CHARLESTON – The following events occurred on these dates in West Virginia history. For more information, visit e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at www.wvencyclopedia.org.
May 30, 1940: Opening of the Smoke Hole Caverns in Grant County. The cave is beautifully decorated with stalactites suspended in rows along the ceiling; the main hall is called the “Hall of a Million Stalactites”.
May 31, 1841: Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph Kain was born near Martinsburg. As Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling, he worked to meet the needs of newly arrived immigrants who came to work in the mines and factories of West Virginia.
June 1, 1880: The hand to hand fight for the world championship takes place in Colliers, Brooke County, between defending champion Joe Goss and challenger Paddy Ryan. Boxing was illegal in all states, and matches were often held in railway villages to avoid the big city police.
June 1, 1935: Musician Hazel Dickens was born in Mercer County, the eighth of 11 children. She was a pioneer of bluegrass and old-time music, known for preserving the traditional vocal styles of West Virginia.
June 1, 1858: The Artists’ Excursion leaves Baltimore for Wheeling. An executive from Baltimore & Ohio planned the train trip to promote tourism. About 50 passengers were on board, including artist and writer David Hunter Strother, who described the experience in an article for Harpers magazine.
June 2, 1951: Cornelius Charlton dies from combat injuries during the Korean War. Charlton, originally from County Raleigh, received the Medal of Honor posthumously.
June 3, 1856: Harriet B. Jones was born in Pennsylvania. After attending Wheeling Female College and graduating from Women’s Medical College in Baltimore, she opened a private practice in Wheeling, becoming the first woman licensed to practice medicine in West Virginia.
June 3, 1861: The first land battle of the Civil War takes place in Philippi. About 3,000 Federal troops drove about 800 Confederates from the city.
June 3, 1861: A company of Confederate soldiers known as the Logan Wildcats is formed at the Logan courthouse. The company, made up of about 85 men, participated for the first time in the Battle of Scary Creek.
June 3, 1936: The first strawberry festival takes place in Buckhannon. More than 6,000 spectators attended the festivities, which also included a parade of 30 princesses on Main Street.
June 4, 1975: Clark Kessinger dies in St. Albans, Kanawha County. Kessinger was one of the most prolific and influential fiddlers of the 20th century and one of West Virginia’s most important traditional musicians.
June 5, 1859: A severe frost kills crops in the fields of Preston County. The fields were replanted with hardy buckwheat, which was successful and became a staple crop, celebrated at the annual Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood.
e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia is a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council. For more information, contact the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25301; 304-346-8500; or visit e-WV at www.wvencyclopedia.org.