has found lost cemeteries, spent many hours conducting research in courthouses and libraries, and has helped thousands of people search for their roots. She has volunteered at the KYOWVA Library, helped with book projects and been an all-around supporter for more than 15 years. Nominated by the KYOWVA Library.

Elaine Greisel of Elkins is dedicated to the preservation of Elkins' historic structures and the history of the region. She helps raise thousands of dollars for the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) as the volunteer coordinator for the group's annual fundraiser. Ms. Greisel regularly travels to Bowden and the Upper Cheat Falls to share her knowledge about the area's early logging camps and traditions. Nominated by the Elkins HLC.

James Ralph "Sammy" Hall of Logan has been an active member of Logan County Genealogical Society (LCGS) for 25 years including serving a term as president. He is knowledgeable about local history and the genealogy of many families in and around Logan County, and shares that knowledge willingly. He incorporates genealogy as a history teacher in middle school, and does history and genealogy presentations for civic organizations. Nominated by LCGS.

Since retiring as a history professor Samuel Harford of Parkersburg has been a sustaining force in the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society (WCHPS). Serving as first vice-president and program chairman for nearly 10 years, Mr. Harford has continued to arrange for speakers for the group's monthly meetings. His writing abilities have been highlighted in both Parkersburg newspapers which printed a series of articles honoring the four West Virginia governors from Parkersburg. Most recently, he has written two pieces that chronicle significant events in West Virginia history. The first is titled "The Son of Cornstalk at Point Pleasant" and the most recent is called "Ode to West Virginia." Nominated by the WCHPS.

Mary Harman of Franklin served as president of the Pendleton County Historical Society (PCHS) from 1973 to 1988. During her tenure, Grave Registers of Pendleton County and Pictorial History of Pendleton County were published, and several local buildings were listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1988 she was instrumental in the placement of a monument on the site where Pendleton County was formed. She was recognized as a historian in Pendleton Co., West Virginia Past and Present, and for her work in the historical society by the Pendleton Times. Nominated by PCHS.

Bob and Eileen Harness of Cameron are active members of the Marshall County Historical Society (MCHS). A husband-and-wife team, they collect antique farm equipment and service station memorabilia. The Harnesses have been two of the biggest supporters of the society's historical museum, helping with fundraisers, participating in the festivals and fairs, building Christmas floats, etc. Mr. Harness also constructed and helped erect the flagpole at the museum. In addition, the Harnesses are restoring an old store which has been moved from its location at Camp Washington to an area close to their home. Nominated by the MCHS.

Douglas Wayne Harvey of Hinton has served as president and vice- president of the Summers County Historical Society (SCHS). He currently also serves as president of the Mercer County Historical Society. He has written several articles on genealogy and local history for publication in Summers County and the surrounding area. Mr. Harvey was instrumental in compiling History of Summers County, Summers County Cemeteries and other regional publications. Nominated by the SCHS.

As a member of the Ritchie County Historical Society (RCHS) for more than 15 years, Sondra Hayhurst of Pennsboro has served as the custodian of the Old Stone House Museum, conducting countless tours. She is currently treasurer of the society. Ms. Hayhurst also organized and directed the committee that led the effort to preserve the old B&O Railroad depot in Pennsboro. An active member in the North Bend Rail Trail Foundation, she had a large role in securing the railroad right-of-way for use as a trail. Nominated by the RCHS.

Jessie L. Hunter of Berkeley Springs organized the Morgan County Historical and Genealogical Society (MCHGS) in 1977 with 60 charter members. The success of the society over the years reflects the time and energy she has invested in the organization: publishing the 1850 Morgan County Census; recording family Bible records; compiling the 10-volume set of correspondence and notes of Miss Katherine Hunter; arranging the preservation of newspapers on micro-film; and assisting with the research and compilation for several society publications, including Morgan County and Its People in 1981. She remains active in the society, and staffs the Morgan Room in the Morgan County Public Library every Wednesday. Nominated by the MCHGS.

As a member of the Calhoun County Historical Society (CCHS), Roger D. Jarvis of Grantsville volunteered to take over as project director for the Stevens School restoration. When Mr. Jarvis took over, the one-room school had been moved and rebuilt at the county park, but the project was stalled. For more than two years, he organized work parties, acquired material and fixtures, obtained services of skilled craftsmen, and researched for authenticity. Without his leadership and labor, the Stevens School project would still be languishing. Nominated by the CCHS.

