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Meet
West Virginia's
History Heroes
For 2001


William Adler of Weston is a lifelong devotee of historic preservation in Lewis County. For 11 years (1982-1993) he shared the history of Lewis County in "Yesteryears," a column in the Weston Democrat. Bill has devoted much of his life to saving historic Weston. An advocate for the construction of Stonewall Jackson Dam, he is more familiar with the history of flooding in central West Virginia than anyone. As a member of the Weston Historic Landmark Commission, he made significant contributions to a walking tour map of historic Weston, and is currently working on an extended history of the city. Nominated by the Weston Historic Landmark Commission.

Maurice Allman of Philippi is a "founding father" of Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants (HCPD), one of the state's foremost genealogical and historical societies. A member of the board of directors since its inception in 1982, he served six years as president. With his direct assistance, HCPD has been the recipient of more than $40,000 in grants from various sources during the past decade. Allman is co-chairman of HCPD's West Virginia Cemetery Preservation and Maintenance Board, a committee devoted to the cooperative preservation of small family-owned and/or neglected cemeteries around the state. Nominated by Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants Board.

Shirley Ashcraft of West Union has been preserving West Virginia's family and local history for more than a year and has compiled pictorial histories on the Kester, Orr and Ashcraft families. She has spent countless hours photographing old homes, churches and forgotten cemeteries and is currently gathering histories and photographs of all the churches in Doddridge and Tyler counties. She provided historical photographs for Easton Printing's West Virginia Calendars for 2000 and 2001. Nominated by Swiger Run Research History Library.

Nancy Slate Bickerstaff of Fairmont is a volunteer in the Marion County community and was named Volunteer of the Year 2000. She works tirelessly to build coalitions between the Marion County Historical Society and other community organizations and individuals. She has pulled together many events for the society, among them the "Gazing Back in Time" festival and historic Christmas celebration. She served as chairperson of the historic house tours project, spearheaded restoration of downtown Historic Church Bells, facilitated historic registration of the local high school and worked with the downtown streetscape project. Nominated by Marion County Historical Society.

Boyd Boggs of Glenville created 24 pen-and-ink drawings that capture essential aspects of Gilmer County history. His work includes seven sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Job's Temple, John E. Arbuckle House, Little Kanawha Valley Bank, Cedarville School, Duck Run Cable Suspension Bridge, old Glenville Bridge and Ruddell General Store. Derived from historic themes, other drawings include historic sternwheel riverboats, county schools, an early 1900s gas/oil well field, commercial buildings, the Cedar Creek State Park one-room school and log cabin office, and the Glenville State College Clock Tower. A Gilmer County native and World War II veteran, he connects his artistic vision to historic themes and structures to stimulate a county vision for heritage preservation as a legacy for its future. Nominated by Gilmer Arts & Heritage Council, Inc.

Violet Britner of Rowlesburg is a charter member of the Rowlesburg Area Historical Society. She volunteers at the society's Genealogy Library, orders books for the library, researches family history, maintains membership records, works on special projects and helps with fund-raisers. For five years she has served as treasurer for the group. Nominated by Rowlesburg Area Historical Society.

Hester Byrum of Wheeling is a charter member of Friends of Wheeling, West Virginia's oldest historic preservation organization. She served as treasurer of the organization from 1969 to 1989 and is now director emeritus. She has had perfect attendance at Friends of Wheeling activities and events for more than 20 years. She also researched, wrote and portrayed Sarah Beck in the "Tavern Ladies," a program she produced for the National Pike Festival and other festivals and schools. Nominated by Friends of Wheeling.

Wes Cochran of Parkerburg is known throughout the state by most who have researched genealogy. You would be hard pressed to enter any library in the state and not find a census book, regional history, etc., from Cochran Publications. For years, his research has been used and accepted as citations for many books and DAR membership applications. Nominated by West Augusta Historical & Genealogical Association.

