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Meet
West Virginia's
History Heroes
For 2005

What is a History Hero?


Rose Ann Adams is a founding member of the Wirt County Historical Society and has served as president since its inception five years ago. She has been responsible for the majority of the monthly programs and spearheaded the cleanup of the Ott Cemetery. She has also helped with Heritage Day for Wirt County elementary schools, set up displays at the Wirt County Fair, and helped to get the river boat display in Wirt County. Adams has served on the committee for the annual fall festival "Pioneer Days," where her diligent work has contributed to its success.
Nominated by Wirt County Historical Society

Robert R. Ayersman is a charter member of the Rowlesburg Area Historical Society. He has served as membership chairman for 10 years and has written the two yearly letters that keep members informed of the society's activities and projects. He participates in all fund raising and local activities and is especially interested in the Cannon Hill project. Ayersman has lent time and expertise to restoration of the depot and the IOOF building. A retiree of the United States Air Force, he has used his skills, time and energy to the benefit of the society.
Nominated by Rowlesburg Area Historical Society

Barbara Bell has been a genealogy and local history researcher for over 25 years. She is a former vice-president of KYOWVA Genealogical Society and has volunteered at the society's library, answering hundreds of genealogy questions. She is editor of the Peter Henry Bell family newsletter, and compiled and indexed "Family Trees from History's Forest" by Eunice Proctor Perkins. She has contributed to a number of other publications on Cabell County, and presented genealogy lectures.
Nominated by KYOWVA Genealogical Society

James A. Bell and Donald R. "Duck" Stevens have dedicated themselves to making the Calhoun County Historical Society's Heritage Village a reality. In the past four years they have spent hundreds of hours relocating historic structures to the Village at Calhoun County Park, organizing work parties to make necessary repairs, locating supplies and materials, and scouring Calhoun and surrounding counties to acquire period furnishings. Additionally, they have donated their time and equipment to construct benches for public seating and to landscape the Village. Jim and Duck are truly heroes in the eyes of the society and the community.
Nominated by Calhoun County Historical Society

Sarah Brown Bragg organized the library for the Clay County Landmarks Commission and Historical Society. Despite attending school full-time, she ran the society's office, answered mail, filed historical materials, helped with family research, and kept the library open. An excellent researcher, she copied the records published in Clay County Deaths: 1858-1901. Generous with her time and research, Bragg is dedicated to helping people do family research and remains a key supporter of the society.
Nominated by Clay County Landmarks Commission and Historical Society

Brent Carney of Wheeling is a consultant and researcher for the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation, which is currently completing a project to place historic signage along Wheeling's Walking Trail. He is the author of Bethany College, and co- author of Images of America: Wheeling and Wheeling In Vintage Postcards. An instructor in history at Wheeling Jesuit University, Carney presents programs for local historical and genealogical groups and generously shares his knowledge with other researchers.
Nominated by Wheeling Area Historical Society

Jeanne Carter has been an active member of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation, Inc., for over 15 years. She has participated in the planning and execution of numerous interpretive programs at WVIH Museum. Carter has researched and developed the living history characters of Lydia Boggs Shepherd and Laura Jackson Arnold, which she has presented to many groups and organizations throughout the state. She has also been an active volunteer at Jackson's Mill for many years.
Nominated by West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation, Inc.

Noble F. Conner, Jr. has been a member of the Kanawha Valley Genealogical Society for more than 25 years. He served as treasurer and is currently a director of the society. He has been a faithful and punctual librarian and is dedicated to assisting researchers. In addition to filing periodicals and providing copying services, Conner is even willing to clean the floors and tables. He has been active in a number of projects sponsored by the society.
Nominated by Kanawha Valley Genealogical Society

Madeline Whiteman Crickard has been active in the Randolph County Historical Society and the Allegheny Regional Family History Society for many years. She served on the board of directors for the RCHS and is currently the archivist/librarian for the ARFHS. Crickard has been a registered genealogist for more than 25 years and was a charter member of the Randolph County Genealogical Society. She compiled Index to the 1810 Virginia Census, published in 1971. A DAR member since 1965, she served as chapter registrar from 1989 to 2004.
Nominated by Allegheny Regional Family History Society