Since 1995, Diana Johnson of Point Pleasant has been chairman of Battle Days, an annual event to honor Point Pleasant's history. The author of a biography of Civil War general John McCausland of Mason County, she also is regent of the Colonel Charles Lewis Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, and senior president of the Fort Randolph Society of the Children of the American Revolution. Through her efforts, a new monument to "Mad" Anne Bailey was erected and dedicated in October 2002. Nominated by the Battle Days committee.

William Klettner of Wheeling has been an outstanding member of the Wheeling Area Historical Society (WAHS) for many years and currently serves on its board. He has enriched the historical fabric of the Upper Ohio Valley by producing and sharing numerous audiovisual presentations on such topics as the Battle of Fort Henry, the Ohio River, Lewis Wetzel and the Battle of Philippi. He recently served on the planning committee for the 150th anniversary of the B&O Railroad arriving in Wheeling, designing the logo and presenting his video, "B&O: The Vanished Odyssey in the Ohio Valley." Nominated by the WAHS.

A retired history professor, Dr. Roland V. Layton of Lewisburg agreed to serve as editor of the 1997 edition of The Journal of the Greenbrier Historical Society and has continued in that capacity. His careful selection of articles and contributors, and his professional editing, have made the society's annual journal a Greenbrier County best seller. Nominated by the Greenbrier Historical Society.

Betty Leavengood of Walker authored a pictorial history of Wood County, "Images of America, Wood County, West Virginia." She also wrote a story entitled "I'm the One Who Stayed: Walter Taitt's 99 Years in Volcano" for the most recent issue of Goldenseal magazine. Nominated by the West Augusta Historical and Genealogical Society.

A longtime member of the "Flat Top Copperheads," Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) camp, Richard D. Lockhart of Princeton is adjutant, treasurer and newsletter editor for the group, and serves on the monument, re- enactment and scholarship committees. After extensive research, he compiled a list of approximately 1,000 Mercer County citizens who served in the Confederate States Army, including facts and figures, cemetery records and old newspaper items. He is helping to design and raise funds for a proposed monument to honor Mercer County Confederate veterans. He also is a member of the Mercer County Historical Society, The Middle New River Genealogical Society and serves as secretary of The Clan Lockhart. Nominated by "Flat Top Copperheads," SCV.

Elizabeth Snyder Lowe of Shepherdstown has written three books on family history and volunteers as a genealogist, helping hundreds of people explore their roots. She co-authored See Shepherdstown III, helped with research for Burials in Jefferson County and serves on the board of directors for the Jefferson County Historical Society. As a member of the Elmwood Cemetery Board, she has been responsible for the restoration of more than 100 gravestones. Nominated by the Historic Shepherdstown Certified Local Government.

Geraldine Allen Marks of Gassaway is a longtime correspondent for the Glenville Democrat, writing about the history of Steer Creek, Center District, in Gilmer County. She has twice been recognized by the West Virginia Press Association for her contributions as a lifestyle columnist. Her writing, research and preservation of old pictures are vital to the preservation of Gilmer County history. Nominated by the Gilmer County Historical Society.

William E. Maxwell of Wheeling is an asset to the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society (WAGS) and to the patrons of the Wheeling Room of the Ohio County Public Library, which houses the society's record collection. Mr. Maxwell's contributions include collecting and maintaining newspaper articles for the vertical files; working as a volunteer to help visitors; serving as chairman of the book committee; and volunteering to work at genealogy fairs and expos. He is presently serving as treasurer and corresponding secretary of the society. Nominated by the WAGS.

Brig. General J. Kemp McLaughlin Sr. of Charleston has written a memoir entitled The Mighty Eighth in WWII, in which he tells the stories of pilots of the Eighth Air Force and the history of the West Virginia Air National Guard, which was formed under his command in 1947. He led the Guard for 30 years. Nominated by The Exchange Club of Charleston.

Lois McLean of Beckley is a founding member and office- holder of the West Virginia Labor History Association (WVLHA) and chairman of the Raleigh County Historic Landmarks Commission. The author of a number of articles for Goldenseal magazine and other publications, she was a speaker in 2001 for the association's distinguished lecture series. An acknowledged expert on Mother Jones, Ms. McLean is under contract to produce the definitive biography on the famous labor organizer. Nominated by the WVLHA.

Naomi Wilfong Mitchell of Sugar Grove has served the Pendleton County Historical Society (PCHS) for many years as a director. She has published two booklets, "The Descendants of Johannes Wilfong-Germany to America 1734" and "The Descendants of Joseph Wilfong," and has helped lead the effort to place a historical marker at the old St. Michael's Lutheran Church. Nominated by the PCHS.

