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Meet
West Virginia's
History Heroes
For 2014

What is a History Hero?


Pat Adams, 3rd vice president of the Wyoming County Historical Museum, is a member of the display committee and regularly volunteers to open the museum on Saturdays. She has spent much time cataloging the locations of cemeteries and graves of historical people in the county and in cleaning graveyards. Adams also has used her expertise to locate local Native American travel routes in the county. She is president of the Wyoming County Genealogical Society and also served as chairman of the committee that published Wyoming County Heritage in 1995.
Nominated by Wyoming County Historical Museum

For more than 40 years, Robert Henry “Bob Henry” Baber has been an advocate for learning, preserving, and loving West Virginia history. His projects have been numerous—from collecting biographical sketches of the state’s military veterans and writing a history of Richwood to advancing the efforts to preserve Blair Mountain and dramatizing the need to beautify Yeager Airport’s hillside with native trees. Baber is current vice president and program assistant of the Gilmer County Historical Society and project director of Glenville State College’s West Virginia Veterans Legacy Project.
Nominated by Gilmer County Historical Society

Barbara Banister is a hard working member of the Rowlesburg Area Historical Society and has given many hours to printing brochures, helping with grants, researching the Internet, and compiling books and materials for the organization. She also created a Web site for the society. Banister’s devotion to the organization has aided tremendously in fulfilling the society’s goals and projects.
Nominated by Rowlesburg Area Historical Society

Ann Bell is the consummate preservationist, and she practices and models preservation in her professional life as well as in her work with the Greenbrier Historical Society. As chair of the Museums Committee since 2009, she leads the group in determining what items to accept into the collection and which items to include on a wish list for acquisition. Bell has been active with several other committees, especially with the Homes Tour Committee, volunteering her properties to be on the tour and assisting with tour organization and volunteer recruitment. In addition, she has been a member of the board of directors since 2006.
Nominated by Greenbrier Historical Society, Inc.

Nancy Carol Burford, recording secretary of the Jackson County Historical Society, has been the director of Washington’s Western Lands Museum for the past year. She has transformed the museum from a disparate collection of old stuff into an attractive display of Jackson County, especially Ravenswood history. Burford spearheaded a comprehensive inventory of the collection, developed a plan for reorganizing the museum’s layout, decided on exhibits to highlight, and worked to bring her plan to fruition, organizing work parties and coordinating volunteers to open the museum over the summer. She also sponsored a contest in the county high schools to design a logo for the museum.
Nominated by Jackson County Historical Society

T. J. Coleman is the primary organizer and researcher for the Aubrey Stewart Project, which was founded to recognize the historical significance and sacrifice of the murdered World War II African American soldier from Piedmont and to bring his story to the public. Coleman developed an audiovisual presentation of Stewart’s story, and he has made presentations to numerous groups, including the West Virginia House of Delegates Veterans Service Committee in 2013.
Nominated by Mineral County Historical Society

Danny M. Culver has helped with the Mercer County Heritage Festival since it began in 2012. After providing a living history presentation in the first year, in the second year he was responsible for coordinating events, such as opening ceremonies, scheduling living history interpreters, coordinating re-enactors, and troubleshooting during the festival in addition to giving his own presentation. He also helped with fundraising. During the year, Culver went to other festivals to promote the event, and his efforts paid off as the number of participants grew enormously from the inaugural event.
Nominated by Mercer County Historical Society, Inc.

Lee M. Estep has been a dedicated member of the Fayette and Raleigh Counties Genealogical Society since its formation in 1983. He currently serves as secretary, but since 1986 he has held a number of offices, including president, second vice president, and corresponding secretary. During these years, he has worked steadily and tirelessly to contribute to the viability and growth of the organization. Estep has volunteered for projects to record cemeteries and to research and copy family and historical information at the courthouse. In addition, he has compiled information, proof read materials for publication, and performed research for others.
Nominated by Fayette and Raleigh Counties Genealogical Society

A 25-year member of the Wheeling Chapter, NSDAR, Sally Wells Ezell has served as chaplain and finance chairman and has headed many committees to promote historical preservation. She currently is chapter registrar. While membership was in decline, Ezell conducted several workshops and worked with individuals on their family history, resulting in new members for the chapter. She has presented many programs to the chapter and has written articles on several historical sites in the Ohio Valley. She also is state chairman of the Blanche Reymann Scholarship.
Nominated by Wheeling Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

Susan M. Hardesty has tirelessly researched the life, family, and record of James C. McGrew and, after years of work, published James C. McGrew: Statesman and Servant in 2013. A retired educator, she portrays McGrew’s wife Persis at society events and also shares her knowledge with tour groups, school children, and community organizations. Hardesty has been society secretary since 2009, and she is co-chair of the McGrew Anniversary Program Book, co-chair of the Major Donations Index, and co-creator of the Web site. From 2010 to 2013, she oversaw and documented the trees and shrubs across the property.
Nominated by Society for Preservation of McGrew House, Inc.