Vera Crum of Ripley has served as treasurer of the Jackson County Historical Society for twenty-five years. In addition to keeping the financial and membership records, she replies to much of the correspondence received by the organization. She served on the topical committee for the Jackson County Past and Present 1990 book and has packaged and mailed countless publications for the society. Through her efforts the Otterbein Church at Angerona was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. She works tirelessly and quietly behind the scenes to keep the wheels of the organization turning.
Nominated by Jackson County Historical Society

Herbert Dawson is recognized as a genealogist and untiring researcher who readily shares his genealogy research with others. A charter member of the Wayne County Genealogical & Historical Society, he has served as both vice-president and president and is currently a board member. Dawson was instrumental in the publication of three Wayne County cemetery books, as well as the 1870, 1880, and 1920 Wayne County annotated censuses. He contributes articles for the society's newsletter and actively seeks donations for its research library. A retired music teacher, Dawson is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Sons of Union Veterans, and the General Andrew Lewis Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution.
Nominated by Wayne County Genealogical & Historical Society

Steve and Karen Farmer researched, reviewed and documented the construction and history of Sunrise Mansion in Charleston for the purpose of renovating this historic structure for use as a law office. The Farmers have worked to ensure that the integrity of the mansion restoration was not compromised. Based upon photos, articles, and records that they located, they were able to adhere to the original design. They have expended considerable time and resources in the renovation of Charleston's crown residential jewel.
Nominated by Kanawha Valley Historical & Preservation Society, Inc.

Barbara Flinchum is a charter member of the Summers County Historical Society, which was re-organized in 1982. She worked tirelessly on two SCHS publications: The History of Summers County, West Virginia-1984 and The Summers County, West Virginia Historical Society Cemetery Book. A native of the small farming community of Buck, she drives one hundred twenty miles to attend society meetings in Hinton.
Nominated by Summers County Historical Society

Linda Cunningham Fluharty, a Wheeling native, created and maintains the website of the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society, as well as the West Virginia GenWeb sites for Marshall, Pleasants and Calhoun counties. She also has websites for four complete West Virginia Civil War regiments, all related to the Wheeling area. Fluharty has compiled three Civil War books: On the Way Home...West Virginia Soldiers on the Sultana; Civil War - West Virginia, Union Lives Lost; and The Civil War Letters of Lt. Milton B. Campbell, 12th West Virginia Infantry.
Nominated by Wheeling Area Genealogical Society

Charolette Gardner is an active member of the Belle Historical Restoration Society, Inc. She and her late husband Charles became life-time members of the society when it was formed and donated several period pieces to the Old Stone House in Belle. She was an important part of the planning and landscaping of the surrounding park. Gardner serves as tour director and is the overseer and caretaker for the house. She also bakes bread and cakes and disperses pecans for the society's fundraising efforts.
Nominated by Belle Historical Restoration Society, Inc.

Kermit Garretson, a dedicated life member of the Mineral County Historical Society, has been a trustee on the board of directors for the past five years and was the program director for three of these five years. His major contribution has been in historical preservation. Garretson is the supervisor of the restoration of the historical Carskadon Mansion in Keyser and is its principal caretaker. He has written and managed preservation grants and has negotiated the purchase of another Mineral County historical landmark "Traveler's Rest" (The Stone House).
Nominated by Mineral County Historical Society

Lillian C. Gibson is an artist, writer, activist, and preservationist who has made significant contributions to Upshur County history. She financed the preservation of the historic Snell School and Dunkard Church sites as well as the historic Miller Snell Cemetery, and made the Snell School available to the Upshur County Historical Society for educational and museum programming. Gibson has established a trust fund for the continued preservation and use of these sites. She has also made financial contributions for the society's publication, research, and program efforts.
Nominated by Upshur County Historical Society

Anna Evans Gilmer was a charter member of the Henry Highland Garnett Foundation and is working to collect school memorabilia. She was involved with the reconstruction of Booker T. Washington's Malden home and was a member of the state committee for the collection, preservation, and dissemination of black history in West Virginia. She co-authored Black Past with photographer James Randall and is a writer for the Beacon Digest. Gilmer also helped to compile American Sampler: West Virginia's African-American Women of Distinction.
Nominated by Henry Highland Garnett Foundation

A director of the West Virginia State CCC Museum Association, Francis R. Gilmore is an active member of several state and local historical societies and is a strong supporter of preservation and West Virginia history. Over a span of more than twenty years, he taught West Virginia and United States history to thousands of students, and served many years as historical consultant and organizer of teacher workshops in history. Gilmore retired as a distinguished faculty member of Salem College.
Nominated by West Virginia State CCC Museum Association

The late Norma Alt Groves (1918-2003) of Petersburg was an inspiring local historian. She was a founding member of the Grant County Historical Society and served as vice- president until the year before her death. Groves also served as treasurer of the Grant County Museum Commission. She and her late husband John built and operated the Country Store Museum in Petersburg where they housed country store artifacts in restored log buildings. They later donated one, the Scherr one-room schoolhouse, to the Board of Education for Petersburg school children.
Nominated by Grant County Historical Society, Inc.