Susan K. Conner of Charleston coordinated the collection of eight historic Capitol photographs and their installation in the present Capitol. She donated legal, media, event planning, and government relations services valued at $15,000-$20,000, and collected and disbursed more than $8,000 in private funds for the installation of the photographs and three related ceremonial events. She made two formal presentations to the Capitol Building Commission, compiled an annotated chronology of West Virginia Capitols, generated extensive newspaper and television coverage, and gave an interview broadcast on West Virginia Public Radio. Conner also speaks about the State Capitol to local organizations and serves on the board of directors of the Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society. Nominated by Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society.

Deemy Dick of Moundsville is a lifelong resident of West Virginia and a resident of Marshall County since 1957. She is a retired school teacher, has served 45 years as a member of the Salvation Army and received the Catherine Booth Award of Honor, State of WV Distinguished West Virginian, Bicentennial Salute Contribution Celebration 1776-1976. She authored Echoes From the WV Hills and Lessons of Life, is a member of the Girl Scouts, Rainbow Girls, Eastern Star, Marshall County Historical Society and Retired Teachers Association, and has a lifelong dedication to our state and community. Nominated by Marshall County Historical Society.

Billy Joe Edwards of True began the resurrection of a dormant Summers County Historical Society in 1977. He spearheaded the effort to have the Summers County Court House placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1984, he authored a history of Summers County, which has become a collector's item. He began collecting data and inventorying cemeteries in 1992 and published a book of inventoried cemeteries in 1996. He is presently working on family genealogy and a Summers County historical museum. Nominated by Summers County Historical Society.

Terrell B. Ellis of Charleston has individually and through her company assisted many organizations and communities to incorporate and preserve their local history and historic structures in planning and development projects. Ellis's demonstrated leadership in historic preservation is reflected in her tenure as President of Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, one of the two West Virginia Advisors to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and as President of the West Virginia Land Trust. In these offices she worked untiringly to protect and promote the state's architectural and cultural treasures. Nominated by Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.

Everett Ellison of Glenville has been a carpenter, building designer, building inspector, building contractor, etc., in Gilmer County for more than 50 years. He built the NYA building (now the board of education bus repair building) and the Troy School Gym. He designed and built four commercial buildings in Glenville and repaired, remodeled or built more than 60 houses and other structures. He is active in the first Baptist Church, Lions, F.F.W., Adjutant American Legion Post 42. Nominated by Gilmer County Historical Society.

Rita Emerson of Coxs Mills exemplifies the best in authentic Appalachian history: a passion for teaching and preserving traditional music, verse and folk tales. Her cultural vision extended to the revitalization of the West Virginia State Folk Festival. During the 1960s and 70s, she and a few friends realized the Festival was losing local public support. She was directly involved with the preservation and revitalization efforts and was selected to represent Gilmer County as the 1980 Folk Festival Belle. Nominated by West Virginia State Folk Festival, Inc.

R. Ferrell Friend of Ivydale is a photographer who worked for Charleston Newspapers. In 1976 when students at a Clay County school started "Hickory and Lady Slippers, Life and Legend of Clay County People," he provided help and suggestions. He helped students and teacher Jerry Stover publish "Ivydale and Vicinity," which contained information about his own family and the people of Clay County. He has captured images that will last in the hearts and minds of the people for many generations. Nominated by Clay County Landmarks Commission & Historical Society.

Marvin Gelhausen of Grafton worked for the Mountain Statesman for several years and took hundreds of pictures that document the county for future generations. He has helped promote all historical projects through his pictures and articles, and works with all groups to help protect our history. Gelhausen wrote most of the bylines for a new book, Images of America: Taylor County. He serves as editor of the Taylor Times, a weekly publication of the Times West Virginian. Nominated by Taylor County Historical Society.

