On This Day
in West Virginia History...


December 1
On December 1, 1790, two prominent Shepherdstown residents wrote to President George Washington to recommend that the capital of the United States be located in Shepherdstown.

December 2
A horse racing track opened at Charles Town on December 2, 1933.

December 3
Newton Diehl Baker, who served as secretary of war during World War I, was born in Martinsburg on December 3, 1871.

December 4
On December 4, 1957, Helen Holt was sworn in as secretary of state, the first woman to hold the position.

December 5
Christopher H. Payne, a Monroe County native who was the first African-American elected to the West Virginia legislature, died on December 5, 1925.

December 6
The worst mining disaster in American history occurred on December 6, 1907, when an underground explosion at Monongah in Marion County killed 362 miners.

December 7
On December 7, 1941, a Japanese attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor initiated American entry into World War II. One of the ships sunk on that day was the USS West Virginia.

December 8
A telethon to benefit West Virginia flood victims was held at the Cultural Center in Charleston on December 8, 1985.

December 9
Herbert J. Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston, named for the World War II Congressional Medal of Honor winner, opened on December 9, 1946.

December 10
On December 10, 1938, West Virginia native Pearl S. Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for her book The Good Earth.

December 11
On December 11, 1907, a Federal judge sentenced ten persons to prison for conspiring to defraud the federal government in a Lincoln County bankruptcy case.

December 12
William E. Eubank, who commanded the National Guard force at the Battle of Blair Mountain, was born on December 12, 1880.

December 13
On December 13, 1861, Confederate troops of the Army of the Northwest, led by Colonel Edward Johnson, repulsed an attack by a Union force under the command of General Robert Milroy at the Battle of Allegheny Mountain.

December 14
On December 14, 1933, Federal Relief Administration field representative Howard O. Hunter, speaking to a joint session of the West Virginia legislature, informed lawmakers that federal aid to the state would be stopped unless the state provided more funding for relief in West Virginia.

December 15
On December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant collapsed, resulting in the deaths of 46 persons.

On December 15, 1904, the Elk River Bridge in Charleston collapsed, resulting in the deaths of two persons.

December 16
The last public hanging in West Virginia occurred on December 16, 1897, in Ripley.

December 17
Henry Ruffner, minister, educator and author of the anti-slavery publication Address to the People of West Virginia, died in Malden on December 17, 1861.

December 18
Nathan Bay Scott, who served as United States senator from West Virginia from 1899 to 1911, was born on December 18, 1842.

December 19
On December 19, 1899, voters in Webster County approved an appropriation to aid in the construction of a railroad from Palmer Junction in Braxton County to Addison, present-day Webster Springs.

December 20
On December 20, 1930, Congressman Frank L. Bowman announced that a federal fish hatchery would be located at Leetown in Jefferson County.

December 21
On December 21, 1984, Georgeann Wells of West Virginia University became the first woman to dunk a basketball in a college game.

December 22
WMMN radio station in Fairmont began broadcasting on December 22, 1928.

December 23
Daniel Duane Tompkins Farnsworth, who served as governor of West Virginia for seven days in 1869, was born on December 23, 1819.

December 24
A labor strike at the Tyler Window Glass Company in Sistersville ended on December 24, 1903.

December 25
The Pocahontas Theater in Welch opened on December 25, 1928.

December 26
On December 26, 1935, noted singer Susanne Fisher, a native of Sutton, made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera.

December 27
On December 27, 1934, a boiler in a locomotive hauling mine workers at McDunn in Fayette County exploded, resulting in the death of eighteen miners.

December 28
The John Henry statue at Talcott, commemorating the "steel drivin' man" who participated in the construction of the Big Bend railroad tunnel, was erected on December 28, 1972.

December 29
The town of Sutton was burned by Confederate raiders on December 29, 1861.

December 30
The Snow Hill Salt Company of Charleston was incorporated on December 30, 1876.

December 31
President Abraham Lincoln signed the West Virginia statehood bill on December 31, 1862.

On This Day in West Virginia History