Charles Ray Harper has served as president of both the Red House Shoals History Group and the Kanawha Valley Genealogical Society. He has written many stories and pamphlets on Putnam County. Harper is considered the sports historian of Putnam County and wrote Poca High School Football: And a Short History of Poca High School, 1922- 1983.
Nominated by Red House Shoals History Group

Douglas Hylton spearheaded historic preservation efforts in Ronceverte, established the Historic Landmarks Commission, acquired grants to develop the first ever comprehensive community plan integrating a historic district, and oversaw a three-year survey of the town's historic structures to complete the historic district nomination package. He assisted the Greenbrier County Historical Society in acquiring funding for the $1.6 million renovation of North House Museum in Lewisburg. Hylton also integrates Ronceverte's recreation trails with historic timelines for walking tours, and is negotiating with CSX for restoration of the town's 1915 depot and with the West Virginia National Guard to obtain the Clifford Armory.
Nominated by Ronceverte Historic Landmarks Commission

A member of the Weston Hospital Revitalization Committee, Doug Johnson has donated thousands of hours as a tour guide and maintenance person at the National Landmark Weston State Hospital. He has shared his knowledge of life at the old hospital which closed in 1994. Johnson singlehandedly cut and hauled away more than 70 pine trees that were growing near and into the foundation of the historic building; and cleaned, scraped and painted three exhibit rooms. He continues to work diligently to keep the 147-year history of this building and its patients before the public.
Nominated by Weston Hospital Revitalization Committee

Brian Kesterson is a regional historian and author from Wood County. He has presented lectures and living history programs and speaks to regional schools and historical organizations. Kesterson has also appeared as a re-enactor in historical movies and documentaries. He has devoted a great deal of time to historic preservation and is a member of the Fort Boreman Historic Park Commission.
Nominated by Wood County Historical & Preservation Society

Lonnie and Judy Kiger are active members in the Marshall County Historical Society and have served as officers. During his first term as president, Mr. Kiger completed the task of establishing the MCHS Museum and upgraded the facility with a new restroom, sidewalks, steps, computer and security systems. He has designed brochures and advertising materials, and began publication of the society newsletter. Mr. Kiger is also in charge of writing grants. His hard work led to the acquisition of the old schoolhouse at Pleasant Valley for renovation into a museum. Mrs. Kiger is in charge of the genealogy files and takes care of the annual picnic and Christmas party. She was also involved in creating a cookbook as a fundraiser for the society. Together, they designed a calendar of old Marshall County photos for the society.
Nominated by Marshall County Historical Society

Ronald Lamb has been a part of the Historic Area at WVU Jackson's Mill since its beginning. His commitment and dedication over the years make it very clear that being the miller is more than just a job for him. After helping reconstruct Blaker's Mill, he learned the intricacies of its operation, becoming the on-site expert. "Uncle Ronnie" is equally well versed on the entire Historic Area. He can talk with older visitors about "back in the day" as well as help young people understand and appreciate the differences between traditional and modern customs. It is common for guests to say his tour "made their visit."
Nominated by WVU Jackson's Mill

Robert "Bobby" Malone has been a member of the Taylor County Historical Society for several years and was recently elected president. He has worked with the newsletter committee to bring the membership list up to date. Malone has always had a great interest in Grafton railroad history, which he has been researching for a number of years. He also endeavors to save some of the old cemeteries in Taylor County.
Nominated by Taylor County Historical Society

Patricia Miller has been an active member of the Guyandotte Civil War Days, Inc., for the past ten years. She has promoted the event, attended all functions, and helped raise the necessary funds. During her membership, she has been chairperson of many of the committees. Despite health problems, she has remained a steadfast and positive contributor to the success of Guyandotte Civil War Days.
Nominated by Guyandotte Civil War Days, Inc.