Billie Sue Graybeal of Huntington, a member of Huntington's Buford Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, was named a winner in the National American Heritage Music Contest. In addition to writing the winning song "America: Right or Wrong," she sang the song and accompanied herself on the guitar. She also rededicated the Confederate Plot in Spring Hill Cemetery and unveiled a West Virginia historical highway marker commemorating the site. She has spent much time doing genealogical research and has proven that Sarah Boone, Daniel Boone's sister, is her eighth great-grandmother. Nominated by Huntington Chapter 150, United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Lena Gordon Hall of Princeton organized the Middle New River Genealogical Society and served as president for three years from 1993 to 1996. She has written and edited the society's newsletter since 1996 and serves as secretary. She researched and wrote some family history for the 1987 Mercer County history book. She assisted the librarian of the Wiley Cabin Museum, has aided families in conducting research and obtained records for out-of-state researchers. Nominated by Middle New River Genealogical Society.

Mary Harman of Franklin was a teacher in Pendleton County and from 1973 to 1988 served as president of the Pendleton County Historical Society. During her tenure Grave Registers of Pendleton County and Pictorial History of Pendleton County were published and several buildings were placed on 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., WV Past and Present and for her work in the historical society by the Pendleton Times. Nominated by Pendleton County Historical Society.

Mark Harris of Buffalo was one of the founders of the Buffalo Historical Society, which was organized in 1989 to restore and maintain the Buffalo Academy. In 1991 he was instrumental in having the Academy and the nearby Presbyterian and Methodist churches put on the National Register of Historic Places. Since then he has been the editor of the society quarterly and chairman of the group. He also organized Buffalo's annual Heritage Days and the Civil War weekend and has been chairman of the celebration each year since it began. He is presently working with the Native American Council of West Virginia, the town of Buffalo and archaeological interests on plans to manage the Buffalo Indian Village Site. Nominated by Upper Vandalia Historical Society.

Buford Hartsog of MacArthur retired after 33 years teaching in public schools. He has served on the board of directors for the Youth Museum since 1976. Before the museum had a permanent home, he operated a mobile unit and visited area schools with historical artifacts he had collected and preserved. He secured four boxcars from CSX for a permanent home on a lot deeded to the museum by the city of Beckley. He has located, secured and reassembled at the museum the following buildings: a two-story log house, barn, blacksmith shop, one-room school, weaver's room, country store and play house. For the Beckley Exhibition Mine, he helped relocate Pemberton Church, Miners Shanty from Helen, superintendent's home from Skelton, and a two-room building from Berry Branch at Helen. Nominated by Raleigh County Historical Society.

Phyllis Henthorn of Middlebourne is a founding member of the Tyler County Historical & Heritage Society. She has worked with publication and distribution of the newsletter and special titles, served as treasurer since 1994, and headed up the photograph collection and fund-raising activities for the society and its museum. In addition to administrative support, she is a dedicated volunteer, serving many hours as a hostess for the museum. Nominated by Tyler County Historical & Heritage Society.

Kenneth Hinkle of Bridgewater, Virginia, is a researcher for the Hinkle family of Pendleton County and president of the Hinkle Family Association. One of his recent projects was the fencing of the Hinkle Cemetery at the "Hinkle Fort." He has also written articles for the Hardy County History, Grant County Pictorial History, Pendleton County Pictorial History and various newspapers. He has participated in archaeological investigations at the Hinkle Fort site. At present he is overseeing the reprinting of the "Hinkle Family Genealogy," and is compiling and editing the "Paul Hinkle Diaries." Nominated by Pendleton County, West Virginia, Historical Preservation Association.

Ernestine Hippert of Huntington has devoted many hours to preservation of Cabell County history and has been an officer at KYOWVA for more than 12 years. She has worked tirelessly on numerous projects, including the 1860 Cabell County Census, Cabell County Marriages 1851-1899, Wayne County Marriages 1853-1899 and Cabell County Heritage 1809-1996. A retired school teacher, she also encourages local high school students and Boy Scouts to explore their roots. Nominated by KYOWVA.

