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West Virginia's
History Heroes
For 2004

What is a History Hero?

After a tour of duty in the military, Dr. Stanley "Judd" Anderson returned to further his education. The former superintendent of Webster County Schools and instructor at Glenville State College has written and published nine genealogical and historical books. He has worked diligently on cemetery records and on relocating and replicating the Windy Gap One-Room School at Holly River State Park. Currently, he is promoting Civil War veterans and activities in the area and he frequently does volunteer work relating to historical projects in his community. Nominated by Webster County Historical Society.

Frances Bonar has been a member of the Mound Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) since 1982. Currently, she is leading the Chapter in her third term as regent. She also has served as chapter secretary for six years and constitution chairman for ten years. In addition, Ms. Bonar compiled the NSDAR State Regent Press Book for the Mound Chapter, served on the election board of the State DAR, and received the Community Achievement Award for successfully spearheading the committee to save Fork Ridge Universalist Church. She is a charter member of the Marshall County Historical Society, served as an officer for 12 years, and is now chairman of the Museum Committee. She also serves on the Landmarks Commission for Moundsville. Nominated by Mound Chapter, NSDAR.

Cynthia Buskirk is an avid member of the Wood County Historic Landmarks Commission and recently wrote and published a new book, Wood County, (Virginia), West Virginia, Cemeteries and Short Histories, Vol. I, which gives important dates and genealogical information about those interred at the Riverview/Riverside/Cook Cemetery. She also has written a book on the Spring Grove Cemetery in Parkersburg, which is the only black cemetery in Wood County. She is active with the Victorian Society of Parkersburg and teaches classes about tombstones and cemeteries. Nominated by Wood County Historic Landmarks Commission.

Jim and June Campbell are two of the mainstay members of the Marshall County Historical Society (MCHS). As a team, they worked on cleaning and arranging the Cockayne house for public presentation and they have helped work on the society's entry in the annual Christmas parade. In addition, June is co-editor of the newsletter and chairman of the cookbook committee. She organizes genealogy records at the museum and performs many other duties there. Jim is treasurer of the society and chairman of the building committee, performing maintenance, building displays, and overseeing acquisition of new objects. He promotes membership, helps with the MCHS annual Trash and Treasures fund-raising sale and is always on call for tours. Nominated by Marshall County Historical Society.

Phyllis Harden Carter is a graduate of St. Augustine College in Raleigh, North Carolina. She later attended the College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law where she earned a doctorate degree. Throughout the years, Ms. Carter has held many professional positions in West Virginia, including her current position as an administrative law judge with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission. In her capacity as First Lady of West Virginia State College (WVSC), she is active in campus events. As chairperson of the school's Culture and History Committee she is dedicated to the legacy of the 1890 land grant institution as well as the history of African Americans in West Virginia. One of her projects is WVSC's Booker T. Washington Institute, which was established due to her leadership, to preserve and promote the legacy of the noted black educator whose boyhood home was Malden. She has also been an active board member of the Midland Trail Association and the Cabin Creek Quilts Cooperative Association. Nominated by West Virginia State College/B.T.W. Institute.

Brooke County's David Cost has shown interest in the preservation of history for many years. He applied for and was appointed to the Brooke County Historic Museum Board in 1994 and became a member of the Brooke County Historic Landmarks Commission in 1999. He still serves on both. During the last three years, he has dedicated himself to the Landmarks Commission's project of preserving a 1788 log house in Wellsburg constructed by Alexander Wells. He has performed more than 4,000 hours of volunteer work stripping off drywall and clapboard coverings, working with moving the log house to a "safe site," then helping to reconstruct it. He has mixed mortar for the fireplaces/chimney construction, lifted and hauled foundation stone, and much more. Nominated by Brooke County Historic Landmarks Commission.