Perry V. Mooney of Princeton was responsible for the acquisition of a Virginia Railway caboose donated to the city of Princeton. He assisted in renovating the caboose, and providing pictures and artifacts for display. He also helped restore a log cabin donated to the Mercer County Historical Society Inc. (MCHS) for a museum and library, and continues to donate and loan artifacts for display in the museum. He helped gather information and pictures for the publication of three Mercer County history books, and has assisted with the society's annual calendar. Nominated by the MCHS.

For six years, Marietta Moles of Elkview has served as a board and committee member for the West Virginia Genealogical Society (WVGS). As chairman of the cemetery committee, she has tirelessly explored and recorded many old cemeteries. Additionally, she voluntarily staffs the society's library. Nominated by the WVGS.

Pauline Morgan of Hurricane was one of the original founders of the St. Albans Historical Society (SAHS) in 1972. That same year, she was instrumental in obtaining financial support to move Morgan's Kitchen to its present location in St. Albans. Ms. Morgan also provided a number of articles for the History of St. Albans book, which was printed in 1993. Nominated by the SAHS.

Winifred "Winnie" Murray of Elizabeth was the driving force behind the preservation of a 200-year-old house. Built in 1802 and modernized in 1870, the Little Kanawha Hotel has had several owners. Ms. Murray conducts tours of the "Old Hotel" for elementary school students. Nominated by the Wirt County Historical Society.

For 13 years, Robert and Eva Newlon of Clarksburg have devoted their Saturdays to keeping the Central West Virginia Genealogy and History Library open for researchers. While Bob occasionally helps with custodial duties, Eva has been secretary of the Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants (HPCD) and continues to serve on the board of directors. Nominated by the HCPD.

A member of the Taylor County Historical and Genealogical Society (TCHGS), Betty Netotea of Grafton has catalogued the society's genealogy and history books. An excellent assistant to researchers, she has organized notebooks of historical data and updates them with information submitted by others. She also works on "The Profile," the society's newsletter. Nominated by the TCHGS.

Howard Osburn of Wayne is a charter member and driving force in the Wayne County Genealogical and Historical Society (WCGHS). He edits the group's quarterly newsletter, maintains its website and is responsible for the publication of at least five books of county records. He shares his large private collection of records with other genealogists, schools and community leaders, and seeks donations for the society's library. Mr. Osburn also was instrumental in preserving the county's chancery records and has been a leader in raising funds for historical markers for the graves of the county's Revolutionary War soldiers. Nominated by the WCGHS.

Robert Plants of Madison was president of the Boone County Genealogical Society (BCGS) from 1997 through 2000. He is currently the editor of the Boone County Genealogical Quarterly. He has given presentations to the Rotary Club about genealogy and local history, and worked in the West Virginia Coal Museum in Madison. Mr. Plants enjoys helping people research local and family history by finding articles for them in the microfilmed records of the old editions of The Madison Recorder and The Coal Valley News. Nominated by the BCGS.

Although Doris Jean Post Poinsett resides in Maryland, her connections to Upshur County remain strong. She is author of Valentin Pfost/Post 1740-1800 of Hardy County, (West) Virginia and Some of His Descendants, which in 1991 received the American Society of Genealogists' Donald Lines Jacobus Award for excellence. Her most recent publication is David Lewis (1750-1798) and Joannah Trundle (1754-1810) from Frederick County, Maryland to Harrison County, (West) Virginia: Some Ancestors and Descendants. Nominated by the Upshur County Historical Society.

The late John Keller Reid was the treasurer and member of the Grant County Historical Society (GCHS) from its formation until his death in December 2001 at the age of 91. His photograph collection, Echoes of the Past, was published in 1975. He was a contributor to History of Grant County Schools (1982), Grant County Our Heritage (1991), and oral history interviews for Petersburg High School 10th-grade classes, which resulted in The Tree That Would Bear Leaves Again (1997-1998). He also was active in the Sons of the American Revolution and other community organizations. Nominated by the GCHS.

Margradel Richmond of Beaver has long been interested in the history of Raleigh County and especially that of the Shady Spring District. While a member of the Shady Spring District Woman's Club, she was actively involved in the publication of History of Shady Spring District. She serves as secretary-treasurer of the Grandview Cemetery Association and helps with the annual Grandview Community Reunion. In 2001, with Bob McClure, she edited and published Oliver's Diary, the memories of Oliver Scott, postmaster and store owner of Table Rock in the late 1800s. Nominated by the Raleigh County Historical Society.