Virginia B. Johnson of Charleston, registrar of John Young Chapter, Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) for five decades, has helped hundreds of West Virginia women trace their family histories. As a result of her endeavors, the John Young Chapter is now the largest DAR Chapter in the state. The daughter of a genealogist, she has worked relentlessly as an advocate for the West Virginia State Archives. For two years, she has created handcrafted arts to raise funds for the purchase of a new microfilm reader. Her current project is the transcription and indexing of the Christ United Methodist Church historical records. Nominated by John Young Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

Jim Lowry of Daniels retired from the Raleigh County Board of Education as a teacher and supervisor after 35 years. He has been treasurer of the board of directors of the Youth Museum since its formation in 1977. Since 1986 he has been instrumental in marking, taking down, moving and rebuilding the Old Homestead buildings, including a two-story log house, barn, blacksmith shop, one-room school, weaver's room, country store, and craftsman studio. He also helped remodel buildings at the Raleigh County 4-H camp. Nominated by Raleigh County Historical Society.

Carl Morris of Grantsville is a lifelong resident of Calhoun County and descendant of early settlers who played an important part in establishing the county. At age 82, he is the oldest active member of the Calhoun County Historical Society, and has generously supported society projects with his time and resources. As former sheriff, publisher of The Calhoun Chronicle, oil and gas producer, and owner of Calhoun Realty, Inc., he has an intimate knowledge of the county and its people. Nominated by Calhoun Historical Society.

John Nuzum of Mount Clare has spent innumerable hours in the past few years transcribing census records into legible form for historians and genealogists. Last year he completed the 1900 and 1910 census records of Taylor County. Anyone who has attempted to decipher the original hand-writing of the census taker and then picked up a printed record of the same census will understand why he is a true "history hero." Nominated by Harrison County Genealogical Society.

Elizabeth Osborne of Princeton is a real asset to the Mercer County Historical Society, where she has served as treasurer since 1994, assisted many students with their classroom research on local history, and sold society history books and yearly calendars at her place of business. She helped with the Mercer County Historical Museum and was instrumental in development of a railroad museum in Princeton. She has fought to preserve historical buildings and sites in her community, and has assisted others through- out the country researching local family connections. Nominated by Mercer County Historical Society.

Randall Ours of Petersburg assisted with a compilation of Grant County history and compiled a list of local graves of Union Soldiers. He is a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans and Sons of Union Veterans. He has helped with clean-up/restoration of Fort Mulligan, conducts interpretative tours of the site and is active in Civil War living history encampments. He has assisted applicants in obtaining the Civil War medals and serves on the board of directors of Hardy County Tours & Crafts Association for the Hardy County Heritage Weekend. Nominated by Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Ed Phillips of Wheeling has been actively involved in local and Civil War history. He served on the board of the Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable and is currently a board member of the Wheeling Area Historical Society. His untiring research has resulted in important books on General Benjamin Franklin Kelley and the Atheneum, a Civil War prison which was located in Wheeling. He has presented informative programs to many groups in the Wheeling area. Nominated by Wheeling Area Historical Society.

Charles T. (Chuck) Pierson of Charleston, a masonry restoration specialist, restored and preserved an irreplaceable mounting block, also called an "upping," in front of Holly Grove, the antebellum residence which is now part of the Capitol Complex. This block was badly damaged when a new sidewalk was constructed. He cleaned and epoxied the broken pieces, stained the filler and sealed the stone. He donated materials and services valued at nearly $1,000 to the project and intends to age his work this spring. Nominated by East End Review Board.

Gerald S. Ratliff of Charleston has been a longtime "history hero" as a member of the Kanawha Valley Genealogical Society for more than 15 years. He has served as director of the society and is a regular contributor of eastern Kanawha County history at meetings and other sessions. He has worked extensively in extracting obituaries from many of the old newspapers on file in the West Virginia State Archives Library and completed five books which are being used in a number of libraries and societies across the United States. Nominated by Kanawha Valley Genealogical Society.

