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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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