Frances Frederick has been a member of the Ritchie County Historical Society for more than 20 years. Her work on the society's behalf includes compiling historical and genealogical information on the county's communities and families. She was a leader in the publication of The History of Ritchie County, WV - To 1980 as well as the pictorial preservation project, A Photographic History of Ritchie County, WV. Her contributions on the society's cemetery project were greatly responsible for the society's successful 1995 publication, Ritchie County, WV, Cemeteries - Through 1993. She submits information for the society's newsletters and continues to assist the society and individuals who are conducting historical and genealogical research. Nominated by Ritchie County Historical Society.

Hydie Hopkins Friend has been active in historic preservation and supported historical projects in Wheeling for years. As executive director of the Wheeling National Heritage Area, she has encouraged and supported numerous history projects including the Baltimore and Ohio 150th anniversary celebration and the recent Wheeling Symphony Orchestra history. An acknowledged historic preservationist and certified city planner, Hydie has helped develop comprehensive plans for the historic town of Philippi and the Rich Mountain Battlefield among others. In addition, she has consulted on interpretive exhibits related to Wheeling's industrial and transportation heritage and the statehood of West Virginia. Nominated by Wheeling Area Historical Society.

Diana George of Rivesville provided a spark to the Marion County Historical Society that rekindled the membership's interest and involvement and greatly enhanced the public image of the society's mission to showcase history. Acting as coordinator for the 150th Birthday Celebration of the Barrackville Covered Bridge, (lesser known structure of Lemuel Chenoweth of Philippi Bridge fame) she stimulated the community's support to produce a full day of free, old-fashioned entertainment, educational exhibits, music, dancing, concessions and heritage crafts. It was so well received that the citizens requested it become an annual event. Diana also revived and revamped a Holiday Historic Home Tour adding numerous activities to usher in the holidays in the county. Her enthusiasm, creativity and attention to detail make every historic event she guides a "happening!" Nominated by Marion County Historical Society.

C. Dean Hardman has been the driving force behind the growth and development of the Historic Area at WVU - Jackson's Mill for many years. He has devoted countless hours to strengthening and expanding the historic area and its programs. Even with tighter budgets, Dean continues to find effective ways to share its history and heritage. As a result, the area has seen increases in school tours, bus tours, Elderhostel programs, encampments and special events. He initiated an outreach program, taking the spirit of the area to other locations. Dean is equally comfortable with guests of all ages. He can talk about early frontier life on a number of levels, and is always interested in hearing other people's memories, but he's at his best when interacting with children. He is so comfortable in the time period he portrays that young people quickly forget that he didn't really live in the 19th century, thus providing an enriching experience that isn't quickly forgotten. Nominated by WVU-Jackson's Mill Center for Lifelong Learning.

Huntington native Ralph W. Honaker retired from the C&O after 42 years of service. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea in 1950-51 and is interested in veterans affairs. He is active in the VFW and The Marine Corps League and is past state commander of both organizations. He served on the memorial Arch Restoration Committee and has marked graves of numerous soldiers with military markers. He has collected information on Honaker families since 1960 and formed the National Association of Hans Jacob Honaker Families and was its first president, serving in that capacity for eight years. As a member of KYOWVA Genealogical Society, he has generously donated books for their library. Nominated by KYOWVA Genealogical Society.

Since retiring, Kenneth W. Hylton, longtime member and commander of the "Flat Top Copperheads," Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp No. 1694, was instrumental in raising funds to erect a $10,000 "Monument to the 1,000+ Confederate Soldiers of Mercer County" and helped raise funds for a roadside marker for the Battle of the Henry Clark House at Camp Creek, West Virginia. He has developed outline maps of the Civil War battles that took place in and around Mercer County and is treasurer of the Middle New River Genealogical Society. Kenneth also donates his time to the "Those Who Served War Museum" in Princeton which honors all the war veterans from Mercer County. Nominated by Flat Top Copperheads, Sons of Confederate Veterans, West Virginia Division - Southern Brigade.