Ed Rauh of Ravenswood has been involved in many aspects of preserving local heritage through his 20-year membership with the Jackson County Historical Society. He is trea-surer of the Washington's Lands Museum at Ravenswood where he has worked with others to set up an endowment fund for the museum. He prepares the budget each year and oversees upkeep and scheduling of workers. He has spent many volunteer hours at the museum greeting visitors, who leave with a greater appreciation of their heritage thanks to his enthusiasm and knowledge of local history. Nominated by Jackson County Historical Society.

Joy Salisbury of Gassaway has been an active member of the Windy Run Historical Association since its inception in 1995. She has served not only as secretary but also as a guide for school children and program and exhibit narrator. She is involved in the planning and implementation of programs, mowing and landscaping, hands-on fund-raising, and even the demolition and disposal of a derelict house. Without the efforts of volunteers like her, the Windy Run Historical Association could not have begun the restoration and preservation of the 1889 one-room Windy Run School. Nominated by Windy Run Historical Association.

David Scott of Harrisville is the founder of the Ritchie County Historical Society. He was elected president of the society in 1982 and holds the position at present. Under his leadership the society has published several books. He is noted as a genealogist and historian, and is an authority on local, regional and state history. Nominated by Ritchie County Historical Society, Inc.

Ann Serafin of Philippi was given the task of restoring "Adaland" Mansion in 1996, but this "task" has since become her labor of love. She has done an excellent job pulling the community together for a common goal and the results have been outstanding. She has worked tirelessly on the mansion, grounds and history surrounding the home, and is quick to "roll up her sleeves" and work with the volunteers. Nominated by Barbour County Historical Society and Museum.

Kenny Shobe of Fisher is a charter member of McNeill's Rangers Camp #582, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and served as 2nd Lt. Commander and Commander. He was on the committee that compiled and published the 1991 History of Grant County. During the past four years he has worked to open Fort Mulligan, a Civil War fort in Petersburg, clearing away brush, trees and multiflora rose, and writing proposals enabling the South Branch Civil War Society to receive $77,000 in state funds to complete work on the fort. His efforts have been critical to the restoration of Fort Mulligan. Nominated by Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War 7th WV Infantry Camp 7.

Shirley Sparks of Huntington joined the Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc., board of directors in April 1997. Since that time she has often acted as docent during special events and has assisted with decorating and cleaning at the historic Madie Carroll House. In honor of her father, a retired brick mason, she convinced her brother to volunteer to reconstruct the House's historic kitchen, which had deteriorated beyond repair. Nominated by Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc.

Mary E. Coss Staley of Martins Ferry, Ohio, a member of the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society (WAGS), has been an untiring advocate for the advancement of genealogical research in the Wheeling area. Her numerous activities include the compilation of local cemetery, church, census and marriage records for publication. She volunteers each Tuesday in the Wheeling Room of the Ohio County Public Library, helping researchers access available resources. Staley co-sponsors the WAGS web page and presently serves as vice-president, program chairman and hospitality chairman for the group. Nominated by Wheeling Area Genealogical Society.

Dr. Ray Swick of Parkersburg is a historian for West Virginia State Parks. He has devoted years to documenting and writing local history. He has specialized in the history of Blennerhassett Island and the lives of Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett. He has played a vital role in making Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park one of the state's most visited attractions. Nominated by Wood County Historical Society.

Jim Emerson Talbert of Lewisburg has served as the Greenbrier Historical Society archivist since 1997. He has overseen, collected and organized data for the 10 Greenbrier County cemetery books and index. He edited The Journal of the Greenbrier Historical Society from 1994 to 1997 and has contributed several articles to the journal, including "Greenbrier County's Historical Markers" in 1996; "The History of Lot 23" (in Lewisburg) in 1999; and "The History of Lot 27" in 2000. He has worked as a volunteer at the archaeological digs at Arbuckle Fort and at the North House Museum in Lewisburg, and has served as chair of the Lewisburg Landmarks Commission. Nominated by Greenbrier Historical Society.