Jean Hatfield is the driving force within Guyandotte Civil War Days. She has been treasurer since 2007, having also served a previous term in office. From cover to cover, she is involved in preparing the event program. Hatfield also heads the effort to secure speakers for the historical lecture series, coordinates decorating the town and fundraising, and helps prepare breakfast for the troops. In addition, she is treasurer of the Border Rangers Chapter 2580, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and past chair of the City of Huntington Foundation, where she researched citizens for the Wall of Fame.
Nominated by Guyandotte Civil War Days and Raid on Guyandotte, Inc.

In 2013, Alexandra Jebbia, a WVU Public History student, reconstructed an index to the Arthurdale Heritage museum archives and holdings, which had been lost some years ago. She spent about two days each week going through the files and physical property to prepare an index, and she plans to continue the work in 2014 until it is completed. Her work is a great asset to the society and enables better use of the archives.
Nominated by Arthurdale Heritage, Inc.

David Johnson converted early funeral home records from a DOS database to the Windows operating program and brought in additional records. The result is a program that contains information from four county funeral homes for nearly 10,000 decedents from 1927 to 2009. The information is now available in CD format.
Nominated by Ritchie County Historical Society, Inc.

Under the leadership of Lee Kelvington and Baird Kloss, the Wheeling Big Band Society, Inc., has worked for several years to preserve the music and heritage of the big band era. In addition to creating and organizing exhibits and reunion shows, one of the society’s major projects has been the book It’s Wheeling Steel: The Story of Wheeling’s ‘Coast to Coast’ Celebrated Radio Program, on which Kelvington and Kloss partnered with the Wheeling National Heritage Area to publish in 2012.
Nominated by Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation

Jane Klug, president for the past two years, has brought “spark” back into the Marshall County Historical Society. Her enthusiasm and commitment have been true assets. She tirelessly worked to organize the West Virginia 150th birthday celebration at four historic sites. Klug worked with students at Sherrard Middle School to create a Marshall County coloring book, and she also successfully worked to protect and preserve two historic 19th-century cemeteries. In addition, she has diplomatically negotiated difficult business transactions that benefitted the work of the society.
Nominated by Marshall County Historical Society

Joetta McCallister Kuhn has been vice president of the Boone County Genealogical Society since 2005. In 2013, she gave seven genealogical lectures at several libraries in Kanawha and Boone counties. Kuhn has assisted with newsletter articles, compiled vital records, helped library patrons with genealogical and historical research, and taken society publications to fairs. She is the author or co-author of articles in volumes 8 and 9 of Kith and Kin and compiled records for Volume 31.
Nominated by Boone County Genealogical Society

Because of volunteers like Priscilla Lawson, the Craik-Patton House stands as a testament to the early history of the Kanawha Valley and Charleston’s first residents. She has helped in several positions over the years and currently is secretary of Craik-Patton, Inc. She also is a docent, assisting with group tours and special events. In addition, Lawson is chair of the Museum Committee and is leading the effort to digitize and number more than 500 artifacts in the collection. Her leadership and up-to-date museum management eventually will allow the collection to become available to the public via the Internet.
Nominated by Craik-Patton House

Lonnie Leek is a man who loves to work in the background, and most of his work goes unnoticed. However, if it were not for him, the Tyler County Museum might have fallen into disrepair. He has been the caretaker of the museum for more than ten years and nearly every day goes to the museum, checks every room, makes necessary repairs, and reports to the historical society president. Leek also has taken over care of the lawn, the memorial brick walkway, the one-room school house, and the log cabin.
Nominated by Tyler County Museum

