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History Hero Awards presented to 38 West Virginians

History enthusiasts gathered on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2006 in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center for the awards ceremony that kicked off a successful day of celebrating West Virginia history. Department of Education and the Arts cabinet secretary Kay Goodwin was assisted by Dr. Robert S. Conte, chairman, and Dr. Kenneth R. Bailey, vice chairman of the West Virginia Archives and History Commission, in presenting History Hero awards to 38 individuals from around the state for their grassroots-level contributions to the preservation, promotion and perpetuation of the state’s rich history. City and county historical, preservation and genealogical groups and two regional museums provided nominations for the awards. A complete list of this year’s recipients, along with a brief explanation of their contributions, is enclosed. Photos of the winners are available at www.wvculture.org/agency/press/historyday06.html.

Throughout the day, the State Capitol Rotunda was filled with exhibitors and reenactors all eager to share their enthusiasm for the history of the state. The tenth History Day was a joint effort of the West Virginia Archives and History Commission, Friends of West Virginia Culture and History, Mining Your History Foundation, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, Inc., West Virginia Humanities Council, West Virginia Association of Museums, West Virginia Historical Association, West Virginia Historical Society and West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

Next year’s event is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007. For more information about History Day or the History Hero awards, contact Fredrick Armstrong, director of archives and history for the Division, at (304) 558-0230, ext. 164.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

HISTORY HERO AWARDS 2006

The hero's name links to a photo approximately 500KB in size, suitable for printing. The caption for the photo is below the hero's biography, Several heroes were not on hand for the ceremony..

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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero James S. Bailey, Delegate Brent Boggs, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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 Bridge.

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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Richard Blake, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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, 2005.

Nominated by Wood County Historic Landmarks Commission

Walter S. 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 to 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 files.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Walter S. Carpenter, Delegate Otis A. Leggett, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by Pleasants County Historical Society

Susan Everson Church is a nationally recognized Civil War historian. In addition to serv-ing 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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Susan Everson Church, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by Historic Area at WVU Jackson’s Mill

Kenneth F. Craft Jr. has spent years tracing his family roots. He has authored 13 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 53 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.
Delegate Timothy R. Ennis, Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Kenneth F. Craft, Jr., Delegate Jack Yost, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by Brooke County Genealogy Organization

Mary Sleeth Creamer, a member of Hacker’s Creek Pioneer Descendants (HCPD) 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

Steve Fesenmaier 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 15 years. He co-founded the West Virginia Filmmakers Guild and the West Virginia Filmmakers Film Festival in Sutton.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Steve Fesenmaier, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Sister Joanne Gonter, V.H.M., and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by Wheeling Area Historical Society

Ruby Greathouse, 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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Ruby Greathouse, Delegate Timothy R. Ennis, Delegate Jack Yost, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Heroes Ray and Sandra Harper, Delegate Otis A. Leggett, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by Ritchie County Historical Society

June Jefferson copied application records for naturalization and transferred them to pages, resulting in the creation of 11 indexed books covering the period of 1837-1904. Jefferson also created a book from more than 200 memorial cards that she collected, copied, and alphabetized. These books have been added to the Ohio County Public Library. She hopes to produce another book with cards collected from all over the United States.

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 byways. She served on the board of Preservation Alliance from 2002 to 2005.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Debra Keddie, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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 15 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 more than 40 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 this area.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero James G. Legg, Delegate Linda Sumner, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by Fayette and Raleigh Counties Genealogical Society

For more than 50 years JoAnn Lough has been preserving and promoting the history of this state. As a professor at Fairmont State University, she started the Costume Museum and produced and wrote plays on local history. She portrays Julia Pierpont as a re-enactor and established “The Pierpont Room” at Fairmont State. Through her efforts, May 28, 2005, was proclaimed Julia Pierpont Day by the state, city and county. She single-handedly stopped the demolition of the Marion County Jail and is now working to preserve the historic Methodist Temple. Lough is chair of the Fairmont Historic Landmarks Commission and a member of numerous organizations, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, Marion County Historical Society, Woodlawn Cemetery Society, and the City Cemetery Restoration Project.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, Delegate Mike Caputo, History Hero JoAnn Lough, Delegate Tim Manchin, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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. Since 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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Linda Murdock, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Joseph D. Parriott, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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. Pettit does all these things out of the goodness of his heart and love for the Historic Madie Carroll House.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Richard Pettit, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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 10 years. During that period they have raised more than $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 35 people per meeting. The Roleffs have also been involved in other projects, including the Carskadon Mansion, Nancy Hanks birthplace, and The Stone House.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Heroes Linda and Frank Roleff, Delegate Allen V. Evans, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by Mineral County Historical Society

Clifford Rutherford, a genealogist for 20 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 commun-ity events.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Clifford Rutherford, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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 13 historical books on the region, including History of Homes and Families, Princeton-Athens Area, West Virginia. 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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, unidentified, History Hero William Sanders, unidentified, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by Mercer County Historical Society

Ray and Judy Schmitt, founders of Real Earth Productions, have produced more than 30 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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Heroes Ray and Judy Schmitt, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Walter B. "Bud" Shaver, Delegate Debbie Stevens, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Gerald R. Sites, Delegate Allen V. Evans, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Adith Spencer, Delegate and Mrs. Larry Border, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by Wirt County Historical Society

Bettie Steele has been a member of the West Virginia Independence Hall (WVIH) Foundation for more than 15 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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Bettie Steele, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation

Virgil and Ruby Bland Swadley have been members of the Pendleton County Historical Society for years. Ruby has served as secretary and been the Union District representative for the past 17 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 10 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 history book.

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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Pat Phillips Wendell, unidentified, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Robert C. Whetsell, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

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 15 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

Victor Jenkins Wilson, a Jenkins family descendant, 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 Madie Carroll House Preservation Society and Save the Historic Martha Bridge, Inc.
Robert Conte, chairman of the Archives and History Commission, History Hero Victor Phillips Wilson, Johnny Nance, unidentified, Ken Hechler, and Kay Goodwin, secretary of Education and the Arts

Nominated by Greenbottom Society, Inc.

Ginny Painter
Director of Public Information
West Virginia Division of Culture and History
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Blvd., East
Charleston, WV 25305
Phone (304) 558-0220, ext. 120
Fax (304) 558-2779
Email ginny.painter@wvculture.org