Jack Dempsy Warner of Seneca Rocks is a member of the Brig. Gen. James Boggs' Camp #1706, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and an associate member of the Bonnie Blue. He participates in living history events and reenactments of the Civil War all over the United States. He promotes the history of graveyards and placing proper gravestones is one of his favorite activities. Phoebe Warner, for whom the Order of the Bonnie Blue Phoebe Warner Chapter is named, was his great-great-great grandmother. Nominated by Order of the Bonnie Blue, Phoebe Warner Chapter.

Harley E. Warrick of Wheeling, a barn sign painter, for years was familiar to many in south Wheeling as he stopped to pick up his paycheck at Bloch Brothers Tobacco Co., one of West Virginia's oldest companies. Part of a two-man crew which painted "Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco" on barns from Maryland to Missouri, the unassuming Warrick was the sort of man of which legends are made. Attired in trademark coveralls and painter's cap, he drew nationwide media attention. Nominated by Friends of Wheeling.

Ed Weaver of Burlington is the owner of the Service Station Museum in Burlington. This museum has attracted visitors from around the world. He has spent years collecting antiques to add to the museum and is always willing to share his immense knowledge with others. Nominated by Mineral County Historical Society.

Rick Whisman of Huntington was one of the founders of Guyandotte Civil War Days and Raid on Guyandotte Inc. He was the first president of the organization, then under the umbrella of the Madie Carroll House Society, and served for five years, guiding the group to its current independent organizational status. He is an avid collector of Civil War memorabilia and furnished a Civil War museum at the Madie Carroll House for five years during the reenactment of the Confederate raid on Guyandotte. Nominated by Guyandotte Civil War Days.

Bill Williams of Saint Albans has been an active member of both the Saint Albans Historical Society and the Kanawha Valley Chapter of the West Virginia Archaeological Society for many years. He is the author of the booklet, Bicentennial of the Burning of Ft. Tackett, and wrote numerous articles for a book on the history of Saint Albans. Over the years, he has displayed his rare collection of Native American projectile points at schools, fairs and open houses. Through his research, the exact location of Fort Tackett, which was destroyed by Native Americans in 1790, was located. Nominated by Saint Albans Historical Society.

Hilda Williams of Tunnelton is an invaluable asset to the Tunnelton Historical Society. Her steadfastness, conscientious attitude and tireless labors for the society have brought much-needed financial support to this fledgling organization. She is instrumental in collecting and organizing goods for the society's rummage sales and annual Tunnelton Depot Day bake sale, and is responsible for tabulating the proceeds from these events. Nominated by Tunnelton Historical Society.

Vesta Wilson of Rock Cave has provided years of service and support to numerous projects and organizations in Upshur County. Born in Gaines in 1915, she grew up in the community of Arlington, at which time Fidler's Mill was owned and operated by Russell Fidler. The preservation and restoration of Fidler's Mill is a project that she has been actively involved in since the early 1980s. Whether fund-raising, cleaning the structure and equipment, painting or acting as a tour guide on weekends, she approaches each task with the hope of preserving a piece of history for many generations to enjoy. Nominated by Friends of Fidler's Mill.

Geraldine Workman of Lansing has worked tirelessly and quietly in the fields of genealogy, historical identification and preservation. She is a charter member of the Fayette and Raleigh County Genealogical Society and held numerous offices. As archivist she spends many hours researching and answering inquiries that are directed to the society. She co-authored four census books for Fayette County, invested 20 years in the preservation of the records of hundreds of cemeteries, and as a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, helped identify 20 unknown Confederate soldiers buried in a local Civil War interment site. Nominated by Genealogy Society of Fayette and Raleigh Counties.

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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