Richard T. Lowe has made a palpable difference in preserving and sharing the state’s rich history. For more than 25 years, he has been a supporter of the Beauchamp-Newman Museum, and he oversaw a major fundraising project in 2011 and spearheaded a project to obtain a security system for the museum. He prepared an Images of America book on Wirt County in 2010. In 2011, Lowe coordinated a ceremony to mark the centennial of the courthouse. He also has worked to establish a historical house museum in the McClung-Morgan House, which offers docent-led tours and exhibits.
Nominated by Wirt County Historical Society

Bonnie Mueller has been a central figure in deciding the fate of the Cockayne Farmstead since the last family resident died in 2001. She is the immediate past president of the Marshall County Historical Society (2009-2012), and, as president, she established the direction of the farmstead preservation project in collaboration with the project committee. Mueller played a vital role in the restoration of the circa 1850 house, and her belief in the project was essential in encouraging residents of Glen Dale to support the work. Currently, she serves on the Cockayne Farmstead Preservation Project Committee and on the historical society board of directors.
Nominated by Cockayne Farmstead Preservation Project

Nola Jean Parks has been a member of the Ohio Valley Chapter, NSDAR, since 2001 and has served as vice regent, treasurer, and registrar. She encourages support of West Virginia soldiers at home and abroad and providing assistance to veterans. Through her persistent efforts, the chapter was able to donate approximately $1,500 toward purchase of a track chair for a veteran with severe mobility limitations. Parks also is a wealth of information on genealogy and can speak with authority on research and validating documentation. She currently is state chairman of the U.S. Flag Committee.
Nominated by Ohio Valley Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

A former social studies teacher, Gary L. Rider helped students realize history could be discovered in the stories of family, neighbors, and friends. His students interviewed veterans and recorded their experiences, which made history come alive and seeded Rider’s ongoing project to preserve and make available the first-hand accounts of Marshall County veterans. Rider works part time at the library, where he assists patrons with local history and genealogical research and offers programs. He promotes the public library as a vital resource for life-long learning, research, and access to historical and archival materials, civic engagement, and as a place for discovering and preserving the community identity.
Nominated by Moundsville-Marshall County Public Library

Royce B. Saville is a member of the Romney History Festival Committee and transitional member of the former Romney 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee. He is a charter member of Hampshire Camp 284, Sons of Confederate Veterans; Fort Mill Ridge Foundation; and Fort Edwards Foundation; and is a longtime member of the Romney Historic Landmark Commission, serving as chair for 2014. A member of Indian Mound Cemetery Association, Saville is actively involved in efforts to preserve the Confederate monument there. He has given numerous presentations on local heritage and preservation, and he participated in the public television documentaries Road Trip to History—Romney and Road through Romney—250 Years.
Nominated by City of Romney History Festival Committee, Romney Historic Landmark Commission

Robert Sayre has been actively involved in all significant activities and projects of the Raleigh County Historical Society since the 1970s. He is the past president and current treasurer. An attorney, Sayre filed suit for the society when there was a threat to the property containing the foundation ruins of a grist mill erected by General Alfred Beckley. The City of Beckley acquired title to the Beckley Mill property, where plans are underway to create a public park. He also organized the Wildwood Cemetery Preservation Association in 2000.
Nominated by Raleigh County Historical Society

A retired United Methodist pastor, Lawrence Franklin Sherwood Jr. serves on the West Virginia Annual Conference Commission on Archives and History. He was a charter member of the conference historical society and its first vice president, and he also has served as a vice president of the National Association of Methodist Historical Societies. For many years, Sherwood has been considered the “Historian in Residence” of the annual conference, and in 2011 he was presented a Distinguished Historian Award for his historical research, writing, and teaching. His publications include History of West Virginia Methodism (1964) and The Tours of Bishop Francis Asbury in West Virginia, 1776-1815 (2011).
Nominated by West Virginia Annual Conference Commission on Archives and History

Angela Shoemaker is an invaluable part of the Veterans Museum of the Mid-Ohio Valley. As a volunteer in the past year, she organized the veterans’ day cookout and a celebration of service event to repaint a veteran’s home. She has spent countless hours keeping the Stepping Stones of Honor monument free of moss and debris. Shoemaker helped paint the inside of the museum and install new walls, and she found funding for a new steam vacuum. She also has spent hours researching donations and laboring over stacks of papers to verify medals and awards. Without her efforts, the museum would not have the life stories of veterans.
Nominated by Veterans Museum of the Mid-Ohio Valley