Karon L. King's name has been attached to most genealogical publications produced in Upshur County for the past 20 years. She was a pivotal individual in the mammoth undertaking by the Upshur County Genealogical Society, now incorporated into the Upshur County Historical Society, to create cemetery readings for all marked gravesites in Upshur County. She, along with Billie Drost and Lemoyne Wentz, have produced various birth and obituary publications for the county, and she recently compiled the death records of the Bailey Brothers Undertakers. Her most recent research about the pre-Civil War-era settlement made by Irish railroad-building workers has aided the Upshur County Historical Society to produce a detailed look at the Irish Community in Upshur and Barbour counties. Nominated by Upshur County Historical Society.

Native West Virginian Fran Duran Klaus has a passion for history. She has been involved in numerous activities in Beckley that are related to preserving the history of the area. She co-authored LOOKING BACK . . . A Pictorial History of Beckley in 1991, was instrumental in restoring the Skelton Mine Superintendent's house at the Beckley Exhibition Mine Complex, obtained a grant to commemorate five documented Civil War sites in Beckley with bronze plaques and coordinated the first living history Civil War re-enactment at Wildwood Museum in Beckley. In 1999 she published Whispers from Wildwood, a compilation of entries from the journals of Maria Beckley, daughter of Beckley's founder. Nominated by Raleigh County Historical Society.

Robert H. Liston is a life/charter member of the Rowlesburg Area Historical Society. He served four years as vice president and has donated many artifacts related to the railroad and its operation to the society's museum. He was active in making displays to promote the organization at many functions including the Labor Day Ox Roast in Rowlesburg and History Day in Charleston. He rewired the second floor museum area of the Rowlesburg Area Historical Society's home building, also known as the IOOF Building. Robert has been an active and dependable member but illness now limits his ability to participate as fully as he once did. Nominated by Rowlesburg Area Historical Society.

Phyllis Frashure Marks of Glenville has served on the West Virginia State Folk Festival's Board of Directors for many years. As a dedicated board member, she provided a sense of continuity for the organization's goals: the preservation of Appalachian traditional music, oral history, folk stories, and crafts. Phyllis and her late husband Jesse traveled to many area schools; she would present her old songs and he would teach shape notes. Although Phyllis has been sight-impaired for many years, she regularly performs during Folk Festival concerts at Glenville State College Fine Arts Auditorium and her folk tales and traditional songs, performed acappella, exemplify the heart and soul of traditional West Virginia culture. Nominated by West Virginia State Folk Festival, Inc.

David B. McKinley is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the City of Wheeling. While others deem it necessary to tear down old buildings in order to begin anew, David has worked diligently to find ways to renovate many of the old buildings that played an important part in the development of the city. His vision has brought about the redevelopment of one of the largest areas of commerce in the early history of Wheeling. Lately, he has developed the concept of a new "College Square" for West Virginia Northern, that if realized, will completely revitalize the south end of Chapline and Market Streets, a critical area in downtown Wheeling. As per his standard practice, he has developed a plan to restore a building that is vacant and in disrepair and to combine that design with the nearby historic B&O Railroad Building, the current home of West Virginia Northern Community College (WVNCC). Nominated by WVNCC Alumni Association.

Mark Mengele manages Carnifex Ferry Battlefield for public visitation. He operates the sign shop that constructs more than 1,100 signs annually for the park system. He cooperatively hosts a battle re-enactment on alternate years. His personal commitment to interpretation and method is clearly evident in a wall built at Copperhead Overlook. Mark enrolled in a dry-stone fences and walls class sponsored by the Masonry Conservancy, Inc., a course dedicated to basic principles of stone fence construction in the early 1800s and later attended an Augusta Heritage class that addressed face work. In 2003, a massive stone wall was completed using applied basics and principles of traditional stone work. Mark claims not to be an expert, however his work on the wall at Copperhead Overlook belies that. Nominated by West Virginia State Parks.