Gloria Abigail Murphy has been a significant force in support of the Tyler County Museum since its opening ten years ago. She and her late husband Leroy were instrumental in building the country store exhibit and making mannequins for the military room. Murphy is a room chairman for the kitchen area and is an authority on Civil War history. She is a chairman for a Who's Who display of important people in Tyler County and West Virginia, and has contributed significantly to the museum and its programs.
Nominated by Tyler County Museum

Frank Nash has been a tireless member of the Mercer County Historical Society for several years. Nash served on the 2002 Mercer County History Book committee and helps with the upkeep of the MCHS log cabin museum. One of his most outstanding contributions has been his work with the society's new railroad museum. Nash was appointed as the society's representative to work with the City of Princeton on the building of this museum. As president of the Mercer County Farm Bureau, Nash was instrumental in moving the old Virginian Railroad freight station next to the railroad museum. This building is now being restored and will serve as an agriculture museum in the near future.
Nominated by Mercer County Historical Society

Randall and Betty Ann Nicholson have been active members of the Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants for more than a decade. As a team, they have worked together in many capacities to promote the preservation of history and the growth of the organization. Both serve as volunteer librarians, keeping the library open on Monday evenings and assisting patrons in their research, and participate in programs and fundraising activities of the group. Randall is a member of the board of directors, currently serves as editor of the "Hacker's Creek Journal," and is chairman of building maintenance. Betty Ann implemented the organization and cataloging of the HCPD's extensive photograph and manuscript collection. Since January 2004 she has served as executive director.
Nominated by Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants

Steven Nordeck is continuing the preservation of the herpetology specimens at the History House Museum of the Preston County Historical Society. His identification labels and additional information help visitors to understand the display of snakes, frogs, and other reptiles and amphibians. Without his assistance, this collection of internationally known vertebrate zoologist A.M. Reese, "the father of herpetology in West Virginia," might have been lost.
Nominated by Preston County Historical Society

Jay O'Dell writes a weekly newspaper column, "Regional History and Environment," published in the Wayne County News. He also conducted research and wrote the first histories of several towns, including Ceredo. Dissemination of his writing has provided subject material for history teachers. O'Dell promotes the history of Ceredo and the neighboring community of Kenova by judging an annual town historic antique car show, which fosters restoration and preservation of antique vehicles and compliments the activities of the Ceredo Museum and its associated historical society and railroad museum.
Nominated by Ceredo Museum

Caroline Rappold, a member of the Buford Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Huntington, wrote the history of the Buford Chapter which was organized in 1910. In April 2002, her 410-page book was accepted by the National DAR Library, Washington, DC. This book was the culmination of ten years of researching chapter yearbooks, bylaws, state conference proceedings, local genealogical records, and newspapers.
Nominated by Buford Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

Juanita Reed has helped preserve West Virginia history through the treasured art form of quilts. A member of the West Virginia Heritage Quilt Search when it originated in 1990, she helped gather and compile documentation of many pre-1940 quilts, which was used for the book West Virginia Quilts and Quiltmakers: Echoes From the Hills. Reed has also helped to preserve the art of quilt making through her work with area elementary school students. A member of the American Quilt Study Group and president of the National Quilting Association, she has been instrumental in scheduling local seminars and shows. She was also involved in organizing the Moon and Stars Guild and the state guild, the West Virginia Quilters.
Nominated by John Young Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

Arnold and Mary Richards joined the Ritchie County Historical Society as charter members in early 1974. They have been involved with many projects including fund raising for the purchase of the Stone House in Pennsboro in 1977 and helping clean, restore and provide tours of the Stone House Museum. They have aided in the publication of The History of Ritchie County, WV - To 1980, A Photographic History of Ritchie County, WV, and Ritchie County, WV Cemeteries - To 1993. They also published and printed the society's quarterly newsletter for a number of years. Additionally, Mary served the society many years as secretary and Arnold installed new gas lines to the meeting room, office and restroom, and water lines to the restroom.
Nominated by Ritchie County Historical Society

John Shoaf, a charter member of the American Diner Museum and a member of the Society for Commercial Archeology, relentlessly chases diners for the AmDM Directory and conducts research for the preservation/restoration of the American Classic Diner as an artifact. He has also written and made numerous presentations on the subject of diners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. As a "Friend of the Lincoln Highway," Shoaf is helping restore their 1938 O'Mahoney Diner.
Nominated by American Diner Museum

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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