Claudette M. Roberts of Scott Depot donated a Gideon 1000 microfilm reader to the West Virginia Archives and History Library in memory of Vera White Inman. This donation enables the public to read historically preserved records from microfilm and do invaluable research. She is active in the John Young Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). Nominated by the John Young Chapter, (NSDAR).

Louise Sinclair of Middlebourne is a lifetime member of the Tyler County Heritage and Historical Society (TCHHS). She helped write the Tyler County History book, and has served the society as secretary and historical library chairman. She also is editor of its quarterly newsletter, Heritage Windows, and serves as a research volunteer. She also volunteers for the Tyler County Museum. Nominated by the TCHHS.

Becky Smith of Huntington has been a member of Guyandotte Civil War Days (GCWD) since its inception 14 years ago. She has held a variety of offices, including president. She also portrays both a Civil War civilian and "Mad" Anne Bailey at Shawnee Trail, Point Pleasant Monument and other educational programs. Nominated by GCWD/Raid on Guyandotte.

John Lawrence Smith of Hurricane has authored two newspaper columns: "Down to Earth" in the Beckley Post Herald (1978-1980) and "Valley Echoes" in the Charleston Daily Mail (1984-1987). He also has had stories published by the Charleston Gazette and Wonderful West Virginia magazine. The Rev. Smith has held office in a number of historical groups, including the Upper Vandalia Historical Society (UVHS), Pendleton County Historical Society, and the West Virginia Historical Society. Nominated by the UVHS.

Hazel Whaling Stover of Clay has helped to preserve much of West Virginia's traditional music. With other Clay County musicians and singers, she was instrumental in helping to start the state's annual Vandalia Gathering, and has performed as part of the Clay County High School Appalachian Heritage program. She has worked with schools and social agencies in an attempt to preserve musical heritage, and participated in workshops at the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins College. In 1991, her songs were part of a recording, "Folksongs and Ballads," which was recognized by the Library of Congress. Nominated by the Clay County Landmarks Commission and Historical Society.

The late Wilbert "Pete" Tenney evidenced a life-long interest in Barbour County history. He served the Barbour County Historical Society (BCHS) as president for 20 years and was the editor of Barbour County, West Virginia . . . another look, published in 1979. He also helped restore the B&O railroad station for use as a museum in 1985, and served on the committee to restore the covered bridge after the 1989 fire. Nominated by the BCHS.

The late June Thomas was an important volunteer for the Preston County Historical Society (PCHS). When her husband obtained the Terra Alta Bank building for the society's museum, she assisted him as curator, and donated antiques and memorabilia to enhance several rooms of the museum. June hosted visitors to the museum, assembled exhibits, and represented the society whenever necessary. She played a key role in editing and marketing the society's Preston County History book, which is in its third printing, and America in Pictures: Images of Preston by Charles A. Thomas. Nominated by the PCHS.

William J. "Bill" Vance of Franklin is a charter member, as well as secretary-treasurer, of the 7th West Virginia Infantry Camp 7, Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War; a member of Company A, West Virginia Home Guard, Sons of Veterans Reserve; and a founding member of Pendleton County Historic Preservation Society. He organizes and participates in Civil War living history events and programs on local history, and helps clean and preserve cemeteries. Nominated by the Order of the Bonnie Blue, Phoebe Warner Chapter.

Israel Cuthbert Welch of Keyser is one of 17 children of a Mineral County farm family. He is the only survivor of seven family members who performed as the string band the Welch Brothers. His music and that of his family has been recorded in the Library of Congress and at the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins College. Nominated by the Mineral County Historical Society.

Volkmar Wentzel of Aurora had a long and distinguished career as a documentary photographer for the National Geographic Society, dating back to the 1930s. His photographic surveys of the state's industry, historical towns and changing culture provide an enduring record of the people and land of West Virginia. Nominated by the Aurora Area Historical Society.

Elza Wilson of Philippi led the project to disassemble and transport a one-room school house from the Barbour County community of Volga to the campus of Alderson-Broaddus College. Furnished with original books, chairs and fireplace, the school and a new museum next to it are an important attraction and history lesson. Mr. Wilson was the guiding force behind this project, organizing the complex moving project, raising the funds, gathering historical paraphernalia, and leading regular tours of the school he attended more than 70 years ago. Nominated by Alderson-Broaddus College.

Hilda Wright of Middlebourne has served as editor of the Tyler County Heritage and Historical Society (TCHHS) Heritage Windows quarterly newsletter, and assisted in publishing the Tyler County History book in 1980. She also has helped publish various census and Civil War books for sale by the society. Nominated by the TCHHS.

1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014

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


West Virginia's History Heroes

West Virginia Archives and History