The colloquialism "Good things come in small packages" has never been truer than when speaking of Margaret Moss. Although small in stature, she stands tall in her selfless dedication to promoting and preserving the history of Gilmer County and the state of West Virginia. As secretary of the Gilmer County Historical Society she organized the group from her home and vehicle without compensation before a permanent meeting site was obtained. While handling the mail and the monthly newsletter, she managed to get her GED and attend the Lighted Schools Program to learn how to use a computer. At the same time, she has been a working member of the West Virginia Folk Festival Committee, compiled obituary booklets, and was instrumental in collecting and publishing the society's Gilmer County History. Margaret continues to provide research assistance to the Gilmer Historic Landmarks Commission and serves as acting curator and librarian of the Gilmer County Historical Society Library and Collections. Nominated by Gilmer County Historical Society.

Newatha Myers has worked diligently most of her life for the research, interpretation, and preservation of West Virginia's history and heritage, especially the African-American experience. She was a founding member of the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation, and has served as its president for several years. Newatha was instrumental in raising the funds necessary to commission a statue of Woodson, the Father of Black History, which now stands in front of the Carter G. Woodson housing complex on Hal Greer Boulevard in Huntington. Through her efforts, many scholars of African-American history and heritage have spoken at the annual Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation Banquet. She volunteers for the majority of her projects and often personally finances them. She is an irreplaceable West Virginia asset. Nominated by Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation, Inc.

Robert Fred Radabaugh, whose ancestral home is in DeKalb, Gilmer County, has played a significant historic preservation role in Gilmer County for 30 years. He served as the leading member of preservation committees that established perpetual care for the Pisgah Cemetery at DeKalb in 1975 (and current treasurer) and re-established the Annual Homecoming Services at Pisgah Church in 1986. Fred worked to restore the old Cooper Cemetery near Tanner including perpetual care in 1990-1991. He helped restore the Old Stalnaker Cemetery at DeKalb in 2000 and raised funds for a State Historic Marker for the site. The relocation and restoration of a one-room school at Cedar Creek State Park in 1989-1990 and establishment of the memorial that honors Gilmer County one-room school educators were also projects he worked on. Additionally, his tireless leadership and fund-raising efforts helped bring these preservation projects to fruition. Nominated by Gilmer County Historic Landmarks Commission.

Kim Ross and Marsha Reed were key players in creating permanent records for more than 20 lost or forgotten cemeteries around Doddridge County. They, together with Alexander and Ann Mish, made rubbings of each headstone, photographed them, then cleaned, repaired and reset many of them. Along with the cemeteries, they also photographed and logged many historic landmarks throughout the county. Their perseverance in climbing fences, forging creeks, outsmarting nasty dogs, falling in briar patches and spending countless dollars of their own on the project are major indications of their dedication to the preservation of the historic records and historic places in Doddridge County and West Virginia. Nominated by Swiger Run Research Library.

Neil Richardson served as vice president of the St. Albans Historical Society and has served as its president for the past ten years. In the last 20 years, he has done many things for the society. He provided numerous articles for the History of St. Albans book which was printed in 1993, as well as edited and reprinted several local history books of the St. Albans area. He also writes the society's newsletter. Neil has helped get three St. Albans properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with the Main Street Historic District. He has been involved in the historic Sidewalk Tours and the Annual Christmas Tour of Homes. Currently, he is working on a Historic St. Albans video of vintage local photographs which will be distributed to local schools. Nominated by St. Albans Historical Society.

Erseline Rumbach has had a lifelong interest in preserving West Virginia's heritage. During her tenure as assistant director at WVU-Jackson's Mill, she helped establish the Jackson's Mill Heritage Foundation and, upon retirement, the Jackson's Mill Guild which strives to preserve the ancient arts of spinning and weaving. Several times a year, she demonstrates these crafts at public venues throughout the Central West Virginia region. Though a member of the Trans-Allegheny Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) for just three years, she has accepted leadership responsibilities and now serves as the chapter's registrar. She has helped several women successfully complete applications for the group which has been the state's fastest growing chapter for the past two years. As a Life Member of the Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants, she volunteers in various capacities for that society as well. Nominated by Trans-Allegheny Chapter, National Society DAR.