Barbara A. Smith is a commissioner for the Philippi Historic Landmark Commission and a life member of the Barbour County Historical Society. A retired college professor, she has written books, pamphlets, and articles on leading historical figures in Barbour County and on city and county history. Smith has been described as a “county and state treasure” for her efforts to preserve the county’s history. Her latest publication is a story of written wills in north central West Virginia, and she currently is editing a second volume of memoirs of the retired president of Alderson-Broaddus College.
Nominated by Barbour County Chamber of Commerce

Howard C. “Bud” Smith has been a volunteer and member of the Hacker’s Creek Pioneer Descendants since 2007 and a member of the board of directors since 2011. He was instrumental in preserving the library’s collection of historical maps by arranging for the reproduction of many of them and their placement in map holders. Smith recently spearheaded the construction of a museum area and an archival storage area for the preservation of county court records. In addition to contributing physical labor for several months, he designed the space, which provides areas for display of library artifacts and research of library court records.
Nominated by Hacker’s Creek Pioneer Descendants

Doris “Mickey” St. Clair is a champion for historic preservation in West Virginia. Last spring, when the Huntington in Bloom project was proposed, she suggested that the Historic Carroll House be its historic site project. St. Clair worked with sponsors to provide the needed plantings and spent more than a month working at the house making the site a beautiful contribution to the project. She was a leader in the effort to restore and preserve Heritage Station in Huntington and currently is working with others on restoration of the Coin Harvey House.
Nominated by Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc.

Dawn Elaine Taylor designed a format for indexing the Pleasants County Historical Society’s archive of photographs and artifacts for posting on the Internet. Working with a group of volunteers, hundreds of items have been indexed, and she organized the volunteers to continue the work. A reliable resource for the preparation of materials for the county’s GenWeb site, Taylor also has read and photographed headstones in cemeteries, researched Civil War veteran graves and set markers, and worked with the senior citizens center in preparing historical programs.
Nominated by Pleasants County Historical Society

Robert Thompson began researching family history when he was 12 years of age and became a member of a local historical society soon thereafter. Working with his father, he created tombstones to mark the graves of ancestors. Thompson became interested in the history of East Lynn and wrote a book on it when a college freshman. Since then, he has published eight more books, the latest in 2013 on the Wayne County poor farm. A social studies teacher at Wayne High School, he sponsored the Coal Fair to improve knowledge of coal history and culture.
Nominated by KYOWVA Genealogical and Historical Society

A member of the Roane County Historical Society since 2005, Susan Tucker has served as first vice president and is the current recording secretary. She has spearheaded the preservation of the society’s printed material and also participated in the digitization of newspapers for the society and county library. She created CDs which are searchable on computers. In addition, Tucker works with the annual genealogy fair and has represented the society at other fairs to sell books and materials. She also participates in maintenance of the History Room at the Roane County Library.
Nominated by Roane County Historical Society

Clifford and Sue Weese own and operate Cliff’s Museum of Car Memorabilia in Harrisville, which presents a mid-1940s car dealership with auto-related memorabilia, showroom, parts room, repair shop, and display room. A small restaurant display is included. The building houses mostly West Virginia collectables, including one of the most complete collections of West Virginia licenses. The museum also has an automobile research library, antique shop equipment, and antique cars.
Nominated by Ritchie County Historical Museum, Inc.

Longtime Civil War re-enactors, Jim and Barbara Wood have worked hard during the Civil War sesquicentennial. In addition to presentations on Confederate soldiers from West Virginia to various civic and school groups, they participated in the annual Confederate Memorial Day Service at Oakwood-Resthaven Cemetery and the Confederate Living History event at the West Virginia Welcome Center. Jim is a charter member of Camp 1694, Sons of Confederate Veterans, while Barbara has been a member of Princeton Chapter 1876, United Daughters of the Confederacy, since 1995. The couple also recently cleaned and preserved the Johnston Family Cemetery.
Nominated by Camp 1694, Sons of Confederate Veterans

It would be hard to find a photographer who has done more to protect, preserve, and add to the state’s photographic history than Gary Wayne Zearott. For decades, he has searched for old photographs of the Wheeling area and has preserved and duplicated them. His original photographs include a valuable record of the demolition of Mount de Chantal and repairs to the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, for which he served as official photographer when major repairs were done in the 1980s. In June 2013, Zearott documented Wheeling events that took place during the sesquicentennial celebration.
Nominated by Friends of Wheeling

Click here to view History Hero photographs taken by the division photographer

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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