Don Seabolt has served as the West Augusta Historical and Genealogical Society's first vice-president for two terms. He also was instrumental in starting quarterly Beginning Genealogy Classes as well as serving as instructor for the courses. Don has authored a Wirt County, West Virginia cemetery book entitled Pine Twist Cemetery, Elizabeth, Wirt Co., W.Va., which includes detailed genealogical data on those interred there. This is part of an ongoing project performed with Cindy Buskirk to compile information on Wirt County cemeteries more accessible to the genealogical community at large. Nominated by West Augusta Historical & Genealogical Society.

As a retired educator, Dr. Gary G. Smith understands the importance of preserving the state's varied culture and heritage. A member of the Weston Hospital Revitalization Committee, he is chairperson of and a Civil War re-enactor in Weston Gold Dollar Days celebrating the "liberation" of $27,000 in gold specie by Union forces from the Exchange Bank of Virginia in Weston in 1861. The gold was used as capital for West Virginia's statehood. He is the organizer and one of the musicians of the group Lonesome Ride whose music preserves traditional Appalachian-style music. Gary is the author of two histories: Three Rebel Brothers from Old Virginia and The Smiths of Brush Run. Under his leadership the Smith Family Heritage Foundation has been established to purchase, preserve, and maintain the Michael Smith log cabin on the original family homestead on Brush Run, Braxton County. Nominated by Weston Hospital Revitalization Committee.

Richard and Barbara Smith have made significant contributions to the Tyler County Museum, including chairing a committee to clean and arrange an exhibit room and the Brick Friendship Walkway Fund which has grossed $16,000 to be contributed to a new roof. The Smiths work at the museum on a regular basis. They have helped to restore a historic West Virginia flag, mowed the lawn and planted a garden which adds beauty to the museum. In addition, they are officers in the organization and offer guidance and assistance in making the museum one of the best in the state. Nominated by Tyler County Museum.

One of the state's preeminent historians, Dr. John E. Stealey III has produced an incredible body of scholarship regarding West Virginia history including major works such as The Antebellum Kanawha Salt Business and Western Markets (University Press of Kentucky); Kanawhan Prelude to Nineteenth-Century Monopoly in the United States: The Virginia Salt Combinations (Virginia Historical Society); a new edition of The Rending of Virginia by Granville Davisson Hall (University of Tennessee Press); as well as a two-volume edition of diaries by a prominent West Virginian that is currently at a university press. Dr. Stealey also is the foremost scholar of West Virginia's constitution and its history. His recent article and follow-up editorials in the Charleston Gazette-Mail on constitutional limitations on state debt have brought West Virginia history onto the front pages, editorial pages, and to the forefront of current political debate. Furthermore, Dr. Stealey is a generous philanthropist who has made highly significant gifts to funding the preservation of West Virginia history. Nominated by West Virginia and Regional History Collections, WVU Libraries.

Charles Laurin Swisher, a lifelong resident of Mineral County, has significantly contributed to the study of local history. A charter member of the Mineral County Historical Society, he has served as president, and first and second vice president of the organization. During his tenure as president, the society established and opened a museum. When the historic Claysville Church was offered to the society by the United Methodist Church in 1971, Charles was a strong advocate for accepting the building. He was actively involved in the preservation and restoration of the church, which was built in 1850. Unaided, he developed a historical tour of southern Mineral County which included establishing stops, arranging transportation, and acting as tour guide. The tour was offered during the Mineral County Founder's Day celebration. Only his advanced years and poor health have curbed his activity in the society. Nominated by Mineral County Historical Society.

Mark Trail inspires others wherever he goes. No goal or task is too difficult when it comes to living history. It is this confidence and enthusiasm that inspires others to roll up their sleeves, pitch in, and get things done. As a Civil War re-enactor, Mark is a member of the 1st West Virginia Infantry and 2nd Corps Headquarters Presentations. He and his family are valued volunteers in the WVU-Jackson's Mill Historic Area. Mark also participated in the Southeastern Tourism Industries' 20th Anniversary Conference in September, and helped put together an educational presentation for underprivileged children in Greenbrier County. If you ask him why he puts in the time and the effort, the answer will always be the same. "I do it for the kids." Mark reminds us all of why it is important to continue to do the things we do, to dig down deep inside, to work hard, and to improve. He inspires us to get off our tails and get to work and to pass on this torch of our heritage to a younger generation. Nominated by WVU- Jackson's Mill Historic Area.

Then vice-president Cary L. Williams had the unenviable task of assuming leadership of the Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants in mid-term when its president was hospitalized with a terminal illness. Under Cary's five-year leadership (he was elected president twice), the society purchased, restored, and moved into a three-room schoolhouse; more than doubled the size of its collection; and published a volume of Lewis County family histories; and, in conjunction with the local VFW, assumed responsibility for placing flags on the known burial sites of every veteran in the county. Cary also has been the volunteer librarian for the collection and responsible for keeping it open every Thursday night for the last seven years. He has served as treasurer for the group for the past two years. Nominated by Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants, Inc.

Sheila Williamson died quite unexpectedly from complications of the flu on December 26, 2003. Her passing has left many in shock and disbelief and a huge hole in the organizations to which she donated so much time. She was treasurer of the Upper Vandalia Historical Society, the force behind the Putnam County Fair, Poca Heritage Day, Poca Community Educational Outreach Service Club and Poca Good Samaritan League. She was most passionate about the building and fund-raising for the new Poca Library. Although she was British citizen, she did more for the preservation of history, education and heritage of Putnam County than anyone else. Nominated by Upper Vandalia Historical Society.

The next three individuals, while not being involved at the grassroots level for an organization promoting the preservation of West Virginia's culture and history as envisioned by the sponsors of History Day, were nominated for their significant support of historical projects as elected officials representing a specific region of West Virginia and are accorded "Honorable Mention" status as History Heroes.

Ken Hechler will be accorded "Honorable Mention" status for his contribution toward the preservation of military history on the national level as Combat Historian for the European Theater of Operations during WW II, his authorship of The Bridge at Remagen, and his biography and numerous articles and talks about General Jenkins and the Jenkins home at Greenbottom. Dr. Hechler also served West Virginia as Congressman (1959 - 77) and as Secretary of State (1984 - 2000). Nominated by Greenbottom Society, Inc.

Since the beginning of Delegate Margarette R. Leach's career, she has been caring and compassionate. From being a Campfire Girls/Cub Scout Leader to a Registered Nurse, to her latest endeavor as a leader in the House of Delegates for the 15th District, she has gained the respect of her colleagues and friends. She has been instrumental in helping to preserve and promote our history and heritage. Without her help and support Guyandotte Civil War Days would not have received the funding necessary to make the event as successful as it is today. In addition she was instrumental in the opening of the historic Jenkins Plantation Museum, the Historic Madie Carroll House, and in bringing the bronze statue of Carter G. Woodson to its location in Huntington. Nominated by Guyandotte Civil War Days, Inc.

Senator Robert H. Plymale, prior to being elected to the West Virginia State Senate, sought to preserve and promote West Virginia's history and heritage. He restored his first home, a Victorian Queen Ann located in Kenova. Since entering the Senate he has been a staunch supporter of historical projects and events in the state. Without him, the historic Madie Carroll house would not have received the funds necessary to save it from demolition. He has been instrumental in the success of Guyandotte Civil War Days and in the opening of the historic Jenkins Plantation Museum. These are only a few examples of the many historical projects for which the State of West Virginia owes thanks to Senator Plymale. Nominated by Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc.


For more information about the History Hero Awards, contact Joe Geiger.

West Virginia's History Heroes

West Virginia Archives and History